Story of OES #148, By: Bro. Fred Catron

In 1894 the Indiana Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star granted Sharpsville Indiana a Charter and thus established Sharpsville #148 Order of the Eastern Star. They held their meetings at Reserve Lodge # 363 FA &M in Sharpsville, IN.

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Reserve Lodge #363 consolidated with Naphtali #389 in the mid 1970”s. Sharpsville #148 continued to meet in the same room (see picture) until 2013. After 119 years Sharpsville consolidated with Cicero #541 OES.

When Sharpsville closed the Lodge for the final time, it was necessary to find new homes for all of the furnishings of the lodge. The officers all shared that responsibility. My cousin Rebecca Dunlap was the Worthy Matron and I was the Worthy Patron. Among the items that were my responsibility, was our ballot box.

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My Aunt, Beryl Harlow became a member at Sharpsville #148 in the 1950’s.My cousins Rebecca Dunlap and Angie Lorenz became members in the late 1960’s and I became a member in 2003. We were all voted on using that ballot box. My cousins were Rainbow girls and they were voted on at that time with that same ballot box. Let it suffice to say, that old ballot box is very special to me, my family and all of the remaining members of Sharpsville #148.

It is important to all of the remaining members that we find ways to keep alive the memory of Sharpsville #148. It was in that light that we decided to give our old ballot box a new life. We wanted it to continue to serve the Masonic Fraternity and help the memory of Sharpsville #148. We could think of no better place for it than Millersville #126 FA&M.

BallotBox

 

Interview with Brett McKay from Art of Manliness

Masculinity, manhood, virtue, integrity. These are ideas that seem to confuse young men of today. What does it take to be a man? What does manhood mean in the 21st Century? Well, Brother Brett McKay has been trying to help find that out through his website The Art of Manliness (http://www.artofmanliness.com). The site went up in 2008, and since then has been a wonderful resource for young men to get in touch with the “vintage” ideals of manhood. As a young man myself, I found the site to be a cool glimpse into how my grandfather acted throughout his life and different lessons his father may have taught him.

Brother Brent Williamson, as a part of Man-Month, was able to reach out to Brett and arranged an interview with the Lodge over dinner and webcam. They discuss the origins of the Art of Manliness, how Brett got involved in Masonry, and how the site and what it offers has affected men all over the world!

I want to extend a major Thank You to both Brent for his dedication and work to get this wonderful presentation going; and also one to Brett for spending time with us and shedding some light on what all he has been able to do the past several years.

Enjoy!

Honor and an Honor Flight: A Thank You to Worshipful Brother Jim Hendricks

Honor is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as: “respect that is given to someone who is admired: good reputation: good quality or character as judged by other people: high moral standards of behavior.”

 

On September fifth of this year, well over one hundred World  War 2 veterans were taken to Washington D.C. for the day to visit the memorial. They were able to tour the beautiful structure that displays the names of those lost in that war and pay their respects to their fallen comrades. Upon their return to Indianapolis, instead of returning straight home, the veterans were redirected to Plainfield High School’s gymnasium. That gymnasium held a multitude of friends, family, neighbors, and strangers excitedly waiting to welcome back these venerated heroes. Each one who entered was introduced by name and military station. After each introduction, cheers, whistles, and whoops exploded from the crowd! Every introduction, every time.

 

Among the crowd was Brother Brent Williamson, and myself. Brent and I had come to help welcome back Worshipful Brother Jim Hendricks. We arrived around 8:20 to an already steadily crowded gymnasium. By 9 o’clock the entirety of the low rows and mid rows were filled. The upper sections were fairly crowded as well, and that is where we ended up. We stood in awe and jubilation as we joined the exuberant crowds’ welcome. The cheering went on almost non-stop for the near three hour ceremony. Brent and I did not see Worshipful Brother Jim until the final bus arrived, and even then, he was among the last off. Yet, we did not care that we had waited so long to see our Brother, we were along for the ride in welcoming the entire group! Finally we saw WB Jim come in, and we made sure everyone around us knew that we were there for him! The time eventually came to open the floor to the guests to come by and greet the veterans. Brent and I sought this opportunity to quickly find Jim to thank him for all that he does. When Brent and I approached Jim, his face lit up and he exclaimed “My Brothers are here!” This hit me in a very profound way. The purpose of Brent and myself going to the reception was to honor Jim, but in the end he honored us by his enthusiasm at our arrival.

 

Honor is a fascinating concept, and every man has his own definition for it. Worshipful Brother Jim is an exemplary example of the definition given by Merriam Webster. His response to Brent and myself being there floored me. It helped further cement why I am a Mason. My role as a Mason is to display certain attributes, among them: Brotherly Love. What I gave I received ten-fold; and not just this time, but every time. Any time I have ever extended friendship, counsel, a hand-shake, a smile, I have received more. One day I hope to be as good a man as my brothers, and my hope is that I can learn and apply the honor I see from my fellow Brothers. Thank you Brother Brent for accompanying me to this reception, and thank you Worshipful Brother Jim, for all you have done and all you continue to do.

 

-Bro. DJ Wood

Remembering the Forget-Me-Not

Myosotic arvensis– from the Greek, meaning “Mouse’s Ear,” after the shape of its five petals. These little blue flowers are perennials, springing up again year after year. They grow widely in Europe, Asia, America, even as far as New Zealand. In most languages, however, this flower is known by its much more common name; the forget-me-not.

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They symbolize true love, enduring memory, and faithfulness. It’s where we get the phrase “True Blue.” At the start of its flowering season, flashes of blue display dazzling proof to the world that though it may have appeared dead through the long cold winter, it was only dormant, and come spring it bursts to life, its color begging the world not to overlook this tiny flower.

There are many legends surrounding the origins of the forget-me-not, and its name. One legend says that when the creator had finished giving out the colors to all the flowers, he heard a tiny whisper, “forget-me-not!” All he had left was a tiny bit of blue, which the little flower was delighted to wear. Other legends say that the flower cried out “Forget-me-not!” to Adam and Eve as they fled the garden of Eden.

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Others claim that the Christ child created the flower for his mother Mary, so the world would never forget the color of her beautiful blue eyes. Given that Mary was a middle-eastern jew, that story seems doubtful.

Others say the name comes from its leaves, that they taste so bad, if you eat them you’ll never forget it.

 Picture6In Germany in particular, the forget-me-not has a strong history. According to German legends, when the Creator was naming all the plants, the flower cried out “Forget-me-not!” and he decreed that that should be its name.

Another German legend tells of a knight, who was walking along the riverbank with his true love. He bent over the bank to pick her some posies, but the weight of his armor caused him to fall into the river. As he was drowning in his heavy armor, he threw the posies to his love on the shore, and shouted “Forget-me-not!” And there the flowers grew.

The Forget-me-not has always been a symbol of remembrance. In Canada, it is worn every July 1st to remember those who died in World War 1. It has also symbolized true love and steadfastness. Its perennial cycle has also been used to symbolize a long awaited return; Henry the fourth used the forget-me-not as his symbol during his exile in 1398, and retained it after his return to the throne. Those symbols of remembrance, dormancy, and rebirth became closely tied to Masonry in Germany during World War II.

Picture8Following the First World War, Germany was plunged into a terrible economic crisis. In 1926, at their annual communication, the Grand Lodge of Germany gave its members a forget-me-not pin, to remind the brethren of their charitable obligations. The pin became widely used throughout Germany as a sign to remember the poor and distressed. Thousands of masons wore this pin in the years before world war 2, performing acts of service and charity to their many destitute fellows. This charity was vital during Germany’s depression.

However, that same economic crisis which called those masons to charitable action also propelled Adolf Hitler into power. By 1934, it was clear that Freemasonry was in danger. Hitler decried it as a conspiracy with the Jews to suppress national self-preservation. Goring stated “In National Socialist Germany, there is no place for Freemasonry.”

Picture11The German Ministry ordered the disbandment of all lodges, and confiscated all lodge property. They even staged exhibitions to display all the masonic regalia they had seized. Masonic brothers were eventually confined to concentration camps, and forced to wear the inverted red triangle of a political prisoner.

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Similar persecutions took place in Italy and other Nazi states, and Freemasonry was officially outlawed in the Nazi empire. The number of Freemasons executed during World War 2 is unknown, but estimates place anywhere between 80,000 and 200,000 killed.

Picture13But masonic legend tells that in the midst of the war, the German Grand Lodge of the Sun adopted that little blue forget me not pin, not as an emblem of charity, but as a substitute for the square and compass. The flower was used a sign of recognition for the brethren, reducing their risk of exposure to the Nazis. During the ensuing decade of Nazi power a little blue Forget Me Not flower worn in a Brother’s lapel served as one method whereby brethren could identify each other in public and in cities and concentration camps throughout Europe. The Forget Me Not distinguished the lapels of countless brethren who staunchly refused to allow the symbolic Light of Masonry to be completely extinguished, even under penalty of death.

Picture14It was a symbol that masonry, like the flower itself, was not dead, but had merely gone dormant to weather the decade long winter. It was a symbol to its members not to forget each other, or their masonic vows, until spring had come again and the blue of masonry could flourish once more.

In 1948, after the war ended, at the first Annual Convent of the new Grand Lodges of Germany, a few hundred forget-me-not pins were made. They began to hand them out as a Masonic symbol wherever they went. The pins exploded in popularity, and became widely used to remember the sacrifice of masons during the war, and the perseverance of a brace few.

The accuracy of the story of the forget-me-not has been called into question. There is little evidence that it was ever worn as a secret symbol of recognition among German masons during the war. In fact, it seems unlikely, given the strict Nazi laws barring any kind of pin or emblem not sanctioned by the party.Picture12Masons did wear the flower as a symbol of charity before the war, and a symbol of remembrance after, but its use in the midst of the war is questionable, and there is no evidence of it being worn in concentration camps. However, this lack of evidence could merely be proof of the effectiveness of the secret symbol, as believers hold that the secret remained unbroken for the duration of the war.

Regardless, today the forget-me-not it is an interchangeable symbol with Freemasonry. Some use the forget-me-not to remember those Masons who were victimized by the Nazi regime. Some use it to remember the legend of those who wore it in secret, refusing to allow the light of masonry to go out, even in the darkest days of the war. In modern Freemasonry it is now commonly worn to remember those that have died as a symbol that while they may be gone, they are not forgotten. Worldwide, tens of thousands of brethren display it with meaningful pride.Picture15

The history of the forget-me-not is laden with legend and symbolism. And quibbling over historic accuracy merely clouds the true intent of the story. Legends like these are not told to teach us historical fact; they are meant to teach us enduring truth, or even truths, plural. And the truths of the forget-me-not are these; we must never forget our duty to the poor and distressed. We must never forget to persevere through troubled times, as light and life will always spring anew. We must never forget those who have come before us; the sacrifices they made, and the love that they shared with us. We must never forget our duty to honor their memory, and continue their legacy of brotherly love, relief, and truth. Amor fraternus, levatio, veritas. Forget. Me. Not.

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Good Eats at Millersville

A Big Thanks to Michael Dollinger

Mike Dollinger's Chef uniform presentation.

Mike Dollinger’s Chef uniform presentation. Photos by Brad King

This year we had the tough task of finding a new Quarter Master.  The brother who is quarter master runs the kitchen.  He makes sure supplies are stocked, someone is prepared to cook, and if not, he cooks himself.  It requires getting to Lodge early and is a lot of work.  Who would be up for the challenge you ask? Michael Dollinger!

Mike runs a tailoring business in Broad Ripple called Smoking Iron Alterations (www.smokingironalterations.com).  He steps away from his shop nearly every Tuesday to make sure the brothers belly’s are filled with delicious vittles.  His meals range from Sloppy Joes, to the best German heritage food one can find.

Photo By Brad King

Worshipful Master Hinshaw presents Mike with a token of appreciation. Photo By Brad King

 

We are all very thankful for what Mike has done.  He helped make this year special with amazing food and seeing the fellowship flourish.  As a token of thanks, Worshipful Master Chris Hinshaw saw fit to present Mike with a custom Chef jacket and hat.

 

Candy May Memorial Service

Candy May at the Fish Fry

Candy May (center) made it to the Fish Fry this year to enjoy some fish, sides and delicious pie.

We have the sad news that on Tuesday September 30, 2014, Candy May, Worthy Matron of the Millersville Chapter of the Eastern Star, passed away after brief battle with cancer.

She was loved by every Millersville Mason and will be deeply missed. Candy has been a loving force in the OES at Millersville and around Indiana. She ran the Millersville Family Breakfast since 2006, and has been dedicated to making our Fish Fry a success every year, for many many years. Beyond that her positive and loving personality warmed the entire Millersville Masonic Family.  She will be deeply missed.

A memorial service will be held for Candy May at Millersville Masonic Lodge Building (4990 Kessler Blvd East) on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 3:00 PM.

Why I Became a Mason-pt.2

(If you missed it, checkout Part 1: Why I Became a Mason – Part 1

So, as detailed on part one, I was on a quest to discover what it meant to step above the adolescence that plagues my generation and find out what it meant to be a man in the modern world, while somehow connecting to the values of previous generations. Masonry seemed the perfect fit.

A Truly Open House

The first thing that really sold me on Masonry wasn’t the people, who were all nice and courteous as I sat through the informational meeting at the open house; it was the building that made an impression. The moment our tour group entered the Lodge room proper, I was sold. It took my breath away. You could feel the significance of every object in the room, carefully selected and placed, each with its own particular story and history, as well a clear symbol of some lesson of Masonry, as yet unknown to me. Masonic knowledge was all around, and I wanted it.

Millersville Lodge Room

After a brief overview of Masonry and tantalizing tour of the building, it was time for lunch over a bowl of C.J. Littrell’s famous chili. I saw the real power of Masonry at work. I sat at a table with three men with an age range of 50 years between them, yet I was treated as an equal, without a hint of patronization or condescension.

As a teacher, I’m accustomed to a bit of age-ism. I’ve practically made a career out of being the new guy, the upstart with all the crazy ideas. (Read: young punk.) And as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been terribly good at socializing with an all-male crowd (at least, not outside of the comic shop.) But here I was, with three me n who dwarfed me in age, experience, and knowledge of Masonry, but I felt their instant respect. There was no gap, no divide, no sense of the self-importance you might expect from a tight-knit group of older men, ushering a younger one into a society full of tradition and secret knowledge. For a closed order, they were all remarkably open. From the moment we sat at the table, the conversation flowed like we’d known each other for years. There was no warming-up period; I was instantly a part of “the group.” For a guy who’s spent years trying be in “the group” and never learning the knack, it was incredibly refreshing.

Therein lies one of the powers of Masonry; for a society built on rules and rituals and guarded secrets, it would be the easiest thing in the world for its members to act as the ultimate in-crowd, swollen with their own specialness and position in its ranks. (Like most of the frat buys I knew in college.) Yet all the masons I met were immediately open and approachable, making no distinction between past master and petitioner, octogenarian and eighteen-year old. This is no accident: it is carefully cultivated, one of the core values of our order. We meet on the level.

I was also surprised to see how young a lot of these guys were. The scenes I had imagined of a bunch of old farts huddled around card tables was dead wrong. While we have our share of distinguished gentlemen, there was a healthy crowd of urban professionals, a few young punks like me, and a surprisingly large group of men from other countries. The masons had the diversity that I valued, an open and accepting attitude, and an intense mutual respect built on true brotherly love. I was hooked, and brought home a petition to discuss with my wife: after all, a lifetime commitment is not something to take lightly. But I wanted to belong with these men; more specifically, I wanted to be like these men, and Masonry promised to help me be exactly that.

That Mason-y Stuff 

Another big draw of Masonry was its secrecy. Who doesn’t feel the need to discover what others try to conceal? The secrets of Masonry are open to any good man who can fill out a petition, but they are secrets all the same.

For the uninitiated, Masonry is divided into three levels, or degrees; the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. When you receive your third degree, you are a full member of the he order, with all the rights and privileges of a brother mason.

Each of these degrees is conferred in its own specific ceremony. It’s a little hard to describe without going into specifics (for obvious reasons) but these three ceremonies are designed to instruct you in the moral values of that degree, through a mix of symbols, speeches, and rituals. (After all, these degrees were crafter to teach men who at the time were mostly illiterate laborers.) The degree ceremony itself is a bit like a play, where each brother has a part to play and lines to speak, and you are ushered through ritual as both participant and sole audience.

To a guy who studied theater and Shakespeare in college, this was all terribly cool and mysterious. Each degree has a feeling of potency and power, of an ancient act that has been passed down unchanged for hundreds of years. To understand what it’s like, imagine that you’re going to your first graduation, but you’ve never seen one before. Now also picture that this graduation takes place in the 1700’s. You might think everyone looks a bit odd in his or her robes and hoods and sashes and funny square hats. The language might seem a bit strange confusing, and you might wonder why everyone moves those tassels from one side to the other. Masonic degrees are formal ceremonies, like weddings or communion, laden with symbols and their own specific language. The difference is that by keeping these ceremonies closely-held secrets, they have remained relatively unchanged for the past few centuries, preserving the power and potency of the lessons they teach.

The impact of these three degrees is lasting, and mine were some of the most memorable experiences of my life. There is a great honor in seeing your brothers perform their craft, playing the parts and speaking the words that they have painstakingly studied and practice, solely for your benefit. It is rewarding, enlightening, and humbling.

Hard Won, Hard Earned

In modern society, information is everywhere. The internet makes knowledge easy and cheap, in more ways than one. In Masonry, the idea there was a knowledge that must be earned with hard work and dedication was an appealing one. It creates a mindset that refutes that consumerist instant-gratification society we live in. Masonry and its ideas are not cheap, or easy, and certainly not for sale. You must work to obtain them; and in that journey lies one of the cornerstones of Masonry itself, the idea of industry. That noble works are noble because of the work involved.

Masonic light cannot be bought. It cannot be bartered. It cannot be read about on Wikipedia. Masonry requires the ultimate spoiler warning. I’m sure the unscrupulous fellow could find someone willing to break his oath and share all the secrets of Masonry, but even with a complete knowledge of the symbols and rituals, that person would still remain in metaphorical darkness. For to truly understand the work of the Masons, you must work as a Mason. After all, masons at their core were men of labor.

To fulfill the promise of Masonry and become a better man, a man must be willing to work. And there you have the first lesson in Masonry, delivered here by Theodore Roosevelt:

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”

Or, put more simply, “Nothing in this world worth having comes easy.”

Unique in the Herd

I’ve said before that I’m not a “joiner,” and this much is true. I’ve never contented myself to do things simply because that’s the way everyone else does them, an approach which tends to isolate me and ruffle some feathers. Joining the world’s largest and oldest fraternity seemed to be at odds with that sentiment, at first. But the more I looked, the more I saw that masons were unique. Becoming a mason sets you apart, and identifies you to the world as a man who is special and different: A man who operates under a higher code; a man who is dedicated to the precepts of his faith, and those of his brotherhood. It carries the burden of being worthy of that distinction, to ever walk and act in accordance with those principles. Being a mason marks you as a higher sort of man; so you darn well better be one.

There are few feelings in the world quite like going to lodge on Tuesday nights. We joke that we should have a “baggage check” sign halfway down the stairs to the dining room, because every brother you ask will speak of the feeling of relief that comes as you enter the lodge, the almost palpable sense of the worries of the week falling from your shoulders. Entering a room where everyone man respects you and treats you as an equal, even before they meet you, creates a sense of a second home. It is a place where you truly belong, where you are all bound together by brotherly love and affection.

Masonry is not a network; it is a community. Networks are anonymous. In a community, you are known and noticed; your actions carry weight and consequence, and your contributions are valued. If you leave a network, your absence will not be noted. If you stop attending lodge, there will be brothers contacting you, asking where you’ve been, if everything is alright, if there’s anything they can do to help. People update their status in a network, casting out a thought or a word to see if anyone picks it up in the torrent of information. A community is personal; when a brother asks “How are you doing?” it isn’t empty small talk, but genuine concern and affection. So if you’re missing that old-fashioned feeling of community, and wondering why everyone seems so isolated these days, maybe it’s time to stop networking and go to lodge.

Take-Aways

Non-masons- Masonry is a unique and special organization. You will not be lost in a herd, and it is not another line item to add to your resume. It is an honor and a distinction, and you will be expected to act with honor and distinction, and degree work will teach you how. Degree work is one of the most unique and extraordinary experiences you will have in your life. It will require effort and dedication, which is an essential part of the process of making good men better. A better man is willing to dedicate himself to his work. And along the way, you will be aided and supported by men who have all been through the same experience, who are open and accepting, all willing to lend a helping hand. You will find yourself amongst a diverse and unparalleled group of equals, all acting on a foundation of brotherly love and mutual respect.

Masons-Always remember the honor that you carry as a mason. Remember to act as such. The square and compass denote a man who is a step above, who is literally enlightened. It is not a badge to wear with pride, or with sense of self-importance. It is a call to action, a reminder to strive to be worthy of the ideals that it represents. Remember to treat your brothers with respect, overlooking their flaws and always giving the benefit of the doubt. We may work with stone, but we are all men of clay. We fracture and break. We must do our best to fill the cracks that appear between us with the mortar of brotherly love. We must remember to maintain our equality, and our openness, with new brothers as well as old, and never allow personal slights or grudges to divide us. As a mason, we work with our hands, and must always be willing to extend it across the gap, even to those who seem unwilling to accept it.