A History of Norumbega & Brookline Lodge

AF & AM | 1921-1996

History is more art than science. There is no such thing, really, as an objective historian; without fail, every chronicler puts his own stamp on the events he observes and the things he chooses to record about them. When there is a body of work on a subject-when the event or period or person is well-known -the historian has a variety of viewpoints from which to choose, and his scholarly work can be more readily judged.

Regrettably, it is not so easy with Masonic history, particularly when it deals with events happening at the Lodge level. So much happens there, and yet so little note is taken of it in Grand Lodge proceedings, much less in the profane world. We are dependent on Secretary’s records, previous histories, and personal recollections.

The farther we get from the point of departure, the fewer people are available who might have seen things as they were. We are 75 years away from the constitution and chartering of our two forebears, Norumbega Lodge and Brookline Lodge, and there are no brothers left who sat with Fred Blanchard to discuss a third Lodge in Newton or who cast their vote for J. Everett Brown as first Master of Brookline. We must rely on what was written about those meetings and the ones that followed, and we must view them in light of what we know about the writers. And one more thing: we must try to understand what these people were like and what Masonry was like for them.

The same is true of the other events I have attempted to chronicle in this volume. I am not Henry Cummings, who claimed to have missed only one meeting in 24 years (“due to a date he had with a young lady and a clergyman,” as he put it); my Masonic experience began in January 1988, and I regret that I have not seen most of what I describe, nor met (nor will I ever meet) most of the men whose names appear on these pages. Yet I have sought to bring these events and these people to life for the present generation, for those who might have been there and who could be pleased with a remembrance, and particularly for the generation of Masons yet to come, to remind them that theirs is a rich and distinguished legacy that they also should view with pride.

Dedication

This history is dedicated to my parents:

Earle H. Hunt (1921-1990)
and
Clotilde E. Hunt (1921-1991)

They knew little of my involvement with this great fraternity and this fine Lodge, but they were loving, proud and supportive. Though they have each commenced the journey to that undiscovered country, a part of them remains with me wherever I go and whatever I do.

Introduction

As Masons, we are fascinated with history and tradition. This should certainly come as no surprise to those who have had an association with the Fraternity for any length of time, particularly here in Massachusetts, which claims to be the oldest Masonic authority in North America; our Commonwealth is filled with markers, monuments, and memorials to the two and a half centuries of the Craft, an unbroken chain from Henry Price to the present.

We hold dear our heroes from the American Revolution, the War Between the States, and the world wars, and our presidents and governors and senators. In the year in which our two constituent Lodges were founded, members of the Craft stood at the Feast of St. John in Boston and toasted the health of President and Brother Warren G. Harding.

Yet there are many heroes to the Fraternity whose service and hard work are not memorialized in stone tablets or as part of the greater panoply of American history, which serves as a backdrop to our Masonic story. But without their efforts we would not meet in fraternal communion today. In the founding year of 1921, Rt. Wor. Charles Johnson, Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of New York, praised such men in his address at the Feast of St. John. “Who are the men who have kept alive Masonry up to the present time?” he asked. “Their names are unknown to many. Masonry has continued in this state year after year, decade after decade, and has built its magnificent superstructure upon un- known members; the unknown members who have come from time to time to the Lodge room and done their work and exemplified their ideals in daily life.” It is those men, as well as those whose deeds are more widely celebrated, that have made our united Lodge what it is today.

Now, in our 75th year of work, we are looking back at the road we have taken to reach this place. Seventy-five years is not an unbridgable gulf, but it is long enough that we count no living charter member among the members of our Lodge. As we look back to the beginning of our Lodge’s history, we seek to understand our prominent forebears and call them forth from the written record so that we may see them in the same light as we see the prominent and honored Masons of the present. This is the very essence of history: the story of people, like ourselves and yet unlike, but not mere weathered portraits or names in a record.