AUDUBON-PARKSIDE LODGE #218 HISTORY
Compiled by RW Raymond C. Thorne PGT
Chapter 3 -- 1930-1939
The effects of the Depression hit Audubon Lodge almost at once. On March 7, 1930, the lodge faced the fact that the Masonic Hall Association had no money to pay the mortgage (although the money had been there before the Crash). Brother and Mrs. Schnitzler agreed to receive back the property. A notice to this effect was sent to every member of the lodge for discussion and action at the following regular communication.
On March 21 after the regular business, an Entered Apprentice was examined and given the first section of the Fellowcraft Degree. Then MW Luther W. Krout returned labor to the Master Mason Degree to discuss the disposition of the meeting place. It was painfully obvious to the lodge members that they had no choice but to turn ownership of the building back to the original owners. Labor on the Fellowcraft Degree was then resumed and the degree was completed. A tenth-year anniversary is usually one of special celebration. However, perhaps because of the circumstances Audubon’s came and went without official mention. Anniversary celebrations from then on were hit-or-miss.
Parkside, on the other hand, did have a big tenth-birthday observance. On Sunday, June 1, about 40 members of the lodge attended Parkside Baptist Church. On the fifth, the Worshipful Masters of the 18th and 29th Masonic Districts attended Parkside’s regular communication, along with the lodge’s first three honorary members: RW Arthur P. Johnson, PSGD; William G. Hinderer, PGMar and MW Cooper H. Prickitt, PGM.
(A few years earlier the 18th District had grown so large it was divided into the 18th and 29th Masonic Districts. Since the lodges in the two Districts had a close historical and geographic connection--for example, Camden Masonic Temple housed lodges from both Districts--the two Districts and their individual lodges always had a close and intertwining fraternal relationship. Audubon and Parkside remained in the 18th District.)
Parkside’s main celebration was held after the meeting closed, so the Entered Apprentices and Fellowcrafts could also attend. All but one of the Charter Officers were present to take their original chair. Twenty of the Charter Members were received, followed by speeches and musical entertainment.
Audubon was faithfully paying the $40 monthly rent to Brother Schnitzler instead of the Masonic Hall Association, but the relationship between the lodge and building owners apparently was not smooth. From the lodge’s inception up to the December 5, 1930 communication Secretary Beckley gave the lodge’s meeting place as “Masonic Temple.” But starting with the next meeting, December 19, the minutes gave the location as “Schnitzler’s Hall.”
The effects of the Depression were beginning to filter into the minutes of both lodges. On approval of a motion, two-thirds of the money donated at Audubon’s 1930 Annual was placed in the lodge’s Charity Fund, instead of being sent to Grand Lodge’s Charity Fund. The joy of Masonry, almost tangible during the 1920’s in RW William’s minutes of Parkside, disappeared almost overnight and never really returned.
In February, 1931, the Parkside auditors reported that almost $1,900 in unpaid dues was due the lodge. This at a time when lodge dues were $10 a year. Later that year the trustees were authorized to sell some Liberty Bonds (the forerunners of U.S. Savings Bonds). Some time after that the trustees were authorized to borrow money “as necessary.” Audubon lodge resolved on March 20, 1931, to enter into agreement with Audubon National Bank to rent the second floor of their building, which the bank built in 1922 at 100 Merchant Street.
No doubt the choice of location (two blocks away and on the other side of the railroad tracks from Schnitzler’s Hall) was influenced by Charles F. Wise, the lodge’s second Worshipful Master. A former Freeholder and Camden County Clerk, WB Wise was also co-founder and first president of Audubon Bank.
Audubon’s last meeting on the corner of E. Atlantic Avenue and Pine Street was held May 1, 1931. Any nostalgia for the original meeting place was not recorded in the minutes.
The first meeting of Audubon Lodge on the corner of W. Atlantic Avenue and Merchant Street was on May 15, 1931. Worshipful Master Edwin F. Cockcroft thanked all the brethren who worked to make the room “so inviting” and who moved all the lodge’s possessions. At that meeting Brother Earnest Anderson was the first member raised “over the bank.” Also at that meeting, a letter from Grand Master W. Stanley Naughtright was read, thanking the lodge for “loaning” Rev. John Pemberton, Jr. to be Grand Chaplain. (Members of the clergy may be appointed Grand Chaplain even if not a Past Master.) Rev. Pemberton was Audubon’s first Grand Lodge officer.
In September, Audubon changed its by-laws to eliminate the July and August regular communications (which, for several years the lodge had not held, in apparent violation of the by-laws), as well as the second communication in December. From then on, Audubon held its Annual Communication on the First Friday, as Audubon-Parkside always has. Parkside had eliminated their second communication in December in 1929.
At Parkside’s Installation, Wilfred W. Delamater stepped down from the East to be replaced by his father, Charter Member William D. Delamater.
For both Audubon and Parkside, 1931 was an early high water mark for membership. Audubon broke the 300 barrier for the first time, with 302 members. Parkside reached 242, a total equaled the following year. Then the numbers started declining.
During 1932, as Parkside’s Historian Charles H. Sullivan recorded, “Many demands for charity were necessary but the brethren met the issue with unfaltering courage.” On February 2, 1933, Parkside changed its by-laws to eliminate the second meeting of each month.
Parkside’s 13th Anniversary Celebration, June 1, 1933, saw the official visit of MW Arthur P. Johnson, Grand Master, Honorary Member and Worshipful Master of Trimble when Parkside was chartered. He was present to honor William D. Delamater, Grand Chaplain. MW Johnson was at Parkside’s 14th Anniversary Celebration, as were the lodge’s two other Honorary Members, and 27 of the surviving Charter Members.
On April 15, 1936, both Audubon and Parkside held an emergent communication by edict of Grand Master Martin J. Dietz, who directed that all lodges meet that day for the purpose of reconsecration and rededication of Master Masons. Audubon held their meeting in their own lodge room. Since it was Henry S. Haines’ regular communication, Parkside and five other lodges meeting in Camden Temple held their emergent in conjunction with that lodge.
One month later, May 15, Audubon’s Worshipful Master, Grover C. Furtick, revived recognition of the charter members, nine of the 38 living members attending that night. On October 1 Audubon Lodge, having accepted an invitation to visit Parkside Lodge, witnessed Parkside’s Worshipful Master, John Kronenwetter, present 25-year pins to14 members, including 8 charter members. An honored guest that evening was RW Luther Krout, GC. Audubon’s first 25-year night was celebrated March 2, 1937. Thirteen of the 18 eligible members were present, including 11 Charter Members.
One month later, April 2, a degree team of 32nd and 33rd degree members of Excelsior Scottish Rite, including Illustrious Brothers MW Prickitt and RW Krout, were present to confer the Master Mason Degree in Audubon. Total attendance for the meeting was 129 members and 132 visitors, including delegations from two Pennsylvania lodges. One of the two raised that night was William C. Saunders, who would later become Worshipful Master and then Historian of Audubon.
Audubon’s Auditing Committee recommended on June 4 that the little money in the Masonic Hall’s Association’s bank account be closed, thus ending its vestige of existence. After Parkside’s October 7 meeting, Worshipful Brother and Mrs. Frederick C. Vieser showed slides of their trip from the Arctic Circle down through Europe to Northern Africa. At a Special Communication of Parkside on the 28th of that month, officers and members of the Excelsior Scottish Rite Bodies recognized Worshipful and Illustrious Brother Vieser for being coroneted a 33rd Degree Mason.
The following meeting was the first of Parkside’s Father and Son Nights, which became a popular tradition. The entertainment for the sons (and sometimes daughters) was usually on a sports theme. Refreshments were almost always hot dogs and ice cream. On October 2, 1938, Audubon held Masonic Funeral Services for their first Past Master called from this transitory existence, Charles F. Wise.
At Audubon’s 19th Anniversary celebration, May 19, 1939, 15 of the lodge’s Charter Members were honored in the presence of the Worshipful Masters of the 18th and 29th Districts, as well as four PGM’s: Cooper H. Prickitt, Arthur Potterton and Frank C. Sayrs, respectively the Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden and Junior Grand Warden when Audubon Lodge was Constituted, and Arthur P. Johnson, who was also present at the constituting. This was also the Official Visit of RW Joseph H. Gick, District Deputy. At that communication two candidates were crafted.
On June 1, for Parkside’s 19th anniversary, PGM’s Prickitt and Johnson were present, as were the Worshipful Masters of the 18th and 29th Districts. The craftsmen and members of Trimble conferred the Master Mason Degree. The Charter members present were received and there were speeches by Most Worshipfuls and Right Worshipfuls, followed by a social hour that apparently was memorable.
The decade of the 1930’s ended with both Audubon and Parkside having a lower membership than when the decade started. The number of members raised in either lodge was way down--two years during the decade Parkside did not raise anyone. Suspensions NPD were also way up, reflecting the financial times of the country.
Also inevitable as the lodges began to age was the increasing number of deaths of members. During the 1930’s, if an emergent was called in either lodge, it was almost always to conduct a funeral service. (A Masonic Funeral Service is a lodge communication. Before 1959, it was necessary to open a lodge in the lodge room before traveling to the site of the funeral service, and then returning to the lodge room to close the communication. In 1959 Grand Lodge gave lodges the choice of continuing that practice or of opening a Lodge of Sorrows at the beginning of the lodge year, which stands open until the close of the lodge year. Any funeral held by the lodge during the year would be a part of the Lodge of Sorrows communication.)
By the end of the decade, the worst of the Depression was over. Audubon’s membership for 1939 had actually risen three over the previous year, to end at 247. Parkside’s decline had also bottomed out, ending the decade with 208 members.
During much of the same ten years, storms clouds gathered far across the sea. By the end of 1939 they had burst forth, eventually to produce a violence never before seen in this world.