The North Carolina Mason

January/February 2021

North Carolina Mason

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Page 8 The North Carolina Mason January/February 2021 By omas Pope Stedman 730 Member Board of Publications Drop-in guests are par for the course at the Grand Lodge building on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. And when Assistant Grand Secretary Jona- than Underwood or other staffers greet visi- tors, they're often met with unexpected gifts. All of sorts of Masonic memorabilia winds up in their hands, be it aprons, full Knights Templar uniforms, pins and badges – the list is long. e donations aren't always delivered in person. Sometimes, arrivals come via the U.S. Postal Service. "We accept everything," Underwood said. "Most things we'll try to save," he added, "especially if there's something unique about it – especially if we can find some informa- tion on the member. A lot of what we get, you don't have a story to go with it, and you want to know the story of the man behind the apron." e same scenario can face a local lodge Secretary. I've learned to not be surprised each time I flip on the light switch in my office at Stedman 730. Half the time, it seems, there's something left there by a brother, and often there's a mystery because there's no note to identify who left the mate- rial, why or even a hint of what I'm supposed to do with those things. So what's a Secretary to do with random discoveries? Unless there's some background to go with the items, what course should a Secretary take? In a nutshell, it's up to him. If the lodge has room to store those pieces, they're great for piquing a member's curiosity about Masonry in other parts of the country, or even the world. ey can be part of a display in a lodge's library, including ritual books from other jurisdictions, some of which can be deciphered by a ritual-savvy Master Mason. I recently took a find from my desk – the New York version of our O.S.W. – and was able to "read" about 99 percent of it. at inspired its use as Masonic Educa- tion at our next meeting, showing my fellow lodge members the differences and similari- ties between the Empire and Tarheel states' methods of opening a lodge meeting. e lingo was much the same, but the word-for- word, step-by-step process was not a match. at book was part of a recent find on my desk: two small briefcases that held ritual books, multiple aprons and gloves, pins from Masonic bowling tournaments, a member- ship card from the lodge at Oak Island, N.C., and – as Underwood describes such things, "the prize in the box of Cracker Jack" – a scroll denoting the same Mason's initiation in a lodge in Johannesburg, South Africa, all the way back in 1953. at's similar to a story Underwood tells of a woman who stopped by the Grand Lodge to dispose of her father's Masonic memora- bilia. "ere was a briefcase full of maybe 10 aprons, four or five sashes, four or five collars, and they were all from Kenya," he said. "is gentleman had been a member there, had been a District Deputy Grand Master, and maybe Grand Tyler. All sorts of things. … His daughter kind of said 'thanks for looking after it' and moved on." Not everything received by a lodge Secre- tary or the Grand Lodge office is suitable for preservation. "Some things are in horrible, horrible, horrible shape. We've gotten things that've been eaten up, and we can't do anything with it," Underwood said. If it's worth saving, there's a good chance it will end up in the Grand Lodge library, where Underwood said there's a section on rituals and everything's broken down by state. "If we can figure out where it's from, we'll try to offer it to the state it's from or track down the lodge. One guy from Maryland, his family had moved down here and he was never a member in North Carolina. We received all his Masonic regalia, a picture as master of the lodge – all sorts of stuff. I tracked down which lodge he was a member of and mailed it to them. "Virginia's proceedings going back to the 1700s, and in there interspersed will be moni- tors from Virginia. ere's some ritual work, and sometimes you can't tell where it's from, but others might say which Grand Lodge it was manufactured for. e fun ones are where they're written backward and you've got to know how to decipher it to know where it's from." Masonic memories find a home at Grand Lodge Secretaries find all sorts of artifacts landing on their desks So what's a Secretary to do with random discoveries? Unless there's some background to go with the items, what course should a Secretary take? In a nutshell, it's up to him. remember to roar in 2021! Participate in the Lion and Pillar program

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