"Where were you last evening, Teddy?"
"Went down to the country."
"Well, you missed the meeting of your life. The Grand Master was here. We had an orchestra, the lodge room was beautifully decorated with palms and cut flowers and the banquet that followed was a peach. You surely missed it, Teddy."
"I attended a meeting of a country lodge that night."
"Wouldn't some of those country Masons open their eyes if they could see a blow-out like we had last night?"
"Yes, I guess they would, but they made me open my eyes at their meeting all right. I guess I will have to tell you about that country lodge meeting:
"In the first place, it was held in the village school house, a two story brick building erected by this Masonic Lodge and given rent-free to the county for school purposes all except for the large hall on the second floor.
"I was told about the meeting the day before and expressed my desire to attend, and the Master took me down to the butcher shop and told Chris Johnson, the butcher, what I wanted and requested him to get two more of the boys and examine me. Chris told me to come back after supper, and when I did there were exactly nine of the local lodge members present, and they made a function of the examination and used up three hours asking me everything from how many wives King Solomon had to where the Master hung his hat.
"They enjoyed themselves fine and I had a time that still seems like a bad dream to me. But from the time that examination was over my standing in that village changed. I was the guest of the town and treated like a prince.
"Next day the farmers commenced coming in at daylight and at 11 o'clock the back fence of the court house was hitched full of gray mares, each with a colt at her heels, and the school house steps and fence were full of farmers in their Sunday clothes, each one whittling a stick and talking Masonry.
"At noon the real function of the day came in the shape of a dinner served by the wives of the Masons in the lodge room. I expected a luncheon, but I found a feast instead! Whole hams, whole turkeys with the stuffing sticking out and running over the plate, armfuls of celery, and right in front of me was a whole roasted pig with an apple in it's mouth, and do you know, that pig really looked like he was glad he had died to grace so noble a feast.
"Honestly, the tables had to stand cross-legged to keep from falling down with their load, and when we got up a little child gathered up over a pint of buttons from under the table. Every night when I go to sleep I see that pig on the table and a nice old lady that kept handing me glasses of boiled custard at that feed.
"Well, I won't make you hungry telling you about it. Enough to say that we ate and talked until 4 o'clock in the afternoon and I never had such a time in my life. They made me make a speech and I told all the stories I had heard in the theatres this winter until the Master said I ought to travel with a show.
"Then the women cleared up the place while we men went out and sat on the fence and smoked like furnaces.
"At 6 o'clock the lodge was opened and although the Master wore a slouch hat, and although there was not a dress suit in the room and although the Senior Warden (who was a farmer) had his favorite fox hound sitting solemnly beside his chair, I have never seen a more beautiful opening ceremony or a better rendered degree. It was the third and when the one candidate had finished the degree and listened to the lecture I thought the work was over. But I was mistaken. The Master finished all the work in the ritual and then added something like this:
"'Jim, you are now a Mason. I fear that it will be many years before you know what that means. There is not a man in this room, Jim, that hasn't watched you grow from a little shaver in a calico dress to manhood. There is not a man in this room who did not watch you all through school, and although you have thought all through life that you had no father, I want to tell you now that you had a hundred.
"'Your father belonged to this lodge, Jim was Master of it and although you can hardly remember him, every man in this room followed him to his grave and every one of us knows that his life was as spotless and square as a man's life can be, Jim, and while we don't know much about heaven, our innermost souls cry out the truthfulness of the life to come, and we know that somewhere in the great beyond your father is looking down on you and me this minute and is glad, and will watch your career as a man and a Mason with renewed confidence and hope. He and we will watch you from now on, Jim.
"'He knew it when you got into the habit of playing ten-cent limit with the gang down at the hotel and it hurt him and it hurt us.
"'All your future life, Jim, try to remember that he is looking down at you, and when there comes up to you a question of right and wrong to decide, try to think what he would like to have you do, and remember you now have the honor of this old lodge to sustain now the lodge that your father loved and was Master of. Of course you are a man now, Jim, but when you were a boy, a very little boy, your daddy used to take you in his arms and pray God that He would guide you in the path that you have started in tonight and partly for daddy's sake, partly for God's sake, partly for the honor of this old lodge, but mostly for your own sake, Jim, I beg of you never to take a step that will make us regret what we have done tonight'
"Jim was in tears and I will admit that I was sniffling some myself when the old man got through. Somehow I had forgotten that he did not have on a Tuxedo suit, somehow the fact that he had on a slouch hat instead of a plug, slipped out of my mind, and all I remember and realize was that he was a true Mason."
Reprinted from the Illinois Masonic News