History was made in Shady Cove on March 7 when members and guests of Cascade Masonic Lodge 208 celebrated the dedication of their newly purchased lodge. Freemasons from all over Oregon assembled to consecrate the building and to participate in an impressive ceremony of ancient tradition. The Grand Master of Oregon, Art Bush, wearing a top hat, led the ritual before turning the lodge over to Upper Rogue Master Bill Littlefield.
After prayers that not only dedicated the building but dedicated the member’s lives to God, an altar in the middle of the room was uncovered. Three candles on it were lit by the Oregon Grand Marshall, Tomey Greer. This was followed by scattering corn, an emblem of nourishment, into a silver chalice on the altar. Wine was then poured on top of the corn as an emblem of refreshment. Finally a vessel of oil was poured over the corn and wine symbolizing the pouring of oil over the troubled waters of strife.
Standing with their arms traditionally folded across their chests, the Masons reverently took part in the ceremony. After each addition on the altar, the Masons clapped “three times three” for a total of nine claps. And from time to time during the ritual, with military precision, Masons marched with a quiet dignity around the room.
After the first part of the ritual, three faded schoolbooks were placed on the altar to combat ignorance in the name of Freemasonry, the oldest fraternity in the world. The books signified a support of the public school system in this country. The Masons stand for protection and perpetuity of schools.
As well as supporting education as part of a true democracy, the Masons are intensely loyal to their country, said Bush. Using poetic terms, he described America’s flag of stars and stripes as sun kissed and wind tossed — a red, white and blue symbol of liberty.
At the end of the age-old ceremony, Bush tapped a metal plaque several times with a gavel, proclaiming the lodge to have been dedicated.
Before Bush handed the gavel to Littlefield, he offered a glimpse into local history. The Upper Rogue Masons began in June 1948 in Shady Cove. In the early sixties, they built a lodge on the north end of town at the corner of Highway 62 and Cleveland but financial difficulties caused the members to sell the building several years ago. The brethren, as they were called by Bush, were hit hard over losing the lodge.
Recently however, recovering financially, the Masons were able to buy the old Grange on Chaparral to own a lodge once again. Funds left over from the purchase will enable the Masons to continue support of schools, Little League Baseball, the Easter egg hunt and the Children’s Christmas party. Bush said, “I am tickled to death today to dedicate a new lodge. This will be the highlight of my year as Grand Master.”
The Masons teach that each person has a responsibility to make the world better and a lodge gives an opportunity to join with other like-minded people. Members of the Cascade Lodge would like to build the roster but traditionally anyone wishing to join the Masons must ask. Members are not allowed to recruit because part of the ritual is to ask those joining if it is of their own free will. For more information call Bill Littlefield at 541-878-2860.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent