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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes October 2015 

‘To Be Or Not To Be . . .’ Or, ‘To Go Or Not To Go’ 

In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, the soliloquy by Prince Hamlet begins, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.”

Wisconsin Past Grand Master Jack C. Allord paraphrases Shakespeare in an article in the September, 2015 issue of the Wisconsin Masonic Journal, when he asks his brethren, “To go, or not to go . . . to Lodge tonight?”

He speculates that brothers may think they are too busy or don’t have enough time, and so he responds:

“If Brothers George Washington and Gerald Ford found time to attend Lodge, can you?  If Grand Masters Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, Andrew Jackson, and Harry Truman found time to attend Lodge, can you?  If the two Mayo Brothers and the seven Ringling Brothers found time to attend Lodge, can you? If astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Green Bay Packers legend Bart Starr found time to attend Lodge, can you?”

In a parenthetical comment, Brother Allord wrote that six of the seven Ringling Brothers sat in the chairs to raise their father in Baraboo Lodge in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in 1891.

The Past Grand Master concluded his article:  “We really want to see you in Lodge, Brother!”

Audio Subscription For Short Talk Bulletin Now Available From Online Library 

A new style of subscription for the Short Talk Bulletin, is now available for those who may be visually impaired or just prefer an audio version.

By subscribing to the Short Talk Bulletin Online Audio Library, every month you will receive the current Short Talk Bulletin as a spoken audio file.

The Masonic Service Association is working with Brother Michael Smith, of Freeport, ME, and Anaba Publishing, who recently published an audio book of Short Talks from many years ago.

The subscription fee for the special audio Short Talk is $20 per year.  For more information, go to the MSA webpage – -- or directly to for information on how to subscribe.

The subscription also provides notification of the growing collection of historical Short Talks, as audio versions are produced.

Masonic-Stamp Nuggets Of Historical Happenings

A study of postal stamps and history often brings to light some previously unknown Masonic facts.  Here are a few of them, taken from the June, 2015, issue of The Masonic Philatelist, a quarterly publication from the Masonic Stamp Club of New York:

  • A stamp of the Comoro Islands honors Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin and the execution device, the “guillotine,” which became named for him.  In truth, Dr. Guillotin did not invent the device and it had been used in Italy, Germany and England, before it was associated with him in France.  He simply proposed the use of the device to carry out death penalties as a less painful method of execution.  Dr. Guillotin was one of the founders of the Grand Orient of France and was Worshipful Master of Lodge La Concordia.  He knew and worked closely with Brother Benjamin Franklin.
  • The U.S. Postal Service had designed two stamps to recognize the 50th anniversary in 1995 of the exploding of the atomic bomb. Brother Harry S. Truman, as President, had approved its use. Japan objected to the stamp, and to maintain good relations, the issue was cancelled.  In July, 2014, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, Theodore Van Kirk, died.  He was a member of Eureka Lodge in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

Another example comes from the May-June issue of The Philatelic Freemason:

  • The name, La Guardia, is known by many as one of the major New York City airports.  Others know Fiorello Henry La Guardia as the Mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945, who was acclaimed by some as one or the three or four greatest mayors in American history.  He was a member of Garibaldi Lodge in New York City.  Only five feet tall, he was called “the little flower.” Fiorello is Italian for “little flower.”  A postage stamp recognized him in 1972.

How Active In The Fraternity Were Our Masonic Presidents?

We know which of the U.S. Presidents have been Masons, but how active were some of these Brethren in their Lodges?  Their Grand Lodges?  Other Masonic bodies?  Gary A. Littlefield, Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, reported on his research of these questions:

  • Only two Presidents have held the office of Grand Master of their Grand Lodges – Andrew Jackson of Tennessee and Harry S. Truman of Missouri.
  • Two Presidents served as District Deputy Grand Masters – James Buchanan of Pennsylvania and Truman.
  • Four were Worshipful Masters of their Lodges – George Washington of Virginia, Jackson, Buchanan, and Truman.
  • Besides those who presided over their Lodges, two others served in Lodge officer lines – James Garfield of Ohio and James K. Polk of Tennessee and North Carolina.
  • Eight U.S. Presidents were Royal Arch Masons – Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, Garfield, William McKinley and Warren Harding, both of Ohio, and Truman.
  • Knights Templar among the Masonic Presidents included Johnson, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, and Truman.
  • Those who were Scottish Rite Masons were Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York, McKinley, Truman, Johnson, Garfield, and Harding.  The 33rd Degree was conferred on Truman and Ford.  Harding was elected to receive the 33rd Degree but died before receiving it.

(The Connecticut Freemason, July/August, 2012)


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