Watching Columbo, S02E04 Dagger of the Mind and this exchange takes place between Columbo and a Detective. They are in a gentleman's club, leather furniture, bookcases of old books, butler, etc.

Detective: Would you, uh, care to sit here?
Columbo: When you said "club," I thought you meant a country club or a health club.
Detective: Mm. Bit stuffy, I'm afraid. Hasn't changed since Father's day.
Columbo: My father was an Elk once, till my mother stopped him.
Detective: Ah.

It is quite hard to hear what Columbo is saying but it sounds like he's saying "My father was an Elk once".

I don't know what this might mean though, in the context.

  • 4
    The capital E in Elk tells you that this is a proper noun, and since the conversation is about meeting at a club[house], you may surmise that they are related. It doesn't especially matter here that the Elks are a real organization. It could well have been a nickname, or a title, or a rank in some fictional outfit. If he had said My father was in the Purple People Eaters, till my mother stopped him, from context you would assume the Purple People Eaters was also related to the club setting.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 18:41
  • 8
    Sorry, @KamilDrakari Columbo was a detective show from the 70s and based in LA. Believe it or not, there still are a few gentlemen left in the USA...and some of them even have their own clubs. Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 19:26
  • 8
    @Cascabel: On the other hand, to judge from the billboards that adorn freeways in Houston (and, I assume, many other fine U.S. cities), "gentleman's club" has acquired a more recent meaning that leans heavily toward general-admission venues featuring scantily clad dancers/hostesses.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 20:32
  • 1
    @KamilDrakari How can you separate cultural from linguistic when discussing that distinction? Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 21:58
  • 1
    Hmmnnh..@AzorAhai ....weak or strong Sapir-Whorf? Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the U.S.A. is a fraternal organization with nearly a million members and a 141-year history, according to their website.

  • In the UK and British commonwealth (including Canada) there is the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes which is even older and founded on similar princples. Could it be that the Elks were originally a copy of the Buffs?
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 16:29
  • 11
    @BoldBen It's possible, since buffalo was also considered for a name, but I doubt you can draw a direct line. There have been fraternal groups for a long time; BPOE is predated by the likes of the AOH and the Red Men, which in turn are predated by the Odd Fellows and Freemasons.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 17:09
  • 5
    There are Elks lodges, and Moose (my dad was a Moose) and, likely, Buffaloes as well. Remember the Flintstones? Fred and Barney were members of the Water Buffaloes. These organizations were social clubs and informal "insurance", as members would often provide assistance to "brothers" in need. Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 20:21
  • 3
    @RobCrawford: Don't forget the Honeymooners and their Raccoon Lodge.
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 22:22
  • 2
    And the Lions
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 1:43

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