From The Archives: The 50 Year Member: The West Gate

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM

The 50 year member was getting excited. Today was going to be a monumental day in his life. (Well, okay, not like the day he got married or the birth of his children, but still life changing). Today was the day he was going to purchase his first smart phone. Not just a flip phone like most of the guys in the lodge have but a real, up to date smart phone!

For years, the old man had resisted becoming like everyone else, walking around with a phone stuck in their ear, unaware of their surroundings. It had seemed silly to him; why couldn’t a call wait until you got home? If it was that important just drop a dime into a payphone and call them!

Then the 50 year member had started looking around as he was out in the world. The pay phones were gone! He realized it had been a long time since he carried a dime or any other form of currency, just money on a plastic card he carry in his wallet. He also watched Pudge, and his ability to answer any question or perform a multitude of tasks just by looking at the phone he carried in his pocket! After noticing this, the 50 year member decided having a cellphone could be a benefit and not just an “electronic leash” as he used to think of it.

This was a day for firsts. Not only was he going to buy a mobile phone he was going to try his first “fancy coffee”! The old man had been drinking coffee all his life. Black, no sugar. His father had always said “If you are going to drink coffee, you better learn to drink it black. There will be places you go that won’t have cream and sugar.” Dad had learned that in the army during the war. The 50 year member hadn’t ever encountered issues like that, but he guessed his dad was right.

The 50 year member was standing in the coffee shop staring at the menu board trying to decide what kind of coffee to try. There were so many choices! Most of them he couldn’t pronounce let alone figure out what was in them. You couldn’t even ask for a large! "What is a venti?"

As he is trying to decipher what to try, Pudge walks in and slaps him on the back. “You order yet?”, Pudge asked. “Are you kidding?” The 50 year member said with laughter in his voice. “People talk about Masons and their secret codes! I think I am going to need a translator just to order .” Pudge laughed and volunteered to pick a coffee for him if he would grab a table for them. The old man gratefully agreed.

As they sat down and waited for their coffees to cool, the two started discussing which phone would be the best for him. Pudge said “I have been dealing with this salesman for a while. I have been thinking about talking to him about our lodge and see if he would be interesting in joining. He seems like a decent guy.”

The old man was staring at his coffee cup. “What is in this? It’s so hot I can’t taste it! I hope I don't scald my tongue! I never had a coffee with whipped cream. Is this coffee or dessert?” He asked aloud while trying to blow into the cup to cool it down. “I don’t understand the chocolate sprinkles on top.”

Pudge was laughing. “Did you even hear what I said?” The old man said “I understand why they put the little cardboard sleeve around the cup now. I have never seen coffee this hot before!” Pudge was laughing “John, are you still here?” The old man looked up and said “Sorry, maybe it’s all the caffeine. I did hear you. Do you know this fella outside of his job?” “No” Pudge said “But I know we need members. The representative from the Grand Lodge who visited us recently said so, and this guy seems ok, so I thought it was a good idea.”

“He might be a wonderful person” The old man said “He might make the perfect Mason, but you can’t tell about a man’s character just by a few interactions. You know he will be friendly and a perfect gentleman while he is at work - his job depends on it. You need to get to know the man. Find out what he is like when he is out in the world. Maybe after a while, say after a few months, if you deem him to be worthy, bring up the subject. If he seems interested, maybe give him one of those pamphlets we produce.”

The old man blew on his coffee again, hoping it was finally cool enough to drink. “We don’t need more men. We have plenty of them on the books now. Members go through the degrees and then never return. Instead of just running men through the lodge room like cattle at an auction, collecting initiation fees, just to see them walk back out the door with a new apron and a Dues card in their hands, never to hear from them again until we hear their name read in lodge for suspension of non payment of dues, we need to figure out why they don't come back and keep them interested in coming back every week.”

The old man lowered his head and began to stir his coffee with the little green stick the barista gave him “The fellas who wear the gold collars can't seem to understand this. They just keep hoping if we keep adding names to the books, some of them will stay. I guess in a way they were right; I stayed and Pudge you stayed, but how neat would it be if the majority we brought in would hang around?” Pudge sitting in deep thought, unfurrowed his brow. “I know you are right. We stayed and kept coming. I think fellas like you and I need to keep working on our lodge, and maybe we can figure out ways that may encourage other new guys to return to lodge or newly obligated Brothers to continue coming back.”

“Exactly!” The 50 year member stated as he took the top off his coffee cup. “Maybe I'd I take the top off this thing it will cool off. It's like mixing strong coffee with ice cream. It's weird but I think I could get addicted to this.” the old man said. Pudge laughed.

The old man continued “Masonry is kinda like this coffee shop. They have to make coffee that people will like. If they don't, it won't be long and they will be out of business. If they just serve strong black coffee that the old men drink and tell customers "We know this is really what you want and we have served it that way since 1945", folks might buy one cup to try it, but they'd never come back. We need to start giving young men the ingredients they want in their coffee so they will keep coming back and getting their coffee from us!”

“You’ve got a point John” Pudge said “Businesses have to keep up with the times to keep customers coming in. We have to give the people what they want without ruining the original product. Just like this coffee shop.”

The 50 year member had a big grin on his face as he jumped up from his chair “Well! I think we solved that problem! I say we get out of here and look at these phones! It might be the caffeine talking but I have had this much energy in years!” the old timer said with a laugh in his voice “I feel like I could run to the phone store! Say, I think after we buy this phone we should stop at a kitchen supply store and buy one of these fancy coffee machines for the lodge! Just imagine if we give a cup or two of this stuff to the Past Masters before we open lodge; they might actually stay awake for degree work!”

Pudge got up from his chair laughing “Maybe. Or maybe I can get you home and get your new phone  charging so it will be fully charged when you wake up from your nap after this caffeine buzz wears off and you crash.”


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.


  1. I loved this piece! What an amazing story. I'm going to share it. I am a MM from Temple Lodge No. 324 under the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, Hamilton Masonic District C. I am also the IG of my Lodge and the Chairman of our Districts Masonic Child Identification Program. I joined 2 and a half years ago when I was 21 years old, after my father did, 6 years ago. We are the first Black members of our lodge. To boost membership, I want to start showing my pride in our ancient organization by wearing more Masonic clothing out in public to spark public interest and questions.

    1. Welcome Brother! We share a common milestone. You've been a mason just over two years, and I have just over two years until I reach fifty years as a mason under the Grand Lodge of New York. Our great Masonic fraternity can only grow as we all meet upon the level.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.