If any person made a big splash by way of their disappearance Clifford T.
Bell wasn't it. After endless searching by members of the Brotherhood
and their appointed agents little has been found relating to his untimely
encounter with fate on the evening of September 24, 1940. The exception
to the rather sad state of affairs is the one small story (pictured at left)
from the long defunct
Los Angeles Herald Examiner which mentioned
Clifford's involuntary vanishing act - a month after the fact - and the
brief investigation which followed. Like so many "clues" in Clifford's life
the article is actually rather thin in the when it comes to shedding new
light on the matter and leaves just about every pertinent question
unanswered. The article simply confirms that date of Clifford's
disappearance and fact that he had seemingly evaporated into thin air.

That no mention was made of the Fez or of Clifford's efforts to revive its
rapidly dying powers is not surprising given the apparent web of secrecy
he wove about it and the work he conducting on its behalf. Clifford
himself stated that he had never mentioned Namur'Ra's old hat to his
four friends in the Foreign Legion but he did seem to have made his
Hollywood pal Gary Cooper aware of it - but to what extent it is not fully
known. If he ever mentioned it to Rita Hayworth no comment to that fact
was ever made by either.

Besides an offhand mention of Clifford by Gary Cooper in a early 1950s
interview, this newspaper clipping is one of the last mentions of any kind
made of Clifford T. Bell in any source until the rediscovery of his story
by the members of the Noble & Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood
of the Purple Fez.
Newspaper Clipping
Los Angeles Herald
Examiner

October 15, 1940
Of the 60 years that elapsed between Clifford's disappearance in 1940 and the discovery of the mere fact that he had existed by
the future members of the Brotherhood there is little to tell. Exposition Park - the site of the final dramatic act is Clifford's life -
is still there though as is often the case in the City of Angeles much has changed while some has remained the same. The history
of Exposition Park and its various entities has been touched on in other parts of this website below is a somewhat more concise
history of the places that Clifford came to know so well and still echo with his distant footsteps.

The State Exhibition Building where Clifford worked on preparing exhibits has gone though several metamorphoses during the
ensuing decades. The State Exhibition Building opened in 1912 and remained under that name until 1951 when it was renamed
the California Museum of Science & Industry (CMSI). In the coinciding process of modernization the building lost its original

beau arts
terracotta entry facade. CMSI remained a landmark in Los Angeles until with the passing years it too fell victim to
"modernization" and was once again transformed in 1998 into its present incarnation - The California Science Center. It should
be noted here that several founding members - including the Most Sublime Grand Master - of the Brotherhood began
employment with the institution while it was till under the CMSI banner.
Above: A c.1940 photograph of the State Exhibition Building
looking across the Rose Garden from the steps of the County
Museum Building. This is Clifford's place of employment as he
would have known it.

Photo: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian Order
of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Above: A c.1970 souvenir postcard of the Museum of Science &
Industry. This view shows how the original facade that Clifford
knew so well had been replaced by formless - but oh so modern -
concrete slabs. Much of the rest of the building remained the
same as previously even if it had been stripped of much its
original interior decoration.

Postcard: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian
Order of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Above: The California Science Center in 2014. When the Science Center came into being in 1998 the original
1912 Exhibition Building was demolished with the exception of the Rose Garden facade which was actually
restored to its original form. Inexplicably in Late 2014 and in a case of you win some and lose some, a pylon
bearing an F-18 jet fighter plane was installed directly in front of the sculpturally ornate entry. Of the interior,
nothing remains of the building that Clifford T. Bell once knew.

Photo: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
The National Guard Army Building that Clifford would come to be intimately involved with was built in 1912 as the 160th
Regiment (California State National Guard) Armory and remained as such until around 1960 when the Guard vacated the
structure and it became an annex to the Museum of Science & Industry. In the fateful year of 2004 the interior of the building
was totally gutted and rebuilt into the rather long windedly titled
Amgen Center for Science Learning at the Wallis Annenberg
Building
. I guess big donations buy big titles.
Above: One of Clifford's snapshots of the Guard Armory Building which
appears to have been taken from the roof of the State Exhibition
Building around 1939 or 1940. Aside from being in a dilapidated state of
repair, it was very much the same when the California Science Center's
exhibits department moved out of our armory basement shops and office
space c. 2001.

Photo: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian Order of the
Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Above: A 2012 photo of the former National Guard Armory Building at Exposition Park. Outwardly nothing much has
changed since Clifford T. Bell made his final fateful visit in September 1940. In the early 1980s the rather ugly Frank Gehry
designed Aerospace Gallery was added next to the venerable old building totally ignoring the original structure's
architectural integrity. All that remains of the Armory's original structure is the brick shell. The entire interior structure
down to the basement was gutted in 2004 and a new reinforced concrete sub-basement floor was poured, forever sealing
Clifford's old subterranean laboratory.

Photo: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Above: Even after having thought we had
exhausted our original source materials long
ago, new and previously unseen artifacts still
come to light. Overlooked probably due to its
small size, this ticket stub was Clifford's
souvenir after attending the premiere of the
1939 adventure classic Beau Geste which
starred his close friend Gary Cooper. That
Clifford would have an almost front row seat
makes perfect sense since he was Gary
Cooper's personal technical advisor during
filming. At some point probably just before or
immediately after the screening Clifford had his
old friend autograph the ticket stub.

Ticket Stub: The Secret Archives of the Noble
& Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood of the
Purple Fez.
So with the stage set and dressed who you may ask just are these players
who style themselves as members of the Noble & Antediluvian Order of the
Brotherhood of the Purple Fez? Well and written earlier in this chronicle we
were all members of the exhibits department of the California Museum of
Science and Industry which later became the California Science Center. It
should be noted that not all members of the then department became
members of the organization for various reasons. Some refused the call and
took no part in the explorations of the Brotherhood while others were
simply to displeasing of personality to be welcomed into bond of
brotherhood. A few - a very few to be sure - have been expelled from the
Brotherhood and their name forever stricken for the hallowed rolls of
membership. But generally speaking and as Rudyard Kipling said in his
story
The Man Who Would be King: "...once a Brother, always as Brother."

These first and faithful few who sought to bring the life of Clifford T. Bell
back into the light of the living world are titled
Brothers Initiatii since they
were in fact there at the genesis of the Brotherhood. Naturally founding
members of the female gender are titled
Sisters Initiatii respectfully.

By its very nature the
Initiatii class within the Brotherhood is very small
and exclusive. There have been a few rare exceptions to the above stated
criteria to inclusion in this class all of which have been made at the
discretion of the Sublime Grand Master. All of these special appointments
have be granted to former members of other departments at the Science
Center who showed an unfailing and ongoing devotion to the
Brotherhood's  most worthy cause. All
Initiatii trace their memberships to
the appointed founding of the Brotherhood on 20 November 2001.
By the mid 2000s the Science Center's Exhibits Department staff began to change as members moved on to new opportunities
around the country. Newer department members who were never part of the "Days of High Adventure" and Indiana Jones like
exploits of the original Brothers and Sisters
Initiatii could not or would not understand what had gone on before them and
virtually none of these later comers are now counted on the Brotherhood's sacred rolls of membership. Like all of man's feeble
efforts the old exhibits department that gave birth to the Noble & Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez is no
more but the same Brotherhood lives on with its members quietly pursuing the mystery of Clifford T. Bell and the Purple Fez.
Above: Clifford's old c. 1918 Army Dept. of Engineers pocket compass
which he used while mapping out the tunnels and chambers beneath the
Armory Building. The Brotherhood used this same compass during their
sorties following in Clifford's footsteps. It never failed to bring them
safely home. Engraved, the compass was a gift from Gary Cooper to
Clifford at the end of location filming of Beau Geste.

Photo: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian Order of
the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
The first hints to Clifford T. Bell's story had begun to come to light quite by accident. As these seemingly random fragments of a
forgotten life began to accumulate the "randomness" seemed to give way to a purposefulness driven by unseen forces. One
fragment of paper bearing Clifford's name or detailing some long forgotten moment in his life would turn up then lead us to an
old photograph of him or by him which led us on the next and so on. More often than not it truly felt that we were being led
along the path of rediscovery by the very person we were after. As time went by most if not all of the members of the
Brotherhood became convinced that Clifford or his shade had been waiting for ideal moment, for just the right people to whom
he might reveal himself and the Fez to. It was also the result of this overriding sense of purposefulness that we came to believe
that Clifford had not died on that fateful night in 1940 but had been pulled through a temporal rift when his final experiment on
the Purple Fez accidentally released a bust of energy the likes of which he had no way of predicting or even understanding.  
 
As one might expect almost no one outside our
department was much interested in Clifford T. Bell
and the related discoveries we were making. In fact
the higher one went in the management hierarchy the
less interest there was. There always seemed to us at
least that there was an unofficial policy of "out with
the old and in with the new." at the Science Center
and that any of this old stuff might turn out to be a
hindrance to the progress the place was making. This
also would explain why so many of discoveries where
made after performing that age old archaeological
practice know as "dumpster diving". The number of
age old boxes and files and paperwork that were
thrown out were legion and we were only able to
salvage a scant few. The treasures that are now slowly
being converted into methane in some of the greater
Los Angeles area landfills are beyond count.

Official indifference aside, the burgeoning
Brotherhood did find a certain number of allies at the
Science Center with most coming from the Education
and  Guest Services departments. As it turned out
Clifford T. Bell was simply cool. The Exhibits
Department had always had the reputation as being the coolest department in which one could hope to work while employed at
the Science Center and adding the fact that we also had our very own legendary founder - our own "
Once and future King" if
you will - resulted in the cool factor going off the charts. Our Science Center issued uniforms consisted of black jeans which
looked OK but these were unfortunately topped off by the most god-awfully purple polo shirts. But this was even turned to an
advantage of sorts when the members of the Brotherhood took to wearing purple fezzes in honor of both Clifford T. Bell and
the original Purple Fez. Your most humble of Sublime Grand Master can honestly say that the Exhibits Department, those
"Exhibit Guys" and yes the Brotherhood were admired and looked up to in many ways by rest of the Science Center's rank and
file for many, many years. The likes of that department will not soon be seen again.
Left: In a rare case of happenstance, this 1937 postal
cover that commemorated the first flight of Pan Am's
great Martin flying boat the China Clipper and
addressed to Clifford T. Bell at his State Exhibition
Building office was purchased on Ebay by the Most
Sublime Grand Master from a Pittsburgh dealer of
philatelic materials.

Postal Cover - The Secret Archives of the Noble &
Antediluvian Order of
the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Clifford's story grew with the telling and with each new fragment of his life that was brought to light by the diligent work of the
Exhibits Department. As the volume of materials and information began to accumulate it was soon realized by department
members that something needed to be done to prevent this wealth of lost knowledge from being lost once again in some distant
or not too distant time. An offhand comment by one member of the department to the future Most Sublime Grand Master set in
motion a series of events that rapidly led to the establishment of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez. At a somewhat later date
the title of the group was expanded to become that which it is today: The Noble & Antediluvian Oder of the Brotherhood of the
Purple Fez  
Not long after its inception, it became evident that the Brotherhood needed to expand its membership in some effective manner.
There was no practical way of expanding the
Initiatii class within the group (with a very few rare and not to be repeated cases) so
a new class was created after long and careful deliberations during a secret council held by the
Initiatii. This new class was
brought into being as the
Ordinarii and would at first be made up primarily of fellow former Science Center employees from
other departments who had been part of the adventure during the great days but had not taken part in the actual subterranean
explorations. This class was later amended by the Most Sublime Grand Master to include otherwise non-associated individuals
who are recommended for the honor by the Most Sublime Grand Master or any other Brother or Sister
Initiatii. A third minor
class was later created for individuals who have no former connection the Brotherhood or it membership but have submitted
themselves for consideration. Brothers and Sisters
Initiatii may also nominate individuals to this class who otherwise would not
qualify for the ranks of the
Ordinarii. Members in this third class are styled Legionnaires in honor of Clifford T. Bells service in
the French Foreign Legion. The final decision for any appointments within the Nobel & Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood
of the Purple Fez lie with the Most Sublime Grand Master.
Left: Every secret society needs a sacred scroll to commemorate
individual memberships within its ranks. This is a sample
version of that which is presented to all Brothers and Sisters
Initiatii and Ordinarii. Given the exaulted status of the first two
classes of the Brotherhood, scrolls for both are identical in all
ways with the exception of the members status as either a
Brother or Sister and to which respective class they may belong.

The scroll bears the portraits of both Clifford T. Bell and the
Great King Narmur-Ra - the first keeper of the Purple Fez. It
also depicts the classic image of a Foreign Legion desert outpost
which is symbolic of Clifford's membership in the Legion and
the adventures that led to Clifford's discovery of the Purple Fez.

The scroll measures 8 1/2 inches high by 11 inches wide.

Scroll: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian Order
of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Right: Slightly smaller and simpler in iconography the
Initiatii and Ordinarii scrolls, that of the Brotherhood's
youngest and most minor class of Legionnaire bears the
portrait of Clifford T. Bell and two Foreign Legion
buglers symbolically announcing the newly
commissioned members appointment.  

The scroll measures 10 inches high by 7 inches wide.

Scroll: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian
Order of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Here ends the story of Clifford T. Bell, the unlikely
story of his life and the finding of the Purple Fez. Here
also ends the story of the rediscovery of Clifford's tale
and the founding of the Brotherhood he inspired as well
as something of the Brotherhood's organization and
structure - at least as much as can be publicly disclosed
by any self respecting secret society.

What is it all about? Why did it all happen? These seem
to be questions that will only be answered when and if
the Purple Fez is ever found again. Great discoveries
have been made by the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez in
its epic quest and just as many new mysteries uncovered.
What exactly did happen to Clifford T. Bell? This seems
to be a question for the ages. It is widely held by the
Brotherhood that Clifford was not killed in his final  
experiment but was instead thrown through a rip in the time-space continuum
when it went horribly awry. Now adrift between dimensions, Clifford still
pursues his endless quest to unravel the profound mysteries of the great and
all-powerful Purple Fez. Naturally there are those with closed minds who think
Clifford's Grandfather, Buford T. "Gettysburg" Bell summed it up best when
many years later, in a foot stamping fit of senile dementia, he is quoted as
shouting out when asked about his long lost grandson: "
Clifford who?!".

In the end we indeed have one thing to thank Clifford T. Bell for. It was as a
result of his bizarre adventures that the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez came
into being. And as the years lengthen the Brotherhood will take its rightful
place amongst the other secret societies and brotherhoods that from dark and
hidden chambers, quietly direct the course of human events
.
Above: A "doodle" from Clifford's so-called Fez Diary.

Photo: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian
Order of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Above: Reunion of the Brotherhood, La Cresenta, California, 2015. From left: Most Sublime Grand Master Ed
G.,O.P.F. Brother Initiatii Scott B., M.K.B, Brother Initiatii Ramon M., the late Brother Initiatii Anthony O.,
Brother Initiatii Richard J., Brother Initiatii and Most High Sayer of Sooth Dick B., Sister Initiatii Shirley R-B,
and Brother Initiatii Carl P., O.G.T.

Photo: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Above: The adventure continues. The Most Sublime Grand Master Ed G. and Brother Initiatii Dennis M. high
atop 8,303 foot high Timber Mountain in Southern California's rugged Cucamonga Wilderness on September
11, 2010. For his part in this expedition as well that to the top of 10,069 foot San Antonio Peak under the
auspices of the Brotherhood, Brother Dennis M. was awarded the Order of the Purple Fez. He is the only
member of the Brotherhood to hold this distinction to date.

Photo: The Secret Archives of the Noble & Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood of the Purple Fez.
Left: Peeking out from beneath the exhibits
shop's tables with glowing yellow-green eyes is
the Brotherhood's mascot/shop cat remembered
as the Crate Kitty. His mysterious arrival and
sudden and sad departure mirrored in some
small ways that of Clifford T. Bell himself. The
Crate Kitty had the distinction of being the only
non-human member of the Brotherhood.


P
hoto: The Secret Archives of the Noble &
Antediluvian Order of the Brotherhood of the
Purple Fez.