President’s Message, October 2021

At my lodge’s September meeting, I decided to take home our cloth aprons and gloves for a well earned laundering. I’ve never poured so much bleach in my life! Naturally, this activity prompts contemplation of what it all says to the Masonic mind. Gloves are not worn in all Masonic lodges; actually, I think gloveless lodges outnumber we gloved lodges. What do they mean?

We in New York remember, from the lecture of the Hiramic Legend, how during the search for our Operative Grand Master, a dozen Fellow Craft Masons wearing white gloves and aprons, as symbolic of innocence, confessed their conspiracy to King Solomon. During the ensuing search for the Ruffians, it was learned that they too had clothed themselves in white gloves and aprons in making their escape. Suddenly, these garments don’t seem exactly emblematic of good and purity, so what are we to do?

It has been a contentious subject here and there in Masonic history. I bet every grand lodge has in its leadership some officer or cadre of officers or a committee or something that studies the rituals and orations, looking for imperfections and ways to improve the language and understanding of it all. In 1906 Michigan, it was decided to delete mention of gloves from the above part of the Third Degree because it was thought, incorrectly, that gloves did not exist in ancient times. The word “garments” was substituted, but the lodges rejected the whole proposition, so the switch was abandoned.

In 1734 London, Swalwell Lodge’s Master and Wardens decreed that any brother attending lodge without his gloves and apron would be fined one shilling. Of course, my lodge has these white aprons and gloves for its brethren and for visitors alike—which is good, because we don’t have shillings.

My suggestion is to regard our white gloves as lessons in equality and unity. Whether a brother toils all day in industry, or labors in law, serves in sales, or anything else, we in lodge assembled are workmen of like mind and shared ambition: to improve ourselves and to better the condition of mankind. One brother’s hands could be calloused and cracked, and another’s could be soft and manicured, but both Masons meet together on the Level, laboring in our gentle Craft.

You should have seen the aprons when they came out of the wash. You know how a three-fold cord is not easily broken? Try defeating the Gordian Knot of thirty aprons’ drawstrings tangled into one hellish mass. Thanks to Bro. Chad, Past Master of Arts and Sciences Lodge 792, now I know about delicates bags. The right tool for that job.

In closing, if you are in or near New York City, join us on Thursday, October 28 for the meeting of The American Lodge of Research. That’s Masonic Hall on 23rd Street in the French Doric Room on the tenth floor at 7 p.m. Masonic Society Founding Fellow Piers Vaughan and myself will be among the presenters. Hope to see you there.