(I'm the bigger guy on the right, the one with no sleep)
The Feast of St. John dinner on Saturday was a phenomenal evening, and I owe many thanks to everyone who helped make it so memorable. It was great to meet brothers Jay Hochberg, Steve Schilling and Cory Sigler in person, and as is getting to be a regular occurrence, putting a face to brethren I have only known via the Internet.
Saturday's event was held at the Grand Lodge of New Jersey's Fellowship Hall next to their Masonic Home campus. New Jersey has an outstanding, modern and up to date facility, and they have much to be proud of.
RW:. Alan Hayden has a unique talent for woodworking, and is renowned in New Jersey for his custom gavels. I am honored that he created one for Grand Master Ryan to present to me. It was only later that I was told the significance of the numbers stamped into the base of the handle. At first, I believed it was the number of gavels Brother Hayden had made, 245. But it turns out to be the date, February 1945, that a friend of Brother Hayden's was shot. The men were standing side by side, and Alan believes his friend took a bullet that was meant for him. Alan spent the rest of the war in a german POW camp. He has made many of these gavels, all stamped with the same date, as a memorial to his friend.
Getting to stay in the Grand Master's suite at the home was a welcome, homey respite from the typical motel room, and Alice, Wiley and I were all very comfortable. Many, many thanks to MW:. John Ryan, Grand Master, Brian Johnson, Grand Lodge Administrator, their charming ladies, and all of the New Jersey Masons who made this a terrific night.
We're still on the road, and I'd like to take this opportunity to remind myself how much I hate driving in the northeast in winter. The 5 hour drive from Burlington, NJ to Boston on Sunday night came to 10 hours, thanks to the snow and ice storm that plagued us the whole way. Like our upside down schedule at home, we're sleeping in the daytime and driving at night, so tomorrow I will hopefully get switched around so we can get our daytime trip to Salem while it is still light.