Freemasonry is steeped in history and ritual, but this doesn’t mean Masons lack a sense of humor (although I know a few whose faces would probably crack if they smiled). To demonstrate Masons do indeed have a sense of humor, I sent out a request over the Internet for some humorous anecdotes pertaining to the fraternity.
Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.
Bro. Jack Benny, Waukegan Lodge No. 78 A.F.& A.M., Waukegan, IL
What follows are some true stories from the Brethren. I hope you will enjoy them:
FROM GEORGIA, USA
I found this quite funny and it happened last night. After a long night we were about to close the Lodge. The WM said,
“Bro. Senior Warden… Bro. Senior Warden… BRO. SENIOR WARDEN!” (who was off day dreaming). Suddenly, he came out of his trance and said, “It’s Time to Milk the GOAT!” Priceless.
FROM NEW ZEALAND
A few years ago, when I was chairman of the selection panel for the Freemasons Scholarships at the University of Waikato, one recipient, a young lass, was unable to attend the formal presentation because her studies had taken her on a field trip that weekend. I subsequently arranged for her and the District Grand Master to attend my Lodge so that he could present her certificate. She was accompanied by her grandfather (who is a Past Grand Sword Bearer), her father (who is not a Freemason) and a friend. We conducted our business, closed the Lodge then invited the visitors in where the District Grand Master did the appropriate honors.
We sat the lass at the top table in the refectory and, as we usually do, sold raffle tickets with the lass being presented with a few. The treasurer approached the young lady to draw for the first prize and as he approached her he commented, loudly, that it always seemed incredible to him how many times the person he asked to draw a ticket drew one of their numbers. It was not entirely obvious but it did seem as though he was trying to eyeball the tickets sitting on the table in front of her. When she actually drew one of her own numbers he was stunned! Some considerable hilarity resulted.
The next morning I received an e-mail from the lass thanking me for the Scholarship and our hospitality and requested, in particular, that I convey her thanks to the guy who rigged the raffle!
V:.W:.Bro Gary Kerkin, Grand Lecturer
On entering Masonry, I turned up at Lodge for my initiation full of the usual, worried, anxious and apprehensive thoughts about how it is going to be, what are they going to do, until it was time for me to be attired in the same manner as many who have gone before me.
The then DoC came to my aid outside the door of the lodge after being introduced briefly to members on their way in, giving me knowing looks, and sneaky grins about what is about to come.
This was in a back room of a hotel which we used for our Lodge. I got dressed as instructed, was checked and asked if I was ready for this, I was then blindfolded, when I heard a knock at the door, and was taken by the hand by what one of the deacons, who on raising his rod, clipped a light bulb on the ceiling and caused the whole hotel to fuse out and go into darkness. Of course I was already in this state of darkness, when he turned to me and said, “DON’T MOVE, I WILL BE RIGHT BACK.” I thought, “Don’t move?” I am already blindfolded, where did they expect me to go? The Brothers were all running around panicking about getting some light and order back to the Lodge and indeed the hotel.
I hope you find this as amusing as I did once I actually found out this is not part of any ceremony.
FROM QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
One of our most respected Brethren in University of Queensland Lodge was W:.Bro. Arch Stoney, a long time lecturer at the University and a veteran Freemason. He retired at 83 but worked on until 87. Students, aware of his Masonic activities, described him in their magazine as “Killing himself by Degrees.”
Then there was the time when a Governor of Queensland and M:.W:.Grand Master of United Grand Lodge of Queensland took his team to an installation in a small country town. Prior to the meeting he attended a dinner at the local army base wearing his Colonel’s dress uniform. He kept this on when dressing for Lodge and the time arrived for him and team to enter in procession. The Grand D of C knocked and the young inexperienced Inner Guard responded. DC announced that M:.W:.Col X, Governor of Queensland was about to enter the Lodge and Brethren should prepare to receive him in due form. The Inner Guard, totally flustered, announced before the assembled Brethren, “WM, the Great Architect of the Universe seeks admission to this Lodge.”
Here’s another one: Many years ago my friend Don did his First in a Brisbane Lodge. He was a workshop technician in the University Chemistry Department and soon after his initiation the then Professor of Chemistry congratulated him and told him to be sure he was informed when the Second was due. Don duly informed him and the Professor asked him if he could attend the Lodge for the ceremony. In due course he drove his boss to the Masonic Temple but as they were entering he suddenly said, “Oh dear! I have just realized that never having sat with you in Lodge I cannot vouch for you.” The Professor chuckled and said he did not anticipate any problems. Don donned his plain white apron and the Professor put on a wondrous apron trimmed with gold and a very fancy collar. Fact is, he was the current Most Worshipful Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Queensland.
Bro. Tom McRae
FROM NEW YORK, USA
At one of our hardworking Brother’s funeral service, as we passed a group of ladies standing near the coffin, one noticed our white gloves that we wear during the services. She stated, “This must be the Meals on Wheels group that Robert drove for,” referring to the gloves and aprons.
Bro. Leon Randall
FROM CALIFORNIA, USA
One night, the Stewards went out to prepare a candidate for Initiation. There was some delay in the preparation. It was later that we were told that the candidate didn’t, as a matter of course, wear any underwear. The candidate, was apparently so embarrassed, that he has yet to return for his advanced degrees.
Bro. Richard Mullard
FROM CONNECTICUT, USA
It was the final meeting before we break for summer, and it was a very hot and humid day in central Connecticut. Of course, our Lodge doesn’t have air conditioning, so the lodge room was quite stuffy. We had no degree work and only a little business to conduct, so the Master opened the lodge and all officers who had speaking parts went through the opening ritual with speed talk. Suffice it to say it was very funny to witness the opening and closing ritual spoken so fast. We all wanted to get out of that room as soon as possible because it was so uncomfortable, and it probably didn’t help matters that all members in attendance were laughing hysterically at the sped up ritual, putting more moisture in the air!!!
Bro. Scott McCarthy
FROM FLORIDA, USA
Here’s another “Hot One” for you…
We had a “Hot” MM degree about three years ago when our AC broke down. You can probably imagine how hot a Florida Lodge can get, particularly when it was held upstairs in the Lodge room. Fortunately, I sat on the sidelines in casual clothes, but the officers were all dressed up in tuxes and they melted. Everyone was sweating so bad that I took a role of Bounty towels and threw it around the room like a football (with the Master’s permission) so everyone could wipe their faces. It was brutal!
FROM MAINE, USA
A couple of funnies from when I was a member of Augusta Lodge No. 141, A.F.& A.M. in Maine (now part of Bethlehem Lodge No. 35 F.& A.M. (Ohio) of which I am still a member).
First, back at the turn of the last century, there used to be a small Lodge in a small town somewhere just north or Farmington, Maine. Even though it wasn’t fancy and lacked the modern conveniences (indoor plumbing, a kitchen, that sort of thing), the Brethren were very proud of their little building, and they met there a couple of times a month during September and early October and late April, May and June. In the winter they met once a month on the full moon (for the extra light at night since there was no such thing as electricity yet). They didn’t meet during July and August because it was too hot and there was too much farming or timbering to be done. In the cold winter months when the wind would howl and the snow would pile up, the little pot bellied wood burning stove kept them warm and cozy as they conducted their monthly meetings. Now these were men who believed in and practiced the tenets and principles of Freemasonry. Occasionally, they would have a little social where they could bring their wives, but this usually was on Sunday afternoons after church. Beyond that, no women were allowed in the building!
Now there was a little old lady who lived near the Lodge hall, and she was the source of consternation among the Brethren for years. Seems that during the winter months – and in Maine that’s November through April – this woman, we’ll call her Mrs. Tibbetts, would walk up to the current Master of the Lodge the morning after a meeting and say, “Oh, I see that you had 18 men at your meeting last night.” Sometimes the number was higher, and sometimes the number was lower, but Mrs. Tibbetts was always right. This went on for years, and drove the Brethren crazy. Every morning after a meeting the Master would dread Mrs. Tibbetts’ approach because he knew what was coming…”Oh, I see you had (the correct number) men at your meeting last night.” And darn it, she was right, but how did she know? Did she have a way of sneaking in the Lodge and spying on us?
Finally, as Mrs. Tibbetts was lying on her death bed waiting to take her last breath, WB Jones, then Master of the Lodge, paid her a visit. Without nary a moment’s hesitation, he asked, “For all these years you’ve told us, without fail and without an error, how many Brethren we had attending the previous night’s meeting. How did you do it? Where was your spy hole? I’ve got to know.” Well, Mrs. Tibbets looked up at the perplexed and frustrated man and smiled. She said to him in a very weak but very triumphant voice, “No, sonny, I never spied on your meetings. But it was easy enough to tell how many of you men were there. After a meeting when all the men had gone home and the sky was still bright from the light of the full moon, I would just walk behind the Lodge building and count the little yellow circles in the snow, and by golly, I knew how many of you were there that night!” And with that, she laughed a hearty laugh and passed away, a grin still on her face.
This next one was told by Peter C. Schmidt, PGM and Past Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Maine. He always made himself the object of the story…
MWB Schmidt used to have speaking engagements all around the state. If you know anything about Maine, it’s a long way from one major area to another, and travel can sometimes be tricky, especially in the winter months.
One particularly cold winter’s evening, MWB Schmidt had to leave his home near Portland for a speaking engagement in Bangor, normally a little over a couple of hours away. Now MWB Schmidt was not known for his maintaining the posted speed limit. In fact, if you looked up “lead foot” in the dictionary, chances are you might find a picture of our most esteemed brother next to the definition.
But on this particular evening, MWB Schmidt was running extremely late and really didn’t want to disappoint his Brethren in Maine’s second largest city. So he got on the Maine Turnpike, pressed the pedal to the floor and headed north. He was making great time until he passed Freeport. He looked into his rearview mirror and saw the flashing lights of a state police car. MWB Schmidt pulled over, got his license and registration ready and waited for the officer. The state trooper tapped on the window and MWB Schmidt rolled it down.
“License and registration, please,” the trooper said.
MWB Schmidt handed the documents to the officer and while he was examining them, MWB Schmidt asked the trooper if he was a Traveling Man.
“Indeed I am,” was the reply.
“Sir, I am Peter Schmidt, the current Grand Master of Masons in Maine, and I am going to be very late for a meeting in Bangor. Can you help me out?” our Most Worshipful Brother asked.
“Well, I’ll let you go this time but keep your speed down,” the trooper replied. “And it was a pleasure to meet you, MWB Schmidt.”
Once again, MWB Schmidt headed north and as soon as he felt comfortable that he was way past the trooper, he pressed the pedal to the metal. He whizzed past Augusta and was now about an hour or so away. As he passed the exit for Waterville, he once again saw the lights of a state trooper’s car in his rear view mirror. Again, MWB Schmidt pulled over, got his license and registration out and waited for the officer. Tap, tap, tap on the window. “License and registration, please.”
“Are you a Traveling Man?”
“Yes, I am.”
Well, after a brief exchange, MWB Schmidt was let off with just a warning. And again, as soon as he was sure it was OK, MWB Schmidt let his foot do the talking, so to speak.
“I’m making great time,” he thought. “Only a half hour away.”
The exit for Bangor was now only a couple of miles away.
“I’m going to be almost on time!” MWB Schmidt thought. Suddenly there were the lights of another police vehicle visible in his mirror.
“Here we go again,” he thought.
Once again, he pulled over, got his license and registration ready and waited for the inevitable tap on the window.
“License and registration, please,” the trooper stated.
“Are you a Traveling Man?” MWB Schmidt asked.
“Yes, I am” was the reply.
Once again, MWB Schmidt identified himself, and pleaded his case. But this time the officer began writing a ticket.
“Officer, Why are you writing that? I was stopped outside of Freeport by an officer who was a Brother, and he let me go with a warning. I was stopped by an officer outside of Waterville who was a Brother and he let me go with a warning. Why are issuing me a ticket?”
The officer looked at MWB Schmidt very calmly and with just the hint of a grin on his face and replied.
“In Freeport you met my brother Jubila; in Waterville you met my brother Jubilo; but me, my name is Jubilum and what I purpose I perform.”
And with that, the officer finished writing, tore the ticket from his book, gave it to our Grand Master and wished him a safe journey.
W:.Jeff Kaplan, PM
FROM OHIO, USA
Probably the longest-running gag is for someone to slightly unscrew one of the light bulbs in one or two of the Lesser Lights. Sometimes, the switch will be thrown in conjunction with the slightly unscrewed bulb. Of course, during the opening of Lodge, the tampered-with lights fail to come on when the Senior Deacon flips the switch, and with embarrassment he has to screw in the bulb, flip the switch, etc. to fix the “problem.” Harmless but humorous to some “sideliners” or PM’s with too much time on their hands! (Of course, this gag is NEVER pulled during “special” meetings when dignitaries are present.)
Another fun gag is to unscrew the handle from the gavel of one of the officers. It is humorous to some of us when the gavel-head goes flying when the officers raps!
Sometimes, accidents are funny… Once, during an Annual Inspection (Ohio Lodges are inspected for proficiency annually), our Worshipful Master picked up his gavel with a nervous sweaty hand to give a rap. Upon rapping, the gavel handle squirted out of his sweaty hand and went flying into the floor directly in front of him. A helpful Brother, discreetly as possible, retrieved the gavel for him. Many muffled snickers were heard!
One of the funniest (to me now, not at the time) was a gag played on me by a couple of men on the Fellowcraft team during the Second Section of the MM – at our Annual Inspection! These two guys (JA and JO) were baldheaded fellows who got my wife to draw smiley-faces on their heads with her lipstick. Their heads were covered during the degree up until the point where they kneel to confess their deeds. After confession, these two hoodlums bowed their heads and their head coverings fell away, revealing the smiley faces on top of their bald heads! I had to take a couple extra breaths before proceeding with the ritual, when there was heard several muffled snickers around the room! Even the District Deputy Grand Master (my examining officer) was in on the gag! This story still surfaces when a bunch of us are sitting around reliving Lodge meetings of the past… even after 25 years!
The most enjoyable part of going to Lodge is the fellowship before and after Lodge. We have a comfortable sitting room where we have coffee or soft drinks and sit and swap stories and jokes. I have gone home after Lodge many times with aching sides. We have some very accomplished joke-tellers in our Lodge!
– Anonymously submitted
PLEASE NOTE: I’m still collecting Masonic humor. If you’ve got a story you would like to share with the Craft, please do not hesitate to e-mail it to me.
Keep the Faith.
Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company(M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:
Article reprinted with permission of the author and www.FreemasonInformation.com
Please forward me a copy of the publication when it is produced.
Originally published in 2007
Copyright © 2007 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.