Is Your Lodge A Carrot, Egg or Coffee?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

A few weeks ago, I attended a class and the class leader read a piece entitled “Are You a Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?”. The piece was meant for personal reflection, but I began to wonder if this same premise could be used to gauge the condition of a lodge?

The essay is about a young girl who feels her life is hopeless and confides in her mother on how she feels, that she can’t go on with life. Her mother takes her to the kitchen and boils three pots of water. In each pot, the mother places carrots, eggs, and ground coffee beans. Once each one has finished boiling the mother places each into a bowl.

She told her daughter to touch the carrots. The daughter noticed that the once hard vegetable was now soft. The mother then told her to reach into the other bowl and begin to peel the egg. The daughter noticed how the once liquid center of the egg which had been protected by its hard shell was now hardened. Her mother told her to pick up the third bowl and smell the coffee. The girl smiled when she picked up the bowl and smelled the aroma of the now freshly brewed coffee. 

After looking at each bowl, the daughter confused asked her mother what the point of this display was.

Her mother told her daughter, " one knows how they will react until tested by adversity and difficult situations." She continued, "Some people, like the once hard carrot, will turn soft when troubles come. Others who seem to be fragile will toughen when things get difficult. Some people are like the coffee, when the tough times come, they change the boiling water into something pleasant."

Much like a fingerprint or a snowflake each Masonic lodge is different. They each have their own personality, history, and traditions. In good times most all lodges will thrive and prosper, but when tough times begin to arrive on a lodges doorstep, you will begin to see how a lodge will react.

A lodge with weak leadership and with no direction will see its membership begin to decline; their building will become derelict and sadly, in some cases, the lodge may survive for a while, but without a change in direction the lodge will become soft like the carrot and cease to exist.

Another lodge may be just as strong in good times but if something happens to disrupt the harmony of the lodge or if they experience a crisis, they may react in a totally different way. Unlike the lodge we compared to as a carrot in the example above, the members of a lodge may, in a stressful situation throw a lodge’s harmony to the sideline and instead of working together, the members may begin to argue and start blaming each other for the hard times the lodge has to endure. 

Many times the membership, if they don’t drop out due to the arguing and finger pointing, will begin to form factions and instead of working together. They will work on their own solution or do their best to destroy the opposing faction's attempts to run the lodge or curb the adversity. After a while the angry words and finger pointing lead to hurt feelings and much like the boiled egg, the membership will begin to harden and not attend meetings which leads to suspensions of non-payment of dues because his view of the Fraternity has hardened. After a while the egg lodge, much like that of the soft carrot will cease to exist and will soon become just another footnote in a Grand Lodge proceedings book sitting on a shelf, while their once proud building becomes another empty building the inhabiting city has to decide the fate of.

The third lodge is just like the other two. In good times the Brethren meet in peace and harmony, they have a steady stream of new candidates who become engaged and really are an integral part of the workings of the lodge.

Some men love ritual, so they endeavor to become ritualists and help the lodge with degree work. Others love to cook, so they spend their time preparing nutritious and delicious meals for members and guests who visit their lodge. Other men are good with their hands and gravitate to the building committee to help keep the roof over their Brethren’s heads.

While each man leads with his strength, they all gather together for such things as Masonic charity, helping their elderly membership or their lodge’s widows or helping to provide a joyous Christmas morning to the children of a Brother, who just lost his job and needed a little help during hard times. Since each man is happy serving in his own way, there is less arguing about how things are done in the lodge and really, they work together for the common good.

Since they all work together, the membership of this lodge, like the coffee beans, will be able to convert what one sees as adversity into a challenge, and when the bubbling waters calm, what is left a stronger and more pleasant liquid that everyone can enjoy.

Brethren, I am sure each of us who have circled the Masonic altar a few times have seen examples of each of these types of lodges. All of these lodges have the same chance of surviving hard times it’s how they decide to react to the boiling water which determines their fate.

It’s just my opinion but a lodge that embraces Masonic doctrine partially or completely, disregards the doctrine in its entirety. They tend to do this in order to recruit new members which makes these lodges equitable to a house of cards. When will it fail? But if a lodge builds a sound foundation on Masonic teachings, values every member and their talents, then uses those member's talents to their fullest potential (Not just sticking him in an officer line and move him up until he is Master or worse yet just quits attending), a lodge can not only weather any storm but much like the coffee beans in boiling water will become savory


WB Bill Hosler  was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.

Compelled To Suffer The Punishment…

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

Born on St. John the Evangelist's Day, December 27, 1884, Samuel R. Freet seemed to be destined for Freemasonry from the very start. A teacher and lawyer, he was raised in Ivanhoe Lodge #446 in Kansas City in 1910 and served as its Master ten years later. That same year, 1920, he was appointed to the advancing line of the Grand Lodge of Missouri.

His lengthy progression through the offices in the Grand Line culminated in 1929, when he became Grand Master. Each Grand Master looks forward to presiding over a successful Grand Communication at the end of his term and Most Worshipful Brother Freet was no exception. After years of work moving through the Grand Line offices, and a year of preparation for his Grand Lodge communication, Most Worshipful Brother Freet was stricken with kidney disease near the end of his term.  His affliction required surgery that left a 10-inch scar in his back and severely limited his mobility. His condition weakened him and Brothers reported him being confined to a bed when they visited him prior to Grand Lodge. At that time his wife Gertrude informed the Brothers that her husband's doctors said he only had months to live. (Freet, in fact, struggled with his health issues for two more years, passing away October 4, 1931, at the young age of 46).

The Deputy Grand Master, William Gentry, made plans to fill in at the meeting should MWB Freet be unable to attend. Freet, however, had other plans. He mustered his strength and came to the meeting looking frail and thin.

Freet opened the Grand Lodge meeting and presided over it until it was time for his Grand Master's address. He read two paragraphs and nearly collapsed.  Although unable to continue, his Brothers ordered a bed from the hotel staff and placed it just off stage so he could be present for the proceedings. Deputy Grand Master Gentry then proceeded to read the Grand Master's message.

Somewhat recovered, Freet was reported to be in good spirits. Hearing that, Past Grand Master Ray Denslow went over to his bed and reported, "Most Worshipful, I have gone over the proceedings of the Grand Lodge carefully, and discovered you are the only Grand Master in our history ever to have been compelled to suffer the punishment of listening to his own address."


Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasonsblog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.

Freemasonry's Missing Rings: Thaddeus Kosciuszko

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Michael Arce

Hero of the Revolutionary War. Military Leader of Poland. A Close Friend of Freemasons. How was Thaddeus Kosciuszko never made a Mason?

When you travel north to Saratoga Springs, Lake George, Fort Ticonderoga, or the Adirondack Mountains in Update New York, you will cross over the "Twin Bridges," as the locals call them. "The Twins" are much easier to say during drive time traffic reports than the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge. What makes the bridge unique, aside from the Polish name, is its design: two identical steel arched bridges, with decks that span across the Mohawk River. Technically, crossing the Twin Bridges to and from work would have been my introduction to Kosciuszko.

The first time I heard the name Thaddeus Kosciuszko was when I was talking about Revolutionary War history with a co-worker. She was raving about the documentary "Kosciuszko: A Man Before His Time." As she shared it, his story was one worth learning about; born into a Polish noble family, Kosciuszko would eventually leave Poland to join the American patriots in the Revolutionary War, return to Poland and lead his own people in their fight for Independence. I was compelled to learn more about this man who George Washington trusted to build and fortify West Point. In his book, "The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution," Alex Storozynski brilliantly details the life and time of Kosciuszko. You learn of a young man who, after being schooled in architecture, drawing (fine art), and military strategy, leaves Poland to join the fight on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Let me take a second to note some of Kosciuszko's military accomplishments. He protected the banks of the Delaware River, preventing the British from invading Philadelphia.

When his idea of building an attack position above Fort Ticonderoga was ignored, Kosciuszko saved the Continental army engineered a solution to slow the British Army, allowing the Americans to escape across the Hudson River. During the second Battle of Saratoga, he planned a robust array of natural defenses, using ledges, rock formations, and the terrain as cover - frustrating the British while positioning his men to victory. Kosciuszko's travels put him in direct contact with known Freemasons: Benjamin Franklin, Nathanael Greene, Marquis de Lafayette, and George Washington. Kosciuszko lived and served with these essential men in a time when the ideas of democracy, freedom, and independence were the favorite topics of discussion. George Washington hung Kosciuszko's portrait in his home, and his friend Thomas Jefferson wrote that "He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known."

The Case For A Missing Freemason

Thaddeus Kosciuszko possessed the two masonic principles that we are charged to embrace: Fidelity and Integrity. There are several examples in the book of opportunities during the beginning of his Revolutionary military service where General Kosciuszko could have risen in rank faster or received more pay IF he stepped on others to advance himself. Instead, he took promotions as he earned them and served for seven years without collecting a salary. His concerns were always for the care and comforts of his soldiers, who he regularly wrote to Congress and General Washington for new boots, clothing, or weapons. When I finished the book, I reached out to the author Alex Storozynski to investigate if Kosciuszko was a Mason. I couldn’t see how a man of his age who was in the company of Washington, Franklin, and many other historical Masons of that era would not have attended a Lodge or somehow escaped being a member of one.

I also contacted Kosciuszko Lodge No. 1085, the first Lodge composed of men of Polish and Slavic descent in the United States of America, which meets in the Grand Lodge of New York, to see if they had any supporting documents. I wasn't the first to ask the question. "I wish he were a Mason," stated Storozynski when we spoke. "If I had found anything, I would have surely included it in my book!" Alex and I spent the time discussing how, after the connections with Franklin, Lafayette, and Washington - considering how life was much different than now, their time huddled closely during winter or the lavish parties they would attend in each other's honor, how was it possible that the subject of Freemasonry never came up?

Both Kosciuszko and Washington were members of the Society of Cincinnati. We also couldn't fathom how, after being released from prison for leading an uprising against Catherine the Great, Kosciuszko didn't petition a Masonic lodge in Europe when he was close friends with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was known to have attended meetings at the prestigious Lodge of Nine Muses in Paris, France. (For a more detailed look into whether Jefferson was a Mason, click here) If Kosciuszko wasn't an American Freemason, was it possible that he could have petitioned a Lodge in Europe? Again, the answer is no. Although if you search online, the Grand Orient of Poland lists Tadeusz Kościuszko on their list of our "Predecessors in the Craft." But as far as official documentation that states he was made a Mason at a certain time and place, for now, that search for Kosciuszko comes up empty.


Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at:

A Call to Service

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Travis Simpkins

Earlier this year, the Grand Lodge of New Jersey hired me to create some artwork for their dedication ceremony of the U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Memorial. Along with the commission came an invitation to join the Grand Master and other Grand Lodge officers on a special tour of the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center base in Cape May, New Jersey. I have never served in the military, so the opportunity to learn and experience something new enticed me to make the trip down from Massachusetts and show up at the base on that cold April morning. We boarded and explored some of the boats, saw recruits training and visited the barracks before being directed towards a parcel of land that would eventually be developed for the Memorial.

After the tour, the Grand Lodge officers and officials from the Coast Guard base convened to the nearby Cape Island Lodge No. 30 where a small crowd had gathered for the cornerstone ceremony. Before the event began, the Grand Master pulled me aside to ask if he could call me to get up and speak to everyone. I had half-expected to be called upon going in, but I still didn't have any remarks prepared when the time arrived. In searching of what to say, I found myself looking towards the men in military uniforms seated around the room. I thanked them for their service. I then explained that not only had I not served, but that prior to becoming a Mason, I had known very few people in my immediate circles that were members of the armed forces. After joining the Craft, it seems that 3 out of every 5 Masons I meet have some kind of military background. I now count some of those men among my closest friends and kindred spirits. I wondered out loud about the common thread that draws us all to join Freemasonry. On the military end, there is certainly an ordered structure, patriotism and an instilled sense of “Brotherhood” that carries over within the Craft. But beyond that, a more universal element seems to be that Freemasonry attracts those who desire self-improvement by being part of something bigger than themselves. We, as Masons, all answer a call to service. Afterwards, I was relieved when several Brothers approached me to say that they appreciated the sentiments.

I don't have a graceful end to this anecdote. I just thought of it on the occasion of Veteran's Day, when I saw that many friends were sharing photos of themselves and loved ones in uniform. If you're in the vicinity of Cape May on the southern coast of New Jersey, construction of the U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Memorial has been ongoing and should be nearing completion. If you're a veteran who also happens to be a member of the Scottish Rite NMJ, I'd encourage you to contact your Valley and let them know. Recently, the Sovereign Grand Commander established the “Sammy Lee Davis Peace & Freedom Award” which is to be presented to all Scottish Rite veterans with an honorable discharge.


Travis Simpkins is a freelance artist with clients throughout the United States and Europe. He currently works on projects for the Supreme Council, 33°, NMJ in Lexington, Massachusetts. He also serves as a portrait artist for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Grand Lodge of New Jersey and other jurisdictions across North America. His artwork is in many esteemed collections, including the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri.

Bro. Simpkins is a member of Morning Star Lodge A.F. & A.M. in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is a 32° Mason in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite- Valleys of Worcester and Boston. He is also a member of Eureka Royal Arch Chapter, Hiram Council of Royal & Select Master Masons and Worcester County Commandery No. 5, Knights Templar.