Often, Masonry touches all of our lives, and we don’t even know it. Many people know a child who has been seen at the Shiner’s hospitals, or at the very least, have gone to a Shine circus or parade. These are usually things that the general public do not realize are run by Masons at all; often even people who attend these events do not even know what Masons are. The article this week will be a bit shorter than normal. There are a lot of short, sometimes silly little facts that have to deal with Freemasonry that don’t really fit into anywhere else. If it seems that this is well received, I may do similar posts in the future.
- A brother was initiated into a Lodge while flying over Paris in a hot air balloon in 1879.
- The record number of degrees given in a calendar year is held by Gate City Lodge #522 in Kansas City, Missouri. They met every day of the week, except for Sunday, and conferred 1,107 degrees in 1920. That’s an average of 21 degrees a week!
- When Freemasonry first began, the majority of the members were Entered Apprentices, because only the Grand Lodge could raise them, and few got that privilege. They had only one sign, one token and one word; these were referred to as the honors. A Mason who was raised by the Grand Lodge had three signs, three tokens and three words, these were referred to as the Grand Honors. Many Grand Lodges still use the term Grand Honors to describe the highest honorary greeting that shows appreciation for someone who has gone above and beyond in their service for the Grand Lodge.
- The laying of a cornerstone – the first stone placed when building a new building, came from the stonemasons guild. Freemasons continue this tradition and have a public ritual that can be done when a new building is built.
- There have been a number of famous Masons, including:
o Charles Darwin –scientist and explorer
o Buzz Aldrin – first man on the moon
o Nine of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin
o Thirteen of the 39 signers of the U.S. Constitution, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington
o Fourteen U.S. Presidents
o Edward Jenner- discovered the cure for smallpox
o Alexander Fleming- discovered penicillin
o John Wayne- actor
o John Elway- football player
- You can thank the Lodges in Lousiana for your profiencies (also known as proving up, showing that you have a certain passage from your degree memorized before moving onto the next), they started the practice in 1850.
- When someone is under a lot of questioning, they may ask why they are “getting the third degree”. This phrase may have originated with the amount of questioning a initiate receives when receiving the Master Mason, or third, degree.
- Know a non-Mason that sports a square and compass? In the court case of Hammer vs. the state of Indiana, in 1909, the Supreme Court ruled that it is a criminal offense to wear a symbol or emblem of an organization that you are not a member of. The reasoning behind it was that organizations with selective membership go through the process of determining whether or not the person is a good fit for the organization or society, and that wearing an emblem that of a group you are not a member of is deceitful and gives a false pretense.
- There is a Masonic flag at both the North and South pole, as well as a fez at the North. These were planted by Brothers Richard Byrd and Bernt Balchen. They were dropped from their airplane when they flew overhead. When they returned to the North pole, Bro. Blachen dropped his fez from the airplane.
- In 1872, the Commissioner of Patents that no one will be able to hold a trademark or trade name on the square and compass symbol for commercial purposes. This holds true today, and allows all of the different companies to make Masonic apparel.
I hope that you enjoyed this change of pace; as I said before, there are thousands of trivia bits when it comes to Freemasonry. Many of them cannot be fact checked, unfortunately , which is why I went with the ones that could be. If you have any questions, or know any Masonic trivia of your own, please feel free to contact me here, or at firstname.lastname@example.org Next week I will be looking at the Masonic ring. As always, have a wonderful week!