It's been a month since Valerie and I took that amazing trip to Chicago. Valerie took over 400 pictures, not to mention what the others took and have shared with us. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites from that remarkable four days. It's such a great honor. I'm truly blessed by the friends I've made in life--especially those I've met in the years since I became a Master Mason. Thank you all.
There are few musicians in history that have had more of an impact on music than Jerry Lee Lewis. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and in 2007, he was again honored with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters Award. Jerry Lee developed a style that was all his own--in fact, he once said that America had only had three great American musical stylists--Al Jolson, Jimmie Rogers, and Jerry Lee Lewis (he was never shy about acknowledging his great talent).
by Ray V. Denslow
At the end I commit them as each one undertakes the journey beyond the vale into the glory of everlasting life. I ponder the sand within the glass and think how small is a single life in the eternal universe. Always have I taught immortaility, and even as I raise men from darkness into light, I am a way of life.
I Am Freemasonry.
"The End" but actually, just the beginning.
"The End" but actually, just the beginning.
I thought you might enjoy this.
It doesn't get much better than this. Sitting on the ground on a cool Fall afternoon, eating a bowl of beans simmered in cast iron pots over a wood fire, and wearing a goofy hat while listening to bluegrass music played by a group that really knows how to play it.
"Words may show a man's wit but actions his meaning."
St. John's Lodge, Philadelphia, PA
As we go through our everyday lives, it's often hard to tell when a person is being sincere and when they aren't. It's especially difficult right now as we head into another long, and ugly political campaign which candidates are being honest, and which are merely saying the things they believe their constituency wants to hear.
But Ben had it right--words mean very little. If you want to know who a man is, or what he's likely to do in the future, judge him by the things he's done in the past. We are creatures of habit, and what we have done before will give you a very good indication of what we're likely to do again (and if you don't believe me, just ask any of my high school teachers).
I'd like to give special thanks to Judy Gordon for pointing out some really great quotes over the last few months. I often borrow these from her Facebook page where she posts them on a regular basis. Oddly enough, she has a really good collection of quotes that she gets them from--A Freemason Said That? Great Quotes of Famous Freemasons. That's right, it's my book. So she borrows from my book, and I borrow them back from her Facebook page. What a strange world we live in today.
I often review good books I've read, and my favorite books of all time are Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Some months ago, I posted a rather long piece about the Dark Tower series--you can read that here. But here's some really good news for fans of Stephen King's Dark Tower series:
StephenKing.com is proud to announce The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole. The next installment of the epic series is set for release in 2012.
"It’s not going to change anybody’s life, but God, I had fun."
about "The Wind Through The Keyhole"
It's long been rumored that Stephen King was working on another Dark Tower book--that would be Volume VIII! Well, it's true, and you can pre-order it at Amazon.com right now. According to the Amazon listing, the book is scheduled for release April 3, 2012.
Sounds like it's going to be a story within a story, much like Wizard and Glass that tells about one of Roland's early adventures. I guess we'll just have to wait until April 2012 to know for sure--and that should give you just enough time to re-read the first seven volumes. Just in case you've forgotten the order, I'll help you out.
- The Gunslinger (1982)
- The Drawing of the Three (1987)
- The Wastelands (1991)
- Wizard and Glass (1997)
- Wolves of the Calla (2003)
- Song of Susannah (2004)
- The Dark Tower (2004)
"When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it's a sure sign you're getting old."
Polar Star Lodge No. 79
St. Louis, Missouri
We all get there, don't we? We wake up one morning and realize we're not as young as we once was. Maybe it's that gray hair we find unexpectedly, or that high school reunion invitation in the mailbox that makes us stop and "do the math" to make sure it's really been that many years. But it's a fact of life, and you either accept it, or begin a long struggle that you can't win.
Mark Twain knew something about growing older, but he also knew something about staying young. It's all in your head. If you start to think you're getting old, you are. The fountain of youth springs between your two ears. Getting old isn't about gray hair and aches and pains, it's about thinking yourself into the rocking chair.
Those that live life the most fully are the ones that don't accept a number as an indication of how they should act or feel. Uncle Joe Cannon lived a long life, and often concerned his friends and family by not acting his age--like learning to ride a bicycle at an advanced age. Ben Franklin said "Some men die at 25 and aren't buried until 75."
The secret to staying young? Don't stop living.
Quote excerpted from A Freemason Said That? edited by Todd E. Creason (2010) and available at online booksellers everywhere.
Fredericksburg Lodge, Virginia
There is a lot about the Father of our Country that we may never know, because there were few people in whom George Washington truly confided. There is little doubt that his wife Martha knew him well, and there is little doubt that the things that his friend Lafayette could tell us about the General of the Revolution that might reshape the way we view him today. Historians can only guess using the little pieces of personal correspondence they have about the most important man in our short history of America.
George was careful about who he considered a friend, and we can only speculate about the things he might have shared with those close friends, because he was good at selecting them, and they kept those confidences he may have shared with them well. We're left to fill in the blanks with what we have, and most of what we know and accept is probably wrong.
George Washington wasn't a statue, or a portrait--he was a flesh and blood man. He liked to play cards, he liked to drink a little too. He walked this earth for 67 years, and while we know everything he did, and for the most part, why he did them, we know little about what he thought about any of them. We have a few, very few, personal insights into the real man, because those he truly trusted never shared. There's not one story about George Washington getting drunk, and acting stupidly.
It's wasn't like it is today. Americans today share everything with everyone. Most of us don't even know some of our Facebook friends, so anybody can find out our favorite color, who we're dating, the last book we enjoyed, where we went to high school, who our friends were, the music we like, and the things that piss us off.
We're so modern now, but are we better off? Have we gained something through this access into our personal lives, or have we lost something?
I tend to think we've lost something. That intimacy of true friendship that comes from face-to-face contact. If you died tomorrow, how many of your 1,057 Facebook "friends" will come to your funeral? I'll tell you who, the three you knew back in high school--the ones that truly knew you back before the internet. Maybe the four that send you a birthday card--in the mail. Your Lodge Brothers will all be there too--those guys that know as brave as you are to your Facebook friends, a thank you letter read by your lodge Secretary can bring you to tears. Those are your friends.
"Shortly after his second term began, President McKinley visited the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, on September 5, 1901. The Pan-American Exposition was filled with displays of America’s pre-Industrial Revolution technolog-ical advancements. These expositions were popular all over the world. Paris had held an exposition the year before in 1900 where the American pavilion had been a major draw. Americans seemed to be leading the pack in technological advancements. The modern marvels on display at these scientific expositions stunned the world.Excerpted from Famous American Freemasons: Volume I by Todd E. Creason (2007) ISBN 978-1435703452. All rights reserved.
After a week, McKinley seemed to be recuperating. Doctors thought he would make a full recovery. But McKinley took a sudden turn for the worse and went into shock. He died on September 14, 1901, eight days after he was shot, from gangrene which surrounded his wounds. He was buried in Canton, Ohio.
Perhaps this image of McKinley is because he was assassinated, and his full vision was never carried out in his lifetime. Another reason McKinley is so often overlooked for his accomplishments is that he was, and still is, overshadowed by his larger-than-life successor and second term vice president, Theodore Roosevelt. Many of McKinley’s plans were carried out, but they were carried out by his energetic and extroverted successor, who, more often than not, is remembered for accomplishing so many of the things that McKinley began.
"America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand."
~Harry S Truman
Grand Master of Masons in Missouri
Excerpted from A Freemason Said That? Great Quotes of Famous Freemasons edited by Todd E. Creason (2009)
|Covered Bridge Festival|
Parke County, Indiana.
I'll share one trick with you. When you go to these festivals and flea markets, they are often in small towns--don't forget to check out all the permanent shops (especially the antique shops) while you're there. And always go through the stacks. I found a really interesting old postcard of the Medinah Shrine in Chicago in a stack of old letters a few years ago. Very often, these antique shops will be a little more generous in negotiating price with you since they're competing against a huge flea market.
|Masonic Jim Beam whisky decanter|
I must be doing the right things, because the traffic is up to record levels--in fact, I just got my 200th Twitter follower. I don't know if I should be happy for my blog's growing readership, or sad for them.
So for the time being, I'll just keep doing the same thing--a little news, a little humor, and a little about Freemasonry. If there is something you'd like to share, please send it to me at email@example.com. Everyone really seems to enjoy stories about Masons meeting Masons during their travels. If you have a good one, jot it down and send it to me.
As further evidence that I have a lot of lurkers on here, my blog was quoted in an article about William McKinley (WM Greg Knott of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970, Illinois saw that and pointed it out to me). You can read that article at:
Thanks again for following. I'm working on a couple articles I think you'll enjoy over the next couple weeks.
Labels: Author Commentary
Matinecock Lodge No. 806
Oyster Bay, NY
Excerpted from A Freemason Said That: Great Quotes from Famous Freemasons by Todd E. Creason (2009)
|Michael Brandenburg, Scott Niccum |
& Todd Creason before degree ceremony
And I’ll never forget at the dinner afterwards, when Valerie and I were introduced for the first time as “The Illustrious Todd E. Creason, 33° and Lady Valerie.” What an incredible journey Freemasonry has taken me on.
|Valerie & I at Illinois Dinner|
|Mike Brandenburg and I seem kinda |
Most especially, I’d like to thank all of you that have read my books. I never dreamed when I started writing that it would snowball into anything like this. Those books have opened many doors for me, and afforded me some very unique opportunities, and it’s because of the support and enthusiasm of my friends and Brothers, and my faithful readers.
Thank you all.