Friday, January 29, 2010

The Other Frank

"Dad" Labagh recently wrote a blog post about "Dad" Land, and pondered on some important points relating to "Dad" Land and his place in history. His post made me think "What about the other Frank?" I am referring to "Dad" Frank Marshall, who wrote the DeMolay Ritual.

Over the years the mystique of the DeMolay Ritual has grown. Members and advisors have passed on rumors and conjecture as to how the script was written and the man who wrote it. Not too long ago "Dad" Labagh gave me a copy of a program from Lancaster Chapter dating back to the early days of DeMolay. In that program was an article, written by "Dad" Marshall himself, about the creation of the Ritual.

It early in the summer of 1919, in Kansas City, Missouri, when "Dad" Land approached "Dad" Marshall about penning a piece of ritual for his new boys club. "Dad" Marhsall writes "In a way I was the logical selection for such a task, from Brother Land's standpoint, for I was one of the few newspaper men in teh Scottish Rite Bodies, though by no means was I the only writer;" This simple request would send "Dad" Marshall on personal journey, the outcome of which would be a document used by millions of young men for the next several decades.

"Dad" Marhsall further writes "... but one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced was vouchsafed (SAT word! - Editor) me when I read my first draft of the Opening and Closing and the Initiatory and DeMolay Degrees to Brother Land. The very spot where I read it has a sanctity for me. Brother Land sat at the secretary's desk in the auditorium of the Scottish Rite Temple at 15th and Troost Avenue, in Kansas City and I sat on the step."

It was there, on that very day, that "Dad" Marshall received the blessing of "Dad" Land for his piece of ritual. Interestingly enough, "Dad" Marshall did not create the ritual with the floorwork included. He had only penned the language. It was "Dad" Land who inserted the movements that the young men would follow.

In commenting on the nature of what he had written "Dad" Marshall states "I purposely wrote the DeMolay degree in a key very different from the didectics (Look! Another SAT word!) of the Initiatory Degree. I tried to make it akin to the dramatic instict inherent in all boys and to make it avoid monotony when compared to the Initiatory degree." Even back then "Dad" Marshall knew that Degree work could be boring, but he wanted to ensure that future generations could put their own spin on the work!

"Dad" Marshall would go on to pen several more pieces of DeMolay Ritual, including the Memorial Service, the Institution Service, the Majority Service, and the Funeral Service.

"Dad" Marshall left quite a legacy in those little blue books that so many DeMolays are familiar with. Next time you sit down to learn a part, or go over your floorwork, think of "Dad" Marshall sitting under the shady pine tree in his front lawn at 4506 Jefferson Street in Kansas City, and realize just how important his contribution was.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Who Was this "Dad" Land Guy, Anyway?

I am sitting in the basement of the Harrisburg Consistory building waiting for Pilgrim Chapter to finish having one of their marathon member "discussions" so I can show them a video about the history of the Founding of the Order of DeMolay and "Dad" Frank S. Land, and it struck me that there isn't anyone left that I know of who can really talk about "Dad" Land from personal experience. Oh, sure, there are some who met him on one of his tours around the country. As much as I like to tease "Dad" Williamson about his age, he was a young pup when he met "Dad" Land in the early 1950's. What I mean is that there isn't anyone who worked closely with "Dad" Land as a co-worker, an advisor, or even as a young man in a Chapter, who can talk about who he was, what he was like, how he acted in public and in private.

We have the book, "HI, DAD!" written by Rev. Herbert E. Duncan in 1970, a slide show (newly available on DVD) created in 1977, a few audio recollections, a few magazine and newspaper articles, an unpublished memoir by Charlie Boyce who worked at the Headquarters office, somewhere there is film of a TV appearance, and perhaps a few more publications, plus the materials in his office, preserved at the DeMolay Service and Leadership Center in Kansas City, MO, but that doesn't do much to give us a sense of what made "Dad" Land tick.

He has been gone since 1959, and in that time the man has turned to legend, and, in some cases, to myth. So, now it is up to the historians to sift through the accumulated "stuff" to analyze and present an accurate interpretation of the driving force behind the Order of DeMolay for it's first 40 years, and whose memory informed and guided the Order well into the 1980's. But it seems that his influence has diminished greatly over the past 25-30 years such that, today, he is a name that is barely known by most of our members and advisors.

I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, because sometimes groups that start as a result of a strong personality cannot sustain themselves, left to themselves. With "Dad" Land and the Order of DeMolay, I think it was more that just charisma. I think the sustainability of the DeMolay program came from the force of "Dad" Land's personal moral code. He was above reproach, and was known for his piety (if you don't know the word, look it up-- it is an SAT word, for sure!) and his strong sense of right and wrong. Even more, he was known for expecting others, especially Masons and DeMolays, to live up to the code of conduct he believed was right for all people.

Do you know anyone like this today? Do you follow anyone like this? Is there anyone you like to be around who, by their very presence, makes you want to behave a little better, speak a little more intelligently, dress a little sharper, be a better person? Well, if you do, then you have an insight into what "Dad" Land was like, and why DeMolays and Masons cared about what he thought about them. If you don't know someone like that, perhaps you ought to find someone who can make you strive to be a better person than you have ever been before.

DeMolay's ability to survive the passing of its Founder is assuredly tied to the bigger ideas for which he stood. While it may have grown and thrived under his personal leadership, it has been sustained by the character-building virtues and the leadership training it offers to young men of every community. Its continuance is now up to us, as members and as advisors, and will succeed as long as we deliver the personal growth and development opportunities that "Dad" Land first offered to Louis Lower and his friends. Who was this "Dad" Land guy, anyway? I didn't know him, but I'd say he was a regular guy, like you and me, who had great faith in the young men of his community and looked to provide them with skills and a code of ethics to sustain THEM beyond his passing.


"Dad" Tom Labagh

POSTBLOG: Oh, by the way, the Pilgrim guys finally got out of their meeting, and we watched the video program, without much of a reaction. Alex noted that "he was in everything!" because the video spends a lot of time highlighting his Masonic credentials, honors, memberships, and regalia. We talked about... I talked about Harry Truman's "campaign" for Land's election to the Imperial Shrine Divan, and the pink Cadillac, and some of what I speculated on above, but in general, it was a dull program about ancient history that is barely relevant to them anymore. Making "Dad" Land relevant-- now that's a challenge that the ISC can debate to death! All of a sudden, I am ready to go to Dallas this year! - TRL

Friday, January 22, 2010

Inquiring Minds Want to Know...

...when the 2009 Financial Report Forms will be sent to the PA DeMolay Chapters! I am happy to let you know that the forms went out in today's mail to all Advisory Council Chairmen and Chapter Treasurers who have requested a copy of the form.

The completed reports - with copies of all year-end bank statements - need to be returned to the PA DeMolay Office with a postmark of March 15, 2010 (or earlier!)

Please be sure that a committee of DeMolays is involved with the auditing of the receipts and expenditures of the past year and with the completion of the financial report. This is an important opportunity for our young men to gain an understanding of managing the money that they earn and spend, better preparing them for the personal budgeting that they will need to understand and practice as adults.

Inquiring minds have also been wondering when the Insurance and Endowment Fund Invoices will be sent to the Chapters. These will be in the mail on Monday, January 25th. The DeMolay International Insurance Premium is $12.76 per member and the PA DeMolay Endowment Fund Fee is $1.00 per member.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at your convenience.

"Dad" Dave Berry

Thursday, January 21, 2010

PA DeMolay History - Part I

If there is one thing that I truly enjoy about the DeMolay program, it's the robust history that we have inherited. Stretching all the way back to 1919, DeMolay is closing in on its 100th Anniversary. That's quite a long time for such an organization! Pennsylvania was an early adopter of the DeMolay program, and I've always been fascinated by the history of the Order within our own Commonwealth.

Working at the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation gives me an opportunity to research these early years, learn about our founders, and find out just how DeMolay became such a force in the Keystone State. Any great story, must be told from the beginning, so with that... just how did DeMolay come to PA?

1923 was a good year in the US. The first World War was over, the economy was good, and the middle class was growing. Warren G. Harding was in the White House, and a vaccine was developed to combat a common but serious illness (whooping cough.) In that same year a train load of young men from Kansas City descended on Pittsburgh to induct 1099 members of DeMolay in one swoop. DeMolay was officially in Pennsylvania, but it didn't happen overnight.

How many of you know who Ralph Minehart is? Without him, you wouldn't be reading this blog. "Uncle Ralph," as he was fondly known, is the reason our Order thrives in Pennsylvania today. Born in Brownsville, PA, "Dad" Minehart moved to Pittsburgh at a young age and was raised in the city of steel. He became a member of Crescent Lodge No. 576, and soon became involved in all things Masonic. While it may seem that "Dad" Minehart's Masonic career is boring, it is far from irrelevant. Without his enthusiam and political connections DeMolay never would have made it.

Back in 1923, it wasn't the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania who championed DeMolay, but rather the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar. This isn't to say that the Grand Lodge was opposed to the program. They just had lots of things on their plate, and starting an unproven group for young men seemed like less of a priority. The Knights Templar, and particularly "Dad" Minehart, were looking for this kind of opportunity. "Dad" Minehart served as Right Eminent Grand Commander in 1922. It was during his tenure as Grand Commander that he first witnessed the ritual of the Order while on a visit to New Jersey. Upon his return he immediately submitted a document to prominent Commandery officials in Pittsburgh asking them to take up the program. In a bold move, he followed this request with an official General Order as Grand Commander that all Commanderies in Pennsylvania should sponsor a DeMolay Chapter. This was just the impetus that DeMolay needed, and soon there would be no turning back. These revelations led "Dad" Land and a group of thirty young men from Mother Chapter in Kansas City to travel to Pittsburgh and establish Templar Chapter (which would go on to become the oldest Chapter in Pennsylvania.) It still exists today, and the heritage of the Chapter is not forgotten.

This brings DeMolay to Western Pennsylvania, but how did the city of brotherly love become involved? Philadelphia was actally the first area to try to bring DeMolay to Pennsylvania, but for unknown reasons, the movement failed to gain momentum, and by 1921 it was dead in the water. The story of its resurgence traces straight back to "Uncle Ralph" and the Grand Commandery. Serving under "Dad" Minehart was an ambitious Division Commander named Louis M. Strassburger. Thanks to these two men a Chapter was started in Philadelphia that would bring DeMolay to the Eastern part of the State. "Dad" Strassburger would go on to serve as Grand Commander himself, and further the ties that DeMolay has to the Grand Commandery.

The movement continued to grow in Pennsylvania, but that's a story for another day. Suffice it to say that I am very thankful to all the Knights Templar, then and now, for the hard work and dedication they bring to the table to support DeMolay. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as Commander of my local Commandery, and I hope one day that I, too, can have some impact on the Order, even if I only accomplish a fraction of what "Dads" Mineheart and Strassburger did.

Until Next Time!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, January 18, 2010

Almost 60 Years and Still Going!

DeMolay can really create some truly outstanding individuals. Those people then go on to create truly outstanding memories. This past weekend Pennsylvania DeMolay hosted its annual Volleyball Tournament, and I can certainly say it created a memory in me.

I'll be the first to admit that the sports tournaments aren't my passion. However, I do recognize they have a place in the DeMolay program, and for good reason. To each his own, right? Sometimes competition can bring out the worst in people, and sometimes it can bring out the best. This Volleyball tournament certainly brought out the best in one advisor.

I was exiting Memorial Hall on Saturday afternoon when I noticed some folks on the tennis courts. What I saw will stick with me forever. There, outside, working with the fellows from Susquehanna Chapter was "Dad" Les Loomis. "Dad" Loomis will be the first to admit that he's not the youngest pup on the block. We won't tell you how old he is, but he did mention something about a 60 year pin for DeMolay!

So here was a man, who is many years older than the average DeMolay, out on the tennis court, running the Chapter through bump, set, spike, and running drills. I immediately thought to myself "Wow... now that's a dedicated Advisor. That's what the DeMolay program is all about." I continued to reflect on that thought throughout the day. I've seen many advisors who just come to a sports weekend, hope their Chapter team does well, and let the chips fall where they may. But here, HERE was advisor who really cared, and wanted to spend time with his guys. Then I again realized how great the difference in age between "Dad" Loomis and the young men was. There was man from a different generation, lending his talents and abilities to teach young people. All I can do is smile when I think about this.

"Dad" Loomis isn't just involved in DeMolay though. He is also very involved in his local Masonic community, and has served the York Rite of Freemasonry with great distinction. Last year he served as Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania. Even during his tenure in that office, he still took time out to come to Advisory Council meetings and help the Susquehanna guys with their programs.

I've looked up to "Dad" Loomis for a long time... and not just because he's taller than me! This weekend really cemented in my mind the effect that "Dad" Loomis has had with me, and with Susquehanna Chapter. As I continue my journey in Freemasonry I can only hope that I can serve the Masonic family as well as he has.

Thank you "Dad" Les Loomis for all you do!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Friday, January 15, 2010

Now, How Hard Was That?

A BIG THANK YOU to all Deputy Executive Officers, and Advisory Council Chairmen in particular, but to ALL Pennsylvania Advisors in general ,for your cooperation in filing the annual Advisory Council Registration papers. According to "Dad" Jeff Kitsmiller, Executive Director for DeMolay International, only SEVEN jurisdictions in DeMolay International have 100% of their Chapters fully certified-- Nation's Capital(2 Chapters), Idaho(12), New Mexico(6), Pennsylvania(25), South Carolina(5), Aruba (1) and Italy(7). It is interesting to note that 18 jurisdictions have not submitted a single ACR, and 427 Chapters have yet to report any advisors. That just further amplifies the fact that YOU DID IT RIGHT, AND ON TIME! We know how much we all love to do paperwork, and how easy it is for the stuff to sit around and be ignored or forgotten, so I have a tremendous amount of appreciation for your efforts!
And let's all give a special thanks to "Dad" Dave Berry for helping keep the paperwork straight-- he is indispensible to Pennsylvania DeMolay!

Sincerely and fraternally,

"Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

Executive Officer

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

State Officer Installation Review

After every Installation of Officers performed by the State Officers, Dad Lou Grow, Director of the S. O. Program, has been asking Chapter Advisors to take just a few minutes and fill out an on-line form to honestly review the performance of the installing teams. This review process started in October. This has been a tremendous help to the State Officers in understanding how their work is perceived. The review asks for an evaluation of their communication efforts, their organization, their rehearsal and leadership skills, their ritual performance and their appearance.

They aren't getting perfect 10's on everything, which is good-- it means that the Chapter Advisors are giving thoughtful, relevant feedback to help them make an effort to improve the service they are offering. But they ARE getting high marks as a team, and their conscientious effort, courtesy, abililty to make last-minute adjustments and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty IS BEING NOTICED.

In addition to some yes/no answers and a numerical rating of performance, there is also space for a narrative review, and each one has included significant comments to help the officers learn from the experience and improve their work.

Kudos to all for working together to make the program better!

Sincerely and fraternally,

"Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

Friday, January 8, 2010


PA DeMOLAY GREW BY 12...oops..make that 13 MEMBERS in 2009! (# amended 2/2/10)

I wasn't really worried about it... I knew you guys could do it... but when we lost our annual December class at the Patton Campus due to the Grand Lodge Quarterly Communication, I'll admit to a mild case of acid reflux...

Congratulations to every Chapter that initiated in 2009-- and especially to Susquehanna Chapter and Friendship-Bray Chapter-- both of which were on the ropes and almost ready to take a dive a year ago at this time. It takes some really dedicated advisors and members to make such an amazing turn-around as these two chapters... check out the Stats and see what they accomplished!

Finally, to the State Officers, and in particular to the Elected Officers, a pat on the back, 3 kudos, 2 attaboys, and an JAAAAAYYYYOOHH! to each of you for making the goal of showing growth before the end of the year. But your work isn't done. Our goal for 2010 is a minimum of 101 new members to continue the growth pattern, but realistically, it is 125 or more to make a serious impact on our membership roles.

Here is an intersting chart provided to me by Dad Nick Walker of DeMolay International, showing our initiate trend since 1996. I am not too unhappy with what we are seeing here, because it shows, if not much growth, at least some stability for the past decade. At least we have been consistent in the number of initiates, even while our number of Chapters and total membership reduced for many years. (CLICK IT TO MAKE IT LARGER.)

I've been talking numbers, but each one of those numbers is a living, breathing, growing DeMolay member who can benefit from all that our fraternity has to offer, and who could end up being your life-long best friend! When I talk numbers, it is a way of quantifying the incredible QUALITY experience that we offer to all who join our ranks! The very best thing you can offer to your friends is the chance to experience the same opportunities in DeMolay that you have shared, and the way of life that our DeMolay Obligations lead us toward.

In the simplest terms, NUMBERS = BROTHERS, and you can never have enough of them!

Sincerely and fraternally,

"Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.”

Now it's time for a irregularly scheduled post from your Webmaster:

I hope that you are all enjoying the new website. It certainly is a labor of love. We have condensed several hundred web pages into less than one hundred. Hopefully the site is easier to navigate, and more user friendly. That was the goal after all!

As has been stated here before, and elsewhere on the site, if you have an idea that could make this site better, please let me know. I've spent the last three days tweaking the site, adding new features, and adjusting pages to meet our standards.

When I look back at how much work this site was I tend to cringe. It was a challenge to be sure... but a it was a good challenge, that made me think, and that pushed my skills into new areas. Even at the toughest times I was reminded of the quote that I used to title this post. Somehow I think the boss will agree with that sentiment!

Until next time!

~ Seth

Monday, January 4, 2010

What Will This Blog Be Like By Convention?

Oh boy... a blog for PA DeMolay, and the webmaster was kind enough to let me have access to it. Where will this take me, and us, over the next few months? It should be an interesting ride.

First of all, let me encourage you to subscribe to this blog and receive its irregular messages. It would be nice if it could be a daily blog, but, somehow, I doubt we'll be that faithful. I say we, because I hope that several people will be contributing to it. I won't twist any arms, publicly, but I am sure you know who I will be soliciting for messages. Each posting will be signed by its author, and perhaps we'll each take a day and schedule our musings, or perhaps not, but this much I am sure of: if you respond to what you read here, there might be an incentive for us to continue to write on a more regular basis.

For now, I just want to say thank you to Dad Seth Anthony who has been working diligently on re-designing the website for several months, and who has been a fantastic help and inspiration during his first year with us. We are blessed to have some of the very best DeMolay talent working in PA DeMolay, and Dad Anthony sets the standard for all of us in terms of his creativity, dedication, thoughtfulness and devotion to the cause.

Please take a good look around this website and tell us what you like, dislike, miss, or have found to be very useful. We want the website to be your reliable source for news, information, forms, graphics, and inspiration as you continue on your DeMolay journey as a member or an advisor or a parent or a friend. Service is the watchword, and if you tell us what you need to help make your Chapter better, it will be our pleasure to provide it for you.


"Dad" Thomas R. Labagh
Executive Officer