Thursday, September 29, 2011

History Nerds Unite!

I'll admit it. I'm a history nerd. I enjoy learning about the past; finding out about how people lived, what they would have been like, and how their daily lives were. This week has been a great one for me in regards to this enjoyment. Thanks to a link my father sent me, I've spent several nights poring through old newspapers from the turn of the century. I read about the founding, height, and steady fall of fraternalism in the United States. I also spent some time reading about the early days of DeMolay in Pennsylvania. That's when I managed to make a discovery.

Since I took over the PA DeMolay website, which was roughly three years ago, there has been one glaring hole in our historical section. In 1937, a man named Arthur S. Rodeniser was named Executive Officer of Pennsylvania DeMolay. That pretty much summed up everything we knew about "Dad" Rodeniser. When I first went in search of a photo of him a couple of years ago, I found a newspaper article from the 1920's that mentioned in his name in conjunction with the Grand Commandery of Pennsylvania. That led me to believe that he was probably involved in that group to some extent. However, much beyond that, the information I could find was limited. I let the missing information slip to the back burner, but I never forgot that we were missing a portrait and information on one of our past EO's.

So, this week, as I'm going through old newspapers, lo and behold, I come across his name! What luck! After a quick search or two, I found out that "Dad" Rodenhiser was Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania in 1945. Eureka! Now that I had some information about him, I could dig further. I remembered that the Grand Commandery office, in Philadelphia, had recently been remodeled, and that a portrait of every Past Grand Commander hangs on the wall there. I called the Grand Recorder who confirmed that it was the right fellow and that he did indeed have a photo. He offered to send me a copy of the proceedings (like the minutes a Scribe takes) from the year that "Dad" Rodeniser was Grand Commander. I received them in the mail yesterday. Not only are they a valuable piece of information, they had a great picture of "Dad" Rodeniser!

Not wanting to miss any good information, I started to dig through the book, looking for any other details that might be useful. In his report to the Grand Commandery, "Dad" Rodenhiser stressed the importance of DeMolay in Pennsylvania and encouraged all the Commanderies to sponsor a DeMolay Chapter. It was obvious that he was a huge proponent of the program! The other important tidbit that this book contained was a list of the Past Grand Commanders and their years of service. Beginning with "Dad" Rodenhiser, I worked backwards, looking for important names. The next name that caught my eye was Louis U. Strassberger, another Past Grand Commander, who served as EO at the same time as "Dad" Rodeniser. I see that confused look on your face! Let me explain.

You see, in the early days, Pennsylvania was a rather large state that didn't have great means for travelling across it. It was thought that a single Executive Officer wouldn't be able to manage DeMolay on both sides of the State. Therefore, PA was broken up into Eastern and Western Jurisdictions. "Dad" Rodeniser would have served the Western half of the State, while "Dad" Strassberger kept an eye on the Eastern side. PA DeMolay would actually continue like this until World War II, when PA DeMolay was closed for a few years because of the war. After the war was over, transportation had improved, and a single EO was able to handle the entire Commonwealth. Now, back to our regularly scheduled story.

Continuing down that list of  names, I found another important one. In 1923, "Dad" Ralph C. Mineheart, the man who brought DeMolay to Pennsylvania in the first place, served as Grand Commander. We knew that "Dad" Mineheart was a well known figure in the Grand Commandery, and it's quite possible that he and "Dads" Rodeniser and Strassberger would have been friends and talked about the future of DeMolay in Pennsylvania. Thinking my search was complete, I readied to close the book, when one last name caught my attention - Thomas Ranken Patton.

Yes, that Thomas Ranken Patton - the founder of the Patton School and the namesake of Patton Campus here in Elizabethtown. He served as Grand Commander in 1921, just two years before "Dad" Mineheart. That means there is certifiable proof that "Dad" Mineheart and Thomas Ranken Patton not only knew each other, but were probably pretty well acquainted, as both were high ranking Templars. It's interesting to think that in 1921, as DeMolay was coming to Pennsylvania, and Thomas Ranken Patton was preparing to fund his school, that Patton was building an institution that would later house and continue the dreams of "Dad" Mineheart. While we know Patton would have loved his school, I like to think that he would approve of it being used to further the causes championed by Ralph Mineheart.

So, with lots of research complete, I headed to the website to put up the picture of "Dad" Rodeniser and to update the information on our Past EO's. After getting everything just right, I scanned the page one more time for any changes. I realized that one EO, "Dad" William Gregg, didn't have any information under his name. It was quite obvious from his photo that he was a Past Potentate of Syria Shrine in Pittsburgh. I recalled that "Dad" Labagh has a book about the history of Syria Shrine, which I retrieved from the shelf. I flipped through the pages and found the picture of "Dad" Gregg, who served as Potentate in 1946. This was great, as I could now add just a bit more information to the site. Again, I was ready to close the book, when a name nabbed by attention. The Potentate of Syria Shrine in 1947, the year after "Dad" Gregg held that position, was none other than "Dad" Clarence Head, Past EO of PA and Past Grand Master of DeMolay International (not to mention his time as Secretary General of DI after the death of "Dad" Land.) So, it would appear that we have two more men, who were most likely good friends, who helped to guide DeMolay in Pennsylvania for several years. I'm sure "Dads" Gregg and Head spent many nights talking about DeMolay and planning for its future.

These men took control of DeMolay in Pennsylvania and steered a course for many years to come. While we can't say for certain if they had "Unplugged" as advisors, we do know that without them PA DeMolay wouldn't be what it is today.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, September 26, 2011

How do you say thank you?

Over this past weekend I had the privilege and honor to participate in the Annual Gettysburg Memorial Service with the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania. Each year, usually in September, the Grand Commandery comes together to march up the hill that leads into the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. About mid way up the hill rests the Friend to Friend Monument, which was erected by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to commemorate the Masonic Brothers who fought on both sides during the American Civil War. It  is at this hallowed site, dedicated to Freemasons and soldiers, which is mere steps from where Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg address, that the Grand Commandery remembers the Knights that have died during the past year. The service was very moving and provided great honor to those who have come before.

I know. I hear you. What does this have to do with DeMolay? C'mon guys, you know I always find a way to tie it back together!

As I stood guard for the service, I noticed that "Dad" John K. March, the Right Eminent Grand Commander of Pennsylvania (the State level president), was wearing a blue ribbon on his uniform. It looked very out of place, as Templar awards and medals generally are red, white, black, or purple. Blue is not a common color. Yet, there he was, wearing a blue ribbon. Upon further inspection, I realized that he was wearing a DeMolay Medal of Appreciation. That medal was presented to him by Bros. Matt Blaisdell (SMC) and Anthony Kallhoff (SJC) back in July at a testimonial dinner in his honor. As my eyes panned to the right, I spied "Dad" Kenneth J. Wyvill, Jr., the Right Eminent Grand Commander of Maryland. Lo and behold, he was wearing a similar jewel on his jacket! I was noticing a trend.

Pictured above (from Left to Right): Sir Knight and "Dad" John K. March (Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania), Sir Knight and "Dad" Seth Anthony (Division Commander, Division No. 5 of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Pennsylvania), Sir Knight and "Dad" Kenneth J. Wyvill, Jr. (Right Eminent Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Maryland)

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Templar organization, the uniform codes are very strict. They specify not only what medals and decorations you can wear on your uniform, but also what order they are to be displayed in. The code is very strict and adherence to it is an important part of the Templar tradition. To see two of the highest officers in their respective states wearing adornments that are not listed as official in the uniform code is very unusual. Uniform codes are usually left up to each state, so the Grand Commander can do anything he likes in regard to his uniform, but to see two Grand Commanders both wearing DeMolay medals on their uniforms at the same time was really special.

I spoke with "Dad" March after the service and asked to take some pictures with him and of his Medal of Appreciation. He said to me "I promised those young men that I would wear this medal for the entire year that I'm Grand Commander. They did me a great honor by presenting this (the Medal of Appreciation) to me and I'm going to return that favor by wearing it everywhere I go this year." When I asked "Dad" Wyvill about his Medal he said "The young men of Maryland DeMolay are our future. They gave me this Medal and in a couple of weeks I'm receiving the Legion of Honor. It means a lot to me."

The DeMolay Medal of Appreciation is one of the easiest awards to bestow, but that doesn't cheapen it! The only requirements include the following: it must be approved by a Chapter;  it can be given to anyone over the age of 20; it can be given to community leaders, Masons, and others who help the DeMolay program; and lastly, it must be approved by the Executive Officer.  It provides an excellent way to say "thanks" to those who make the DeMolay program successful.  And, as demonstrated above, the potential impact it can have is enormous.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You deserve nothing. Remember that.

Today was one of those days where I was experiencing a writer's block of sorts. After having recently completed the Masonic Youth Minutes, I'm now putting the finishing touches on the next issue of the Keystone Crusader. This means that I have done a lot of writing in the last two weeks. So, as I normally do in times like these, I turn to other bloggers for inspiration. As usual, I found some of that inspiration over at the Art of Manliness blog.

Recently, they posted an article on personal finance. Now, many of our members think they are too young to worry about money management. However, from the first time you collect a paycheck, you are managing your money. Most of us do this in a pretty poor fashion, but sometimes we can learn to adjust our habits and stabilize our financial well being.

In this article, entitled "4 Personal Finance Principals that Would Your Grandfather Proud", author Baker discusses some ideas on handling money. The four key points are Resourcefulness, Awareness, Negotiation, and Non-entitlement. Rather than rehash them here, I'll let you read the article for yourself. I will make one more addition to this discussion, however.

If there is one thing Generation Y / Millenials (meaning someone born after 1980) are despised for, it's the "entitlement" attitude. I have criss-crossed the Commonwealth speaking to Lodges and Masonic bodies about the Masonic Youth Groups and young Freemasons. At almost every one of these events I hear the previous generations lament how they thoroughly abhor young people who seemingly feel like they "deserve" things without working for them. They gnash their teeth and stomp their feet when I tell them what they need to do to attract young members and how they have to let them have a say. I have been called various sundry names and told in no uncertain terms that "if they want the fraternity to change for them, then they can go somewhere else." Well, that's certainly a way to get new members, now isn't it?

At one of these events, I had a Past Master say something that I never thought of before, but that was incredibly profound. As I was getting chewed on by some of the older members, he raised his hand and waited to be called on. Then, in a simple tone of voice he said "Hey guys, you may not like his generation or their attitudes, but remember on thing - we raised them that way." Wow! Talk about a face palm moment!

Now, I don't disagree with the previous generations. We, as young people, do have an undue level of self worth that most of us haven't earned. Yet, each of us is a product of the generations that have come before. There are certain personality traits and generational attitudes that come with our age group; but we needn't fall into the norm. We, as DeMolays, have proved ourselves better than the masses. Take some time to think about what you have and where you are going. Be thankful for that and not always lusting after the next great thing.

As the article says "You deserve nothing. Remember that."

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, September 19, 2011

Senior DeMolay Highlight - Mark William Calaway

As we continue our Senior DeMolay spotlight series, I'm sure you saw the title of this post and thought "who in the world is Mark William Calaway?" Very few people know that name. He's not in the DeMolay International Hall of Fame. He's not a prominent Mason. That name doesn't even belong to a well known public figure. However, I'm guessing that you'll be able to identify who Bro. Calaway is if I used his stage name - The Undertaker. Yes, that Undertaker. Professional Wrestler, WWE Superstar, and all around creepy macho guy. So, how did he go from DeMolay to heavy weight champion? Read on!

Mark William Calaway a.k.a The Undertaker
Professional Wrestler and Entertainer

Bro. Calaway was born on March 5, 1965, in Houston, Texas, and from all accounts he was a regular kid who enjoyed sports and physical activity. He attended Waltrop high school where he played on the basketball team. It is unknown as to whether or not he attended college, but what is certain is that by the age of 19 he had already earned a contract with World Class Championship Wrestling to begin his career as a professional athlete and entertainer. Originally going by the name "Texas Red," his first match was against Bruiser Brody in 1984. We couldn't find information on whether he won or lost that bout. His career really took off on April 1, 1988, when he beat Jerry "The King" Lawler for the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship.

In 1989 Mark joined World Championship Wrestling. He adopted the ring name "Mean" Mark Callous and would become part of the Skyscrapers wrestling team, replacing an injured Sid Vicious. He continued to wrestle with various groups until 1990, when he scored it big, landing a contract with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now the WWE.)

On November 19, 1990, Calaway made his first appearance as "Cain the Undertaker," a persona which was adapted from a Western mortician theme, which included a slouch hat and a long, duster style trench coat. In this characterization, that of the "Deadman," he was supposedly impervious to pain. He made his first on camera debut on November 22 of that same year at the Survivor Series event. He was introduced as "The Undertaker" and went on to participate in his first match in incredible fashion, by eliminating "Koko B. Ware" with his first signature move, the Tombstone Piledriver. After this match, he would hook up with his ubiquitous manager, "Paul Bearer", and would adopt his signature finishing move of placing his defeated opponents in body bags.
His next major debut was at Wrestlemania VII, where he would defeat the world famous wrestler Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. This win would begin his streak of being undefeated at Wrestlemania, which still stands to this day. This match would also see him create his first real feud, having gone after the Ultimate Warrior. Within a year of this event, he would defeat Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship, making him the youngest person ever to hold the title belt up to that point. He would continue to wrestle as The Undertaker, participating in various story lines, up until 1998.

In 1997, Bro. Calaway participated in a story line involving his family being killed and a long lost brother, who also became a wrestler, named Kane. It should be noted that these events are purely fictitious and do not in any way represent his dealing with his real family. He would spend the next two years feuding with his "brother" and participating a high stakes bout called "Hell in a Cell"

In 1999 he re-conceptualized his character into the leader of a team known as "the Ministry of Darkness" which portrayed a darker and more demonic look. He was often seen sitting on a throne and said that he was taking his orders "from higher powers." The other big gimmick that he developed was "sacrificing" other wrestlers in an attempt to win them over to his side. However, this storyline was short lived when Mark pulled a groin muscle, forcing him to go on a four month hiatus. He would later rip a pectoral muscle during this time, forcing him to remain out for even longer.

By the year 2000, the comic book style characters of the previous generation of wrestlers was becoming less popular. When Bro. Calaway returned to the WWF in late 2000, he found that he was in need of another image change. This time, he took on the motif of a biker, but still retained the name of "the Undertaker." Gone were the signature references to the occult, replaced with the image of an American tough guy. He would take part in several plots over the next four years, which proved to be a prosperous time for him.

In 2004, the image of the biker was beginning to get stale, and in a ploy to increase ratings, the WWF brought him back in his original "Deadman" motif. He has continued to wrestle in this style since, having taken part in numerous stories and events. His current feud is with wrestler "Triple H."

In his personal life Bro. Calaway has been married twice, first to Jodi, whom he divorced in 1999, and later to Sara. Their marriage ended in 2007. He has a son, named Gunner, and two daughters, Chasey and Graci. He enjoys mixed martial arts and boxing and has appeared in support of contestants at many bouts. He is also an avid real estate investor, having recently finished construction on a $2.7m building in Texas called the Calahart.

Bro. Calaway has certainly found his Mission in life - controlling the ring and his body, making him an entertainer par excellence. How can you you use his life to teach you control?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Well, I didn't vote for him!

It seems that the bonus post by Bro. Matt Blaisdell, regarding the No. 1 Pin, has caused quite the stir. I'm seeing commentary on it all over the internet. Mr. Blaisdell has apparently struck a chord with many of you and rightfully so. As members and leaders of the greatest organization for young men in the world, it is our duty to ensure that the leaders we elect (both directly and indirectly) know what our opinions are. If we don't tell them what we think, then we can't expect them to do what we want.

One of the unique things about DeMolay International is the way it is organized. The young men have a truly republican system for electing their representatives (at least in PA.) The members elect their Councilors in the local Chapter. In most cases, those Councilors represent the Chapter at the annual Convention. They then vote for the six elected State Officers. Of those six ESO's, two go to the annual DeMolay International Session and take part in the DeMolay Congress  (usually the SMC and DSMC.) The Congress is then tasked with electing the International Master Councilor and the International Congress Secretary. So, in a round about way, every DeMolay in PA has a say in who the IMC is, as they have elected the people who vote for him. This system is very much like our own government. We elect representatives who are supposed to vote in favor of our views as it pertains to laws (although we know this is easier said than done!)

On the other hand, we have DeMolay International (formerly known as the International Supreme Council.) This body is composed of around 200 Active Members / Executive Officers (who wear gold collars) and a varying number of Deputy Members (who wear silver collars.) Local participants in the DeMolay program don't get to vote for these individuals. Rather, Executive Officers and members of the national body submit nominations, who are then passed through a committee. If they are approved, they go to the floor of DeMolay International for final election. So, in reality, the national level leaders of DeMolay are part of a network of known supporters who have been recognized by the current members of the body for their work on behalf of the Order.

It is from the Active Members that the Grand Master, Grand Senior Councilor, Grand Junior Councilor, Grand Treasurer, and Grand Secretary are chosen. All must have been Active Members of the Supreme Council prior to running for office. This means that there is no way that the average Advisor could ever run for these positions. To attain an office at that level you have to have spent years of service in dedication to our Order, have been recognized by someone within the group, and then elevated to an Active Member before you could even ponder such a decision. In this way, the adult leadership of DeMolay International is almost exactly opposite of that of the young men. It is an oligarchy of the chosen who lead and direct us into the future.

Now, please understand that I am not intending to criticize or endorse either form of governance. Rather, I am using it as a tool to demonstrate the different ways that we operate within our own organization. It is my hope that everyone takes time to understand the process. It is only by understanding and working within the system that we can hope to make any improvements or changes.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pins and Opinions

Today we have a bonus post from Bro. Matt Blaisdell, State Master Councilor of PA DeMolay, regarding some upcoming changes with DeMolay International.

In light of our motivational movements, Take Control! and Mission: Control!, the members and advisors of Pennsylvania DeMolay have come to realize that decision making power should lie with the Active DeMolays, with advisors assisting along the way.

The Board of Directors, which is composed of the International Master Councilor, Bro. Maxwell C. Shoemaker, International Congress Secretary, Bro. Michael A. Burge, DeMolay International Grand Master, “Dad” J. Weldon Clampitte, and other elected and appointed officers who serve DeMolay International, held a Directors meeting recently to discuss current issues and new ideas. Following this meeting, I was informed that the Grand Master proposed that silicone bracelets should replace the “No. 1 Pin” for a member’s exemplary effort in membership recruitment.

One source, who wishes to remain anonymous, asked me “As far as maintaining the prestige of the honor, do u have any suggestions?” It was then that I challenged the proposal, but only after the Board of Directors had their vote. Another unnamed source mentioned to me that “the ICS and IMC do have a vote on the board. The board gave permission to pursue this. The “No. 1  Pin” will still be available for purchase.”
Naturally, I feel that my duty is to represent the members of Pennsylvania DeMolay and the best interest of our Order, but when asked for my suggestions following the discussion and vote, I felt that my opinion didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

As a fellow member, “No. 1 Pin” holder, and Pennsylvania DeMolay Representative within DeMolay International, I want to voice the opinions of the members who lead this Order. I went in search of some opinions of DeMolays who are in positions of leadership for their thoughts on this change.

After discussing it with Region II Representative, Bro. Andrew Prescott, he feels that “While I applaud DeMolay International for trying to make one of its most basic awards more accessible and modern, as well as a Public Relations tool, I'm not sure the Number One Pin is the way to accomplish that. I'd worry about restoring the physical quality of older awards like the Representative DeMolay or Degree of Chevalier, making them of a higher fabric and material like they were a few years ago, instead of changing the basic awards.”

I also got in touch with International Congress Secretary, Bro. Michael Burge of West Virginia. He said “I support the idea of our Grand Master, to issue a rubber wristband to new members and as a reward for those who sponsor a young man into our Order for the first time. However, I hope not to see the number one pin go out of circulation entirely. The number one pin should be sold at the DeMolay and More Store, along with our other lapel pins and merchandise. Breaking a tradition or making a change is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome, whether it be in an organization or in daily living. We are not making this transition for the mere sake of change or because of cost. Lapel pins can only be worn on the lapel of a jacket. When you are out with your friends shooting hoops or hanging out at the mall, you are not in a suit and, therefore, cannot wear a lapel pin. However, you can wear a wristband with formal or casual attire. It can be worn when shooting hoops or hanging out at the mall with your friends. It can, also, be worn to Chapter meetings and other DeMolay functions. There will be two different color wristbands. One will be for the first line signer. The other will be for the new member, and will, also, be available to everyone through the DeMolay and More Store. The purpose here is to provide another opportunity for membership, as a reward for membership itself. Someone will notice that wristband that says “DeMolay,” and will ask the question we all like to hear, “what is DeMolay?” With that, you have just sparked the interest of a prospective member. I wish to make it clear that this is not necessarily a permanent change. If this proves to be highly unfavored during its course or becomes unpopular, it can be discontinued by the Grand Master and Board of Directors of DeMolay International, which meets three times a year. I feel we should, at least, give this a try. If it doesn’t work out, we can always go back to awarding the number one pin. It’s a great idea and has potential for success. If anyone would like to talk more on the issue, feel free to contact me..”

Brother Shoemaker, International Master Councilor said “When this decision was made we were unaware of the popular use of the “#1 Pins” in certain Jurisdictions and we apologize for the inconvenience. However, DeMolay International would certainly work to supply those Jurisdictions who still prefer the pins with them as opposed to the bracelets. We understand that these pins may mean a lot to that member who brought in his first friend into this great organization and we do not want to cheapen that experience. If these pins are an integral part of a Jurisdiction's program then I feel that DeMolay International would still supply them, but we would also like for you to know that the rubberized bracelets would also be available if your Jurisdiction would prefer to wear and promote the best organization in the world, DeMolay!”

I understand the strategies based about the proposal that it will save money, and will advertise DeMolay in the form of the ¼ inch silicone bracelet, however I’ve based my own opinions contrary of support of this proposal.

Needless to say, membership is the fuel that carries DeMolay through the future. Without membership our numbers would diminish. I feel that we shouldn’t spend a mere $.79 (one companies’ price for a bulk of 1000) on something that, in my opinion, is the hardest thing in DeMolay: Membership Recruitment. Many of us have overcome the hurdle of bringing in one new member, and in turn we were awarded with a distinction of honor, the Number 1 Pin. By handing out a silicone band, for the exemplary efforts young men to for this order, to me it’s saying here’s a small reward for your valiant efforts. Perhaps, we do need to change our ways and look into the future when it comes to rewarding young men for membership recruitment from DeMolay International, but are bracelets the right direction?

If membership is the most important thing in DeMolay (which, unarguably, it is), then we should not worry about the price (to an extent) for honoring those who gave back to DeMolay in the form of recruitment.
But, don’t base your opinions on my own. Formulate your own thoughts and reply back to this on what you think. If you want the International Master Councilor, the International Congress Secretary, and the Grand Master of DeMolay International to realize that we, the members, have a voice, then let us know your opinion and make a difference.

What do you think?


Bro. Matthew D. Blaisdell
State Master Councilor of Pennsylvania DeMolay
and Representative to the DeMolay International Congress

Monday, September 12, 2011

Senior DeMolay Highlight - Burl Ives

This is the fourth in our series of Senior DeMolay Highlights and today we take another dive back into the DeMolay International Hall of Fame. Today's highlight is an entertainer that I'm willing to bet everyone has heard or seen at some point, but probably doesn't even realize it.

I don't know of many people who dislike the holiday season. One of the most famous television holiday specials is the 1964 classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. That show was narrated by a plump and jolly character named "Sam the Snowman." That snowman was a characterization of Burl Ives. He also recorded several classic holiday tunes, like Holly Jolly Christmas and Silver and Gold. So, without further ado, let's learn more about
Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives
Actor and Folk Singer

Brother Ives was born on June 14, 1909, near Hunt City (an unincorporated area in Jasper County, Illinois.) Burl had six siblings and was the son of farmer and laborer. He started singing very early on. It is said that his Uncle overheard him singing in a garden and thought he had a great voice. He was invited to come sing in Hunt City with a group and impressed everyone with his talent.

Burl was inducted into George N. Todd Chapter, in Illinois, in 1927. He became a member of the Legion of Honor of DeMolay in 1986. An active Freemason throughout his life, Ives would become a 33rd Degree Member of the Scottish Rite. He was also very active with the Boy Scouts of America, earning several distinctions, including the prestigious Silver Buffalo, the highest honor given in Scouting. One link Burl has to Pennsylvania is a 1977 sound recording of him being interviewed by Boy Scouts at the National Jamboree at Moraine State Park.

He would go on to college in Illinois to become a teacher. As the legend goes, he was sitting in English class in his Junior year when he suddenly felt that he was just wasting his time. It is said that he got up and left the class. As he did so, the professor apparently made a remark to Burl, to which he responded by slamming the door on his way out. Sixty years later, Eastern Illinois University named a building after not one of its most famous graduates, but its most famous dropout - Burl Ives.

Burl started his singing career in the 30's and 40's, travelling the country learning folk songs from cowboys, hobos, and anyone with a tune or tale to tell. He landed some gigs on local radio stations where he became famous for playing folk songs. In the late 1930's, he associated himself with a group of singers that took a public "anti-war" stance. This group included Woody Guthrie, Will Geer, and Pete Seeger. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the group changed its views, throwing its full support behind FDR. They even wrote "pro-war" songs to support the movement. In 1942 he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he would attain the rank of Corporal before being discharged in 1943 for medical reasons. Following his stint with the Army, Ives went to New York City to host a radio program for CBS radio. In 1945 he would marry Helen Ehrlich, with whom he would have a son, Alexander, in 1949. 

In the early 1950's, Ives hit a rough patch. He was identified (mistakenly) with the Communist movement and was placed on the infamous "Blacklist." Later, he would testify in front of the notorious House UnAmerican Activities Committee. During his testimony it was revealed that he had been blacklisted for visiting Union meetings where he was trying to stay in touch with the working man in an effort to increase his musical repertoire. He would round out the 1950's by landing parts in several movies and becoming a minor celebrity. 

The 1960's saw Ives continue his acting career and become a recording sensation. As mentioned above, his 1964 animated adaptation of the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer brought him a whole new level of success that would keep him into the public consciousness for years to come. In 1975 he earned another tie to the Keystone State when he was awarded the Penn State University Glee Club Award of Merit. He was also famous as a spokesman for Luzianne teas in the 60's and 70's. Ives was an author and Broadway actor during this time. 

Some of you may noticed that Bro. Ives is smoking a pipe in the picture above. As you know, PA DeMolay has a zero tolerance policy in regards to the use of tobacco in any form, but I wanted to depict Bro. Ives smoking his pipe for a specific reason. Ives was famous for his love of pipes, but it would ultimately be his demise. In 1994 he was diagnosed with oral cancer, caused by his decades of tobacco use. He fell into a coma in 1995 and would die before the end of the year due to complications from the disease. His signature look, that of a pipe smoker, would ultimately kill him.

Special thanks to the DeMolay International Hall of Fame and Wikipedia for information on Bro. Ives.

Bro. Ives took Control of his life, changing his career path and becoming a famous singer and actor. What have you done on your Mission to Control your own destiny?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What's a MATOC?

Ah, another day, another blog post.

For those who haven't heard, Central and Eastern Pennsylvania have been experiencing severe flooding in the last twenty four hours. We've been alerted that several of our Brothers in Susquehanna Chapter have been evacuated from their residences and moved to safer ground. Here in Elizabethtown, downtown was flooded pretty severely, but thankfully Patton Campus has remained relatively unaffected (excepting for a wet room or two in the basement.) For those of you that have been to Elizabethtown, I have posted a picture of downtown to show the flooding. We ask that you keep all of your DeMolay Brothers in your thoughts and prayers.

Now, on to the real article for today!

This weekend your State Officers and several Advisors will be heading south to Alexandria, VA, to participate in the Mid-Atlantic Tournament of Champions, otherwise known as MATOC. Just what is MATOC? It is a ritual tournament organized by the Jurisdictions composing Region II of DeMolay International. If you don't know what Region II is, you can read some of our older blog posts. For now, all you need to know is that it is a part of DeMolay International consisting of the Jurisdictions of PA, NJ, NY, VA, DE, MD, Nation's Capital, Ontario, and Italy.

Now, I'm betting you're wondering what a ritual tournament is? The one thing that sets DeMolay apart from most other youth organizations is our ritual. While some of our members find it boring, many more find it interesting and want to learn and participate in its performance. Events like MATOC provide a standardized system for judging and scoring how well a person knows and presents their part. For instance, you can compete by knowing and presenting three different Preceptor parts, or by performing all of the Chaplain's prayers. If you've never attended an event like this, it is an experience you won't want to miss.

Head on over to the MATOC website for more information!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I forgot to do my homework!

Well, lookey here! It's been over a week since my last blog post! Just where the heck have I been? Well, I took some much needed time to go visit my family in Erie. I haven't had a chance to go visit my folks since Christmas 2010. I figured that after eight months of being away, it was time for me to make the trip! Of course, it wasn't all play. I managed to stop by the Erie Chapter fundraiser that was held at the horse shoe pits near the Erie Zoo. The Chapter had set up a concession stand to sell food and drinks to the participants of a state-wide horse shoe throwing event. The young men seemed in good spirit and the event looked to be well attended. Great work guys! Anywho, we are now back to our regularly scheduled blog posting goodness!

With most of our DeMolay's going back to school in one form or another, I thought it would be appropriate to write about something dealing with academia. I went in search of an article or idea and stumbled upon a great informative guide about something we all think we know how to do - homework! While no one likes homework, it is a part of academic life. Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to go about tackling those pesky problems your teaches assign  you. So, I present to you an article taken from the Nemours Teen Health site. Enjoy!

How to do Homework

Do algebra problems 15 through 25. Conjugate the verbs on page 50 of your French workbook. Read pages 12 through 20 of the Shakespeare play, and when you're finished with that, don't forget to fill in the missing chemical symbols on the Periodic Table of Elements worksheet.

Sound like a roster of your homework for the next few nights — or maybe even just for tonight? Homework is a major part of going to school: It's your teachers' way of evaluating how much you understand of what's going on in class, and it helps reinforce important concepts.

Create a Homework Plan
Luckily, you can do a few things to make homework less work.

First, be sure you understand the assignment. Write it down in your notebook or day planner if you need to, and don't be afraid to ask questions about what's expected. It's much easier to take a minute to ask the teacher during or after class than to struggle to remember later that night! If you want, you can also ask how long the particular homework assignment should take to complete so you can budget your time.

Second, use any extra time you have in school to work on your homework. Many schools have study halls that are specifically designed to allow students to study or get homework done. It's tempting to hang out with friends during study periods or unstructured time, but the more work you can get done in school, the less you'll have to do that night.

Third, pace yourself. If you don't finish your homework during school, think about how much you have left and what else is going on that day, and then budget your time. Most high-school students have between 1 and 3 hours of homework a night. If it's a heavy homework day and it seems like you've got an assignment in every subject but gym and lunch, you'll need to devote more time to homework. It's a good idea to come up with some kind of homework schedule, especially if you are involved in sports or activities or have an after-school job.

Watch Where You Work
When you settle down to do homework or to study, where do you do it? Parked in front of the TV? In the kitchen, with the sound of dishes being cleared and your brothers and sisters fighting?

These places may have worked when you were younger and your assignments didn't require as much skill and concentration. But now that you're older, a bedroom, study, or any other room where you can get away from noise and distractions is the best place to get homework done. But don't study on your comfy bed — opt for a desk or table that you can set your computer on and is comfortable to work at. It doesn't need to be large, just big enough to spread out your stuff.

Get to Work
When you start your homework, tackle the hardest assignments first. It's tempting to start with the easy stuff to get it out of the way, but you'll have the most energy and focus when you begin, so it's best to use this mental power on the subjects that are most challenging. Later, when you're more tired, you can focus on the simpler things.

If you get stuck on a problem, try to figure it out as best you can — but don't obsess and spend too much time on it because this can mess up your homework schedule for the rest of the night. If you need to, ask an adult or older sibling for help or call or email a classmate for advice. But don't pick someone you'll be up all night chatting with or you'll never get it done!

Take a Break
Most people's attention spans aren't very long, so take some breaks while doing your homework. Sitting for too long without stretching or relaxing will make you less productive than if you stop every so often. Taking a 15-minute break every hour is a good idea for most people. (But if you're really concentrating, wait until it's a good time to stop.)

Once your homework is done, you can check over it if you have extra time. Be sure to put it safely away in your backpack — there's nothing worse than having a completed assignment that you can't find the next morning or that gets ruined by a careless brother or sister. (And no teacher still believes that "chewed by the dog" line — even when it's true!) Now you're free to hang out.

Get Help When You Need It
Sometimes even though you're paying attention in class, studying for tests, and doing your homework, certain classes seem too hard. Although you may hope that things will get easier or that the explanation to the geometry theorems will magically appear in your dreams, most of the time this doesn't happen.

What does happen for many people is that they work harder and harder as they fall further and further behind. Naturally, this makes them hate a class and everything to do with it. If you need extra help, the most important thing to know is that there's nothing weird or embarrassing about it. No one is expected to understand everything, and people have very different learning styles.

The first place to turn for help is your teacher. He or she may be able to work with you before or after school and explain things more clearly. But what if you don't feel comfortable with your teacher? If you're in a big enough school, there may be other teachers who teach the same subject. Speak to a guidance counselor or to the other teacher directly and you may be in luck. Sometimes it just helps to have someone new explain something in a different way.

You might also be able to get some help from another student. If there's someone you like who's a good student, think about asking that person if you can study together. This might help because you'll be hearing the information from the perspective of one of your peers. However, keep in mind that this might not get you the results you need. Lots of people understand something perfectly without being able to explain it.

Another option for extra help is a tutor, either after school, on weekends, or in the evening. You'll need to talk to an adult about this because it costs money to hire a tutor. Tutors sometimes come to your home, but there are also tutoring centers across the country. A tutor may have broad knowledge of many things or may be trained in just one subject. Tutors work with you one on one, helping review and further explain things taught in the classroom. The advantage of having a tutor is that it gives you the opportunity to ask questions directly and work at your own pace.

If you're interested in a tutor, check the internet or the yellow pages of your phone book, or get a referral from a teacher, a friend, or classmate who has a tutor. And if you live in or near a town with a college or university, you may find tutors there. Often college students will tutor high school students in their areas of study to help cover the costs of school.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony