Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's Beer

I know this photo looks like a chemistry experiment gone awry, but it is actually me transferring my home brew to Cornilus Kegs for the Grand Lodge Hospitality Lounge. The one on the right is an IPA and the one on the left will be an Amber. I am told that there will be two other home brews to sample. Please come join us at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Alaska, and stop by the Hospitality Lounge for a taste. To register for Grand Lodge, go to our website (www.alaska-mason.org) and follow the links to the registration form and hotel.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

To all my family and friends, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. At this time of year let us rejoice in the many blessings we have received and at the same time be mindful of those who are less fortunate. Remember, at this time of giving, the greatest gift that you can give is your love and friendship.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How We Dress is a Reflection of Who We Are

It is my custom to only place original content in this Blog. However on occasion, I run across sentiments on other sites that I feel are worth sharing. Such is the case of message from MW Barry Rickman, Grand Master of Masons in South Carolina. That message is printed on The Palmetto Mason Blog. MW Rickman addresses the manner in which Masons should dress to represent the best qualities of our institution. It struck a cord with me and I encourage all to follow the link above and read the Grand Master's message.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Installation of Officers - Aurora Lodge No. 15

After attending the installation of officers of Matanuska Lodge in Palmer, Beth and I rushed into Anchorage to catch the installation of officers for Aurora Lodge No. 15. The temperatures were crisp when we left Palmer, about 3 to 4 degrees above zero. By the time we reached Anchorage, the temperature outside had risen to 17 to 18 above. With all of the good friends and fellowship atthe Anchorage Masonic Center, it was much warmer inside.

Beth and I arrived in plenty of time to witness the installation of officers, where WB Dave Oaks was installed as Worshipful Master of Aurora for 2010. The other officers for 2010 include: Bro. Jon Ward (Sr. Warden), Bro. Joe Dahl (Jr. Warden), Bro. Andrew Balser (Treasurer), WB Al Schuerger (Secretary), WB Paul Gabbert (Chaplain) Bro. Luke Boggess (Marshall), Bro. Steve Cords (Sr. Deacon), Bro. Andrew Dickinson (Jr. Deacon), Bro. Andy Flack (Sr. Steward), Bro. Jeff Wilson (Jr. Steward), Bro. Chris Dahl (Organist), and Bro Ken Smith (Tyler).

This installation of officers marked the first time in the 21 year history of Aurora Lodge No. 15 that all of the Installing officers were Past Masters of the Lodge. WB Rodney Young was the Installing Master, WB John Bishop was the Installing Marshall, WB Paul Gabbert was Installing Chaplain, and WB Philip (Steve) Lee was the Installing Secretary.

At the conclusion of the installation of officers the members of Job’s Daughters International Bethel #1 performed the most impressive “What is a Mason” Ceremony.

Palmer Lodge Installation of Officers

This morning, Beth and I attended the installation of officers for 2010 for Matanuska Lodge No. 7 (my Mother Lodge). There was quite a crowd present for this event and our small Lodge room was very cramped. WB Tad Dean (outgoing Master) welcomed those present and introduced the various dignitaries. Tad also recognized those Brothers who had contributed to the success of the Lodge this past year. WB Russell Sanders received recognition for attending to the sick and distressed members of the Lodge, Brother Ted Hutchinson was honored for his ritual accomplishments during the year, WB Jerry Pendergrass was recognized for his hard-working support of the Lodge as Almoner, and Brother Dennis Oakland was named Mason of the Year from Matanuska Lodge for 2009.

The Installing Officers were VW V. Clifford Darnell (Installing Master), MW Charles Corbin (Installing Marshall), WB Larry Wright (Installing Secretary), and MW Harry Koenen (Installing Chaplain). WB Ted Hutchinson was installed as Worshipful Master for 2010. Brothers Dennis Oakland and Mitch Coulthard were installed as Senior and Junior Wardens respectively. WB Tad Dean was installed as Secretary. The appointed officers included WB Jerry Pendergrass (Chaplain), Brother Bruce Downs (Marshall), Brother Tom Lehe (Senior Deacon), Brother Don Ridge (Junior Deacon), Brother Robert Miles (Senior Steward), Brother Alex Conners (Junior Steward), and WB Norm Gutcher (Tyler). WB Jackie Carl who was elected Treasurer had another commitment and was not present for the installation.

The newly installed Worshipful Master thanked all who had attended today’s installation, most especially his wife Judelie and the Installing Officers. It is great to see my Lodge in such good hands and I look forward to great things coming from Matanuska Lodge this coming year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cub Scout Pack 354

This evening, I attended the Leaders Meeting for Cub Scout Pack 354 in Palmer, Alaska. Pack 354 is chartered by Matanuska Lodge No. 7 in Palmer, and I am their Charter Organization Representative. Skip Krysak (Cub Master) and his wife Christie have led this very successful Cub Pack for nearly 20 years. The meeting took place at Skip’s home and featured a wonderful Seafood Boil dinner. The Pack participated in the Popcorn Sales again this year and sold $30,000 in popcorn. From this, they netted $10,000 for the Pack, which will be used to support their activities this coming year. Another one third of the proceeds of this sale goes to the Great Alaska Council of the Boy Scouts of America to help fund their ongoing programs.

Pack 354 currently has 89 Scouts in 11 Cub Dens. They keep the boys very active in the community by providing support to various charitable organizations like Special Olympics, the American Cancer Society, and Wounded Veterans Program. On Saturday, December 19, the Cubs and their families will be caroling at the Palmer Veterans Home (Pioneer Home) at 6:00 PM. In addition to their regularly planned activities, the Pack will be sponsoring an “Adult Pinewood Derby”. This event gives Scout parents and other adults the opportunity to build and compete with their own Pinewood Derby cars and provides them an opportunity to contribute to the Wounded Veterans Program. The entry fee is $25, for which the participant get their own Pinewood Derby kit. The adults will compete on May 6, 2010 at the Palmer Elks Club on Finger Lake. For more information about Pack 354 please contact Skip at krysak@mtaonline.net.

Glacier Lodge No. 10 Installation of Officers

Last Saturday, December 5, I attended the installation of officers for Glacier Lodge No. 10. The installation took place at the Anchorage Masonic Center, and the Lodge room was packed with visitors. WB Clarence E. Keto was installed as worshipful master, with Brothers David Prentice and Bruce Morgan as Senior and Junior Wardens respectively. Rounding out the elected officers are WB Jerry W. (JJ) Pinion Jr., Treasurer and RWB Jerry W. Pinion, Secretary. The Pinion son and father duo performed the installation ceremony as Installing Officer and Installing Marshall, switching roles when it was the others turn to be installed. Other installing officers included WB Paul Gabbert (Aurora Lodge No. 15), Installing Chaplain, MWB Henry Dunbar, Installing Secretary, and Ms Alice Chaney, Installing Organists. This was a bit of a family affair, with Clarence’s wife Beverly, daughter Susan Keto Fogg, and grandson all taking part in the festivities.

This is Clarence’s second time in the East for Glacier Lodge No. 10. Clarence is also a past Potentate of Al Aska Shrine and, this year, he is serving me as the Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Alaska. I know he will do a great job at the reins of Glacier 10, and I wish him well.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and have to use a file photo of Clarence for this posting. I don’t think he will mind, since it shows him enjoying one of his favorite activities.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Daddy Rabbit Welcome

I just heard from MW Steve Cox (Grand Master of Masons in Alaska, 2002), who was transplanted to Oklahoma a few years back. Steve’s initial major in college was fine arts, and he has done cartooning since childhood. A watercolor painting of the old Fairbanks Masonic Temple that Steve did while at Tanana #3 hangs in the new Tanana Masonic Center. Steve does oils, watercolors, mixed media and sculpture, all original work. The following is Steve’s message and his accompanying artwork. Enjoy.

Well, being stuck in the house while a toe heals, I became bored. Gayle let me have some pencils and paper to play with… So I drew a new cartoon.

It is my Daddy Rabbit cartoon, turned forward for the first time in nearly 45 years. I chose Masonry as his debut so I hope you like him. Those of you who are Masons will understand the open arms and greeting. Those of you who are not… maybe you should join?

If you like him, let me know… if you don’t, who are you anyway to judge my artwork!!!!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

29th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Alaska


I extend to you a cordial invitation to attend the 29th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Alaska in Anchorage, February 2 – 5, 2010.

Beth and I have planned several social activities, which all are welcomed to participate in during their stay in Anchorage. A proposed schedule of events, interactive registration form, and fliers providing more information about our Alaska Masonic Library and Museum Foundation fund raiser and Potentates Ball can all be found under announcements on the Grand Lodge of Alaska web page.

Please note that Alaska Airlines has currently reduced airfare to and from Anchorage, Alaska. This reduction may not last long.

I look forward to seeing all my Masonic friends in February.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

MW John R. “Bo” Cline
Grand Master of Masons in Alaska

Bake Sale

Back in March, I issued a challenge to the lodges in this jurisdiction to conduct at least one fund raising activity during the year, and I asked that a portion of the proceeds raised be donated to the Grand Lodge of Alaska. I asked that any funds donated to Grand Lodge be earmarked to support one or more of the various endowments we sponsor, i.e. Grand Lodge Permanent Fund, Grand Lodge Travel Fund, Alaska Masonic Foundation for Children, or the Alaska Masonic Library and Museum Foundation. I explained that I hoped the lodges would make the presentation of their gifts during the open session of the 29th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Alaska, February 4-5, 2010.

My purpose in issuing this challenge was to provoke the lodges into initiating some sort of activity that would demonstrate their presence in the community as a force for doing good.

Last night I visited my mother lodge, Matanuska No. 7. During the reports of committees, I learned that the lodge had conducted a bake sale over the weekend and had raised $715.85. During the course of the meeting, several motions were made and approved to dispose of this money. The lodge agreed to donate $200 to the Palmer Food Bank, $200 to the Alaska Family Resource Center, $200 to the Matanuska/Susitna Borough Secret Santa Program, $100 to the Grand Lodge of Alaska, and $15.85 to the lodge’s Almoner’s Fund.

Last night, I had a deep sense of pride in my lodge when I saw that they had participated in my requested fund raising activity, and, when it was over, contributed the bulk of monies they had raised directly back to the community. My lodge is not large as lodges go. We have limited resources and many demands on the money we have at hand, not the least is the maintenance of our Masonic Hall. Despite that, Matanuska Lodge No. 7 chose to demonstrate that they are a force for good in their community, and I applaud them for that.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Two Worlds of Masonry

As I have been traveling around the country this year, I have been living in two separate and distinct worlds. One world consists of the “Real World” of the Blue Lodges and the appendent and concordant bodies. The other consists of the “Virtual World” of Freemasonry.

In the real world, flesh and blood Masons meet for fellowship to perform Masonic rituals and conduct business meetings. This population is characterized by men primarily in their 50s and 60s. Although, a whole generation younger than the “Greatest Generation”, this group generally shares a lot of the same conservative values of the WWII group. These real world Masons are the keepers of the Masonic flame; they keep alive the customs and traditions of Freemasonry and are wary of any changes in the manner in which Freemasonry is practiced. From my observation, this group has a greater interest in the philanthropy than in the philosophy of Masonry. Masons in this group are not only separated from the newer generation of Masons by age, they are also less technically astute. Many of them don’t use or have access to computers and those that do use them simply for communicating via email.

My other world is the virtual world of Freemasonry accessible through the Internet. The characteristics of this group are a little harder to pin down. Members of this group often identify themselves with pseudonyms like Masonic Traveler, Palmetto Bug, and The Millennial Freemason. They usually represent themselves with avatars rather than their true images. My guess would be that these Masons are generally in their 30s and 40s, however there appears to be a large number of Gen Xers among this group. That’s not to say that older Masons do not frequent the Internet. One regular follower of this blog is a 91 year old Past Grand Master. One thing that this group generally has in common is an interest in the symbolism, philosophy, and history of Freemasonry. They also have an interest in and discuss contemporary issues like Masonic Recognition, Female Freemasonry, and Masonic Baptism. They share this interest on the Internet through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, through blogs and podcasts, and on forum pages like The Masonic Society and Sanctum Sanctorum. These Masons are quite adept at the use of modern technology and use that technology to create Masonic content and share it with the world.

I realize that I am generalizing quite a bit, but from my perspective there is an ever widening gap forming between the legacy Masons in the “Real World” and the next generation Masons in the “Virtual World” who are seeking the promise of more light in Masonry. Also, from my perspective, the largest population of Masons exists in the “Real World” and they appear to be either unaware of the ways of or just disinterested in expanding their knowledge of Freemasonry. They seem more interested in making members rather than making Masons.

More and more men are seeking the promise of Freemasonry. These men are lured by the popular media and the information they glean from the Internet. The dilemma that exists is that, in order for these men to participate in our labors and privileges, they must first pass through the “Real World” of Freemasonry. They must ask to become a Mason, petition a lodge, and go through the ritual of initiation in the brick and mortar world. Some do not see this “Real World” of Masonry as representative of what they are seeking. Others, who go through our degrees, simply leave never to return, when they realize that in “Real World” Masonry philanthropy precedes philosophy and they are not interested in tedious business meetings.

For Freemasonry to survive and succeed, a bridge needs to be built between these two worlds. These two groups must be brought together, because the legacy Masons hold the keys to our customs and traditions and the next generation of Masons have the curiosity, energy, and enthusiasm to carry us into the future. As Freemasons are first and foremost builders, this should be an easy task. Unfortunately, our legacy Masons are either worn out from keeping Freemasonry alive for the past 40 to 50 years, they may not possess the necessary skills to perform this task, or they are just too comfortable in the models they have created for themselves to want to change. If this is truly the case, then the only option is for the next generation of Masons to reach back across the gap. This next generation must learn and appreciate our customs and traditions and be sensitive to the concerns of the legacy Masons; they must continue to examine the symbolism, philosophy, and history of Freemasonry, with an eye toward self improvement; and they must share their new insights with all, from the E-Mason to the legacy Mason. The next generation Mason must explore different models for the practice of Freemasonry and bring those models into the “Real World”.

Freemasonry is a powerful institution, which first improves the character of the individual Mason, and then, by his action, the entire community. The world (both real and virtual) is a better place because of Freemasonry. I have great confidence that we will continue to be a positive influence on the world, and as the world changes, Freemasonry will change to accommodate the quest of the individual Brother.

I live in both worlds of Freemasonry, and I share some of the characteristics of both groups. I am comfortable with the models of Freemasonry we practice in the “Real World”. Yet, I have a desire for something I find lacking in the way Freemasonry is practiced in this country. I wish to be a positive influence on making our Craft better, therefore I continue to be a seeker for more light in Masonry.

Scottish Rite Reception of the Grand Master

Yesterday evening, Beth and I again drove into Anchorage , where the Anchorage Scottish Rite Valley conducted a reception for the Grand Master. This event was held at the Lone Star Steak House. The food was great and the friendship and fellowship was even greater. A special thanks to Brother Dale S. Cain, 33 degree, for coordinating this event and all of the courtisies extended to Beth and me.

Four New Entered Apprentice

On Saturday monring, I drove into Anchorage to enjoy the conferral of the First Degree of Masonry on for candidates at Aurora Lodge No. 15. Each of the four First Degrees was conferred in succession by Brother Joe Dahl. The Master's Lecture was performed by WB John Bishop. It was great to witness such quality ritual work and to be present as four men started on their quest for Masonic Light.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And Then There Were Five

On Tuesday evening, November 10, 2009, Carl L. “Bud” Banks was installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, F&AM of the State of Nevada. This was a historic occasion, as Bud represents the fifth installed Grand Master in 2009 who is also a member of the Grand Lodge of Washington. The five Grand Masters who share this distinction and their dates of installation are:

MW John R. “Bo” Cline, Grand Master of Alaska, February 6
MW D. Arthur Bush, Grand Master of Oregon, June 5
MW Gale H. Kenney, Grand Master of Washington, June 12
MW Kenneth G. Nagel, Grand Master of California, October 4
MW Carl L. “Bud” Banks, Grand Master of Nevada, November 10

Bud’s installation occured at the conclusion of the 145th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Nevada, which took place at the Peppermill Resort in Reno. The Annual Communication was presided over by MW David O. Martinez, Grand Master and had representatives present from the Grand Lodges of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Switzerland, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, including eight Grand Masters. The Grand Lodge of Alaska had by far the largest contingent with seven members present. Including myself, Alaskans present were RW Johnnie L. Wallace, DGM; RW James D. Grubbs, Grand Treasurer; MW Jared S. Decker, PGM; MW Fred V. Angleton, PGM; MW L. V. “Joe” Dees, PGM; and Brother Jerry Ingram.

Legislation of note included the rejection of a resolution to prohibit the conduct of a stated meeting on anything but the third degree and the withdrawal of the alternate Spanish Ritual. Additionally, Arthur K. Cronin (PGM), VW Grand Secretary and David J. Guinan (PGM), VW Grand Lecturer both announced their retirements from their respective offices. It was unanimously approved to make Art and David Grand Secretary Emeritus and Grand Lecturer Emeritus respectively. The newly elected Grand Lodge officers for the Grand Lodge of the State of Nevada for 2009 – 2010 include:

Carl L. “Bud” Banks, MW Grand Master
Reed R. Moseley, RW Deputy Grand Master
Hans J. Scheurer, RW Senior Grand Warden
Richard M. “Mike” Hoaglin, RW Junior Grand Warden
Michel P. Aurnague, VW Grand Treasurer
Larry W. Darling, VW Grand Secretary
James G. Kelly (PGM), VW Grand Lecturer

Beth and I had a wonderful time while attending this Grand Session and we owe a debt of gratitude to MW David Martinez and the officers and members of the Grand Lodge of Nevada for all of the courtesies extended to us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lafayette Lodge International Night

Last night was the 81st Annual International Night Banquet and Reception sponsored by Lafayette Lodge No. 241, Grand Lodge of Washington, F&AM. This invitational reception was intended to honor sitting Grand Masters by giving them the opportunity to sign the famous Lafayette Lodge Bible. This Bible contains the signatures of many recognizable personalities collected over the past several years.

The Lafayette Signature Bible was originally given to Lafayette Lodge by their sponsoring Lodge Arcana No. 87. It is not documented as to how or who originally conceived the idea of obtaining signatures of famous and influential people. However over the many years, the lodge has obtained the signatures of political figures, movie personalities, military personnel, foreign dignitaries, local dignitaries, visiting Grand Masters, and all of the Worshipful Masters of Lafayette Lodge. Perhaps the most famous signature is that of the late president Warren G. Harding. President Harding boarded his train for Washington DC, shortly after signing the Lafayette Bible, and died during the night while on his train ride. His Press Secretary verified this was the last time his signature was ever applied in any form.

Other noted personalities who have signed this Bible include: Lynden B. Johnson; Astronauts Charlie Duke, John Young, and Ken Mattingly; Henry A. Kissinger; Carl Gustaf (King of Sweden); Frank S. Land 33rd degree; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Adm. Richard E. Bird; Akihito (Crown Prince of Japan); Barry Goldwater 33rd degree; Ronald Reagan; Bob Hope; Red Skelton 33rd degree; Noble Eddie Peabody; Walter F. Meier; Douglas MacArthur 33rd degree; Henry Clausen 33rd degree; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Charles A. Lindberg; Harry Truman; Neil Armstrong; and many many more.

This year, it was my great honor to be included in the class of 2009 Grand Masters who were given this wonderful opportunity. My fellow Grand Masters who participated in this event were: MWB Kenneth G. Nagel (Grand Lodge of California); MWB David C. Triplett (Grand Lodge of Idaho); MWB Thomas L. Lund (Grand Lodge of Montana) MWB D. Arthur Bush (Grand Lodge of Oregon); RWB Patrick I. Hughes, Sr., 33rd degree (representing MWB Kenneth B. Anthony, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction); MWB Brian Tuckey (Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon); and, of course, MWB Gale H. Kenney (Grand Lodge of Washington). All of these Grand Masters were accompanied by their ladies and special guests. I had the honor of having both my wife Bethany and my parents; Kelly and Marge Cline accompany me.

I wish to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Worshipful Brother Robert P. Cittadini and all of the officers and brethren of Lafayette Lodge No. 241 for their great hospitality and the wonderful honor they bestowed on me. I wish to extend a special thanks to Worshipful Brother Leonard T. Hutchinson, who was our personal escort on this momentous occasion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Masonic Society PowerPoint Presentation

In my copious free time, I animated Brother Terry Hastings' PowerPoint presentation on "The Masonic Society". Once it downloads, just click the play button with your mouse, then click to advance the slides.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anchorage Valley Scottish Rite Fall Reunion

On Saturday, I had the honor and privilege to be the exemplar for the conferral of the 32 degree of Scottish Rite Masonry, during the Anchorage Scottish Rite Valley’s fall reunion. There were 10 of us in the reunion class, which was large by the Anchorage Valley’s standards. The candidates who participated in the class included: Andy Flack, Steve Cords, Paul Petersen, Ron Adams, Mike Cooper, Will Ottman, Chris Fatello, Sam Thompson, Nicholas Giles, and myself. During the “capping” ceremony at the end of this two day event, I had the pleasure of having my Scottish Rite 32 degree cap placed on my head by Dee LaCombe. Dee was the wife of Brother Dave LaCombe, a dear friend who passed away last year.

I may have mentioned before that I came to Masonry late in my life, although, I was introduced to the principles of Freemasonry at an early age, by a family that was and is very active in the fraternity and through participation in DeMolay. However, after I graduated from High School, I chose a different path; military service, college, and a professional career. Along the way, I gave my service in leadership roles to a professional society and the Boy Scouts. I didn’t become a Master Mason until I was 47 years old. Before that time, I didn’t realize that I had been searching for something more meaningful in my life. Since becoming a Mason, I have given my time and service to various Masonic organizations, applying what I had learned through a career of professional and public service.

For the last few years I have become aware of what Masonry has to offer to the serious student, and I have set off on a course of independent study of mediaeval and renaissance philosophy. I have been guided by authors like Frances Yates, who said:

“Where is there such a combination . . . of religious toleration, emotional linkage with the mediaeval past, emphasis on good works for others, and imaginative attachment to the religion and the symbolism of the Egyptians? The only answer to this question that I can think of is in Freemasonry, with its mythical link with the mediaeval masons, its toleration, its philanthropy, and its Egyptian symbolism."

I have continued to search for that which will make me a better husband, a better father, and a better citizen. This weekend’s Anchorage Scottish Rite Valley’s fall reunion, was another step in that search. I know that there are some who may be surprised by this revelation; that I waited this long to become a Scottish Rite Mason. All I can say is that for every man there is a path he must choose; a path, which if properly selected, will help direct him to true enlightenment. I have no regrets about waiting until I was 47 years old to choose Freemasonry, for I wasn’t ready to accept its teachings until that time. I do, however, regret that it took me this long to seek out Scottish Rite Masonry. I now believe, for me anyway, that the Scottish Rite has the philosophy and teachings that will assist me in my quest for “Further Light in Masonry”.

As Brother Winston Churchill said at the end of the Battle of Britian, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

Building Boaz - UPDATE

Last week I had the opportunity to visit over the phone with Brother and Doctor John Nagy. John is the author of the recently published “Building Boaz”, the second volume in his series on uncommon catechisms for uncommon Masonic education. His first book in this series was titled “Building Hiram”. John has the great sense of finding patterns in Masonic ritual and presenting the relationships of the symbolism to an individual’s development in a unique manner. He begins each of his books with a catechism primer, where he presents the definition of catechism in the form of a catechism itself. He proceeds to introduce several topics in “Building Boaz” related to the First Degree and follows each with a catechism on that topic. Each of John’s books are excellent resources to assist in coaching and mentoring new Masons. They are also great tools to enhance Masonic Education within our lodges.

Dr. Nagy will be a guest on the Masonic Central podcast Sunday, October 25. Masonic Central airs live most Sundays at 6:00 PM Pacific Time. If you have the time and is free of commitments during its airing, I would encourage you to tune in. However, if you are like me, you will have to download the broadcast to listen to it as a later time. Dr. Nagy's books may be purchased on the Freemason Information Masonic Blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New Master Mason

Last night I portrayed King Hiram during the Third Degree Drama for Brother Jeff Wilson at Aurora Lodge No. 15. Brother Jeff received a surprise visit from his wife’s uncle, WB Charles Tupper, who flew up to Anchorage to confer Jeff’s degree. WB Charles is a Past Master of St. John’s Lodge No. 9 in Seattle and a member of the Grand Lodge of Washington Technology Committee. The degree went off without any hitches and was exceptionally well performed by the officers and members of Aurora Lodge with a little help from brethren from Eagle River Lodge No. 13. WB Tupper obligated the candidate and conducted during the Drama. Senior Warden Dave Oaks assumed the East during the opening and closing of the lodge, WB Jim Griffith and VWB James Herrington performed their tag team presentation of the Historical Lecture, and WB Paul Gabbert delivered the Charged to the candidate. I was duly impressed and pleased to see this level of ritual performance in our lodges.

Brother Jeff is in the front row, third from the right in photo above. WB Charles is on his left.

There seems to be a rash of Third Degrees being performed lately. Tonight, Anchorage Lodge No. 17 will be performing this degree at the Anchorage Masonic Center. Also, Tanana Lodge No. 3 will be conferring two Third Degrees tonight at the Tanana Masonic Center in Fairbanks. On Tuesday, November 3, Aurora Lodge No. 15 will reprise their Third Degree performance at the Anchorage Masonic Center. Visit the Grand Lodge of Alaska Events Calendar to see what’s going on across the jurisdiction.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Cornerstone of America

The US Capital city was built along the Potomac River on land donated by Virginia and Maryland. In 1791 and 1792, Andrew Ellicott, with Benjamin Banneker and colleagues, slashed through the wilderness to survey the boundary of the United State’s new Federal City. Ellicott and his party placed marker stones every mile along the perimeter of the ten square mile parcel of land. These boundary stones constituted the first national monuments ever erected in this country. On the afternoon of April 15, 1791, under the direction of Benjamin Banneker, the mayor of Alexandria, several other dignitaries and the Freemasons of Alexandria marched south from Gadsby’s Tavern (then called Wise’s Ordinary) south to Jones Point on the Potomac River. There they erected the first of the forty boundary stones in full Masonic ceremony. This boundary stone then became the first National Monument ever erected in this country.

On Thursday of this week, Beth (and her brother David) and I drove south to Jones Point Park at the bottom of Lee St. We walked through the park, passed through a hole in a chain link fence, walked beneath the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, passed through another hole in the fence, and then to Jones Point Lighthouse. There, on the river side of the lighthouse and somewhat buried in the seawall, was the US Capital’s first boundary stone (only one of 36 of the original boundary stones remaining), first consecrated by the Masons of Alexandria. The stone is in an alcove in the seawall, which is covered by a grille. There is a hole in the top of the seawall to view the stone from above. Work accomplished to protect this first boundary stone was done by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

It is interesting to note that this portion of what was once part of the District of Columbia, laying south the Potomac River, was deemed too marshy for development and given back to the State of Virginia in the 1840s. It is now home to Arlington and Alexandria, VA, the Pentagon, and Arlington National Cemetery.

Monday, October 5, 2009

2009 Bienial Session - Supreme Council, Scottish Rite

Unto the divine light of the holy altar
From the outer darkness of ignorance
Through the shadows of our earth life
Winds the beautiful path of initiation

Beth and I arrived in Washington DC at 1:00 AM this morning, after traveling from the Grand Lodge of California. We are here attending the 2009 Biennial Session of the Supreme Council, 33degree, Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction.

At this morning’s session, I was introduced along with 31 other Grand Masters of the 35 Grand Lodges in the Southern Jurisdiction. Tomorrow afternoon will be the 33degree Conferral Ceremony. Alaskan members of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction elected to receive this honor include:

Dale Stephen Cain
Don Garrett Chaffin, II
Edward Joseph Malhoit
Samuel John Schwendner

Additionally, the following Alaskan Masons have been elected to receive the Knight Commander Court of Honor, KCCH (Red Hat):

John Kenneth Bishop
Dwane Lee Anderson
Marvin Bea Fitzpatrick
Arnold Samuel Vachss
James R. Herrington
John William Erickson, Jr.
David Worel
Charles Edward Rogers
Lawrence Edwin Schaufler

I congratulate all of these Brothers on their preferment.

This afternoon, Beth and I took a tour of the “House of the Temple”, the headquarters of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction is Washington D.C. The temple was modeled after the Mausoleum of Mausolus and designed by John Russell Pope. Ground was broken on May 31, 1911 and the cornerstone was laid on October 18, 1911. The building was dedicated four years later on October 18, 1915.

An alcove in the temple holds the remains of Confederate general and former Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike. Pike was the author of Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, a book that describes in detail the 33 ranks of Freemasonry, the stories and teachings associated with each rank, the rituals connected to each rank, and other lodge proceedings.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

160th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of California

The 160th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of California is currently taking place at the California Masonic Memorial Temple in San Francisco. Grand Lodge opened on ritualistic form yesterday morning, October 2. The ritual was performed very well in a deliberate manner with excellent floor work.

Yesterday evening, the visiting Grand Masters and their wives were invited to attend a dinner hosted by Grand Master Larry Adamson and his lady, Lynn. It was a wonderful evening with good food and good fellowship. We had an opportunity to visit with old friends and make new ones.

The regular business of Grand Lodge continued today, with discussion of resolutions, adoption of the budget and per capita, and the elections of Grand Lodge officers for 2009/2010. Kenneth G. Nagel was elected Grand Master, William J. Bray III was elected Deputy Grand Master, Frank Loui was elected Senior Grand Warden, and John F. Lowe was elected Junior Grand Warden.

During the noon break, I visited the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry and its curator, Adam Kendall. At the end of the business day, I had the honor of presenting Bill Bray with his Alaska Past Master’s apron from Kodiak Lodge No. 9.

This evening, Beth and I attended the Grand Master’s Banquet at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel. A highlight of this evening’s events was the Grand Master’s announcement that the members of the Grand Lodge of California had voted in favor of sharing its jurisdiction with the Grand Lodge of Iran in Exile.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Freemasons, Founding Father's and the Secrets of Washington, D.C.

Earlier this week, I finished reading Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”. Casting about for something else to read, I picked up Chris Hodapp’s “Solomon’s Builders”. I had started reading this book a couple of months ago, and was about half way through it when I set it down to concentrate on Grand Lodge duties.

“Solomon’s Builders” is a well written and researched book and an excellent counterpoint to “The Lost Symbol”. Chris provides factual data about much of the information presented in Dan Brown’s mystery. It is interesting to note that Chris wrote “Solomon’s Builders” long before anyone knew what the plot Dan Brown’s newest offering would be. His title (“Solomon’s Builders”) was taken from the working title of and Brown’s latest book, which was speculated to be “Solomon’s Key” and ultimately became “The Lost Symbol”. As such, “Solomon’s Builders” is a completely independent effort. After reading “The Lost Symbol”, its hard to believe that Dan Brown did not borrow some from “Solomon’s Builders”.

I am reasonably sure that there will be a barrage of books that will be published in the next few months about “The Lost Symbol” or related to themes contained in it. These books will be written to cash in on the frenzy that is sure to surround Dan Brown’s latest book. However, if you are interested in Freemasonry and its influence on the founding of America, I recommend you pick up Chris Hodapp’s “Solomon’s Builders”, before you look to these “Johnny-come-latelys”, many of whom will have little or no personal knowledge of Freemasonry.

Chris does have a new book coming out later this year titled “Deciphering The Lost Symbol”. I guess he is not adverse to capitalizing on Dan Brown’s success, as well. However, knowing Chris, I am sure this will be another well written and entertaining book.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Lost Word Found

Its midnight and I just returned from my visit to Kodiak Lodge No. 9. I was expecting to return early this afternoon, but was delayed at the airport as several flights were canceled due to poor weather. Kodiak is a beautiful Island in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska and is regularly buffeted by storms that race across the North Pacific.

Other than the weather delay, my trip to Kodiak was very pleasant. I was accompanied by RW Johnnie L. Wallace (Deputy Grand Master) and RW Jerry Pinion (Junior Grand Warden). We had a wonderful Yankee Pot Roast dinner and presided over a very enjoyable Friendship Night presentation arranged by MW Jared Decker. I extend my special thanks to Jared and Suni Decker for a great evening.

Although we were stuck at the Kodiak airport most of the day, I did find one positive aspect about the experience. I was able to spend the day reading Dan Brown’s latest adventure, “The Lost Symbol”. For the last couple of years, I have been concerned about how this book might depict the Masonic fraternity and was anxious to read it. I picked it up at the train station in Norwich before I left England, primarily to get a book with the English cover. I have been avoiding blogs, pod casts, and other media reviews of the book until I had an opportunity to digest it and make my own conclusions about it. Overall, I have a positive impression about Mr. Brown’s latest offering. The book features Robert Langon (“Angles & Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code”), a Harvard symbologist, who must discover the secret of the lost Masonic word in order to save a friend from a horrible fate. “The Lost Symbol” paints Freemasonry in a very positive and favorable light. The fact that it introduces the craft of Freemasonry to millions of non-Masons creates a challenge for most Masons who will be required to respond to many questions about Masonry. Regrettably, many of these Masons may not be acquainted with the spiritual and philosophical themes presented in the book, themes which make Masonry more than just a social club but a sacred band of friends and brothers. My earnest hope is that “The Lost Symbol” will be a wake-up call to all Masons across the country to begin their own search for the lost symbol.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Alaskan Job's Daughters

“And in all the land were no women
found so fair as the Daughters of Job;
and their Father gave them inheritance
among their brethren.”

Saturday morning, I attended the meeting of Anchorage Bethel No. 1, International Order of Job’s Daughters. Bethel No. 1 is the only Bethel in Alaska, however among all of our Masonic Youth Groups; it is one of the most active and engaging. At Saturday’s meeting four young women were initiated into the Bethel and two petitions for membership were read. Although, a small Bethel, it is apparent that is growing. This was the first opportunity I had to witness the Job’s Daughters ceremony of initiation, and I was very impressed by its beauty of the lessons it taught from the Book of Job .

From Bethel No. 1’s web site you will learn that: Job’s Daughters help young women between the ages of 10 and 20 learn important skills needed throughout your life. They teach leadership, organizational skills along with how to work as a team, making friends and building confidence along the way while having fun in the process. Along the way they do community service such as; making blankets for shelters, cleaning parks and assisting at functions for community organizations in their fund raising endeavors. When not engaged in community service activities they have dances, roller skating parties, pizza parties and the like. Oh, that’s not all they do though! They get to travel a bit, doing ceremonies at public installations, Masonic Lodges and Concordant bodies throughout the state when requested.

I had a wonderful time visiting with these young women and their adult leaders, and I encourage all Master Masons to take the time to get to know the future leaders of our fraternity by visiting one of our youth organizations. For more information about Bethel No. 1, please contact Mrs. Susan Anderson, Bethel Gardian.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Taurus Lodge No. 3981

Taurus Lodge and the Worshipful Company of Butchers

One of the seven oldest Companies in the City
For one thousand and thirty years it has dwelt with impunity
At Butchers’ Hall, whence was express the closed shop,
And, on the retail sale of meat by “foreigners” was placed a royal stop.
Edward the Third ordained all craftsmen should choose a “Mystery”,
Like the Mason’s Word, a secret test of history.
No good honest Butcher would e’er be blackballed
Just as his meat would ne’er be forestalled.
Today’s Masonic lodge coincides
With the aims of the Company wherein it abides.

On Tuesday, September 22, I again found myself traveling by train, with WBs Robin Pooley and John Tuckwell, from Norwich to London. The purpose of our trip was to attend the Quarterly Communication of Taurus Lodge No. 3981. Taurus Lodge was chartered by United Smithfield No. 3176 and consists exclusively of members of the Worshipful Company of Butchers, one of the seven oldest livery companies in the City of London. Livery companies are trade associations or guilds which take part in the election of the Lord Mayor of the City of London, the sheriffs, and the other traditional officers of the City. John Tuckwell was Master of the Worshipful Company of Butchers in 2008. In 2010, HRH Princess Anne will be the Company’s Master.

Taurus Lodge was founded in December 1919, and continues to be one of London’s most successful lodges. They meet quarterly in Butchers’ Hall, Bartholomew Close, London. The feature of this particular meeting was the installation of officers for the ensuing term. The officers of Taurus Lodge performed excellent ritual for the opening and closing, as well as the ceremony of installation. W.Bro. M.P.J. Cahill stepped down as Worshipful Master and was replaced by W.Bro. J.M.P. Cooper.

In addition to me, guests included VW Richard Regan, Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master. As with most other English lodges, Taurus practices the Emulation Ritual. This ritual is somewhat different than the Preston-Webb ritual practiced by most US lodges, including Alaska. Some of the differences I noted were the inclusion of Master of Ceremonies and Inner Guard, officers which do not exist in our lodges. Officers and members of the lodge saluted the WM with the sign of the particular degree lodge was opened on. In fact, honors were given to the guests by saluting with the sign of the degree a number of times specified by the rank of the guest being saluted. In Alaska we do not salute the WM.

Upon arriving at the meeting hall, we were greeted with coffee or tea and cookies and of course sausage rolls. After the meeting we adjourned to the Great Hall for the festive board consisting of a three course meal with selected wines and a battery of 10 selected toasts. It’s no wonder Taurus Lodge is regarded as one of the best in London.

47 St Giles' Street, Norwich

Robin and Margaret Pooley led Beth and me on a tour of the city of Norwich on Thursday, September 10. One of our stops included a visit to 47 St Giles’ Street, which has been the home of Freemasonry in Norwich since 1881. St Giles’ is also the home of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Norfolk, which is celebrating its 250th Anniversary this year. Robin gave us a tour of this historic building, and we were greeted there by RW John S. Rushmer, the current Provincial Grand Master. Robin’s Norwich lodge which is one of several lodges that meet in St. Giles’ is Union Lodge No. 52. Union Lodge was constituted in “Kings Head” pub, in the City of Norwich in 1736. John and Robin shared several fascinating historical facts about this 273 year old lodge with us and showed us many of their artifacts.
By comparison, the Territory of Alaska was purchased from Russia and came under the flag of the United States on October 18, 1867. In 1869, the first Masonic lodge (Alaska Lodge No. 14) was constituted in Sitka, Alaska, a full 133 years after the constitution of Union Lodge No. 52. It’s hard to fathom the great heritage of Masonry that exists in this far off corner of England.

The United Grand Lodge of England

On Wednesday, September 9, along with my two companions Robin Pooley, OBE (JGD 2004, UGLE) and John Tuchwell (PAGDC 2001, UGLE), I caught the 8:30 AM train out of Norwich station for London’s Liverpool station. We were en route to the Quarterly Communication of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of England at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London. Upon entering the hall, I was directed to the robe-ing room to dress in my regalia and to await escort into Grand Lodge. Those waiting with me included Nikolaos Vourgidis, Grand Master and George Vassilogeogis, Deputy Grand Master Grand Lodge of Greece; Jean-Claude Tardivant, Deputy Grand Master Grande Loge Nationale Francaise; J.F. “Jeff” Webb, Grand Master Grand Lodge of Louisiana; and a large contingent from the Grand Lodge of Espirito Santo, Brazil. After a bit of waiting, we were marched into the Lodge room and watched as the Quarterly Communication was opened in ample form by MW Peter Geoffrey Lowndes, Pro Grand Master. It was a thrill of a lifetime to sit in Freemasons Hall in London and be introduced as the sitting Grand Master from Alaska. I owe a supreme debt of gratitude to WBs Pooley and Tuckwell for arranging my visit and looking after Beth and me during our stay in England.

Click here to view video of Freemasons Hall

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"To set the craft to work . . . and give them good and wholesome instruction for their labors."

I recently did a Google search on the phrase “Masonic Education” and received 1,910,000 hits or references to web pages that discuss this topic. Some of the sites listed were commercial sites which offered Masonic training for a fee; other sites consisted of articles providing the author’s opinion on what Masonic education consists of or should consists of and how it should be presented, and yet other sites provided tools to assist lodges in presenting their own Masonic education programs. When I saw there were nearly two million hits on this subject, I realized there were many others who share my belief that Masonic education is an extremely important aspect of the work of the Lodge.

Each candidate for our degrees and mysteries is promised that he will be given a Masonic education, and that that education will define how Masonry applies to his life overall, will improve his character, and make him a better man. Masons today expect more, they expect an in depth education beyond the catechisms. They also expect that established Masons will guide and mentor them along a path to further enlightenment.

As I have been traveling around our lodges this year, I have suggested that the time spent in the stated meeting should be divided into thirds; one third of the time devoted to business, one third to fellowship, and one third to the presentation of a program of Masonic Education. I have also suggested that the goal of such an education program should be to translate the lessons and experiences that one gains from Masonry into one’s daily actions.

Through the degrees of Masonry the candidate learns the signs, grips, and words that grant access to the Lodge, where he can begin to discover that there are many aspects to the society of Freemasonry, aspects which lead to the moral and character development of which he is in search. These aspects can be divided into three main categories—philosophical, historical, and organizational.

• The philosophical aspect of Freemasonry introduces the student to the profound subjects of initiation, symbolism and tradition, and their potential to impact his life for the better.
• The historical aspect teaches the student how the traditions and teachings that make up Masonry came to be, their central role in the spiritual search of mankind and the way Masonry has affected the world since its emergence.
• The organizational aspect helps the student understand how the organization is governed and perpetuated, and provides many opportunities for the development of leadership skills and personal responsibility.

By learning the signs, grips, and words, the door to the world of Freemasonry is opened to the student. In addition to participating in a program of Masonic instruction within the lodge, each student has an opportunity to begin a process of self development that now lies before him.

Freemasonry, if approached with humility, an open heart and an open mind will make one a gentleman, a better family man, and a better citizen. I therefore urge each lodge to expand and improve on their program of Masonic education, and I urge each mason to become a true student of our mysteries and continue your personal pursuit of Masonic enlightenment.

International Days, Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Beth and I just returned from a great weekend in Dawson City, Yukon Territory where we joined in on the International Days celebration with the brethren from Tanana Lodge No. 3 (Fairbanks, AK) and Yukon Lodge No. 45 (Dawson City, YT). Along with the community activities surrounding this event, our Canadian brethren arranged several fellowship activities including a banquet and barbeque for our enjoyment. Yesterday evening was the last stated meeting of the year for Yukon No. 45 and it was also the official visit of their District Deputy, RW Martin Allen. In addition to myself, the Grand Lodge of Alaska delegation included RW Johnnie Wallace (DGM), RW Ron Ackerman (DGM), W James Peasley (JGS), and VW John Johnson (DDGM Dist. No. 1) and several of the brethren from Tanana Lodge No. 3. This has been an annual event between the two lodges for many years to mark the bond of brotherhood between them. Yukon Lodge No. 45 was established by Masons who took part in the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1899. These same Masons also constituted Tanana Lodge No. 3, as they moved west to Fairbanks in search of more gold.

The Masonic Lodge building is a distinctive feature in Dawson City. It was originally built as a library under a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Endowment. The interior has several unique architectural features including “tin” walls and ceilings. The brethren of Yukon No. 45 spent several years restoring this building to its original glory.

Beth and I left Dawson City early this morning in order to repack and head out tomorrow morning on our trip to Norwich, UK and a visit to the United Grand Lodge of England. It was a 465 mile drive, which was suppose to take over 12 hours, but we made it in a little over eight.

My regards to the brethren of Yukon No. 45 and my sincere thanks for a wonderful time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Be Prepared

I just read Chris Hodapp's September 2nd posting, "The Dan Brown Effect Part II: What Next?" on his Freemasons For Dummies and believe there is no better time to practice Lodge Renewal.

District No. 1 Reception of the Grand Master

This time of year in Alaska is absolutely beautiful. We are just starting to get our first touch of fall coloring in the leaves of the birch and aspens. The berry bushes that cling to the mountain sides are showing a brilliant red. Although, we don’t have the variety of coloring seen in the hardwood forest on the East Coast, I am partial to our change of season. The yellow and oranges of the deciduous trees contrast nicely with the dark green of our native spruce, while the floor of our forests are a beautiful crimson.

This was the scene that Beth and I experienced as we drove from our home Wednesday morning, up the George Parks Highway to Fairbanks, to participate in the Grand Master’s reception in District No. 1 and enjoy friendship and fellowship with the officers and members of Tanana Lodge No.3, Fairbanks Lodge No. 12, and North Pole Lodge No. 16. This event took place in the beautiful Fairbanks Masonic Center, which was remodeled from an existing church building two years ago.

The evening began with a great barbeque dinner consisting of pork ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and chicken, with all the fixings. The meal was prepared by Worshipful Brother Kevin McKinley’s lady Beth and friends. Thank you Beth for a wonderful meal. Before moving upstairs for opening of lodge and introduction of Grand Lodge officers, we all enjoyed ice cream and a cake decorated in my honor. The evening concluded with speeches from the assembled guests in an open session enjoyed by Masons, family, and friends.

This was the fourth time this year that a joint reception of the Grand Master was conducted with two or more lodges. The event was well received by all who were in attendance and promises to become a new Grand Lodge custom. Lodge was opened by WB Kevin McKinley, Worshipful Master of Tanana Lodge No. 3 sitting in the East. Kevin was joined in the East by WB Mike Leroux and WB Mickey Harper, the Worshipful Masters of Fairbanks Lodge No. 12 and North Pole Lodge No. 3 respectively.

The Masters presented me gifts from each of their lodges and I, in turn, gave each Master of copy of “American Freemasonry” by WB Mark Tabbert. It has been my custom this year to give a signed copy of Mark’s book to each Worshipful Master with the instruction to read it and bring back the information to their meetings as Masonic education.

All in all, it was a great visit and I extend my sincere thanks to all of the Fairbanks and North Pole Masons and their families.

This afternoon, Beth and I left Fairbanks and drove down to Tok on the Richardson and Alaska highways en route to Dawson City, Yukon Territory to visit with our Canadian Brethren in Yukon Lodge No. 45. The scenery along our drive was a duplicate of the day before and we marveled at the beauty of the forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes all around us. Alaska is truly a glorious State.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

50th Anniversary of T.F. McElroy Lodge

On August 28, 1959 I witnessed the Constitution of Thornton F. McElroy Lodge No. 302 in Federal Way, Washington. I was eleven years old at the time. TF McElroy was the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington and Lodge No. 302 was the first lodge constituted in the second 100 years of the Grand Lodge, it having celebrated its first 100 years earlier in 1959.

On Saturday, August 29, 2009, I witnessed the rededication of Thornton F. McElroy Lodge on its 50th Anniversary. This was a bittersweet occasion for me, since I was virtually raised by T.F. McElroy Lodge. I say that, while knowing that I was actually raised as a Master Mason on July 7, 1995 in Matanuska Lodge No. 7 in Palmer, Alaska. What I mean by saying that I was raised by T.F. McElroy Lodge, is that its founding members had a significant influence on my growth and development toward manhood. These men were my first employer, my first coworkers, my high school principal, my first auto insurance agent, and my DeMolay Dad advisors.

I remember Dad’s (J.K. Cline) excitement at being appointed Junior Steward of the lodge, and Mom’s less than exuberant enthusiasm at having to prepare meals for the lodge for two years. My grandmother lived with us then, and she and mom made some delicious pies every Wednesday night for those first two years. I remember, too, my less than favorable impression of Masonry as I watched those wonderful pies go out the door without even tasting the slightest crumb. It wasn’t long after that, that my brother and I also got the Masonic spirit when we joined the newly chartered Federal Way Chapter Order of DeMolay. It seems like yesterday that I was practicing the DeMolay ritual and enjoying the dances and get-togethers with Jobies and Rainbow Girls.

Dad was the sixth Worshipful Master of T.F. McElroy. Today he is the only living Past Master who was also a charter member of the lodge. All of those wonderful Masons who helped shape my life are no longer with us, and I miss them.

The rededication of the Lodge was conducted by the officers of the Grand Lodge of Washington, with MW Gale H. Kenney presiding. Dad performed the part of the “Messenger” to invite the Grand Lodge Officers into the Lodge room. As the visiting Grand Master from Alaska, I was extended the honor of joining the Grand Master of Washington in the East. And, as a life member of T.F. McElroy, I participated in a part of the rededication ceremony. I was given an additional honor, when the Worshipful Master of T.F. McElroy (D. Rex Reardon) made me an honorary Past Master of the Lodge and presented me with my Past Master’s Apron.

It was great to participate in this event and be part of a moment in the history of T.F. McElroy Lodge. It was also nice to remember the great Masons who created this Lodge 50 years ago and to look forward to its exciting and prosperous future.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Win, Place, and Show

Yesterday afternoon before we rushed to catch our flight to Seattle, Beth, my parents, and I visited the Alaska State Fair. We were on a bit of a mission, since Beth, our daughter Megan, and I all had something entered in the one or another of the craft exhibits there. Our daughter is a graphic artist and her entries usually place well in the fair. This year was no exception, and she received a first place ribbon in the watercolor category. Beth is our resident quilter; however she has never taken the opportunity to enter any of her quilts. She did this year and received a second place ribbon for her effort (Fall’s Finery). I am a home brewer. Two years ago, when there was little competition, I placed quite well in the Ales category. This year I only managed a third place ribbon for my ‘Black Porter’.

The Alaska State Fair takes place in Palmer, Alaska and this year it runs from August 27 until Labor Day (September 7). It has been annual event in this rural community ever since the days of the development of the Matanuska Valley Colony during the New Deal era of the 1930s. Like most county fairs, the Alaska State Fair features all kinds of fun, food, and entertainment. One event that captures the attention of most Fair goers is the giant vegetable weigh-off. The Matanuska Valley is noted for its giant vegetables, more especially its giant cabbages. These cold climate crops do well in Alaska, but it wasn’t until the entry of the Dinkle family in this annual competition that things really took off. Dr. Don Dinkle (past Master of Matanuska Lodge No. 7), while professor of agriculture at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, was contacted by his brother in Palmer and asked how he might beat the competition at the State Fair. Don suggested a particular variety of cabbage called the OS Cross and outlined a method of hydrating and fertilizing these giants during the growing process. Today, there are many other growers who have tried their hand at growing large vegetables, however the Dinkles usually give them stiff competition.

Alaskan Freemasonry, too has had a presence at the Alaska State Fair for many years. The Rite Care Booth sponsored by the Scottish Rite Masons does a land office business selling soft serve ice cream and shakes in one half of their booth and fish and chips on the other half. Proceeds from this booth go to support their Rite Care Childhood Language Program. For many years the Mat-Su Shrine Club (Al Aska Shrine Temple) has maintained a food booth near the equestrian stables. Proceeds from this booth go to support the Shrines Orthopedic and Burn Care Hospitals. About five years ago, the Alaska Masonic Families group took over the operation of the Matanuska Masonic Temple Fair Booth and run it as a Masonic information center. Masons from across the country and around the world as well as those who are curious about our fraternity stop into this booth for some hospitality and information about Freemasonry.

If you find yourself in Palmer between now and September 7, come on down to the Fair and stop and support Freemasonry in action.