The Ashlar Company
For the good of the craft...
This Short Talk Bulletin was inspired by two sentences contained in
an extensive report to the Grand
Master in Texas in 1978 by the Grand Lodge Printing Committee. We
thank Right Worshipful
Brother Furman Vinson, P.G.M., Texas, for sharing this report with
"There is reason to believe that the family relationship is a weak
link in the process that induces young men to seek Light within
Freemasonry. Masons who attend lodge fifty or sixty times a year in
addition to other Masonic organizations, are officers, or are engaged
in a lot of committee work which take them away from their families,
may be setting examples their sons do not wish to follow. "
It was not a pleasure trip for Jim. He had just flown half way across
the country on a variety of air lines, and was now driving a rental
car into the little town where he had been born and where he had
grown up. It had been several years since he had been to his
hometown. Many changes had taken place. Mentally, Jim was making note
of the changes.
There was a new wing on the old school from which he had graduated so
many years ago .... a filling station where the old feed store used
to be .... a motel sprawled across the field where he used to play
baseball .... a municipal parking lot with parking meters had
replaced the movie hall .... and there was a fancy new hardware store
next to the old drug store in the Masonic temple. Jim continued
driving slowly through the center of town to an impressive turn-of-
the-century white house with its manicured lawn. A dignified sign
identified the house as "Goode Funeral HomeBenjamin A. Goode,
Director." Parking the car, Jim took a deep breath, walked to the
door and rang the bell. Answering the melodic chimes was a man with a
full head of snow-white hair which accentuated his red face and
penetrating eyes. Jim remembered Mr. Goode as one of his father's
best friends, and was expecting him to be long-faced and distraut
over his father's death.
Instead, Ben Goode was jovial and seemed genuinely glad to see Jim,
greeting him with a hearty smile and firm handclasp. "Jim, you've
grown a foot at least since I last saw you. C'mon into the kitchen
and let's have a cup of coffee and a gab fest." One cup led to
another as Jim told Mr. Goode of his stint with the Marines in Viet
Nam, his college days and his struggles in the business world. And,
of course, he bragged about the fact that his wife was about to
present him with their first child.
That was when Mr. Goode first mentioned Jim's father. "I remember the
night when you were born. Your Dad was about the proudest father I
ever saw. He came right from the hospital to the Lodge Hall bragging
that Martha had just given birth to the future Master of Glenview
Lodge. After the work that
night, your Dad went down to the drug store and bought a box of the
best 25c cigars they had and passed 'em around during refreshment."
Jim squirmed a bit in his chair and mumbled something about hadn't
they better talk about arrangements for the funeral. "Nope!" Ben
said, "When your Dad was Master of the Lodge, he planned every detail
of every meeting .... and they always went off without a hitch. His
funeral will, too, 'cause he planned it all. Reverend Shuter, who was
Grand Chaplain a couple of years back, will
conduct the service here at the Home Ole Johnson, the Lodge Organist
will play the music the Pall Bearers are all Past Masters and the
Graveside Service will be conducted by Bill Avery, the District
Deputy, and the boys from the Lodge. You don't have to worry about a
Before leaving the funeral home, Jim looked in where his father's
body rested in the coffin surrounded by mounds of flowers. Dad looked
natural and at peace. The Past Master's jewel on his coat lapel
glistened. Jim closed his eyes and offered a silent prayer.
As he said goodnight to his father's old friend, Ben Goode handed Jim
an envelope. "Special delivery," he said. "Your Dad gave this to me a
couple of weeks ago. Said he didn't trust the Post Office."
Once in his motel room, Jim took the envelope out of his pocket. In
bold letters across the face of it, his father had written, "James
Arthur Mastain." Inside the envelope were five pages of a hand
written letter in the clear, though shaky, handwriting of his father.
Don't grieve for me. While the end of my mortal life draws near, I
eagerly look forward to my journey to that undiscovered country from
whose bourne no traveller returns.
I have lived a full, rich life. The good Lord has blessed me with his
bounty. Until this past year, I have
had excellent health. Your mother and I had forty-seven years of
mutual trust, understanding and love, before she went to her eternal
rest. We were truly blessed when you came into our lives. We tried to
give you the best of everything. We gloried in your accomplishments
and shared your troubles. You are now a man, though you'll always be
my little boy. You served your country well, and you are well on your
way to becoming a successful business man. I'm proud of you, son, and
am sorry I will not get to see my grand-child.
As I explained to you when you came back from Viet Nam, I could never
ask you to become a Mason,
that it must be your desire to become one. I'm hoping that some day
you will decide to become part of that Universal Brotherhood which
has been such a major factor in my life.
Last night, in an effort to take my mind off my physical discomfort,
I recited every bit of Masonic ritual I could remember, and mentally
checked off how I had put into practice the tenets and teachings of
Freemasonry. For the most part, I think I have been a true Man and
Masonry has made me a better man. It has brought me close to my
religious teachings. It has made me a better person, a better husband
and made me feel closer to Almighty God. I have enjoyed the
fellowship of my Brothers and shared in their concern for our
There are some definite duties that a man owes to his God, his
country, his family, his neighbor, and to himself. The one area in
which I failed was in my duties to the family. When you were growing
up, you must have thought there was nothing else in my life but
Masonry. I realize now that I was over-zealous in my lodge
activitiesLodge meetings, visitations, rehearsals, committees,
I can't help wondering if that is why you never asked for a petition.
It just may be that I gave you the wrong impressionthat it was all
workthat the duties of a Mason were too time consuming. One of the
lessons in the ritual is that we should never let our zeal for the
institution interfere with our usual vocations. I guess you might say
that that's a lesson I learnedtoo late.
Son, my inevitable meeting with death is near, but my journey leads
to the Everlasting Habitation of ourcreator. I ask that you think on
Be a good man, a faithful husband, a loving and understanding father,
true to the faith of your acceptance, and a good citizen. While these
teachings of Freemasonry, they are attributes of a real man.
Your loving Father. "
Jim read the letter over and over. He recalled those high school days
when Dad couldn't attend the school play in which he had the lead
because it was "Official Visitation." He remembered the time when he
wanted to get some paternal advice, only to find that "Dad's gone to
a meeting. " He smiled as he remembered one time when they were in
church. When the minister closed his prayer with "Amen," Dad had
automatically boomed, "So Mote it be."
Yes, he thought, I guess I have been "turned off" on the Masons. And,
I guess it was because Dad worked so hard at it. I never knew much
about it, but did know that it took a lot of work and a lot of time.
I guess I just didn't want to get involved.
It was a big funeral. Ben Goode bustled around seeing that everyone
was seated just so. The Masons all sat together. Jim couldn't help
but think that they were here paying their respects to a Brother
Mason, a friend and a man. Everything went off just as Ben Goode had
said it would..."without a hitch" just as Dad had planned it.
Returning from the graveside service Jim thought, "What a great bunch
of guys. Everyone of them had been influenced by Dad. They really
loved him. What a close-knit group they are. There must be something
to their talk about "immortality." They really make me feel that Dad
isn't deadhe's just gone on a trip to a better life.
As they drove up to the Funeral Home, Mrs. Goode came out to meet
them. "Jim," she said, "the hospital just called. Beth and your SON
are both fine." Jim broke into a wide grin. "Ben," he said, "Let's go
down to the drug store and get some of those 25c cigars. The boys at
the lodge might like to know about the future Worshipful Master."
All names, places, events and lodges mentioned in this Bulletin are
fictional. Any relationship to actual events is purely intentional.
And, as this is fiction, you can be sure that in subsequent weeks,
Jim Mastain ''saw the Light. "
Remember, if you don't see the Ashlar "A", it's not authentic.
By Brothers, For Brothers & always For the good of the craft...
© 2019 The Ashlar Company
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