Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays!

On behalf of the Pennsylvania DeMolay office, I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Safe travels to all whom are visiting family and friends for the holiday season. My goal is to get one more blog post in before the year is over, but if I'm  unable to do so, Happy New Year to all as well!

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

From Master Councilor to Worshipful Master

Last night, I had the privilege of watching a longtime friend and DeMolay brother become the Worshipful Master of his lodge. Brother and "Dad" Seth C. Anthony was installed into the office of Worshipful Master for Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682 of the Free and Accepted Masons. The official title changes hands on December 28th, while an open Installation was held at the Elizabethtown Masonic Lodge within the Masonic Villages.

"Dad" Seth Anthony has been a member of the Masonic Fraternity since he turned 21. He started as a member of Erie Chapter Order of DeMolay, where he became Master Councilor after a brief time as a member. Seth also served as State Junior Councilor and State Senior Councilor of Pennsylvania DeMolay, as well as becoming a respected advisor for the organization. He previously worked as the Director of Communications for the Pennsylvania Masonic Youth Foundation and currently works for the Masonic Villages. In fact, this very blog site was once written by "Dad" Anthony.

It takes a true Mason to have the same level of dedication for the entire Masonic Family. It's not everyday that a former Master Councilor becomes the Worshipful Master of his lodge. Of members who were active in DeMolay while I was, Seth is the first of my peers to reach this goal.

On behalf of Pennsylvania DeMolay I'd like to congratulate Brother Anthony! Good luck in your term; I know that you will do a fantastic job!

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin    

Friday, December 18, 2015

It's Nerf or Nothin!

With the upcoming Nerf weekend, otherwise known as Operation N.A.S.H.V.I.L.L.E. Training Weekend, I figured we should take the time to get to know the Nerf product a little bit better. The training weekend will be focused on the Nerf Blaster, but the Nerf Company has been responsible for several different products along the way.

The concept of Nerf started in 1969 with an idea that was originally meant to be a Volleyball game with a 4 inch foam ball. Parker Brothers kept the foam ball and expanded on the idea. Eventually Hasbro, the company that produces Nerf to this day, took over the company from Parker Brothers. Nerf, which is an acronym for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam, became a worldwide success. New products were being created, mostly involving sports. Growing up, most kids I knew had Nerf basketballs, frisbees, soccer balls, and the most popular, footballs. My personal favorite was the Vortex Howler Football, a football that had a long-distance tail that made the football go further than most usually do. Friends and I would toss one around for hours down the back alley until our parents called for dinner. 

The most popular product, which is what the January weekend is focused on, is the Nerf Blaster. After continued years of success with sports, Nerf turned to warfare gun products that shoot discs, balls, and darts. There a various versions of the product, some more powerful than others, but all of them stick within the same concept that made the company as successful as they are; safety. I hope to see you all at the upcoming Nerf weekend. Remember: “It’s Nerf, or Nothin!”    

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin      

Thursday, December 10, 2015

How To Use Small Talk to Talk to Masons

With the Grand Banquet coming up in the next few weeks, most of you may be worried about meeting new people. What do I say to someone I've never met before? Where do I start? Should I ask them about their families? Should I ask them about work? Maybe I'll just ask about the weather?

In our daily lives we run into situations in which we need quick conversations to avoid those awkward moments. We may be waiting in an elevator or meeting someone new. In the DeMolay world, you may be seated at a banquet table with a Masonic leader, public official or another dignitary who you have never met before. A fellow advisor led me to a website that lists 48 questions that can be asked in order to make small talk easier. Click on the link below to see the full list of questions.

Here are a few of my favorite questions from the article that will help with small talk:

1. If you were guaranteed to be successful, what job would you want?
2. What is the best career advice that anyone has ever given you? 

1. Are you reading any good books or watching any good shows? I'd like some recommendations.
2. If you could only watch one genre of movies, which would it be?

1. Where's the last place you traveled?
2. If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go? 

Life Story 
1. Who's the most important role model in your life? 
2. What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Totally Random
1. What's the strangest compliment you've ever gotten? 
2. If you could have any type of pet or animal, what would it be?

These are just a few of the 48 questions that can help stop the awkward conversations. Make your conversations a little bit more meaningful, by asking the right questions - and get to know the people around you. 

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin   


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Be Different Spotlight: Elizabethtown Chapter

The following post is part of a series entitled the “Be Different Spotlight.” This post will display a chapter’s effort to grasp the concept of the theme for this year. Each chapter was challenged by the State Master Councilor, Adam Pritchard, to “Be Different.” 

Challenge Accepted!  This is the story of how Elizabethtown Chapter embraced that challenge...

Our Chapter proudly accepted the challenge and decided to do something different for our Frank S. Land Memorial Obligatory Day by doing something we have never done before. With the cooperation of family and friends of our members, with some kind and courteous Masonic Village Residents helping, we collected nearly 400 gently used books and presented them to the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Lancaster. We presented the books in support of the center's book give away which was held as a part of the Extraordinary Give in Lancaster County on Friday, Nov. 20th.  This one day, 24-hours of online giving raised over 6.1 million dollars for over 350 charitable organizations.  The Children’s Dyslexia Center had over $7,000 donated to it in just 24 hours.  The books that were collected and donated were available for pickup by anyone who stopped by the Dyslexia Center on Nov. 20th. 

In addition to donating the books, 8 members of our Chapter willingly donated a total of $225 for the purchase of any other books in support of the book drive that brought donors into the center.  Over the past 15 years Elizabethtown Chapter has raised and have been honored to donate nearly $35,000.00 to the center through various fundraisers, which includes our annual chicken pot pie dinners.  Our Chapter Advisor, Dad Jesse Spence, makes a very good chicken pot pie, and if you haven't had one yet I highly recommend it to you! Our next chicken pot pie dinner and special auction of gifts and passes will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2016. 100% of our profits are donated to the center, our state charity that helps kids get the help they need to overcome dyslexia and succeed in school.

Along with presenting the books, 5 of our chapter members helped prepare and serve a luncheon for the Lancaster Lodge of Perfection. The Lancaster Lodge of Perfection, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, is the main sponsoring agency of the Children's Dyslexia Center of Lancaster. We thought that supporting the Scottish Rite in this way was especially appropriate since the founder of DeMolay, Frank S. Land, was an employee of the Scottish Rite Valley located in Kansas City. The officers of Elizabethtown DeMolay were happy with the success of the luncheon and donation of the books, and appreciated the support of family members, friends, residents of the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, and our advisors, as without them this would not have been possible. 

From the Officers, Members, and Families of Elizabethtown Chapter, Order of DeMolay we want to wish you a Happy and Safe Holiday Season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

This blog post was written by current Senior Councilor of Elizabethtown Chapter, Blake Anderson. Thank you Brother Blake for your contribution.

Elizabethtown Chapter has completed the challenge to “Be Different.” What has your chapter done in order to change things up a bit? Send in program details or write a post for your chapter and send it to me at

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Be Different Spotlight: Northeast Chapter

The following post is part of a series entitled the “Be Different Spotlight.” This post will display a chapter’s effort to grasp the concept of the theme for this year. Each chapter was challenged by the State Master Councilor, Adam Pritchard, to “Be Different.” 

Challenge Accepted! This is the story of how Northeast Chapter embraced that challenge...

Northeast Chapter, from the city of brotherly love, has accepted the challenge to “Be Different” and has gone above and beyond. While some chapters are bringing in new activities, fund-raisers and service projects, Northeast has decided to even change their logo. The new logo, which you can see to the side of this post, has embraced the city that Northeast resides in, Philadelphia. Designed by soon to be Chapter Advisor, “Dad” Alex Swift; the logo displays the Liberty Bell with the DeMolay shield inside. 

The members of Northeast chapter have decided to run different programs that will enhance membership recruitment and retention within the chapter. The members held a “Brotherhood Bowl” football game with Tacony Lodge Number 600, one of their sponsoring bodies. Members of Northeast Chapter and Tacony Lodge were divided into teams for a fun filled event. A few prospective members also took part in the brotherhood activity. The members of the chapter also decided that they will hold a “Frat Party.” The event is scheduled to take place on November 29th at the Tacony Lodge from 12PM to 5PM. Members and prospects will enjoy food, watch football games, play frat party style games and partake in tossing a football around outside. In other words, the chapter plans to have their own tailgate party.  If you are interested in attending, contact “Dad’ Alex Swift at for more details.

Many other original ideas have taken place for Northeast as well. Brothers Jeffrey Hample and Lorenzo Rodrgiuez came up with and performed a ceremony for Educational Day, devoted to the importance of our school systems. At Tacony Temple’s annual Pancake Breakfast, the members held a bake sale and opened a toppings bar in which donations were accepted. Other events planned for the future include attending a 76ers game, holding a LAN party and visiting the Benjamin Franklin Museum.
Northeast Chapter has completed the challenge to “Be Different.” What has your chapter done in order to change things up a bit? Send in program details or write a post for your chapter and send it to me at

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Be Different and Be Charitable

Today we have a special guest blog post. This post is from Sarah Sellers, Pennsylvania DeMolay's State Sweetheart.

As a DeMolay, you know that the Pennsylvania State Charity is the Children's Dyslexia Centers. You know that throughout the year, you and your brothers strive to raise money to donate to this charity, and after all of your hard work, a check is presented at Convention to the Scottish Rite Representative. You also know that this year, your State Master Councilor, Adam Pritchard, has challenged each chapter to "Be Different," be it in membership recruitment, community service, or chapter events. As your State Sweetheart, I also present the challenge of "Be Different"; however, I challenge you to be different in how you donate to your State Charity. Yes, raising funds throughout the year is still acceptable – in fact, it is highly encouraged – but change up how you raise these funds. You could even change up how you become involved with your local learning center. Be Creative. As long as you are embracing PA DeMolay's theme and are connecting with the Children's Dyslexia Centers, anything goes.

You may be thinking, "Yes, I am ready to 'Be Different!' The thing is, I'm not sure how." If you are
stuck or having doubts, that is perfectly normal. No one is expecting you to come up with these new ideas on your own. For tips or advice, I suggest you use your resources. Ask the members of your chapter what they might think, or look to what other chapters have done in the past. In May, Elizabethtown Chapter organized a dodgeball tournament to raise funds for the State Charity. In October, Pilgrim Chapter donated CD players and $500 in gift cards to their local center. Other chapters have participated in their local Walk for Dyslexia, challenged lodges to raise funds, and have simply visited their local learning center. All of these are wonderful examples as to how chapters have strayed from the expected monetary donations to contribute to the charity. Even though PA DeMolay has been successful in raising funds over the years, do not be afraid to change up how it is done. When it comes to the Children's Dyslexia Centers, do not be afraid to "Be Different."

Monday, November 16, 2015

So You Want to Be the Key Man Youth Director

Today we have a guest post written by "Dad" Zack Panitzke, Director of Key Man University.

It’s that time of year again. Beginning today, we’re accepting applications to be the 2016 KeyMan University Youth Director.

The application is available [here]. We’ll accept applications until Sunday, December 6, 2015. After that date, we’ll evaluate applications and present the best candidates with a special, open-ended project. No details on the project are available now - you’ll have to apply to find out more!

In order to qualify, you must have attended at least one Key Man Conference in the past. You also must be able to arrive at Patton Campus in Elizabethtown, PA no later than 9 am on Saturday, July 30, 2016 and stay until Saturday, August 6, 2016.

Read through the responsibilities and application process below. You might also review the Key Man University online materials. Finding out what you can about the job and the employer is an essential part of any job application process.


As the Youth Director, you’re responsible to be the face of Key Man University. You’ll get to work with the Directors and the rest of the staff to plan and execute the conference. Before the conference, there are a few specific responsibilities, including:
  • Develop a unique program to complement the coursework and extracurricular activities at KMU.
  • Assist with curriculum idea generation.
  • Write introductory and closing speech material for the beginning and end of the Conference.
  • Attend regular virtual Director meetings.
During the week, you’ll have a few other responsibilities as well:
  • Implement your unique program, including instruction, observation, and gathering feedback.
  • Preside at opening session, closing session, awards banquet, and other public presentations such as activities at the Masonic Village.
  • Host distinguished visitors during meals.
  • Supervise all flag raising and lowering events.
  • Participate in disciplinary discussions involving Key Men and staff unrelated to zero tolerance issues. You will be the youth advocate, helping the young men communicate through the conflict.
  • Be the “eyes and ears” for feedback from the attendees, including observing all aspects of the program and interacting with the members as they experience the week.
  • Provide courteous lights out enforcement.
Application Process
So how do you apply to be Youth Director? Follow these steps!
  1. Submit your application by filling out [this form].
  2. If you’re selected, we’ll notify you within one week of the application deadline.
  3. We’ll present you with the challenge project. You’ll have one month to complete it as you see fit - it’s completely open-ended and intended to test you on your planning and coordination abilities.
  4. At the end of the project period, we’ll contact you to schedule an interview. The interview will offer you an opportunity to talk about your project and convince the Directors that you are the best candidate for the job.

    The interview will be much like a real job interview, because this job comes with real responsibility. You won’t need to wear a suit, but you should look presentable and be ready to discuss your qualifications.
  5. We hope to make a final selection within a week of concluding the interviews. We’ll send you an email and an official invitation by mail.
That’s it! Fill out your application and get it to us as soon as possible. We look forward to reading it!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Be Different!

This year in Pennsylvania DeMolay, the elected state officers are encouraging chapters to be different. In the upcoming days, if your chapter didn't already receive them at Game Show Weekend, you will be receiving a packet explaining the incentive program. It will have all of the features including; the Bro Tie mentor program, the Past Grand Master's Honor Apron applications, and a schedule of upcoming events.

How can my chapter be different? Here are a few things you may consider in your chapter's effort to be different:
  • Plan a new event within your chapter. Be creative about it. Think of something that you may have always wanted to do but have never been able to. Coming up with a new activity will encourage members to stay active.
  • Come up with a brand new membership program specifically for your chapter. Think of incentives that will encourage the guys to reach their goals for the year.
  • Create a new concept for a fund raiser to donate to the Children's Dyslexia Centers. PA DeMolay asks for 100% participation from the chapters, and this year is no different.
  • Find new ways to get the word out about DeMolay in your local community. Some of the options you may consider include social media, press releases or contact with the local school district.

In the coming weeks, I will start a section of this blog entitled the "Be Creative Spotlight." This series of entries will introduce each chapter and what they have done to implement the "Be Different" campaign. Please send information about your chapter's efforts to me at My goal is to post one for every chapter in the state.

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank You For Serving

On this special Veterans Day version of the blog, I'd like to just take the time to thank our Veterans who have served our country. Many of our DeMolay members and advisors, past and present, have served our country. Their efforts should not go unnoticed.

Patriotism is one of the seven core lessons we learn in DeMolay. We all have a special place in our hearts for our country, but some take it a step further and serve in some branch of military.  Members of the military sacrifice their lives everyday to make sure our families are safe here in America. They believe in our country and its principles. They continue to fight for their country because they know it's worth fighting for. We salute you for your dedication.

Do you have something in your life that is worth fighting for? I know for me, to answer that question, family is a big thing I would fight for. My mom, step dad, cousins, friends, they're very important to me. DeMolay to me is family, which is also worth fighting for. I believe in this organization and everything it teaches, so I would continue to work to improve it and make it better.

Take the time today to recognize those around you who have served in the military. I have a few friends overseas right now who I wish I could thank in person. Past or present, they all deserve a simple thank you for their service. On behalf of PA DeMolay, thank you for serving!

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Royal Time for the Founding City of DeMolay

Over the past few nights, Kansas City has been celebrating their first major championship season since the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 1985. In fact, since 1985 the Royals had not made the playoffs until the 2014 season, and in 30 years only produced 10 winning seasons. The Kansas City Royals overcame that adversity and beat the New York Mets to win the 2015 World Series Championship in five games.

I can't speak for everyone, but I've always been a fan of a feel good underdog story. To see a team overcome the odds that have been set for them for 30 years and finally win a championship, it makes a person think that anything is possible. A dynasty is great, but it gets old. It's nice to see a team succeed that hasn't in quite some time.

So what does this have to do with DeMolay? A lot more than you even realize. For starters, Kansas City is the birthplace of the organization. Founded in 1919, Kansas City produced the organization that we are proud to say we are a part of. In a way, Kansas City can be considered a hometown city for all of us.

Another reason this has to do with DeMolay is the comparison of an underdog story to the chapters in DeMolay. Chapters go through rebuilding stages just like a sports team does, in which new members become the future of the organization. Chapters struggle and find a way to overcome the struggle. They look for new leadership, build strong leaders within the organization, and work together as a unit to achieve a common goal. The Kansas City Royals did just that. They hired Manager Ned Yost in 2010, which proved to work out great for the team. They drafted well bringing in star players such as Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon, and Eric Hosmer, while making trades to bring in more young talent in Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar. Those players had time to develop into franchise leaders that all took an equal part in the current success of the team.

We can all learn a few things from the Royals. Sometimes change can be for the better. Mold tomorrows leaders in your chapter today. Trust the process and it will pay off. Just like the Kansas City Royals, I hope your home chapter reaches their goals and becomes a DeMolay champion of their own right.

Until next time - "Dad" Joe Pullin  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Key Man University Inaugural Video

This video just arrived from the KMU Youth Director, Mason Bryant.

It is only 71 seconds-- Watch it now!


Upon submitting this video, Mason told us:

"Starting now, the Directors and I are going to be hosting a weekly question and answer series through the Key Man YouTube channel. 

"We are doing this in an effort to get you guys “pumped up” for this year’s event, as well as answer any questions you may have. 

"Send your questions to and you just might see them in a video later in the summer! 

"Keep checking on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube for new videos and updates which will be coming your way soon!"

Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Amazing Collection of Masonic Autographs


by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

It is, quite clearly, the ugliest item on display at the DeMolay International Service and Leadership Center, in a locked bookcase in the "archive room." (This is the room with several locking book shelves that hold copies of all of the Proceedings of the Grand and Supreme Councils: Statutes, Bylaws, Rules and Regulations; and one copy of most of the DeMolay Grand and Supreme Council publications and magazines produced since 1919.)

At first glance, it is just a ruined old Masonic book, called MASONRY DEFINED...

...which was an encyclopedia of Masonic facts, figures, definitions, philosophy and esoterica. 

The volume has obviously been very wet, and in the drying process it expanded and snapped its binding.


But this isn't just any old Masonic tome full of dry wisdom and enlightenment.  

It is the Autograph Collection Book of Bro. Gustav E. Venaas, of St. Paul, Minnesota, whose DeMolay letterhead above identifies him as an Advisor for St. Paul Chapter, and whose hobby is collecting autographs of Masons.  

And what a fascinating collection it is!  Brother Venaas was an intrepid collector, gathering autographs of prominent Freemasons everywhere he went.  He also obviously wrote to celebrities who were Masons, and asked for them to send him an autograph.  In this book, he had pasted autographs, photos, news clippings and anything related to the subjects who signed cards for him.
Brother Venaas liked a little bit of fame, himself, because he was the subject of several newspaper articles because of this unusual collection and his success in acquiring a number of impressive names, all of whom are Freemasons.  And he didn't limit himself to Americans... he also wrote to famous Masons in Europe, and in Central and South America!

Some of the pages are filled with signatures acquired at an event, and include prominent Masons who were present for the meetings.  These were the movers and shakers of Freemasonry in the 1920s.

Obviously, as a DeMolay Advisor, he was very proud to have collected signatures from "Dad" Frank S. Land, the Founder of the Order of DeMolay...

...and the signature of "Dad" Frank A. Marshall, Author of the DeMolay Ritual...

...and "Dad" Roy Dickerson, who was in charge of programming for the Grand Council, and worked in the Kansas City offices with "Dad" Land.

The question of WHY this volume is in the possession of DeMolay International is answered by the fact that the first scrap-book of news clippings and letters related to St. Paul Chapter was also in the book case.  Either he left it to DeMolay International, or his family sent it in, not realizing exactly what they had in their hands.

Some of these signatures have serious value on the collectible market, and, as a complete themed collection of famous Masons, it may have even more value than we can imagine.

The signature of a President of the United States is always worth something, if it is really his signature and not a staff member who has learned to fake it, or a machine that makes a perfect signature every time.  This one from Herbert Hoover, the 31st President, looks legitimate, and considering the time it was sought, it is quite likely to be real.  Not known as one our our best Presidents, he presided from 1921 to 1928.

These signatures got me excited, because I love poetry and authors, and Edgar Guest was one of the most popular poets of the early 20th Century.  For more information about him, and a sample of his easy-rhyming poems, go to

The signature at the bottom of the page is even more impressive.  Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book, Kim, The Man Who Would Be King, and may poems, notably Gunga Din, and Danny Deever.  Kipling was a British Mason in the country of India, when the British military occupied the country, and he wrote about his experiences in a Lodge with men of multiple religions working together in peace and harmony.  He is revered for the many Masonic references included in his writings.

This page initially caught my eye because of the signature of Ernest A. Reed in the center of the page.  I knew of him because he was a Grand Master Councilor of the Order of DeMolay from New Jersey, my home state.  He was probably the "founder" of DeMolay in New Jersey, if I recall correctly.  But the astonishing signature at the top is of greater interest-- it is of the silent film star, Harold Lloyd.  Best remembered for a stunt where he is hanging from the hands of a large clock on a skyscraper, Lloyd was one of the most successful comedic silent film stars, rivaling Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.  Lloyd was also a very active Freemason, involved in many appendant bodies.  He had a special affinity for the Shriners Childrens Hospitals and Burns Centers because of serious burns he had suffered in his life.  He served as Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America in 1949-1950. 

Here's a name you MIGHT have heard, if you or your father grew up watching Western TV shows and movies.  Tom Mix was known as Hollywood's first major Western Star, making 291 films in his career, all but 9 of them silent films.  Less than 15% of those films are available for viewing today, as film preservation wasn't thought of in the early days of film,  Mix was a Pennsylvanian, having been born 20 miles north of State College, and growing up in DuBois, PA.  It is reported that Mix helped John Wayne (Senior DeMolay, Freemason, Shriner) get his first jobs in Hollywood.

They certainly aren't "politically correct" these days, and they earned their living perpetuating some disturbing stereotypes, but there is no denying the "star power" of Freeman Gosden ('Amos') and Charles Correll ('Andy') who performed on the radio, and at public appearances from 1928 to 1960.

General John J. Pershing led the American Army victory in World War I.  Known as "Black Jack" Pershing, he mentored some of the key generals of World War II (Eisenhower, Bradley, Marshall and Patton) and had a profound effect on the US military's world dominance of the 20th century.

Jack Dempsey was a prize fighter who owned the Heavyweight championship title from 1919 to 1926.  Considered to be one of the most powerful and relentless fighters of the first half of the 20th century.  He was a Freemason in Kenwood Lodge No. 800 in Chicago, IL.

At the top of this page is the signature and Masonic record of Charles Partlow "Chic" Sale.  That is NOT a name I was familiar with, but, he was a BIG name in the 1920s.  A vaudeville comedian and entertainer, he parlayed a long running joke about outhouses into a comedic career. It is interesting to note that the 1950s-1960s comedian, Soupy Sales, created his last name in honor of "Chic" Sale.   If you are interested in him, here is a Wiki about  him.

I cannot read the middle signature, but the name at the bottom is of the great romantic silent film star, Douglas Fairbanks, who, with D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplain established the United Artists motion picture studio  in 1919.

This is a fascinating signature by Calvin Coolidge, President 1923-1929, and it may have been acquired BEFORE he was President.  What makes it unique is that it is smudged by the signer, (and from all the examples I have seen on the internet, it is his signature, and not that of a White House secretary.)  I almost think this makes it more unique, because very few collectible signatures are ever seen in this condition!  The imperfection makes it a one of a kind example.

The only blurry photo I took had to come with a very important signature--  Will Rogers!  This man and Mason was a great political commentator, humorist, entertainer and film star of the 1920s and 1930s.  He was at the height of his popularity when he died in a plane crash in 1935.  He ran a mock campaign for President of the United States that was covered nationally.   One of his most famous quotes was "I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."

The signature and photograph above is of John Philip Sousa, known in his day as "The March King" for the plethora of marching music he as written, including the Stars and Stripes Forever, The Liberty Bell, Semper Fidelis, The Washington Post and Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.  Sousa wrote 136 marches between 1917 and his death in 1932 at age 77. 

Irving Berlin's signature is at the top of the page.  You know who Irving Berlin is, right?  He was, perhaps, America's songwriter in the 20th Century. Writing for Broadway and for the movies, he penned classics known worldwide such as "God Bless America," "White Christmas," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Blue Skies," "Easter Parade," and every Mel Brooks fan's favorite, "Puttin' on the Ritz!"

Charles H. Mayo was a co-founder, with his Father, William W. Mayo, and his older Brother William J. Mayo, of the private medical practice that became known as the Mayo Clinic in 1919 in Rochester, MN.  The clinic was, and still is, a marvel of integrated medical specializations.  Interestingly, Mayo received the Founders Cross from Dad Land for personal loyalty and dedication to the Order of DeMolay.  Another interesting fact-- like Dad Land, Mayo's admirers have preserved his office exactly as it was on the day he died, and a tribute and museum to his work.

Charles R. Walgreen, Founder of the Drugstore chain,
and J. C. Penney, Founder of the Department Store 

Daniel Carter Beard is a name well-known to Boy Scouts as the American who worked with Lord Baden Powell and merged his Sons of Daniel Boone with Powell's Boy Scouts.  

Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David; (23 June 1894 – 28 May 1972)
Prince of Wales, Later King Edward VIII  This is one of the few photos pasted in the book that did not have an accompanying autograph, suggesting that one had been requested and expected, but either never returned or, for some reason we will never know, it never got pasted into the book.

There are perhaps 150 more autographs in the book, and many were prominent Freemasons of that day.  There are possibly others, of great value and historical interest, that I did not notice or could not read.  As a collection, it is, in many ways, priceless.  As individual autographs, most of these have 3-figure values.  

We are probably indebted to "Dad" Lester W. ("Sarge") Israel, Archivist of DeMolay International during the traumatic moving years of the early 1980s when the offices occupied no less that 4 different spaces in a period of less than 6 years, that this volume survived being tossed into a dumpster.

As an object lesson to all of us, "don't judge a book by its cover!"

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Rent Problem

Should DeMolay Chapters Be Paying Rent

to Meet in Masonic Buildings?

by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

It seems incredible to me that this question is still an issue in Pennsylvania after all the support, promotion and emphasis placed on DeMolay by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, but there are STILL DeMolay Chapters paying rent to meet in a Masonic Temple.  In several cases, it is a minimal amount.  In others, it is an amount charged by the Temple Association and then paid on behalf of the Chapter by its sponsoring body.  In two cases, it is an exorbitant amount of money amounting to over $1000 per year.

I can only ask two questions in light of this disappointing situation:

1.   How many parents charge their minor sons rent for living in their home?

2.   Can you name any church, synagogue, mosque, school, or community service organization that requires its youth group to pay rent for the privilege of  sharing the principles of the parent organization with young people?

Yes, I admit that it is a pet peeve, but, sadly, it isn't something new to me or to the Order.  

In the August 1st, 1927 edition of The DeMolay News, edited by "Dad" Frank A. Marshall, author of the DeMolay Ritual, the editorial below appeared, showing that this problem is not unique to this generation, or unique to DeMolay in Pennsylvania.  It is, however, unique to Freemasonry, and, to me, it feels so uncharitable and unlike the Masonic character.

Take a moment and read that final paragraph again.  

This sums up the situation in a simple eloquence that reverberates as true today as it did  in 1927.  

If you’re a member of a sponsoring body that warmly welcomes a DeMolay Chapter, I thank you for your support of our youth.  

Likewise, if you’re a member of one of those Lodges that is charging rent, I ask that you take the lead in proposing a resolution in your Lodge to ensure that your DeMolay Chapter is regarded as an essential part of your Masonic family.

These young men are not merely tenants or guests, but family members who are entitled to being treated as a part of the family... the Masonic family...YOUR family... OUR FAMILY!

Friday, May 8, 2015


Brief History of the DeMolay Awards for Heroic Action

(A Personal Rant by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh, Masked as Informative History)

You have probably heard that a camel was created by a committee whose task was to design a horse.  The basic premise is that poorly-led decision-making by a group can lead to very bad decisions.  The humps of a camel, its very slow pace, its poor temperament are all taken to be deformities that resulted from a bad design for a horse.  Sort of like the Ford Edsel was a bad design for a car.  Or a Ford Pinto. Or the Pontiac Aztek.   Or the AMC Gremlin.  (Well, pretty much ANY car produced by the American Motor Company.) You get the idea.

DeMolay International is not immune to the vagaries and vicissitudes of committee-think. Committees change.  Often.  The are appointed by the Grand Master, who can reappoint or totally replace a Committee and its leadership at will.  Sometimes they change dramatically each year, as a result of political appointment, or disagreement over the direction of a previous administration or disappointment with previous committee action (or inaction.)  Sometimes they stay stable for a long period of time, which could also make them very static, un-moving, mired in tradition, or unoriginal. (After a 10-year run as Chairman of the DeMolay International Ritual and Regalia Committee I have requested to be replaced by the incoming Grand Master-- it is time for new leadership and new ideas.)   

An Unofficial History of DeMolay International's Awards for Heroic Action
DeMolay history has to be written from a collection of diverse sources, since there has been no official Historian tasked to keep adequate records.  Much can come from the Proceedings of the Grand and Supreme Councils, where available, and from publications throughout the years, and random committee files that may still be in existence.  So, in trying to come up with a history of the DeMolay Awards for Heroic Action, I had to rely on some very different sources that were not terribly accurate, at times. But they gave me enough information to reveal some interesting facts  The sources are italicized.

Article 10 of the Grand Council Bylaws and Statutes includes the creation of the Medal of Heroism for one who has voluntarily risked his life in saving or attempting to save… or sacrificed himself in an heroic manner.  Three were immediately approved, with Arthur Whitehead, Old Colony Chapter, Quincy, Mass as the first member elected to receive the DeMolay Medal of Heroism (from the C. A. Boyce history of DeMolay) 

(Image from the 3rd Ed. of the Members Record Book)

Members Record Book reported that less than 30 Medals of Heroism had been granted since 1925.

Members Record Book reported that fewer than 45 Medals of Heroism had been granted since 1925.  This also depicted the old medal design. 

DeMolay Handbook depicts the new design for the Medal of Heroism and the Medal of Valor, and reports that less than 50 Medals of Heroism had been awarded since 1925.  (CHANGE #1- ADD NEW MEDAL OF VALOR.)

The 1969 Members Record Book reports that at the 1964 Annual Session a special Certificate for Saving A Human Life was authorized.  Also, that “fewer than 45” had been awarded – (the 1969 number was obviously not updated since 1960.)   (CHANGE #2 - ADD CERTIFICATE FOR SAVING A HUMAN LIFE)

DeMolay Handbook still reporting less than 50 Medals of Heroism had been awarded since 1925.

Article X of the Statutes of the International Supreme Council includes the “Medal of Valor” for circumstances of valor not justifying the “Medal of Heroism: and a “Certificate of Merit for Saving a Human Life”  

A reorganization – Statutes of the International Supreme Council  Statute 211.6 Defined the Medal of Heroism; statute 211.7 Defined the Medal of Valor; and statute 211.8 Defined the Certificate of Saving A Human Life

Also,– Statutes of the International Supreme Council– section 211.8 became a MEDAL for Saving a Human Life  (Statutes)  Also reported in the 1970 DeMolay Handbook that the Medal had been approved at the 1969 ISC Session.  (CHANGE #3 - CHANGE CERTIFICATE TO A MEDAL)

DeMolay Handbook still reporting that fewer than 50 Medals of Heroism had been awarded.

DeMolay Handbook still reporting that fewer than 50 Medals of Heroism had been awarded.

The Committee on Medals of Heroism and Valor recommended that all 3 be combined into one medal for saving a human life. This was rejected by the Supreme Council. (Proceedings 1983)

Legislation was approved to eliminate the Medal of Valor and to Award the Medal of Heroism to one who risked his life; and the Medal for Saving a Human Life for one who saved a life, without personal risk (such as a CPR rescue.) This is the way it stood until 2013. (Proceedings 1984)   (CHANGE #4 - ELIMINATE THE MEDAL OF VALOR AFTER 24 YEARS OF EXISTENCE.)

Rules and Regulations 206.6 was amended to eliminate the Medal for Saving a Human Life, and to reinstate the Medal of Valor, and broaden its requirements to include “ one who has “performed an act of saving or ATTEMPTING to save a human life.”  (Proceedings 2013)  (CHANGE #5 - REINSTATE THE MEDAL OF VALOR AFTER A 20-YEAR ABSENCE, AND ELIMINATE THE MEDAL FOR SAVING A HUMAN LIFE)

The humorous part of this is that, of course, DeMolay International already has a bunch of Medals for Saving a Human Life in stock, which they cannot now use, (or even sell on eBay) and it does NOT have any Medals of Valor, since it had been eliminated 20 years earlier.

A good program, left alone, was used sparingly, but consistently from 1926 to 1960.  (Remember that Dad Land died at the end of 1959.)  But then the Committee got loosey-goosey with the criteria for the awards, and decided to lessen the blow of a rejection by first giving out a certificate, and later a medallion for good intentions and effort.  Since the death of Dad Land, committees have made no less than FIVE MAJOR CHANGES in the program.   


What was SO IMPORTANT that they had to monkey around with the standards for one of the most unique and prestigious awards granted by the Grand and later the International Supreme Council?

Committees acting on whims, or misunderstandings, or a lack of historical perspective, have made these 5 significant changes to the program, such that, now, if you see a Medal of Heroism, or a Medal of Valor, or a Medal for Saving a Human Life, the only one that has a standard you can count on is the last one, for it specifically is given for SAVING A HUMAN LIFE, whether at personal risk, or not. The rest of the awards have been rendered meaningless by this unnecessary ping-pong game with award criteria.  And now, in 2015, we have legislation before us to "clean up" the DI Bylaws, Rules and Regulations from the 2013 change.

When will the madness stop?


So, what can we learn from this?

Fraternities are institutions run, generally, by well-meaning volunteers in a variety of committees.

Committees generally make quick decisions, under the leadership of one or two really well meaning volunteers.

Committees generally act in good faith, but occasionally can be mis-led.

Committees can get bored with certain subjects, and can make snap decisions rather than informed decisions.

But without committees, we'd have dictators, manipulators and controllers who would make decisions on their own, without input or understanding of the will of the people.  

Governments are run by committees. Religious congregations are run by committees. Businesses are run by committees. Athletic leagues are run by committees.  Fraternities are run by committees.  And yes, DeMolay Chapters are run by committees.  Or at least, they are supposed to be.

Who runs YOUR Chapter?  The Master Councilor?  The Chapter Advisor?  The Advisory Council?  Or the members, through the use of carefully selected committees?  The DeMolay Method is to teach the committee process in all Chapters, to help equip the members for effective service as an adult in business, government, and any group where decisions need to be guided and carefully considered.

Remember that as bad as committees can be, they are still a better solution than surrendering all decision-making powers to a self-appointed committee of one.

TRL Notes:
Originally published 5/8/15
Revised 5/23/15 to add image of original Medal of Heroism