The Sons of the Desert
"Dull care is left at home by the 'Sons of the Desert' as they hold their annual conclave."
"And just who are the Sons of the Desert", you ask.
The Sons of the Desert is the International Laurel & Hardy Appreciation Society. The organization's founding father, John McCabe, first planted the seed for such a club with some friends and fellow Laurel and Hardy enthusiasts at the Lamb's Club, an actors' club in New York. McCabe, then working on his book Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy, wrote to Stan Laurel and proposed the idea of a group patterned somewhat after the Baker Street Irregulars, the Sherlock Holmes aficionados. When Stan learned that the new group would have celebration as its essential theme, he thoroughly approved and even helped to write the society's constitution. He suggested that the motto should be "Two Minds Without A Single Thought". These words have been duly set into the delightful escutcheon created for the Sons by the late Al Kilgore. They have been rendered into Latin in the spirit of Stan's dictum that our organization should have a "half-assed dignity" about it. Stan was severe on just one point. "In addition to having a half-assed dignity about it, the only thing I really insist on is that everybody have a hell of a lot of fun." His wish has been warmly - one could say flamboyantly - honored.
The name of our group was suggested by the late Al Kilgore and derives, of course, from Sons of the Desert, the 1933 film in which the boys pledge their loyalties to a national lodge fashioned along the lines of the Shriners. The Exalted Ruler exhorts the lodge members to take a solemn oath committing themselves to attend their annual convention in Chicago. Stan and Ollie fool their wives by pretending to go to Honolulu for the sake of Ollie's health when really they go to the convention. As in all Laurel & Hardy lore, they do not get away with it and have to face the consequences. The plot of this hilarious film inspired Sons to organize their own convention in Chicago in 1978. That proved so successful that since then we have had an International Convention every other year where great fun is had by the hundreds of delegates. It does not end there. We also have European Conventions, U.K. Conventions and various mini-conventions to keep us busy. All Sons are invited to participate in these events.
Each branch of the society is called a "tent" and each tent derives its name from a Laurel & Hardy film. Our film title choice for the Harlem, Georgia tent is "Berth Marks", after their second talkie together. There are thriving tents all over the world and each tent within the SOTD has its own unique style. Whether you are a serious student of great film comedy or you just like to laugh, you can certainly guarantee plenty of chances to do both in the Sons of the Desert.
The Sons of the Desert has a great tradition in celebrating the lives and careers of the greatest comedy team the world has seen. The boys have given us so much enjoyment over the years and we feel it is only right that we should do whatever we can to keep their names in the minds of the public. We believe that our favorite comedians will never truly die as long as there are people like us who conduct activities ultimately and always devoted to the preservation of their films and the encouragement of their showing everywhere. That is our main reason for being, and we have tremendous fun as well.
We will always be grateful to John McCabe, Al Kilgore and the other early members for their inspiration and pioneering efforts and, of course, for Stan's interest and encouragement. Without them there would be no Sons Of The Desert and our lives would be much poorer.
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