High Twelve clubs are active in Pennsylvania, providing Masonic fellowship at refreshment as well as important support for youth and youth education programs.
"What is High Twelve?" is probably the question asked most often of the members of that Masonically affiliated club. The simplest answer is that it is a social extension of the Masonic experience.
In days long-gone, noon and midnight were known as "high twelve" and "low twelve." "High twelve" is the time when people call off from labor to refreshment, or as so many call it today, "lunch." Most High Twelve clubs meet during the call-off from labor for the dual purposes of refreshment and Masonic fellowship.
High Twelve is not a lodge; it's a club. It does not hold forth with the Masonic ritual of a Blue Lodge; but strongly encourages active participation of its members in their lodges. At the same time, it promotes the philanthropic objectives of High Twelve.
In August 1920, E.C. (Wallie) Wolcott, a former minister who was the YMCA's General Secretary at the time, met with eight prominent friends at the YMCA in Sioux City, Iowa, for fellowship and camaraderie as business associates who were Master Masons. Thus was born the idea of having Master Masons meet in just such conditions and it was named "High Twelve." Their underlying principle was to help their respective lodges and the Order of DeMolay. The concept was well received and soon High Twelve clubs began to form, first in the surrounding areas, then in other states, and finally into other countries. The parent organization today is called High Twelve International with its headquarters in St. Louis, MO.
The first club in Pennsylvania, which is still active, is High Twelve Club No. 50 in Philadelphia, chartered May 5, 1945. Twenty-seven High Twelve clubs have been chartered in Pennsylvania and 23 of them remain active today. They operate as part of the Pennsylvania Association of High Twelve Clubs, which is the state organization under High Twelve International. Each club decides how often and when to meet (at high twelve or at dinnertime), and the order of its business.
A typical High Twelve meeting includes an invocation and "Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag," a speaker with a topic of general interest, and, of course, food. Club business is either very short, or handled by an Executive Committee. Speakers' subjects range from history, hobbies, charity, travel, medical topics, finance, etc., limited only by the ingenuity of the person arranging the programs. Some clubs have ladies at all meetings, while others have ladies on special occasions. Although only Master Masons can join High Twelve, anyone is welcome at the meetings. Therefore, High Twelve can be a great tool for acquainting a worthy man with men of the Masonic fraternity.
High Twelve clubs are encouraged to get involved with meeting the needs of their communities by whatever means the club can muster. This can be assisting youth, elderly, needy, or the community, itself.
High Twelve has two philanthropic objectives, youth and education, and strongly supports the Order of DeMolay, Rainbow for Girls, and Job's Daughters. Support includes presence at youth meetings and events, as well as financial gifts. In addition to individual club efforts, the Pennsylvania Association provides financially for the groups through scholarships, awards, and general services.
The Wolcott Foundation is its most important educational objective. It provides scholarships to students at George Washington University who seek public service careers in government. In addition to having been accepted by George Washington University, a candidate must undergo High Twelve scrutiny of social and moral values akin to those required to become a Mason. After graduation from George Washington, he or she must serve in a government or international affairs position for four years for the scholarship to be considered a grant; otherwise, only the portion served is considered a grant and the remainder is a loan which must be repaid. The objective, which is being met quite well, is to get persons in highly responsible positions who will provide the moral leadership in solving the many complex problems of the world. During the 1998-99 school year, there were 21 fellows at a cost of $218,397. Over the past ten years, the Foundation has invested approximately $2 million in educating 99 fellows (which includes females). Overall, it has assisted 330 students since its founding.
For information about High Twelve, whether it is to learn about clubs in your area, to seek information about joining, or to investigate forming a new club, contact the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Association of High Twelve Clubs, Grant Roth, 152 N. Whitfield St., Nazareth, PA 18064 (Phone: 610-759-3531).