Tuesday, March 13, 2018

You Never Know Where You Might Meet A Brother!

John Wayne in "The Cowboys" (1972)
My first experience meeting a Brother Master Mason.  I'd just joined the Fraternity when Valerie and I took a trip to California to visit my grandparents in San Diego.  We'd decided to make a trip up to visit my aunt in Los Angeles, and while we were there, we decided to visit Warner Brothers Studios.  We both love movies, and while I tend to enjoy the old black and whites, Valerie loves movies like Animal House and Batman.  We both got a lot out of it. 

The tour ended in a little museum.  We walked in, and this very old man told us the rules.  It wasn't like a regular museum--the movie props and costumes weren't in cases, they were actually used in the movies, and were right out in the open.  He remarked that they changed out the displays regularly.  The  basic rule was DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!  The crowd, including Valerie, vanished towards the back and upstairs where the Batman props (including the Batmobile) and the Harry Potter stuff was on display.  But all the good stuff for an old movie nut like me was right in front. 

There it was just behind a rope at the Country Music
 Hall of Fame... and it needed to be played!
I noticed this display of hats along the side and walked over.  There were a dozen.  They had names of actors and the names of the movies they wore them in.  I knew them all, and they were displayed just behind a rope on dummy heads.  All of them were impressive--names like Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney.  But the one that stunned me was one that said "John Wayne--The Cowboys."  I don't know how long I stood there staring at that hat--one of my favorite actors, and one of my favorite movies.  That old guy from the door was suddenly standing next to me.  "You like John Wayne?"  I told him I did.  "You know, he was a Mason, too."

One of several John Wayne hats from The Cowboys
I looked at him.  How did he know?  Suddenly I remembered that new ring I was wearing, and it was then I noticed the pin on his lapel. Like I said, I was new to the fraternity.  Since then, when I meet somebody, I look at the hands, I look at the collars, and I look at the hat.  He told me there was a old Hollywood legend that John Wayne never died in a movie.  Of course I knew that wasn't true--I told him so.  He said there were actually seven movies he died in, and another three or four he died in, but had died off-screen.  I was a little surprised at the number.  Especially when he offered up a challenge.  "If you can name five movies he died in, I'll let you try on that hat."  I about stroked out, and my mind suddenly went blank.

Three were easy... I stumbled onto the fourth, duh, it the movie the hat came from . . . The Cowboys.  I couldn't get the fifth.  He chuckled, and suddenly that hat was on my head.  I figured it would be huge on me, but actually, John Wayne wore a size 7 1/4, which is close to what I wear.  I'll never forget the look on Valerie's face when she suddenly returned and saw me wearing John Wayne's hat!  It was a look of absolute amazement.  It said "how in the hell did you manage this?"  I don't know exactly what she was thinking, but I know what I was thinking.  I'm wearing John Wayne's hat.  I'm wearing John Wayne's hat.  I'm wearing John Wayne's hat!

A concertina--64 keys aren't enough to play the version
of As Time Goes By used in the movie.  It takes 88 keys.
We got a very personal tour from my new friend and Brother, which included an opportunity to play a very out-of-tune piano from one of my favorite movies--Casablanca.  Guess what song I played?  It wouldn't be that hard to guess I played As Time Goes By.  It wasn't the first time I'd played a famous piano--I played Elvis' gold piano at the Country Music Hall of Fame a few years earlier--and was promptly ejected and threatened with arrest.  I don't think they would have been so angry if I'd played an Elvis song, but I ripped through a version of "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis as I leaned over the velvet ropes.  Valerie saved me that day. 

I've met many more strangers since then that have quickly become friends--because of a ring, or a lapel pin, or an emblem on a car bumper.  But that was my first experience.  I'll never forget that personal tour by a Brother Master Mason who had worked on a lot of the sets when so many of my favorite movies had been made.  The stories he shared as we walked around the museum were unbelievable!  You just never know where you might meet a Brother.  It changes the way you see the world. 

~Todd E. Creason

Originally published 6/30/12

1 comment:

  1. A hilarious and great story! I remember my first. I was at comic book show, San Diego Comicon, and this man races past me and asked where I got my hat. I was stunned and confused. I said "What?" he responded by yelling since he far away at this point..."From a Lodge of the St's John!" Then I smiled and knew...


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