On This Day In History: Freemason George Washington Inaugurated

On this day, April 30th, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as first President of the United States. The inaugural ceremony took place on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, which was then the first United States Capitol.

Since dawn, a crowd of people had begun to gather around what would be Washington's home in New York at 3 Cherry Street. At noon Washington lead the crowd as they made their way to Federal Hall.

Upon his arrival at Federal Hall, Washington was formally introduced to the House and Senate, after which, Vice President John Adams, who had already been sworn in, announced it time for the inauguration. Washington moved to the second-floor balcony where he took the presidential oath of office, administered by Chancellor of New York Robert Livingston in view of the large crowd of people gathered on the streets.

The Bible used in the ceremony was from St. John's Masonic Lodge No.1, and in haste it was randomly opened to Genesis 49:13. Livingston shouted "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!" to the crowd, which was replied to with cheers and cannon fire. Washington later delivered the first inaugural address in the Senate chamber.
St. John's Lodge No. 1 still possess the Washington Inaugural Bible, and two years ago, it made a rare visit to the Grand Lodge of Illinois' 170th Annual Convocation, where it was on display during the two day meeting, and used during the installation of the new Grand Lodge Officers to obligate our newly elected Grand Master Richard L. Swaney.  It was well protected by members of St. John's Lodge No. 1 that accompany the Bible when it travels. 
It was a very rare privilege for Illinois Masons to have such an important historic item present at our meeting.  It not only is historic as it relates to American history, but Washington is a very important part of the history of American Freemasonry.  To this day, American lodges open every meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.  It was Washington that first brought the American flag into a Lodge of Freemasons, during the Revolutionary War--and it's been there, in every one, ever since.


Todd E. Creason is the author of Famous American Freemasons: Volumes I & II where you'll find many other great stories about famous Freemasons.

Freemason Wisdom To End Your Week: Winston Churchill

"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiam."

~Winston Churchill
Studholme Alliance Lodge No. 1591

It's often said that there is more to be learned from failure than from success.  But it seems we've become so afraid of failure, we scarcely admit it even exists.  We have all kinds of clever phrases we use in place of "failure" today.  When we screw up these days it's a "teachable moment."  When we say it that way, it almost sounds like we meant to do it.

But there is great value in taking risks.  There is great value in learning through trial and error.  The object of the game of life is not getting to the end of it without having made any mistakes, it's about learning from those mistakes, and then trying something else when you fail, and keep trying until you succeed.

Everything in life is a risk.  Don't miss out on life by being afraid to stick your neck out.  Don't live a timid, safe life, but live adventurously, and be willing to make lots of mistakes.  Don't watch life from the sidelines--get in the game!  So you fall on your face a few times?  Did it ever occur to you that the only person that is bothered by that possibility--is you?  It's you that is holding you back.  It's your fears that keep you from living your best life.

One of my best friends, and an old-school retail manager, explained to me his philosophy of life years ago.  It was good advice.  He said:

"Knock and the door shall open.  If it doesn't, kick it in!"

~Jack Babey

Jack was right.  Life is short.  Live it boldy. If you don't you'll never learn what is truly possible. 

Book Review: Stephen King's Epic "Dark Tower" Series

“The man in black fled across the desert,
and the gunslinger followed.”

And with those words begins one of Stephen King’s least known works--his epic Dark Tower series. The series is without question, my favorite, probably because it's been with me for so long.  I first read those words over thirty years ago when I was in grade school. The Gunslinger was first published as a series of stories in Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine, and while it was being run, I ran to the library at our school on a daily basis to see if that month's magazine had arrived yet--I drove poor Mrs. Fisher insane over it.  For a nine or ten year old boy, that story had everything--it was like Clint Eastwood meets J. R. R. Tolkien in a world that reminded me of Planet of the Apes.  I was disappointed when the series ended to say the least.

A few years later, just after I'd gotten my driver's license, I saw Stephen King had published The Gunslinger in book form.  I bought it of course, and re-read it (when I should have selling quality new and used instruments at the mall music store I worked at).  Again, I was disappointed when I finished it.

About the time I got married the first time ('87), I was thrilled to see he'd published a second book The Drawing of Three.  The third, The Wastelands ('91), I read late at night, since I was up anyway, feeding and changing my eldest daughter, Jaclyn.  Wizard and Glass came out during the divorce (about the only thing I enjoyed in '97), and by the time Wolves of the Calla came out in '03, I'd met Valerie, gotten remarried, and started a new life.  The last two, Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower came out the following year finishing the series--an adventure that took twenty-five years to complete.

The Dark Tower series is difficult to describe--it's a hybrid between a fantasy novel and a western novel--along with an epic Tolkienesque quest. The story starts with the Gunslinger following the "man in black" across the dessert, a man that he catches at the end of the first book.  But that is only the very beginning of the gunslingers' quest for the Dark Tower--the mythical center of of his dying world.  We get the idea that the Gunslinger's world is unraveling, and the Dark Tower is the cause of this deterioration, and that perhaps Roland Deschain, our gunslinger, is on a quest to save his world.  Along this quest, he meets a motley assortment of characters that join him, and they face many difficult challenges.  There's nothing else quite like this series.  I highly recommend it.  It's Stephen King's best work--even The Stand pales by comparison, possibly because Stephen King had already written The Gunslinger, and the events that took place in The Stand was related--just a small piece in a much larger puzzle that is The Dark Tower

What's most interesting about the Dark Tower Series are the connections between the series, and many of Stephen King's other books.  If you've read Stephen King for a long time as I have, after you read The Dark Tower Series, you begin to see that Stephen King has referenced that mysterious world in a number of his books--It, Insomnia, From a Buick 8, Rose Madder, The Eyes of the Dragon, many more. It seems that in Stephen Kings mind, everything in his fiction is in one way or another connected back to Roland Deschain's world--and the Dark Tower.

Since Stephen King finished the series in '04, Marvel Comics has been putting out a series of graphic novels called Gunslinger Born--the prequel to The Gunslinger. I've lost track, but I think Marvel is into a second and third storyline as they explore Roland's past. 

And now the news that really prompted me to review these books--Stephen King misled us.  Apparently, the seventh book wasn't the end of the series.  He will be releasing another Dark Tower book (the eighth) titled The Wind Through the Keyhole in 2012. 

If you start reading now, you'll be ready for the new book in 2012.

The Dark Tower Series--check them out!

Answer to Thursday's Trivia Question: Who Said It?

This is the answer to Trivia Question: Who Said It? posted on Thursday

"If you tell the truth you don't have
to remember anything."

~ Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Judge Judy
It was Mark Twain that said that originally.  I'd have to admit, I thought it was Judge Judy.  If you've ever watched her show, you've probably heard her say this before.  It seems to be one of her favorite catch-phrases. 

It's a great quote, and if you've ever been caught telling a story, you'll recognize there is great wisdom in the remark. 

Friday Funny: A Tribute to Steve Martin

Very few comedians stand up to the test of time like Steve Martin has--and he's just as funny today as he was thirty-five years ago.  I got a chuckle from his Twitter this morning, and decided you might enjoy a few laughs with Steve Martin on a Friday too.  His Twitter said:

"No really good cannibal cookbooks that can
 satisfy my growing hunger for human flesh."

A montage of some of Steve Martin's most graceful moments on screen set to music!

"Don't have sex man!  It leads to kissing and pretty soon you have to start talking to them!"

~Steve Martin

"A day without sunshine is like,
you know, night . . ."

~Steve Martin

Without question, Steve Martin is one of the funniest man alive!  And if you don't agree with that?


Trivia Question: Who Said It?

Pull out your thinking caps!  Who said:

"If you tell the truth you don't have
to remember anything."

Was it?

a.) Abraham Lincoln
b.) Judge Judy
c.) Voltaire
d.) Mark Twain

I thought I knew the answer to this question--imagine my surprise when I was reading along tonight and found out I was wrong.  You learn something new every day, and today was a slow dy.  This was all I got.

I'll post the answer on Sunday.


Ronald Reagan: Great Quote From a Great American President

Ronald Reagan
40th President of the United States

"We could say [Democrats] spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors. It would be unfair, because the sailors are spending their OWN money."

~ Ronald Reagan


When Are You Going to Write Famous American Freemasons: Volume III?

After I posted last week about the new novel I'm working on, I got a flurry of emails asking me about the long promised Famous American Freemasons: Volume III.  To date, there is no Volume III in the works, or planned in the near future.  And let me tell you a couple reasons why.

When I wrote the first two books, my plan was to write two books about Famous American Freemasons, and possibly a third that would include Freemasons from around the world.  People had a fit when I let that be known (Freemasons are a very patriot group).  So I changed directions pretty quickly, and I decided if I did write a third volume, it would be another all-American book.  However, I used the big names in the first two books, and what I was left with when I began planning the third in the series was a very weak line-up of famous Americans compared to the first two.  I've worked and reworked the list many times, and I'm not satisfied with it.

And there is another problem--time.  Researching and writing is time consuming. It takes about a week to research one chapter in my Famous American Freemasons books.  That's a lot of time in the library.  It wasn't so difficult a few years ago, but I've got a lot more going on now.  Full time job, a four-year-old at home, Master of my Masonic lodge, editor of a monthly newsletter, the blog, I'm taking classes again, and launching Moon & Son Publishing--not to mention the yard work, and errands involved in everyday life. 

So when I do get a few hours to write, I tend to write a little lighter--fiction.  And I've really enjoyed it.  One Last Shot has done much better than I anticipated, and so I've decided to follow it up with another novel set in the same town, and with many of the same characters.  If the second one does as well as the first one has, we'll see where that leads.

I do have plans to write more non-fiction eventually if I can better organize my time.  Freemasons have a nearly universal inability to say "no" and as a result, we tend to be very busy people.  But I sincerely doubt there will ever be and Famous American Freemasons: Volume III.  However, I wouldn't be surprised if at some point I don't go back to the original plan, and write a final volume that includes non-American Freemasons.


Book Announcement: A Shot After Midnight

Best-selling author Levi Garvey and his new wife Tori, first introduced in Todd E. Creason’s debut novel One Last Shot, are back, along with a few other familiar faces. It’s been nearly two years since Levi and Tori’s deadly encounter with Twin Rivers Chief of Police, Doug Malone, and life in the small town of Twin Rivers has returned to its usual quiet pace. But it’s not to last.

On a clear and quiet spring night, a single shot echoes across the town of Twin Rivers. It’s not long before the body of Andy Miller is found dead in his living room. Shot through a window at long range with a high-powered rifle. Andy Miller had been released that day from prison after serving 38 years. He was imprisoned for his involvement in the 1973 armed robbery of the First National Bank of Calloway, where a police officer was brutally gunned down.

Fraught with twists and turns, A Shot After Midnight is a riveting sequel to One Last Shot that readers will find impossible to put down until the last page.

Todd E. Creason's A Shot After Midnight will be available from Moon & Son Publishing at major booksellers everywhere in 2012. 

On This Day in History: Henry Ford Dies in 1947

The Illustrious Henry Ford, 33rd Degree
(1863 - 1947)
Automobile manufacturer, and Freemason, Henry Ford died on this day in 1947,

Ford was born July 30, 1863, on his family's farm in Dearborn, Michigan. From the time he was a young boy, Ford enjoyed tinkering with machines. Farm work and a job in a Detroit machine shop afforded him ample opportunities to experiment. He later worked as a part-time employee for the Westinghouse Engine Company. By 1896, Ford had constructed his first horseless carriage which he sold in order to finance work on an improved model.

Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Company in 1903, proclaiming, "I will build a car for the great multitude." In October 1908, he did so, offering the Model T for $950. In the Model T's nineteen years of production, its price dipped as low as $280. Nearly 15,500,000 were sold in the United States alone. The Model T heralds the beginning of the Motor Age; the car evolved from luxury item for the well-to-do to essential transportation for the ordinary man.

Ford revolutionized manufacturing. By 1914, his Highland Park, Michigan plant, using innovative production techniques, could turn out a complete chassis every 93 minutes. This was a stunning improvement over the earlier production time of 728 minutes. Using a constantly-moving assembly line, subdivision of labor, and careful coordination of operations, Ford realized huge gains in productivity.

In 1914, Ford began paying his employees five dollars a day, nearly doubling the wages offered by other manufacturers. He cut the workday from nine to eight hours in order to convert the factory to a three-shift workday. Ford's mass-production techniques would eventually allow for the manufacture of a Model T every 24 seconds. His innovations made him an international celebrity.

Ford's affordable Model T irrevocably altered American society. As more Americans owned cars, urbanization patterns changed. The United States saw the growth of suburbia, the creation of a national highway system, and a population entranced with the possibility of going anywhere anytime. Ford witnessed many of these changes during his lifetime, all the while personally longing for the agrarian lifestyle of his youth. In the years prior to his death on April 7, 1947, Ford sponsored the restoration of an idyllic rural town called Greenfield Village.

The Illustrious Henry Ford was raised on November 28, 1894, in Palestine Lodge No. 357 in Detroit, Michigan. The Masons that composed the degree team were dressed in overalls and worked with Ford at the Edison Company. He was a faithful member of this lodge for over fifty years. On March 7, 1935, he was honored by his lodge with a life membership and presented with a plaque commemorating his 75th birthday.

Ford often visited lodges near his summer home at Traverse City and his winter residence in Georgia. He made several visits to Zion Lodge No. 1, which was Michigan’s oldest lodge, and in 1928, he was made an honorary member. His brother-in-law, William R. Bryant, served as master of Zion Lodge in 1932.

He was honored with 33° in the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Northern Jurisdiction in September 1940. On that occasion, he said, “Masonry is the best balance wheel the United States has, for Masons know what to teach their children.”

A few years after Brother Ford’s death, two of his grandsons followed in his footsteps. Benson and William were raised in Corinthian Lodge No. 241 in Detroit, Michigan, on May 1, 1950. Both grandsons were 32° Scottish Rite Masons, and William was a Knights Templar.

Brian Cox: The Scottish Rite Valley of Danville's Newest Writer

Available May 2011
It's true!  The Valley of Danville now has two published writers. 

I had a chance over the weekend at the Valley of Danville Spring Reunion to catch up with my friend Brian Cox.  He's written a novel about the Knights Templar called 7 Knights which will be released in May 2011 at major bookstores everywhere, and will also be availabe as an e-book.  I'll make sure to post links after 7 Knights comes out.  I can't wait to read it myself.  And Brian mentioned to me, he might have an idea or two about the next project

Right now, Brian is going through my least favorite part of writing books--that final edit, when you go through the book and find anything that's wrong before it's printed and released.  What most people probably don't know about writing, is that by the time that book is released, the author hasn't just spent months researching and writing it, but he's probably written it more than once.  And who knows how many times the author reads over it time and time and time again to make sure it's as it should be.  By the time the writer gets to that final edit, he really could care less if he ever sees it again.  Writing is exhaustive and tedious at times--but it's also highly addictive.  I don't know how Brian gets through that tedious final edit, but I find that one 16 oz. beer per 50 edited pages works quite well.  

Richard L. Swaney
Grand Master of Illinois

The one thing that helped me get started was the support and assistance the Valley of Danville, and the Grand Lodge of Illinois (amongst many others) gave me in getting the word out about my first book Famous American Freemasons.  That book would have never gotten off the ground without that support and encouragement.  Our Grand Master of Illinois, Richard L. Swaney has offered that same kind of assistance again.  He's arranged for Brian Cox and I to have a table in the lobby at Illinois Grand Lodge Convocation in October where we'll be promoting our books, and signing copies.

It should be a lot of fun.  And congratulations, Brian, on this most impressive accomplishment (from somebody that knows all about the work involved).


Harry S Truman: Great Quote from a Famous Freemason

"A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties."

~Harry S Truman
Past Grand Master of Missouri A.F. & A.M.

A couple trivia questions: 

How was Harry S Truman "33" in more ways than one?

What was Harry Truman's middle name?


Where Did Uncle Sam Come From?

Most Americans probably believe Uncle Sam became popular because of this iconic poster, but the truth of the matter is, he's been around a little longer than you might think.  In fact Uncle Sam's predecessor, Brother Jonathan, goes back to the Revolutionary War.  Brother Jonathan was often portrayed as a negative stereo-type of American Patriots in British newspapers wearing a tri-cornered hat, and long military jacket.

The Uncle Sam we know now, was first seen in popular publications at about the time of the War of 1812 (I always forget when that war started exactly).  Anyway, he was most often depicted as an elder statesman who the personified the United States Government in political cartoons of the time.  He often wore clothing reminiscent of the American Flag, but there was a lot of variation in how Uncle Sam was depicted in the beginning, as everything from a rotund man that looked a lot like John Adams or Ben Franklin, to a thinly disguised caricature of Andrew Jackson (which isn't hard to imagine since he became a huge national hero after the Battle of New Orleans and about the time Uncle Sam made his first appearance). 

James Montgomery Flagg

But in 1919, a young artist James Montgomery Flagg designed a poster to encourage young men to enlist in the service during World War I.  Instead of going to the trouble of hiring a model to pose for the poster, Flagg used his own face, aging it, and adding a goatee.  Over 4 million copies of Flagg's poster were produced, and it is that image of Uncle Sam that most people recognize. The poster was so effective, and so popular, it was brought back for use again during World War II. 

Original British poster
features Lord Kitchener
Oddly enough, the famous American recruitment poster wasn't all that original.  It was based on a British recruitment poster made on the other side of the ocean for the same war that featured Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, pointing at potential recruits in exactly the same way. 

So we were the first one's to copy a good idea, but that same theme has been often reused and parodied hundreds of times since.  I bet you haven't seen the Lord Kitchener poster to the left, but I think there's a pretty good chance you're familiar with the Smokey the Bear poster. Smokey was featured in a similar campaign "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires." 

But without a doubt, that famous recuitment poster solidified our image of what Uncle Sam looks like.

So now you know!  Enjoy your weekend!