“IN THE BEGINNING”
In the year 1924, twenty-five Masons joined together to form, and become, the Charter Members of Pearl Harbor Lodge No. 598. Ten of them were members of Lodge Le Progres de L’Oceanie No. 371. Three were from Solano Lodge No. 229. One each from Paul Revere Lodge No 462, Naval Lodge No. 87, San Diego Lodge No. 35, Mountain View Lodge No. 194, Amity Lodge No 370, Wilmington Lodge No. 198, Vallejo Lodge No. 487, and Kilauea Lodge No. 330; all under jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California. One each from Tejon-Lodge No. 104, Colorado; Brainard Lodge No 102, Conneticut; El Paso Lodge No. 246 and Waukegan Lodge No. 78 both of Illinois.
Those Charter Members are (listed in alphabetical order):
Anglim, Robert E Bigler, George W. Blatt, Albert Brenner, Edgar A. Buchalter, William Burr, William S. Carlsen, Ferdinand H. Cooper, Fred G. W. Craelius, John C. Dorhority, Ray E. Ellis, Duncan S. Greenwell, Doile Harkins, Charles J.
Hart, William T. Hindemith, Paul C. Masser, Fred J. Mobley, Ray R. Mulhall, Hendry J. Rewcastle, William J. Russell, Thomas N. Slocum, Herbert R. Smith, Harry W. Stewart, William Thorton, Walter E. Weidman, Ernest H.
“THEY BUILT BETTER THAN THEY KNEW”
It is interesting to note that the Mason who is considered as the “Father or Founder” of the Lodge was Fred G. W. Cooper. He was born in Birmingham, Warwich, England; became a Mason in 1892 in Union Lodge No. 280 in London, Ontario, Canada; and later demitted to Waukegan Lodge No. 78 in Illinois. He was the first to sign his name to the petition to the Grand Lodge of California for establishment of Pearl Harbor Lodge. He was also our first Treasurer. Although he passed away in 1935, we members of the Lodge may all look forward to his greeting when we too are called to that Celestial Lodge above.
On 1 May 1924 several Masons, interested in the formation of a new Masonic Lodge. A new Lodge to assist military men, more specifically, those of the U. S. Navy; if found worthy, to become Masons. They several Masons assembled with Worshipful Brother Lester Petrie PM, Inspector of the then 88th Masonic District, and were advised concerning the necessary requirements.
Another meeting was held on 14 May 1924 with the Most Worshipful Arthur L. Crites, Grand Master of Masons in California, who was in Honolulu at that time.
On advice of those Grand Lodge Officers, a Naval Masonic Association was organized on 21 May 1924 with the intent of forming a new Masonic Lodge. All of the Lodges in Hawaii were duly notified of the intent of the Association. There were no objections.
Then came rehearsals in the ritual work, financial discussions, and the necessary paperwork. Finally, Navy Lodge UD came into being on 25 September 1924. Worshipful Brother Lester Petrie PM, Inspector of the 88th Masonic District, in accordance with the powers vested in him by the Grand Master, duly opened the new Lodge.
It is interesting to note that on 16 October 1924, the Lodge was granted a Charter by the Grand Lodge of California showing the name of Pearl Harbor Lodge No. 598. As there was in existence, a Lodge in California known as Naval Lodge; it was necessary to change the name of the new Lodge to Pearl Harbor Lodge. As such, the number 598 was assigned on the register of Constituent Lodges under jurisdiction under the Grand Lodge of California.
Of further interest, the minutes of meetings of 20 October, 30 October, and 6 November 1924 are not available to us and are lost in history. Also, that due error by the District Inspector, the first several meetings of the Lodge were not actually legal according to Masonic Law. However, the error was corrected in due time by the action of the Grand Master. We include this information to help others, who in the future, may desire help in formation of new Lodges. Careful scrutiny of every step and proper documentation of all things necessary to be written are of the utmost importance.
We consider this unfortunate circumstance to be just one of the many problems and tribulations encountered by our Charter Members. We are most thankful that they and the Grand Master did correct the error and kept the Lodge active. Other incidents, not recorded, are also of some interest. They were in part, donations of monies from two other Lodges and rent free use of the Lodge-room for an indefinite period of time.
Meetings were held two nights each month and at other times when other Lodges were darks. The average number of petitions receive during the early years averaged about twenty-five per year. This caused for conferral of degrees averaging about seventy-five per year. The Lodge often opened early in the day for one to five candidates for degree work. The officers worked long and hard, not only for conferring degrees, but as the membership was small; they also had the task of coaching candidates in the necessary proficiency for advancement. The coaching would typically occur in a projection booth of a movie theater during the showing of a movie. It was done for many candidates by Brother Paul Hindemith.
At the Grand Lodge Communication in 1927, some confusion resulted when it was found that the Lodge had not send its per-capita to the Grand Lodge. It was only after several telegraph messages between California and Hawaii that the matter was corrected and our delegate was seated in Grand Lodge. Remember, there were no transpacific telephones or jet aircrafts in those days.
In 1928, the Lodge suffered some financial difficulties. Thanks to the retiring and incoming Masters (1928 and 1929) and also to the Secretary, who declined to accept gifts or pay. They absorbed the banquet costs rather than use Lodge funds. The Lodge was able, after two years, to invest some of its funds in U.S. Government Bonds.
On 13 June 1932, Brother Fred G. W. Cooper was presented a fifty-year gold button. This button was made from the pure gold of California and was provided by the Grand Lodge of California. For that occasion, Worshipful Brother A. P. Jones PM, composed a very appropriate poem:
“Just fifty years of labor in a task that is never through, Just fifty years of dreaming and of making dreams come true; Of always driving forward where paths of duty led,
And smoothing out the roadways where weary feet tread; Just fifty years of giving where others reap the gain,
Just fifty years of effort to sooth another’s pain;
Just a lifetime of devotion to the vow you took one day, To share another’s burden, brush another’s tear away.
Just fifty years of Brotherhood – of welding friendships chain, Just fifty years of toiling in life’s sunshine and its rain. Just shaping, hewing, building your life to such a plan, As to merit well the titles, Brother, Mason Man.
Just fifty years of striving, never faltering in your zeal,
Just fifty years of memories of service true and real;
Never seeking praise or honors, knowing only that you’ve sown, Something finer, something brighter, in the lives of those you’ve become.
Just fifty years of living so that when the curtain falls on a lifetime rich in friendships, When at last the Master calls to that Lodge the never closes, to the joy that never ends, All you’ve lived and dreamed for – still will live in the hearts of your friends.”
About the end of 1933, the Lodge began to aid and assist the daughter of our late Worshipful Brother George W. Bigler PM; and continued to support her in education and personal needs for several years.
Now, after ten years of meetings in a Masonic Temple, the Lodge moved to another meeting place. Many of the unnecessary articles were made and donated to the Lodge by some of the Brethren. Meetings went along quite smoothly. Petitions were still being accepted at a moderate rate of numbers. The ritual work was much improved. A few members were lost through death and demits, but the membership still seemed to increase and finances were stable. Then, on 5 December 1941, a new slate of officers were elected and appointed for the ensuing year.
Disaster struck on 7 December 1941, World War II began at Pearl Harbor which truly affected the Lodge. A military government was named and the civilian community had to abide by those orders and decisions. No meetings were allowed at night. A strict blackout was imposed in the Hawaiian Islands. It became necessary to hold Masonic meetings in daylight hours.
Special dispensation was obtained from the Grand Master; authorizing the officers of Pearl Harbor Lodge and Hawaiian Lodge No. 21 to be jointly installed at the Masonic Temple during the daylight hours. The military government and blackout conditions lasted for some years, and the officers, during the war years carried on the work of the Lodge during those trying times in an outstanding manner.
Petitions were received in greater numbers and courtesy work for other Lodges made their task almost endless. Some traveled rather great distances to Lodge, even though gasoline was rationed. But the work was accomplished and many service men did become Masons, even during the war. Our
thanks to those officers who gave their time and efforts during those war years. The Lodge was forced, through no fault of its own, to relocate its meeting place again. The work load continued heavy until it began to level off in 1943. Then continued to decrease until the end of the hostilities. It was necessary during one period, during those years, to restrict the number of new petitions for the degrees as it seemed to never ending. To process those that were pending, although the meetings were held almost daily at times, the work load just seemed to grow and grown.
Some of our members are known lost in the war, and some others we are unable to account for, never heard from again over the years. It could be presumed that they also may have been lost at sea. On Memorial Day, 27 May 1974, a special Memorial Service was held in the Lodge room for all those members who gave their lives during the war.
At the beginning of the third decade of Pearl Harbor, it was learned that Brother Rewcastle had passed away and left a large part of his estate to the Lodge. Not one cent was accepted by the executor, Worshipful Brother Thomas E. Farrow PM, for which the Lodge was most appreciative. This is really “True Masonic Charity”, and an example that all Brethren would all do well to emulate.
On the evening of the twentieth anniversary of the Lodge, the Past Masters occupied the chairs and conferred the third degree on one of our own candidates. There were 120 present at that meeting, including the Worshipful Alexander Douglas Plotts, Inspector of the then 103rd Masonic District. One of his comments that evening was that he had watched the Lodge grow from “the baby Lodge” to the largest numerically and second largest financially, here in Honolulu.
In the later part of 1944, the Lodge purchased 40 cemetery plots in the Nu’uanu Cemetery. These are for cremated remains only. The plots are well marked with the name and number of the Lodge and the Masonic insignia. Presently, only a few of these plots have urns in them. Each plot can hold eight (or more) urns. Therefore, the possible need for cremations plots for our members is assured for many more years to come.
The ending of the war saw the Lodge working at a steady pace. However, new applications began to decline and the military members who were Lodge officers began to transfer away from Honolulu. This caused some quick changes in the officer’s line.
Negotiations began with other local Lodges to build a new Masonic Temple in Honolulu. The financial condition of the Lodge was steady. Visitation between Lodges, on a fairly regular schedule continued. Surely, the Supreme Grand Master was watching over the Lodge. How else could there have been and doubt of the Lodge motto – “Harmony Prevailing”
An interesting artifact in our Lodge Museum is a gavel made from the stone taken from King Solomon’s Quarry, which was presented to the Lodge by Worshipful Brother Frank E. Arendt PM and WM of Schofield Lodge No. 443 on the occasion of a visit to our Lodge on 21 June 1946. In 1947, the Lodge was forced to move again; a temporary move was made to Schofield Lodge Temple at Schofield Barracks. This gesture and the frequent visits of Schofield Lodge to Pearl Harbor Lodge have cemented the bonds of peace and harmony as time went on.
After a few “hectic” years, especially 1949; our twenty-fifth year of existence which included a sort of repetition of the work load of the war years. Many petitions were received and processed. Degrees were conferred not only on our own candidates, but on many other candidates as courtesy for other Lodges. This entailed great effort and dedication on the part of the officers and members as the degree work was conducted on regularly scheduled evenings and often on other days. This included working from early morning until late at night. The officers and members had to travel about twenty-
five miles from Honolulu to the Schofield Lodge Temple. Then tired and happy, returned home when the works was concluded.
Our Twenty-fifth Anniversary was celebrated on 23 September 1949 by the Past Masters, assisted by some of the regular officers, conferring the third degree on one of our candidates. There were forty-eight members and visitors in the Lodge that evening.
The Lodge received to offers for a (permanent) meeting place. One, which was very attractive as a tenant of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, but it was decided to accept the second offer and enter into a partnership with three other Masonic Lodges and become a co-owner in the Honolulu Masonic Temple Association, with a meeting place in the Honolulu Masonic Temple, 1227 Makiki Street in Honolulu.
After proper request by the Lodge, authorization was granted by the Grand Lodge of California for the change of meeting place. The Lodge moved into and held the first meeting in this Temple on 6 February 1950. There were forty-eight members and visitors, including the Inspector of the 103rd Masonic District present that evening. So ended the continuously unstable “homeport” condition of the Lodge. After a “shakedown cruise” the Lodge finally make its last “change of home ports”, where it has continued to grow and prosper with many new “boots”, “transfers”, and “change of commands”. Not only in reference to Navy Customs, but in accordance with regular Masonic Laws and Customs.
Early in 1952 all of the Lodges in 103rd Masonic District (Oahu), were so overlooked with their own, as well as courtesy work; that the Grand Lodge was requested and agreed to stop sending requests for courtesy work until such time as the requests for courtesy work on hand were either completed or the Lodges would notify the Grand Lodge that they could again process courtesy candidate work in an efficient manner and length of time.
Pearl Harbor Lodge had a backlog of work which included about six times as many courtesy candidates as to each of our own candidates. For a while, at least, the Lodge had permission to use the Temple every other Saturday as well as every regular Monday evening. Attendance at meetings by officers, members, and visitors ranged from thirty and eighty. With an average of about forty-six per meeting. On occasion it was necessary to have some of the members and visitors assist in the conferring of the degrees and their assistance helped in reducing the backlog of work.
During the first three months of 1952, the Lodge held three Stated Meetings, five first degrees, five second degrees, and five third degrees; conferring a total of forty-three degrees. This continued during most of that year and eventually the Lodge could and did begin to accept courtesy requests again. Also, this was the intent of the original Chartered Members, “to aid and assist the military men in becoming members of not only our Lodge, but other Lodges as well”.
On 28 April 1952, a record was set when 157 officers and Brethren attended a joint meeting of the Lodges on Oahu. For the reception of the Most Worshipful Louis C. Drapeau, Grand Master of Masons in California. The Grand Master gave a very impressive address on Masonry in general and of the Masonic Homes in particular. Twenty-one (12 percent) of those attending were Past Masters.
Visitations to the Lodges in Hawaii by Grand Masters, over the years, have changed in many ways. First, the travel was made by steamship. There was always a large group of Masons on the pier to greet the Grand Masters. It was a grand sight to be seen, not an Admiral’s or a General’s Flag, but a white Masonic insignia on a blue background was flown form the mast head. This indicated that the Leader of the great California Masonic jurisdiction was aboard. Pictures of Aloha Tower, hula girls, traditional flower lei presentations and other Hawaiian “Aloha” greetings occurred. Then, after a brief
rest, the Lodges would take turns and a “fresh team” would take over and host the Grand Master every day, which would truly make those visits memorable.
Progress has changed the lifestyle here in Hawaii. Air travel had reduced travel time from five days to five hours. The traditional greetings today are just as enthusiastic, if not so great in numbers, at the airport. Pearl Harbor Lodge has had the honor and pleasure of being host to the Grand Master on one day of his stay in the Islands. It is tradition that the Master of the Lodge escort him to the USS ARIZONA Memorial. On a rotational schedule among the Lodges, our Lodge is the host Lodge and our Master presides at the official Annual Joint Lodges reception of the Grand Master on occasion.
Progress, service to the Fraternity and the Community has slowly opened the doors of the Lodge. As it should do to good men of various ethnic background. In 1956 the first man of Oriental extraction was elected to receive the degrees and in 1968 he served as Master of the Lodge.
At the traditional Annual Past Masters’ Night, 1 September 1958 two gifts were presented to the Lodge. First, a beautiful volume of the Sacred Law, which now adorns the Sacred Altar in our Lodge; was presented by the Past Masters and Charter Members of the Lodge. The other gift, from the officers of the Lodge was an oversized gavel, made from wood salvaged from the hull of the USS CALIFORNIA. The dimensions of this are of interest to all Masons. The head of the gavel measure three inches from side to side. Between the flat areas, five inches across the rounded front and back areas. Seven inches between the top and bottom area. The handle is one cubit (eighteen inches) in length. This gavel has a two-fold meaning besides its numerical symbolism and it would/was used at future meetings when the Past Masters occupy the chairs to remind them and us of a saying by a fame Mason, Theodore Roosevelt. “Walk softly, but carry a big stick.”
For several years, petitions for degrees and a few for affiliation, kept the Lodge busy. There were times when the volume of petitions dwindled into a trickle. The flood tide to the ebb tide of petitions gave officers an opportunity to improve Lodge conditions. Practice and explanation of ritual has been a major item in this area and the Lodge can be rightfully proud of the “Bravo Zulu’s / kudos” given by the Inspectors, the Assistant Lecturer, and the Grand Lecturer.
The increase in the cost of living was given close scrutiny and resulted in an increase in initiation fee, followed a few years later by an increase in annual dues and life membership fees. Investments, as recommended by the Lodge Trustees and authorized by the Lodge, were and are still brining in sufficient funds to keep finances of the Lodge on the credit side of the Ledger. A search for property on which the Lodge can (and someday will) erect our own ‘dream” Lodge Temple began. Although some locations were found, they did not meet our requirements or the costs were prohibitive, and the search thus continues to this day.
Visitations to and from other local Lodges have helped to spread the cement of brotherly love among the Brethren and the Lodges. In 1974, Pearl Harbor Lodge visited every Lodge in the State of Hawaii. Discussions regarding establishment of a Grand Lodge here in Hawaii began. The recurring discussions regarding this establishment of a Grand Lodge of Hawaii continued for many years. When, in 1959, Hawaii attained Statehood; becoming the 50th State in the Union; the Grand Lodge of Hawaii movement picked up momentum.
Finally, on 20 May 1989, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Hawaii was established. As there are only twelve lodges in the State, the use of Lodge numbers was discontinued. Pearl Harbor’s Worshipful Master for 1994, Worshipful Abraham Akina, was the first Master Mason raised in the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii, being raised on 22 May 1989.