Those That Share Their Light: Our Mentors
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
L. Scott Niccum, 33°
“You can’t move forward if you
don’t remember the past.”
This is one of my favorite sayings because like me it can be taken on many different levels. Here’s one spin on it. I am still relatively new in the Craft, becoming a member in 2002. I moved through the chairs in little Greenup Lodge No. 125, as well as advancing through the Officer Line in the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville’s Lodge of Perfection.
The year I was Master of Greenup Lodge, we had a lot of Degree work, and I really had to make the call for help for lectures, because I knew nothing. I was fortunate to have had several “Old Timers” willing to pull my keester out of the fire. So I’d like to give a word of thanks to them.
With one of these men in particular, I had a rather moving experience. Chuck Cole is a Past DDGM. Chuck is a member of Mattoon Lodge, and their Degree work always seemed to conflict with my meeting nights. I was never able to get to any of their degree work as I was moving up, but he was always there when I needed him. I thanked him many times, and all he said was, “after you’re done as an officer—start learning.” So I did. As time passed, I began to learn and give several lectures with Chuck being my fallback if I got stuck—and my critic.
Along with learning the lectures, I began to learn the Funeral Rites. For years, Chuck did the funerals with his good friend Bob Carter. When Bob passed away, Chuck came to me and said it was payback time. You’re traveling with me now.
What a learning experience I received riding on the road to services. I learned about old-time activities and how the Fraternity has changed over the years—but the principles always remain the same. Every time we were in the car, he would ask what I was working on, and I would let him know. He’d say, “Ok. What are you gonna learn next?” No pressure right?
Recently, I gave a lecture for the first time and I was not happy about my delivery. As I was drowning in self-pity, here he comes. My first thought was, “Oh boy, he’s really gonna let me have it.” He looks at me and says, “Think you’d better look at the book a little more.” I responded that I thought I better look at it a lot more. I told him I was embarrassed. He points his tubby little finger at me and says, “You don’t do it perfect the first time. You do it again and again—a little better each time. You’re trying, and I’m proud of you. You care, and you’re learning, and seeding the interest in people.”
I guess we don’t always realize the difference we make in people’s lives, and the effect we have in the little things we do. I hope Chuck is going to be around for many years to come. He’s still got a lot to teach me. I am sure all of us know a member in our Lodge that has lots to share, or wants to see us carry on the work they have been doing for so long. I think we owe it them. They laid some great groundwork. As we move forward, lets remember the ones in our past who made it possible for us to carry on.
L. Scott Niccum, 33° is a member and Past Master Greenup Lodge No. 125 (IL) and a plural member of Hutton Lodge No. 698 (IL). He is a member of the Valley of Danville, and is Past Thrice Potent Master of the Danville Lodge of Perfection. He also serves as the Eastern Illinois Area Coordinator for the IL CHIP Program for the Grand Lodge of Illinois A. F. & A. M. and is the Traveling Degrees Chairman for Valley of Danville. Scott and his wife Marie live in Charleston, Illinois.