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TRUE MASONRY: TRUE STORIES

This is a series of true stories exemplifying the best virtues of Freemasonry. These stories were submitted by Freemasons from around the world. They provide an insight as to what it means to be a Mason. We hope you will enjoy them.

These stories are reproduced with permission of the author, Brother Tim Bryce and "Freemason Information" at http://www.freemasoninformation.com/


VISITING AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

In my experience as a Mason, the greatest 'happening' was in 1990 when my wife and I traveled from Pennsylvania to Auckland, New Zealand for her to attend the World Orchid Congress there. When we arrived at our quarters the lady at the desk informed me there was a man outside in his car waiting for me. You must picture this: Here I was about halfway around the world, having traveled many miles to a country where I really knew no one. Being welcomed as a friend by a " stranger" was truly wondrous.

The gentleman waiting to see me was the Secretary of the Lodge I had planned to visit that evening. He introduced himself and then offered a quick tour of a part of Auckland that wasn't on most tourist's itineraries.

This verifies and proves one of the Craft's best points. I was a stranger but had many friends whom I had never met. Whilst unknown to each other, we had all shared a trip! This has repeated itself innumerable times, here in the US and abroad. It was most certainly repeated in the three Southern Cross Lodges where I visited, two in Auckland and one in Cairns, Australia.

George S. Robinson, Jr., PM
Mt. Pickering Lodge, No. 446 F.& A.M.
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, USA

STAYING AT HIS SIDE

This past July I was out in Kansas City, Kansas (actually Overland Park) enjoying the annual convention of the Supreme Council of the Grottoes of North America. M.O.V.P.E.R. For the past twelve years or so, I was on Coumadin as a blood thinner and lately, I noticed that my gait was becoming more and more off balance but attributed it to age. Anyway, we were going to the banquet that night and while passing through the lobby I felt like I was going to pass out. Our present Monarch, Mark Fowler, was walking with me and he assisted me into the dining room. When I got there I still didn't feel right and thought that I just needed some fresh air. Leaving the dining room, I collapsed and the paramedics were called. While I was recovering in the hospital everyone else in our group left for home except for a new Brother to our Lodge and also to the Selama Grotto who was there in his new motor home (RV). Fred and Jeannie Kinney stayed in the area for more than two weeks until I was released from the hospital and drove me back home to St. Petersburg, Florida. I want to commend them for being there for me. They took me to the Pasadena Nursing home where I remained for over two more weeks until I regained my strength. I will be eternally grateful to all who stayed by my side through these tumultuous times. Fred is the present Senior Deacon and a member of Northside Lodge No. 283 F.& A.M. and the Master of Ceremonies at Selama Grotto.

W:.Pete Schreihofer, PM
Northside Lodge No. 283 F.& A.M.
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

SITTING IN LODGE

I was recently notified I am to get my 50 year pin from my Blue Lodge in Pennsylvania. I am also sorry to say I have never been able to sit in my home Lodge since I was raised a Master Mason. I have never been able to be in my home town when the Lodge was not dark. Mainly during holidays and during the summer. I did get to go back in 1965 and go into the Scottish Rite and had the good fortune of representing the class for the 32nd degree. I have visited Lodges from Taiwan to Florida but never got to sit in my own Blue Lodge. I went on to become a Shriner in 1987 and went on to become Potentate of Egypt Shrine in 2004 but still have not been able to sit in my own Lodge. I have never forgotten the obligation I took so many years ago. That was something that has guided me my whole life especially during my 20 plus years in the military. They say being a Mason will make a good man a better man and it surely has for me. It was an experience I will never forget.

(Name Withheld by Request)
Tampa, Florida, USA

CAR TROUBLE

In 1999 I was Junior Warden of North Shore Lodge No. 277 F.& A.M. in Hialeah, Florida. We were having coffee and waiting to start our stated meeting when I got a call from my son. He was driving home and the car simply died on him in the middle of the street, Biscayne Blvd & 79 Street Causeway, in Miami. That was about 7:20 pm. I decided to skip lodge and go meet him because I knew that region is not too safe at night and he didn't have a AAA card.

When I arrived at the traffic light, I saw his car in the center lane. Immediately I sensed three headlight flashes from a car behind me. I couldn't see the driver, it was a truck and too high for my retro mirror to spot the driver. When the light turned green, I pulled up behind my son's car. I could see the truck passing by and making a U-turn to stop behind me. An African-American guy stepped out, came up to us and said, "Who is the traveling man?"

With those words, I felt conformable and responded accordingly. That young man was newly raised in a Prince Hall lodge. He stayed with us until we finished charging my son's car battery, almost an hour. I thanked him for his assistance and sent my regards to his worshipful master.

Although we, in Florida, cannot have Masonic communications with Prince Hall Masons, I believe they are worthy Brothers and I will always consider them as such.

Ricardo Parente
Hialeah, Florida, USA

FOOD DISTRIBUTION IN OHIO

On Sunday, December 18, 2006, 63 Freemasons from lodges in Summit County assembled and delivered 120 food baskets and certificates to area families in need as part of the charitable work of The Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Ohio. The Masonic Assistance Program is a year-round charitable outreach designed to assist those in need. As part of this effort, a special holiday food delivery program provides groceries to families who might otherwise have very little food with which to celebrate the holidays. Families were nominated by Jewell Cardwell and caring staff at The Akron Beacon Journal, area churches, The Salvation Army, social service agencies and members of the Masonic fraternity and include returning military veterans who require assistance. These holiday groceries were delivered to families in Summit, Portage, Medina, Cuyahoga, Stark, Wayne and Tuscarawas Counties.

"This effort, which began 15 years ago as a Christmas food basket program, has been expanded to a larger year-round helpful initiative," states Thomas Spencer, secretary of The Symbolic Lodge Officers' Association in the 21 st Masonic District. " It is consistent with the foundational beliefs of Freemasons, which are brotherly love, relief and truth." Masons not only helped assemble and deliver these baskets but every area Lodge supported the effort by donating hundreds of dollars to fund the project.

Masons gathered at Acme Lodge No. 8 F.& A.M. on Tallmadge Avenue at 12:00 noon on Sunday, December 18th to assemble baskets and to deliver the baskets. " The Masons of Summit County are most grateful to the Acme Stores for their support of this event," said Spencer. "They have supported this program since the beginning and play an invaluable role in assembling the baskets. Invaluable assistance was provided by Wiley Brooks and his magnificent staff at The Acme." Gerry Sawyer, Past Master from Hudson Lodge participated with his daughters Caroline and Kimberly. "We are especially mindful of the need all year round and Lodge programs are designed to help those in the immediate area throughout the year," explained Sawyer. "During the holidays, we make a special effort to assist those in need in the larger area." Kimberly commented that it was very rewarding and brought out the true meaning of the season. "It feels good to help those in need."

In addition, providing the food baskets is an important part of the charitable work led by The Grand Lodge of the State of Ohio since its founding in 1808. Continuing this nearly two-century tradition of giving is this year's Grand Master, James M. Williamson. Williamson's program is a comprehensive effort to continue to be visible in the community, to shine a light on the charitable work of Freemasonry and to work to make good men better. Charity is an important tenet of the Masonic fraternity. In addition to food donations, the 120,000 Freemasons in Ohio provide approximately $15 million in charitable giving annually. This year they gave $94,000 in college scholarships, contributed $125,000 to Special Olympics Ohio Summer Games, and funded $70,000 in free training for hundreds of Ohio school teachers to recognize students at non-academic risk. They also provided $12 million in elderly care and helped many needy Ohio families and individuals through their Charitable Foundation.

Courtesy of the Grand Lodge of Ohio

YOUNGSTERS

When I was Master of Brevard Lodge No. 113 F.& A.M. in 1987, we raised a Brother whose grandfather was present. The second section was conferred by a Past Master of our lodge who was 100 years old and a 70 year Mason. When he finished and before the Lodge was closed, he made the remark, "That is the way you youngsters should be doing the work" (he only added six words to the present degree as that was how he learned it back in 1927).

Now the funny part, the grandfather stood up and said, "Who you calling a youngster? I happen to be two months older than you." With that, the Lodge stood up and applauded both Brothers.

It was great the have two Masons with over 130 years of Masonry in the Lodge. One was a Past Master of the Lodge and the other was a member from the Daytona area.

Gerge E. Malone, PM
Rockledge, Florida, USA

MASONIC RING

I am currently a Fellowcraft in Sandusky, Ohio. I do have one thing that has happened to me already, a good thing. I was on e-Bay and wanted to purchase a Master Mason ring (even though I now know I cannot wear it until I am a Master Mason). Needless to say, the ring was "Buy It Now" for $17 plus postage, but was marked "Make Offer." I had saved all summer for my Dues for the Lodge ($125) and with Christmas coming, our funds were a bit short... so I made the seller (a Master Mason from Missouri, John Roach - his shop "Ghost Rider Jewelry and Leather") an offer of $8 plus postage. He promptly wrote back asking me my address - telling me he planned to "make my day." He explained that a Brother takes care of another Brother -- even if he is a Brother-to-be. He said most folk give him a $1 offer, without explanation. And he told me that as long as I would always remember to help a Brother-in-need when I saw the Ring. He was also sending a small surprise for me. Well, all arrived. He sent me my Master Mason Ring - a VERY nice Ring! He also sent me a 3' x 5' Square and Compasses flag and an American Flag!

As a Mason, I will be a Brother just like Brother Roach - to be giving whenever I can. I will avoid the so-called "politics of the Lodge," even though I will continue to be a regular attendee at the meetings and events. I will do so because I enjoy it - never for personal gain.

Larry Camp (Fellowcraft)
Science Lodge No. 50 F.& A.M. Sandusky, Ohio, USA

A PARAMEDIC'S STORY

I am a paramedic, and a few years ago, I responded to a call at a house where a two year old toddler, learning to walk, had pulled an electrical cord, attached to a boiling pot of bean soup. The scalding water and softened beans produced devastating burns over his entire body. I did what I could to stabilize the child's condition, and called for transport by medical helicopter. I was sure that the child would not survive.

About two months later, I was asked (in my role as PM and Lodge Education Officer) to speak at the local Kiwanis about what Freemasonry does. The speaker that preceded me was a high school student who was talking about the fact that their high school group had set up collection cans in local restaurants to raise money to help a child that had been badly burned. When my turn came to speak, I gave a short introduction, and then said that the "burned child" project was exactly the type of thing one of our branches, The Shrine does. After elaborating on the Shrine Hospital program and concluding my talk, I found the high school student, and asked her for some details, and offered our Lodge's help. I was stunned to learn "her" burned child was MY burned child, and though the toddler was still hospitalized in a Cleveland hospital, he had survived. The single mother was hard-pressed, and without insurance. A few days later, several of us went to see the mother, and offered the services of our Masonic Fraternity. She accepted, and we made all of the necessary connections to make it happen. The Cincinnati Shrine hospital will treat and supervise the child's medical care and skin grafts as the child grows ... many years of work. In addition, the Brothers of our Blue Lodge decided that the mother needed some additional financial help. One of our brothers is a professional auctioneer, and we organized an auction. We were able to present her a check for a little over $12,000.

Dave Brest,
PM LaGrange Lodge No. 399 F.& A.M.
Ohio, USA

A TRIP TO MAINE

Every year we head up to The Forks, Maine (when you hit the Maine border from New Jersey, you're halfway there) to do whitewater rafting and to get away from it all. It is truly God's country. My son had a pen pal in Maine, and my wife and him decided to meet him and his mother at Old Fort Henry in Augusta. They drove around Augusta for 1/2 hour (not including the two hour trip to Augusta from the camp) trying to find the fort with no luck. My wife stopped in at the City Hall, where they couldn't explain how to get there. As she walked to the car, a gentleman walked up and said she looked a little distraught, and if he could be of help. She explained the situation, and he knew the fort's location. He told my wife to follow his car and he would take them there. The funny thing was the fort was about twelve blocks away from city hall! He pulled into the parking lot and my wife got out of our car to thank him for his time and being so helpful. He said it was no problem at all, and, as he left, he said, "Tell your husband, nice licence plate." Three weeks before I had received my Masonic license plate in the mail. From that point on my wife has never had a negative thing to say about Masonry, although she questioned my joining two years previous.

David Daehnke Junior Warden,
Hawthorne Fortitude Lodge No. 200 F.& A.M.
Ramsey, New Jersey, USA

CAMPING TRIP

In the summer of 1973, I was nine years old, my sister eight, and my brother five. We lived in Camden County, New Jersey, in the town of Audubon. My family's summer vacation that year was a camping trip to the Cape May, NJ area. We had set up our pop-top camper and made camp. On about the second day there, my father was "sick" all day. That would be Tuesday, then sometime early morning on Wednesday my mother decided to take Dad to the hospital. She went to the office of the camp ground to tell them she would be back in a couple of hours for us as soon as she got dad situated in the hospital. Then she called to tell the office that he had appendicitis and was being transferred to another hospital in Camden county. At that time the lady in the office asked about us, and my mother said she was sending someone to get us. I don't remember seeing that lady from the office after that, she came to the camper and told us that our mom was sending someone for us and to get our things in order. That night we all slept together in the camper and then the next morning we ate peanut butter and marshmallows because the campground staff had turned off our propane tank.

The next day (Thursday) an old couple camping next to us started asking questions, we didn't know what to say, so we lied. We took my brother down to creek for entertainment and to get away from questions and looks. The following day (Friday) we met the Campbell's. Their kids played with us and then they invited us over for lunch. They were vacationing in the same campground. They were from Audubon as well but we had never met them. They said they were friends of the Robinsons with whom we frequently went camping. The father asked a few questions about my family, my father, and my grandfather. He asked where my grandfather lived, etc. The father later told us that when they broke camp that night they were taking us home to Audubon. We went back to our camper and packed up some of our things and Mr. Campbell and I closed up the camper. We rode in the back of their pickup truck and we went to their house for a while. When we arrived home, my Grandfather was glazing in a new window pane in our front door. This seemed odd since the window was not broken when we left. Our Grandmother fed us then gave us the scrubbing of our lives in the bathtub. She stayed at least a week and took care of us. My father eventually recovered and returned home. The next day my mother came home. That was the only time I heard my Grandmother raise her voice to my mother.

Fast forward to 2003.

I am Worshipful Master of the lodge in Audubon. I get a phone call asking if I am " Buddy" Bicking (a nickname used since there were three Harrys in my family at the time), I answer in the affirmative and get "the rest of the story." Mr. Campbell was a Mason, and based on my Grandfather's residence of Forked River, NJ, he contacted a nearby lodge (Mariners Lodge No. 150) and they contacted him. (My Grandfather was raised in Mariners Lodge in 1964.) Mr. Campbell offered to transport my siblings and I back up to Audubon. My Grandparents then drove up to Audubon. My Grandfather had to brake out a window to get into the house so they could take us in. Who called me? Remember the old couple who were asking questions? A Past Master and a Past Worthy Matron.

Harry Bicking, PM
Audubon-Parkside Lodge No. 218 F.& A.M
. New Jersey, USA

True Stories page II
True Stories page III
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