Worshipful Master Bart Harvey     -     Secretary & Editor John "Corky" Daut
The November 2010 Issue
It's Happening At Waller Lodge

By Corky

A motion to raise the Lodge dues from $80 to $100.00 per year was passed unanimously.

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A Motion was passed to make Past Master Fred Loofs the Proxy to represent Waller Lodge at the Grand Lodge meeting.

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The hunting rifle and equipment raffle fund raiser for Waller Masonic Lodge charitable purposes cleared approximately $2,500 after expenses. The winners of the prizes were, Charley Sanchez - The Remington Deer Rifle, Adam Barrett - The $100.00 Academy Gift Card and J.H. Rodgers - The 8 Piece Field Dressing Kit.

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Brother "Wes" Mersiovsky reported that in order to finish the front Door and Sidewalk remodeling project under our current permit issued by the City of Waller a crew of volunteers will start in the morning (13 Oct. 2010) installing a handicap ramp at the front door. Brother "Wes" also reported that the Kitchen Remodeling project is moving forward again.l

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Brother "Wes" also reported that he and Brother Calvin Trapp and wives will be having a Yard Sale in the very near future, " Before Liendo", to raise more funds to the Kitchen Remodeling project

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It was decided to help the Lodge save money, the telephone will be dropped, saving the Lodge about $360.00 per year. We will also start using only one room on study nights to save costs for heating and air-conditioning.

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Please say a prayer for,

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Doris Bozarth is recovering from a stroke.

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Bob Scarborough and Maxine are living temporarily in an Assisted Living Facility

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Brother Greg Williams wife is currently living in a nursing home due to medical problems

The Work Crew

By Corky

Wes Mersiovsky, Calvin Trapp and John Reese.

Brothers “Wes” Mersiovsky, Calvin Trapp and John Reese with ages running from 59 to 80 made up the entire crew installing the new handicap ramp in front of Waller Lodge Wednesday afternoon October 13, 2010. The day was beautiful when I got there the first time around 10:00 am (as the Waller Lodge News reporter to take a couple of pictures). The whole crew was sitting inside the door resting a few minutes.

Then, when I came back about 2:00 pm all three were sitting inside the door resting a few minutes. But, I didn't blame them, at all. They were fighting a large jack hammer breaking up part of the sidewalk and curb. Hands, shovels and wheelbarrows removed all of the broken concrete and then after putting in the steel rebar and mesh they had to mix the concrete to pour the new ramp.

This project was part of the master plan to spruce up the appearance of our Lodge by redoing the front entrance, planting the memorial garden and installing a handicap ramp and 2 handicap parking spaces in front of the door to comply with the laws on handicap accessibility.

The only problem with having 2 handicap parking spaces however, is that a bunch of our members have handicap plates.

Guess What Time It Is, Again? Answer; Liendo Plantation,

By Corky

To inform those who don’t know and remind those who do, every November a little piece of the Civil War is relived at the Liendo Plantation near Hempstead. The plantation's historic involvement with the General George Custer and his military occupation of the Waller County area after the Civil War is remembered with a 3 day battle reenactment each year during the third weekend of November

On that weekend, for 11 years members of Waller and Hempstead Lodges spend those 3 days cooking and selling food to raise operating funds. It has been serious business for Waller Lodge and has been considered our greatest source of income. In a our best year like 2008, we made $2,576.00, however, last year when the weather was bad, we only made $920.00. The average income for the last 11 years, since we started working the event, was $1,038 for 3 long days work plus a day to prepare

As a major fund raiser however, in comparison we made $2,078.74 in 2009 and $1860 in 2010 for 3 hours work with the Pancake Supper and Silent Auction fund raiser.

Liendo Plantation, Part of Waller County's History

For the new Brothers who don't know and the older Brothers who may have forgotten.

Liendo Plantation was built in 1853 by Leonard Waller Groce, the son of Jared Groce, who was one of the largest most respected land owners in Texas. Originally a Spanish land grant of 67,000 acres assigned to Justo Liendo, the plantation's name-sake, Liendo was one of Texas' earliest cotton plantations. It was considered the social center of Texas receiving and lavishly entertaining early Texas dignitaries and notoriety's. Liendo was considered a typical Southern plantation, having over 300 slaves and being itself built by slave labor. Sufficient in all its needs; it was a self contained community. Like most Southern plantations, however, Liendo fell on hard times after the Civil War and changed owners several times thereafter.

Liendo had always been recognized for its warm Southern hospitality, but few people know that this same tradition of generosity probably saved it from destruction. Among the more notable statesmen and historical figures that have spent time at Liendo was George A. Custer. At the end of the Civil War, he was stationed at Liendo. It is said that both Mr. Custer and his wife were so impressed with the plantation and the gracious hospitality shown them during their stay, that they made sure Liendo was not harmed in appreciation.

Liendo was also occupied by world renowned sculptress Elisabet Ney from 1873 until she died in 1907 and by her husband Dr. Edmond Montgomery until 1911.

She and her husband had immigrated years before from Europe to the United States but had never found a new home until they found Liendo.

In 1960 Carl and Phyllis Detering purchased Liendo from Miss Willene Compton and began their 10 year job of restoring the plantation home. Traveling throughout the deep South and Europe, the Deterings acquired period furnishings and faithfully restored Liendo to its former glory.

Today Liendo is recognized as a Texas historic landmark and is listed on the national register of historic places. Will Detering now owns and operates Liendo Plantation, raising Detering Red Brahaman cattle and continues the work of preserving and sharing this Texas landmark.

Masonic Plots and the Chilean Mine Rescue?

From The Freemasons For Dummies Web Site

The University of Chile's Crest
The perennially demented VigilantCitizen.com website, where "Symbols Rule the World, Not Words Nor Laws," has peered carefully through its hairy eyeball at the rescue of the Chilean mineworkers this past week, and found it to be *somehow* Masonic in nature. Really.

No, really.

33 miners were brought "from darkness to light." 33 days to drill the escape hole. The rescue date 10/13/10 adds up to 33.

You get the idea.

Read it at: http://vigilantcitizen.com/?p=5145

No, I'm not hot-linking to it. I just won't. And don't ask me for those five minutes of your life back, because I don't give refunds.

Why do the Masonophobes see "33" and only come up with "evil Masonic plot"? The number 33 was not selected at random by the developers of the Scottish Rite. It has long been considered sacred within Christianity for several reasons. It is the multiple use of three, signifying the Holy Trinity. Christ was thirty-three years old when he ascended into heaven, and the gospels list, by some counts, thirty-three miracles performed by Christ. (Dan Brown incorrectly claimed, appropriately on page 333 of The Lost Symbol, that God is mentioned thirty-three times in the Book of Genesis. God is actually mentioned thirty-two times, in the first chapter of Genesis in the King James version of the Bible.)

Thirty-three also appears in the Old Testament and other Jewish writings. Jacob had thirty-three children; Mosaic Law required that a woman purify herself for thirty-three days after her male child was circumcised; the holy day of Lag B’Omer occurs thirty-three days after the start of Passover; and the Seal of Solomon, or Star of David, made up of two intersecting triangles, is considered a graphic representation of three plus three. It also plays a prominent role in Kabbalah. And the religions of Islam, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism all associate sacred meanings with the number 33.

There are even thirty-three vertebrae in the human spine.

Given its widespread usage, the number stands as a symbol of the Scottish Rite’s universality as well as the perfection that every man should aspire to achieve in his soul. But it is by no means a purely Masonic reference. Not by a long shot.

But while we're at it, the crest of the University of Chile (above) must give these folks nightmares.

Masonic Anniversaries
Brother Years
Jimmy E. Hooper Sr.44
Richard E. Patterson43
Paul B. Cox16
Bart C. Harvey06
Happy Birthday To
Clem Reynolds78
Gary V. Mosmeyer66
Wes Mersiovsky59
Ted W. Wren III43
James Dee Magee41

The Burial Services

By Stephen E. Orlando PM - PDDGM

My brethren,

I would like to address the topic of Burial Services. Every regular Mason in good standing is entitled to receive a Masonic burial service. This service is Freemasonry's way of paying tribute to a “true and trusty friend” and brother. It is the Lodge's way of showing its appreciation, on behalf of the Craft, for the many years of membership, the dedication to the Lodge, and the steadfast attachment to Masonry's ethics and obligations by a fallen brother.

Most Masons are not able, for many reasons, to devote any time and serve their Lodge in some capacity. Indeed, the active members themselves are sometimes without the means to tend to the Lodge's many needs. Unfortunately, such is many times the case when the duty of performing a burial service is requested.

Consequently, only a sparse representation of the Lodge can be assembled.

The ritualistic stations and places themselves (the assemblage of which requires a Master, two Wardens, a Chaplain and a Tiler) are usually satisfied. However, seldom are there any additional brethren in attendance to appropriately represent our beloved Fraternity. This scenario gives a poor reflection of the Craft in general and of the Lodge in particular to the public. It is, also, a disservice to our deceased brethren and their families.

The Masonic Burial Service is one of the few opportunities Freemasons have to give an understanding to the world of the honorable and exceptional standards which make up this humble Institution. It is one of the few times the public gains exposure to this ancient Order. It, therefore, becomes indispensably necessary, on these occasions, to put forth our best effort and wear our aprons in true Masonic fashion, wherever so dispersed, for the entire world to see.

Many members of this Lodge are retired or work evenings or nights. Many brethren may be able to arrange some time during the day for a special purpose. My brethren, if you qualify as one of these members, I pray for your assistance. The Lodge needs your service whenever you can afford it; even if it's just once in a while. Here is the opportunity you have longed for to serve your Lodge. For years you have promised yourself you would play an active role in formal Masonry. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give to the Lodge and to yourself.

Let's Visit A Neighboring Lodge

By Corky

There are 23 different small town Texas Masonic Lodges less then an hour away from Waller, Texas including ours.

Meeting DayLodge NameMeeting TimeLocation
1st Monday Bellville #223 7:30 pm7 E. Glenn
2nd Monday Navasota #299 7:00 pm 300 E. Washington
3rd Monday Conroe #748 7:00 pm 311 Simonton
3rd Monday Sugarland #1141 7:30 pm 421 Eldridge Rd.
1st Tuesday Oak Wood #1444 7:30 pm 8314 Hwy. 242
1st Tuesday Northwest #1434 7:30 pm 18011 W. Strack Dr.
2nd Tuesday Waller #808 7:30 pm 2106 Main St.,
2nd Tuesday Morton #72 7:30 pm 211 Morton St.
2nd & 4th Tue. Cypress #1423 8:00 pm 12103 Old Huffmeister Rd.
3rd Tuesday Montgomery #25 7:30 pm 600 Eva Street
3rd Tuesday Rosenberg #881 7:30 pm 25507 Southwest Frwy.
2nd Wednesday Hurbert #67 7:30 pm Main St.
Chappell Hill
Last Wednesday Washington #18 6:00 pm 300 E. Washington
1st Thursday Brookshire #1066 7:30 pm 819 Purdy
1st Thursday Graham #20 7:30 pm 908 Hwy. 290 W
2nd Thursday Hempstead. #749 7:30 pm 710 Main
2nd Thursday Katy- A.S. C. #1439 7:30 pm 3158 Katy Hockley Road
2nd Thursday San Felipe #239 7:30 pm 1224 Eagle Lake Rd.
2nd Thursday Tomball #1096 7:30 pm 600 Kane St.
3rd Thursday Spring #1174 8:00 pm 26814 Preston Rd.
3rd Friday Planters #147 7:30 pm FM 1774
3rd Saturday Pleasant Hill #380 12:00 noon Schneider Rd & FM 1488
Fields Store
2nd Saturday of Feb., June, and July.; 1st Sat of Nov. Olive Branch #261:30 noon 1209 Northwest Hwy 314
San Felipe

The Small Town Texas Masons E-Magazine

Don’t miss reading the monthly Small Town Texas Masons E-Magazine at, http://www.mastermason.com/STTM-Emag/

This Month features the Stanfield Lodge #217 A. F. & A. M. and When the War Stood Still in Galveston Texas

This Month's Humor

Two nicely dressed ladies happen to start up a conversation while waiting in the LAX airport.

The 1st lady was an arrogant woman married to a very wealthy man. The second was a well mannered elderly woman from the South. When the conversation became about whether they had any children, the arrogant woman started by saying,

"When my first child was born, my husband built a beautiful mansion for me."

The lady from the South commented in a slow southern drawl, "Well, isn't that precious."

The first woman continued, "When my second child was born, my husband bought me a beautiful Rolls Royce."

Again, the lady from the South commented, "Well, isn't that precious."

The first woman continued boasting, "Then, when my third child was born, my husband bought me this exquisite diamond bracelet at Tiffany's."

Yet again, the Southern lady commented, "Well, isn't that precious."

The first woman then asked her companion, "What did your husband buy for you when you had your first child?" "

My husband sent me to charm school," declared the Southern lady.

"Charm school??" the first woman cried, "Oh my God! What on earth for?"

The Southern lady responded, "Well for one thing, instead of saying 'Who gives a poop?', I learned to say, 'Well, isn't that precious!"

The Waller Lodge Electronic Newsletter Subscriber's Extra Features

Ghost Tour Unlocks History Of Downtown Buildings In Ohio

BY LOREN GENSON • Gazette Staff Writert

Willie Martin, shares his story as people taking the Ghost Walk pass by Sunday afternoon at Cross Keys. The walk, conducted the Ross County Leage of Women Voters, is intended to share some of the area's history and also serves as a fundraiser for the organization. Purchase this Photo Willie Martin, shares his story as people taking the Ghost Walk pass by Sunday afternoon at Cross Keys. The walk, conducted the Ross County Leage of Women Voters, is intended to share some of the area's history and also serves as a fundraiser for the organization. (Heather Cory, Gazette)
CHILLICOTHE -- New histories and mysteries were unveiled Sunday during the Ross County League of Women Voters' annual Ghost Walk. Among the new attractions on Main Street was the tour of the Masonic Lodge.

The lodge was built between 1903 and 1905 for use by the Chillicothe Freemasons. Building manager and Mason Steve Steele said the first floor of the building is for retail purposes, the second floor is residential and the third and fourth floors are the private lodge areas.

The building itself is a distinctive historical building. It's still heated by steam through a boiler, similar to the process used in the historic Foulke Block building on Paint Street. Steele said the Masons have a "blowout building" behind the lodge where the boiler is stored inside. At the time the building was constructed, boiler accidents had killed people in apartment buildings where boilers beneath the building would explode up through the structure.

"The blowout building is kind of a unique feature," Steele said. "Our building and the Foulke Block are the only ones who have them."

The building is also notable for its courtyard and fire escape, which give it an urban feel.

"We have the courtyard, so that even interior rooms have light," Steele said. At one time, members often would spend their lunch breaks at the lodge and there was usually a flurry of activity.

"It was truly a lodge; you would come here to take a break from your workday," Steele said.

Much of the furniture is original to the building from when it was constructed. Many of the original flooring, walls and ceilings also have been preserved.

"It's expensive to maintain it, but it's important to our members," Steele said.

Only men can become members, and they must believe in a God, Steele said. Masons do not recruit. Men can be admitted only after inquiring about the organization and after it is found they are of good moral character.

"We take good men and make them better," Steele said.

Also along the tour this year for the first time was the historic canal warehouse on the corner of Main and Mulberry streets. The warehouse is a classic example of an early 1900s-era canal house because of its many door openings on the outside of the building on each floor.

"They could send pullies out and lift up cargo from the canal to any floor," local historian Kevin Coleman said.

Coleman said the building was built by James Emmitt, who also constructed the Emmitt house in Waverly and the building across the street from it. Emmitt also owned the only road between Chillicothe and Waverly and charged users a fee.

Those on the ghost walk also got the chance to tour the Chillicothe Gazette building, which was built in 1940 as a replica of Ohio's first statehouse built in 1801 here in Ross County.

Tour attendees were given a tour of the paper archives, basement and newsroom.

Each year, the walk, hosted by the Chillicothe Ross League of Women Voters, serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.

Those Were The Days My Friend, We Thought They Would Never End

Whoever wrote this must have been my next door neighbor because it totally described my childhood to a "T." I hope you enjoy it. If you are under age 40 you won't understand.

You could hardly see the picture on our first TV for all the snow; Spread the rabbit ears as far as they go. Pull a chair up to the TV set, 

  My Mom used to defrost hamburger on the counter and I used to eat it raw sometimes, too. Our school sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper in a brown paper bag, not in ice pack coolers, but I can't remember getting e-coli. 

Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring), no beach closures then. 

The term cell phone would have conjured up a phone in a jail cell, and a pager was the school PA system. 

We all took gym, not PE...and risked permanent injury with a pair of high top Ked's (only worn in gym) instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built in light reflectors. I can't recall any injuries but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now.

Flunking gym was not an option... even for stupid kids! I guess PE must be much harder than gym. 

Speaking of school, we all said prayers and sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention. 

We must have had horribly damaged psyches. What an archaic health system we had then. Remember school nurses? Ours wore a hat and everything.

I thought that I was supposed to accomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself. 

I just can't recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cable stations.

Oh yeah... and where was the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed! 

We played 'king of the hill' on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites, and when we got hurt, Mom pulled out the  48-cent bottle of mercurochrome (kids liked it better because it didn't sting like iodine did) and then we got our butt spanked.

Now it's a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $49 bottle of antibiotics, and then Mom calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.

We didn't act up in church or at the neighbor's house either, because if we did we got our butt spanked there and then we got our butt spanked again when we got home. 

  I recall the kid who lived next door coming over and doing his hand balancing tricks on our front stoop railing, just before he fell off. Little did his mom know that she could have owned our house.  Instead, she picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was a neighborhood run amuck. 

Not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family. How could we possibly have known that we needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes. 

We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn't even notice that the entire country wasn't taking Prozac! How did we ever survive? 

Luck to all of us who shared this era; and to those who didn't, sorry for what you missed. I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

A Masons of Texas Exclusive
The Grand Lodge Of Texas And Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas

By owls84
Published on 10-22-10

As many of you know we at MoT have taken a role as educators on the relationship between the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas, AF&AM (GLoTx) and the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas, F&AM (PHGLoTx). We have made many posts to help understand the role of the GLoTx and how we can interact with PHGLoTx members. We have even went through great links to obtain and distribute copies of the compact that was signed between the two Grand Lodges in 2007 declaring both as regular and sharing the same territorial jurisdiction in the state of Texas.

We are now confident enough with information obtained by a member of credible position, who for obvious reasons will not be disclosed, that the GLoTx has received a request for FULL recognition to include visitation. Several staff members have contacted the Grand Secretary's office via email to officially confirm this information and have failed to get a response. A member of our staff will be making a trip to Waco next week to confirm this in person but until then this must still be considered “rumor” because we will not disclose the source.

We hope to follow up with an official statement by the Grand Secretary or a member of the Fraternal Relations Committee but please do not expect too much. It has been the experience on this subject that an official response is difficult to obtain. This is a very delicate situation and will be handled as such. We are very proud of our members and friends that have worked behind the scenes to get this information for us.

Going forward, I challenge each member of MoT to educate yourself with PHGLoTx and visit a public function, such as a BBQ or fundraiser, of the nearest PH Lodge. If you do not know how to get in touch with the Local Lodge or would like to locate a PH Function please contact myself or use the “Contact Us” at the top of your main screen and we will get you the needed information. I promise you that this will be an experience like no other and you will never forget it.

Lastly please know that in our efforts there will be people with personal objection that will try to stop this history changing event but it is our duty to educate those who are willing to learn on the values of having a relationship with such good and great of men as ALL REGULAR MASONS in Texas. Please if during your personal path you come across someone with these personal motives please for the zeal of the institution do not argue with ignorance. In the end peace, harmony, and justice will always prevail.

Thanks for your continued support.

Masons of Texas Staff

Surviving The Big Ones

By John "Corky" Daut

The big ones for me were that 16 year period between the Great Depression and World War II. Being born in 1928, I grew up during the hard times between the stock market crash of 1929 and the end of World War II in 1945.

Almost everyone read for entertainment during the nineteen 30s and 40s. Almost any drugstore in Houston had a rental library of hardback books in additional to the rack of magazines for sale. You could check out a book just like a public library except that you had to pay a small rental fee for each book.

Almost all boys, most girls and a lot of adults read “Funny Books” as we called them in the nineteen 30s and 40s. They only cost a dime in those days. Now they cost a dollar and called “Comic Books”.

Almost every kid in the neighborhood had a cardboard box or at least a small stack of comic books that we carried to our friends or even a casual acquaintance's house blocks away to do some serious trading. This ritual went on at least once or twice a week so we could swap for some we hadn't read. It wasn't unusual for the father to be standing near and to be giving advice while the trading was going on.

We quickly learned a lesson for later life by taking good care of our comic books. Damaged comic books with torn pages or loose covers had to be traded only for other damaged ones. You usually had to trade 2 or 3 damaged ones to get one in good shape, if you could find someone who would take them at all. Detective Comics, Marvel Comics, Batman, Captain Marvel, The Flash, Superman, The Human Torch and Walt Disney were among the most popular ones. Wonder Woman wasn't generally liked as well, but we read them and were amazed at how she could catch bullets on her bracelets and lasso spies and crooks and they would have to tell the truth.

The drug store in Montgomery, Texas (and other small towns) would tear the front covers off on all the unsold issues of comic books when they were replaced on the racks with a newer ones. The fronts were then mailed back to the distributor for credit. The lady who worked in the drug store was then supposed to dispose of the books properly. She did, but her ideas of properly were somewhat different then the distributors, She would give the cover-less books to certain kids in town. That was kind of hush hush and now I realize it was to the kids who couldn't afford to buy the new ones. I guess I must have been poorer then I thought in those days because I got a free one every once in a while myself. They weren't much good for trading without the cover, but they sure were good for reading.

And, least we forget, there was the 15 cent Classic Comics series. They were the adults answer to making comic books acceptable. They were comic strip versions of the classical books such as Moby Dick, The Deer Slayer, Little Men, Little Women and so forth. Junior high and high school students loved them. Not to read for pleasure, of course, but thousands of book reports were written without having to read a dull, two or three hundred page book without pictures.

Free entertainment's were harder to come by in tiny towns like Montgomery, Texas. There, even those political speeches that were made on the couple of Saturday afternoons before election day were entertainment to people, way back then. There wasn't any such thing as television of course and even money for radio speeches was hard to come by. The answer for many politicians especially at the county and even lower state level was to visit every little town they could and made a speech from the back of a truck parked on the Main Street, pass out cards and shake every hand in sight. Then they would make a mad dash to the next little town.

Most men would come to town on Saturdays in small towns to do the weeks shopping. They would usually eat lunch sitting or hunkering down in front of one of the general stores. A big red soda water or a R.C. Cola along with a nickel box of crackers and a nickels worth of rat trap cheese or summer sausage made a cheap lunch and if they could spare another nickel, a Moon Pie made a great desert. After lunch the men would gather under the old Bois D'arc (Bo Dark or horse apple tree as we called them) in front of the bank building and wait for the speechefying to begin.

I remember one year when W. Lee “Pappy” O'Danials made a speech in Montgomery while running for State Governor. “Pappy” owned the Bewley's Best flour mill in Ft. Worth. His favorite slogan was “Pass the biscuits Pappy.” He had some bake ovens installed on a trailer that went with him on the campaign trail. A couple of his employees baked biscuits in those ovens and passed out hot buttered biscuits to the crowd. while he made his speech. Pappy was a politician everybody remembered. He also sponsored the “Light Crust Doughboys” hillbilly band radio show.

It was a kind of contest among the boys to collect as many different political cards as we could, like kids collect baseball cards now. Each politician had cards printed up with their name and picture on them and a brief message saying in effect, I'm the best, vote for me. We got most of the cards from the ground when the grownups threw them away though, because most politicians didn't waste cards on kids who couldn't vote for a few more years.

Waltham's Freemasons: Where truth meets fiction

By Andrew Merritt

Newton Masonic Hal
Popular culture in recent years has taken Freemasonry from inside the walls of obscure stone buildings into the limelight of the big screen and bestsellers lists. Whether in books like Dan Brown's “The Last Symbol,” movies like “National Treasure,” or even the humorous “Stonecutters” episode of “The Simpsons,” there has been a growing fascination with Masonry – and more specifically, its msyteries.

Brown's book places Masonry within the walls of every important American institution – including, in a very literal sense, the U.S. Capitol. “National Treasure” has the Freemasons hiding a great treasure during the early days of the nation's birth. And few TV watchers of a certain age would have trouble remembering at least part of the “Stonecutters” theme – a clear and winking nod to the many theories about Masonic history.

As with most mysteries, the rumors about Masonry are likely a far sight more fantastic and dramatic than the real truths about the organization. And Bill Asadoorian, a past master of the Waltham Triad Masonic Lodge, is here to tell you that a lot of what you've seen about the Masons on the TV and movie screen and within the pages of your favorite beach read is just not true.

Then again, he says, some of it most certainly is.

“We're the world's oldest and largest fraternity,” he says while standing in the middle of the cavernous great room at the Newton Masonic Hall on Newtonville Road.

“We're philanthropists.”

Still, there's a reason authors and filmmakers have mined Masonry's mystery for plot points. There are certain parts of being a Mason that are secret, and many of them have to do with the rituals that take place inside rooms like the Newton lodge's, all across the world.

“The only big secret we have is our actual ritual,” Asadoorian says. “It's a traditional thing, you have to join to find out. We take good men and make them better. The ritual is a way for us to get across our different teaching points.”

While the Masons may not have alternate copies of the Declaration of Independence stashed away in their temples or secretly pass down the answers to the great unanswered questions of the world, pop culture's interest in their mystery has had some upside.

“The movie 'National Treasure' increased our membership more than any other event,” Asadoorian said. “It's done us a lot of good, it's one of the few things about us that didn't put us in a bad light. A lot of things about that movie, the symbols? True. A lot of it: pure fiction.

“We don't have the national treasure - not that I know of. Some of the clues that involve the masons were just put there to fit the movie.”

Saturday, Masonic lodges across Massachusetts are throwing open their doors to invite the curious, the skeptical, and most importantly the willing future Masons to come and see what the organization is all about. That includes the Newton lodges, which will hold their open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Masonic Hall. It's a chance to get a real, live Mason, instead of the disembodied voice of Ben Franklin on the “Ask a Freemason” ads that are in heavy rotation on your radio and TV.

“(Visitors will) get a tour of the building, and any questions they have we'll talk to them,” said Asadoorian, who is the Triad Lodge's open house chairman.

What you'll learn if you visit the lodge on Saturday is that Masonry isn't, despite Dan Brown and Matt Groening's artistic meanderings, a group of stern-faced men performing weird rituals and secretly running the Universe from a dark dungeon. It's a philanthropic organization that focuses on brotherhood, charity and, as Asadoorian and the radio ads say, making good men great.

There are some rules, one of which is that all Masons believe in a higher power – though there isn't any specificity about which deity a Mason prays to, only that he believes in a power greater than him.

It's an organization that has a long reach, but a quiet voice. While it's not the kind of thing that might appear in the pages of a paperback, Asadoorian said one of Freemasonry's better-kept secrets of Masonry is that all Shriners are Masons.

“Shriners hospitals,” Asadoorian reminds his visitor, “don't even have billing departments.”

The Waltham Lodge also hosts blood drives, which also falls under the charge of Asadoorian, as well as a learning center for children with dyslexia.

“Here at Waltham Triad, we give two scholarships every year to the high school for $2,000 each,” he says. “We help the Waltham Boys and Girls Club, the Salvation Army we help every year. We do three or four MYChip (Masonic Youth Child Identification Programs), where we go in, fingerprint, take a dental impression, DNA swab, and a one-minute video.”

The Triad Lodge started meeting at the Newton Masonic Hall after its Waltham building was destroyed in a 1988 fire. Three other lodges – Dalhousie Lodge, which built the hall and has been around since 1860, as well as Norumbega Fraternity Lodge and the predominately Jewish Garden City Lodge – also meet at the Newton building at 460 Newtonville Avenue, all on different nights of the week.

That means that while the Waltham Triad Lodge might be the best fit for a local man interested in Freemasonry, if he can't make the meetings on the first Monday night of every month in the fall, winter and spring, there are other options. If you do decide to join, you'll be surrounded by men from many walks of life, which is one of the things Asadoorian and his fellow Masons will tell visitors on Saturday.

“Everyone's equal, we're all masons, we're all brothers, it doesn't matter what your annual income is,” he says. “You do it quietly, you're not out there saying, 'Well, I gave this much this year, I gave this much last year.' We just do it. Most people, if they believe in God, they'll find Masonry is going to be something they enjoy. “And to my knowledge, it's the only organization that I know of where you can sit down to dinner – and this has happened to me – the president of New England Tea and Coffee, who's a member here, sits over there,” he says with a gesture across the large table in what's known as the Ladies Parlor, “and the guy sitting next to me was a tattoo artist. You would never know there was any difference in our economic statuses – at that table, all we are is brothers.”

They'll also tell anyone who wants to hear about Masonry's dedication to charity, about the sense of brotherhood it instills, and about the various programs connected to Masonry that make it more than just a men's club – for instance, the Eastern Star women's organization, the Rainbow Girls for young women, and DeMolay, which is geared toward young men.

What he won't tell you is how to perform the secret handshakes and signals – yes, those do exist – or what goes behind closed doors during the rituals the Masons perform. To find those things out, well, you'll just have to join.

There is one secret, from “The Last Symbol,” that Asadoorian is willing to address.

“He talks about in his book, drinking blood from a skull,” Asadoorian says, pauses, and shakes his head. “No. I'll open any door in this place, see if you can find a skull.”

A Little Military Humor?

It May Be More Truth Then Fiction.

European Versus U. S. Lodges Jan 2004

Lodge membership in Europe is usually limited in numbers and when the membership of a Lodge reaches the limit, a new Lodge is formed. The result is a number of smaller but more active Lodges where attendance at meetings is very high, some Lodges running as high as 90% oft it's members at meetings. In the U. S. a lodge's membership is unlimited and with many in the hundreds, attendance is usually small with fewer than 5 to 10% of the membership attending stated meetings.

Lodge Dues in America run small, usually $30 to $50 or $60 per year, while European Lodges run in the $100 to $500 range, with some as high as $2,000

In Europe, meetings may be held quarterly, monthly, or weekly depending on the Lodge and jurisdiction. European meetings are summoned; frequently a formal, engraved summons is issued. Members either attend the communication, or respond to the Master and/or Secretary. Meetings in the U.S. are usually held once or twice a month, with extras often called for degree work is done, but Americans hardly ever make use of the summons for Lodge meetings

In America, all business is done in the Master Mason Lodge. Lodge ceremonies and degree work are delivered from memory, often receiving instant correction on missed words or lines from the sidelines. All business in European Lodges is done in the Entered Apprentice Lodge, but only Master Masons are allowed to vote. Lodge ritual and degrees are frequently read from printed sheets at each station.

In the U.S., candidates are not considered to be Masons until after having received the Master Mason Degree while in Europe, Candidates are considered to be Masons after receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree.

In the U. S. Masters of Lodges are usually elected to a one year term of office and usually not re-elected. In Europe the Master is elected for two year terms and often re-elected to serve for more terms

Here are some of the "funnies" our grandparents enjoyed.

The Old Tiler Talks

From the Old Tiler's Talk - by Carl H. Claudy, The Temple Publishers

"I have been a Mason for a year now," remarked the Young Brother to the Old Past Master. "While I find a great deal in Masonry to enjoy and like the fellows and all that, I am more or less in the dark as to what good Masonry really is in the world. I don't mean I can't appreciate its charity or its fellowship, but it seems to me that I don't get much out of it. I can't really see why it has any function outside of the relationship we enjoy in the Lodge and the charitable acts we do.

"I think I could win an argument about you" smiled the Past Master.

"An argument about me?"

"Yes. You say you have been a Master Mason for a year. I think I could prove to the satisfaction of a jury of your peers, who would not need to be Master Masons, that while you are a Lodge member in good standing, you are not a Master Mason.'

"I don't think I quite understand," puzzled the Young Mason. I was quite surely initiated, passed, and raised. I have my certificate and my good standing card. I attend Lodge regularly. I do what work I am assigned. If that isn't being a Master Mason, what is?"

"You have the body but not the spirit," retorted the Old Past Master.

"You eat the husks and disregard the kernel. You know the ritual and fail to understand its meaning. You carry the documents, but for you they attest but an empty form. You do not understand the first underlying principle, which makes Masonry the great force she is. And yet, in spite of it, you enjoy her blessings, which is one of her miracles. A man may love and profit by what he does not comprehend."

"I just don't understand you at all. I am sure I am a good Mason."

"No man is a good Mason who thinks the Fraternity has no function beyond pleasant association in the Lodge and charity. There are thousands of Masons who seldom see the inside of a Lodge and, therefore, miss the fellowship. There are thousands who never need or support her chanty and so never come in contact with one of its many features. Yet these may take freely and largely from the treasure house which is Masonry."

"Masonry my young friend, is an opportunity. It gives a man a chance to do and to be, among the world of men, something he otherwise could not attain No man kneels at the altar of Masonry and rises again the same man. At the altar something is taken from him never to return-his feelings of living for himself alone. Be he ever so selfish, ever so self-centered, ever so much an individualist, at the altar he leaves behind him some of the dross of his purely profane make-up."

"No man kneels at the altar of Masonry and rises the same man because, in the place where the dross and selfish were, is put a little of the most Divine spark which men may see. Where was the self-interest is put an interest in others. Where was the egotism is put love for one's fellow man. You say that the 'Fraternity has no function' Man, the Fraternity performs the greatest function of any institution at work among men in that it provides a common meeting ground where all of us--be our creed, our social position, our wealth, our ideas, our station in life what they may-may meet and understand one another."

"What caused the Civil War? Failure of one people to understand another and an inequality of men which this country could not endure. What caused the Great War? Class hatred. What is the greatest leveler of class in the world? Masonry. Where is the only place in which a capitalist and laborer, socialist and democrat, fundamentalist and modernist, Jew and Gentile, sophisticated and simple alike meet and forget their differences In a Masonic Lodge, through the influence of Masonry. Masonry, which opens her portals to men because they are men, not because they are wealthy or wise or foolish or great or small but because they seek the brotherhood which only she can give."

"Masonry has no function? Why, son, the function of charity, great as it is, is the least of the things Masonry does. The fellowship in the Lodge, beautiful as it is, is at best not much more than one can get in any good club, association, or organization. These are the beauties of Masonry, but they are also beauties of other organizations. The great fundamental beauty of Masonry is all her own. She, and only she, stretches a kindly and loving hand around the world, uniting millions in a bond too strong for breaking. Time has demonstrated that Masonry is too strong for war, too strong for hate, too strong for jealousy and fear. The worst of men have used the strongest of means and have but pushed Masonry to one side for the moment; not all their efforts have broken her, or ever will!"

"Masonry gives us all a chance to do and to be; to do a little, however humble the part, in making the world better; to be a little larger, a little fuller in our lives, a little nearer to the G.A.O.T.U. And unless a man understands this, believes it, takes it to his heart, and lives it in his daily life, and strives to show it forth to others in his every act-unless he live and love and labor in his Masonry-I say he is no Master Mason; aye, though he belong to all Rites and carry all cards, though he be hung as a Christmas tree with jewels and pins, though he be an officer in all Bodies. But the man who has it in his heart and sees in Masonry the chance to be in reality what he has sworn he would be, a brother to his fellow Masons, is a Master Mason though he be raised but tonight, belongs to no body but his Blue Lodge, and be too poor to buy and wear a single pin." The Young Brother, looking down, unfastened the emblem from his coat lapel and handed it to the Old Past Master. "Of course, you are right" he said, lowly. "Here is my pin. Don't give it back to me until you think I am worthy to wear it."

The Old Past Master smiled. "I think you would better put it back now," he answered gently. "None are more fit to wear the Square and Compasses than those who know themselves unworthy, for they are those who strive to be real Masons."

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