The Old Past Master Part Two

The Old Past Master pulled into the Lodge parking lot later than usual.  Others had already arrived.  He sat in the car for a bit, contemplating all that had taken place over the last three months. He had been in charge of the committee to look into selling the building and renting elsewhere. It’s sad, he thought, how may complain and how few volunteer to serve.  He had one new Brother who wanted to serve and he called a number of others until finally Past Master Crowley signed on.

His committee met at O’Reilly’s Pub and over an adult beverage of choice, hashed out a plan of action. Past Master Crowley took the commercial Real Estate offices to see how hard it would be to sell the building.  Brother Jenkins, one of the Lodge’s newer Masons, took the task of finding rental space. He went to talk to the Master, Wardens and Building Trustees of Fidelity Lodge to see about a merger or a straight rental. They agreed to meet back in one month at the same place.

One month later the news was not good.  PM Crowley reported that there virtually was no market for the Lodge.  Property foreclosures were heavy; the market was flooded with property that would not sell. The economy continued to tank and even bargain hunters were hard to find.  Brother Jenkins found three private locations that would serve the Lodge’s purpose for between $800 and $1400 per month.  Unfortunately all would need extensive renovation or restructuring to make them into a Lodge room and offices and any such remodeling would be at the tenant’s expense.  He had met with all concerned at Fidelity Lodge and later in the month they brought the subject up at their Communication for vote.  Fidelity Lodge would have no part of a merger.  They would, however, rent their Lodge building for $1000 per month. But there was something about their condescending attitude that left a lot to be desired.

All this passed through his mind in a matter of minutes.  He wondered how Findler and his committee had made out and if the Master had any luck with the Grand Master.  Well the only way to find out was to get into Lodge.

He entered the building and found the Master at the door as usual greeting Brethren.  The Master pulled him aside and said, “We need to have a private tête-à-tête after we close.  How about getting together at O’Reilly’s?”

“Sure thing Worshipful,” replied the Old Past Master.  “You buying?”

And with a nod of his head the Master was gone to attend to other business.

Lodge opened at exactly 7:00 PM, right on time, and the Master quickly dispensed with the usual business. He then arose to address the Lodge.

“As you know Brethren we have set aside most of this meeting for the purpose of continuing our dialogue of what to do financially as the costs of our building and the deepening economic crisis have put us in danger of bankruptcy.  As we left off our last get together on this subject three months ago you will remember that I appointed three committees counting myself and so let us start off with these committee reports.  Old Past Master can we have your report?”

The Old Past Master rose and delivered all he had gone over in his mind in the parking lot.  There was no market for selling the Lodge building, private rentals were available at an average of $1000 a month but the Lodge would have to pick up the cost of major interior remodeling.  Finally he reported that Fidelity Lodge did not want a merger but would rent their building to us for $1000 per month.

As he sat down Brother Johnson rose and was recognized.  “Seems to me there is no fraternal discount from Fidelity Lodge,” he stated.  “It almost sounds like they don’t really want us.”

“I agree,” replied the Master. “I have had some follow up conversation with the Master over there and he seems to feel that old bad blood between the two Lodges might spill over into today if the association was so close.”

“Well, I will give you my report next,” continued the Master.  “I met with the Grand Master at Grand Lodge and explained to him how desperate our situation was. We needed to upgrade our building right now and make the necessary repairs in order to continue to meet there.  He told me that, while he sympathized with our plight, that Grand Lodge was also feeling the pinch of the depressed economy and would have to be giving up some of its programs and lay off some full time paid staff at Grand Lodge. Under those circumstances he didn’t think it would look too good to lay off staff while subsidizing Lodges.”

“I asked him about a possible loan and he countered with, ‘Well Master do you think you have the where with all to pay it back?’ I allowed as how that might be a problem. But then I got his Irish up by mentioning that the Grand Lodge had some trust funds it could tap into.  He curtly informed me that it wasn’t all that easy and that these funds were set up to be untouchable except for their stated purpose under extreme circumstances. I countered with the fact that considering the state of our economy these were extreme circumstances.  And that abruptly ended our meeting. So, Brethren, it looks as if Grand Lodge cannot be our savior.”

“Let us hear now from Brother Findler.”

Brother Findler rose and reported, “Brethren, my committee searched for ways to increase our revenue.  The most likely prospect would be to get some good paying tenants for our building.  As you all know we have a pretty large building which has many more rooms in it than just a Lodge room.  With some minor alterations we have space available for certain businesses and organizations like a church or community service groups.  The committee scoured the area for prospective tenants but found nobody that wanted to make a move in such tough economic times unless we were offering free rent.  All hope seemed lost until I ran into this large Non Profit Group, which had been endowed by a wealthy deceased patron with a good sized trust fund.  They are in cramped quarters now and were looking for a larger space. We had some long conversation over the past two months and to make a long story short, they have made this offer to us.  If we will donate them the building they will make all the necessary repairs and upgrades at their expense and offer us a 99 year lease free of charge.  They are a 501©3 corporation involved in community charitable endeavors and thus will pay no corporation or property taxes. One of their community programs is refurbishing and remodeling old run down, condemned and vacant property and then turn it over to a needy family for a place to live. That provides them with the necessary tradesmen to perform the repairs and remodeling to our building at a reasonable cost.  This committee recommends that the Lodge look into the possibility of taking up this organization on its offer.”

At which point Secretary Dobson rose like he was shot out of a cannon. “Now I am sure Brother Findler knows that the Lodge building is the property of Grand Lodge and cannot be disposed of us as we please.”

“I am aware of that fact Brother Secretary,” replied Brother Findler,”but I thought perhaps the Grand Master might make an exception considering the seriousness of the circumstances and the dire straits our economy is in.”

Brother Gonsalves rose and after the Master nodded his head said, “I think the idea has a lot of merit and we should see what we can do.”

“I second the motion,” chimed in another Brother.

“The East will then entertain a formal motion,” declared the Master.

A motion was made that the Master appoint such Brothers as he deemed necessary to accompany him to Grand Lodge and meet with the Grand Master again to see if he could and would release the Lodge building to the disposal of the Lodge.  The motion was seconded and carried by a hand vote.  From the count there were no objections but a few Brethren refused to vote.

The Master than stated, “I think that will be all for tonight, Brethren.  We should address this subject again at our very next meeting in one month. If no one has anything else to bring before the Lodge I will proceed to close.”

Lodge closed at 10:10 PM in short form.

Afterwards at O’Reilly’s The Old Past Master and the Master huddled in quite conversation over a libation.

“You know, the Grand Master is not going to go for this idea either,” lamented the Master.”

“Unfortunately you are right,” replied The Old Past Master. “Yet our ammunition is far from being spent.  I have an idea up my sleeve that I have been saving.  I think that if we …………………………………………….”

More on the Old Past Master:

Five Reasons NOT TO BE A Freemason & One To Be One

Awhile back Brother Rui Bandeira of Portugal asked me if he could translate my Beehive posts “I Had A Dream” and “The Last Degree” into Portuguese and post them on his Masonic Blog – A Partir Pedra. I was honored and in no time there was The Beehive in Portuguese.

The moment was not lost on me however.  There is this natural curiosity in me and also a yearning to learn about other people in other lands, especially within the Masonic family. So I asked Brother Bandeira if he would write something for The Beehive that would give us some insight into Portuguese Freemasonry. Thus the article which you see below.

But there is one thing the reader needs to know.  Brother Bandeira’s native tongue is Portuguese .  He is not accomplished in English.  He does pretty well as you will see but concentrate more on the content of the article rather than the grammar.  I just wish I could do what Brother Bandeira can do and I offer him a tip of the hat!

The words below are all Brother Bandeira’s for he is my guest and he has written a a guest post for the Beehive. Thank you my Brother!


Political Influence – Power

Contrary to what many may think, Freemasons have no more influence in political power than any other social institution. The only influence that Freemasonry can exercise is only the moral one, by the example of its members through the application of its principles. They are wrong those who think that by joining the Freemasons they will have access to the corridors of power … Indeed, one of the things that a freemason soon learns within the Order is that it is much more comprehensive the illusion of power, than it itself. Each one has only the power that all the others recognize and accept one exercises. In Lodge, the holder of the Power, the leader, the decision maker, who holds the symbols of power, is the Master. Well, as anyone who has sat on Solomon’s Chair soon found out, in the job of Master of the Lodge one, after all, does not have more rights than the youngest Brother and has more duties than all the other Freemasons. Therefore, those who seek the perfume of the power, seek it elsewhere, not in Freemasonry. You will only learn the performance of your duties.

Economic Influence – business and money

Those who think that Freemasonry’s West Gate is a door for contacts and business and to provide conditions for “going up in life”, think again and think better! If this is the reason why you would like to join Freemasonry, save yourself to the work and costs of it. Within Freemasonry, you will makes the same business that you would make outside it. What everybody will ask you in Freemasonry is to give something of yourself in favor of others. From the others, you get what you actually need and what they can give you, not what you want or selfishly think that suits you. The business of Freemasonry is of moral and spiritual nature. Who wishes to enter the Temple must leave his metals outside.

Social Influence – honors and recognition

Freemasons use aprons and collars and jewels, it is true. But Freemasons consider it mere objects. The only difference between the most rich, beautiful, colorful and embroidered Grand Officer apron and the simple white apron is that who wears the former paid much more for it than who wears the latter. Moreover, from all the aprons which a Freemason can have, that which means most to him is the latter, the simple white apron. That is what any Freemason, whatever his grade or quality, can and should always symbolically wear. That is the adornment that a Freemason should always take care to maintain always white and pure, and therefore never sully it by objectionable or unworthy actions. Freemasons like to use his Lodge jewel, not because it is beautiful or valuable, but only because it is one of the symbols of his Lodge and its use shows everybody in which brotherly group he is incorporated. Freemason wears a collar when exercising a function, not because it is elegant, but just as a distinctive of the job he is doing. In good accuracy, the Freemason does not wear the collar; the job collar wears the Freemason… Neither does the Freemason, in the profane society, get any status or privilege other that the recognition of his qualities as a person, nor within Freemasonry the social, professional, academic or fortune status that makes any difference between a brother and another. The youngest Entered Apprentice has only a way to address the Most Worshipful Grand Master: “My Brother!” And that is thee treatment he gets in return from the Grand Master. So, he who dreams Freemasonry might be an ideal place to gain or strengthen social recognition, do not be fooled by his dream nor deceive the Freemasons: abstain himself of trying to join the Freemasons!

Charities – to help the others

The well-intentioned who seeks in Freemasonry the instrument to fulfill his desire to help the next, to be charitable, if that is the main reason that moves him, if that is what he only sees in Freemasonry, he is also wrong. Not that Solidarity and Charities are not practiced by the Freemasons. Sure they are! But they are not Freemasonry’s main reason to exist. It is not because of Solidarity and Charity that Freemasonry exists. Solidarity and Charities are simple consequences of being a Freemason. In economics speech, although they are practiced, Solidarity and Charity are not the “core business” of Freemasonry. In business speech, even as important as they are, Solidarity and Masonic Charities are simply Freemasonry byproducts. Therefore, if it is Solidarity and Charities that attract the well-intentioned, and nothing more, and not essentially something more, then the best that the well intentioned has to do is to  fulfill his desire through other organizations specifically dedicated to that. Angel Flight is a good option. Red Cross, also. Cancer Aid, idem. Child Foundation, the same thing. And there are many more organizations that provide solidarity and charities. And even without joining any organization, certainly in your street or in your town you can find someone who needs your help. Give it to him or her!

Curiosity – to know the “Freemasons secret”

If it is curiosity that makes you want to become a Freemason, do not be fooled: you do not need to be a Freemason to know what you are curious about. Do you want to know the Freemasons words of mutual recognition? Arm yourself with a bit of patience, read some books, find some works which transcribe ancient rituals and please yourself! Never heard that Freemasons preserve tradition? Then just take the consequence of it, what was done previously is still valid now… But, what? Do you want to be a Freemason just to know this without the searching work? My friend, laziness is a mortal sin … If this is just why you want to be a Freemason, be aware that Freemasons do not want lazies among them… And – believe me! -, I assure you it will take more work and take much longer to learn these words, grade by grade, than to read them in some books. Everything is published!  Do you want to know the Freemasons secret signs? Poor soul,  what’s YouTube is for? So, dear curious, if it is curiosity that moves you to Freemasonry, forget it! You have other means to satisfy it! And finally, if you just want to know what Freemasons think, what they do, what they deal about, you do not even need to bother much: you just need to read Freemason Information and The Beehive!

And now, here is the single reason to become a Freemason

Desire for personal improvement

There is only one valid reason to want to be admitted a Freemason: the desire to improve yourself personal, ethical, and spiritually. He who, being a faithful man, defending freedom and morality, has this design and is willing to use the masonic method of search of the transcendent, he is welcome! He can be certain that nothing will be taught to him, but he can learn everything. He can trust that nothing is imposed to him, but he will willingly accept the conduct rules he will find. He can and should be prepared for a long and difficult and laborious journey, but he will never be alone, he will always be accompanied by his brothers. He will find that his works begin when he gets its first degree and will be finished only with his passage to the Lodge Above. He, if he works consistently and well, will become better, will act better in all aspects of his life and it will be by virtue of his improvement that he will be respected and can aspire to influence the others, perhaps in politics, perhaps in business, certainly in social relations, especially in the hearts of those who know him. He will be supportive and merciful, because that is the condition of a freemason, a fair and full and interested man, with the naturalness of breathing and the discretion of the sleep. He, if he has done consistently well his work, can aspire to Know, to Know what nobody can pass him, to Know what only he can sense, the glimpse of Divinity, the meaning of life and creation. And, if he is successful, he will understand that words can not convey this knowledge to anyone else, he can just help his brothers to make their journeys in order to aspire to sense, to perceive, to look. And then realize that this is the famous masonic secret! He, if he has done consistently well his work, even if he never will be anything more than a simple sideliner in a simple Lodge, he will be a true Grand Master, of himself, his consciousness, his initiatory journey. He will not have the honor to be admitted freemason; freemasons will be honoured that he has agreed to join them.

Rui Bandeira

The Old Past Master and Lodge Foreclosure

The Old Past Master left the house for Lodge extra early this night.  The meeting tonight would be a lively discussion that he hoped would not become a three-ring circus. He would like to arrive early before anybody else to see if he could be of assistance to the new Worshipful Master.  He was a good fellow but so young and inexperienced.  But he was working hard and always seemed to arrive very early to a meeting of the Lodge to prepare his program and greet every Brother at the door.

The Master had sent out notice in the Summons that tonight he would be discussing the future of the Lodge and its financial situation.  The topic all seemed to stem from a series of articles the Master called “blogs” which had appeared on the Internet titled “Preventing Lodge Foreclosures.” It seems two Brothers were debating back and forth on the proper action that a Lodge could take in the wake of tough economic times.  Last month the Master had shown him these articles and after reading them they had only time for a very short discussion on what the ramifications might be for our Lodge.

I guess I am just going to have to break down and buy a computer, The Old Past Master thought to himself.  Lord knows how I am going to learn how to use it.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Well we have a number of young dogs in the Lodge now.  Surely they will come to my aid.

As he rounded the corner and pulled into the Lodge parking lot he spied the Master’s car in its usual spot. Upon entering the building he proceeded to the office where he found the Master at the computer with papers flying out of the printer in rapid succession.

“Good evening, Worshipful,” he called out.  “Getting ready for tonight’s donnybrook are we?”

“I’m afraid so,” replied the Master.  “It looks to me that this will be a tough meeting.”

How can I be of assistance,” offered The Old Past Master.

“Well I’m not sure how to broach the subject nor how deep into it we should get tonight,” queried the Master.

“Try placing the problems as you see them on the table and then let the Brethren draw their own conclusions and come up with their own solutions.”

“Ah, I see.  Don’t try to ram the whole deal down everybody’s throat.  State the case and sit back and listen.  I think I’m getting the hang of this leadership thing thanks to you.”

“Every Mason should lead his Lodge once in his lifetime.  It teaches him how to command by building a consensus.”

“Well I doubt if we will get a consensus tonight.  I am worried about the whole situation getting out of hand.  Maybe I should just downplay this whole thing.”

“Now is not the time to second guess yourself.  Part of good leadership is not shying away from the tough problems and decisions of the Lodge.”

“I know you are right but I would feel a bit more comfortable if you would be in my corner tonight and soften any harsh words.  It always helps to have backup.”

Don’t worry, Worshipful, I’ll help keep us on an even keel.”

Just then a few Brothers could be heard entering the building.  The Worshipful Master went out to greet them. Soon more and more were pouring in. The Old Past smiled to himself.  Here they come he, thought, all the old fogies who never come to Lodge until the talk of money becomes serious.

Lodge opened and the Master, after breezing through the Minutes, Bills and Correspondence, got right down to brass tacks.

“Brethren it is time to discuss our future and I have allotted most of this meeting having previously informed all the Brethren via The Summons.  Our nation is in deep economic distress and we are barely hanging on here.  Our building has no other tenets and its maintenance, upkeep and repair are an ever-increasing burden that presently consumes 90% of our budget. With Cap & Trade taxes and significant inflation coming our electricity and heating costs could double. We have already received notice that our property taxes are going to be increased by 10% next year. The paint is starting to peel on the outside of the building.  We have gotten estimates on having it repainted and the lowest bid is $8,0000. But the worst news of all is that the Building Inspector recently made an inspection of the Lodge and he has told us that the electrical wiring in the building no longer meets code and it will have to be replaced. And I am not even counting the increased taxes you all will individually soon be paying.  Now Brethren I am open for suggestions.”

“Well I hope you didn’t call us all together to raise our dues,” a voice bellowed from the sidelines.

“Yeah, because we’re going to vote that down, right quick,” came another anonymous voice from the crowd.


“Brethren I am going to ask you to rise and wait until I recognize you before speaking,” commanded the Master.

“The day I have to ask permission to speak in this Lodge is the day I find another Lodge”, roared Brother Clarke

“Well that’s your choice,” replied the Master.  “But for tonight you will rise and wait until I call on you.”

Worshipful Master I just done told you I ain’t going to do no such thing, “repeated Brother Clarke.  “Did you or did you not call us here in order to raise dues?”

“Brother Senior Deacon”

“Worshipful Master”

“You will pick up the Junior Deacon and the Stewards and proceed to escort Brother Clarke out of the Lodge room.”

Are you really going to throw me out of my Lodge, “ screamed Brother Clarke?

“It’s our Lodge,” replied the Master, “and nobody is above the law or in this case the rules.  We will see you another night, Brother Clarke.”

“You will never see me again.  Who wants to belong to a bankrupt Lodge anyway,” screamed the now red faced Brother Clarke

‘If he goes I go,” said a voice.  “That goes for me too.”  “And me” “And Me”….”Me,” “Me,” “Me,”

The Old Past Master rose and the Worshipful Master immediately recognized him.

“Looks like we can get that dues increase passed now, Worshipful” he said with a smile.

“I guessed I changed my mind,” “Yeah, I might as well stick around,” “Same for me,” “And me,” “And me,” …….”Me,” “Me,” “Me”

After Brother Clarke was removed and order restored, the Brothers stood and were called on one by one by the Master.  Suggestions and ideas abounded. One Brother suggested that the Lodge merge with Fidelity Lodge on the other side of town. But an argument ensued whether Fidelity should join us at our building or we should sell ours and join them at their building.  Many Brethren wondered if Fidelity would be amenable to any of this and so offered that we should sell the building and just rent our own space somewhere else. Still others asserted that nothing drastic really needed to be done.  Things would find a way of working themselves out like they always did.  A number of Brethren suggested that we find paying tenants for our building. Still others suggested a series of fundraisers. Yet another wanted to ask Grand Lodge for a loan. And the last thought for the day came from a Brother who thought maybe we could get some corporate sponsorship in the form of charitable write off relief.

After two hours of what seemed like exhaustive exchange, Past Master Crowley rose and was recognized.  “And what do you think we should do, Worshipful,” he asked?

The Master rose and slowly and deliberately replied, “I don’t think I have enough information yet nor does really anybody.  The way I see it we can elect one of four choices:

1) Do Nothing

2) Give up our Charter and return the Lodge to Grand Lodge

3) Sell the building and property and rent elsewhere

4) Increase our revenue substantially – make it work.

The problem has developed into such a magnitude so quickly that I will automatically rule out dues increases, fund risers and loans as acceptable solutions.  But what I will do is petition Grand Lodge for an outright gift.  The next Grand Session is a little over a month away. For now I will also rule out choices #1 and #2.  That leaves us with two choices and for those I will appoint two committee heads who will choose the rest of their committee and research and investigate their appointment and report back to the Lodge for further discussion. I will ask the Old Past Master to chair the choice #3 committee and Brother Findler, our Treasurer and a CPA, to head the choice #4 committee. Do both of you Brothers accept your appointment?  Seeing two heads nodding I so declare it done.”


“I will charge both committees to be ready to report in detail three months from now at our monthly business meeting and I will so note it in the Summons. I will also be ready to report to you what Grand Lodge will do for us. Now if there is no further business to come before this Lodge I will proceed to close.”.

More on the Old Past Master:

Further Adventures of the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team

So here I am sitting in the East in a two-year line of a Lodge with significant resources and a great budget.  I had just taken the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team to hometown Lexington.  What to do next?  Think big Fred, I thought, think big!  After all that was one of the decisions that led you to affiliate with Paul Revere Lodge in the first place, its ability to provide the means to facilitate those who wanted to do great things.

So the first time around I thought of my heritage and how that fit with the Colonial Degree Team going to Lexington. Now once again I turned to what I knew and where I had been before and how that fit in with the Colonial Degree team and with my family and its origins.

I had just gotten my first computer a year before being installed as Master of Paul Revere Lodge. And one of the first things I did with that new toy was to explore cyberspace for signs of the Craft.  The most active areas at that time seemed to be New York and Indiana. I joined the GFN and made some interesting friends such as Ian Donald and Ellis Mills.  I also latched onto an enterprise launched by Jeff Naylor out of Indiana, a Masonic forum and discussion Board, Masoniclight that was very active and interested in the betterment of the Craft. Such later notable Freemasons as Chris Hodapp, Nathan Brindle, Roger Van Gorden, Bill Hosler, Tom Fellows and Eric Schmitz who I was later to meet in person hung their hat there.  Plus others I am sure these old brain cells just can’t conjure up.  This group became very reform minded and later formed The Knights of The North, which I also associated with, and wrote Laudable Pursuit.

My wife’s hometown was not Lexington, MA but Bloomington, Indiana and I had been there a few times and also north of Indianapolis to visit the other side of her family.  So why not take the Paul Revere Colonial Degree team to Bloomington, Indiana? It wasn’t England but then I didn’t know anybody in England and maybe that would be carrying thinking big just a bit too far.  But heck Indiana was only a thousand miles away. When I looked up the Lodge in Bloomington I found out that it was Monroe Lodge #22.  And I was William Munroe on the Colonial Degree Team.  Those who know me well know that I don’t believe in coincidences.

I broached the subject in a sort of trial balloon to the members of the Degree Team and to a certain few well-placed members of the Lodge. Many said that nobody had ever tried something that ambitious and they doubted it would fly. But I am not one to be easily discouraged.  I took the founding head of the Colonial Degree Team, now its Historian, and a revered Past Master of the Lodge out to lunch.  I told him what I wanted to do and I said to him that if he did not there and then approve and be willing to openly say so, that I would drop the idea.  Quite frankly without his approval the idea was going nowhere.  When he gave his full blessing to the project and actually brought it up in open Lodge we got the go ahead on our end of the line.

I had meanwhile already gotten in touch with Monroe Lodge and struck up a conversation with its Master.  Soon I was pushing for him to have the Colonial Degree Team out to his Lodge.  The conversation lasted over many months as he liked the idea but working out all the incidentals of actually doing it was no small project. First and foremost were the financial arrangements.  We would pay for our airfare out there and back for approximately 18 Degree members.  They would have to pick up the bill for our meals and board.  That looked like no easy task.  Before we could even think of making this trip we had to have prior approval from The Grand Master of Indiana and our own Grand Master.  Some states had locked us out, refusing to allow Massachusetts’s ritual to be exemplified in their state. That really seemed so petty to me and was later to influence me into becoming an advocate of more cooperation among the various American jurisdictions and the crafting of some sort of American Masonic identity.

After eight months of negotiations the talks broke down and the trip seemed to be just a dream never to be actualized. The Master in Indiana was enthusiastic about having us out but he just couldn’t seem to work out the logistics of accomplishing it on his end.  Now it was time for him to step down and turn over the East to a new Master. It was also time for me to step down and do likewise at Paul Revere Lodge. As a famous Mason once said, “The best laid plans of mice and me, oft go awry.”

Many, many other wonderful things were going on in the Lodge during all this time and I stepped down knowing that it had been a wonderful two years in the East.  Still I was despondent and sulking over what could have been.

Months went by when all of a sudden the new Master of Monroe Lodge #22 E-Mailed me.  He had solved the problems on his end and wanted to know if we were still interested.  WERE WE INTERESTED!!!

We flew out of Boston on a Friday afternoon in October of 2001 just four weeks after 9/11, eighteen members of the Degree Team making the trip.  My biggest laugh was seeing our Marshall a Past Master and a retired Boston cop get patted down and practically stripped search before our eyes. They had him down almost to his birthday suit right there in the open in the terminal.

Upon arrival in Indianapolis Past Grand Master MW Richard Hickham and the Master of Monroe Lodge #22 , Wor. Gary Denson met us with  a mini bus with a bunch of bedding in the back.  We drove about 75 miles south and stopped at a Shrine Club just outside of Bloomington where we were treated to a great steak dinner and some beers and  MW Hickham announced our arrival to all gathered.  Afterward we were driven to the place where we were going to stay.  They had us billeted at the state DeMolay chateau about 20 miles east of Bloomington in a rural area.  The bedding in the back of the bus was for us to make up own bunks (we brought our own towels and toiletries). The Chateau was a beautiful two story natural wood building, somewhat like a giant log cabin.  The top floor had a large wrap around deck.  The bottom floor consisted of eight bedrooms each with two bunk beds (upper and lower) and a bathroom.   Upstairs was a bathroom and huge living/dining area with a small kitchenette. In the kitchenette refrigerator was two cases of beer.

Saturday morning  MW Hickham and Wor. Denson were back with the bus and we went down to the Lodge where they had breakfast prepared for us, eggs and bacon and sausage and grits and fruit and biscuits and honey. Then we took a tour of Bloomington and Indiana University, I being able to stop at my wife’s grandmother’s old house.  We had lunch out and then it was back to the Chateau to shower and change clothes for the Degree. We arrived back at the Lodge around 5:00 PM for a tour, set up and pre- dinner fellowship.  The Lodge prepared a wonderful meal after which we retired to the Lodge room for the ceremony we had come 1000 miles to perform.

We marched into Lodge to the beat of our drummer, all in costume with tri- cornered hats.  The degree went flawlessly and we raised three Indiana Masons to the sublime degree of a Master Mason.  William Munroe gave the “Canadian Charge” and the Historian his usual patriotic message.  Afterward we presented the Lodge with an engraved Paul Revere bowl and they gave us all presents. Many visitors were there including one Massachusetts Mason from the Plymouth district who was visiting IU. After many introductions and good cheer all around we retired to downtown Bloomington for some real cheer.

We all gathered at an Irish pub for celebration and a continuation of Masonic fellowship.  As it was a warm night we all sat out on the outdoor sidewalk café of the pub.  There is nothing like sitting on the sidewalk of a big college town on a warm night.  The sights were something that sent the blood of old men bubbling.  I have a picture of Wor. Denson, Master of Munroe Lodge #22 and me at the pub included here and also Past Master Eric Schmitz with MW Richard Hickham – the last two pictures at the bottom.

Sometime after midnight, I can’t quite remember when, we all piled into the Chateau.  Sunday morning the bus was there to take us to the Lodge for another great breakfast.  We all told many Masonic stories over breakfast including how much we enjoyed their company and all they had done for us. We said our goodbyes and the bus brought us back to the Indianapolis airport for a Sunday afternoon flight home. Monday morning we were all back to work with memories of a time we shall never forget.

And that’s what can happen when you think big!  1000 miles and back – all in one weekend!

Everything Comes Back To Lexington

I have always thought that my interest in Freemasonry came from my interest in DeMolay that was triggered by my love of history.  And my love of history was triggered by the rich Revolutionary War history of the town in which I was born and grew up in, Lexington, Massachusetts. It was here that Paul Revere galloped into town with the message “The British are coming, the British are coming.” And it was here that the first battle of our war for independence was fought on April 19, 1775.

Battle Reenactment

April 19th is a holiday in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.  It’s Patriots Day and every year on that date Lexington does a recreation of Paul Revere’s ride and the battle on the Lexington Green in the morning followed by a huge two-hour parade in the afternoon.

When I was five years old my father died. My mother took on three jobs to support my two sisters and me.  It was the 50s and you didn’t take welfare then even though it was available.  By day she was secretary for the First Parish Church, our church, which sat on the Southwest corner of the Green.  By night she was Secretary and Recorder for the town Planning Board Sessions. And on the weekends she was tourist guide at the Buckman Tavern.  The Buckman Tavern was there on the Northeast corner of the Green in 1775.  Here The Minutemen gathered in response to the call because British soldiers were marching into the countryside. I can remember as a boy of about 8 sitting on the steps to the Buckman Tavern and listening through the screen door to my mother recounting the tale of Paul Revere’s ride and the ensuing battle to groups of tourists.

Buckman Tavern

“Listen my children and you shall hear,

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”

Much later at my public installation as Master of Paul Revere Lodge AF & AM, having been so installed by The Colonial Degree Team in full regalia, I would introduce my mother and remind her and all assembled of her days at the Buckman Tavern. But that is getting ahead of this story.

On the Northwest corner of the Lexington Green sat the Masonic Temple and in that Temple met Battle Green Chapter, Order of DeMolay. My best friend Ron invited me to become a DeMolay in the late 50s.  He was later to tell me that he sat in homeroom behind a very nice girl he thought I should ask out. This year that girl and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary.

DeMolay Diploma

Battle Green DeMolay was a very active Chapter. Most meetings one could count forty or more members present.  We had a basketball team and a bowling team.  I was a bowler.  We sold ice cream at the Patriots Day parade but our main fund raiser was the production and sale of a town wide community events calendar, listing all the important dates for all the groups in town – social, religious, governmental, fraternal, educational and specialty organizations like The Women’s club and garden clubs. Armed with a hefty bank account we did much, such as special dinners, BBQs and trips.  The highlight of our social season was the annual DeMolay/Rainbow Sweetheart’s dance.  It was to that dance that I escorted my future wife on our second date.

When I was senior Councilor in the West we once again entered the state ritual competition at the State Conclave.  Previously we had been able to garner some honorable mentions and a third place finish.  Some years we didn’t enter at all.  This particular year was the largest participation ever recorded and after a semi final and a final competition we came home with first place.  That gave Battle Green Chapter a tremendous amount of statewide prestige especially among the Rainbow girls who flocked from all over to our many social events.

The work that went into that state wide ritual competition, the camaraderie that it produced and the pride and enthusiasm that it generated among us were things I never forgot. It influenced me years later when I became Worshipful Master at Plymouth Lodge and then Paul Revere Lodge, for the themes of my tenures in the East was always “Let’s Celebrate Our Masonry.” I was always thinking of ways to put on some big bash by bringing together large numbers of Masons in some special exemplification of our heritage and our philosophy.  But that was much later.

The next term I became Master Councilor and it became my turn to lead the Chapter from the East. Once again that experience was to have a profound effect on my future choices in Freemasonry.

Soon I was off to school earning a BA in government & history and blazing new trails, leaving my fraternal childhood as nothing more than a memory.  What followed was marriage, a child, and many years of overwork and bad choices.  When I finally got my head screwed back on right, the first thing I did was petition a Masonic Lodge.

I was raised in historic Plymouth Lodge also steeped in American History where I cut my teeth working my way up the chairs. I was installed as Master in a public installation by 5 Past Master Councilors of Battle Green DeMolay who were also all Past Masters of Simon W. Robinson Lodge of Lexington, MA. Needless to say they were old friends also.

When I became Senior Warden I affiliated with Paul Revere Lodge in Brockton where I actually lived. Almost immediately I joined the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team which performed the second and third sections of the Third Degree in colonial costume while adding a patriotic message at the conclusion. And then upon assuming the East in Plymouth I also took the chair of Senior Deacon at Paul Revere.  I can remember doing First Degree ritual as Master in Plymouth on a Monday night and then on the very next night, Tuesday, doing the middle chamber lecture at Paul Revere on the second degree.  That spring in the East at Plymouth Lodge I invited the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team to perform.  I also invited everybody else in the world I could think of including a large contingent from Rhode Island.  We had 5 District Deputies present that night and such a packed house I had to hire a policeman to direct traffic out front.  We did celebrate our Masonry that night including a well-attended dinner.

The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team was formed in 1975/76 to celebrate our country’s bicentennial.  It was such a huge success that the team continued to perform anywhere a Lodge would invite them and is still working to this day. We marched into Lodge to the beat of our drummer in the dress of the 1700s with tri-cornered hats and conducted ourselves in the Lodge room like a precision military drill team.  After raising the candidates, giving the Third Degree lecture of the Emblems and a Charge our Historian would take the floor.  He first would give a message about our flag.  The team used the Betsey Ross American flag.  Then he would describe the hardships that colonial Masons endured.  After that he would have each member of the team rise and identify who they were as each one of us took the name of a famous Revolutionary War Mason.

When I joined the team it had already been functioning for 17 years and all the “good” or most recognizable names had already been taken, like George Washington, Ben Franklin, Israel Putnam, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Benedict Arnold etc.  I ask the director if I could choose my own team name and he gave his assent.  I thought back to my days in Lexington to the battle of April 19, 1775.  I wondered if any of the 70 odd Minute Men who stood against the British that day were Masons.  There was no Masonic Lodge in Lexington at that time.  So I wrote to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Grand Lodge library and asked them that question. Back came a letter that listed 26 Masons who fought the British in that battle on April 19, 1775. From those 26 names I chose one whom I would represent.

William Munroe

I chose William Munroe who was stationed on an all night watch on the Lexington Green the night of April 18, 1775.  He was a sergeant in the Lexington Minute Men and proprietor of the only other tavern in town, the Munroe Tavern. It was William Munroe who received Paul Revere into the town of Lexington on the wee hours of the morning of April 19, 1775 with his message, “The British are coming.” It was William Munroe who helped Paul Revere rouse Hancock and Adams who were sleeping overnight in Lexington and tell them they best get out of town. And it was William Munroe who sent out the alarm to the rest of the Lexington Minutemen and to units from all the surrounding towns. Most units outside Lexington did not arrive until the British had already marched onto Concord and “fired the shot heard around the world.” But they were ready for them on the return trip where the British took heavy losses.

Later William Munroe would form Lexington’s first Masonic Lodge and I went into the Grand Lodge Library and read the minutes of 1791 when one William Munroe was escorted to the East with his petition for a Charter.  And he was received by the Grand Master who was pleased to shake his hand — Most Worshipful Paul Revere.  Hiram Lodge met for 40 years in especially constructed back rooms of Munroe Tavern until it moved to the neighboring town of Arlington.

Munroe Tavern

Munroe Tavern still stands today a stones throw away from The Scottish Rite National Heritage Museum where you can visit a lighted display and a historical recounting of the Battle of April 19, 1775 called “Lexington Alarmed.”

I performed the Charge for The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team and utilized many different charges but the one I liked the best and used the most we called “The Canadian Charge.”  It went by many other names, so much so that my correspondence with Ian Donald about it caused him to research the charge and write a paper on it called “A Charge By Any Other Name Is Still A Charge” and which can be read on

I was installed as Master of Paul Revere Lodge in a public installation by the members of the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team in full costume. The soloist sang “God Bless The USA” and I recited 4 stanzas of Longfellow’s poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”  As I have said I introduced my family and honored my mother by telling the story of her third job at The Buckman Tavern. And the Historian did also take the floor and give his usual talk followed by team members introducing the Colonial Mason they represented.

One day I got a call from the oldest member of my church. She was in her 90s and was selling her home to go into assisted living.  The house had been in her family for generations but neither she nor her sister who was now in a nursing home had ever married.  So the old homestead was on the market and a group of church members had just helped her pack up what she could take with her and sell or discard what she couldn’t. Down in her basement was found a Masonic diploma dating from 1840 and she did not recognize the name of the person and she asked if I would like it.

Colonial Degree Team before the altar is at Simon W. Robinson Lodge in Lexington, Massachusetts

When I picked it up I noticed it was issued from a Lodge in Connecticut so I felt it should be returned to them.  Later that week I phoned the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and got the contact information for the Secretary of that Lodge. And before you know it I had a bus full of Lodge members and the District Deputy rolling down the highway to make a visit to Putnam Lodge in CT and officially return this man’s Masonic diploma to the Lodge. We had a dinner and a nice presentation and before we all left I informed Putnam Lodge about our Colonial Degree Team. Six months later we were back with the whole team performing before the Junior Past Grand Master, three District Deputies and a packed house.

Right from the start as Master of Paul Revere Lodge I set out to take the Colonial Degree Team to Lexington. So I called the Secretary of Simon W. Robinson Lodge who was the Master Councilor when I was Senior Councilor and we won the state DeMolay ritual competition.  He got with the Master and after much discussion and preparation we scheduled a gala event for the nearest Communication to

Presenting Paul Revere bowl to the Master of Simon W. Robinson Lodge Lexington, MA

April 19th.  The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team was to perform followed by a tri Table Lodge, the Frank W. Thompson Lodge , the District Deputy’s Lodge, of neighboring Bedford, MA being invited in on the festivities. No one I knew had ever heard of a tri Table Lodge but all three Lodges shared in the ritual of that occasion. We marched into the Lodge to the beat of our drummer before a packed house. We performed the degree after which William Munroe gave “The Canadian Charge” and the Historian delivered his patriotic message. Then one by one we introduced ourselves with the name of the Revolutionary War Mason that we each represented. I was very proud to announce that I represented Lexington’s William Munroe. Afterward we presented the Master of Simon W. Robinson Lodge an engraved Paul Revere Bowl commemorating the occasion. We started on a Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM with the Colonial Degree Team and we finished the Table Lodge at 11:00 PM. We had the usual 7 course meal with 7 toasts and much merriment and brotherly love and affection. Over 100 Masons gathered that day for what was truly a memorial Celebration of the Craft.

Special Lodge Notice Cover

I had published a special Lodge notice for that month with a colored front to back page of the American Patriot Rebels picking off the British as they marched back to Boston from Concord.  In it were extra stories of Paul Revere and April 19th.

And so I can truly say that for me everything comes back to Lexington.