Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Myth Of Hatless Jack

I've written a few posts now about hats, including a series about Freemasons and their hats.  I love hats, and I always have.  Perhaps it is my love of old black & white movies, or perhaps I was born too late.  I've always wondered why men stopped wearing hats, so I did a little research about it.

It would have been unthinkable until the late 1950s early 1960s to leave the house without a hat.  It was part of a gentleman's wardrobe, and deeply ingrained in the American psyche.  That was back when men were men.  But in the 60s, that tradition for the most part, faded away.  And it's all John F. Kennedy's fault.  He didn't like hats, and rarely wore one.  In fact, he was the first President who didn't wear a hat to his inauguration.  He set a new trend--the heyday of the fedora was over.

The only problem with that story is that it isn't completely accurate.  It's true Kennedy didn't like hats, but he did wear a hat to his inauguration.  He didn't wear it when he gave his speech, however, as far as anybody knows, no President ever did wear his hat during their inaugural speech as it would have been view as disrespectful--including the President famous for his hat, Abraham Lincoln!

And the other part of the story is that hat sales had been in decline for more than a decade before Kennedy took office.  What most likely killed the hat was technology.  A hundred years ago, men spent much more time exposed to the elements.  He wore a felt hat in the winter to keep himself warm and dry, and a straw hat in the summer to keep shelter himself from the heat and keep the sun out of his eyes.  A man's hat wasn't a fashion statement--it was a necessity.  The more advanced our technology became, the less we needed that protection.  Many Americans today are rarely exposed to the elements for any length of time--maybe a quick walk from your heated car to the entrance of the grocery store.

However, the hat isn't dead yet. More and more men are rediscovering those classic styles, and are beginning to appreciate again the artistry and workmanship that goes into a truly great hat.  Slowly but surely, hats are making a come back--and I'm not talking about those ridiculous Alpaca knit hats or baseball caps.  I'm talking about fedoras, and Hombergs, and Panamas.  And there are good reasons why American men are going back to brimmed hats--protection from UV radiation.  We've finally figured out that sunlight isn't always such a good thing and maybe wearing a hat that covers our ears and our neck is a good idea.

Todd E. Creason in his Stetson Temple Fedora
And if you're looking for a hat, many of the best hat makers are still in business today, and producing hats the same way, and to the same exacting standards they always have--names like Stetson, Borsalino, and Bailey.  There isn't a hat store on every corner anymore, but there are a lot of places you can order quality hats online.  I buy only from one outstanding company--Delmonico Hatter.  They are a family business that has been around since 1908, and their selection and service are absolutely outstanding. 

So get out there and hat up!

~Todd E. Creason, 33°
originally pulbished 11/4/11

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Would You Go Back To Simpler Times?

Before Nikes . . .

The backdrop of my first novel One Last Shot was a 25th high school reunion.  It wasn't too long after my 20th when I started working on the novel, so a lot of that nostalgic feeling you get at reunions was still fresh in my mind.  I explored some of that in the novel.  A common comment at my reunion was "boy, if I could just go back to high school, knowing what I know today . . ."

That just strikes me as funny.  It doesn't make any difference what era you grew up in, people have a strange way of painting the past in rosy colors.  Do you really want to do it all again knowing what you know now?

How many phone numbers do you know today?
I see several problems with this, and I'm going to pick on a good friend of mine to illustrate my point.  He's a guy that said he'd like to go back for a do-over, but I just don't see how that would work for him.  He's always been addicted to technology (even back in the 80s he was all over the new gadgets).  I had lunch with him a couple weeks ago, and a he was so distracted at lunch he couldn't follow a conversation.  He'd forgotten his iPhone at work.  He was worried about it.  What if it rang while he was gone?  Or what somebody posted something on Facebook?  Or *gasp* he got a text?  What would that mean if he wasn't instantly updated?  I think he'd be more comfortable eating in a restaurant without pants than being without his iPhone.

He's going to go back to 1980?  Back to rotary dial phones?  Back to when nobody had even heard of voice mail, and if you were lucky, you had an answering machine?  He wouldn't survive a second time around. He's that guy that calls you two minutes after he texts you just to make sure you read the text.  The simple idea of having to lick a stamp and mail something instead of hitting "send" would kill him.

I think that's the most stunning difference--we are never without our phones.  Back then, we actually used to leave the house for an entire day without a phone or any way for somebody to contact us--and we didn't think twice about it.  If something came up, you'd just swing into the gas station and use the payphone.  All of us knew twenty or thirty phone numbers by heart because our phones didn't remember them.  These days, I sometimes have to stop and think when I'm asked my own phone number.  And back then, an instant message was something that was passed to you during study hall folded up in the shape of a little football.

Before he jumped the shark . . .
And I'll tell you another problem my friend would have--going back to the 13-inch black and white television you had when you started high school?  Back to the rabbit ears and three channels (four on a clear night)?  Mr. Home Theater would never make it back through Beta, VHS, and DVDs to arrive back to the "land of Blue-Ray." 

And he'd be willing to trade the 1,500 songs he proudly brags about on his iPhone for the eight or ten he'd get from a fuzzy cassette tape on his Sony Walkman?  And then spend thirty years listening to music he already knew, and watching television he'd already seen?

Just think how frustrated you'd be going back and doing it all again.  And think about what else that means.  You don't marry that first husband or wife (and maybe even the second one) because of what you know now and didn't know then.  You could never fall in love with them again--you'd be made about things they haven't even done yet.  That means you don't have your son or daughter that you're rather fond of.  You could avoid all those mistakes that made you who you are today, but what would you be giving up?

How I misspent my youth . . .
I was really thinking about that when I was working on my first novel--would I avoid those pitfalls, and repeat them knowing how they'd turned out in the long run?  I really struggled with that one.  I truly believe if I woke up again in 1980, I would intentionally repeat some of those mistakes, and there would be some I wouldn't be able to force myself to repeat.  But I'll tell you one thing I'd sure be doing.  I'd be investing every cent I had in Apple and Microsoft and a few others.  At least I'd know that after I survived the second go around, I'd be rich.

There are a few things I miss from the 80s.  There are a few people I'd like to see again that are no longer with us.  I miss the music.  There are a few musicians and bands I like today, but for the most part I think it's mostly garbage.  There was so much more variety back then.  I definitely miss MTV and music videos.  And I miss the optimism from that era--anything was possible with enough hard work and determination.  We seem to have lost that whole idea these days.

You know, all things being said, I'm pretty happy where I'm at.  I think my wife is, too.  I asked her the other day if she'd go back to high school and do it all again.  She said, "I don't have that kind of time or energy to spend on my hair." 

~Todd E. Creason

originally publishing 4/11/13

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Midnight Freemasons Road Trip

Left to right: Midnight Freemasons Senior Contributor Greg Knott, Managing Editor Robert Johnson, and Founder Todd E. Creason
I thought I'd share this news . . . the Midnight Freemasons are going on a road trip this fall to Scotland and England, and I invite you to come along.  This is a tour that was organized by a Master Mason, for Master Masons, and we'll be visiting many sites that will be of particular interest to Freemasons--we'll even be attending a Lodge meeting while we're in England!  I hope you'll join us in this journey.  I'm looking so forward to it--I've wanted to visit the U.K. for a long time, and I just haven't had the chance to go.  And yes, you can bring your spouse with you!  ~Todd E. Creason, 33°

Our trip to Scotland and England is really shaping up nicely--we now have three Midnight Freemasons joining the tour to the United Kingdom between September 12 - 22.

Robert Johnson is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and is from the 1st N. E. District of Illinois.  He currently serves as the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 where he is a Past Master.  He is also a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N. E. District of Illinois.  Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? and Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry.  He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show.  He is a husband and father of four, works full-time in the executive medical industry and is also an avid homer brewer.  He is currently working on a  book of Masonic essays and one on Occult Anatomy to be released soon.

Greg Knott is the Senior Contributor at the Midnight Freemasons blog.  He is a Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL), and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754, Homer Lodge No. 199, and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, D.C.  He's a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star, and is the Charter Secretary of the Illinois High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana.  He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philalethes Society.He is a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 (IL) and serves as its Secretary.  Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts--an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters.

Todd E. Creason is the Founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog, and is an award winning author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series.  He is the author of the the From Labor To Refreshment blog.  He is a Past Master of both Homer Lodge No. 199 and Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL).  He is a a Past Sovereign Master of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees.  he is a Fellow at the Missouri Lodge of Research (FMLR) and a charter member of the a new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282.  He is also a member of Tuscola Odd Fellows Lodge No. 316.

You can join us on the tour by registering HERE.  You can find a full itinerary of the trip HERE.  Don't wait too long to register--there is limited space available!  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour Scotland and England on a tour designed for Freemasons, so avoid future regret by booking early!  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Week In Review: 4/14/18

Grand Master of Illinois Tony Cracco and Worshipful Master of Homer Lodge No. 199 Todd E. Creason during re-dedication ceremony.
I got a rather insulting email this week.  An uninformed Brother was extremely critical of the Midnight Freemasons.  He said in part that it's easy to sit back and write about issues Lodges have, but in the real world the solutions are a bit more complex and our suggestions are naive.  My friend, when you're reading the Midnight Freemasons, know that we're not just writers.  We're all active Freemasons.  Part of what has made the Midnight Freemasons so unique is that the writers actually know what they're talking about, because they haven't only studied Freemasonry on the academic side, but we serve as Lodge officers, Masters, Secretaries, District Deputies, State Education Officers, etc.  We belong to the York Rite, Scottish Rite, Shrine, AMD, etc.  We've actually brought Lodges back to health from the very edge of extinction.  We've been involved in chartering new Masonic groups in an era when it's more common to see them close down.  We've worked to bring Lodge education and member development back to the forefront.  When we write an issue piece, you can be sure it's not an academic exercise--it's written on a firm foundation of first hand experience.

Our unique perspectives are what brings our readers to us.  We don't just talk--we do.  Our writers have done remarkable work outside the blog doing exactly the kind of things we write about--most especially on the Masonic education front.   In fact, many of our Emeritus writers stopped writing because they were too busy doing Freemasonry to write about Freemasonry.  Part of our problem is we have an abundance of critics and a shortage of volunteers to help--the critics wind up burning out the guys that are actually doing the majority of the work.  It's easy to criticize, it's far more difficult to roll up your sleeves and labor in the quarries.

Enough on that.

Want to experience a unique Masonic educational opportunity?  How about a once-in-a-lifetime ten day journey to Scotland and England designed specifically with the Freemason in mind?  Well, we're going on such a trip between September 12 and September 22.  It was an initiative begun by The Masonic Society and The Midnight Freemasons, and set up by a Master Mason travel agent!  You can find all the detail about The Masonic Tour of Scotland and England by following the link.  Contact me if you have any questions.  We're just going to have a great time, and as you'll see from the itinerary, there are some amazing sites we'll be visiting.  I hope you can join us!  

I got a lot of nice emails this week as well.  Readers enjoyed my posts this week--both were re-posts from the past.  The nice thing about have done this for so long is that I have a huge archive of literally hundreds and hundreds of pieces to fall back on when I get busy and can't write new content--many of those pieces published long before I had the kind of audience I enjoy today.

In case you missed it, on Tuesday I posted a piece entitled The Challenges of Masonic Ritual.  And on Thursday, I talked a little bit about the Scottish Rite in What Is The Scottish Rite?.

I do have at least one new piece for next week, and I'll have one for the Midnight Freemasons next week as well--so be sure and check in with me on Tuesday and Thursday, and the Midnight Freemasons on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.   Between the two of us, we have your weekly Masonic light covered!

Have a great week!

~Todd E. Creason, 33°
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