Sunday, March 16, 2008
Visit To Wasatch lodge No. 1, Salt Lake City
I had a fantastic time in Salt Lake City. The brethren of Wasatch Lodge No. 1, the officers of the Grand Lodge of Utah and MWBro. Glen Cook were more than generous, and extremely courteous to this Dummy. Most important, they are having fun, educating their members, getting along with each other, and practicing their Masonic principles every day. When I visit a lodge like this, I feel like I'm preaching to the choir, because they are getting it right.
Wasatch Lodge itself has an energetic and eclectic group. I was encouraged by the large percentage of brethren under 40, along with the older brethren who were every bit as excited, dedicated, and engaged.
The Salt Lake City Masonic Temple is a magnificent facility, built in 1929. The brethren have cared for it and have much to be proud of.
Brother Jason Varner was an outstanding guide and host, who took me on a tour of the Mormon Temple Square, along with pointing out the many other sights of the city. I'd never been to Salt lake City, and highly recommend it.
One of the unusual locations was Gilgal, a local park that was once a private sculpture garden. Local sculptor John Childs Jr. had created this unusual garden in his backyard, featuring biblical and Book of Mormon quotes, religious and inspirational scenes carved from massive stones. The centerpiece is a large sculpture of himself, complete with pants made of brick. And there's a massive stone sculpture of Prophet Joseph Smith's head on the body of a sphinx. There's a peculiar "Elvis on black velvet" kitschiness to the whole thing, made especially mind boggling by the fact that just moving these giant boulders around his backyard took the help of ten guys and a crane before he could even get started carving his, er, vision.
Saturday was my first participation in a Shrine Parade, much less a St. Patrick's Day parade. I chose to forego driving a little car, opting instead for riding in the biggest one I could find: the El Kalah Shrine's 1939 Yellowstone Park tour bus, with an open canvas roof. A Yellowstone bus wouldn't be complete without its own big fuzzy bear waving from the back, but it was also packed beyond its capacity with waving, screaming, fez-headed Shriners, looking like we were just seconds from a tragic bus plunge accident. It also wasn't a heat wave in Salt Lake City. John rode all the way back from the parade route on the top of the roof ledge, and I suspect won't be able to feel his face for weeks to come. Kudos to brother Adam Weiss, who was, in the words of Rainman, "an excellent driver."
Accommodations at the Alta Club were outstanding. Lunch at Lamb's Grill was fantastic. I've never in my life heard of beer called Polygamy Porter before. It was great being with brethren like Reed Fanning, who I never get to see except when we're both in Washington for Masonic Week. And everyone, from the lodge and the Shrine, to the terrific kids from the Job's Daughters who served up corned beef and cabbage after the parade, was great fun to be with.
Again, many, many thanks to Bros. Jason Varner, John Liley, Jason Mitchell, MWBro. Glen Cook and all of the brethren. And a special note of thanks to Brother Lucky Tuck for the gifts you created. You are a true treasure within Wasatch Lodge and Utah Freemasonry.
I hope all of our paths will cross again soon.