Supreme Council, 33° Annual Meeting in Chicago

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.

TEC, 33°

This Day In History: Happy 76th Birthday Killer!

"If I'm going to Hell, I'm going there playin' the piano."

~Jerry Lee Lewis

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).

Between 1957 and his latest album Mean Old Man in 2010, he has had 47 singles and 22 albums in the top twenty.  He also hold ten gold records. 

Jerry Lee is the last of a legendary group of musicians that came out of Sam Philips' Sun Records--the Million Dollar Quartet.  That group included Jerry Lee, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. 

Think real hard before you let Jerry Lee Lewis play your piano--he's kind of hard on them!


I Am Freemasonry

by Ray V. Denslow

I was born in antiquity, in the ancient days when men first dreamed of God.  I have been tried through the ages, and found true.  The crossroads of the world bear the imprint of my feet, and the cathedrals of all nations mark the skill of my hands.  I strive for beauty and for symmetry.

In my heart is wisdom and strength and courage for those who ask.  Upon my alters is the Book of Holy Writ, and my prayers are to the One Omnipotent God, my sons work and pray together, without rank or discord, in the public mart and in the inner chamber.  By signs and symbols I teach the lessons of life and of death and the relationship of man with God and of man with man.  My arms are widespread to receive those of lawful age and good report who seek me of their own free will.  I accept them and teach them to use my tools in the building of men, and thereafter, find direction in their own quest for perfection so much desired and so difficult to attain.

I lift up the fallen and shelter the sick. I hark to the orphans' cry, the widows tears, the pain of the old and destitute.  I am not church, nor party, nor school, yet my sons bear a full share of responsibility to God, to country, to neighbor and themselves.  They are freemen, tenacious of their liberties and alert to lurking danger.

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.

I thought you might enjoy this.


Fun Saturday At The Pork and Apple Festival In Clinton, Illinois

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.

This was only the second year we visited the Pork and Apple Festival, but it's already one of my favorite festivals--the food wins hands down.  Of all the festival foods, I look forward to those beans most of all.  I don't know what the secret ingredient is, but they are fantastic.  And I must admit, those ham sandwiches are really good too.  I'd have to say, however, the pork chop sandwichs served by the Lion's Club at the Arcola Broomcorn Festival is right towards the top of my list too.

It was a beautiful day to spend out with the family.  I didn't find many Masonic collectibles, but Valerie knocked a huge hole in the craft supply, and Katie particularly enjoyed the petting zoo.  I made a new discovery as well.

We visited the town square before we left, and while Valerie and Katie were shopping, I saw a little coffee shop, and paid it a visit.  You ever have a beverage that was so good you're still thinking about it three days later?  That was my experience there. The coffee shop was called "The Loft" and it was a really neat little place with a gorgeous brass expresso machine. I found them on Facebook later on, and discovered the woman that made me that fantastic Mocha was the owner, Amanda.  That Mocha alone made it worth the hour drive to Clinton for me (of course I got very little of it once Valerie tasted it). 

So I guess after our second fun trip to the festival in Clinton, it's now destined to become a part of our regular fall festival rotation--of course if you eat two bowls of those beans while you're there like I did, you might want to roll the window down on your way home.


Freemason Wisdom: Benjamin Franklin On Character

"Words may show a man's wit but actions his meaning."

~Benjamin Franklin
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. 

Stephen King's Dark Tower: Volume VIII Coming In 2012

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: 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."

~Stephen King
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 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.
  1. The Gunslinger (1982)
  2. The Drawing of the Three (1987)
  3. The Wastelands (1991)
  4. Wizard and Glass (1997)
  5. Wolves of the Calla (2003)
  6. Song of Susannah (2004)
  7. The Dark Tower (2004)
Happy reading.


Freemason Wisdom: Mark Twain On Aging

"When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it's a sure sign you're getting old."

~Mark Twain
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.

Famous Canadian Freemason Honored: Oscar Peterson

This piece came from The Watermark which is the newsletter of the Valley of Ottawa Masonic Stamp Club in Canada and used with the permission of its editor, Bro. Larry Burden.  Be sure and visit the link.  The beautifully designed newsletter is full of interesting content not only about stamps, but also about history and Freemasonry.  Take a look.  Hopefully, Bro. Burden will let me share a few more gems from that publication in the the future.

Famous Canadian jazz Pianist and Freemason Oscar Peterson (1925 - 2007) was honoured with a life size statue that sits outside the National Arts Center in the nation's capital.  It was unveiled a year ago by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

Unlike most statues of famous people that are placed on high pedestals and are out of the reach of the viewer, the Oscar Peterson statue is at ground level on the sidewalk.  There is room on the piano seat for people to sit a spell or pose with Oscar.  In the year that it has been in place it has become on of Ottawa's most popular attractions and you regularly see people from all over the world posing with Oscar.  What a great tribute to an amazing man. 

In 2005, Canada Post produced a 50-cent stamp of him in honour of his 80th birthday.

~The Watermark

Freemason Wisdom For The Weekend: George Washington


"It is far better to be alone,
 than to be in bad company."

~George Washington
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.


On This Day In History: Freemason President McKinley Dies

"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.

McKinley, as a modernist, wanted to visit the exposition, not only to enjoy seeing the wonders on display himself but also to talk to the American people about the future. This kind of exposition was obviously the best place to do that. On the first day, McKinley made a speech in which he seemed to question his own past views of supporting tariffs in this new modern technological society. He was beginning to see that American’s exclusivity was changing. He said, “We must not repose in fancied security that we can forever sell everything and buy little or nothing. The Period of exclusiveness is past.”

McKinley, the modern President, saw the world was on the verge of change, and America had to change with it. In that same speech, he encouraged the growth of the Merchant Marine and supported the building of an Isthmian canal. His words were received with tremendous support, but fate would see his vision of the future carried out by the hands of others.

The following afternoon, McKinley was standing on the steps of the Temple of Music, shaking hands with the public. One of the men standing in line to meet the President, Leon Frank Czolgosz, had intentions other than just shaking hands with McKinley. When Czolgosz got to McKinley, he used the pistol he had concealed in his right hand with a handkerchief to shoot McKinley twice at close range.

The first bullet, which did little damage, was easily removed. The second bullet passed through McKinley’s stomach and kidney and lodged in the muscles in his back. Fearing that nineteenth century surgery might do more harm than good, doctors decided to leave the bullet where it was. Oddly enough, one display at the exposition was of the newly invented X-ray machine, which could have easily located the second bullet, but the side effects of X-rays were unknown so it was not used. Another ironic note is that the exposition was lit by thousands of light bulbs, but there was no lighting in the exposition’s emergency hospital. Medical personnel were unable to use candle light because ether, a highly flammable substance, was being used to keep McKinley unconscious. Instead, instrument pans were used to reflect light from a window while McKinley’s wounds were being treated.

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.

While modern technology could not save McKinley’s life, it did play a role in that of Leon Frank Czolgosz, who was found guilty of assassinating McKinley. Czolgosz was introduced to a brand new modern marvel himself—Sparky. He was electrocuted in the chair, instead of being hanged at the gallows.

William McKinley is often overlooked as a major American President. There are two reasons for this. McKinley was a manager more than he was a politician. He most often kept his own counsel, which made him difficult to know—he listened much more than he spoke. McKinley was also a very careful, deliberate policy maker. As a result of the time and care he took in making major decisions, he sometimes appeared to others as indecisive. Because of his somewhat stiff, circumspect personality, he was later viewed as more of a product of the past—a Victorian era President. His administration, for many years, has been seen as somewhat lackluster and unremarkable, and he has been, at best, considered a mediocre President.

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.

McKinley’s popularity was unrivaled; in fact, he was so popular early in his second term in 1901 that he felt it necessary to squash rumors that he would run for a third term. McKinley helped usher the United States into an era of prosperity and patriotism. He also helped the nation take its first tentative steps towards being a recognized world power. He renewed, through his own impeccable character and example, the nation’s belief in its government officials and restored its faith in the political system. And he accomplished all of these things in just over one Presidential term. Few other Presidents in history have accomplished so much in so short time. McKinley should rightly be recognized as one of America’s Presidential greats. McKinley’s views, policies, and attitudes helped to bring America into the modern age; in fact, history in recent years has begun to view McKinley much differently as, if not as a great President, certainly as a near-great one.

Brother William McKinley is sometimes said to have become a Master Mason in Hiram Lodge No. 10 in Winchester, West Virginia, in 1865. Later research however, seems to indicate he actually received his degrees at Hiram Lodge No. 21 in Winchester, Virginia. McKinley was also affiliated with Canton Lodge No. 60 in Canton, Ohio, and was later a charter member of Eagle Lodge No. 43. He received the Capitulary degrees in Canton in 1883 and was made a Knight Templar in 1884."
Excerpted from Famous American Freemasons: Volume I  by Todd E. Creason (2007) ISBN 978-1435703452.  All rights reserved.

Freemason Wisdom: Harry S Truman on America

"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)

Masonic Collectibles: Let The Rummaging Begin

Covered Bridge Festival
Parke County, Indiana.
It seems to come around a little quicker each year--the Fall Festival season.  The Broom Corn Festival in lovely downtown Arcola, Illinois usually kicks it off for us (and that's this weekend), and it wraps up with the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, Indiana, which is the largest--and there are many more festivals in between.  My wife loves them, and my only job is to not complain, and to haul all the stuff back to the car (and the rule seems to be the further away the car is parked, the heavier the items are she buys).  One year she bought a tree.  We were at a festival in Indiana, our car was parked in Missouri I think, and she bought a tree.

Of course, I enjoy it a lot more now that I have something to look for.  I'm always looking to add to my odd collection of Masonic memorabilia.  You just never know what you're going to find, and some of these festivals and flea markets are treasure troves full of Masonic treasures--or trash and trinkets as my wife calls them.  As I've said before, one person's trash is anothers treasure.

Not my door knob, but similar
I've found all kinds of neat things over the years at these festivals.  It's not hard to find the usual items, like tie tacks, cuff links, lapel pins, etc., but I'm always looking for the more unique items.  One of the stranger things I've found was an old brass doorknob a few years ago. 

It's surprising the range of Masonic items that are out there, from Knight's Templar swords, to pocket watches, to Past Master whiskey decanters.  I even found an old meerschaum pipe a few years ago.  Once you find these things, don't let them go.  I still regret not buying that bronze monkey statue in Savannah several years ago (it was wearing a fez).  I cheaped out, and now I'll probably never find another one like that.

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
Oddly enough, a couple weeks ago, I was in Chicago, waiting to eat at Pizzeria Due in downtown Chicago with a group of Masons and their wives.  I looked across the street, and you'll never guess what was there.  The original Medinah Shrine looking just as it did in that postcard (except it's a department store now). 

So for those of you, like me, that look at the fall festival season as the beginning of your hunting season for unique collectibles, happy hunting (and if you don't collect, and you happen to stumble on something you think I'd like, remember that Christmas is just around the corner.)


Somebody Is Reading This . . .

I've often wondered who reads this blog--I know it gets a lot of traffic.  My blog seems like the local strip club--everybody knows it's there, quite a few people go, but nobody wants to be seen coming out.

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  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.


Freemason Wisdom: Teddy Roosevelt

"The human body has two ends on it; one to create with and one to sit on. Sometimes people get their ends reversed. When this happens they need a kick in the seat of the pants."

~Theodore Roosevelt
Matinecock Lodge No. 806
Oyster Bay, NY

Excerpted from A Freemason Said That: Great Quotes from Famous Freemasons by Todd E. Creason (2009)

My Illustrious Journey To Chicago

Michael Brandenburg, Scott Niccum
& Todd Creason before degree ceremony
Along with two others from the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, Illinois I received the 33rd and Last Degree from the Scottish Rite Supreme Council NMJ on Tuesday at the historic Merle Reskin Theatre in Chicago. There are not adequate words to describe my experience there. It was an incredible moment that I’ll never forget—both moving and humbling. I was fortunate to be part of a small group that was called up on stage to receive my ring. It was a great honor to be ringed by the Illustrious Robert O. Ralston, 33°.

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
It was an amazing weekend. I met new friends, ate great food, and enjoyed a lot of laughter—especially after the Illustrious William J. Hussey, Jr. 33° arrived. I’d like to thank everyone at the Valley of Danville for affording me this tremendous honor. I’d also like to thank those that came along on the trip from the Valley of Danville and helped make it so memorable—John Larsen, 33°, Brian Pettice, 33°, Jerry Askren, 33°, Paul Noerenberg, 33°, William J. Hussey, 33°, Doug Goodwine, 33°, James L. Tungate, 33°, Noel C. Dicks, 33°, and Bruce Rhinehart, 33°. I hope I didn’t forget anybody.

Mike Brandenburg and I seem kinda
relieved--don't we?
I’d also like to congratulate the other two newly ringed Brothers from Valley of Danville—the Illustrious Michael Brandenburg, 33° and Lady Pam, and the Illustrious Scott Niccum and Lady Marie.

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.

~TEC, 33°