In 1892, a Woodsman lodge member asked his friend Ed DeMoulin to make him something that would really shake up dull lodge meetings. DeMoulin owned a local factory that manufactured uniforms, flags, patches, hats, seating, upholstery, and regalia of all kinds, and he was also at heart a trickster. When the Woodmen asked him to come up with a set piece that would really impress and scare the newly initiated, he delivered something darkly delightful: The Molten Lead Test, a flaming pot of seemingly boiling metal that turned out to be nothing more than mecurine powder dissolved in water (an element still not without its hazards). The pledge was convinced he was being burnt with hot lead, and the lodge would laugh uproariously at his misfortune.
The Wireless Trick Telephone
As a gag, the trick telephone was potentially quite dangerous. A 32-calibre blank cartridge was designed to go off in the face of anyone who tried to use the phone.
The Fuzzy Wonder
It was a lodge tradition to have a goat present at initiations, and the introduction of a mechanical goat meant that a live goat would be spared the experience. The wheeled goat was also ridden by lodge members in local parades.
The Ferris Wheel Goat
This version of the mechanical goat was supposed to stimulate a thrilling goat ride. The candidate is strapped in and wheeled upside down, all while remaining astride the goat.
The Electric Branding Iron
The magneto was an electric hand cranked battery that created a spark that could actually be quite painful. Similar batteries were actually used a New York state prison as a form of torture.
The Throne of Honor
After the candidate was blindfolded, led up and stairs and seated, he was expected to confess his ‘moral transgressions.’ When finished, the chair and the stairs would collapse and the candidate would slide down to the floor.
Perhaps the most frightening of the lodge gags, the guillotine blade was designed to stop a few inches from the neck. The catalog suggested spattering it with blood and human hair for a greater effect.
The Saw Mill
Similar to the guillotine, the blade of the saw mill also stops just inches from its intended victim. ‘This machine looks real and very dangerous but it is also absolutely harmless.’
This four person costume was also wired with a jump spark battery which was controlled by the rider at the front, making the other three members of the centipede very unhappy.
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