Thursday, January 29, 2015


What Would Frank Sherman Land Do?  

What Would Frank Sherman Land Say?

by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

Over the years I have heard many people involved with the Order of DeMolay invoke the name of
"Dad" Frank S. Land in trying to pass judgment on something that has changed in the Order.  I have heard them say, "DeMolay has changed too much."  I have heard a man say, "If Dad Land came back today, he wouldn't like what he would see." I distinctly remember hearing an old Executive Officer from a southern state, (one who had been appointed by "Dad" Land prior to 1959) say, as he looked at the model for the "new" Service and Leadership Center, "Well, I know what "Dad" Land would say to this-- he would say..... NOOOOOOOOO!"

Dad Land has been gone since November 8th, 1959, and we have no idea what he might think about our stewardship of his dream, but we can probably guess it would involve concern, disappointment, and a measured and thoughtful assessment as to how to fix the problem.

Since we can't call him up and ask his opinions, we have to rely on what others tell us about him, and on what he, himself wrote, to gain an understanding of what he MIGHT think or say about something.

The following is an an excerpt from the Report of the Secretary General of the Order of DeMolay, "Dad" Frank S. Land, taken from the "Transactions of the Grand Council, 1940." When you have finished reading it, answer the questions posed for your consideration:

March 11, 1940
Baltimore, Maryland

"The Order of DeMolay has no standardized or "set" program.  Each year or period creates its particular problems affecting youth and DeMolay assumes that its program must be flexible and easy of adaptation to the times.  Its greatest need is one of financial independence and its ever acute problem is that of developing the right type of leadership to command the attention of its members. Its aspiration is to command the interest and respect of the hundreds of thousands of young men who are capable  of assuming leadership under proper guidance throughout the world.  The Order of DeMolay desires to aid in the preparation of young men properly trained for citizenship with spiritual values and physical fitness that will make the world a better place in which to live.  To this end, DeMolay is dedicated."

Can you answer these questions?

1.  What was Dad Land's goal for the Order of DeMolay?

2.  What was the Order's greatest need in 1940?

3.  What do you think Dad Land would say about the changes made in the Order of DeMolay, today?

4.   What do you think Dad Land would say to YOU about your DeMolay service?

5.   Were you able to think of some good answers for questions 1-4?  If so, you should write them down, because you are ready to submit an entry in the Paul R. Kach DeMolay Essay Contest!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Private Life of "Dad" Frank S. Land

The Private Life of "Dad" Frank S. Land
by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

I had the opportunity to visit the DeMolay Service and Leadership Center in January and had some time to snoop around one of the storage areas where uncatalogued archives are stored.  I came across something I had seen back in 1981 while I was serving on the staff at DeMolay Headquarters as the Director of Membership and Public Relations, and, quite frankly, had feared was lost among the moves and many house-cleanings over the past years.

It was a personal photo album of a Mr.John Andie.

You don't recognize his name or his face, do you?

I didn't think you would.

But as soon as I saw it I knew I had found something "priceless" for the DeMolay historian.  You see, John Andie was Frank S. Land's nephew, and he lived with Frank and Nell Land for a time in Kansas City, and, in particular around 1918-1923.  So, the photographs he had in his personal photo album are contemporaneous to the founding of the Order of DeMolay.

[Note: You can click on any photo in this blog to see a larger image.]

The album shows snippets of time in John Andie's life while living in the Kansas City area, but mostly, it shows a lot of his experience as an Army recruit at boot camp. But he also had some photos that are of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about the Founder of the Order we share, and I was able to snap photos of the photos, since a scanner wasn't available.

I mentioned that I had seen this album before. While on the DeMolay International staff in 1979-1981, we had found a trunk of John Andie's personal property, stored in a barn behind DeMolay Headquarters at 201 East Armour Blvd. The photo album was in the trunk.

When were preparing a Second Printing of the 1970 book, "Hi, Dad!" by the Rev. Herbert Ewing Duncan, about the life of Frank S. Land, we used 3 pictures from his album to show early photos of Dad Land and his wife, Nell, whose photos never appeared in any DeMolay or Masonic publications. (Her sad story is told in "Hi Dad!"  Check it out!)

These pictures show an extended family picnic.

Here is the interior of the Land residence, showing Nell's piano and Christmas tree in 1919.

Here is the exterior of the Land residence, in 1920.
The house and the stone fencing still stands today.

This photo of the neighborhood from 1920 shows buildings that no longer exist.

This photo of the neighborhood shows Frank driving the family car.  You can see a multi-bay neighborhood garage in the background for those who had vehicles.

Frank and Nell with a German Shepherd that we can assume was a family pet.

This portrait shows some of the the traditional middle-European clothing Nell wore, reflecting her Polish heritage.

This unusual photo of a group of DeMolay leaders includes Frank Land (center) and Frank Marshall. (front, right).  I am not certain of the identities of the other two, but I believe the one standing in the back is EITHER Alexander G. Cochran, SGIG for Scottish Rite in Missiouri and the first Grand Master Councilor, 1921-1928, OR Frank I. Buckingham, the man who led the committee that established the first Obligatory Days.  The man to the far right is EITHER Dr. Zoro D. Clark, of Nebraska, OR John Glazier, who hired Land to be the Administrator and Secretary of the Scottish Rite Masons' Relief Committee and the Scottish Rite Employment Bureau in 1914.  Glazier was the second Grand Master Councilor, 1931-1936.  I am speculating on these, based on scant photographic evidence, and I would be glad for some help with this identification.

Interesting photos, but what do we learn from this glimpse into the past?

Well, it reminds us that Dad Land was a "regular guy" doing his job, and being a family man.

It helps us think of DeMolay starting small-- as a neighborhood club, that grew as the vision for the Order got bigger and clearer.

It suggests to us that there was a normalcy to Dad Land's life, before the growth took off and he began to travel across the country extensively, helping to start DeMolay in new jurisdictions every month.

It tells us that life was much simpler in 1919, no TV, no internet, few cars on the road, and that everything moved at a slower, more deliberate pace.

It is a reminder that the teachings of the Order of DeMolay grew out of this less-complicated setting, and yet, has survived and stayed relevant through all of the social and technological changes of the past 95 years.

That's about as up close and personal as we'll ever get to Dad Land, but then, it's a lot closer than we've been before.  I hope you have enjoyed this new look at the Founder of the Order of DeMolay.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Who will be the next John Steinbeck?

Have you read "Of Mice and Men," "The Pearl," "The Red Pony," "The Grapes of Wrath," or "Cannery Row?"  These, and 27 other major works were authored by Senior DeMolay John Steinbeck, (1902-1968) who received a  Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for "The Grapes of Wrath," and a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "for his realistic as well as imaginative writings, distinguished by a sympathetic humor and a keen social perception.”

Brother Steinbeck was a charter member of Watsonville Chapter in Watsonville, California, in 1921, and was inducted posthumously into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on June 16, 1995.  To learn more about Bro. Steinbeck, take a look at this link to a

If, like Bro. Steinbeck, you enjoy creative writing, think that you have a knack for putting words on paper with style and a pizzazz and are an Active DeMolay, then we have a challenge for you: the annual  Kach Essay Contest.

The Scottish Rite Paul R. Kach Essay Competition awards $300 to each Region winner (two winners from each of the ten regions) and $1,200 for the national winners (two national winners.)  There are two competition categories, the first for young men in the 11th grade and above and the second for those in the 10th grade and below.  Entries in the 2015 essay contest must be titled: "100 Years More of Frank S. Land's Vision."  The content of the essay is of primary concern, but proper grammar and spelling will also be factors in the judging.  The essays must be an original work with a minimum of 1,000 words and a maximum of 1,500 words.  All essays must be submitted to Executive Officer "Dad" Tom Labagh by March 31, 2015.

Complete details on the Kach Essay contest have been mailed to all Pennsylvania DeMolay Chairmen, Chapter Advisors and Leadership Team Members.  A copy of the informational pamphlet is also available at the DeMolay International Webpage under Resources:Forms;2015 Kach Essay at:

We challenge all of our active DeMolays in Pennsylvania - and in all Jurisdictions - to emulate Bro. Steinbeck, pick up a pen or settle in behind your keyboard of choice, and share your thoughts on what the vision of DeMolay will be for the next 100 years!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hanging "DAD"

In the November 2014 Issue of the Keystone Crusader, "Dad" Tom Labagh, Executive Officer of Pennsylvania DeMolay, shared the details of a very special fundraising appeal that has been launched by DeMolay International: the placing of a portrait of "Dad" Frank S. Land, DeMolay Founder, in the Pillars of Charity Hallway in the Southern Jurisdiction's Scottish Rite House of the Temple.

Located in Washington, DC, the House of the Temple Pillars of Charity Hallway features portraits of the great philanthropists of the 20th Century who have given one million dollars to the Scottish Rite Museum.  Some of the notables with portraits in the Circular Hallway, as it's commonly known, include President Harry S. Truman, General Douglas MacArthur, Astronaut John Glenn, Golf Legend Arnold Palmer and Entertainer Burl Ives.

DeMolay International has partnered with the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite to raise a half a million dollars for this project - with a bit of a twist: the funds raised by DeMolay will be returned to DeMolay International to improve the investment package and programs of DeMolay.

In support of this special endeavor, Pennsylvania DeMolay has pledged $25,000.00 to the cause, and "Dad" Labagh has challenged each DeMolay Chapter in Pennsylvania to help raise these funds over the next two years.

During the Volleyball Tournament, on January 10th, Elizabethtown Chapter became the first chapter to support the appeal by presenting a check for $500.00 to State Master Councilor Isaac Holtzer.  In making the presentation, Elizabethtown's Master Councilor, Evan Crawford, joined by the members of the chapter who were at the volleyball tournament, encouraged other chapters to step forward and support this important project.

"Dad" Labagh has asked that all contributions to the "Dad" Land Pillars of Charity project be made by Convention 2016.  Please contact the Pennsylvania DeMolay Office at 800-266-8424 X4 or Executive Secretary Dave Berry at for more information.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thank you, "Dad" Seth Anthony!

Even though "Dad" Seth Anthony will no longer be working at the PA Masonic Youth Foundation office and handling all of our public communications, he certainly isn't going far from DeMolay.  He will continue as our Convention Director, and will engage in other activities as his time permits.

I am excited to see how "Dad" Anthony can create a positive internet presence for the Masonic Villages and the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. If he attacks that problem with the creativity and genius he brought to the PMYF over the past 6 years, they are going to be very pleased with his work!

"Dad" Anthony is just one more outstanding success story who grew his leadership and public speaking skills through his time as an
Active DeMolay, and then immediately began to give back to the fraternity as an adult leader.  While we will miss him around the PMYF office, we'll be seeing a lot of him at local fraternal events.

Thanks for 6 great years, Seth, and congratulations on the new position!  I think I can speak for ALL of Pennsylvania DeMolay when I say, "We wish you success in everything you do!"

"Dad" Thomas R. Labagh
Executive Officer