A Mason responds

Wards Corner Now has received the following email from Mason, Robert G. McBride:

I take great pride to write this letter as a member of the “Masonic Temple”.  I grew up living on Burleigh Ave, when “Wards Corner” was the “Times Square of the South”.  When I was attending Granby High school I met a group of young men playing ball on a Saturday morning.  I asked them if I could join in and play, they said yes it was during this time that I found out they belonged to the Masonic order called “DeMolay”.  It was a christian organization for young men.  It was the beginning of my masonic journey.  I attended Talbot Park Baptist Church, and was a member of Troop 12 Boys Scouts.  Archie Dail was the Scout Master and a Freemason.  I was Married in the church by Dr. Honts.  In 1970 I joined the Masonic Lodge Ruth#89,and have been a member for 39 years.  I have served as Wor. Master 3 times, District Deputy Grand Master in 2007.   I belong to two lodges in Scotland, as well as The Royal Order of Scotland.  Masonry is the largest Philanthropic organization in the world.  Masonry gives over 2 million
dollars a day to charities.  The Shriners hospitals of North America, provide services at no charge to any race color or creed.  The Masonic Temple would never disgrace the city of Norfolk, or Wards Corner, nor allow a guest to do anything that would tarnish our reputation. Please take the virtual tour on the web site.  Please come and take a personal tour of the building.  There have been many great masons within the Wards Corner community, Mr. Ken Perry owner of the Dollar Tree, Mr. Aubry Graham post master, Mr. Earl Gresham, Mr. Nash Satterfield, Judge Walter Hoffman, Judge Hal J. Bonney, the list goes on.

I hope that you will consider the motion before you and approve it. I can assure you that the Masonic Temple will not be disrespectful in any manor to our neighbors.


4 Responses to A Mason responds

  1. Jim English says:

    Dear Mr. McBride, Thank you for the great write up and history of your experience with the Masons. I was also a member of the DeMolay in my youth in New Jersey where I grew up and my father and uncle were 32nd degree Masons. They were also members of the Scottish Right. I have always known the Masons to be beyond reproach, exempary leaders of civic duty and pride and a valued part of any community. The Masons build great leaders no question about it. I hope when I know more about the Masonic Temples proposal I am able as well as our civic league to endorse the proposal perhaps with some conditions. Time will tell. I do however appreciate your writing what you did on Wards Corner Now so others will appreciate the value of the the Masons and the Masonic Temple to our community and neighborhood.

    With Respect,
    Jim English
    Wards Corner Civic League

  2. Jim McDonnell says:

    Response to “A Mason Responds”

    Mr. McBride,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and history. I have always been impressed by the Masons and Shriners for their charitable contributions to society and commitment to excellence. This, however; is not what is being “applied” for. The application in question is not for the membership to have a place to meet and to do business as the Masons have done for years. The application in question is the use of your Temple to host and sell tickets to “ DJ’s, live acts music (6 people), comedy and sports events ie mixed martial arts, pro wrestling and amateur boxing”. This is the exact wording from the application submitted to the city in which I’m confident you reviewed before writing this letter. In addition, the application seeks approval to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks on Friday and Saturday from 6-10pm. seating for 1235, cover charges, and an ABC licensee. All arranged by third party promoters. These events are to end at 11pm. I don’t know how long & loud clean up would be after 11pm. The security measures listed in this the applications are impressive to some and frightening to others: “2 Norfolk Policemen in-house, a sheriff and/or certified DCJS security officers at all point of entry and exits including fire exits”. It doesn’t appear that the audience will consist of Masons and Talbot Park residents.

    Here’s my brief history: the superintendent of the Masonic Temple contacted me about the situation and help regarding the Temple’s lack of all required permits, the application process and appropriate points of contact. He and I met at the Temple, and it was a good meeting. Immediately afterward, I requested that this situation become an agenda item at the Feb Ward’s Corner Task Force meeting. Present at this meeting were city council members, civic league presidents, an asst city mgr, etc. The superintendent from the Masonic Temple was present and requested assistance from the Ward’s Corner Task Force for a speedy and compliant application process to satisfy all city planning needs, permits, fire codes, etc. and for the endorsement to have weddings in which the wedding party would responsible the ABC banquet license only for that particular day with wine and beer ending at 9pm. This is what I expected to find the Masonic Temple’s application that was submitted to the city. Obviously, I had false expectations. Please note that I received my copy of the application from the city and after the hearing date was scheduled. No opportunity for review and/or input. This much anticipated hearing was scheduled for yesterday, but was rescheduled for obvious reasons for May 28th.

    I recognize the Masonic Temple’s business situation: generate revenue to keep the doors open and stop losing money, and that his particular membership base is older and that new membership is at undesirable levels. I understand the business situation. I also recognize the need for a better business model to exist. And I’m confident that other revenue generating solutions exist and include maintaining the integrity and character of the Masons. And I recognize reality. What would happen to this property if closed which I’m told is very possible. Potential buyers may be undesirable. Would Granby High acquire the property or would it be become another empty, closed, crime ridden and dangerous building like the others we have at near by Ward’s Corner. Would it become another “diamond in the rough” that has frustrated the Wards Corner Task force and community for years?

    If it’s the Mason’s decision to relax their “laws” around alcohol sales, availability and access on premises, then that is a Masonic Temple decision and should not become city and civic league topics for discussion, debate and gossip.

    In closing, you stated: “I hope that you will consider the motion before you and approve it. I can assure you that the Masonic Temple will not be disrespectful in any manor to our neighbors.”

    I hope the Masonic Temple will reconsider its “motion” or application so that we can maintain the wonderful neighborhood that you grew up in, respect and appreciate our resident’s evenings and set the right example for your alma mater, Granby High School.

    Jim McDonnell
    Talbot Park Civic League

  3. Elyse Kalfus says:

    Had either of you attended the Greater WArds Corner Partnership meeting on Thursday night or listened to what was said at the Taskforce meeting you would have know that these are not new events for the Masonic Temple. The Shriners have the proper licenses and have been providing them all along. The reason the Masons are appling for the license now is in case there is a scheduling problem and the Schriners are not avaliable on a night that the promoter wants to schedule the event. All the same rules and regulations would still be followed. You have never heard any of this because they have been a good neighbor and have not opened it up to the “general public”. I guess when you can be selelctive to whom you allow into your events you have better control over the problems they create.

  4. Anon says:

    This was a “non issue” that appears to be nothing more than an attempt by the Masons to do the right thing and adapt to changing city policy and new compliance issues. They are not proposing a change in behavior or activity, just doing paperwork.

    A select few in the Talbot neighborhood made a stink out of nothing, over-reacted to a benign situation due to the unbridled voices of a few worry warts. It’s a shame that a few people can “rally the troops” for no good cause and that folks don’t think for themselves long enough to ask the critical question “Do I have enough information to make an informed decision?”

    In this case, the answer was no, and it wasn’t because the information wasn’t there, it’s because the folks that stir up trouble don’t want to hear that no trouble exists because that defeats their purpose:

    1) Sound the alarm. (gives some people a high for whatever reason).
    2) Engage emotional thinking.
    3) Act on poor/missing information.
    4) Overstate the problem by using emotional language disproportionate to the problem to convince others of the gravity of the problem.
    5) Feel important and heroic, a community savior.

    This agenda works under the umbrella of “looking out for the neighborhood”, the sheepskin wrapped around the wolf.

    Remove these select few people from civic organizations and/or ignore them and the levels of calm, peace, harmony, and altruism will increase dramatically along with a dramatic rise in participation.

    Sure, these are inclusive organizations, but the job of the leadership is to temper the climate and restore sensibility and order vice let a few people run the show. In many civic organizations, the majority of the neighborhood stays home because their sense of sanity and rational thinking is stronger than their sense of argumentative duty and civic responsibility. Who wants to come to meetings and argue with irrational people or watch irrational people make arguments that have little merit while decorum says we should be respectful and listen? What pain!

    Restore neighborhood participation, equality, fairness, and most importantly good leadership and these problems and issues will be abandoned before people waste their getting involved in a big nothing. Look around at civic participation and you can see how big nothings have taken over, and when important issues arise, the smart people stay home while only the “neighborhood lookouts” attend and cast votes. A vicious and incestuous circle and a lose-lose in my book since now change comes on the heels of alternative agendas and not good, thoughtful policy.

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