Vol. XXVI No. 3 — March 1948

For Whom the Drums Are Stilled

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any follow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."
— Grellet

Quaker Stephen Grellet wrote a Masonic principle into his famous words; and brethren may well exult that The Masonic Service Association, their servant, is “doing it now!”

Masonic Hospital Visitation Service, rendered to the ill, the crippled, the blind and the men whose minds are clouded as a result of war, brings to them a rich gift of Masonic spirit. For multiplied thousands of men the war is not over. For some it will never be over. We do not see them upon the streets; they are easy to forget in the rush of daily living, the unrest of the peace which is yet to be. Yet it is these men who have made the ultimate sacrifices of health, happiness and broken lives, as great a gift to us all as that made by those who died.

The Association’s Field Agents visited constantly in sixty-nine government hospitals in 1947, located in Arizona, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

"What does a Hospital Visitor do?” The answers are many; no two Hospital Visitors have exactly the same problems. But what is common to all may be partially catalogued.

The Hospital Visitor is the absent father, uncle, or brother in time of need. He furnishes the sympathetic shoulder on which to cry; the attentive ear to listen to complaints, real or imaginary. He is the man everyone trusts to witness wills and other legal documents, purchase money orders, get checks cashed. He serves as arbitrator in many family misunderstandings; many young hot-headed couples are still happily married because of the wisdom and understanding of these fine, middle-aged brethren. In one hospital our Hospital Visitor has counseled in eighty-one cases in which either husband or wife was determined to get a divorce. He was so wisely sympathetic, so understanding and so respected that he succeeded in uniting these about-to-be disunited couples in seventy-seven of these eighty-one attempts.

The Hospital Visitor makes long distance calls for the bed-ridden; sends telegrams; writes letters; wraps and mails packages; communicates with a Mason’s lodge; reassures parents; has watches, razors, radios, glasses, lighters, etc., repaired; brings gifts (cigarettes, musical instruments, pipes, cigars, tobacco, chewing gum, candy, matches, stationery, pens, pencils, knives, razors, razor blades, books, magazines, games, playing cards, mirrors, combs, tooth brushes, sewing kits, scrap books, etc., etc., & etc.); engages rooms for visiting relatives; meets relatives at train or bus stop; gives personal counsel; cheers the downhearted; arranges programs; provides music; plays a prominent part in hospital life; helps bury the dead; comforts relatives and friends; shops for patients buying anything and everything from wedding rings to motor cars, clothing, shoes, glasses, gifts for family or friends; arranges expeditions for the ambulatory to lodges, baseball, football, athletic meets, etc.

The Veterans Administration regards him as a bona fide member of the Hospital Staff, and he submits monthly activity reports to the Special Service Department of the Veterans Hospital in which he works. He enjoys the convenience of an office in the hospital where he makes his headquarters and will be given the privilege of free periodical physical examinations, including x-rays.

What Masonic Hospital Visitors do is attempted by no other organization. They bring about a close personal contact between Masonry and the individual; make the forgotten boy who has few or no friends feel that he is not alone in a friendless world; bring the many small comforts which seem so unimportant to one able to do his own shopping, but which are so vital to one who must spend his time in bed or in a wheelchair; bring Masonic greetings from lodge to brother and from brother to lodge; do all that the patients’ own relatives would do were they visiting in the hospital.

Especially is this seen to be not a duplication of the work of unpaid volunteers when it is realized that these Masonic visitors are trained in the work, trained to cooperate with hospital authorities, trained to make the one right approach, to do it consistently day after day.

Statistics are compiled from the weekly reports made to headquarters by all Hospital Visitors. But statistics are not only of visits and contacts. The work of a Hospital Visitor is as much outside the hospital as in. He must make up his weekly report; he must shop for patients and execute their commissions; he must write to parents, wives, children, lodges.

In many hospitals our Visitors have permission to visit at any hour; in some they are restricted to certain hours. Thus one Visitor has greater opportunity than another. A Visitor who serves one compact hospital can cover more ground and see more patients per day than the Visitor who has two or more hospitals in his area, sometimes many miles apart, or who serves a one or two-floor hospital which covers a greater area than the more permanent eight or ten floor brick or stone building.

As 1947 is the first year in which Hospital Visitation has been a major part of the welfare work (previous years had both social center and hospital work) no direct comparison between this year and last year’s labors can be made; this year’s total visits far exceeds last year, but last year, in addition to visiting 41,784 patients, 394,778 contacts were made through social centers.

In any light, the statistics for hospital visitation this year are impressive: During 1947, 926,540 visits were made by M.S.A. Hospital Visitors to patients in government hospitals. Of this number, 123,069 were made to members of the Fraternity from all states and from Alaska, Hawaii, Bermuda, Canada, Canal Zone, Scotland, China, India, Panama, Philippine Islands, and Honduras.

The value to any patient increases with the number of visits. After the second or third, the patient looks upon the Visitor as a friend; someone he can depend upon. Shyness is broken down; confidence is established; new wants are discovered; greater service can be rendered. When a Hospital Visitor is greeted by “Hey, Pop, C’m here!” or “Here comes ‘The Masonic’” he knows that with that particular patient he “has arrived.”

Thousands of grateful letters from parents and wives demonstrate that the comfort which the Visitor gives vicariously to mother, father and wife, is as much a bringer of happiness as what is done for the patient himself.

There is no method by which to calculate the relative values of visits to servicemen and women in hospitals, help for their families, and assistance to their dependents. One visit with one wounded man may be of untold value to him; another contact with his buddy in the adjoining bed may be merely the daily cheer which comes from a friendly smile and gift. The only yardstick is in the letters of thanks, the gratitude expressed. Judged by such a standard, the services Freemasonry gives through this work are as much beyond description as they are inexpressible in terms of money.

To Aid and Assist, the motion picture made for the Association by the devoted Masons in Hollywood, California, has been in constant use in grand lodges and lodges. Every one of the Association’s 16mm prints is in use. This dramatic portrayal of the hospital work of the Association has been of untold value both in informing those who see it and in inspiring contributions to the welfare program. It is at the service of any grand lodge or lodge at no expense beyond express to and from.

Last year we received 673 electric razors, sent in response to our appeal to the Supplement for these aids to comfort and morale of the blind, the one-armed, the palsied and those who cannot be trusted with blade razors. This year we have received 1,380 razors, a total of 2,053.

Those which can be repaired are mended, sterilized and put in the hands of patients who need them. Those which are not repairable are sent to the Rehabilitation Service of the Veterans Administration, where they are used to teach men mechanism and its repair.

It is again pleasant to chronicle that the Remington-Rand and the Schick Electric Companies have made no charge for repairing and sterilizing razors, preferring to contribute their services to this good cause. Calls on headquarters are of many varieties. Most of them ask assistance which we can give - alas, the pathetic beliefthat Masonry can do anything is sometimes not justified. Some requests are for impossibilities; these are usually to intervene in army or navy discipline, or requests for transfers, or promotions or discharges, or to move a patient from one hospital to another.

Requests to assist in home troubles, to find a “lost” son, to get an inarticulate patient to write home, to convey gifts from lodge, relative or friend, to advise in matters of future plans, employment, etc., to assist one in locating the right Masonic doctor, dentist, lawyer and so on for pages and pages, almost invariably are successfully answered. Many times the Association has been able to do in a few hours something which distraught relatives despaired of having done at all, and many grateful letters attest the value of these by-products of hospital work.

The Welfare work of the M.S.A. began six years ago. During these years the Association has had 131 Field Agents, 67 Hostesses, 91 Janitors and other domestic help, and more than 2,000 volunteers assisting, both men and women. These men and women who were and are Masory’s agents in civil life had responsible positions and vocations requiring education and brains - not otherwise could they now succeed in this difficult hospital work. Before coming with us these men and women were engaged in eighty-six occupations. The following list shows why our workers are successful. They were: accountant; actor; American Red Cross worker; architect; athletic coach; attorney; auditor; author; awning contractor; banker; bank teller; bookkeeper; business executive; claim adjustor; clerk; commercial artist; counselor of college men; dairy owner; dental technician; deputy sheriff; dress designer; doctor; druggist; editor; educator; executive secretary, opera company; executive, publishing company; federal agent; field scout executive; florist; grocery store manager; historian (war records); hostess; homemaker; hotel manager; hospital and welfare worker; interior decorator; manager, tourist camps; manager, country pub; manager, insulation unit; mayor of town; mechanical engineer; mine official; meteorologist; music director; nurse; owner and manager motor corporation; professor; politician; printing executive; production supervisor; promotional work; chief clerk; promotional worker; publicityworker; rancher, real estate and insurance; retired government worker; salesman; sales director; Salvation Army worker; sanitary engineer; secretary; secretary, Grotto; secretary to superintendent Masonic home; secretary to York Rite bodies; singer; student; stenographer; Social Service worker; soldier; state senator; supervisor skilled mechanics; superintendent of high school; teacher of dramatic art; traffic manager; trainman; U.S. Marine Corps, retired; U.S. Coast Guard, retired; U.S. Naval officer, retired; welfare worker; x-ray and laboratory worker, and Young Men’s Christian Association worker.

The field force came from the following states: California; Connecticut; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Idaho; Kansas; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; District of Columbia; Canal Zone.

The record made in 1947 when the gentle Craft so well exemplified its teaching “To help, aid and assist” our sons and brethren in their extremity in hospitals, must be as great a satisfaction to all Masons as it is to those for whom the drums are stilled.

The Masonic Service Association of North America