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Part III: The Lodge Matures

Room was still found for other activities. North Bend Lodge was invited to take charge of the cornerstone laying of the new public school at the northwest corner of Miami and Morgan Street in Cleves. The Grand Lodge of Ohio was entreated to provide the ceremony. Brother Harry S. Johnson officiated as the proxy of the Grand Master (Sunday afternoon, November 4, 1928). The brethren celebrated by the bicentennial anniversary of George Washington’s birth (Sunday morning, Feb. 4, 1932) by attendance at the worship service of the Cleves Presbyterian Church. The eyes of Texas soon shown with stimulating vigor upon North Bend Lodge when the new petroleum refinery was opened at Hooven, Ohio. Texas Masons became members of our Lodge along with their fellow-workers; among them William F. Maltbie, Senior, who was for long such an enduring light in our fellowship. There were other external changes. The Lodge rendered a burial service at the Argo Funeral Home (Feb. 10, 1934) in honor of a sojourning brother from Lebanon Lodge, New York City. Heretofore, all such ritual had been at the home church or cemetery.

The concluding years of the fourth decade of our [20th] century brought us into closer relationship with Indiana Masonry. Wm. Fred Maltbie, Senior, received the Past Master Degree from Lawrenceburg Chapter #56 Royal Arch Masons (Dec. 23, 1936). North Bend Lodge seemed to be in the midst of a patriotic fervor. A special meeting was called to celebrate the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Constitution (Sept. 17, 1937). Later, at the request of Grand Master Dillon Crist, a “Rededication Service” was held at which patriotic songs were sung. Charles A. Lowe gave the address of the evening (Sept. 18, 1940). The following year he was to become Grand Master of Masons in Indiana.

Then the 1937 flood occupied our attention. The Grand Master urged contributions for flood relief a committee was appointed by the Grand Lodge. A committee was appointed to ascertain the names of local Masons who were flood victims, this group to act in harmony with the one designated by the Grand Lodge. North Bend Lodge maintained its charitable interest. The three children of Brother William Plummer, deceased, were admitted to the Masonic Home in Springfield, Ohio (July, 1937).

North Bend Lodge continued to lay cornerstones for public schools when the Grand Master, Louis M. Blakemore, opened a special communication of North Bend Lodge and convocation of the Grand Lodge for that purpose in respect to the new Berea School building at Hooven, Ohio (April 16, 1938). There was now a power plant at the junction of the Ohio and Great Miami Rivers, and likewise, North Bend Lodge shared in this industrial development. The Wayfarer’s Club, composed of employees of the Cincinnati Gas and Electric Company, conferred the Master Mason Degree on Alden A. Hipple (July 18, 1938). We talked about a Lodge hall and our outreach still expanded when the Secretary gave a report on the general meeting of Secretaries at Columbus, Ohio, called by the Grand Master on January 21, 1939. Some new customs were introduced. A committee made a report on the plans for a Father and Son Banquet (Sept. 27, 1939) and C.D. Coy received a Past Master’s jewel (Dec. 20, 1939). Don Kuemmerling was designated “District Deputy” instead of “District Lecturer” (Feb. 10, 1940).

Nothing stays the same in life. If there is any fixed principle, it is change – – but only as to man’s external environment; moral rules never. North Bend Lodge has remained basically the same throughout the tenue of its existence. Most changes added to its career were to encourage and promote the virtues of Free Masonry. The next twenty years were to see the building project tritely revived as it had been in time past, but perhaps a little more urgently. The minutes note (May 7, 1941) that the Trustees were instructed to repair the door into the banquet room. A new iron stairway should replace the wooden one outside the building which should serve as an emergency exit (July, 1944). The Lodge building was falling into decay.

The second World War was in the offing. North Bend Lodge, as in times past, kept an even balance. To be sure it supported the efforts of the United States, but there was to be no reckless propagandizing or war mongering. Defense bonds were bought (Feb., 1940). The names of brethren inducted into the armed services were placed upon an honor roll to be hung in the Lodge room (April, 1942). A service committee provided Testaments for members of the Lodge in the armed forces.

If anything characterizes the development of our country, it has been mobility. Recent times past brought the steam locomotive. Now Ezra. G. Guard (April, 1942) was telling the Lodge of his trip from Columbus to Cincinnati by airplane. This ease of movement by the population led not merely to our usual attendance at the Methodist or Presbyterian Church on St. John’s Day (the Baptist) as had been our wont but to the Baptist Church (Sunday, June 25, 1944) and the Church of Christ. The United Brethren Church should be mentioned in this respect, however, it has become a part of the United Methodist Church. Folks from other parts of the nation were establishing their congregations.

The inner operations of North Bend  Lodge were not always smooth. There was no stated meeting in September, 1942. The Worshipful Master and Junior Warden were working elsewhere; the Senior Warden was in the military service. W. Fred Maltbie, Senior, Past Master, acting in proxy for the Grand Master opened Lodge in October. November brought a dispensation authorizing Brother Maltbie to open Lodge. The Secretary, acting as proxy for the Master and Senior Warden attended Grand Lodge.

Turbulence continued in the Lodge (March 8, 1944) but only to make the members more aware of the Grand Lodge. A brother claiming ignorance bought a business where intoxicating liquor was sold violating the regulations in our state masonic jurisdiction. He was well respected by the membership. He stated his establishment would be operated in an orderly fashion; nevertheless, a trial was held. Harry S. Johnson, Grand Secretary, presided. The brother did not appear. He was charge with unmasonic conduct and expelled by unanimous vote of the Lodge. (Brother Young is more prudent in his notes: intoxicating liquor is not mentioned. The reference comes from the testimony of contemporaries.)

The year 1950 brought to an end the long service of Charles T. Young as Secretary of the Lodge. Be resolution he was made Secretary Emeritus as long as he should live and be a member of the Lodge (Dec. 20, 1950).

Small yet significant events and incidents of the preceding two decades were the gift of Bibles to newly obligated brothers (Jan., 1941); the observance of Old Timers and Past Masters Night (May, 1949); the date for appointing an auditing committee in October (Nov., 1950); and lest it be forgotten, Brother George Neidhard presented a memorial to himself at the inspection of April, 1947. He was a member of Columbia Lodge, Miamitown, Ohio, and a frequent visitor to our Lodge, especially at inspections. The Order of DeMolay officially made its presence first known to North Ben Lodge when Thomas B. Fox, chairman of state advisory board of DeMolay, asked for a contribution of a nominal amount for the 17th annual conclave in Cincinnati, Ohio (July 5, 1941).