March 29, 2016
A true story, told to Brother Gene Goldman
Chuck was a young Black man, when he was raised in a Prince Hall Lodge in New York City. He learned his lessons well, but always wondered if others really did. As a young Black man, especially living in New York City, he had seen some incidents of people treating others badly. Were Prince Hall Masons unique? Did New York (Caucasian) Masons really believe in the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of G-d.
Chuck fell in love with, and married, a beautiful white woman. On their honeymoon, they were traveling in the Deep South, in a motor home. Deep in the middle of a VERY rural town, they ran out of gas. Stranded on the side of the road, with no gas station, or house, in sight, Chuck started to worry. So did his wife. A Black man, with a White woman, stranded by the side of the road in the deep, rural, South.
Remembering the lessons taught him, and being in real distress, Chuck began giving the Distress sign he was taught to the few passing motorists, hoping to come to the attention of a Prince Hall Brother, or anyone, who might be able to help him. Time went by, and evening was beginning to set in.
A station wagon approached, and Chuck started giving the sign. Much to his alarm, and that of his wife, the station wagon was occupied by three White men, and there were white sheets (could they be robes?) in the back.
Now, Chuck was worried. VERY worried.
“You a Mason, boy?”, the driver asked, in that wonderful southern way.
“Yes sir, I am.” Chuck replied carefully.
“Got a problem?”
“Yes sir. We ran out of gas, and it seems like miles to a station.. We are not from around here, just traveling through.” (Obviously!) “Could you direct me to a gas station?”
One of the passengers said “It is twenty miles to the nearest station. Long walk.” The other asked, “You got a gas can, boy?”
“Get it. And get in.”
Chuck got the gas can, and he and his wife got in the car, scared out of their whits. Were they being helped, or were they going to be lynched? Happily, the driver took them to a station. They filled the can, and the driver asked the owner of the station if they could borrow another. The station owner looked at Chuck. And at his wife.
“You want me to lend a gas can to them?”
“Nope. I want you to lend it to me.”
“Well, in that case, ok.”
They filled the second can, returned to the motor home, and emptied the cans into the tank. “Even two gas cans worth of gas wouldn’t go very far in this thing”, Chuck worried.
The station wagon followed Chuck and his wife to the station, made sure that they had no trouble filling up and returning the can, and drove off to their meeting, their white sheets (robes?) undisturbed in the back of the station wagon.
Chuck never again wondered if the lessons taught in Masonry were lost on anyone.