Famous January Mason – January, 2023

Part II

January 17, 1706, Boston, MA (British America) – April 17, 1790, Philadelphia, PA (USA)

The first article about Benjamin Franklin outlining his life and accomplishments appeared in The Jephtha Newsletter in January 2021. This second article about this famous January Freemason is a reprint from The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, June 20, 2022, entitled, “Ben Franklin Bankrolled Two Centuries of Makers,” by Terry W. Hartle, Contributor.

Benjamin Franklin owed his success to intelligence and hard work. He never forgot his roots – he maintained a deep and abiding respect for people who worked with their hands and mastered a trade. And as Michael Meyer recounts in “Benjamin Franklin’s Last Bet: The Favorite Founder’s Divisive Death, Enduring Afterlife, and Blueprint for American Prosperity,” he believed that skilled workers were essential to American success. “Good apprentices,” wrote Franklin, “are most likely to make good citizens.”

His commitment to the “leather apron class” stretched far beyond his death. Just before he died in 1790, Franklin changed his will and left a large proportion of his estate to the cities of Philadelphia and Boston.

His plan was simple: Both cities were to lend the money in small amounts to tradesmen who needed funds to set themselves up in business. The borrowers were to repay the loans over 10 years at 5% interest. According to Franklin’s calculations, the fund would grow dramatically. After 100 years, some of the fund would be distributed by the city leaders and after 200 years, all the remaining money would be given away.
Franklin hoped the initiative would help young blacksmiths, coopers, carpenters, cabinet makers, and bricklayers get started. In many cases it did, and Meyer introduces us to some of the success stories. Unsurprisingly, some failed – which Franklin may not have anticipated.

Today, we would call these micro-loans. Nothing like this existed in 1790. Franklin knew firsthand how hard it could be for a skilled worker to get a start. He had been apprenticed to his older brother, James, who ran a print shop in Boston. The young Franklin showed promise, but he chafed under his brother’s harsh tutelage, broke his indenture, and bolted to Philadelphia, where he opened his own print shop.

Franklin’s bequest was a bold experiment with a long horizon “at a time when life expectancy was much shorter than it is today,” Meyer explains. It was also an audacious idea: It assumed that civic leaders in two cities would lend, without compensation, small interest-bearing loans to individual tradesmen for two centuries, collect repayments, and reinvest the repaid funds. What could possibly go wrong?”

Much did, of course, and both cities stumbled. Incompetence, inefficiency, lack of interest, defaults, incomplete records, and plain old graft were all involved. And Franklin’s calculations about how the money would grow proved wildly optimistic. But the surprising thing is that both cities, after 200 years, had a significant amount of money available for investment in public services.

Philadelphia had a balance of $2.3 million in 1990 – far less than Franklin had projected. The city used the money on job-training programs for high school graduates. Boston did a better job and had more than $4.6 million left. That city devoted all its money to the century-old Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology – an institution that had been founded with money from the first payout of Franklin’s will. The school still stands on Berkley Street in Boston and many of its students come from low-income families.

Meyer skillfully weaves a biography of Franklin into this story of his philanthropy. You cannot talk about Franklin without acknowledging his scientific experiments, and the author describes many of Franklin’s efforts, including the lightening rod, bifocals, swim fins and even a musical instrumented called the “glass armonica.”

Like the other founders, Franklin had faults. While he submitted to Congress the first petition to abolish slavery, he owned enslaved people and never freed a single one. Meyer acknowledges that even this most approachable and forward-thinking of the founders had shortcomings.

While the author notes that micro-loans are now a widely accepted strategy for helping create small businesses, he doesn’t talk much about the practice of an economic policy tool. He’s more interested in suggesting, without actually saying it, that Franklin was the father of micro-loans.

It only took two centuries for the economic and business communities to catch up.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S LAST BET: The Favorite Founder’s Divisive Death, Enduring Afterlife, and Blueprint for American Prosperity, by Michael Meyer, Mariner Books, 368 pp.

One of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quotes, one of many – “Wine is a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” If you have read this far, and you are the 17th and 25th reader to respond, a near-future collation will be on the house. Kindly send the editor an email (rg.jlnews@aol.com) and in the subject line write, “Jan23.” Make sure your name, lodge, date and time appear in in your email so proper credit can be given. Thank you and good luck!

Fraternally yours,
Richard Gentile, Editor

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Masonic Moment, from the Editor – January, 2023


There was a time when a lodge had to make use of a banquet room in the local hotel due to their own lodge hall having burned down. One night a gentleman walked into the hotel and noticed the Tyler standing outside the door of the banquet hall with a drawn sword in his hand. He asked the desk clerk “What is that man doing with that sword?” The desk clerk replied the local Masonic Lodge was meeting in the banquet room. The gentleman then said “Oh the Masons. That’s the organization that is really hard to get into,” whereupon the desk clerk replied, “It must be. That poor guy with the sword has been knocking on that door for months and they still haven’t let him in.”

Stewart Brass, Harris Lodge No. 216, Grand Lodge of Canada, Province of Ontario, Reprinted from freemaosns-freemasonry.com

Fraternally yours,
Richard Gentile, Editor

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TRUTH TRIANGLE No. 31 – January, 2023


On Saturday, December 3rd, the ladies of Truth Triangle held their semi-annual Public Installation of Officers at Jephtha Lodge. In a tearful and beautiful ceremony, after presenting a significant donation to Island Harvest from her term fundraising, Beloved Queen Lilyonna retired her crown after 18 months of service. Her grace, poise, and desire to succeed helped the chapter to grow and prosper under her leadership.

Following the retiring ceremony, several Suffolk District Alumni took the floor to perform the Founders Day Degree, as is traditional during the meeting closest to the birthday of our founder, Rose E. Scherer. The members of Truth Triangle were then installed into their new offices, in which they will serve for the next six months, and our chapter Supervisors were presented.

With the cooperation of an escort team consisting of Truth members, Rosebuds, and Rainbow sisters, Beloved Queen Sophia was installed as the 186th Beloved Queen of Truth Triangle. Sophia has been dreaming of this moment since her youth, as her mother, Janet, is a Past Beloved Queen and Past Junior Advisor of Suffolk District. Additionally, during this term Sophia is looking forward to helping her “home” Triangle, Meridian #71, rebuild in their new home at Riverhead Lodge. She also serves our New York DeMolay Brothers as a member of the Sweetheart Leadership Committee.

Sophia was surrounded by family and friends as she took her oaths and received the crown, including members of several of our Masonic fraternities. In attendance were Jephtha Lodge Master W Mike Crispino, Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of New York RW Tim TenClay, Senior Warden Bill Fenty III, and District Deputy Grand Matron Renay Fetcher.

Beloved Queen Sophia has chosen as her term charity, ALS Ride for Life. This charity has great significance to her family, and she hopes to raise considerable funds to support their efforts during her term. The chapter will also be fundraising to help our members attend the next Biennial State Convention to be held in October of 2023.

Thank you to those Brothers who were able to attend to represent Jephtha Lodge in support of our ladies, and to all of the Brothers and Sisters of our Masonic family who work to help our ladies along the path to “A Finer American Womanhood.” We look forward to seeing you all at our upcoming events!

Respectfully submitted,
Deborah Schulbaum
Junior Deputy, Truth Triangle No. 31

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Greetings from the Corner Desk – January, 2023


During COVID, about a dozen brothers from Jephtha met monthly by Zoom for a book study on Alchemical Psychology. It was one of my favorite experiences of that strange and confusing time. With permission from the W Michael Crispino, it is my pleasure to invite you to join a new book study on The Path of the Holy Fool: How the Labyrinth Ignites Our Visionary Powers by the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress. The book explores the Parsifal/Grail legend and invites each of us to explore our own unique journeys as we hone our rough edges and seek to become better men and brothers.

Though Lauren is a priest in the Episcopal tradition, this book (and our study of it) will not be sectarian nor uniquely Christian – all of our brothers, regardless of their specific religious tradition, are invited to join. This study is open to anyone who is an Entered Apprentice or above. It requires no previous knowledge of the legend nor any interest in working with a Labyrinth (though, naturally, I will gladly facilitate the opportunity to explore that with anyone who has interest).

We will be meeting once a month by zoom on an evening to be determined by those who will be participating. If you are interested in joining us, please let me know (email: teejtc@gmail.com) as soon as possible. In order to provide the best possible experience, we will be limiting this particular group to 15 brothers and giving first preference to those who are members of Jephtha.

Grace and peace,
R:.W:. Tim TenClay, Secretary

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Greetings from the South – January, 2023


My brothers, as we approach the new year having celebrated the holidays with family, friends and fellow Brothers, we should be reminded of three important teachings which are too easily forgotten:

First, the wise and noble words set forth in the opening of Psalm 133, specifically, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity.” What a joy it is to celebrate and rejoice together with Brothers of Jephtha Lodge in harmony. Isn’t it? Brotherhood unites us and should always be on our minds as we approach and reflect on the new year with excitement and refined purpose. As Masons, we are taught to strive for kinship, obtaining peace and prosperity within the Lodge. For some, it may have been distinguished by what is past, but fear not, harmony will be back again in the present and into the future. Let us continuously remember this about friendship and realign our goals so it is the main destination or central ingredient of our success going into 2023 and beyond.

Second, the compasses are always leading the way and teaching us to look beyond our inflamed desires and focus on what is most important within the bounds of all mankind. This teaching should not be overlooked as there may come a time when we have been tested, or perhaps our desires and passions lead us and cause an event to occur which was the opposite of our intentions. Later we may realize what is really most important. Let us learn to circumscribe our pulling desires so we can enjoy the new year with a new start and work together with all mankind to spread Brotherly Love and compassion that is the heart of Freemasonry. For without our Brothers beside me, we are not a Lodge, but a freestanding fellow Mason when we should be Masons jointly. We are equals set forth to help all Brothers. We should always take care to listen before responding, or not act in the heat of our passions at any given moment. What is said by one speaking brother may harm another listening brother, even if that speaking brother had the best of intentions but may have chosen the wrong words or time to do so. Let us circumscribe our desires and refocus on what is the most important of all – Harmony and Unity that strengthen our Brotherhood.

Third, harmony. For after all, there is no truer phrase than “harmony is the support of all institutions especially this of ours.” I did borrow this from the Senior Warden (sorry Brother Bill), but no truer words have been spoken. Let us always remember, we must have peace within the Lodge to succeed and be successful. In our joint undertakings, Lodge like-mindedness is required for Jephtha to grow and prosper. To be truly in this spirit, we must all think before we act. We must all safely guide our fellow brothers by providing strong, positive examples and not examples of what should be avoided when our passions are not kept in the due bounds of all mankind. Any team, organization, corporation, union, group, fraternity or brotherhood – you name it – must have a meeting of the minds for it to adapt, to continue and to grow. Yet we should also be blessed with our own inner harmony or peace that we all seek. Sometimes, however, we can lose sight of it when we forget the teachings of the compasses. As we approach the new year, let us humbly come together and remember it is the joy of inner peace and that of the lodge that fosters brotherhood and unity, and that harmony and togetherness allow us all to dwell together while the Lodge continues onward toward thousands of more communications.

Let this be a new year with new beginnings, new thoughts, new considerations, new leadership and let harmony reign supreme again. As the new year progresses, let us continuously remember to subdue our discordant passions and always be reminded to keep those passions in the due bounds with all mankind. Let us celebrate Harmony with Unity as our ultimate goal.

I wish all Brothers and their families a happy and healthy new year. In the spirit of the station in the south, let us all enjoy nourishment, sustenance, and refreshment together in happiness.

Fraternally yours from the south,
Br John A Lentinello, Junior Warden

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Greetings from the West – January, 2023


Happy holidays and a happy new year!

Greetings from the west my Brothers. I know you are reading this in January with the opening of the new year and the holidays are now in the rear view mirror. I am, however, writing this missive at the opening of the holiday season and feel compelled to write about them as a reminder to all Brothers of the core tenants of Freemasonry – Faith, Hope and Charity.

Faith – May you always have Faith. Faith there is a Great Architect of the Universe, and He is a God that loves us and will do what is ever best for us even if we can’t see Him or understand Him. A child doesn’t always understand why a parent does certain things, but like a child, we must have Faith in our Father, that He is guiding us and doing what is best for us, much the way a child has Faith in his parent.

Hope – May you always have Hope. Hope this new year will be a good one, that all we dream of, that our wants and desires will somehow fit into the plan of the Great Architect of the Universe. With the start of the new year, I hope for all of us, we understand and remember that as we are Loved, so should we Love others.

Charity – May Charity always fill our hearts. CHARITY IS LOVE IN ACTION. We are tested by the Great Architect of the Universe, by our very moral code, to Love one another. Charity being Love in action is how we show one another that very Love. It is often thought of as giving material things – food, money, coats, and toys. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, in the unrelenting focus on the material during the season, don’t forget, my Brothers, Charity is also the intangible – giving the benefit of the doubt, giving forgiveness for our Brothers’ transgressions, and by adopting a Charitable outlook for those who are being difficult. Charity and Brotherly Love is being kind even when the other person doesn’t necessarily deserve it. It does not have to be sticking our hands in our pockets to offer a monetary reward. It is also putting pride on the shelf, putting others first, turning the other cheek.

My Brothers, I hope your holiday season is a joyous one, full of wonder and excitement. May this new year be filled with happiness and good health. I hope for my Brothers we all find ways to experience the Love of the Great Architect of the Universe and we can share that very Love with all our Brothers, our families, and the larger family, the human race.

Wishing you Faith, Hope and Charity this holiday season and in the new year,
Br. Bill Fenty III, Senior Warden

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Greetings from the East – January, 2023


Greetings my Brothers,

Happy New Year, and I wish you all good health, joy and Brotherly Love in 2023.

Reflecting on my role as Worshipful Master in 2022, it made me think of what responsibility entails. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “…the quality of being responsible, such as a moral, legal or mental accountability; reliability, trustworthiness; something for which one is responsible: burden.”

Since I was 10 years old, I’ve had obligations. I hated delivering newspapers on a cold, snowy day at 5 AM, but it was my responsibility to do so. At 14 I worked my entire summer at a gas station, 12 hours a day. I took 2 buses to the Bronx since that was the only place that would hire me at that age. I hated the pay, but I still did the job to the best of my ability since that was the agreed upon wage. With devotion came reward. My unemployed friends didn’t have what I was able to buy, and all that was due to my responsibility to my job. Even though it was not the best job in the world, it made my life easier and nicer.

After these experiences, I was more appreciative of jobs that came afterwards. At 18 I left the gas station and started working for UPS, a union job which provided me guaranteed raises, benefits, and a pension. That job led me to my current position while earning my master’s degree full-time. Thirty-two years later (with 4 promotions), it’s a job I love, all thanks to the foundations of accountability I had developed earlier.

I have always taken my duties to heart and do the best I can. As a Mason, isn’t that what’s expected? As an officer I was sometimes unable to make certain events since I was working as a first responder on a rotating shift, but I made it a point to miss the fun occasions in my life so that I could attend important Masonic affairs.

As Worshipful Master I am in charge of our Lodge, which is to make sure that polices I put forward benefit the Lodge not only during my term, but in the future. This is certainly true with my Wardens and Deacons since my actions will affect their terms. Add to all of this, numerous officers’ meetings.

As Junior Warden it was not immediately possible to cook for my Brothers during COVID and lockdown. That ended in February. In the meantime, I decided to make my newsletter articles lengthier than previously to compensate for the lack of our meeting in Lodge. With time this became something I love to do and one of my agreed upon responsibilities in which I take great pride.

One of the joys of a line officer is to pass on my knowledge quietly to an officer moving up, as I have also done at work. I always pull fellow Brothers and fellow workers aside when a basic question is asked that is done daily or often and speak to them in a low voice so that others don’t hear me, preventing embarrassment. Others in charge may find this a burden and become unkind to those who may have erred.

In Lodge, I have made errors in the roles I’ve held, and Brothers have whispered to correct me since they felt it was their responsibility to tell me in a low voice what had gone awry. They also told me what a good job I had done even when mistakes were made. Isn’t that what learning is all about, trying something new and perhaps erring along the way? Being a Mason is making a responsible commitment to the Craft, doing everything possible to make what we do as perfect as possible. But if minor mistakes occur, we should remember an honest attempt was made and best of luck next time.

Responsible commitment means showing up for practice, studying, working out difficulties yourself, asking for help when needed, and embracing our agreed upon assignments. For me as Worshipful Master, that means writing monthly articles for this newsletter, having substantive communications, visiting other lodges, and representing our Lodge so that its light shines brightly.

As we advance in the different officers’ chairs, responsibilities grow. The Senior Deacon is one of the greatest responsibilities when performing degrees. He has to coordinate what positions need to be filled months in advance, set up practices, meet and greet visiting Brethren, and lead the candidates/Brothers on their next Masonic journey. This is the make-or-break seat for a Brother moving up the line. I loved this chair when I held it, but there were also nervous and trying nights when presenting degrees.

With responsible commitment comes growth, an inner, satisfying beauty as well as accomplishment. Your lines may not always be perfect, but it is the attempt that counts because you are meeting your deadlines responsibly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help but be afraid of not meeting your commitments. Most important of all is to never undermine anyone, maliciously or with false kindness, or say to him, “This isn’t the way it’s done.” It’s unfriendly and unwanted. In this case a brother should show Masonic Brotherly Love and say to this Brother quietly and as an aside, “I’ve been down this road before. Do you need help from me to help you get to where you need to go?”

Never do I address any of my Brothers as “friend.” That is unworthy when speaking of our Brothers. When I see or address a Brother it is always as, “My Brother.” When I went to hear Brothers Anthony Colonna and Walt Willems’ band play, they introduced me to the lead singer, and she asked if we were friends. I said, “No, I am their Brother.” She didn’t understand at first, but it became clearer when I told her we were all Masons. The word “Brother” is used with pride, and it is our responsibility to do so because we all fulfilled the same obligation and proficiency when we became Brothers.

I would like to thank all my Brothers for accepting their commitments and responsibilities, and for all you do to improve your lives and our Lodge. Let us remember in fulfilling our own responsibilities to help those who may need help in fulfilling theirs, and to do so quietly, with Brotherly Love.

Always remember, it’s up to each one of us to continuously show how brightly our light can shine.

Sincerely and fraternally,
Michael S Crispino, Jr

And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), Austrian poet and novelist

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