Families come first in our group of small town Texas Masons. In 1998 after living in the Humble area, north of Houston for 42 years, Nellie and I moved to the little community of Pine Island in Waller County. Pine Island is 45 miles west of Houston and sits half way between Hempstead and Waller.
At that time I was a member of two "large city" Lodges in the Houston area. However, I had lost interest in the Lodge and hadn't attended meetings at either Lodge for a few years. We had been in Pine Island almost a year when a couple of cousins invited me to visit two nearby local lodges, where they were both members. After visiting both Lodges a few times, I demitted from both of the "large city" Lodges and joined the Waller Masonic Lodge #808 AF & AM, 5 miles east of Pine Island, and the Hempstead Masonic Lodge #749 AF & AM, 5 miles west of Pine Island.
One of the main things that attracted me to these small town Lodges was the "Family Social Hour" and dinner before each stated meetings. On the stated meeting night at both Lodges, many of the Brothers with their wives, children and even mothers and fathers sometime, join together for dinner from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM. In all my years as a member of the "Big City Lodges", I never saw wives and children in the building on a stated meeting night.
These small town Lodge family hours have a very positive effect on us and our families. It gives the ladies the feeling that Lodge night isn't just an excuse for husbands to get away from the wives and children for a night. At 7:30 PM when the brothers assemble in the Lodge room for the Lodge meeting, most wives double up and ride with each other to go back home. The husbands do the same after the meeting. A few of the wives extend the “social” hour and wait around in the dining room visiting or playing cards or dominos until the meeting is over and ride home with their husbands.
The Lodges pay for the groceries that the Stewards use to prepare the dinners. Donations to the kitty jar usually come within 15 or 20 dollars of the expenditure if not more then enough. The ladies usually bring some homemade deserts. We feel that any cost to the Lodges are very small compared to the benefits of having our wives feel that they are a part of lodge night.
They not only have a night to socialize and get to know the other Brothers and their wives, they also enjoy some good home cooking without having to cook supper and clean up afterward. Most actually look forward to Lodge night here rather then complain about being left at home alone. Some of the wives even voluntarily come out to help when we have a fund raiser because they feel that they are part of the lodge.
I haven't missed but one Lodge meeting at either Lodge in over three years and my wife has been there for most of the social hours as did my daughter in law before she passed away last year. My wife usually takes the car home after the "Social Hour" and I ride with my son or another Brother after the meeting.
Best of all, I have regained my interest and involvement in Masonry. I am currently the Secretary of Hempstead Lodge and the Junior Warden of Waller Lodge. My son John, who moved to the area soon after we did, had also lost interest in the big city Lodges. He joined both Hempstead and Waller Lodges about 3 years ago at the same time I did and he is now the new 2003/2004 Worshipful Master for Waller Lodge. We both work in all of the fund raisers. I also write the newsletter for Hempstead Lodge and maintain web sites for both Lodges plus my “Small Town Texas Masons” web site.
We both feel that we owe our renewed interest in Masonry and our involvement in the Lodges to a much stronger sense of belonging and family. We know our new Lodge Brothers many times better then the ones at our "Big City" Lodges who we had known 3 or 4 times as long.
But, more important, getting to know our Brothers wives and children and having our wives know them and their families, we have developed a much stronger sense of Brotherhood then we ever experienced as members of the larger “No girls allowed” attitude in "Big City" Lodges.
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