AUDUBON-PARKSIDE LODGE #218 HISTORY
Compiled by RW Raymond C. Thorne PGT
Chapter 6 -- 1960-1969
Chapter Six--1960-1969 Parkside’s minutes between April 3, 1959 and September 2, 1965 disappeared long before the consolidation. There is also no surviving lodge history for that period. From other sources certain information can be gleaned, However, much information has been lost. Parkside lost Charter Member Charles S. Roselle May 16, 1960, less than a month before his 47th Masonic birthday.
Grand Master Samuel B. Brosius, with most of the elected and appointed Grand Line, made an Official Visit to Audubon June 24, 1960 for the purpose of honoring RW Walter J. Kling, Grand Chaplain and Worshipful Master of Audubon in 1955. It was noted in the minutes the remarks were kept brief because it was a very hot night (and the room was not yet air conditioned). One feature of the evening was the assemblage singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
In less than three weeks, during the summer of 1961, Parkside lost two of their prominent Charter Members. On July 22, Brother Edward Albiston, Proxy Emeritus, died. On August 10, RW Frederick G. Drake, Past Grand Pursuivant died. He was Worshipful Master in 1925 and lodge Historian at his time of death.
Audubon gave a Masonic Funeral January 20, 1962 for their Junior Warden Robert L. Kass, who died about two weeks shy of his tenth Masonic Birthday. The Worshipful Master and other members of Henry S. Haines joined a large turnout from Audubon to say good-by to a very popular brother.
On March 24, RW Rowland R. Harden, Sr., PGC, died. Worshipful Master of Parkside in 1937 and Treasurer when he died, he was also a Trustee of the Masonic Home and Charity Foundation at his time of death. That July 1, Philip D. Louder died. Worshipful Master of Parkside in 1959, he was Chaplain and a lodge Trustee at the time of death.
Grand Master Claude D. Van Stone attended Audubon’s 1962 Annual, accompanied by RW Edward Rainey, JGD; MW Joseph H. Gick, PGM; RW John T. Plasket, DDGM of the 18th Masonic District, RW L. Harry Woodward, DDGM of the 29th Masonic District among others.
Seventy five members of the Lancaster County Postal Employees Square Club, including several Worshipful Masters, witnessed five brothers raised in Audubon on April 19, 1963. One of the newly-raised brothers was George B. Coe, Mayor of Lancaster.
On May 2, 1963, Parkside held its only Master Mason Degree of the year, a class of two. Henry Hollopeter raised his son, Roger. Roger Hollopeter would be Worshipful Master of Parkside in 1979.
On September 6, 1963, Grand Master Horace D. Carl and his Grand Line made an Official Visit for the purpose of honoring Abram Fulkerson, Junior Grand Deacon, who was Worshipful Master in 1951 and lodge Secretary since 1953. In his address that evening, MW Carl talked about the decline of Masonry in the United States and the fact that fewer prominent men were joining.
Illustrious Brother Arthur E. Armitage, Jr., of Parkside Lodge and the Valley of Southern New Jersey (as it is now known) was coroneted a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1963. At the time he was Past Sovereign Prince of Excelsior Council Princes of Jerusalem and future Commander-in-Chief of Excelsior Consistory. He was also Past Imperial Potentate of Crescent Shrine.
Audubon reached its all-time high water mark in 1963, ending the year with 740 members. However, virtually every emergent called this and the previous few years were for a funeral. With one exception, from 1964 on the yearly number of deaths would outrun the yearly number of raisings.
On February 21, 1964, the Scottish Masonic Club of Trenton marched into Audubon’s lodge room accompanied by “strange noises.” They raised a class of five. That night there were 114 visitors from New Jersey and five other states, as well as from Scotland. The Scottish Masonic Club would return in December for Audubon’s Annual.
Audubon’s first meeting of 1965, January 5, was an emergent to hold Masonic Funeral Services for Brother Clyde Ryerson. A Past Patron in both Eastern Star and Amaranth, Brother Ryerson, despite his ill health had in December been installed Junior Warden, stepped down from the East as High Priest of Rabboni Chapter, was installed Deputy Illustrious Master (the number two spot) of Van Hook Council and installed Eminent Commander of Cyrene Commandery.
Haddon Heights Chapter #124, OES, moved into Audubon Temple during 1965. Haddon Heights Lodge also looked into the possibility of moving there, but went elsewhere.
When Parkside’s minutes resumed September 2, 1965, Elmer C. Dobbins, PM was Acting Secretary. No mention of what happened to Frederic B. Johnson, PM, who had been Secretary since 1947, was still alive and still officially Secretary. WB Dobbins was elected Secretary that December.
A framed picture of Parkside’s Charter members was presented to that lodge September 1, 1966, in memory of Charter Member S. Steward Joslin, who died August 13. Brother Joslin was the lodge’s Charter Treasurer, holding that post until 1941. This picture disappeared before the consolidation.
At Parkside’s Annual, December 1, Thomas Z. Bartlett, PM was elected Worshipful Master, the first time either Audubon or Parkside had to recycle a Past Master, something both lodges had avoided even during the lean years of the Depression. Also that night, RW John T. Plasket, who had been District Deputy Grand Master of the 18th Masonic District for a decade and a half to that point was made an Honorary Member of Parkside.
Much of Parkside’s first communication of 1967, January 5, was taken up with the conditions of Camden Temple. The Temple had no parking lot and members had to park on the street, sometimes blocks away. While the lack of a parking lot was not much of a problem between the two world wars when most members lived within walking distance or took public transportation, after World War II much of the membership either moved to the suburbs or had never lived in the city.
The neighborhood around the Temple was changing. Vandalism in the area was increasing, as were other crimes. There were occasional reports of a slashed tire or a person being attacked in the area, perhaps returning from the Temple after a meeting. Many members just decided to stay home rather than suffer the same fate. Parkside meetings that once boasted attendance in the hundreds, including many visitors, now numbered less than three dozen, if that, few of whom were visitors. And, all decade the number of new members per year could be counted on the fingers of one hand. The beautiful Camden Temple, once a great asset to Parkside Lodge was now, because of its location, a great detriment.
Upon motion approved that January 5, the lodge formed a committee to investigate moving to another location. At the following communication, February 2, Parkside voted to make MW Gick, who had died five days earlier, a posthumous Honorary Member. There was also further discussion about moving, but the Worshipful Master limited debate until the committee would make its report, scheduled for June.
One site under consideration was Merchantville Temple, which was under construction in Pennsauken. At the June 1 meeting a large delegation from Collingswood Lodge #210, lead by Worshipful Master Charles J. Maimone, visited Parkside. Also present were three Past Potentates of Crescent Shrine and members of Parkside: Edmund D. Bowman, and Illustrious Brothers Arthur E. Armitage, Sr. and Arthur E. Armitage, Jr. After conferring the Master Mason Degree, the Relocation Committee postponed its recommendation until the September meeting.
Appearing in the minutes of a funeral held by Audubon June 11, 1967, in which the services were conducted by E. Robert Zimmerman, PM, was the following: “Right Worshipful Brother Abram Fulkerson made the special request, that if Worshipful Brother Zimmerman is still around at the time of his, Brother Fulkerson’s, demise it is his last wish that Brother Zimmerman conduct his Masonic Funeral Service.” On September 10, 1967, Audubon held a Masonic Funeral for RW Abe Fulkerson, Worshipful Master in 1951, lodge Secretary at the time of his death and Past Junior Grand Deacon. Worshipful Brother Zimmerman did, indeed, conduct the Masonic Funeral Service. Richard W. Mead, PM, was appointed Acting Secretary and was elected Secretary the following Annual and served as such until 1983.
At Parkside’s September 7, 1967 meeting, Relocation Committee Chairman Earl Cox, PM, reviewed the several sights he had investigated and recommended moving to Collingswood Temple. The vote was unanimous in favor, with several abstentions.
At the October 5 meeting WB Dobbins read two communications concerning the pending move. One was from the Collingswood Trustees stating Parkside’s request to move there was granted. The other was from Grand Master Morgan T. Morris granting dispensation for Parkside to move to Collingswood as of January 1, 1968. Parkside’s next meeting, November 2, was a big blowout. Members of the Public Service Co-Ordinated Transportation Company and the Crescent Temple String Band were present, as were many officers of the Excelsior Scottish Rite Bodies.
There was also a large delegation of Illustrious Scottish Rite 33rd Degree Masons. Parkside’s representatives were Arthur E. Armitage, Sr., Arthur E. Armitage, Jr., William I. Baker and Thomas P. Pierce, PM, plus RW John T. Plasket, DDGM, the lodge’s only Honorary Member at the time. From Audubon were Franklin P. Kramer, PGT, MW Leon R. Baker, PGM and Honorary Member, and William F. Hory, PM and President of the 33rd Society.
They were all present to honor newly-coroneted Illustrious Elmer J. Dobbins, PM. The entertainment was held in the Red Room to accommodate members of Collingswood Court #18, Order of the Amaranth. The honoree was the subject of a “This Is Your Life” program (based on a popular tv show), interspersed with soloists from Collingswood Court, including Mrs. Dobbins, and selections by Crescent String Band.
Parkside’s last communication in Camden Masonic Temple was their December 7, 1967 Annual. WB Bartlett, the sitting Worshipful Master, was reelected to the East, the first time such a thing happened in either Parkside or Audubon. Worshipful Brother Thomas Z. Bartlett was Parkside’s last Worshipful Master in Camden and its first in Collingswood.
Parkside opened its first communication in Collingswood Temple January 4, 1968. RW Plasket was in attendance, as was a large delegation from Collingswood Lodge. Brother Arthur E. Armitage, Sr., Mayor of Collingswood, officially welcomed Parkside to the Borough of Collingswood and told the members a Key to the Borough was not necessary as long as they acted like Masons, because the door had already been unlocked and opened for them. He also hoped the new location would bring out more members.
The Scottish Masonic Club attended Audubon’s regular communication February 16, 1968. An estimated 220 in attendance, many of them visitors, witnessed the raising of a member.
One month later, March 15, in the presence of a delegation of 33rd Degree Masons--including Illustrious Bill Hory, PM, President of the 33rd Degree Club--and the annual visitation of Integrity Lodge #187, Pa., Audubon received in due form a visit of a Past Grand Master of Pennsylvania--RW Benjamin Franklin--who gave an account of his life. Actually, it was the lodge’s own RW Franklin P. Kramer in costume.
On May 22, 1968, Audubon Lodge gave a Masonic Funeral to RW Luther P. Krout, PGC, exactly 48 years and one day after his petition was read in lodge. RW Krout was Worshipful Master in 1930 and Grand Chaplain in 1936. He was also Thrice Potent Master of Excelsior Lodge of Perfection in 1948, the year he was coroneted a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.
Parkside’s last Charter Member Night, as such, was held June 6, 1968, the lodge’s 48th anniversary. It was their only official observance in Collingswood Temple. The only founder present was Brother Samuel Russell. The old order was virtually gone.
That November 9, a Saturday, Parkside had their only raising of the year, an emergent in conjunction with Beverly Lodge #107 in the George Washington National Memorial, Alexandria, Va. Forty-four members of Parkside witnessed two of their own raised, one of whom, James Proctor, would become Worshipful Master in 1974.
At their regular communication May 1, 1969, Parkside held a testimonial for Arthur E. Armitage, Sr., Collingswood’s Mayor for 33 years, boasting a longer continuous term of office than any other mayor in the country at that time. Delegates from several of the Excelsior Scottish Rite Bodies and Crescent Shrine, as well as RW William F. Landenberger, newly-installed District Deputy Grand Master, were also present to testify to the life and character of the man and Mason. This was followed by the conferral of the Entered Apprentice Degree.
On November 21, Audubon’s second regular communication of the month, the lodge held their election of officers, instead of the first Friday in December, by dispensation of MW Charles A. Eisenfelder.
Audubon started its 50th year celebration December 5, with two hundred and fifty-three members and visitors enjoying dinner in Excelsior Temple. Back in the lodge room, Senior Deacon George F. Corkery introduced 17 Past Masters, giving their name and year of service from memory, a feat emulated by succeeding Senior Deacons for a number of years. RW Landenberger, RW Alvin H. Frankel, DDGM of the 29th District, and ten other Right Worshipfuls were then received.
An emotional highlight of the evening was when, standing in a spotlight in an otherwise darkened room, William Hory, PM presented Old Glory as expressed by WB George Washington. WB Hory would repeat this performance at succeeding annuals.
After cresting at 740 members in 1963, Audubon’s membership started a slow decline, ending the decade with 702. While raising 20 members three times in the decade of the 1960’s, and having raisings in the teens all but once in the remaining years, deaths of members would more than keep pace with the addition of new members. Parkside also showed a slow but steady decline in membership, starting the decade with 370 members and ending with 287. Raisings per year were single digit and, again, deaths would outnumber new members.