Saturday, September 30, 2006


It is not ornamental, the cost is not great,
There are other things far more usefulyet truly I state,
Tho of all my possesions, there's none can compare,
With that white leather apron, which all Masons wear.
As a young lad I wondered just what it all meant,
When Dad hustled around, and so much time was spent
On shaving and dressing and looking just right,
Until Mother would say: "It's the Masons tonight."
And some winter nights she said: "What makes you go,
Way up there tonight thru the sleet and the snow,
You see the same things every month of the year.
"Then Dad would reply: "Yes, I know it, my dear."
Forty years I have seen the same things, it is true.
And though they are old, they always seem new,
For the hands that I clasp, and the friends that I greet,
Seem a little bit closer each time that we meet.
"Years later I stood at that very same door,
With good men and true who had entered before,
I knelt at the alter, and there I was taught
That virtue and honor can never be bought.
That the spotless white lambskin all Masons revere,
If worthily worn grows more precious each year,
That service to others brings blessings untold,
That man may be poor tho surrounded by gold.
I learned that true brotherhood flourishes there,
That enmities fade 'neath the compass and square,
That wealth and position are all thrust aside,
As there on the level men meet and abide.
So, honor the lambskin, may it always remain
Forever unblemished, and free from all stain,
And when we are called to the Great Father's love,
May we all take our place in that Lodge up above.
Composed byEdgar A. Guest

Friday, September 29, 2006


How Did the “G” Symbol Originate?

While the square and compasses with the letter "G" is widely employed as the emblem of the Masonic Fraternity it is relatively new. The square and compasses alone began to be used in the early 19th century. The "G" came into the picture near the end of the century when American jewelers began adding the "G" for artistic purposes. While many Masonic symbolists have tried their hands at interpreting the emblem, the simplemeanings taught all Masons remain the best: (1) The square teaches us to square our actions by the square of virtue; (2) the compasses teach us to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds, while (3) the "G' reminds us that as an understanding of geometry was central to operative Masons so should God be central in the lives of speculative Masons.(Source: Bro. S. Brent Morris, author, Masonic Philanthropies)


How much credit did Bro. Henry Ford take in the creation of the automobile? According to authors Peter Collier and David Horowitz, he gave much of the credit to others... "I invented nothing new. I simply assembled into a car the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work....Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed. So it is with everynew thing. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready, and then it is inevitable. To teach that a comparatively few men are responsible for the greatest forward steps of mankind is the worst sort of nonsense."(1)Would we have electricity without Edison? The telephone without Bell? The computer without Gates? The automobile without Ford? According to Bro. Henry Ford, the answer is "yes." (1)Peter Collier/David Horowitz, The Fords (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 55.

Was Bro. Mozart Really Broke When He Died?

Bro. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born at Salzburg, Austria on January 27, 1756, is thought to be the greatest musical genius of all time. But Mozart's finances were never secure. An ardent Freemason, he borrowed frequently from his Masonic Brothers despite many successful operas including The Magic Flute which reveals much of Masonic practices. He'd became ill in the Fall of 1791—some believe he had been poisoned—and died a pauper at Vienna that December 5.

Poison may have doomed Bro. Beethoven

ARGONNE, Ill. (AP) - An analysis of a lock of Bro. Ludwig van Beethoven's hair suggests lead poisoning could explain certain ailments suffered by the erratic genius, his strange behavior, his death, maybe even his deafness. The four-year analysis of the hair the levels commonly found in people today, according to researchers at the Health Research Institute in suburban Chicago, where the hair was tested. That means it is all but certain that the composer suffered from lead poisoning, also known as plumbism, the researchers said. The Health Research Institute scientists said that Bro. Beethoven's lead exposure came as an adult but that the source of the lead is unclear, though one possibility is the mineral water he swam in and drank during his stays at spas. (Associated Press)

Bro. Franz Mesmer Invents

Bro. Franz Friedrich Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) was immortalized in the name of the hypnotic technique he pioneered - Mesmerism. To become mesmerized is to become completely entranced by a sound or object to the point of hypnosis. The word was derived from the name of its discoverer, Dr. Franz Mesmer. Bro. Mesmer graduated from the University of Vienna, and became interested in the curative powers of magnets. He felt magnetic fields could be used to positively influence a force he believed present in all living creatures, which he dubbed "animal magnetism." Beginning around 1772, Bro. Mesmer tested his theory that magnets could reduce pain, apparently achieving some initial success. But after 1785, traditional physicians denounced him as a fraud. As a result, he spent the rest of his life in relative obscurity. Today, however, Bro. Mesmer's theories concerning the use of magnets in controlling pain and promoting healing have regained popularity and are being actively researched by doctors and other health professionals. Bro. Mesmer was affiliated with the French Lodge Les Philadelphs. The Learning Kingdom; Freemasonry: A Celebration of the Craft.


Thursday, September 28, 2006



Institutions do not survive through the ages by accident;
they live only through the possession and operation of everlasting

When an organization runs back beyond historic records,
and relies upon tradition for the story of its origin, its career
during a known period either justifies or falsifies the tradition.

An ancestry of virtue and good works is a liberal education.
The power of the accumulated wisdom of the past
is a resistless impelling force upon the present.

The architects, the decorators, the draftsmen, the woodcarvers,
the workers in precious metals and the Masons who were
building the famous Temple of King Solomon came from every nation
in the then-known world.

Their union of mutual help, protection, society and improvement was the marvel of
an age when all navies were pirates and all nations enemies.

Masonry, marching under the leadership of God and the banner that bears the motto,
"Love thy neighbor as thyself,"with the peasant and the prince, the mechanic and the merchant, the learned and the unlearned following in equal rank and common step, knows neither race nor nationality, neither caste nor condition, as it proudly and beneficially
moves down the centuries.

Chauncey M. Depew (1834-1928)
Financier, U. S. Senator


Wednesday, September 27, 2006



In deciphering ancient history there is always the question as to how much is legendary and how much is historical. With an institution like Freemasonry, whose teachings reach back into thousands of years, such problems inevitably present themselves. There are indications of Masonic teaching as far back as twenty-two centuries before Christ. In one of the oldest classes of China will be found a directive that “Officers of Government apply the compasses.”

Writing in The Pentagram (1949), the Official Masonic Gazette of the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago (comprising the Malaysian area), C. L. Edwards calls attention, in an article “Legend or History - Which?”, to the fact that in the Fifth Century B.C. a work entitled “Great Learning” says that a man should refrain from doing to others what he would not want done to himself. This the writer characterized as “acting on the square.” In a similar manner Confucius and his disciple Mencius measur ed proper conduct with the Compasses and the Square, together with the Level and the Marking Line.

The historic stones of Ancient Egypt give further proof were any needed.

Mysterious rituals practiced at Memphis are described by Plutarch. There were two groups of these orders. The lesser one allowed a large membership and the greater one restricted its membership. The lesser embraced dialogues and ceremonies, and had signs and passwords. But the greater order confined its membership to the few who proved that they were capable of receiving the secrets of science, philosophy and religion. These had to undergo trial by ordeal before they were held eligible to receive by symbols the highest wisdom to which man had up to that time attained, namely, the fine arts and the laws of nature as well as of faith.

A central theme that of the immortality of the soul runs through many of these ancient mysteries and, spiritually at least, Masonry is held by many to be the descendant of the Great Ancient Mysteries. For instance, along about 1800 B.C., the Grecian Mysteries depicted the death of Dionysius. There was a stately ritual, which led the neophyte from death to immortality. Similarly, the Druids, as far north as England, conducted candidates from bodily surcease to spiritual perpetuity. A considerable time prior to the coming of Christ the Mysteries preached the same general theme - birth, life, death, immortality.

Plato’s interpretation of the Mysteries was that they were intended to teach purity, to lessen and, if possible, cure cruelty, improve morals and manners, and to instill a strong consciousness of human responsibility. There was clearly no mystery as to what was taught. The only secrecy was as to the rites and symbols used.

The fortified isle in lake Como of northern Italy was the seat of a colony of architects known as the Comacines. They had fled from the ruin of Rome. In the Roman Empire special privileges were extended to the Colleges of Architects. They were presided over by a Master and Wardens. They used the simple tools of the builder as their emblems. The ruins of Pompeii have revealed much information about these architects who had settled on the fortified isle in Lake Como.

They are credited with having carried their knowledge of architecture to Germany, France, Spain and England. Masonic authorities have characterized them as Freemasons because they were builders of a privileged class, relieved of the duty of paying taxes, absolved from servitude and free to travel about in times of feudal bondage.

In England their descendants are credited with being responsible for many of England’s most magnificent structures of the early centuries. And one fact stands out to show the camaraderie of these architects and builders. During the reign of Henry II and many years after the arrival of St. Augustine, there were built in England over 150 cathedrals, churches and monastic buildings, and, despite the ravages of World War II, many of these magnificent buildings exist today and reveal superb symmetry and exquisite beauty, yet the name of no one individual is associated with any of these buildings. The theory is that they were built by communities or lodges of operative Masons living in the precincts of each building during the process of its erection, which must have been a long and laborious undertaking. When the operative element and speculative Masonry gradually merged, there remained a system of morality “veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.”

A book setting forth a history of the Company of Masons of the City of London, published in 1375, shows that the word Freemasonry appears to have been used in England for the first time about the year 1350.

The initiatory ceremonies of our prehistoric ancestors were the true origin of Freemasonry according to some Masonic scholars. Masonry is an answer to those unexpressed yearnings for Light, which is to be found in all religious systems and prove that the spiritual basis of Masonry is as old as the human race itself. As Mr. Edwards so aptly states: “On the floor of the Lodge men of all races and creeds are able to meet on common ground and make their devotions to a Creator who is neither God, nor Buddha, n or Allah, nor Brahma, nor Jehovah, but who is yet each and all of these.”

The symbols of Masonry, old and simple and universal, still have magnetic appeal to bring men together in a bond of integrity and brotherhood and humanity.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


by Sheldon A. Munn

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in the hot, sticky days of July Ist, 2nd and 3rd, 1863. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had brought his 70,000 soldiers north-ward for food and supplies; to relieve Virginia from the ravages of war; to in-fluence the powerful northern Peace Party to stop the war, and to gain Confederate recognition and support from Britain and France. Lee also was looking for an oppor-tunity to defeat the Union Army away from its base in Washington, D.C.

Twenty-seven months before the Battle of Gettysburg, the first shots of the war between the states were fired between Masons. Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard fired on Union Major Robert Anderson, defending Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. Beauregard was a Mason and Knight Templar from New Orleans, Louisiana. Anderson was a Mason from Trenton, New Jersey.

As the war began with shots fired between Masonic brothers, so did the greatest battle of the war. It was in the morning hours of July 1, 1863, when Lieutenant Marcellus Jones fired the first shot that began the Battle of Gettysburg. Jones, a carpenter and a Mason from Wheaton, Illinois, used a Sharps 52-caliber breech-loading rifle, invented and manufac-tured by Christian Sharps, a Mason from Philadelphia. The shot that Jones fired was directed at Confederate troops led by Brigadier General Henry Heth, a Mason from Rocky Mountain Lodge in the Utah Territory.

In mentioning the Rocky Mountain Lodge, you will find it interesting to know that while it surrendered its charter due to the war, over two hundred Masonic Lodges were created during the war. An even more unusual circumstance unfolds when we learn that John C. Robinson, a Union Brigadier General and immediate Past Master of the Rocky Mountain Lodge, was heavily involved in the first days fighting at Gettysburg. The desperate fighting that day also involved Confederate Major General Henry Heth. Henry Heth had been John Robinson’s Senior Warden in the Rocky Mountain Lodge.

Later that morning, Union Brigadier General Solomon Meredith, a Mason from Indiana, and Colonel Lucius Fairchild, a Mason from Wisconsin, met and held the Confederates on the bloodied fields and woods between Herr’s Ridge and the Seminary for over 8-hours. Among those attacking Meredith’s legendary Iron Brigade and Fairchild’s hard-fighting 2nd Wisconsin Intantry regiment was Con-federate Colonel James Connor, a Past Master of Landmark Lodge in Charleston, South Carolina. Colonel Henry Morrow of the 24th Michigan was with Meredith’s Iron Brigade. During the furious fighting, Mor-row was struck in the head by a Confederate bullet. Later, a Confederate surgeon, identifying himself as a Mason, decided that Morrow’s scalp wound was “too serious” for him to be marched away as a prisoner-of-war. This act of Masonic compassion probably saved Morrow’s life.

The very first regimental volley of the battle was fired by the men of the 56th Pennsylvania Volunteers, led by Colonel John W. Hofmann, a Mason from Nor-ristown, Pennsylvania. Before the first days battle ended, Hofmann’s bloodied regiment would be forced from the fields north of the Chambersburg Road by a gallant charge led by Major William Cox, commander of the 2nd North Carolina infantry. William Cox was a Mason from Raleigh, North Carolina. He was wounded eleven times during the war and would later become a Brigadier General. Cox also became a Congressman and served as the Grand Master of North Carolina for four years.

Early in the evening of the 2nd day’s battle, on the ridge north of Devil’s Den, Union Major General Winfield Hancock told Colonel Edward Cross, “Today you’ll earn your star” meaning that Cross would win his promotion to Brigadier General for his brilliant service over the past two years. Colonel Cross, a Mason from New Hampshire, had received twelve wounds during his heroic service, however his thirteenth wound would be fatal and he was killed leading his brigade against the attacking Confederates led by Brigadier General George Thomas Anderson, a Mason from Atlanta, Georgia.

According to Lieutenant General James Longstreet, Commander of the Confederate First Corps, the most gallant charge of the entire war was led by Brigadier General William Barksdale, a Mason from Jackson, Mississippi. When Longstreet ordered him forward, Barksdale was on the front-line. It was in that position, after forcing the Union lines to col-lapse and retreat, that he was shot—mortally wounded—wearing a clean white linen shirt fastened with Masonic studs.

Barksdale’s courageous charge was directed at the bloody Peach Orchard, defended in part by the men of the 2nd New Hampshire regiment (Co. B) led by Captain Thomas Hubbard, a Mason from Concord, New Hampshire. Hubbard was killed on the battlefield and was buried by Confederate Masons.

Consider the significance of this act, when soldiers in the midst of a major battle, take the time and care to bury an enemy soldier! Unusual in every sense of the word, but not so unusual when you consider that it happened between Masons.

While the entire southern end of the battlefield erupted with savage fighting at the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, and Devil’s Den, a hero was born on the rocky, wooded southern slope of Little Round Top. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, formerly a language pro-fessor at Bowdoin College in Maine, was in command of the 20th Maine Infantry defending the critical Union left flank. The determined Confederates launched attack after attack against Chamberlain’s shattered line. The gallant defenders held their position heroically despite their fearful losses. Running out of ammunition, and without reinforcements, Chamberlain knew that the next Confederate attack would destroy his line and cause the loss of the Federal armies strong defensive position. It was then that Chamberlain, a man schooled in religion and language, ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge the attacking Confederates in a swinging barn-door like maneuver. His unorthodox attack shocked the Rebels, causing them to scatter in hurried retreat. Chamberlain was a Mason, a member of United Lodge in Brunswick, Maine. He would receive a Congressional Medal of Honor in recognition of his courage and heroism at Gettysburg.

While Chamberlain was gallantly defending the southern end of the Union’s fish-hook shaped line, another Mason was desperately trying to overrun the Union army on the opposite end of that line on Culp’s Hill. John Brown Gordon, a successful businessman and lawyer from Georgia, had fought with brilliance throughout the two years prior to Gettysburg. Gordon had been severely wounded nine months earlier at the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862). A bullet hole in his hat had saved him from drowning in his own blood as he lay unconscious on the battle field. Gordon was a man of extraordinary compassion and care—a trait taught at our fraternities holy altars.

During Gordon’s attack on the first day, which resulted in the Confederates forcing the Union Army to retreat from their position in the fields north of Gettysburg, Union Brigadier General Francis Barlow was severely wounded. A Confederate bullet paralyzed his arms and legs. When Gordon, in the midst of his attack, saw Barlow, he dismounted, gave Barlow water from his can-teen and saw that he was cared for. Another instance where a Mason’s compassion and care for his brother transcended the hostility normally found between enemies.

The Battle of Gettysburg was culminated in an attack, the likes of which the world had never seen, nor would ever see again. It was on the atternoon of July 3rd, following a two-hour cannonade of volcanic proportions, that three Confederate Generals, all Virginia Masons, led the attack that has become known as Pickett’s Charge. Correctly named Longstreet’s Assault, Major General George Pickett, Brigadier General James Kemper and Brigadier General Lewis Armistead led their 12,000 men across the mile-long rolling fields to crash against the center of the Union line near the clump of trees that became the “High Water Mark of the Confederacy.”

As the Confederate tide swept closer to the Union line, a sergeant in the 14th Virginia Infantry came upon some Union skirmishers huddled in the tall wheat, who had been cut off from their retreat. The Virginians would have been fully justified in killing the Union soldiers. They were the enemy! But the sergeant recognized a Masonic sign—the sign of distress—thrown by one of the Yankees and ordered his men to pass them by. Wasn’t it fortunate that the Virginia Sergeant, Drewry B. Easley, was a Mason—a member of South Boston Lodge, in Halitax County, Virginia.

Brigadier General Lewis Armistead was the only officer to pierce the Union line. As Armistead crossed the low stone wall that formed the front of the Union defense line, he shouted, “Give ‘em the cold steel boys!” Holding his black hat on the tip of his sword to guide his men, since all his color-bearers had been killed, he led his 150 Virginians amidst the swirling tide of blue-coats. Placing his hand on a hot, smoking Union cannon barrel, he claimed it his, in the name of the Old Dominion. Instantly he was struck by two bullets and fell, giving the sign of distress, “. . . as the son of a widow.” At the same time, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, the general commanding the Union troops defending the line at the center of the Confederate attack saw his old friend and Masonic brother fall. Hancock, a member of Charity Lodge in Norristown, Pennsylvania, who was severely wounded at the same time, ordered his chief of staff, Captain Henry Harrison Bingham, a Mason from Philadelphia, to go to Armistead’s aid. Bingham had Arm-istead taken to the 11th Corps field hospital where he received the best medical care possible. When Armistead died, Hancock saw that his personal belongings were handled according to his wishes. The Armistead-Hancock story is most unusual, especially when you consider that they were, in fact, enemies. But it is not unusual when you consider that they were Masons.

Again we witness the power of brotherly-love, care and concern ... transcending the most severe hatred and hostility associated with battle.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought be-tween 70,000 Confederates and 93,000 Union soldiers. Over 50,000 men became casualties in those three terrible days. The Confederate Army would retreat back into Virginia and the war would continue for another eighteen months.

The war began with shots fired between Masonic brothers. The greatest battle of that war was started with shots fired between Masonic brothers. How do you suppose the war ended?

Come with me, to that chill, damp, Easter Sunday morning on April 9, 1865, in Appomattox, Virginia, when over 112,000 well-fed and well-equipped federal soldiers surrounded the 26,765 starving, ragged Confederates—all that remained of the once invincible Army of Northern Virginia. It was a time for the Yankee’s to shout and cheer! It was a time to celebrate. It was the end of the war—the bloodiest, in American casualties, that the world had ever seen or would ever see again. 618,000 men became casualties. But, the killing years were finally over!

No one would have disputed the Yankee’s right to scream, shout and cheer. But when Confederate General John Gordon brought his battle hardened Stonewall Brigade on the field to lay down their guns and furl their tattered flags, Union General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain ordered his men to give their former enemies a full military salute. It was an honorable and heartfelt act. It was the first act to heal the wounds of a nation and that greeting was given by a Mason! It was an act that uplifted the spirits of every man present. But then what would you have expected? Remember that both Joshua Chamberlain and John Gordon were Masons, representing a brotherhood that was never divided, now dedicated to a nation indivisible.

Let us take pride from the heritage of dedication and heroism demonstrated by our gallant brothers who advanced the principles of freedom, liberty and justice. And let us share that pride with all Americans to the advancement of our fraternity and the good of America.


Monday, September 25, 2006


A Nation is not simply a human encampment, or a business concern. It is both of these, but much more. It is the fusing of millions of people into a vast fraternity, a great friendship, into a unity of faith, feeling, purpose and destiny. It is a collective memory and a collective hope; a thing of spirit, ideals, sentiment - a fellowship in history, service and that obligation to the future which is one of the noblest sentiments of mankind, and the most disinterested.

Of the faith, history, genius and destiny of the Republic, the President is the embodiment. He is a symbolic figure. When he is running for office he is only a man like the rest of us, chosen from among ourselves by virtue of his strength of intellect and nobility of character, as these have developed before the eyes of his fellow citizens. When he is elected he is something more. He becomes then the incarnation of the spirit and will and purpose of a great people, and we need not apologize to any sentiment of equality for regarding him with reverence.
There is, in one way of looking at him, something sacred about the President, as the instrument of the execution of the organized will of the nation.

This is not a mere fancy, but a fact of deep import which we need to ponder. The investure of the President with the power and purpose of millions of people makes him other than he is in his private capacity. What the President does before the world he does for and through us, typifying the nation as no mere ruler could typify it. He is a servant of the people, not a master. His character as revealed in his stewardship is our character, his work in no real sense our work, doing things which free people decree shall be done. He stands for the only Divine right that Republics know - the right of men to rule themselves. The accolade of the popular will changes him and makes him a High Priest of humanity in this land, where, are being wrought out the highest ideals of the race.

The President is the nation brought to a focus of personality, and we see him walking in a fiercer light than ever beat upon a throne - from humble life to the highest office a mortal may hold while wearing our morality. We have had many great Presidents, never a bad one. No one on that great roster has betrayed his people, or proved unworthy of his mighty trust. Each is known to have been moved by pure motives - doing with an honest purpose all he could for the glory of the Republic. Read the life of each President, and, in the light of all the facts and the posture of the hour, it will be seen that a better choice could not have been made than was made at the time.

In a manner not merely accidental, but providential, each of our Presidents, by virtue of his temperament, training, character and personality, has been the man to match the hour - for, to a degree not realized, the personality of the President gives and receives the tone and temper of the nation. The names and services of our Presidents are a testimony to all the world that the plain common people can be trusted, while showing what kind of men a democracy can discover and develop. Most of the great Presidents revealed their greatness after the wise ones wondered why they had been elected. What was then the future and now the past has vindicated the intuition of the nation, in an almost miraculous manner.

Into this great tradition of honor and service came President Harding, at a time of disillusion and confusion, in the wake of a gigantic War, when the world was feverish and almost fanatical with shell-shock; a quiet, gentle- hearted man of fraternal instincts and humanitarian sentiments, having wisdom of patience and the patience of love; conservative, conciliatory, seeking to plant seeds in the good soil of understanding; friendly of spirit, faithful of heart; a man of haunting sympathy and healing goodwill; a small-town man, who loved all kind of folk, at once our neighbor and our President; honored for his character, beloved for his simple, unveneered humanity, and to be remembered as a man in whom the spirit of our Republic revealed itself as a great Friendship.

Alas, just as he was striking his stride as a servant and leader of the people, God touched him and he fell asleep - plunging the nation and the world into a bereavement as unexpected as it was profound. Each of us, whether we agree with the politics of the President or not, felt a sense of personal loss, as if a near neighbor and old friend had suddenly passed away - leaving us to wonder at the fleetingness of life and the strange ways of God. He brought the people close to the Government, and the Government close to the people; he wanted to foster fellowship, understanding, brotherhood, co-operation between classes, creeds, nations, races. In short, he was a man and a President to whom Fraternity was the fundamental need, faith and hope of the nation and the world, without which chaos comes again; and in this he was a true Master Mason.

To the judgment of statesmen and the verdict of historians we must leave the final appraisal of the public acts of the President. Leaving these large matters for some ultimate estimate yet to be made, it is with the more intangible influences of character and personality that we have to do now; those things which seem imponderable, but which are more precious that any official act. Such influences are spiritual, mystical, incalculable, but they are beyond all price and make it worth our time to live.

As has been said, the President was a great fraternalist, alike by temperament and by the habit of his life. Brotherliness was native to his spirit, and he was a Mason in his heart, as all men should be, long before he was made a Mason, in the Lodge. "I like the atmosphere of Fraternity," he said in one of his last speeches; and that was no affectation, but the literal truth of the man. "I think I know the very soul of Masonry," he said in his address to the Imperial Council of the Shrine; and he rejoiced in the great place which fraternalism in general, and Masonry in particular, has in America. He saw its value, both as a bulwark against anti-social forces, and as a constructive force in behalf of social stability and advance. His estimate of Masonry was shown by the place he held in its fellowship, and the part he took in the assemblies, his Masonic affiliations being as follows: Marion Lodge No. 70, F. & A.M., Marion, Ohio; Marion Chapter No. 62, R.A.M., Marion, Ohio; Marion Commandery No. 36, K.T., Marion, Ohio; Scioto Consistory, A. & A.S.R., Columbus, Ohio; Aladdin Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S., Columbus, Ohio. Honorary Member Albert Pike Lodge No. 36, A.F. & A.M., Washington, D.C.; Columbia Chapter No. 1, R.A.M., Washington, D.C., and Almas Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S., Washington, D.C.

The President was elected to receive the Thirty-Third Degree of the Scottish Rite in 1920, but owing to the illness of Mrs. Harding, was unable to be present at the conferring of the Degree at Cleveland. It was his intention to attend the session of the Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction, in New York in the autumn, to receive the Degree; but in the hearts of his Brethren he had already been crowned with the highest Degree within the gift of the Fraternity, as much for his spirit and character as for his devotion to the Craft. At the time of his raising, and on various Masonic occasions, he left many expressions of his vision of Masonry, one of which, in his address to the Shrine, is as follows:

"No man ever took the oaths and subscribed to the obligations with greater watchfulness and care than I exercised in receiving the various rites of Masonry; and I say it with due deliberation and without fear of breaking faith. I have never encountered a lesson, never witnessed an example, never heard an obligation uttered which could not be openly proclaimed to the world. More, if the lessons taught were heeded, if the obligations read were assumed, if the relationships urged were adopted men would be infinitely better in their relationships.

"There is an honest, righteous and just fraternal life in America. It embraces millions of men and women, and a hundred fraternal organizations extend their influence into more than a third of our American homes, and make ours a better Republic for their influences. Fraternity is inherent in man. It is our obligation to make the most of it for human betterment . . . In the Lodge room there is molded what becomes public opinion, and contributes to the moving forces of developing civilization.

"I wish somehow we could have fraternity among nations, as it is taught in America among men. I do not mean to employ sign, grip and password; which afford an appealing mystery to our relationship, but the insistent demand for just dealing, the respect for the rights of others, and the ideals of brotherhood recited in the Golden Rule, and the righteous fellow- relationship which every man knows his God approves. Under such a reign of fraternity cruel human warfare will never come again."

Naturally, the President had a special affinity for the stately Order of the Knights Templar, in which two of the most beautiful things in the world are united - Freemasonry and Christianity. He was a Christian, holding his faith with the simplicity of a little child - wherein he was wiser than any philosophers - striving to live by its high principles, in private life and public office; and he died in its great assurance of the life immortal. Three days prior to his inauguration, at Marion, Ohio, the Order of the Temple was conferred upon him. After the conclusion of the ceremonies he addressed the assembled Templars as follows:

"Sir Knights: It seems for a moment as though Masonry must have been designed for my helpfulness at this particular time. If I have had a thought that I believed was my own, in all sincerity of a man's soul I believe that I have had the thought approaching my great responsibility in humility and faith; and I come tonight to the Temple of this splendid Knighthood and find it teaching me and empha-sizing those things I have been thinking. And so I have come to the new assurance and new confidence in the knowledge that the manhood of America which bears the stamp of Masonry is back of me.

"I thought while the Eminent Commander was speaking of the Flag, that he need not worry about the Flag. All America is consecrated to the Flag, and I promise you, though I may fail you in many ways, God knows I will not fail you in that one thing. While I love peace no less than any man on earth - While I think peace is the greatest thing to be thought of - I should have no hesitancy to draw this sword in the preservation of our national honor.

"Have you ever stopped to think that tradition seldom preserves anything not worth while? Oh, how beautiful is the story of Christ, and how you can bring it home to every man! Every man has his Gethsemane. Every man has his cross to bear, and the measure of his manhood is the way he bears it. Men are crucified every day, as was Christ; and, while they do not rise again, perhaps, in the same great way, any man who performs his service to Christ never fails to live again.

"Knighthood is no more forgotten today than when it flourished in its outward manifestation. I believe the world is everlastingly growing better. The Order of the Temple made a great impression upon me. One of the twelve chosen apostles privileged to be with the Master daily, failed, and today we do not expect one man in twelve, or indeed, one in many more than twelve to fail. We are going on to a finer and better order in the world. The World War isn't chargeable to the Christian Religion, but to the failure of those who profess it. Too often we take an obligation carelessly. Too often we do not give it the consideration which we should. "I am mindful tonight that three days hence I am to take an oath - a solemn one, one that no man can approach without solemn thought. I mean to take that obligation to defend and preserve in humility and faith; and in love of truth. I want your help. I want you to realize that the next administration of the greatest land on earth is yours, not mine; it's that of one hundred million, and I want the help of all of them."

His last address, read by his secretary almost at the hour when he passed away, was in presentation of a traveling banner, of which he was the honored bearer, from the Grand Commandery, Knights Templar of Ohio, to the Grand Commandery of California, at Hollywood, on the afternoon of August 2nd. The banner was inscribed with the text, "Not unto us, O Lord, Not unto us; but unto Thy Name be the glory;" and the President said:

"We should glorify the Holy Name, not by words, not by praise, not by display of arms, but by deeds of service in behalf of human brotherhood. Christ, the great Exemplar of our Order, repeatedly urged this truth upon his hearers. There was nothing mystical or mythical in the code of living preached by Jesus Christ. The lessons He taught were so simple and plain, so fashioned to be understood by the humblest of men, that they appealed to the reason and emo-tions of all. His words to the fishermen bore conviction to the learned men of the Roman bench. All his teachings were based upon the broad ground of fraternalism, and justice, and understanding from which flows peace, always. 'A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.' Surely this is 'all the Law and the Gospel.'. . .With the universal observance of Christ's commandment we would have the essentials of all religions. Perhaps I will best express my thought if I say we need less of sectarianism, less of demoninationalism, less of fanatical zeal and its exactions, and more of the Christ spirit, more of the Christ practice, and a new and abiding consecration to reverence for God."

Thus passed President Harding, Friend and Brother; on his lips words of love to man and faith to God, leaving a legacy of honorable character and gracious service. All the Craft unite in the words, "Hail and Farewell, until we meet in the Great White Lodge," the while we wonder in our hearts what it must be like to be past death - to have accomplished that one amazing act which we have yet undone before us, and which awaits our adventure - to know what that awful and mysterious thing is, and that its pains and terrors are gone past forever. For, whether we be Presidents or peasants, walking in high or humble lot, these things will pass away like a dream of the night, leaving only the Eternal God and the immortal soul, and the loves and fellowships of these many days and years!


Friday, September 22, 2006

Before Wendy's -Bro. Benjamin Franklin-?

When we hear the word "franchise" we think of twentieth-century entrepreneurs like Bro. Dave Thomas , the man who founded the Wendy's chain of restaurants. But Bro. Ben Franklin? Bro. Benjamin Franklin was way ahead of his time. In order to expand his printing business, he set up branches of his print shop in nearly every city on the Eastern seaboard. In return for setting the shops up, he then took a share of the profits. And like the modern franchises of today, he even sold the print shops the supplies they needed to run their business, like ink and paper. Franklin understood that the secret to growth is to empower others, and that the secret to wealth is to always keep a finger in the pie. Bro. Benjamin Franklin personifies the spirit and inventiveness of the modern world. His accomplishments read like an almanac of greatness: • Inventor; poet; philosopher; pamphleteer. • Distinguished member of three national academies of science. • America's first Postmaster general. • Founder of Philadelphia's first police force, lending library, and theacademy which would become the University of • Pennsylvania. • Founder of the first fire insurance company. • Delegate to the Constitutional Convention. • Drafter of the Declaration of Independence. • One of America's most effective statesman and ambassadors. But for all his achievements, and for all his wealth, the epitaph Franklin wrote for himself simply reads "Here lies the body of Ben Franklin, printer." In honoring his humble roots as printer's apprentice, Bro. Benjamin Franklin reveals a lot about what made him great.


Thursday, September 21, 2006


(M.S.A. is indebted to M.W. Brother E. R. Minchew, PGM of Louisiana, and Director of Masonic Education for the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, for sharing his thoughts on “stemming the flow” of membership losses.)

Most Grand Jurisdictions, if not all, are concerned with the loss of members. Basically, there are three categories of membership losses that claim their attention: by demits, by non-payment of dues, and by candidates who fail to complete the degrees.

With reference to the first category—
Demits. In Louisiana, as an example, the number of demits that were granted in 1976 was 284; in 1977, the number was 64; in 1978, the total was 317. While it is true that some of the demitted Masons affiliated with other lodges, it is roughly estimated that two-thirds did not. This is a loss that is worthy of attention. Louisiana has about 47,00(‘ Masons. Other Grand Jurisdictions report comparable losses through demit.

What can be done to reduce the losses by demit? It appears that the cause for demit losses should be examined. There are at least three reasons why a Mason gets a demit and never affiliates with another Lodge:

First - He feels that he is too old to be of service to Masonry.
Second - He has lost interest in the Fraternity.
Third - He cannot attend Lodge.

There are probably other causes for a demit, but these three are certainly worthy of consideration.

The solution to the problem must rest with each lodge, particularly with the three principal officers. There is no doubt but that some members of the Lodge have been neglected.
A well-planned program by the Lodge is necessary, a program that will involve as many members as possible. Specially planned pro-grams will attract and encourage the presence of members. Homecoming, Father-and-Son Night, etc. Each Lodge meeting should include a discussion of some Masonic topic for information when no degree work is on the agenda.

There are many sources for information topics on Masonry; probably the best is the Short Talk Bulletin. (Ask M.S.A. for the catalog listing the more than 680 titles.) Most Masons are interested in learning more about the history, heritage, philosophy, famous men in Masonry, and ideals of the Fraternity. Open meetings, where the doors are opened to non-Masons, are excellent opportunities for good fellowship and for improving the image of Masonry.
In other words, A MASONIC EDUCATION PROGRAM in each Lodge is a MUST. In such meetings, a special effort should be made to acquaint all members with what the Lodge is doing and how each member is a part of the program. The Lodge program should include opportunities for the members to discuss what each wants out of his Masonic life. It is surprising how many good ideas for improving the interest and attendance of the members can be provided by the members. Too frequently they are not encouraged to let their wishes be known.

Some Lodges send out questionnaires to all members asking for the members’ desire to do a certain work in the Lodge. This method gives every member the opportunity to let his wishes be known. A follow-up use of members is the result. Other Lodges have seminars with members to get the members’ reaction to what the Lodge should do. It all boils down to what has often been said, “A working Mason is an interested Mason.”
Some Lodges use a Contact Committee to get in touch with Masons who do not regularly attend Lodge and inform them that they are missed and that they are needed. When such efforts are exerted, the members will feel a part of the Lodge, and many even become regular in attendance.

Members who are unable to attend Lodge meetings should be visited by the Contact Committee as often as possible, and by the principal officers. Telephone calls can be used by the Committee to prevent disabled Brethren from feeling a sense of neglect, and to assure the aged and infirm that they are still a part of the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. On special occasions, such as when honoring the members with long years of service to the Craft, the Committee should arrange transportation for the disabled.

The second category of membership losses is through suspension for non-payment of dues. Some Grand Jurisdictions report as many as five to eight hundred per year. Of the total number that are suspended, about fifty percent request reinstatement. Again, a sufficient loss to cause concern.

There are sundry reasons for failure of Masons to pay their annual dues. The primary causes might be loss of interest, living in another location, financial difficulties and a feeling of neglect.

Some Lodges have sought to solve this problem by making personal calls on the delinquent Brothers. When this is not possible, Masons in the vicinity of the domicile of the delinquent Mason are asked to make a personal contact. In some Lodges the Worshipful Master appoints a committee to visit a Brother who is suspended and persuade him to pay his dues. Other Lodges use different appeals. Financial aid is often provided for the Brother who is in financial straits.

Whatever is done when a Mason becomes delinquent is like locking the barn after the horse is stolen. Rather than treat the disease, perhaps more attention should be given to prevention.
Again, a well-planned program of Masonic Education that will touch the lives of all of the members is suggested. Several Grand Jurisdictions are making much improvement in Grand Lodge oriented and sponsored educational pro-grams that are directed toward improving attendance at Lodge meetings and having a better informed membership on Masonry. There remains much to be done. Perhaps too much money is being spent on administration and other acute needs of Masons and Masonry. There should be some kind of an annual pro-gram in every Lodge to reach as many members as possible.

The third category of membership losses, and the one in which the writer is personally interested, is in the loss of candidates who take the first degree and then drop out of Masonry. This problem has been discussed with Grand Lodge officers of several Grand Jurisdictions and there is a kindred anxiety and concern.
For instance, in Louisiana in 1976, 1187 candidates were initiated and only 874 were raised. In 1977 there were 1279 who were initiated while only 901 were raised. In 1978 the number initiated was 1139 with 886 being raised. In three years there was a total loss of 944 Master Masons. Most of these will probably not repetition for advanced degrees. There would have been a gain in membership in Louisiana if the losses due to not completing degrees could have been drastically reduced.

Why don’t candidates complete the three degrees? The writer has made a study of this problem and presents one actual case.

In one of the Louisiana Lodges there were twelve petitions for degrees that were formally approved by the Lodge. Seven of the applicants completed the degrees within the required time. The other five went no farther than the first degree. The degrees, in each instance, were well conferred. Each candidate received the same information before and after each degree. The five who did not pursue advancement in Masonry beyond the first degree were interviewed and asked “why”? Here are the answers: Two said they did not have time to learn the catechism; one said that he petitioned only because his wife wanted him to become a Mason, and that Masonry demanded too much of him; another said that he could not abide by the moral teachings of Masonry as exemplified in the first degree, especially the obligation; the last one said he couldn’t learn the work.
The results of the interviews were reported to the Master of the Lodge. He appointed a committee to visit each of the five candidates and to persuade him to continue his Masonic career. The committee was successful with only one— can you guess which one? Yes, it was the one who said he couldn’t learn the catechism. He tried, did his best, was not perfect in his recitation but was passed and finally became a Master Mason. You will be glad to know that this Brother is now one of the most used Masons in his Lodge in everything except degree work.

The reasons given by the five Entered Apprentice Masons in the example that has been cited are probably the most often found excuses for not completing the degrees. They might give a hint as to what is needed to be In Louisiana the Grand Lodge is working on a statewide program to educate the applicants for Masonry through the appointment of a committee in each Lodge to visit the petitioner after he has been accepted for the first degree. This is called the Lodge Program of Masonic Education. The appointed committee (this committee is not the investigating committee), visits the candidate and his wife (and older children if possible) to give to them the philosophy of Masonry that will inform him of the step he is about to take. After the discussion, the committee gives to the candidate a copy of SEARCH FOR MASONIC LIGHT entitled PREPARATION. (This is the first of four small books that have been prepared by the Committee on Education of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and are available from the Service Committee of the Grand Lodge.) Preparation further enlightens the candidate on Masonry. After the first degree is conferred, the commit-tee again visits the E.A. Mason, further enlightens him on the Philosophy of the E.A. Degree and answers any questions that may be asked. This process is continued through the second and third degrees. The program reduced the losses by seventy-five in 1978. (A similar pro-gram is contained in the new M.S.A. Digest, “Tried and Proven.”)

Another suggestion for reducing the losses through failure to complete the degrees is that of “Sponsorship.” When the applicant’s petition is presented to the Lodge and favorably received, the Master appoints a well-informed Brother to act as the candidate’s sponsor. The sponsor works with the candidate throughout his degree career. The duties of the sponsor supplement the work of the Education Committee and assures the candidate that he has a friend to guide him through the three degrees, to arrange for a lecturer and assist the candidate in any way necessary. (In some Jurisdictions, this is called “the Mentor System.”)

In summary (l) Losses in Membership must be the concern of both the Grand Lodge officers and the Lodge officers; (2) The Lodge must include and involve as many Masons as possible in the annual program of the Lodge; (3) A definite program of Masonic Education on a personal basis is essential.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


To begin this paper I think that it would be appropriate to quote from the first English Book of Constitution, 1723, - in the first charge therein concerning God and religion is stated 'A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law, and if he rightly understands that Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irregular Libertine' and this charge was revised in 1815 to read 'let a man's religion or mode of worship be what it may, he is not excluded from the order, provided he believe in the glorious architect of heaven and earth, and practise the sacred duties of morality' and so it still stands today - the first condition of admission into, and membership of, the order is the belief in a Supreme Being. This is essential and admits no compromise. A belief in the Existence of God as the Great Architect of the Universe and the Immortality of the Soul and a life hereafter are some of the important landmarks of the Order. Masonry is a Brotherhood which seeks after truth, encourages our members to uphold one another in the highest moral principles and having strict honesty of purpose and integrity in all matters of business and community endeavours.

Throughout the years since organized masonry has existed, the Christian Churches have had a number of concerns with Freemasonry some of these concerns to be well founded and some misguided to say the least. One concern is that Masonry is frequently referred to as being a secret society - certainly we do have a tradition of privacy but in actual fact modern Freemasonry is really very open and clearly anything but a secret society, with meetings usually advertised in the local press, unlimited volumes of published Masonic material available in libraries and book stores and our members proud to make known their affiliation as Freemasons. Another concern is that Masonry is a religion and that for some members salvation is attained by good works alone ­Masonry is neither a religion nor a substitute for religion - nor a competitor with religion - though in the sphere of human conduct it may be hoped that our teachings will be complimentary to that of religion - Masonry requires a man to have a belief in God, or a Supreme Being before he can be admitted as a member, and expects him to continue to practise his religion thereafter ­Actually Freemasonry may be said to be a system of Morality - we as members are free to profess any religious faith which enables us to express a belief in the Great Architect of the Universe ­Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of a religion, we have no theological doctrine and by forbidding religious discussion at our meetings there is no opportunity for a Masonic theological doctrine to be developed.

One of the most important landmarks of our order is that which forbids us to participate as Masons in any form of religious or political discussion. The reason for this important landmark is that Freemasonry exists for the sake of and is devoted to and is dedicated for Brotherhood. This Brotherhood means that many of us men , drawn from all walks of life - with a variety of various racial and political opinions are brought together and kept together in a relationship of friendship, harmony and goodwill. There is nothing else more likely to divide and alienate men than religion and politics and for the welfare of our Brotherhood this has been and always must be one of the most important of our landmarks.

What then is it that leads men and organizations in society to attack us - From the early beginnings of our order we have continually been attacked by those outside of the order. Some of the great Christian Churches maintain an enmity towards us and many governments, particularly communist and non-democratic states, have outlawed Freemasonry and forbidden their peoples to become members. In all probability this will continue and is not likely to change - but what is the attitude of our Craft to these attacks - the attitude of the Craft is to ignore them. We do not fight back, we have done nothing to warrant or to invite such attacks and therefore it is no concern of ours. Our faith in the truth of Freemasonry is so certain and well founded that we only need to continue on as we always have in order to silence any false charges or untruths that may be made against us.

Freemasonry is not a Christian organization although many of us are professing Christians, and the God we worship is the Christian God - Salvation can only be attained by a belief in the divine revelation which exists in the form of a Sacred Volume for every religion and of course for we Christians this is the Holy Bible.
What then does Masonry and Christianity have in common? Masonry is not a religion but it is religious - it is not a church but is a worship in which men of all religions may unite - It is the friend of all, having emphasis upon those truths which underlie all religions. Masonry seeks to instill in its members a standard conduct and behaviour which will be acceptable to all creeds and hopefully that its teaching will be complimentary to that of any religion. The basic tenants of Masonry, brotherly love, relief and truth are complimentary to any man's Christian beliefs and must become a part of a Christian's search for more light in his continual search for truth - that true Spiritual Light who for a Christian is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Many of our Christian leaders in our Churches are also dedicated Masons and find no conflict in being members of both. Our Parish Priest at home is a Past Master of his Lodge and has taken the Christian Orders in Preceptory and has found nothing to be in conflict with his Christian beliefs and Ordination Vows. His problem is time the same problem we all have - There is always a conflict with time when a person belongs to a number of different organizations.

I have been a Licensed Lay Reader in our Parish for almost as many years as I have been a Mason and I know that Masonry has been a strong support and influence in my long and gradual journey to my coming to know my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. There is only one area in which I have found some unhappiness and a feeling of unease and that is in the obligations in the three degrees, when the candidate is taking his vows on the Holy Bible. It has always given me a feeling of repugnance to swear on the Volume of the Sacred Law a completely ridiculous and impossible penalty which is not only archaic but never can be carried out. There is no reason why these penalties could not be moved to some other part of the ceremony and keep the obligation as solemn and sacred as it should be.
Are they compatible? Of course Christianity and Freemasonry are compatible and should be and are complimentary to each other in Man's continual search for truth. Freemasonry does not offer any teaching to the Christian member that he cannot find within his church - We do not recruit new members, only those who are motivated by a favourable opinion preconceived of the Institution' and sees such an opinion as being generated by the good examples of public and charitable concerns by the members.

It is essential that we as members of the order continue to carry out voluntary community activities, participate in our church and worship services, and put our faith into practice in our daily living of and try to keep a fuller relationship with our family and close friends. In this way can Masonry and Christianity continue to be compatible in each of our individual lives as Christians and as Masons.

Brethren, these are some thoughts on Christianity and Masonry, which, hopefully, you can accept in the spirit in which they have been presented - for your consideration and discussion. Masonry has always steadfastly held that freedom of thought and religious worship is there are sole right of every individual. As members of the Fraternity religion encouraged to put into daily practice the precepts of our own as well as the moral teachings of the fraternity.

J. P. Brooks - Grand Senior Warden, Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


"I See You've Traveled Some"

Wherever you may chance to be--Wherever you may roam,

Far away in foreign lands; Or just at Home Sweet Home;

It always gives you pleasure, it makes your heart strings hum

Just to hear the words of cheer,"I see you've traveled some.

"When you get a brother's greeting, And he takes you by the hand,

It thrills you with a feeling that you cannot understand,

You feel that bond of brotherhood that tie that's sure to come

When you hear him say in a friendly way"I see you've traveled some.

"And if you are a stranger, In strange lands all alone

If fate has left you stranded--Dead broke and far from home,

It thrills you--makes you numb,

When he says with a grip of fellowship,

"I see you've traveled some.

"And when your final summons comes, To take a last long trip,

Adorned with Lambskins Apron White and gems of fellowship--

The Tiler at the Golden Gate, With Square and Level and Plumb

Will size up your pin and say "Walk In","I see you've traveled some."


Monday, September 18, 2006



Fiorello Henry LaGuardia (born Fiorello Enrico LaGuardia December 11, 1882September 20, 1947) was the Republican Mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945. He was popularly known as "the Little Flower," the translation of his Italian first name, also perhaps a reference to his short stature of just 5 feet. According to modern historians, LaGuardia is considered one of New York City's greatest mayors because of his role in leading New York during the Great Depression.

LaGuardia was born in The Bronx to an Italian lapsed-Catholic father and a Hungarian mother of Jewish origin from Trieste, and he was raised an Episcopalian. His middle name Enrico was changed to Henry (the English form of Enrico) when he was a child. He spent most of his childhood in Prescott, Arizona. The family moved to his mother's hometown of Trieste, Italy, after his father was discharged from his bandmaster position in the U.S. Army in 1898. LaGuardia served in U.S. consulates in Budapest, Trieste, and Fiume (1901–1906). Fiorello returned to the U.S. to continue his education at New York University, and during this time he worked for New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Children and as a translator for the U.S. Immigration Service at Ellis Island (1907–1910).
He became the Deputy Attorney General of New York in 1914. In 1916 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he developed a reputation as a fiery and devoted reformer. In Congress, LaGuardia represented then-Italian East Harlem.
LaGuardia briefly (1917-1919) served in the armed forces, commanding a unit of the United States Army Air Service on the Italian/Austrian front in World War I, rising to the rank of major.
In 1921 his wife died of tuberculosis. LaGuardia, having nursed her through the 17 month ordeal, grew depressed, and turned to alcohol, spending most of the year following her death on an alcoholic binge. He recovered and became a teetotaler.
LaGuardia ran for, and won, a seat in Congress again in 1922. Extending his record as a reformer, LaGuardia sponsored labor legislation and railed against immigration quotas. He was overwhelmingly defeated by incumbent Jimmy Walker in the 1929 mayoral election. In 1932, along with Sen. George Norris (R-NE), Rep. LaGuardia sponsored the Norris-LaGuardia Act.
LaGuardia was elected mayor of New York City on an anti-corruption "fusion" ticket during the Great Depression, which united him in an uneasy alliance with New York's Jewish population and liberal bluebloods (Wasps). These included the famed architect and New York historian Isaac Newton Phelps-Stokes whose patrician manners LaGuardia detested. Surprisingly, the two men became friends. Phelps-Stokes had personally nursed his wife during the last five years of her life, during which she was paralyzed and speechless due to a series of strokes. On learning of Phelps-Stokes's ordeal, so like his own, LaGuardia ceased all bickering and the two developed genuine affection for each other.
LaGuardia was hardly an orthodox Republican. He also ran as the nominee of the American Labor Party, a union-dominated anti-Tammany grouping that also ran FDR for President from 1936 onward. LaGuardia also supported Roosevelt.
LaGuardia was the city's first Italian-American mayor, but LaGuardia was far from being a typical Italian New Yorker. After all, he was a Republican Episcopalian who had grown up in Arizona, and had an Istrian Jewish mother and a Roman Catholic-turned-atheist Italian father. He reportedly spoke seven languages, including Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, and Yiddish.
LaGuardia is famous for, among other things, restoring the economic lifeblood of New York City during and after the Great Depression. His massive public works programs employed thousands of unemployed New Yorkers and his constant lobbying for federal government funds allowed New York to establish the foundation for its economic infrastructure. He was also well known for reading the newspaper comics on the radio during a newspaper strike, and pushing to have a commercial airport (Floyd Bennett Field, and now LaGuardia Airport) within city limits. He was also a very outspoken and early critic of Hitler and the Nazi regime. In a public address as early as 1934, LaGuardia warned, "Part of [Hitler’s] program is the complete annihilation of the Jews in Germany." In 1937, speaking before the Women’s Division of the American Jewish Congress, LaGuardia called for the creation of a special pavilion at the upcoming New York World’s Fair: "a chamber of horrors" for "that brown-shirted fanatic."
LaGuardia was the director general for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1946.
LaGuardia loved music and conducting, and was famous for spontaneously conducting professional and student orchestras that he visited. He once said that the "most hopeful accomplishment" of his long administration as mayor was the creation of the High School of Music & Art in 1936, now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts[1]. In addition to LaGuardia High School, a number of other instututions are also named for him, including LaGuardia Community College. He was also the subject of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Fiorello!. He died in New York City of pancreatic cancer at the age of 64.
The smaller and older of New York's airports carries his name today.


Sunday, September 17, 2006


FREEMASONRY offers no doctrine as to the nature and attributes of God. It has no theory to propound, no philosophy to promulgate, as to His relations to men and to the universe. The Craft assumes that God is a reality, a sacred and unquestioned reality, in the mind of every man who proposes himself for membership in a lodge, and it leaves to that man the prerogative of fashioning his own theological and philosophical theories. A man may believe in the Trinity or deny the same; he may believe in the deity of Jesus or not; he may hold that God created the universe out of nothing or he may prefer to think that the universe is co-existent with God; and he may, whether he be of one persuasion or another, remain a good Mason. But this does not mean that to Freemasonry God is unreal; far from it. Many of the things and persons most real to us, friendship, truth, father, mother, friend, are none the less real for not being defined, or even capable of being defined.

There is no desire herein to preach to the reader, for that is not the function of these columns, but even at the risk of so doing, there is something to be said about God which it is well for all to ponder. That something is this: Masonry does not demand that we define, or accept any definitions of Him, but it does demand that He be real in every Masonic life.

During the solemn moments of initiation the candidate, of his own free will, confesses that his faith is in God, and this confession is accepted by the Master with instant and cordial approval. He assumes his obligations as in the presence and name of God, and acknowledges his inability to fulfill the same except that God help him. His various journeys in search of light, wherein he is confronted by many dangers and conflicts, are undertaken in prayer, both by himself and the Master. If, with a free mind and a clear consciousness, the man does all this as if it were only so much meaningless show, and if he goes away from so solemn an experience to think of it all as merely an interesting piece of acting in which he himself has been a participant, the man is a hypocrite who, by such trifling with the things that are the most solemn to every soul, endangers the very integrity of his spiritual nature. If his initiation is to be real to him, then must he ever feel that it has been a genuine pact between him and his Creator. Unless the man is genuinely sincere while accepting such a rite as Masonic initiation, it is far better for his character and his happiness as a man that he never seek it at all.

By the same token God must be real to the lodge, else its very existence must become a mockery. Its center is an altar; its great light is a Book that symbolizes the revelation of the Divine Will; God is the center of the ritual as the sun is in the midst of its planets; He is the guarantor of its principles; and all its teachings are made in His name. Unless He be real the whole thing falls to pieces as a sham, and Masonry itself were better out of existence.

At the present moment a wave of new life is sweeping across American Masonry which is best compared to eras of spiritual awakening wherein new religions are born, and new epochs of culture are initiated. Never before have so many men thronged the gates of the Fraternity, or so many able men gladly volunteered to accept the burdens of management and leadership. A new dawn is upon the great Order, and mighty things are destined to be done. In all its branches Masons are working at Masonry to strengthen and to renew it, to understand, and to promulgate it. In this revival of interest, when lodges vie with each other in efforts to make Masonry become all that it can become to state and individual those leaders will be wisest and their work will be most enduring who ever remember that the cornerstone of it all, in all its senses, is T.G.A.O.T.U.

The Builder June 1921


Saturday, September 16, 2006



1. Masonry is a place where you can confidently trust every person, entrust your family with them.
6. Masonry is a place you can go to give support as well as seek it.
2. Masonry is a place where, within moral and civil guidelines; free thought, free speaking and the spiritual growth of man can grow into its fullest potential.
7. Masonry is a place where moral virtues are taught and through these teachings a regular reinforcement of the moral virtues is experienced.
3. Masonry is a place, which provides the opportunity to meet, know, and call brother, outstanding individuals from all walks of life that, I would not otherwise have met.
8. Masonry is a place to spend time with a group of brothers, who by acting as good men make me want to become a better man. Not better than others, but better than I would have otherwise been.
4. Masonry is a place to be a part of an organization that has for its principle tenets- Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
9. Masonry is a place to become better prepared to serve church and community.
5. Masonry is a place that provides self-development opportunities, leadership training and experience, and to improve public speaking skills.
10. Masonry is a place to meet with established members of the community and to become a part of the community.


A Mason is a man who professes a faith in God. As a man of faith, he uses the tools of moral and ethical truths to serve mankind.A Mason binds himself to like-minded men in a Brotherhood that transcends all religious, ethnic, social, cultural, and educational differences.In fellowship with his Brothers, a Mason finds ways in which to serve his God, his family, his fellowman, and his country.A Mason is dedicated. He recognizes his responsibility for justice, truth, charity, enlightenment, freedom and liberty, honesty and integrity in all aspects of human endeavor.A Mason is such a man.

My Masonic Membership Card

I hold in my hand a little scrap of paper 2 ½ X 3 ½ inches in size. It is on no intrinsic worth, not a bond and not a check or receipt for valuables, yet it is my most priceless possession. It is my membership in a Masonic Lodge. It tells me that I have entered into a spiritual kinship with my fellow Masons to practice charity in word and deed: to forgive and forget the faults of my brethren, to hush the tongues of scandal and innuendo, to care for the crippled, the hungry, and the sick, and to be fair and just to all mankind.

It tells me that no matter where I may travel in the world, I am welcome to visit a place where good fellowship prevails among brothers and friends. It tells me that my loved ones, my home, and my household are under the protection of every member of this great Fraternity who have sworn to protect and defend mine, as I have sworn to protect and defend theirs. It tells me that should I ever be overtaken by adversity or misfortune through no fault of my own, the hands of every Mason on the face of the earth will be stretched forth to assist me in my necessities.

And finally it tells me that when my final exit from the stage of life has been made, there will be gathered around my lifeless body friends and brothers who will recall to mind my virtues, though they be but few, and will forget my faults, though they may be many. It tells me that, and a great deal more, this little card, and makes me proud, yet humble, that I can posses this passport into a society of friends and brothers that are numbered in the millions.


Friday, September 15, 2006


by Sir Knight Joseph E. Bennett, KYCH, 33°, FPS

From the July 2004 issue of "Knight Templar Magazine" published by The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America.

The year 1923 marked a serendipitous event in the musical community. Clarence Williams copyrighted his song, "Sugar Blues," that year, and a young trumpeter from Ashland, Kentucky, embraced Williams' song as a musical trademark and rode his distinctive trumpet interpretation to fame and fortune. He was Clyde Lee McCoy, one of the country's most enduring and universally acclaimed musical performers. In 1923 McCoy was leading his own little band in New York City, struggling to gain a foothold in the musical world. With national Prohibition in full swing, 5,000 speakeasies in the Big Apple provided a stage to obtain the essential experience. Many of those offered live music for their patrons while they sipped bootleg spirits from a coffee cup.

The story of this particular trumpeter began with his birth on December 29, 1904. Clyde McCoy was the son of a Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad detective and a member of Kentucky's Pike County clan locked in a bloody feud with the Hatfield family of West Virginia. The vendetta had dragged on for a half century; however, it soon became crystal clear that young Clyde preferred music to rifles, when he procured a trumpet. At the age of nine years, Clyde began to learn the instrument without the benefit of formal instruction. In 1912 the railroad transferred the elder McCoy to Portsmouth, Ohio, and the family moved right along with him. The nine-year-old soon mastered the trumpet and was sufficiently skilled to perform regularly at church and school affairs. Five years later Clyde was employed as a musician on the Cincinnati riverboats, plying the Mississippi River. He performed on the Island Queen and the Bernard McSwain, both side-wheelers. At 14 years he was the one of the youngest musicians on the river and an outstanding trumpet player, in spite of his youth.

Clyde McCoy had all the attributes for a successful public entertainer. He was a personable and extroverted youngster with a natural talent for pleasing musical patrons. His handsome, slender physique, curly hair, and pleasing public persona were all part of a package which included a skilled musical style guaranteed to please the public. He also acquired some formal musical education, primarily to equip himself with the ability to create his own musical arrangements. That skill was devoted to charting a distinctive musical library which was both pleasing to the musical patrons and an exciting departure from the usual dance-music fare. In 1920 while still playing on the river boats, a musical associate informed Clyde of an opening for a band at a popular resort location in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a two week engagement.

McCoy assembled a small band and boarded a train for Knoxville with a group who had never played together as a unit. They rehearsed in the train's smoker, en route to the Whittle Springs Hotel and Spa, providing some welcome entertainment for the passengers. When they arrived in Knoxville, owner George Whittle agreed to audition Clyde's "Chicago Orchestra" and approved of their performance. So did the patrons. The two-week gig lasted for two months, and the Clyde McCoy Orchestra was officially launched as a permanent segment of the musical scene.

In the months following the Whittle Hotel engagement, Clyde and the boys slowly worked their way to New York City. They took any job available, and their young leader found enough work to pay the bills. As 1924 ended, Clyde realized that the band was stuck on a plateau in their quest to achieve musical prominence, and he began a working journey to the west coast. The band was playing in the Los Angeles area by mid-1925, as a musical attraction at the Dome Theater at Ocean Park. During that time frame, Clyde and his brother Stanley, the band's bass player, ventured to a local airfield, bent on a sight-seeing flight over the city. They were seated in the side-by-side cockpit of a World War I biplane, piloted by a tall, taciturn young aviator, who had been touted by another airman present as "the best pilot in the world."

Two years later, while playing an engagement at the Beverly Hills Country Club, Clyde read a newspaper headline which proclaimed, "Lindbergh Solos to Paris." It was the same young aviator who piloted him on the sight-seeing flight over Los Angeles. Home in Kentucky in 1926, Clyde petitioned Daylight Lodge No. 760 in Louisville. He was promptly accepted and received the E.A. Degree on January 9, 1926; the F.C. Degree on May 8, and the M.M. Degree on June 26, 1926. He became a devoted Mason and a lifetime member of his lodge.

Before long, Clyde became a member of the Valley of Memphis, Tennessee, A.A.S.R. , and joined Kosair Temple of the Shrine in Louisville, Kentucky. At his death in 1990, Clyde McCoy had been a faithful member of Daylight Lodge for 64 years, a tremendous record of longevity. McCoy had been experimenting for nearly ten years with a trumpet mute, which he used when performing "Sugar Blues" and many of the numbers in the bands library of arrangements. Clyde's "wah-wah" style had become a distinctive musical identification, and his orchestra was steadily gaining public stature. However, it was not until the band opened an engagement at the new and opulent Drake Hotel in Chicago in 1930 that Clyde McCoy burst upon the national musical scene.

The Kentucky trumpeter's impressive rendition of his "Sugar Blues" solo, backed by a well-rehearsed and musically-disciplined band performance, drew enthusiastic approval from the patrons at the Drake Hotel. The permanent radio wire at the Drake provided national broadcast exposure for the band. Proof of their growing popularity was confirmed when Clyde was signed to a recording contract with Columbia Records. His first studio session was on January 22, 1931. Naturally, the first Columbia disc was "Sugar Blues." It was an instant retail success and continued to enjoy successful sales over the years. At Clyde's retirement in 1985, total international sales of his recording, "Sugar Blues," stood in excess of fourteen million. McCoy's "Wah-Wah Mute" was so popular that he licensed the King Instrument Company to manufacture and market the device. It became a long-term source of income for the astute, young band-leader, one of an impressive list of profitable investments accumulated over the years.

The Clyde McCoy Orchestra enjoyed a long and successful run at the Drake Hotel before beginning a year-long engagement at Chicago's Terrace Gardens. Prior to returning to the Drake Hotel to begin a record breaking two-year second engagement, the band was featured in a Balaban and Katz vaudeville production. Chicago became McCoy's professional headquarters during the years 1931 through 1935. In mid-1935 Clyde signed a recording contract with Decca Records, beginning a five-year stay with Jack Katz's very successful label. By 1935 the slim young trumpeter had reached the pinnacle of his career. His success never wavered, until World War II interrupted life in America. Before the band left Chicago in 1935, McCoy was approached by three investors interested in founding a newspaper for musicians. They needed one more investor, and Clyde was selected. The name of the bi-weekly publication was "Downbeat," and it became one of the most popular trade publications in America. One of the "Downbeat" critics, avidly devoted to swing bands, criticized McCoy's music, as "corny, sweet, and gimmicky." It was blatantly unfair to the talented maestro and a tremendous embarrassment to the critic when he learned he had panned one of the owners. Clyde shrugged it off as unimportant.

Clyde and the band accelerated their recording activity when they signed with Decca Records. At this juncture, it seems appropriate to review their recording history, as well as point out some of the prominent musicians who toiled under the McCoy banner. As previously noted, the band recorded steadily for Columbia Records from January 1931 through December 1933. The national recording industry was suffering the pangs of the Great Depression in those years, which severely hampered the number of record sales. After signing with Decca, an economy label founded by Jack and David Kapp, McCoy's recording activity accelerated. In addition to conventional retail discs, he began to record regularly at the transcription studios. Those recordings were used primarily in delayed radio broadcasts. Before McCoy entered military service in World War II, he recorded frequently for Associated Transcriptions, both in Chicago and New York. The ASCAP recording ban in 1941 halted recording of all songs composed by its members.

However, when the war was over, Clyde resumed recording for LangWorth Transcriptions in New York and several prominent labels, including Mercury, Capitol, and Vocalion Records. Clyde's recorded evergreen standards plus the immensely popular "Sugar Blues" were always surefire successes. The band played a wide variety of Dixieland-flavored arrangements in a driving, swinging style. Clyde's facile trumpet solos always dominated those numbers, stamping his personal musical brilliance on every tune.His diverse musical library dispelled any notion that he was "locked in" to his famous "wah-wah" style. His surviving musical legacy confirms that. The personnel making up the 1935-1936 Clyde McCoy Orchestra represented the most stable lineup of his career. There were few changes over the years, and these mentioned are generally regarded as the creme de la creme. The trumpets were Clyde McCoy, Freddie Train, Duke Dervall, and Tony Donio; the single trombone, George Green; the reed section, George Stone, Tom Ferguson, Chet Lands, and Mick Ashley; the rhythm section, Julie Stauer, piano; Bart Rothyl, guitar; Art Dunham, bass; and Davey Gray, drums. Jimmy Dale came aboard in 1935 to assist Clyde with arrangements.

The vocal duties in the band were a minor adjunct before the Bennett sisters joined. After Clyde met the Bennett sisters (their family name was "Means") in their hometown of San Antonio, Texas, they were added as an important part of the musical company. They were Maxine, Marguerite, and Charlie Bell. A younger sister, Billie Jane, arrived in 1940, making the group a foursome. The Bennett sisters trio joined the band during an engagement at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and immediately began taking an active role. McCoy's discography indicates that the sisters' first recording appearance may have been for Associated Transcriptions, under the pseudonym "Symphonettes" in June 1936. By January 1937 the girls were working under their own name, "The Bennett Sisters." Male vocal chores by that time were assigned to Wayne Gregg. Clyde carried a complete vaudeville act with the band when he made theater appearances. He was a fine showman himself and invariably performed an act with a miniature trumpet, along with the Bennett sisters. However, Clyde's famous trumpet was the star attraction wherever the band appeared.

One of his theater innovations was `The Battle of the Bands." When Clyde and Don Bestor both appeared at the Circle Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana, because of a scheduling mix-up, the trumpeting maestro suggested they have a "battle of the bands." The audience would determine the winner by an applause meter. It was a great hit with the enthusiastic audience, and Clyde arranged for the result to be a tie. The gimmick was so well-received that he frequently repeated the performance in future theater appearances, with the likes of Kay Kyser and Earl "Fatha" Hines. The McCoy band appeared in nearly every major venue in the country. Clyde never went on vacation, so the band worked constantly, interspersing hotel engagements with theater tours and one-night appearances between longer engagements. Among the major locations the band visited repeatedly were Elitch's Gardens in Denver, the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, the Aragon Ballroom and Hotel Stevens in Chicago, and nearly every major hotel in cities all across America.

The Chicago area, a mecca for dance bands in the pre-war years, remained one of the band's favorite locations. Their popularity never waned. Clyde's formula for success was simple. His own words explained it: "I always played what the people wanted." World War II began with the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. A few months later, the Clyde McCoy band was playing at the Peabody Skyway in Memphis, when several U.S. Navy officers were seated at a table. They asked Clyde to join them for a talk during an intermission. The recruiting officers persuaded Clyde and his entire 15piece band to enlist en masse in the U.S. Navy. That began a tour of naval duty that took Clyde and his boys to a long list of military installations and hospitals. It was a perpetual morale-building tour and represented Clyde McCoy's great contribution to the war effort on Navy pay! Their record of war bond sales was impressive. After his discharge in January 1945, Clyde rushed to San Antonio to marry Maxine Means, one of the Bennett sisters. They had been courting since the girls joined his band back in 1936. The long-awaited nuptials took place on January 20, 1945, beginning a long, happy married life which was ended only with Clyde's passing 45 years later.

Clyde reorganized his band soon after his marriage and had it ready for the road in a few weeks. It was a 15-piece group playing the old familiar tunes, which carried him to musical fame and fortune before the war interrupted normal activity. It was gratifying to learn his popularity had survived the hiatus. For the next decade McCoy worked constantly, reprising most of the scenes of earlier successes and adding new locations to their agenda, primarily Las Vegas. His wife Maxine recalled that Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe were selected for engagements when they needed a "working vacation." It was both a happy and bittersweet time for them. Although the band was completely booked, the Big Band Era was drawing rapidly to a close. Many of the major hotels and ballrooms were closing, due to their inability to afford the expense of large orchestras. In some cases hotels were discontinuing live entertainment altogether. Life style changes were mandatory for Clyde and Maxine.

The McCoys invested heavily in a night club venture in Denver, Colorado, in 1955. Clyde had dis­banded his large orchestra and planned to stay active on the musi­cal scene with a scaled-down ensem­ble, primarily at his own establish­ment. Unfortunately, the enterprise was a financial disaster. The dinner club failure represented a severe financial loss for Clyde, and he immediately resumed touring to recoup his fortunes. Working constantly with his 7­piece ensemble, he met with an enthusiastic reception at every appearance. He traveled coast to coast, playing those driving Dixieland arrangements. His bril­liant trumpet performances enjoyed undiminished acclaim from enthusi­astic audiences. Clyde was on the road again and would never stop. A number of McCoy alumni moved on to other prominent orchestras over the years, before and after WW II. Prominent among those names were pianist Lou Busch (a.k.a. Joe "Fingers" Carr), trombonist Eddie Kusby, and vocalist Rosalind Marquis all signing on with the renowned Hal Kemp organization. Another McCoy alum­nus, pianist Jack Fina, became an important member of the Freddie Martin Orchestra before organizing his own fine band.

Clyde and the lovely Maxine finally settled in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1978. A luxurious con­dominium became their musical headquarters between road trips. Clyde fulfilled appearance com­mitments, usually with a small Dixieland combo, until the mid­1980s. The quality of his performance never deteriorated, and he willingly played the numbers which his legion of fans had known for so many years and loved. Who can forget Clyde's rousing solos on num­bers like "Black and Tan Fantasy," "Streamline Strut," "Tear It Down," "Wah Wah Lament," "Twelfth Street Rag," his original theme, "A Lonely Gondolier," and Bix Beiderbecke's old favorite, "Jazz Me Blues"? The Kentucky trumpeter had enough evergreen numbers in his repertoire to play an entire evening of requests, without playing a current hit tune. Clyde was a dynamo of energy. During his days at home in Memphis, he often tutored young and promising trumpet students. His entire life was music, and he never stopped prospecting for talent. He loved to share his own knowledge and exper­tise with a deserving protégé.

Unfortunately, the long happy union never produced children for Clyde and Maxine. Possibly, that was one reason the McCoys continued traveling and performing for audiences as long as Clyde's health would permit. He played a concert in Sarasota, Florida, in 1985 at age 81, his final public appearance. The delighted audience refused to allow Clyde to leave the stage after playing his old theme, "Sugar Blues." They demand­ed an encore of the same number, and he was happy to oblige. It was a fitting farewell for the aging trum­peter; ending a professional career which spanned 68 years, from a beginning on the Cincinnati river boats in 1917, a rare achievement for any professional musician. Clyde went into retirement as his health began to fail. The early stages of Alzheimer's disease were diagnosed, and he steadily lost ground. Maxine adamantly rejected medical advice to admit her beloved Clyde to an extended care facility. She turned their home into a virtu­al private hospital and became his only caregiver.

Her beloved Clyde died in her arms in their home on June 11 , 1990, at age 86. That was the way they both wanted it to end. Private memorial services were offered on Friday, June 14, 1990, at the Memorial Park Rotunda in Memphis, where Clyde McCoy's mortal remains were entombed in the mausoleum. It was the final curtain call for one of America's musical pio­neers and an artist of great ability.

Clyde McCoy's life was a model of good citizenship, exhibited by a Freemason who knew the meaning of "square work, and square work only." He was a credit to his profes­sion and a beacon of inspiration to countless Freemasons who knew him through his music, if not in per­son. Clyde Lee McCoy exemplified a legacy of everything that is great and good in our Craft, and we rejoice in his life as we revere his memory.