Thursday, April 7, 2011

DeMolay International Archives - A Photo Collection

As some of you may know, I recently returned from Kansas City, Missouri, where I attended Jurisdictional Management Training with DeMolay International staff members and newly appointed Executive Officers from many different parts of the country. It was a great experience and I learned a ton about how DeMolay operates on a national level. The training was held at DeMolay International headquarters, which provided a perk to the trip. I was able to see parts of the DI archive as well as artifacts relating to the founding of the Order. I saw many historical and unusual pieces of regalia, so, I thought I'd share them with you!

The first item up is something that I had only ever heard rumors about existing. The collar pictured at left looks like a DeMolay International Supreme Council collar. However, it has two unique differences.First, it is a light blue color, which is not used by Supreme Council members. Second, on the drop, you can see that it states "Supreme Council Staff." Yes, you guessed it - these were collars worn by Supreme Council employees. As you may know, employees of DeMolay International cannot be members of the Supreme Council in any capacity, meaning that they would never be able to wear a Deputy or Active member collar while employed by DI.  The story goes the collars were created for and worn by the staff members for only one session of DeMolay International. It is said that the Supreme Council was so upset by these collars that the staff has been asked to never wear them again, relegating them to display only.

My proclivity for haberdashery was immediately satiated by this next item. As I toured the reconstruction of "Dad" Land's office I was amazed to find the actual fez worn by "Dad" Land while he served as Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America. However, this fez has 3 gold stars and 2 silver stars (designating the wearer as a Past Imperial Potentate.) It would seem that "Dad" Land didn't want to shell out for a new fez, but instead just changed the color of the stars on the one he had. It is said the the Imperial Shrine has in its possession all of the fezzes of the past Imperial Potentates, except two. One of those two is "Dad" Land's, which resides at DeMolay International.

The next piece falls in to the category of simply stunning. At left you will find a picture of "Dad" Land's Past Imperial Potentate Jewel. This magnificent piece of jewelry would have been presented to "Dad" Land upon completing his term of office as Imperial Potentate. The picture does little justice for how large this item actually is. I would estimate it be close to 8 inches long. The jewel is primarily gold, with pieces in silver and other precious metals. The white portion of the crescent at the bottom is also very special. You see, those two half moon shapes aren't plastic or even ceramic, but actual tiger claws placed into the jeweled setting. How cool is that? The value of this piece is beyond measure, not only because of the precious metals involved in making it, but for the historical nature and its ties to DeMolay. It remains locked in a display case at all times. I was lucky to get my camera to take such a fine picture of it. It truly is one of those items you have to see to believe. There were several other pieces of jewelry and regalia that belonged to "Dad" Land in the same case, but sadly I was unable to get good pictures of those. They included several rings, jewels, and collars - all breathtaking to behold. Besides, I have to leave something for you to look at when you get to visit Kansas City, right?

DeMolay International gives out many awards for service to the organization and to humanity. One of the rarest of these is bestowed by the Supreme Council to an active DeMolay who saved the life of another person. Aptly named "The Medal for Saving a Human Life," it can only be given by approval of the Supreme Council which has been convinced that the act of heroism performed by the DeMolay led directly to a person being saved from a life and death situation. Up until I had spotted this award in the case I had only ever seen one other medal like it. It was given to a young man at the Supreme Council Session I attended in Denver, Colorado. That young man also received the little known DeMolay Medal of Heroism for his acts of bravery. I didn't get a good picture of the Medal of Heroism to share, or else I would have posted it as well.

Yes - even more fezzes! As I was packing up to leave from my trip, I couldn't resist taking pictures of some of the great old DeMolay fezzes that are on display near the entrance to the building. Both of these fezzes are of a nice deep purple color and hail from Galveston, Texas, and Ridgewood, New Jersey. The one from Galveston obvious denotes that it was worn by the Master Councilor while the Ridgewood model shows that it was given to Past Master Councilors. In all my time collecting fezzes, I have never come across two such as these. Using the logos to date the items, it appears that the the Galveston fez was made sometime between 1920 and 1932, while the Ridgewood fez can be dated to between 1932 and 1949. They are truly magnificent and rare pieces of DeMolay history. Maybe some the limited edition PA DeMolay fez can be placed along side these! 

There is nothing I love more than old DeMolay regalia, and there is a ton of it on display at DeMolay International. I even purchased a couple of pieces of regalia rarely seen in Pennsylvania. So, if you see me around Patton Campus, hit me up and I may share them with you.

Next up on the docket is a great picture of "Dad" Land's office. "Dad" Land took great care of his work space and had it designed to be both professional and functional. When the original office was sold, and the new headquarters built in 1986, it was quickly realized that "Dad" Land's office needed to be reconstructed just as it had been when he passed away. The current reconstruction is built with exacting detail. The only major difference is the width of the room (it is slightly smaller.) The reconstruction effort was so meticulous that even the seams in the wall panels are in exactly the same place! 

Just outside of the office space sits this beautiful portrait of "Dad" Land surrounded by photographs of the man throughout his life. It's really cool to see how the man aged. It's even more amazing to realize that DeMolay was started when Land was a young man - he was in his 20's when he helped found the organization! Today, we think of "Dad" Land as a grandfatherly patriarch, who took DeMolay from humble beginnings to national recognition. In reality, Land started the group as a young man and it was passion for helping young people that pushed him to make the Order into what is today. It was his life long mission, to be sure.

I hope you enjoy these pictures and find something interesting in the group. There were literally thousands of artifacts on display, each with their own story. Maybe someday you can visit DeMolay International and bring back some stories of your own!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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