THE ORIGINAL JOLLY CORKS TOAST
Now is the hour when Elkdom's tower is darkened by the shroud of night, And father time on his silver chime Tolls off each moment's flight. In Cloistered halls each Elk recalls His Brothers where'er they be, And traces their faces to well-known places In the annals of memory. Whether they stand on a foreign land Or lie in an earthen bed, Whether they be on the boundless sea With the breakers of death ahead. Whate'er their plight on this eerie night Whate'er their fate may be Where ever they are be it near or far They are thinking of you and me. So drink from the fountain of fellowship To the Brother who clasped your hand And wrote your worth in the rock of earth And your faults upon the sand. TO OUR ABSENT BROTHERS
The recognition of the Eleventh Hour dates back to the Battle of Hastings in October of 1066 when William of Normandy established a curfew demanding that all watch fires be extinguished at eleven each night. The Royal Order of Buffaloes, of whom Charles Vivian, an original Elk, was a member, practiced an eleven o'clock toast in remembrance of this battle. Charles Vivian brought this tradition here. George F. McDonald delivered the first official Eleven o'clock toast at a social session May 31, 1868, while Charles Vivian was out of town. By mid June, Charles Vivian no longer darkened the Elks door evermore. In earlier days, the social sessions were usually held on Sunday nights and were concluded about Eleven O'clock. As the participants departed, members naturally made inquiries about the absentees and expressed sympathetic interest in their causes. The toast is a way to remember and wish well to those absent Elks. In 1918, when the Armistice ended the fighting in Europe, it was a lifelong Elk, General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing, a member of New York Lodge No. 1, who is said to have decided that the 11th Hour Significance observed by the BPOE would be the basis for the signing of the papers. At the Grand Lodge Session of 1919, Past Grand Exalted Ruler offered a resolution that public rendition of the eleven o'clock toast would be permitted.