Vic’s USA experience

The WM (centre) back row, Officers and brethren of Ashland Lodge No151 with Vic (centre) front row.

The WM (centre) back row, Officers and brethren of Ashland Lodge No151 with Vic (centre) front row.

 

In October 2015 Vic Charlesworth a member of the Lodge of Charity No 2651 visited his mother who lives in
Ashland, Ohio. Ashland is very much a rural community, heavily farmed and wooded. It has two claims to
fame, firstly, it was at one time the home of the Studebakers who went on to produce some very innovative
American motor cars and secondly there is a very large Amish community. Horses and buggies are a common
site hitched outside Wal-Mart and McDonalds and there are many motor accidents each year when vehicles
travelling at speed run into them, particularly at night.
When he arrived he contacted the secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ohio (each State has its own Grand
Lodge), to see if he could arrange a visit to a local lodge. He was fortunate enough to be put in touch with Tom
Lautzenhiser, the secretary of Ashland Lodge No151, who kindly offered to pick him up and take him to the
lodge meeting.
The building is a converted 1950/60s style church with a lodge room with a capacity of 250 plus. Membership
is currently in the order of 200, down from its heyday of over 400 members.
The brethren made Vic very welcome, dress was very informal, the JD was in shorts and T shirt and as is the
custom, the WM wore a black hat. Vic was asked to say a few words as a visitor and much to his surprise he
was voted as an honorary member of the lodge and was asked to give a talk on his next visit, which he was
very happy to agree to.
In May of this year he returned and had decided to make the subject of the talk ‘Freemasonry in an English
Lodge’. To set the tone he decided to wear his full dress Provincial regalia, however, he had not appreciated
that the building was not air conditioned and the inside temperature was 85 degrees. He agreed with the
master that for the start of the meeting he would be in full dress and then go casual for his talk. He was
surprised to be invited to sit in the east on the masters left while the first business of the evening was
conducted, which was to open the lodge and then pass a candidate. This ceremony was completely different in
that the passing was in the form of questions and answers taking place on the floor of the lodge. The questions
are put by a senior member and the candidate answers, which took about 20 minutes. There were no ritual
books or prompting. Apparently all ritual is learned ‘mouth to ear’ which was very impressive to watch.
His talk was very well received. The brethren were surprised to learn that the grand lodge of Ohio has a
nominated representative at grand lodge meetings in England.
According to Vic, one thing is certain, the next time he visits he will not be wearing his Provincial stripes!