The two men were sitting in the Club room of the 50 year members favorite drinking establishment. He had been coming here since he was a young man when his father first brought him there. It was a place of manly bonding with his father. Over the years the old man brought each of his sons on their twenty first birthday. He wanted the same experience with each of his sons that he had experienced with his father. He knew that his sons would go out with his friends later in the evening and have their first experience of trying that which was once forbidden to them but he wanted to bond with them and teach them that enjoying a quality beverage in an upscale establishment was just as fun as drinking in a loud watering hole, and maybe even more so!
Men had been visiting the club for over one hundred years. Although updated throughout the century the place still held its charm. The polished dark wood covered walls gleamed in the low light of the room, paintings of members from long ago watched over the room giving their approval that the current members still held their club in reverence. In the distance you can hear the clinking of billiard balls in the next room where several gentlemen were playing a friendly game.
As the old man and Pudge was sitting in their leather wing backed chairs discussing the previous evenings events a waiter dressed in formal attire approached “Excuse me gentlemen” The waiter said “Mister Johnson, your table is ready. Shall I carry your drinks to your table?” The old man nodded as the white gloved hand gently picked up their drinks and placed them on a highly polished silver tray he was carrying. “Please follow me Gentlemen” the waiter said as he led the duo to their table in the restaurant. As they walked though the building Pudge's eyes went wide with amazement as he walked though the ornate building.
“That corridor leads to the front desk of the hotel.” The old man remarked as they walked through the lobby. “This place has a hotel?” Pudge exclaimed trying to contain his amazement. “Oh yeah and it is five star too. Lots of out of town members stay here when they are in town on business.” Pudge was in awe “I can't believe a club would have a hotel!” The old man laughed “This place has everything. You have encountered the bar already. The club has a hotel, barber shop, billiards room, cigar lounge where members each have their own humidor for their cigars. They even have a cigar store. Anything a man could need.”
The men arrived in the restaurant and directed to their table as they were seated in their plushly upholstered dining room chairs the waited placed their drinks on the freshly ironed table cloth on the table before them. “Would either of you care for another drink while you look at the menu? “I'll have another scotch on the rocks please.” The old man said “Me too” replied Pudge as they picked up their menu's. “Wow! Look at this menu! Most of these things I have heard of but never actually tried!” The old man smiled “Pick whatever you want. It's on me”
Another formally dressed waiter approached and the men gave their order. “I just can't get over this place!” Pudge said “I bet it's expensive to be a member here.” The old man nodded “I think it costs about $3000.00 to join now and annual dues around a grand after that. If you want quality you have to pay for it. The thing is, just because you can afford it doesn't mean you can become a member. There is quite a lengthy process and investigation. Not everyone that applies can join. It is very exclusive ” Pudge placed his linen napkin in his lap and their drinks arrived at their table. “That makes sense but I imagine the qualifications have been loosened since it is so tough to get younger men to join things these days.” The old man laughed “Just the opposite. Our membership numbers have never faltered. In fact we have more membership applications than we can process. “Pudge shook his head “That doesn't make sense to me. Our lodge has a nice building and some pretty good guys. We don't charge a fraction of that amount to be a member and we practically have to beg men to join us. Even if they do join lots of them don't come back. I don't get it.”
The old man leaned back into his chair. “To be honest Pudge that is one of the reasons I invited you here today. I wanted to illustrate something to you. Masonry doesn't have to sell itself at bargain basement prices to be successful. If you give a man quality he will gladly pay for it. This club has been going for nearly one hundred and fifty years and shows no signs of slowing down. We have to find a way to raise the bar of the lodge. Give the men a reason to want to join and once we have them in the door make them want to stay!"
"When you came to the house the other night to tell me about Randy and his disappointment about our lodge, this club came to my mind. I don't know what Randy thought Freemasonry would be when he asked for a petition but I do know he wanted a quality experience for the investment of his time and his hard earned money. I feel if we look to a place like this we can start to be on the right track.”
Pudge smiled “I would love to be part of something like this. Something like this club is what I imagined when I wanted to renovate the Social room. If we can make our lodge more like this I can see lots of the guys coming and hanging out.”
The 50 year member smiles “I'm glad you like the place Brother. That is the other reason I brought you here today. I had a feeling you would like this place. I have never done this before, other than for my sons. But I would like to propose you for membership to this club. I know you are someone who would enjoy it and use the membership to it's fullest.
Pudge couldn't believe what he just heard! “John I am honored but there is no way I could afford the initiation fee. Let alone the yearly dues!” The old man laughed “I know that! No young man your age can afford it. But I was thinking I bought memberships for each of my sons when they turned twenty one and to be honest over the time I have known you, I have started think of you like one of my sons. All I ask is in a few years when you can find a young man you believe in and propose membership for him.”
A tear started to run down Pudge's face as he wiped it away with a napkin “I don't know what to say” Pudge said in a weak voice.” The 50 year member playfully punched Pudge's arm and laughed “Don't say anything son. Drink your scotch and decide what you want to eat. Once we are done here I will take you to the billiard room and beat you at a game of pool. Wait. I will school you at pool! I think that’s how you kids say it.” Both men laughed.
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.