The International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo

On Main Street in Gurdon (on highway 67, South of Arkadelphia), there is a beautifully restored log house that hosts a lumber industry museum as well as the international headquarters of the International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo, a fraternal organization made up of men and women in the forest products industry.

The order started serendipitously back in 1892 when two men (Bolling Johnson and George Smith) met at the train platform here in Gurdon. They had both been at a meeting of the Yellow Pine Manufacturers Association in Camden and were on their way to another such meeting. They complained to each other about the endless roundelay of boring association meetings of a fractious industry in far-flung places. With several hours to kill, they adjourned to the Hotel Hall, on a hallowed site now occupied by the post office, where they outlined a plan to unite the diverse concerns of the lumber industry under a single fraternal organization. They hoped that such an umbrella organization could host a single, giant annual convention to conduct timber industry business, and fellows like Johnson and Smith wouldn't have to spend their whole lives waiting on train platforms on the way from nowhere in particular to noplace special.

Johnson and Smith were joined at the hotel by four other men, each of whom contributed ideas which persist to this very day. For example, the names of the order's officers are Snark, Bojum, Sr. High Hoo-Hoo, Jr. High Hoo-Hoo, Bandersnatch (later replaced by Jabberwock), Scrivenoter, Arcanoper, Custocatian and Gurdon. By the way, a former Snark is known as a Rameses. It will come as no surprise that one of these founders had just finished reading Lewis Carroll's "Hunting of the Snark."

The peculiar and whimsical officer names and the gameful, prankish nature of their "concatenation" and "embalming" ceremonies keep them from taking themselves too seriously. They chose as their mascot a black cat with its back arched and its tail curled into a nine, a number which also figures significantly into the symbolism of their fraternity. Also, on their various monuments you'll note ancient Egyptian designs and devices. I never got a satisfactory answer as to the connection between classical Egypt and the timber industry, but I suspect it has something to do with the high regard ancient Egyptians had for cats and the fact that the founders had already chosen the cat as their mascot.

There's plenty more, but I'll leave that for you to discover. You can contact them at their web site or write to them at P.O. Box 118, Gurdon, AR 71743.

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