By Doug Kelly
I didn’t quite know what to expect when entering a Masonic Lodge 11 years ago. After watching numerous TV documentaries about the mysterious Masons – also known as Freemasons – my curiosity boiled over.
However, I was to quickly learn to my relief that rather than being a secret society attempting to orchestrate history, it was instead a fraternity of men aimed at individual development and fellowship. That our nation was molded from a sense of collective democracy that included Masons is certainly valid, including 14 U.S. presidents and 13 signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Many of our nation’s leaders, sports figures and celebrities became Masons, and here is a small sampling in alphabetical order:
Eddy Arnold, Roy Acuff, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Autry, Beethoven, Irving Berlin, Simon Bolivar, Ernest Borgnine, Omar Bradley, George Cohan, Davy Crockett, Jack Dempsey, Jimmy Doolittle, Duke Ellington, Gerald Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Clark Gable, John Glenn, Arthur Godfrey, Barry Goldwater, John Hancock, Harry Houdini, Sam Houston, Hubert Humphrey, Andrew Jackson, Al Jolson, John Paul Jones, Rudyard Kipling, Lafayette, Charles Lindbergh, Douglas MacArthur, Thurgood Marshall, William McKinley, James Monroe, Mozart, Arnold Palmer, J.C. Penney, John Pershing, Eddie Rickenbacker, Will Rogers, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Dave Thomas, Harry Truman, George Washington and John Wayne.
Well-known people aside, 99 percent of the two million Masons in America and another million worldwide are everyday people. Women can become members of Eastern Star, an associated organization, and there’s DeMolay for boys and Rainbow Girls for young ladies. The Shriners are Masons and operate hospitals for children including one in Tampa where treatment is provided regardless of the family’s ability to pay if not covered by insurance.
Masons meet periodically at Lodges and witness new members reciting memorized catechisms to advance from three levels: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master. Ceremonies also take place based on allegories originating from King Solomon and his Temple. When in public and in any part of the world, Masons can identify each other via secret signals based on an historical reason and significance that no one else will perceive. All of these internal secrets are known only to Masons and any legitimate Mason — whether a present or past member — will not reveal them.
Let’s quash a few falsehoods about Masonry:
- Neither Masons nor their meetings have anything to do with the occult.
- We do not worship Satan.
- Similarly, while Masonry is not a religion, no atheists are allowed and instead all members must believe in their spiritual perception of God.
We do not actively recruit members. One must either contact a Lodge or ask any Mason, “How can I become a Mason?” before being invited to apply.
- The frequent TV documentaries portraying people claiming to be ex-Masons who “reveal” secrets are sensationalized bunk. I’ve watched many of them and it’s laughable to hear people say things which as a Mason I know are total falsehoods created by people with vivid imaginations or who gathered their information from Internet quacks.
- The public is not forbidden to visit a Lodge and see where the ceremonies take place, although only Masons can attend regular meetings. Some public ceremonies often do take place in the Lodge.
I belong to Clearwater Lodge 127, which is a 501c(10) corporation and located at the corner of Hercules Avenue and Druid Street. It was first chartered in 1892, 23 years before the City of Clearwater was chartered.
It’s a beautiful Lodge and as mentioned the public is often invited to open events
such as a recent picnic that took place serving free food (hot dogs, pulled chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, cupcakes)
along with snow cones.
Children enjoyed a bounce house
while adults engaged in lawn darts,
and a mini flea market allowed stuffing a bag with collectibles for only $5.
A raffle took place for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and other prizes.
A public breakfast is offered at the Clearwater Lodge every other Saturday morning featuring eggs prepared to order, French toast, grits, hash browns, bacon, etc. for only $8. Our Lodge is now commencing biweekly meetings after being closed during summer.
I’m a Master Mason because I like the fellowship and our noble purpose of taking good men and making them better.
Clearwater Masonic Lodge 127
705 S. Hercules Avenue