The Clerical Oversight

by Midnight Freemason
Steven L. Harrison, PM, FMLR 33°

From an article originally published in

Years ago I developed a membership management system for my home Lodge. It tracked the standard things you might expect: initiation dates, demographics, Masonic offices held, birth date and the like. When the secretary requested a new feature, I'd add it and test it out in a database that was a duplicate of the live information he used. On occasion I would refresh the test data I had from the live system the secretary had, so the information I had was nearly as complete as his. In fact, on one occasion the secretary called to say his computer had crashed and he hadn't been making backups, so we used my data to recover. Each year for Christmas, the Lodge delivers flowers to the widows of our former members. The year I was Senior Warden we had the Secretary use the system to print a list of the widows and their addresses.

Then several of us divided into teams to deliver the flowers using the list. The Lodge Master and I joined forces and together drove to a widow's house to make our first delivery. Neither of us had known the Brother, but that didn't matter. We walked to the door, rang the bell and the widow answered. We greeted her and were very sincere in wishing her season's greetings and our condolences for the loss of her husband. The poor woman looked a little surprised. She looked back into the living room and called out, "Joe... Are you dead?"   Joe came to the door, "Not the last time I checked." Now it was our turn to be surprised. 

The Master and I apologized for the "clerical oversight" and made a hasty retreat. It turns out, when I sent the Secretary that test database to recover his lost data, I had been using Joe's name to test the method for marking Brothers as having passed away. Prior to restoring the data, I did not resurrect him. You might blame me for this, but I prefer to think of it as a computer error. By the way, we let Joe's wife keep the flowers.


Steve Harrison, 33° KCCH, is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Senior Warden. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. 


  1. Sorry not to comment on your humorous post ... but I have a question for you.

    About 4 years ago I had a tour of the old Grand Lodge building in St. Louis. Is it still in use or has it been sold yet?

    What a shame that great old building's condition!

    Pat McCann
    Lodges in London and Dublin

  2. The old building is still in use as the home of a St. Louis Lodge. It has not served as the Grand Lodge for at least a dozen years, possibly more. At one time the Grand Lodge offices were located there, but have since moved to Columbia, Missouri.

  3. I heard a story that at one point during WW2 the federal gov't wanted to lease a part of the cavernous building.

    Anyway, it's a beautiful piece of architecture and it's a shame that it's in such poor repair!

  4. Funniest story I've heard in a while. Thanx for that lol

  5. Great story!

    Patrick: The New Masonic Temple is still around. ( It is used now only by one lodge, Naphtali Lodge #25. Sadly, the building will likely not be around much longer. It will probably be sold sometime in the near future as it is very expensive to operate and maintenance is an huge issue. Parking is also a problem and the cost to modernize the building is not likely feasible. Best case, the building will be bought by someone who will modernize it and put it to another use with no evidence of its masonic history remaining. Worst case, it may be torn down completely. Lots of Masons I know (myself included) are praying for some type of salvation for this beautiful building.


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