Look a little Deeper Vol 2
OK I’ll admit this piece it’s not quite as heady as Manly P. Hall, however appropriate for the times. Our next exploration is on Carl H. Claudy.
Carl Harry Claudy (1879–1957)
There was a time, an age before television, video rentals, and pro sports, when Freemasons read. An age when sitting before a fire with a book of Masonic lore or history was regarded as an evening well spent. Emerging from that time is the name of an author unparalleled in his contributions to Masonic literature. Anyone who has read just a little of Carl H. Claudy’s works cannot help but be charmed by the story told and the manner of expression.
Foreign Countries, Old Tiler Talks, The Old Past Master, A Master’s Wages, These Were Brethren, Where Your Treasure Is, The Lion’s Paw, and Masonic Harvest, are but a few of his more well known Masonic works.
Carl H. Claudy was born in 1879, and died in 1957. The preceding year he had been named Honorary Passed Grand Master of North Dakota.
An author of 32 books and a galaxy of essays and short stories numbering more than 1,600, his literary life began inauspiciously enough. His formal education concluded after only a year of high school whereupon he found himself in the hardscrabble workaday world of the late 19th century.
At age 19 he headed to the Alaskan gold fields. Finding no gold after six months, he returned to the States and took up employment with an emery wheel manufacturer. After several years he left that job to move back to Washington, DC, where he became the editor of a popular science paper. This was his springboard.
Despite the lack of a formal education Claudy began to read and to write. In fact, the first story he ever wrote appeared in The Washington Post. He freelanced for The New York Herald, eventually joining its staff in 1908 with a special assignment covering the then infant aeronautical industry.
During this time he wrote a number of articles on the subject and published a book titled, Beginners Book of Model Airplanes. But he was also a photographer. His photos of early flights were given to Alexander Graham Bell who placed in the Smithsonian where they remain today. At the end of World War I, Claudy went overseas as a correspondent for Scientific American.
An avid athlete and outdoors man, his hobbies included camping, mountaineering, boxing, rowing crew, tennis, and football. His love of the outdoors brought him frequently to Montana and inspired many short stories written for various Boy Scout publications.
Claudy’s association with Freemasonry began in 1908, when, at the age of 29, he was raised a Master Mason in Harmony 17 in Washington, DC. He served as its master and eventually served as Grand Master of Masons in the District of Columbia in 1943.
His Masonic writing career began in earnest when he became associated with the Masonic Service Association in 1923, serving as associate editor of its magazine, The Master Mason until 1931. He became executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association in 1929 — a position held until his death in 1957. Under his single handed leadership the Masonic Service Association was brought to a place of preeminence through his authorship and distribution of the “Short Talk Bulletin” which made his name familiar to virtually every lodge in the country.
Claudy can personally lay claim to authorship of approximately 350 Short Talk Bulletins. In addition to the bulletins themselves he wrote and distributed innumerable digests, special bulletins, and portfolios of historical and factual nature all designed to promote the Craft. One of his finest works of this nature is the “Little Masonic Library,” a collection of 20 pocket size volumes by noted authors. In 1930 he published serially in The Master Mason his delightful novel, The Lion’s Paw, shortly followed by several others, including the timeless Master’s Book, in which are set out the principles and practices of a successful lodge master. Another classic written during this time, his primer for new Masons entitled Introduction to Freemasonry, enjoyed international popularity. In 1934 he penned the first of his series of 12 Masonic plays while in his Washington office. The succeeding plays were all drafted on the road, so to speak. Nine of them were written in a log cabin in Montana in the sight of Emigrant Peak — a blue lodge in the Gallatins as Claudy called it. The plays have, in the past, had a powerful impact on the fraternity and formerly were performed countless times in nearly every grand lodge jurisdiction.
In consequence of his long service, Masonic recognition was mighty. He was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, recipient of the Henry Price medal and honorary member of many Grand Lodges and lodges.
As we pass the 2017 Investiture, where the Newly Minted (some retread) Masters will be invested with the secrets of the Chair. It just seems wholly appropriate to crack open some of the many volumes that Carl Claudy has written on Freemasonry. His main target was often aiming at Lodge officers and Lodge members.
I was given, as many Masters are, a volume of “The Old Past Master” by Carl Claudy and have read it many times and refer to it often. The small book is written from the perspective of conversation with the Old Past Master to the New Master Mason.
I’ll just pick out some relevant or poignant bits. It’s no wonder that the book starts in the first chapter…
“Brotherly love?” commented the Old Past Master. “Oh, yes, the lodge is full of it. It is curious the way it manifests itself, sometimes, but when you dig down deep enough into men’s hearts, you find a lot of it.
“A lot of them never show it, then,” said the Very New Mason.
“Oh, no, certainly not! Men don’t go around demonstrating their affection like a lot of girls, you know,” answered the Old Past Master.
“But you don’t have to see a demonstration to know the feeling is there. The trouble with so many young Masons is their misunderstanding of the term ‘brotherly love,’ though high heaven knows the words are sufficiently easy to understand. “‘Brotherly,’ now, means ‘like a brother.’ I know a lot of brothers hate each other, but they don’t act like brothers. There have been cowardly soldiers, and forsworn ministers, and corrupt judges, but when you say a man is ‘like a soldier,’ you mean ‘brave and true’; when you say he is ‘good as a minister’ you mean one who ‘truly does his honest best.’ When you say ‘upright as a judge’ you mean ‘as straight as the best of judges.’ And when I say ‘brotherly’ means ‘like a brother,’ I mean like a brother who is acting, as a good brother likes to act.”
If you’d like to read some more of the Old Past Master’s wit and wisdom, the e-book (PDF) is now in the Document Library for download HERE.
IN MEN’S HEARTS
“Where is the most beautiful Masonic temple in the world?” asked the New Brother of the Old Tiler.
“Wouldn’t the answer depend on one’s conception of beauty? retorted the Old Tiler. “I might think, and you another, while an architect or an artist might choose still another.”
“Well, which one do you choose?” persisted the New Brother.
“I don’t!” answered the Old Tiler. “The House of the Temple in Washington is impressive; Detroit has a wonderful temple; Philadelphia’s temple is massive and beautiful, the Albert Pike memorial in Little Rock is considered fine. I cannot choose.”
“You think it is one of these?”
“No, I am simply trying to oblige,” laughed the Old Tiler. “I know three temples which impressed me more than any of these.”
“I asked because I am taking a winter vacation. I’d like to see the wonderful temples Masonry has erected. Tell me where your three are located!”
“One temple that to me is great in beauty is in a town of about 2,000 people in the Middle West. The lodge room is over a country store. The floor is bare of carpet. The chairs are plain wood. The heating plant is one large stove; it is the Junior Deacon’s business to feed it during the meetings. The walls are stained, the lamps are kerosene, there is no organ or piano and the ribbons in the lodge jewels are frayed. Not very up-to-date, the members of this lodge. “But this lodge made a boy of twenty-two a Master Mason just before he went to France in the first world war. After Soissons he lay all night on the field with a shattered leg and an arm so badly mangled that later they cut it off.
While he lay there he heard familiar words from the familiar burial service of a Mason; ‘this evergreen, which once marked the temporary resting place of the illustrious dead is an emblem of our faith in the immortality of the soul.’
“The wounded boy called for help. Came crawling to him was a man slightly wounded, who had said the service over the remains of a comrade. At the risk of his life he hauled the wounded boy to safety. That wounded boy came back to this little country lodge to tell his brethren of what Masonry means in men’s hearts when they carry it into the battlefield.
As I listened the plain board walls fell away, the deal floor became tessellated marble, the low stained ceiling became a vaulted archway and the Great Architect Himself entered the East Gate.
“Another beautiful temple I only heard of. Civil engineers were building a railroad in the Andes. One of their laborers, a Mason, had fever and had to be sent home. This party of five sat out under the trees and the stars and talked on the square. Each of them gave a month’s salary to the sick laborer. He had a wife and two babies in Denver, the wife trying to live in spite of the dread disease Denver’s high altitude cures.
Our ancient brethren met under the stars, where their ‘covering was no less than the clouded canopy or starry-decked heaven.’ But none of these ever held a more beautiful lodge than those five young men, filled with Masonic charity, giving each more than he could afford for a day laborer in hard luck, because he was a Mason.
“My third most beautiful temple was made of many little tents. There were children in them; children large and small, and there was no distinction between them of race, creed, color. All a child had to be was poor to have two weeks in the open. Nor was this a lodge charity; it was the work of a Masonic club, and run by individual contributions.
As I looked I heard the organ peal as I have never heard it in many temples of stone. “As a teacher said, ‘for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’
Where three, five, seven or more Master Masons gather in the name of Masonry, there is the temple. It is right and wise that we build great temples of stone and carving; which give testimony to all the world that here men gather in brotherhood. Masonic structures play a great part and we could spare them ill. But the greatest Masonic temples are built in men’s hearts.
“If you would visit beautiful temples in your travels. Seek less for mighty building and more for a house not made with hands. ‘Masonry builds her temples in the hearts of men’ and in men’s hearts shall you seek for, and find, those most beautiful.”
The Old Tiler ceased and looked off into space as if he saw a vision. The New Brother looked at the Old Tiler.
“I do not need to travel far to see one of the most beautiful temples,” he said.
If you’d like to read some more on Old Tiler Talks you can download the PDF copy from the Document Library HERE.
Finally a look at another Claudy booklet called, The Master’s Book. even though ity was written nearly 100 years ago, it should be the companion of every Master before he takes the gavel of authority in the East. In this booklet the most important chapter in this writer’s humble opinion is Chapter 5
THE ART OF PRESIDING
“Preside–to sit in authority over others.” (Standard Dictionary.)
The first principle of successful presiding is to use authority without any one being conscious of it! The presiding officer elected by a secular organization is amenable to its dictates, and may be removed by the electorate; an appeal may be taken from his decision to the body over which he presides; generally he is supposed to conduct its meetings according to the rules of order (usually Robert’s). None of this is true for the Master of a Lodge. While elected, he is not controlled by the dictates of his Lodge; he can only be removed by Grand Master or Deputy under authority of the Grand Master; no appeal to the Lodge may be taken from his awards; “rules of order,” while followed in general, are actually the Master’s will and pleasure.
KEEP COOL That rule is usually wise which avoids heated debates. When debaters become so personal as to forget brotherly acts in the warmth of partisanship, a Master is justified in closing debate for the time, to act on the question when cooler moments arrive. A Master may always call from labor to refreshment, to permit “cooling off.” If he does this with a smile, and some remark about his own need for a little reflection, he will offend no one.
The Chapter goes on with a few more very useful tidbits of help for new Masters.
A wise old Past Master once told me; “whatever you do…make it fun and/or entertaining, because I won’t come unless it’s fun and/or entertaining.”
Well Chapter 6 of The Master’s Book covers this subject quite nicely.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ATTENDANCE The Master whose entertainment program is strictly Masonic has to send to the basement for extra chairs for most of his meetings. Most Masters find the attendance problem vexatious; especially is this true in a Lodge in which the members have to some extent lost interest. But attendance, in itself, is of no value if nothing is given those who attend. Ten thousand Masons may stand before a world series score board, but receive no Masonic light. Attendance is not an end, but a means. Any Lodge room can be packed by advertising to exhibit a pair of Siamese twins, or a tattooed man from Borneo, but merely “packing them in” is of no Masonic value. It is when the Master packs his Lodge room with brethren eager for Masonic entertainment, which conceals instruction and information beneath a covering of pleasure and amusement, that attendance is important. On the average, an attendance of ten percent of the membership is looked upon as a “good” turnout. Yet there are Lodges which have a much greater number at almost every communication.
So what is a Master to do? Well what are we told we should be doing..
“SET THE CRAFT TO LABOR” The enthusiastic Master usually heads an enthusiastic Lodge. No one can inculcate enthusiasm in others if he does not possess it. But many a Master is enthusiastic over his Masonry, his Lodge and its activities, who does not know the few parlor tricks of the East which inspire others. It is trite but true: men like to work when they don’t have to! The Master who puts many brethren to work at something- -just what is not important–will have enthusiastic meetings.
To download a copy of the Master’s Book, just CLICK HERE as it’s also on the Document Library.