Big John: Freemason or Not?

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
Gregory J. Knott 33° 

Fellow Midnight Freemason Darin Lahners and I were returning from a road trip when we decided to pull off the interstate to visit Metropolis in deep southern Illinois.   If you are a fan of DC Comics, you might recognize Metropolis as the home to Superman.  Superman dutifully watches over downtown Metropolis in front of the Massac County Courthouse and will on a moment's notice leap into action to save the day. 

As Darin and I were traversing our way to Superman, lo and behold we see another super life-sized statue of “Big John”.   Big John stands on east Fifth street in Metropolis in front of the Big John Grocery Store. Big John was the creation of the store owner back in the 1960s and is also very popular with tourists.

As Big John stands watch, he is carrying a bag of groceries, waving to everyone who passes by, and he always has a big smile on his face.  He is dressed in a red polo shirt with brown khaki pants and has on a ….wait for it…... AN APRON!  Now, being a Freemason, I immediately wondered if Big John was a Freemason or not.

How can we determine if Big John is a Freemason?  My first indicator is the huge smile that Big John has on his face.   He appears to be a pleasant individual who enjoys working and helping others.    As a Freemason, our disposition towards others is important as others form an impression of who we are and what we do 

Big John also is waving to passersby which creates an inviting and welcoming atmosphere.   Does your lodge, chapter, etc, create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that brothers want to return to?   Are you actively engaging new brothers in helping them get acclimated to the lodge, helping them understand what happens within the lodge, and encouraging them to come back?  Are you a mentor to others and assisting them to grow?

Carrying a bag of groceries shows me that Big John is proud of his work.   He appears to have his 24-inch gauge well situated with 8 hours for his usual vocation and probably utilizes the other 16 hours in helping others, learning and resting, and refreshing himself.   How do you utilize your 24-inch gauge?   Are you effectively managing your time and putting forth your best efforts in your career, to your family, and community?  Are you taking time for yourself and caring for your health and mental well-being?

Finally, I notice that the apron Big John is wearing is in perfect condition and unspotted to the world.   As Freemasons, it is our duty and obligation to keep our aprons pristine and unspotted for the world.   Not only our physical apron but keep our daily lives unspotted as we seek to do our best for others, contribute positively to our communities, and further our own personal growth through continued learning and engagement with others.

Big John, Freemason or Not?   My conclusion is yes, Big John is a Freemason.  


Gregory J. Knott, 33° is a founding member and Senior Contributor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. He is a charter member of a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter U.D. and serves as its Secretary. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters. You can contact him at

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