A SMALL TOWN
There Really Is A Difference
Families come first in our group of small town Texas Masons. In 1998 after living in the Humble area of north Houston for 42 years, Nellie and I moved to the little community of Pine Island in Waller County. Pine Island is 45 miles west of Houston. At that time I was a member of two “large city” Lodges in the Houston area. However, I had lost interest in the Lodge and hadn't attended meetings at either Lodge for a few years.
We had been living in Pine island almost a year when a couple of distant cousins invited me to visit two nearby local lodges. After visiting both Lodges a few times, I demitted from the two “large city” Lodges and joined the Waller Masonic Lodge #808 AF & AM, 5 miles east of Pine Island, and the Hempstead Masonic Lodge #749 AF & AM, 5 miles to the west.
I think the main things that attracted me to these small town Lodges was the “Family Social Hour” and dinner before each stated meeting. On the stated meeting night at both Lodges, many of the Brothers with their wives, children and even mothers and fathers sometime, join together for dinner from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM. In all my years as a member of the “large city” Lodges, I don't remember ever seeing wives and children in the building on a regular stated meeting night.
Our small town Lodge family hours have a very positive effect on our families. It gives the ladies the feeling that Lodge night isn't just an excuse for husbands to get away from the wives and children for one night. At 7:30 PM when the brothers assemble in the Lodge room for the Lodge meeting, most wives double up and ride with each other to go back home. The husbands do the same after the meeting. A few of the wives wait around in the dining room talking or playing cards until the meeting is over and ride home with their husbands.
The Lodges pay for the groceries that the Stewards use to prepare the dinners. Donations to the kitty jar usually come within 15 or 20 dollars of the expenditure, if they don't cover it, and the ladies bring deserts. We feel that the cost to the Lodges are very small compared to the benefits of having our wives feel that they have a part in lodge night. They not only have a night to socialize and get to know our other Brothers and their wives, they also enjoy some good home cooking without having to cook supper and clean up afterward. Most actually look forward to Lodge night here rather then complain about being left at home alone. Some of the wives even voluntarily come out to help with our fund raisers because they feel that they are part of the lodge.
The Fund raisers are another difference, Hempstead Lodge only has 56 members and with endowed members and 50 year Masons we only have 32 members who actually pay dues. For that reason we have to have 5 or 6 fund raisers every year to raise money to be able to pay bills and do a little charity work. One of the fund raisers the "Leindo Plantation Civil War Reenactment", is 3 days long. Being with, and actually working all day with our Brothers that often helps bond and makes us much closer.
I never miss Lodge meetings anymore and my wife rarely misses the "Social Hour". She takes the car home when the meeting starts and I get a ride home with my son after the meeting. Best of all, I have regained my interest in the Lodge. I am currently the Secretary of the Hempstead Lodge and the Junior Warden for Waller Lodge and work in all of the fund raisers. I also write the newsletter for Hempstead Lodge and maintain web sites for both Lodges plus another Masonic web site of my own.
My son John, who moved to this area soon after we did, had also lost interest in the big city Lodges. He joined the Hempstead and Waller Lodges at the same time I did and is now the Worshipful Master of Waller Lodge and active in all activities for both Lodges.
We both feel that we owe our renewed interest in Masonry and the Lodge to a much stronger sense of belonging and family. We know our new Lodge Brothers many times better then the ones at our "large city" Lodges. But, more important, in knowing our brothers wives and children and having our having our wives know them and their families, we have developed a much stronger sense of brotherhood that we never experienced as members of the larger "large city" Lodges.
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