The 1919 Club Newsletter – July 2018

1919 Club Members,


As we seek to provide additional benefits for the 1919 Club, DeMolay International has started producing a newsletter exclusively for the group. Beginning in the Centennial year, this newsletter will be sent out on the 19th of every month. In it, we will take a closer look at interesting pieces of DeMolay International’s history. Most of the content will focus on things like Dad Land’s life and work with DeMolay, the development and history of DeMolay’s ritual, the organization’s development through the years, and honors and awards from DeMolay’s past.  This issue will be available for all to see. Future issues, however, will only be available to 1919 Club members.

This first issue will serve as a starting point, and not an ending. We hope to receive feedback about both the quality and content of the issue from you through the survey link attached at the end.

If you know someone who would enjoy this newsletter, please encourage them to sign up for the 1919 Club! Additionally, if you know of a particular piece of DeMolay’s history that you would like to see included in future issues, please let us know at Thank you for your generous support of our Order.


Keith K. Klein, PGM
Grand Secretary

Dad Melvin Johnson and Our Ritual

On March 27th, 1928, an advisor from Massachusetts sent Dad Land a letter. Included in that letter was a suggestion that would change our ritual forever. Dad Melvin Johnson's letter primarily centered around a situation with a Letters Temporary for a chapter in Massachusetts. Dad Johnson was an active member of the Grand Council at the time and was concerned about the newly begun Revere Chapter’s ability to survive. He decided not to give the chapter their Letters Temporary until he was satisfied that they would be able to survive long-term. Dad Land later sent his approval of Dad Johnson’s decision and said that DeMolay would follow his lead on the issue.

However, the more interesting components of the letter are the sketches he attached and the information further down. The Junior Councilor of Boston Chapter at the time created the sketches, and they are quite remarkable. The first sketch is the set of the DeMolay Degree as imagined by Boston Chapter. The second sketch concerns a “permissive second section.” Both sketches are very well done. Dad Land replied to the letter almost immediately and confirmed that he passed along the information to the Ritual Committee.

Dad Johnson had also attached text for the “permissive second section” in a separate sheet. This section features three Franciscan friars, who hold an urn that represents DeMolay’s ashes. They kneel and say “Great son of France, farewell. May we live as nobly as thou hast died.” This appears to be the origin of the phrase, which now concludes the 3rd Section of the DeMolay Degree and is one of the most recognizable portions of the ritual to DeMolays around the world. The phrase does not appear in the first edition of the ritual, nor in any other version prior to this letter. At the time this letter was written, the Grand Council was in the process of revising the ritual, and Dad Johnson requested that Dad Land send this material along to those who were involved in the revision.

Dad Johnson also included another suggestion for a revision of the Orator's part. This suggestion has not had the same lasting impact as the other. However, the insertion does provide some interesting context for the DeMolay Degree. It suggests that Jacques DeMolay was viewed as a martyr by his contemporaries as well as those who came later. Dad Johnson cites The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol. VII to support the accuracy of the insertion. This letter provides a fascinating window into the development of our ritual during the early years of the Order.

Dad Johnson’s letter is also interesting because he went on to have distinguished careers in Masonry and in broader life. According to the Spring 2001 edition of Trowel, Dad Johnson was a practicing attorney when this letter was written, and he was also teaching at the Boston University School of Law. He would later serve as the Dean of the Boston University School of Law from 1935 until his retirement in 1944. He served the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as a Grand Lodge officer for more than fifty years, and as its Grand Master from 1914 to 1916. He also served the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite as Sovereign Grand Commander from 1933 until he stepped down in 1953. His brothers lauded him, saying, “No man in the history of the Craft has brought greater skill to its administration or clearer thinking to its problems.” In May of 1932, Dad Johnson was called upon to deliver the dedicatory oration at the dedication of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, which, just last month, was the site of the 51st International DeMolay Congress. Seeing how men of Dad Johnson and Dad Land’s caliber helped to shape our Order in its earliest days makes it no surprise that a club of nine young men in Kansas City would spread like wildfire to touch the far corners of the globe today, as it embarks on its second century.

A Letter from Dad Land

When he traveled, Dad Land carried with him a book of speech notes with various quotes, short stories, and ideas that he could draw upon when he was asked to speak. After Dad Land's death, Dad Roy "Friday" Fitzgerald, a Past Executive Director of DeMolay and Active member of the Supreme Council, came in possession of the book. He returned the book to the Supreme Council in 1986, and, from then until a photocopied version was created in 1989, it was passed down from Grand Master to Grand Master. The photocopied version was then passed down for several more years. Both the original version and two photocopies still reside in DeMolay International's headquarters. In this section of the newsletter, we will explore one excerpt from this book every month.

Charles A. Beard, Dean of American Historians, on “How Long would it Take to Sum up the Lessons of History?”:

First, he thought it could be done in a week; then in a day; then in an hour; then in two minutes!

1. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

2. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.

3. The bee always fertilizes the flower it robs.

4. When it is dark enough we can see the stars.

Senior DeMolay Spotlight

Brother David Anspaugh was initiated into DeMolay as a charter member of Decatur Chapter in Decatur, Indiana on February 22nd, 1964. Bro. Anspaugh later rose to prominence by directing Hoosiers and Rudy, two classic sports movies. He also directed such movies as Fresh HorsesMoonlight and Valentino, and The Game of Their Lives.  Bro. Anspaugh studied at Indiana University as well as The University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.  He started in the entertainment industry by working as a producer for television shows such as Hill Street Blues before he transitioned to films. He has since gone on to carve out an impressive career for himself in Hollywood which has spanned nearly four decades.

Come back next month for more letters from Dad Land, spotlights on Senior DeMolays who have done remarkable things, and fascinating pieces of DeMolay history!

  • 1=Needs improvement, 5=No Improvement
  • 1=Needs improvement, 5=No Improvement