Compiled by RW Raymond C. Thorne PGT
On Wednesday, February 14, 1940, by authority of Grand Master Joseph C. Imhoff, each of the 16 lodges of the 18th and 29th Districts were supposed to hold a joint emergent communication in Camden Temple for the purpose of affirming their faith in the Declaration of Principles as adopted by Grand Lodge at its 1939 Communication and for renewing their interest in Masonry as a life to be lived by each member. (The Declaration of Principles is now a part of New Jersey Grand Lodge’s Constitution and Regulations.)
This meeting, as well as the Declaration of Principles adopted by the nation’s Grand Lodges, were responses to the anti-Masonic totalitarian powers taking over much of Europe and eastern Asia at the time.
Despite a blizzard, which prevented both Audubon and Parkside from having a quorum, the Grand Master, both District Deputies and several other Grand lodge officers joined about 70 Masons. Most of the Worshipful Masters present participated in some capacity; A. Paul Courtenay, Worshipful Master of Audubon gave the Entered Apprentice obligation and J. Marshall Delamater, Parkside’s Worshipful Master, gave the Fellowcraft obligation.
Incidentally, Marshall Delamater was the brother of one Parkside PM and the son of another.
Audubon celebrated its 20th anniversary May 17 by honoring ten of its 28 Charter Members still on the rolls. Parkside’s 20th anniversary was celebrated by conferring the Master Mason Degree in their lodge on June 6 and then the following night in Trimble.
On July 29, 1941, Audubon held Masonic Funeral Services for James D. Clark, Charter Member and Worshipful Master in 1926. He was perhaps the most faithful Past Master to attend the lodge during its first two decades; for a long stretch during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s he would be the only PM to be listed in the minutes.
Up to Audubon’s 1940 Annual, the banquet was held after the election of officers and other lodge business and then the Installation of Officers. Starting with the December 5, 1941 Annual, Audubon would conduct its business and election, and then go on refreshment to hold its banquet (in this case in Audubon High School), and then resume labor for its Installation.
Sunday evening, December 7, 1941, Audubon worshiped at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, as previously planned. This was appropriate since the entire nation was praying that night; Pearl Harbor had been bombed that morning and the entire nation was at war.
Many able-bodied men, including Masons and potential petitioners, were called to active duty. Gasoline and fuel oil were rationed, putting restrictions on meetings. During the four-year period, the minutes of both lodges occasionally mention approval of buying war bonds and donations to the Masonic Service Centers, which were basically military canteens.
As Parkside’s Historian, Charles H. Sullivan wrote in his history for 1942, “Men and Masons felt the call to duty, and, whether in shop, store, office, farm or where, response was the order. Our brethren are serving in several parts of this and other countries and are as one, in fulfilling their obligations.”
Employees of New York Ship, who were exempt from military service, were a large source of new members for both lodges during World War II and for many years thereafter. A large turnout of Parkside’s members on October 21, 1942, attended the Masonic Funeral Service of William D. Delamater, Charter Member, Worshipful Master in 1932, and Past Grand Chaplain.
On January 29, 1943, Audubon was shocked and saddened by the death of Wilbert Davis, Charter member and the lodge’s only Treasurer. He had succeeded WB Wise as president of Audubon National Bank, a position he held until death.
Parkside’s first 50-year recipient was honored February 4, 1943, when RW Leo H. Carpenter, DGM, the DD’s of the 18th and 29th Masonic Districts, and a number of other RW’s including Luther Krout, PGC, were present to honor John B. Smith, PM. Initiated November 8, 1892 in Brownsville Lodge #60, Pennsylvania, he served as that lodge’s Worshipful Master and then Secretary before moving to New Jersey and affiliating first with Trimble and then with Parkside.
In addition, an autographed letter by George Washington on loan from the archives of the Grand Lodge of New York was exhibited. A “mammoth birthday cake” was presented by the lodge to WB Smith, who was kind enough to share it with his many friends after the meeting.
At its regular communication on March 19, 1943, Audubon held a memorial service in remembrance of Brother Fred Walker, who died March 4 in basic training and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery five days later. Brother Walker would be the only member of either lodge to die while in military service.
At Audubon’s 23rd Anniversary, May 21, 1943, seven charter members were honored. New York Ship Square Club raised four members. Masonic members of Murray-Troutt American Legion Post 242, led by Post Commander Brother Roy Bensing, presented to the lodge a service flag with 12 white stars and one gold star, depicting the number of lodge members serving or killed in military service at that time. Brother Frank Lamplugh then led all present in a rededication ceremony to service to the country, ending with the Pledge of Allegiance.
After entering two candidates at an emergent communication on June 24, Parkside received its service flag, with 10 white stars. Unfortunately, both service flags have long since disappeared.
Parkside’s October meeting, on the seventh, was a reception for MW Leo H. Carpenter, Grand Master, and Illustrious Brother W. Howard Todd, Charter Organist and newly-coroneted 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. Visitors included the Worshipful Masters of the 18th and 29th Districts, plus officers and 33rd degree members of the Excelsior Scottish Rite Bodies. The Grand Master presented Brother Todd with his 33rd degree jewel. This apparently was a very well attended meeting and the members of Olivet Chapter, OES, outdid themselves with the refreshments served after the meeting.
On December 30, Audubon conducted funeral services for Brother Harry Beckley, Charter Member and only Secretary of the lodge. The presence of the Charter Members as a major influence in the lodge’s affairs was diminished further. The last meeting Brother Beckley attended was an emergent on December 8 for the funeral of Brother Charles Schnitzler.
Fifty-two members of New York Ship Square Club (a/k/a the Bozo Club), composed of Masons working in Department 68 of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, paid a visit to Parkside for the purpose of conferring the Master Mason Degree on March 2, 1944. One of the four raised that night was Albert W. Hincken, who would be Worshipful Master of Parkside in 1949.
Audubon and Grand Lodge officers honored RW Harry K. Lawrence, Grand Chaplain, Worshipful Master in 1933 (and future lodge Secretary) on March 17. The Grand Lodge turnout was low due to wartime travel restrictions and gasoline rationing.
On May 19, at Audubon’s 24th Anniversary Meeting, 10 Charter Members and 13 PM’s were honored. Also at that meeting, members of the NYS Square Club, paying their second visit to the lodge that year, raised four brothers. They returned on June 2 to raise five more, including Walter J. Kling, who would become Worshipful Master of Audubon in 1955.
On Thursday, April 12, 1945, Audubon held an emergent to raise five brothers. However, the member’s hearts were saddened because of the news broadcast earlier that day that President and Brother Franklin Delano Roosevelt had died. A fitting memorial and prayer for the deceased brother was led by George W. Fiddler, Sr., PM. Parkside also had a memorial service during an emergent on April 26, before crafting five candidates.
Both Parkside and Audubon held an emergent communication on May 13, then went to evening church services in compliance with President and Most Worshipful Harry S Truman’s proclamation, and New Jersey Grand Master John S. Caie’s order, that the day be set aside for a day of prayer and thanksgiving for the Allied Forces’ Victory in Europe.
Audubon went to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, where the church’s pastor and lodge brother Rev. Paul A. Kapp presided, as he had at other such lodge church services since before the war began. Parkside, along with other Camden lodges, went from Camden Temple to Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church, escorted by Cyrene Commandery No. 7, Knights Templar. (Interestingly, there was no similar Presidential proclamation or official Masonic observance of V-J Day.)
Audubon celebrated its 25th Anniversary May 18, 1945, by honoring seven charter members and crafting five candidates. On September 7, the lodge honored eight members raised the first year of its existence, MW Leo H. Carpenter, PGM, presenting the 25-year tokens.
Parkside really whooped it up at their 25th Anniversary Celebration, October 4. The night started with a banquet at which 245 members and guests dined to live music. Returning servicemen were greeted. Visitors included the Worshipful Masters of both the 18th and 29th Districts, the glee Club of Richard Vaux Lodge No. 384, Philadelphia (Parkside and Richard Vaux had long been exchanging visits), and the NYS Square Club.
Received West of the altar were Grand Master Caie, accompanied by PGM’s Frank C. Sayrs, Arthur P. Johnson and Leo H. Carpenter, RW Joseph H. Gick, DD of the 18th District and George G. Rudisill, DD of the 29th District, all of whom were piped in by properly attired brothers. Since Worshipful Master James McKissock and Grand Master Caie were both born in Scotland this salute was quite appropriate.
Twenty of the 25 surviving charter members were honored. William F. Hory, vice president of the NYS Square Club and future Worshipful Master of Audubon, addressed the assemblage. Then PGM’s Sayers and Johnson reminisced about their parts in the creation of Parkside Lodge.
There was a moving experience before the Grand Master spoke. As Historian Charles Sullivan recorded it, “Trimble Lodge presented Parkside with a fine silk American flag and as the lights were dimmed and a spotlight played upon it, all hands arose and sang the National Anthem. All of the returned soldiers present then saluted with the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a very dramatic few minutes.”
A total of sixteen members of Parkside and twenty members of Audubon served in the military during the war. All but one came home. Audubon’s plaque honoring its members who served in the war is still owned by the lodge.
Masonry was on an upswing by the end of 1945. Parkside, which dipped to a low of 199 members at the end of 1942, ended 1945 with 224 members. Audubon, which had 247 members in 1940, vaulted to 346, having raised a lodge record of 47 in 1945.
Both lodges once again were routinely having emergents to confer degrees because there were not enough regular communications to do all the work. The raisings were conferred not just by the lodge officers, their Past Masters or Craftsmen’s Associations, but by Square Clubs from New York Ship, Camden Post Office and Westinghouse.
As the G.I.’s came home and were mustered out of the military, there was a tremendous increase in employment, marriages, college enrollments and babies. And Masonic membership in New Jersey (if not around the country) would rise to all-time highs.
In early 1946 Audubon Bank, wanting a new tenant who would pay a higher rent than Audubon Lodge ($75 per month), sent a letter to the lodge asking them to find a suitable meeting place elsewhere. On May 3, 1946. Audubon’s Worshipful Master, Hulah L. Smith, appointed a committee of eight to prepare a plan for financing a new temple.
The following meeting, May 17, the committee proposed that bonds be issued in $50 denominations, payable at death (or earlier at the discretion of the trustees) without interest, and that the money be kept in a separate account. This concept was adopted and would be presented to the general membership and the relevant Grand Lodge officers. The bonds were printed by Fred Ottinger, Jr., Audubon’s Worshipful Master in 1941.
At Audubon’s September 6 meeting, the lodge formally approved the proposal to finance a new meeting place. Worshipful Master Smith then appointed a committee of seven to locate and recommend a suitable lot for the erection of a meeting place.
RW Charles Williams, PSGD, declined his nomination for Secretary at Parkside’s 1946 Annual, saying 25 years was enough. On September 9, 1947, Trimble, for the second time in its history, raised their one thousandth member to their rolls. Presiding in the East for this occasion was RW Williams, who, as Worshipful Master of Trimble, also presided over the East the first time the number of Trimble’s membership reached four digits.
At Parkside’s 1947 Annual, twenty-two 33rd degree Masons from Excelsior Scottish Rite, including two from Parkside, RW Williams and Frederick C. Vieser, PM, plus RW E. Walter Parsons, DGM, were present to honor recently coroneted Arthur E. Armitage, Sr. Illustrious Brother Armitage was the founder of the South Jersey Law School, now a part of Rutgers University, Camden.
On June 4, 1948, Audubon Lodge agreed to purchase a plot of land at the corner of Virginia and Maple Avenues, planning to build their temple there.
That November 19, Audubon had an Official Visit of MW E. Walter Parsons, Grand Master, plus a delegation of Illustrious 33rd Degree Masons, including Scottish Rite Deputy for the District of New Jersey Frank C. Sayrs, PGM, Commander-in-Chief of Excelsior Consistory Arthur P. Johnson, PGM, MW Leo H. Carpenter, PGM, and Frederick C. Vieser, PM of Parkside. The purpose of the visitation was to honor newly coroneted RW Luther P. Krout, PGC, PM and long-time Chaplain of Audubon, as well as Thrice Potent Master of Excelsior Lodge of Perfection.
Audubon’s Worshipful Master, William E. Beringer, Senior Warden Karl Seibel and Past Masters Luther Krout, Franklin P. Kramer and Hulah L. Smith met on August 30, 1949, with MW William T. Vanderlipp, PGM, representing Grand Lodge, concerning the building of a Masonic temple.
The Past Grand Master suggested that the lodge create a building corporation to oversee the construction and maintenance of the building, preferably administered by trustees not a trustee of the lodge, that the lodge audit the books once a year and report their findings to the lodge, and that all actions of the building trustees be approved by the lodge. The report of the committee was received by the lodge on September 2.
On October 6, Parkside beheld yet another delegation of 33rd Degree Masons, including Excelsior Consistory’s Commander-in-Chief, MW Arthur P. Johnson, PGM, and two lodge members, J. Blair Cuthbert and RW Williams. Also present were MW William F. House, GM, two PGM’s, and 23 other past or present Grand Lodge officers. They were there to honor Illustrious Rowland R. Harden, Worshipful Master in 1937, Past Thrice Potent Master of Excelsior Lodge of Perfection and newly coroneted 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.
The next day, October 7, 1949, Franklin P. Kramer, PM, moved, and A. Paul Courtney, PM, seconded, that the Audubon Masonic Temple Association be formed and that it be composed of all the members of Audubon Lodge. The motion passed, and the new Temple Association was formed after the close of the lodge meeting.
Audubon Lodge ended 1949 with 459 members and Parkside Lodge ended the decade with an even 300.
Between the end of World War II and the end of the decade, both lodges seemed to be constantly reading and balloting on petitions, and conferring class after class of new members. Just about every class Parkside conferred in those years contained at least one candidate receiving a courtesy degree from a foreign jurisdiction. While Audubon also occasionally conferred courtesy degrees, for some reason they also conferred many courtesy funeral services.
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