In September 1906, Oklahoma City welcomed the national convention of the Hoo-Hoo.
Members came from every state in the union (there were 45 states at the time) and from Canada. A front page advertisement in the Sept. 7 edition of The Oklahomansaid 3,000 Hoo-Hoo delegates would be in town.
The great Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo, a fraternal service organization of men involved in any aspect of the lumber industry,was formed in 1892 in Gurdon, AR.
A group of lumbermen on the way from one convention to another was delayed in Gurdon, Arkansas. While passing the time at the local hotel, they discussed the need for an organization among lumber people to promote fellowship and goodwill.
The organizers did not want to be conventional or superstitious, so they adopted the black cat with its tail curled in a nine as their emblem and used the No. 9, the number of lives of the cat, for different aspects of their organization. There would be 9 leaders and they would meet the 9th day of the 9th month at the 9th hour. Their dues would be 99 cents. There would be no lodge, no regular meetings and, as for the name, it came from one member’s description of another’s shock of hair on an otherwise bald head. He called it a hoo hoo.
Lumbermen started using hoo hoo to describe the unusual. For example, a good card hand would be a hoo hoo hand, and so what better name for the new organization.
One of the gentlemen had been reading Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of the Snark,” and so they borrowed from the poem such names as snark for their leader. His official title would become Snark of the Universe. Other officers were Bojum, Jabberwock, Custcatian, Junior Hoo Hoo, Senior Hoo Hoo, Scrivenoter, Arcanoper and Gurdon.
On Sept. 9, 1906, at 9 in the morning, the 15th annual session of the Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo met at the Overholser Opera House for a business meeting. A banquet, more meetings and as much fun as they could crowd into four days was planned for the delegates. Oklahoma City was eager to show off its progress. There was a polo match, cattle roping, tours to Delmar Gardens and more for the delegates’ entertainment. The Daily Oklahomanon Sept. 9, 1906, ran a special front page for the Hoo-Hoo and highlighted Oklahoma City’s homes and buildings throughout the paper. Many advertisements ran in the paper welcoming the Hoo-Hoo and touting the city and its businesses.
Judging from the stories that were published, this concatenation was a great success from both the Hoo-Hoo’s and the city’s point of view. Hertha Hess-Jobson, society editor for The Oklahoman,wrote, “The Hoo-Hoo convention is certainly a caterwauling success. We have entertained all kinds of strangers in our town, but never have we had a brighter, happier more progressive and genial crowd.”
The Hoo-Hoo organization suffered during the Depression almost to the point of ceasing, but it survived and continues on to this day. This year it celebrates its 117th year and is now known as the International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo. Its headquarters and museum are in Gurdon, AR, and its Web site is www.hoo-hoo.org.