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THE Brotherhood OF THE Crossed BonesDO SOME GOOD AND HAVE SOME FUN Ahoy matey and welcome aboard to Quartermaiter Griff's musings. I'll be sharing me thoughts and ramblins about the sweet trade we all so richly enjoy. I can't promise that my words will carry wisdom or inspiration, but you have me affy-davey that every word be from me own head...which is an intererting place when I'm in me cups, so without further ado...Ahoy there, mateys. Pull up a rum barrel (no, the empty one), have a seat and I'll be telling the tale of the legendary Brotherhood of the Crossed Bones. To best tell the story of, to my knowledge, Texas' only active pirate reenactment and charitable organization, one must turn back the sands of time to 2009 in Austin, Texas and the now infamous celebration known as ' Talk Like A Pirate Day'. By thunder, I'll not be covering the specifics of ' Talk Like A Pirate Day' (TLAPD) as any lass or lad who follows the sea should know and participate in that fine celebratory event. The place was Opal Divine's Freehouse, a fine establishment of food and drink that was housed, appropriately enough, in a formal brothel. The owners of Opal Divine's threw a yearly celebration for TLAPD, and at this particular gathering, something monumental was about to occur. Gathered at this foc's'le council was your humble narrator, Quartermaster Anton Griff, as ever was, and a certain bawdy and dangerous pirate captain, Keely 'Keelhaul' Locke. Both of us had recently dropped anchor in New Orleans for the annual PyrateCon celebration (see the March issue) and were enjoying rum and the dulcet melodies of the Jolly Garogers pirate band.“It's a pity”, Keelhaul began, “ That we can't do this more often.” Well into my cups as usual, I blinked at her. Keelhaul is a striking beauty, with long golden tresses, a wicked laugh, and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. “Do what more often?' by Quartermaster Griff Photos by Suzanne C. Grim “Gathering as pirate shipmates, flying our colours, hoisting the grog.” She continued, “We should form a pirate group so we can see each other more often and play pirate.” And with that simple statement, the seed was planted. We knew we wanted the group to be more than just a group of adults dressing, talking and partying like pirates. For us to get any real traction longevity and press, we wanted the group to be a charitable organization, raising money for good causes and doing our best promote the common good. Our flag was designed as a red jawless skull sitting atop crossed leg bones. We chose red, because we gave no quarter when raising funds for our charities and made the skull jawless because while sometimes fierce in appearance we had no bite and meant no real harm.The Brotherhood truly dropped anchor in Austin, raising literally thousands of dollars and in-kind donations over the years for charity organizations.The Brotherhood of Crossed Bones was officially formed and at the very next Talk Like A Pirate Day, 2010 and we laid out a document for interested crew members to sign aboard and give us their particulars and means of contact. The group grew exponentially and before we knew it, we had a sizable crew of between 25-30 pirates, depending on the way the wind blew. Many local illustrious pirates joined our ranks combining characters and garb from all walks of the sweet trade, from historical to fanciful and from Ren Faire employee to casual pirate fan. Such an amalgamation be providing us with the impressive showing we needed to achieve our goals. The Brotherhood brought together such esteemed pirate notables as Whitebeard Teague, Buccaneer Byron Arrbright, The Dread Pirate Roberts, more than a few Jack Sparrows, Melina De Silva, Jimmie Barbeque, Black Siren, Richard ' The Red' and even Captain Fleabag, (lead singer of the Jolly Garogers whose music heralded the very formation of the Brotherhood.)Keelhaul Keely assumed the position of captain, and I naturally fell into my role as quartermaster. (I not be aspiring to the lofty position of captain.) Our first campaign was simple enough. We decided to raise money for the Brown Santa organization, a Christmas toy drive held by the Travis County Sheriff 's Department. It was a simple plan of attack; roughly a dozen or so of the crew, walking up and down Austin's Congress Avenue in full garb, with an empty treasure chest, singing shanties and soliciting donations from passersby's. It worked like a charm. Flush with our first success, Keelhaul and I focused our attentions on organizing more and greater charity events with our crew of willing, if not sober, shipmates. The Brotherhood truly dropped anchor in Austin after that, raising literally thousands of dollars and inkind donations over the years for charity organizations. We charted a course to supply swag for groups such as Austin Pets Alive with live swag auctions and burlesque performances, BCRB, the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Texas with live wench auctions, and Make A Wish Foundati on with two of our members rappellin g down a skyscrap er in Downtow n Austin! The Brotherhood even formed a limited partnership with the Austin based Pyrate Energy Drink , and appeared at various events to promote the drink in exchange for large donations to our favorite charities.To this day, we still host our own yearly gatherings for TLAPD at various venues in Austin, always raising money for charity groups and worthy causes.In addition, for over ten years now, the Brotherhood of the Crossed Bones has appeared in the Texas Independence Day Parade, marching up Congress Avenue to the Texas Capital, and in 2020, appeared aboard our very own pirate ship float secured by crew member, Dread Pirate Roberts. Most recently, the Brotherhood once again got into the Christmas spirit at the Chuy's Children Giving to Children Parade, benefiting operation Blue Santa arranged by crew member Melina De Silva. Organizationally, The Brotherhood of the Crossed Bones operates very much like a traditional pirate crew. I penned articles based loosely on the articles of Bartholomew 'Black Bart' Roberts that all members must sign (round robin style around the edge of the document). These articles detail our mission, the expectations to follow commands by the captain during engagements (aka fundraisers) and specifying the democratic nature of the crew. Positions are voted on by everyone such as coxswain, gunner, musician, ship's carpenter, ship's artist (aka navigator) first mate and yes, even captain. Anyone can put themselves up for the position of captain, which is voted on by crew, and if decided the black spot is tipped and the former captain joins the crew and a new captain assumes the mantle. The captain of the Brotherhood can put forward ideas for engagements, announce gatherings and plan for yearly events, but the crew, through the voice of the quartermaster, has a voice and a vote as well.The position of quartermaster, by the way, is mine and mine alone as befitting with my station and ambitions. The position of quartermaster, by the way, is mine and mine alone as befitting with my station and ambitions. Besides, no one else in the crew knows all the shanties. Heh. Pirates. Alas, in keeping with our code, our first captain, Keelhaul Keely was tipped the black spot and a new captain, Captain Byron Arrrbright assumed command. Fear not, Keelhaul is still a proud and active member of the group she herself helped to form.The Brotherhood of the Crossed Bones has grown to a membership of 307 rogues, scallywags, privateers, buccaneers and pirates. We've been sailing on the Book o' Faces since 2011, and welcome any and all to our cause to do good, and have fun. Drop anchor and have a look around, and even if ye not be in Austin, proper, we welcome all to join us for piratical fundraising events. Simply set a course for 'The Brotherhood of the Crossed Bones' in groups. Keelhaul Keely Locke, (now Keely Locke-Schumacher…married to a fine pirate and brotherhood member by the name of Carpenter Jay Bierkrug ) confided in me, not too long ago, that her intention all those years ago was really never to form a charity group. She told me, “I really just wanted to have an excuse to gather as pirates and drink more.” Well, it be too late to alter course now, Keelhaul! Heh. Pirates.