A Chance Encounter

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Sir Knight Robert Johnson, 32°

As some of you know, I recently lost my dad. It was kind of sudden and overall just a strange circumstance. We hadn’t talked in four years. After he passed I let the podcast go dark for a week and flew out to Los Angeles to meet my uncle and drive up to Mammoth Lakes California for a weekend of photography. We hadn’t picked up our cameras in some time.

The drive was about six hours but, it was much needed six hours of silence and chit chat between a nephew and an uncle. My uncle is about ten years older than I am, so you could say in an odd family dynamic sort of way, we were more like brothers, especially since I lived with him for quite some time as a young man.

About four hours into the drive, I drove through a small town’s Main St., lined with the flag of our country, which was also US 395 and noticed a Square and Compasses over the door of a moderately large building which also looked like a normal home in some respects. No sooner had I said something, my uncle said “Hey, remember this town and on the way back lets stop by so you can check it out.”. I agreed.

Now I could tell you all about the fantastic sights and photographs, but that’s another blog post. Let’s fast forward to the drive home. So, of course I forgot the name of the town and I was furiously searching my maps application on my iPhone in “No Service” zones for Masonic lodges off the US 395. We came first to a town that said there was a lodge in it by the town marker as we rode in. I figured this was the town, but it wasn’t. That didn’t stop me from hopping out and walking around the town looking for the lodge that I eventually found. Winnedumah lodge 287 in Bishop CA, was a really cool find. It was not only the Blue lodge, but the York Rite and Scottish Rite meeting place as well. After some pictures, I hopped back in the car and we drove off.

There was still the problem of the lodge I saw from the road. I was ready to call off the search and say forget it. But after just 30 miles, there it was, Inyo Lodge 221. As we parked and I walked up to it, I noticed the sign on the actual door was that for a cafe`. In any case the door was open and I thought I would ask the proprietor about the building, but upon entering I noticed that the lodge was still there and was indeed operational. When you first walk in, you can walk forward into the cafe`, or turn right and go up the stairs to the lodge! So I began to take a couple pictures of the landing on the stairwell when I decided to again go ask the proprietor about the lodge upstairs.

At this point I should tell you I was wearing a white t-shirt with a Square and Compasses on it the size of the entire front of the shirt. The wording on it said “Master Dad” and on the back has the degree dates as my kids birthdays. Anyway, there were two people sitting in the cafe finishing up a meal, one of whom looked at me and smiled. He was wearing a jewel sized necklace around his neck of, you guessed it, the Square and Compasses. I immediately walked up to him, shook his hand and we made introductions.

I asked him if this was his lodge, and he replied “No, I was just passing through and noticed the Square and Compasses on the building.” To which I replied the same. It was a chance encounter for sure! Two Freemasons both just passing through the Inyo Valley, who both stopped in at the same Cafe because of the symbol over the doorway. At this point the clerk came over to us and handed the keys to the lodge room upstairs. She then said “Go have a look.”. So the brother I had met actually knew some of the history about this lodge and told me how this lodge and the previous one I mentioned earlier joined together and kept both buildings. They did this to have meetings and go back and forth every other month so that members didn't feel like they were the ones to always drive thirty miles.

After walking around for a bit, we both locked up the lodge and left at the same time. My uncle was excited for me that I was able to actually go inside. It turned out to be a highlight to an amazing weekend. From now on, whenever I am traveling I will take pictures of the lodges I find. Feel free to email me pictures of your lodges, or lodges you find out on the road!


Sir Knight Robert Johnson, 32° is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He belongs to Waukegan Lodge No. 78. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies Royal Arch, Cryptic Council and Knights Templar, and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago.  Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts a weekly Podcast (internet radio program) Whence Came You? which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is also working on two books, one is of a Masonic nature.

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