March Temple Topics


Upcoming events can always been seen on the lodge website, as well as on the Berwyn Lodge Facebook page maintained by Bro. Alejandro Cabral. Some notable upcoming events in the next month include:

April 5 – Finance committee meeting

April 12 – Stated meeting and reception of DDGM

April 23 (Saturday) – Easter Party at Berwyn Lodge. Check the website for details.

April 26 – Past Masters’ Night (RSVP by April 12 to W.Bro. Luisito Fanlo, Bro. Alejandro Cabral & Bro. Gadiel Levi, or by email at

May 31 – Masonic fellowship night at Olive or Twist restaurant in Berwyn


W. Bro. Stanley Freese

As I write the article today, I have just been informed that our beloved organist (and Past Grand Organist) Worshipful Brother Stan Freese is in hospice care at a local hospital. Over the years, Stan’s music has added so much to the Berwyn Lodge experience that it’s impossible to sum it up, and Stan himself has always been a true and faithful brother – one who I have always enjoyed sharing fellowship with at the lodge.

A couple of years ago, I started planning a book of Masonic short mystery stories, in the Sherlock Holmes vein, but centering on the brothers of an imaginary lodge. I only ever managed to write one story, but I knew when I began that my Sherlock Holmes would be the lodge’s organist, as a tribute to Stan. I reproduce it here while he’s in my thoughts and prayers (it’s too long for a single newsletter article, so I will continue it in the next Temple Topics!)


The Case of the Golden Gavel

By Alan Schwartz

(Copyright 2008, all rights reserved)


“Thank you, Brother Organist, for that outstanding reception. It is with a mixture of pride and regret that I have the opportunity today to be a visitor to Socratic Lodge, and to present you with the Golden Gavel award for ritual proficiency.”

Sanford Douglas, Master of Acacia Lodge, looked over the Masonic brethren seated in the Lodge room of Socratic Lodge as he continued his address from the dais in the East. He stood beside Robin Smith, the Master of Socratic Lodge, who was seated in the ornate Master’s chair, situated between the desk of the lodge secretary on his left and the desk of the lodge treasurer, and beyond that, the organ, on his right. The light of a full moon shone through the casement windows set near the ceiling on the north and south walls of the upstairs lodge room.

“As you know, the Golden Gavel is a traveling trophy that recognizes the lodge whose officers are deemed – by a panel of judges – to be the best ritualists that year. And, as is traditional, it is presented personally from the lodge who last held it to the new winner,” Douglas continued.

“Acacia Lodge has given the Gavel a place of honor for the last fourteen years.” Douglas smiled thinly. “And we’d hoped to make it an even fifteen, but apparently the judges this year felt that we’d had it long enough. As you’ll one day learn, it’s not an easy thing to keep, and a harder one to lose. But today, together with my Senior and Junior Wardens, who have already been introduced to you, I wish you joy of it, and the best of luck keeping it. And I look forward to seeing it again.”

Silence from the brethren of Socratic Lodge accompanied Douglas for a moment as he stepped down from the dais to return to his seat, but was soon interrupted as Sam Haywain, the lodge organist, struck up an accompanying march that clothed Douglas in musical honor. The brethren began to applaud, tentatively at first, but with increasing fervor as Haywain’s playing caught them. One whispered appreciatively to another. At 32, Haywain was one of the younger members of the lodge, but his music had already attracted several visitors from other lodges to the two-story stone temple that housed Socratic Lodge. Douglas seated himself by his Senior and Junior Wardens near the northern of the pair of closed doors on the west side of the room, behind which lay the small preparation room in which initiates were prepared before receiving the Masonic degrees. Smith handed the small gilt gavel to Jim Johnson, Socratic’s secretary, who proudly displayed it on his desk.

After Smith and his officers performed the ritual closing of the lodge, the southern door in the west was opened by Matthew Ortiz, the tyler of Socratic Lodge, and the Acacia delegation joined the Socratic brethren, about 35 in all, in leaving the lodge room through that door. They passed through the tyler’s room to deposit their aprons before descending the stairs to reach the dining hall below, where they waved farewell to several brethren headed home.


It was not five minutes later than Ortiz ran into the dining hall breathlessly, still clad in his tyler’s apron.

“The Golden Gavel is gone!”

The brethren looked up in surprise at the tyler’s flushed countenance. Smith and Douglas, seated together, stood up at once. With the rest of the brethren following curiously, Smith strode toward his tyler, and held up one hand.

“Take it easy, Matt. What’s happened?”

“Worshipful Master,” Ortiz began, “I was clearing up the Lodge room as usual after the meeting, and went to Brother Secretary’s table where he told me the Golden Gavel had been on display after we received it from the Acacia delegation. I was going to move it to the locked display case in the anteroom. But it’s gone.”

“I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation. Perhaps Jim moved it from his desk before he left for the night?”

“Worshipful, I searched the lodge room thoroughly. It’s not there.”

“Well, let’s give Brother Jim a call and see if he took it home for some reason.”


But Smith was shaking his head as he returned from the phone in the office. “I called Brother Secretary, but Jim says he left it on his desk.”

“Bad luck, Robin,” remarked Douglas. The other members of the Acacia Lodge delegation, the Senior and Junior Wardens, wore somber faces, but the junior of the pair, a rotund man dressed like the others in a black tuxedo, could not quite hide a smirk as he quietly murmured, “We hold onto it for fourteen years, and you lose it in one night?”

Ortiz rounded on the delegate. “Maybe we had it ‘lost’ for us?”

“What are you trying to say?”

“Maybe,” Ortiz continued, “someone didn’t want us to have the Gavel. Maybe someone,” he added, shooting the Acacia delegates a dark look, “took it.”

Several other Socratic Lodge members began to whisper to each other at this.

Brother Tyler,” Douglas said icily, “I’m sure if you think about what you’re suggesting, you’ll see it’s quite impossible. But as you’re certainly not asking our help to recover it, I don’t think we need to stay here and listen to such suggestions.”

But before the delegates could make any motion toward the front door, Tom Firth, Rolando Gavallo, and Bill Gonzales, three of Socratic’s larger members, were leaning against it, eyeing the visitors steadily.

(To be continued….)

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