Vol. XXXI No. 3 — March 1953

The Thirty-Third Year

At the Annual Meeting of The Masonic Service Association, held February 26, 1953, the Executive Commission presented its annual report of the activities of the Association, as is required by its constitution.

These pages are an abstract of that report.

Membership is now thirty-five grand lodges as follows: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Philippine Islands, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The Commission recorded its pleasure in the satisfactory financial condition of the Association. The executive secretary-treasurer continues under heavy bond; the cash assets are kept in reliable financial institutions; important records, insurance policies, and books of the Association are kept in fireproof safes; every necessary insurance precaution is in force. The Association has no debts.

During the spring floods the grand masters of the Grand Lodges of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin were queried, asking the extent of flood damage, reported heavy by newspapers, and inquiring if fraternal relief would be welcomed.

Grateful replies were received from all, but no fraternal aid was needed.

The European Relief Fund received comparatively little money during the year; it is too generally believed that conditions abroad are such as to make such contributions less needed than immediately after the war. But expenditures of 1,706.35 were made from this fund for the benefit of brethren and their families whose stories of want and need reach the Association. (Note: The report covers the year 1952. In February 1953, the Association undertook to raise funds for the distressed Masons in Holland. To date of this Bulletin 25,000.00 has been received from grand lodges for this purpose.)

Of the educational program, directed to Masonic leaders (since it is the conviction of the Association that Masonic knowledge best comes from the top down to the Craft), the report notes that twelve issues of The Short Talk Bulletin were published in 1952, that of December marking the completion of thirty years of its publication. Nothing like it has ever before been attempted; no rival for its favor has appeared. The publication is unique, valuable and in constant demand.

The daily orders for subscriptions, individual copies, packages, complete sets and the many letters of praise for this publication indicate both its popularity and its value, as does the constant sale; more than 25,000 bulletins were sold from stock during the year. One of the most important branches of the Association’s work in Masonic education is making available Masonic facts, figures, stories and information available to individuals otherwise only by long and difficult research.

In 1952 there were published Freemasonry's Great Monument; Annual Reports of the Executive Commission; Old Masonic Art; The Gutenberg Bible (with six color reproduction of a hand-illuminated page); District Deputy Systems of the Grand Lodges of the United States; Modern Ideas in Masonic Education; Life-Line (four color photograph of blood donations in the field, to assist grand lodges in blood donor campaigns); The World's Oldest Living Freemasons; Foreign Grand Lodges Recognized by the Grand Lodges of the United States (an annual chart); George Washington, Master Mason (portfolio to assist lodges in celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of Washingtons initiation in "The Lodge at Fredericksburgh”); Masonic Parallels in Shakespeare; Structure of Freemasonry (colored chart); Cipher Rituals (showing grand lodges that permit and those that forbid their use).

This marks the culmination of a year in which the largest amount of Masonic information in the history of the Association was published in the form of Digests.

The Association has in stock a large store of Masonic documents, including more than one hundred Digests, twelve plays, and three hundred sixty different Short Talk Bulletins. All these are sold to individuals who desire them at less than cost. (Catalogues free on request.)

The Association’s twelve Masonic plays and four motion pictures (the latter loaned at cost of carriage only) are continually called for. All films are in perfect condition.

The information service of the Association fills an important niche in Masonic life. From grand masters to newest brethren comes a steady stream of inquiries. All are answered the day they are received unless they require research, in which case the inquiry is acknowledged and the research completed as soon as possible. Some inquiries require rather elaborate studies.

The Library of Congress and the National Archives send letters of inquiry that are addressed to those institutions and that ask Masonic questions that they are unable to answer. Inquiries frequently come from senators and representatives asking Masonic information, usually to enable the inquirers to prepare a speech on some Masonic subjects.

The second part of the Report deals with welfare work for the Armed Forces, especially in hospitals.

"A friend loveth at all times,” says Proverbs, and surely the statement applies to the help, aid and assistance that Masonry is rendering the servicemen and women who have given so much to their country.

Emphasis is here put upon the last three words — “at ALL times.” For that has been the difficulty in Masonic welfare work. When the uniforms were many on the streets, when young men and women were going to war, when patriotism and the flag were on everyone’s lips, help for servicemen and women was easy to get.

But the World War II uniforms are now laid away. The soldiers and the sailors Masonry would help wear dressing gowns in hospitals. The walls of these institutions are not transparent. We may know, dimly, that thousands of wounded and ill and mentally deranged are in beds of pain, but in our busy lives, not seeing them, we forget too easily.

The necessary funds have come in this year to a greater extent than last, but the goal set by the Annual Meeting in 1952 — $225,000 — has not been reached.

Hospital service was begun in January 1952, at Dwight, Illinois; March at Miles City, Montana; August at Atlanta, Georgia, part time; November at Manchester, New Hampshire; and at Baltimore, Maryland, part time.

Hospital service was discontinued during the year at New London, Connecticut, because of decline of patient load; and Springfield, Missouri, because the V.A. Hospital there closed.

Planned for opening in 1953 is service at Marion, Illinois, and Kansas City, Missouri, which replaces Springfield, Missouri. (A complete list of hospitals served was published monthly in the supplement to The Short Talk Bulletin .)

During 1952, hospitalized service personnel were served in one way or another by 1,404,994 contacts. Of these, 95,017 were new contacts. Brethren in every state in the Union and eight foreign countries were served.

The C.P.A. audit at the close of the report (Sixteen pages of financial details) shows receipts, expenditures, and bank accounts. Money is handled by the heavily-bonded executive secretary and a competent bookkeeping department. Hospital Visitors’ expenses are reported and audited every week.

The Commission again expressed its gratitude for the checks sent by the A.A.S.R. (Northern Jurisdiction) and the Shrine, large bodies of brethren that, as bodies, are not members of the Association.

The following two paragraphs detail a constant Executive Commission problem which that body plaintively presents:

One small lion in the path has nine lives and arises like a phoenix almost as fast as it is killed! This is the misunderstanding which some brethren have regarding annual dues which grand lodges pay to the Association — a maximum of three cents per year per brother; in the larger grand lodges as little as 1.4 cents per year per brother.

Dues to the M.S.A. support headquarters, pay for the education program, maintain the institution. They do not pay for any part of the hospital program, which is supported entirely by voluntary gifts from grand lodges, other Masonic bodies and individuals, or, in a few instances, from assessments laid upon their members by grand lodges.

The Supplement to The Short Talk Bulletin is published every month except July and August (when most Masonic activities cease because of warm weather). It carries an illustrated monthly story of people and events in the Hospital Visitation world.

An increasing number of masters write for hundreds of copies of one or more of these to send to their members when making an appeal for aid to the hospital program.

Enough Short Talk Bulletin Supplements were reprinted to add to those in stock and complete a collection of one hundred and fifty full sets. These were carefully indexed, a Foreword added and the whole bound in book form, bearing the title Ten Years of Masonic Service to the Armed Forces of the United States.

One copy was sent to each grand lodge in the nation, for its library, a copy was sent to the Congressional Library, to the President of the United States, to each of the Libraries of the two Supreme Councils of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, to each Executive Commissioner, to all past and present Field Agents and Hospital Visitors whose services extended over a period of several years, and to several Public Libraries in large cities.

These volumes are priceless historical records; they tell the day by day story of the Masonic Service Centers during World War II which rendered such great assistance to men and women of the Armed Forces, both here and abroad, and limn the Hospital Visitation work as could no other chronicle. (Interested brethren please note — none of these volumes are left for further distribution.)

On May 21, 1952, the Veterans Administration presented to The Masonic Service Association a certificate of appreciation. Chairman Samuel H. Wragg of the Executive Commission came to Washington for the ceremonies; Director of Welfare John D. Cunningham was another member of the committee; and Hospital Visitor William C. Edmunds, working in the V.A. Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, represented the field force.

The whole Report is lengthy and fully detailed. In these short pages only a few highlights can be presented. Throughout the Report breathes a feeling of optimism that the welfare work in hospitals will be continued by grand lodges and “help, aid, and assist” of the Ancient Craft be made again manifest to the wounded (so many, now, from Korea!) and the ill.

The Report closes with these words:

Headquarters has the successful plans used by grand lodges that have raised goodly sums for this work. Any grand master who asks for them will receive them; the plans differ in different jurisdictions, but success invariably follows those efforts that are not a one time appeal, but that are consistently kept before the members of lodges.

What man has done, man can do. What one grand lodge has raised, another can, also. What is a success in one grand jurisdiction will be a success in another.

No brother who reads these words will question the sincerity with which they are written. No brother who sees that silent hope that Masonry will not desert those in such sore need will refuse his aid. Grand masters who take this appeal to their hearts may be assured by the experience of their predecessors who have succeeded — tell your brethren often enough of the need and (2 Samuel 16:21) “Then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong!”

The Report is signed by all members of the Executive Commission:

Charles N. Bell, P.G.M., Wyoming
Joseph A. E. Ivey, P.G.M., Arizona
Walter H. Murfin, P.G.M., North Dakota
Hubert M. Poteat, P.G.M., North Carolina
W. Henry Roberts, P.G.M., Indiana
Allan M. Wilson, P.G.M., New Hampshire
George R. Sturges, P.G.M., Connecticut (chairman emeritus)
Samuel H. Wragg, P.G.M., Massachusetts (chairman)

The Masonic Service Association of North America