Thursday, February 5, 2015

DeMolay and Prohibition

To Drink, or Not to Drink, That Was The Question
by "Dad" Thomas R. Labagh

The Grand Council of the Order of DeMolay met in Executive Committee only during a number of the Depression years, because of the costs of travel.  The May 6, 1933 Executive Committee meeting was held at the Hotel Commodore in New York City.  The Chairman of the Executive Committee was  Ernest A. Reed, of Newark, NJ.  Present for the meeting were Reed, Jesse M. Whited of San Francisco, Chandler C. Cohagen of Billings, MT, Robert D. Williams of NY, Frank I. Buckingham of Kansas City, MO, Fred W. Hardwick, Louisville, KY, John H. Glazier, Past Grand Master of DeMolay, from MO, and Grand Scribe, Frank S. Land, of Kansas City, MO.

This is from the transcript of the meeting, as reported by The Master Reporting Company, Inc., stenographer(s) hired to make an official written record of the proceedings of the meeting.

CHAIRMAN REED:   There is just one other question that has come to me a number of times, and I wonder if it has to you, that is, in regard to the new status of DeMolay with regard to the liquor situation.  We have to pause and deliberate.  A blank which a good may of our Chapters are using says, "Do you promise this Chapter you will not use liquor of any kind?"  Well, that might mean water.  It has always been interpreted to mean that he will not use any intoxicating liquors.

MR. HARDWICK:   The Grand Master of Ohio has issued an edict stating 3.2 beer is intoxicating.  The Grand Master of Kentucky says it is not.

CHAIRMAN REED:  This is the point, are you going to allow the DeMolays to serve beer at their 

MR. LAND:  We can't do it.  There is a law in the statutes that prohibits it. I am against it.

CHAIRMAN REED:  I am getting all kinds of letters from folks about it.

MR. WILLIAMS:  There is a provision prohibiting it.

MR. LAND:  There is just one thing I want to remind you of,  I don't believe we had better make public anything we did here today until the referendum vote has been received.  Of course, we can come right out and say Jesse Whited succeeds Ernest Reed of Newark, as Chairman,

MR. WHITED:  To come back to the beer question, we are going to be asked for a ruling on that.  What does the law state?

(...Mr. Land read the statute covering this...)

MR. WHITED:  Near-beer is a malt liquor.  That doesn't say anything about alcohol content.

MR. LAND:  If this movement can't stand on a moral question of that kind, we might just as well throw up our hands.  If we give any latitude in this thing and say, "Yes, we approve of your going in and drinking any kind of liquor," we will damn ourselves with the entire American public.

MR. BUCKINGHAM:  Yes, you might as well fold up your tents,

MR. LAND:  When we are questioned, we will simply say, "The law is this," and cite the law.

CHAIRMAN REED:  We are not dealing with adults, we are dealing with boys.

MR. WHITED:  I am perfectly willing to do what the Grand Council wants.  You can cite the law and then they ask for an interpretation of the law.

MR. LAND:  The Chapter Officers and the Advisory Council must be informed by way of a bulletin, from either you or the Grand Scribe's office, that they must not serve these at any of their parties.  Of course, it if is going on in other parts of the building, we can't stop that.  As far as our own particular party is concerned, it must be dry.

MR. WHITED:  Maybe we had better not make a general edict, just say that is the law.

CHAIRMAN REED:  That applies to drinking it as well as having it provided at banquets.
That is where the discussion ends in the transcript.  

Here are some 

questions to ponder:

1.   Have you ever read a transcript of a meeting before?  What is your impression of the quality of the discussion?

2.   Do you think this is a verbatim transcription of what was said, or has it been altered by an editor?

3.   What is significant about the date of the meeting, and the topic being discussed?  

4.   Are you familiar with the history of Prohibition?  When did it start?  When did it end?   Do you think it had an effect on the development or growth of the Order of DeMolay?

5.   What did you learn about "Dad" Frank S. Land from reading this transcript?  

6.   What was the over-riding factor in the decision that was made?

7.   DeMolay faced a similar issue in 2013 with the recent legalization of the use of recreational marijuana in the states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.  Do you know DeMolay International's official position on this?   

Hint:  Read DIR&R 325.1(i) by downloading your own copy of the DeMolay International Bylaws, Rules and Regulations from

and also be informed about the specific language used by this Wikipedia article

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