AUDUBON-PARKSIDE LODGE #218 HISTORY
Compiled by RW Raymond C. Thorne PGT
Chapter 2 -- 1921-1929
The minutes of virtually every regular communication of both lodges during the decade were full of petition readings and balloting, degree conferrals, requests to attend church services, and visitations to Eastern Star Chapters and other lodges. Virtually every emergent was for the conferral of a degree.
Musical interludes were quite common during Masonic meetings back then. Parkside had its own quartet. Both lodges record performances of visiting talent, especially at the Annuals. There were also frequent mentions of visiting lodges, square clubs and the Excelsior Scottish Rite 33rd-Degree degree team which conferred degrees in either Audubon or Parkside, and records of those two lodges visiting other lodges to confer degrees.
On Friday, May 20, 1921--Audubon’s first anniversary meeting--PGM Prickitt and Senior Grand Warden Sayrs were present when Rev. George Kain, Charter Chaplain, presented the lodge with a framed collection of photos of the 54 charter members, which the lodge still has. Parkside celebrated its first anniversary Saturday June 4 with a dinner dance in the Camden Temple Banquet Room. The 350 in attendance was further proof of the close ties of the various Camden lodges. On the first of October, 162 members and family attended Parkside’s first picnic at the home of Brother (and future Master) Dallas Cann.
Parkside raised 28 members in 1921. While over the years the lodge would sometimes come close to that number, it would never be surpassed.
At a regular communication of Parkside on April 6, 1922, a class of five was raised by the Master and officers of Audubon. At Parkside’s second meeting that month, the twenty-seventh, Charter Member Frank S. Van Hart was honored by the lodge for becoming Mayor of Camden less than a month earlier. In attendance were mayors from many surrounding towns, a large number of Camden City Council, as well as officials from various municipal and county departments.
At Audubon’s August 18 regular communication the lodge authorized the purchase of the lot at the southeast corner of White Horse Pike and Pine Street. That meant the lodge owned two corners of that intersection.
However, at the following meeting, September 1, the lodge resolved that the original trustees sell both properties and the money go towards the purchase of Schnitzler’s Hall. The rest of the cost for the hall was raised by taking out a mortgage, which was held by Brother and Mrs. Schnitzler.
Three new permanent trustees were appointed for life as a Masonic Hall Association to administer the Temple. The lodge paid a monthly rent to the Association. Routine operating costs of the building were borne by the lodge. Major repairs, insurance and mortgage payments were borne by the trustees.
There was no record of any audit of Association funds; the trustees were apparently accountable to no one. This would later prove to be a mistake on the lodge’s part. Philip Stohlberger, Past Master of Trinity #79 (Atlantic City) was a frequent visitor to Audubon Lodge, finally affiliating in 1923. A year later he agreed to do the leg work for a group of Masons working for the Atlantic City Railroad desiring their own lodge. (They met as a square club in a caboose parked on a side track in a Camden rail yard.) The lodge was chartered as Henry S. Haines Lodge #253 and Worshipful Brother Stohlberger dimitted to become the lodge’s Charter Master.
Five other members of Audubon dimitted to become Charter Members of Haines, one of them becoming Worshipful Master. Five members of Parkside also dimitted to become Charter Members of Haines, again, one of the group eventually served as Worshipful Master. Another member of Parkside who dimitted later that year to affiliate with Haines would also serve that lodge as Worshipful Master.
Parkside’s meeting April 22, 1926 was a special night. It was Past Master’s night and all the lodge’s PM’s were present and occupied the chairs to raise a class of four.
Then came the presentation and reception of RW Charles A. Williams, Charter Master and current Secretary, whom earlier that day had been installed Senior Grand Deacon. Also honored that night was Dallas R. Cann, PM, whom earlier that week had been elected and installed Grand Master of the Most Puissant Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters. On June 3, in conjunction with Parkside’s sixth anniversary celebration, was the reception of MW William B. Mackey, Grand Master, for the purpose of honoring the RW Senior Grand Deacon. Following a banquet, the lodge opened and in the presence of members from Parkside and Collingswood (MW Mackey’s lodge), Worshipful Master Russell C. Batten received the Grand Master and several other members of the elected Grand Line, the sitting Masters of the 18th District, four PGM’s (including Prickitt and Sayrs), DD Witte, two PDD’s from Trimble, plus other past Grand Lodge officers and several PM’s from the 18th District (including three from Trimble).
After several musical selections, the Master assembled west of the altar the PM’s and RW’s who helped form Parkside. RW Williams, who was being honored that night, was presented twice--by a PM of Parkside, as well as by a PM of Trimble.
Audubon held an emergent communication on May 11, 1928, for the purpose of finding a way to liquidate its mortgage indebtedness and to raise money to make necessary repairs to the Temple. After a lengthy discussion the lodge agreed to authorize the Building Trustees to promote a bond issue not to exceed $15,000. Bonds would be issued in amounts of $25, $50 or $100, to be paid in installments, and payable at no interest at death. The formal resolution to this effect was approved by the lodge at a regular communication June 15.
This account was separate and distinct from the lodge account and the Masonic Hall Association’s account. A few months later a report to the lodge said the members were promptly responding to the call for funds.
On November 1, Parkside was informed that DD William H. Witte, who had been District Deputy of the 18th Masonic District the entire period of that lodge’s existence, has resigned. Taking his place was Samuel E. Fulton, PM. A Charter Member of Parkside and that lodge’s immediate Past Master, RW Fulton would serve as District Deputy until 1931 and would be Parkside’s only DD.
October 29, 1929, was a date that changed the course of this country. The Wall Street Crash took the investments of many individuals and businesses, and America plunged into the Great Depression. By coincidence, a few weeks later both lodges recorded their first suspensions NPD--Parkside suspending one and Audubon seven.
At the end of 1929 both lodges had reported a steady annual growth of members, mainly through initiation. Audubon had gone from 54 members to 290. Parkside went from 40 to 226.