Saturday, January 1, 2011
On Wednesday, March 20, 1968, the brethren in the Level Club met at Townleys’ restaurant at 6:15 for dinner, and left an hour later to catch the Knick game at the Garden. (The visiting team was the Cincinnati Royals, yet another defunct entity.) The ’68 Knicks of course was the team of Dick Barnett, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed… the Hall of Famers who had their numbers retired. But get this: The brethren left Elizabeth, New Jersey at 7:15 p.m. for a game at Madison Square Garden. If you tried that today, you’d miss the game.
Total assets on Dec. 31, 1967: $25,631 (that’s $168,596 in today’s money). 1968 dues: $17.50, including the $1 Grand Lodge assessment. Junior Past Master Albert M. Pines was feted February 18 at Short Hills Caterers ($11.50 per person). 44th Anniversary Dinner-Dance at Richfield Regency Caterers on May 22. Met game on June 19. Picnic September 15 in Warinanco Park. The lodge’s major accomplishment of 1968 was its establishment of a blood bank. Sid served as Chaplain that year, his first full year in Masonry.
And speaking of New Jersey Consistory, here is that aforementioned diploma issued May 18, 1968. Just as my grandfather’s first entrance into the lodge was 30 years before my own, so too was his initiation into the AASR. Thirty years almost to the day. Actually this copy of the diploma is what used to be the traveling paper, folded and protected in a wallet, used for identification when visiting other Scottish Rite bodies. The actual diploma (heavy paper, embossed seal, suitable for framing, etc.) remains unfound.
There were a few non-Masonic papers and objects inside the Bances box that stand out. The sterling silver kiddish cup is out of place. The Morgan silver dollar (1884, New Orleans) is an entirely typical, predictable item to find among personal effects in my family...
But the Masonic journey of the late W. Sid begins with this letter from W. Joseph Bernstein, Secretary of Mt. Nebo Lodge No. 248. Dated January 24, 1967, it informs its happy recipient that his EA° would be Monday, February 13, and that the $200 balance of his initiation fee will be accepted that night. That $200 is in addition to whatever deposit accompanied the petition for membership. If the complete initiaton fee totaled $250, that would equal $1,644 in today’s money. Has your lodge kept up with inflation?
Perhaps more mementos will be found in the house. My grandfather smoked a brand of Havanas called Gold Label. I remain hopeful that a Past Master’s jewel has yet to be discovered in one of those boxes.