Brother Brother's Journal: No (Grand) Rest for the (Grand) Weary

March-April 2012

By Michael Halleran, 32°

Date: February 24, 1912
Weather: Chilly
Outlook: Colder

As a rule, Grand Lodge officers are as lazy as circumstances will allow, largely because in most jurisdictions there’s forty-five of them and each only has one official duty. We have Grand Poets and Grand Conductors, Grand Equerries, and Grand Pursuivants, Grand This and Grand That but no Grand Sherry Taster, rot ’em but the lofty responsibilities of these respective offices amount to doing only one thing. They’re charged with finding words that rhyme with “Craftsmen,” or banging a gong at the right moment four times a year, or lining every one up just so for processions, or keeping the Grand Master’s gloves from getting dirty, and not much else.

Yet, this exalted indolence admits of one exception: the Grand Senior Deacon. At a regular lodge the SD is busy enough, introducing the odd visitor, shuttling around with a ballot box, conducting or trying to conduct, in my case visiting dignitaries, but for the Grand Senior Deacon, there is no rest whatever. Whenever something—or someone—needs to get from Point A to Point B in the Grand Lodge, the GSD is on hand like a sheep dog to chivvy it, him, or them to the appointed place.

Time had fairly flown by since my appointment—only last November—to Grand Senior Deacon, and hence to the Progressive Line which is something of a misnomer in Masonry, I assure you and I had no notion of what to expect. The lodge received the official announcement with a mighty cheer God bless ’em and even Jerkington sent round a note offering to help me learn how to open and close a lodge if I desired damn his eyes. Thus blinded by the praise and plaudits, I sailed breezily along towards the Annual Communication, when I should have packed a trunk, assumed a foreign name, and left the state on the Midnight Express.

Innocent of these concerns, however, I reported to the Grand Lodge Hall for the Annual Session, in which I had no role. It went all day as near as I can tell, but I fell asleep just after lunch and the janitor woke me when he was locking up, so I can’t really say for sure. In any event, the whole shebang recessed until the next morning for installation, after which the newly installed Grand Master would receive visiting dignitaries and announce his plans for the ensuing Masonic year.

As you know, I’d never actually occupied the Senior Deacon’s chair in lodge—filling in on only a few occasions—and I’d never gotten the words down pat. But I’d taken the trouble to learn them over the last month. It was with some alarm while observing the Annual Session that I realized that I’d learned the regular lodge version—not the Grand Lodge style—you know, where they insert the word “Grand” before every noun, verb, adjective, and past participle.…

    As the Grand Sun in the Grand South is the Grand Glory of the Grand Day, so Grandly stands the Grand Senior Dog Catcher to Grandly Catch the Grand Dog and give Grandly His Grandness a Grand Bone, &c., &c.

Still, by the morning of installation, I’d gotten it down pat, although as a consequence I answered every salutation and “Good Morning” at breakfast with “Grand, just grand.”

We opened on the stroke of nine and although it was even money either way I acquitted myself creditably in my speaking part, although attending to the altar could have gone a bit more smoothly. Still, after I’d located the compasses—I’d knocked them off opening the VSL—I soon set everything to rights and I seated, stood, seated, stood, and seated as we went through the national anthem, and a stirring version of “Come, Craftsman, Assembled Our Pleasures to Share,” by the choir of the aptly-named Harmony Lodge.

No rest for the weary, I was then rapped up to begin the private introductions. I managed the Past Grand Masters: Bunn, Wacket, Buzzard, Stubble, and Boot fairly well, although I trod on Stubble’s foot in my haste to get them seated again. After that, unfortunately, I got the District and Area Deputies turned around, and it was no end of trouble getting them sorted out into the right order. There followed the foreign dignitaries (Bavaria, Abyssinia, Pennsylvania, &c.), many of them with names like the family silver falling down a flight of stairs in a metal box. It takes no more than a few lines to write this, but rest assured that by the time we got all these bigwigs presented to the Craft, with the appropriate applause for each, the Jurassic epoch was a mere blink of the eye.

A cowan, crouched behind a curtain or peering intently through a secret spyhole, would, at this juncture, have taken up his notebook—now that all these blasted introductions were out of the way—intent on finally recording the Grand secrets of the Grand Lodge, but if he’d only have sat near me I could have saved him the bother. Don’t trouble yourself, chum, I would have whispered to him, we opened Grand Lodge for the sole purpose of introducing eighty-two people for ninety-five minutes in complete and total secrecy; presently, we’ll go to refreshment and let the general public in.

And that’s exactly what we did.

Editor’s Note

This excerpt is from Bro. Brother’s Journal, just published by Macoy Publishing. Bro. Brother’s Journal contains the personal reminiscences, the earliest dating from 1893, of Hiram H. Brother (1872–1970), a prominent Freemason from Kansas City. At times a shrewd observer, his verbatim recording of Masonic life offers a glimpse of the fraternal experience that is seldom, if ever, found in print. In unvarnished fashion, Bro. Brother dutifully records the actual workings of his “sleepy little lodge,” and in the process, he lifts the veil of obscurity from this secretive and mysterious society, encountering, along the way, such luminaries as Mark Twain, Kellar the Great, Buffalo Bill Cody, Teddy Roosevelt, and even Sherlock Holmes. For more information, please visit www.macoy.com or www.bro-brother.co.