The 50 Year Member - Black Friday
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM
The 50-year member let out a weary sigh as he pushed his now empty plate which until a few minutes ago contained a large pile of whipped topping on top of a sliver of pumpkin pie. "Every year I say I won’t overeat at Thanksgiving dinner, and every year I break that resolution. I think instead next year I will just resolve to wear stretchy pants to this event."
Today was another successful Thanksgiving dinner the lodge provided to the public. As much work as it is to cook, serve and clean up after one hundred people it also was nourishing for the soul to know you provided a good meal to many homeless, poverty-stricken families or just local people with no family who otherwise would not have eaten or who was able to enjoy a dinner in a family like atmosphere. Not only do many people look forward to this annual feast many rely on it for a decent meal they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
Pudge who was sitting toward the end of the table muttered I’m not really sure if I am ready for a snap because I’m exhausted from all the hard work or from the entire turkey I ate.” “Maybe a little of both” Mike Bailey said with a sarcastic smirk. "What do you all say we finish cleaning up and head for home?" Everyone grunted in approval.
Herb Johnson said as he picked up a trash bag “It was a great day. I hope we get several potions from the dinner today. I passed one out with a Masonic pamphlet to every man who looked to be over eighteen. Between that and with the Grand Lodge’s new program to waive initiation fees and make a new Brothers first-year dues only one dollar we should have a line at the lodge door!” Herb said with a gleam in his eye.
The 50-year member shook his head in disgust. “Sounds like Masonry at bargain basement prices. It’s like we are having a Masonic Black Friday event! Maybe we could sell the rings and a lapel pin at no extra cost!”
Herb laughed "John, I know you are kidding, but I’m serious. I’m tired of constantly going through the chairs and taking turns being Master. We need to get new men in here or we are going to be in trouble!"
The 50-year member replied “I am not joining!! I’m deadly serious. Yes, we are in need of members but selling the Craft like it was a television set at a big box store isn’t the way to do it.” “We have been trying the cheap dues approach for seventy years with little success. So what makes you think this will be the magic pill?”
“Well, we need to try and do something!” Herb said meekly. “There isn’t anything else we can do.” The fifty-year member said “ You are joking aren’t you? There are so many things we can try. First, instead of raising dues, we can make the price of dues worthy of our fraternity. If we charge dues that actually make sense we won’t have lodges selling their buildings because they can no longer afford them. In fact, they might have enough to actually maintain their temple and make improvements. I know what you are going to say, Herbert, we will lose members and we have members on fixed incomes. I might consider this a valid excuse if these same men who refuse to pay dues more than the equivalent of eight dollars a month wouldn’t go on cruises or take their half-million dollar RVs all over the country for golfing trips.”
The old man continued: “If we do have a brother who is actually destitute and cannot afford to pay with higher dues we will have plenty of money to forgive their membership dues and maybe even help his situation to boot! We have been going at this wrong for all this wrong for a long time. Another thing we can do is instead of demanding our dues during the holidays when everyone is trying to buy festive food and presents we break the dues up and pay them over the course of twelve months. We could even automatically take them for their bank or even their paychecks. Men won’t have an issue with it if isn’t something they actually have to write a paper check for each December. It’s silly. In all honesty, the only reason I still have paper checks at home is for the one check a year I write to this lodge.”
Herb was exasperated. All this talk of change has his head spinning. “Well, where do we get all these guys who want this stuff? Why aren’t they here now?” The 50-year member laughed out loud. "They have already been here and you antiques ran them off!"
Herb, Think of all those young fellas Pudge has brought in here. We spent months in degree work for them. So many of the quit coming when we treated them like they were children. Each one of them joined with excitement and was really interested in our lodge. Did we welcome them? Nope! Once they were raised they sat alone at the supper table before lodge. The only time anyone talked to them was to ridicule their new ideas or tell them Grand lodge won’t allow it. We all know that is poppycock. It was a way to shut them up. What is even worse is the way we treat the one-day Masons. We call them “McMasons” or tell them they aren’t real brothers because they had the unmitigated gall to take their degrees in one day instead of over three days. The sad thing is if anyone ever bothered to pick up a history book Many of the men we refer to as “famous Masons”, along with thousands of others who did the same thing over the last few centuries. All these new Brethren sat on the sidelines barely acknowledged. After a few months of being ignored, they finally realized the Masonic education they were promised turns out to be floor work and getting a part in the degrees to keep the degree mill churning out new Masons who will soon leave for the same reason. It’s the circle of Masonic implosion.”
Herb stood frozen like a statue. Looking down at the ground with an ashamed look on his face. “I didn’t realize we ran off the very men we have been trying to recruit. Maybe we need to consider being mentors, not degree salesmen.”
John smiled “I know Brother. It’s hard to embrace change, especially for us old fossils who don’t really understand what’s going on when we turn on the television. I know your heart is in the right place but we all need to learn to work together to make the Masonic order the Fraternity tells these prospective petitioners are told we have and what they are seeking."
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 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.