Friday, March 27, 2009

Masonic hazing contraption from 1800s: Bucking lamb

Moderator:  One type of folk art that ends up in antique stores all the time is Masonic hazing equipment, much crude, some intended to be clever. Here is one I found online today for sale. I'm not in sale business, so please don't ask me to buy. HN

This pull toy bucking lamb or goat came from farm in a northern Minnesota town & it works great........It is very crude with some hand forged iron, real horns {goat??} original fabric that has worn thru on the sitting area, however that lets you see the construction of the stirrup is there, one is gone.........goat head is rough & deteriorated, however horns are still there & solid..........i really don't know much about this type of stuff however the picker i bought it from said the guy had a lot of old Masonic memorabilia & the old guy said it dates around 1870, but i find that hard to believe.......It is definetly very old, folky & great conversation piece if anybody can share any info (date, history,etc. }

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Only in America: Only Probation for Shooting Death During Hazing
Guilty Plea in Shooting at Masonic Lodge

Published: January 8, 2005

A retiree who fatally shot a man in the face during an initiation ceremony at a Long Island Masonic lodge pleaded guilty on Friday to criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to five years' probation.

The retiree, Albert Eid, 77, a trustee and past master of South Side Lodge 493 in Patchogue, the site of the shooting, told a judge in Suffolk County Criminal Court that he was sorry for shooting William James. ''William was my friend, and it's terrible,'' he said.

Mr. James, 47, of Medford was fatally shot on March 8, while participating in an initiation ceremony at a Masonic social club called Fellow Craft in the basement of the Patchogue lodge.

The police said Mr. Eid, a retired plumber and a decorated Navy veteran of World War II, mistakenly pulled a loaded .32-caliber handgun from his left pants pocket instead of a .22-caliber pistol with blanks that was in his right pocket.

In the initiation, Mr. James was seated in a chair and a small platform with cans was placed near his head, and Mr. Eid was standing about 20 feet away holding a gun, according to the police.

Mr. Eid was supposed to fire blanks, and a third member out of Mr. James's view was to knock the cans off the platform with a stick to make Mr. James think actual bullets had been fired.

William James, 47, Shot During Mick Rite: Fox News

Man Killed During Initiation at Masonic Lodge

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

PATCHOGUE, N.Y.  —  A man was killed during a Masonic initiation ceremony when another member fired a gun loaded with real bullets instead of the expected blanks and shot him in the face, police said Tuesday.

A 76-year-old man alleged to have fired the shot was charged with manslaughter.

William James, 47, was shot while participating in an induction Monday night at the Southside Masonic Lodge (search), Suffolk County police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detective Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick said the ritual that went "tragically wrong" involves making a loud noise to frighten the new member.

"The ceremony was designed to create a state of anxiety," he said.

The lieutenant said the Masons sat James in a chair and placed cans on a small platform around his head.

The alleged shooter, Albert Eid, was standing approximately 20 feet away holding a gun, Fitzpatrick said at a news conference. When the gun was fired, a man who had been holding a stick out of sight was supposed to knock the cans off the platform to make the inductee think they had been struck by bullets, he said.

Eid had two guns — one with blanks and one with real bullets — and apparently pulled the wrong one out of his pocket and fired, shooting James in the face, the lieutenant said.

"We believe it was completely accidental," Fitzpatrick said. Eid was quite "stunned and distraught" at James' death, he said.

Eid, of Patchogue, had had a permit since 1951 for the .32-caliber handgun used in the shooting but it was not clear why he took it to the ceremony, police said. He pleaded innocent to a manslaughter charge and bail was set at $2,500. His next court date was scheduled for April 27.

Eid's lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Carl Fitje, grand master of the New York State Freemasons (search), issued a statement Tuesday denying that guns play a role in any officially sanctioned lodge ceremonies.

"We don't use pistols," Steve Mayo, who described himself as a senior deacon of the lodge, told reporters Tuesday. "This is not a Masonic ceremony where we bring pistols."

However, Fitzpatrick said members told police the rite involving a gun goes back at least 70 years.

Mayo said the Monday night ceremony was an initiation into the Fellow Craft (search), which is the second degree within the multilevel Masonic system.

Mayo said James, of Medford, had been a member of the lodge for a few months while Eid had been a member for many years.

"This is very upsetting, very upsetting that one of our brothers was accidentally killed," he said.

James worked for the planning department of the Long Island town of Brookhaven, spokesman Dave Kennedy said.


Man shot during ritual
Gun was supposed to contain blanks...

Man shot to death in club's ritual


March 9, 2004

A Medford man was killed inside the basement of a Masonic temple in Patchogue last night during a ritual when a member of the lodge shot him in the head with a gun that was supposed to contain blanks, Suffolk homicide detectives said.

William James, 47, was pronounced dead at the scene at 15 Oak Street shortly after the 8:40 p.m. shooting, said Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick.

James and another man whom Fitzpatrick would not identify were part of a ritual to be inducted into the fellowcraft club, which one Long Island representative for the group said is a section that performs social activities for the organization in Freemasonry, a system of knowledge that dates back to ancient Egypt.

About six people were present when James was shot. No one was arrested and police would not identify the shooter.

Fitzpatrick said a member pointed a gun at James' head as part of the promotion ritual, and that another member was supposed to strike a garbage can to mimic the explosion of the gun once it was fired. But, Fitzpatrick said, the .38 caliber semi-automatic pistol contained bullets, not blanks.

"Apparently, this ritual has been conducted for a few years at this lodge," Fitzpatrick said, adding that there were two guns present - one carrying real bullets and another carrying blanks, and that the shooter may have used the wrong gun. "He was being inducted into another group within the lodge."

Details of the incident were sketchy last night. But Andrew Boracci, a spokesman for the 18 lodges in Suffolk County, which contain about 6,000 members, said the temple's tylers, or guards, normally screen every person entering the building for any metal objects. And, he said, non-members are not allowed into the ceremonies.

"How the hell a gun got in there I don't know," Boracci said.
Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc


A Ritual Gone Fatally WrongPuts Light on Masonic Secrecy
Published: Wednesday, March 10, 2004

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PATCHOGUE, N.Y., March 9 � The initiation rituals at the Masonic lodge here had been bathed in secrecy over the years. The climax of Monday night's ceremony was to be a simple prank. A new member of the Fellow Craft Club, a select group within the lodge, would sit in a chair while an older member stood 20 feet away and fired a handgun loaded with blanks.

That ritual went terribly wrong inside Southside Masonic Lodge No. 493, in a basement littered with rat traps, tin cans, a 9-foot-tall guillotine, and a setup designed to mimic walking a plank.

The shooter, a 76-year-old Mason, Albert Eid, was carrying two guns, a .22-caliber handgun with blanks in his left pocket, and a .32-caliber gun with live rounds in his right pocket.

He reached into his right pants pocket, pulled out the wrong gun and shot William James, a 47-year-old fellow Mason, in the face, killing him, the authorities said.

Mr. Eid, a World War II veteran who had a license to carry his own pistol and often did, pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon to a charge of second-degree manslaughter and was released on $2,500 bail. He was wearing his blue Masonic jacket during his arraignment in Central Islip.

Suffolk County Police called the shooting an accident, the consequence of one man's confusion. The fatality exposes this secret society, centuries old, to a rare degree of public scrutiny.

Late Monday night, police carried evidence and ritual objects out of the Masons' one-story lodge in Patchogue. All day Tuesday, television reporters and curious neighbors examined the club's bricked-over windows and peered into the front door to glimpse a bulletin board announcing the order's recent charity efforts.

Masonic leaders statewide were quick to disavow the ritual and shooting, saying it was not Masonic custom to shoot guns at other members. Ron Steiner, a spokesman for the New York State Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, which oversees all Masonic lodges in the state, said the social club was not officially tied to the Masonic organization.

"This is so far beyond the concept of reality it's mind-boggling," Mr. Steiner said. "I've never heard of anything like this."

Mystery and suspicion are woven into the history of the Freemasons, who trace their roots to the stone workers' guilds that built medieval Gothic cathedrals. The guilds evolved into secret clubs over the years with secret handshakes and rituals, and symbols like an all-seeing eye, pyramid and compass.

Over the years, the Southside Masonic Lodge members developed their own initiation rituals for the social club in the lodge that set them apart from most other Masonic organizations, members said. No members of the lodge could remember pistols being used in the rituals (they are not allowed in inside Masonic clubhouses), but some described initiations that were part prank, part exercise in trust.

One member, Michael Paquette, said that when he was initiated into the group five years ago, two mouse traps were placed before him, and he was told that one worked, and one was broken, he said. Another member tested the broken trap, then told Mr. Paquette to touch the live one. He did, and discovered that it, too, was a dud.

"It was really harmless things," Mr. Paquette said. "It was just for you to be there and realize you were in good hands, and you didn't have to fear anything."

On Monday night, Mr. James and Mr. Eid were among 10 men who set to performing the club's initiation.

Mr. James, the first to be initiated, sat down in a chair, and two tin cans were placed on a shelf by his head. The idea was for Mr. Eid to fire two blank rounds, and a man standing behind Mr. James would knock the cans down with a stick. And then it happened.

"This is a tragedy," said Mr. Eid's lawyer, James O'Rourke. "He is absolutely beyond grief-stricken. This is a mistake, not a criminal act."

The Southside Masons are mostly middle-aged or retired men who come from middle-class backgrounds. The group once included about 500 members, but membership here and at other Masonic lodges has fallen over the years, and the group now has about 150 members, said Peter Berg, a member. There are about 67,000 Masons across New York State, and their numbers rose slightly last year, for the first time in a decade, Mr. Steiner said.

Orders like the Southside Masons seem more concerned today with Christmas parties and raising money for blood drives and children's charities than ritual.

While Mr. James had only joined the Southside Masons in December, Mr. Eid had been a member for more than 30 years, other members said.

"He's always there," Mr. Paquette said of Mr. Eid. "He put most of his free time into the lodge."

Fewer Masons knew Mr. James, but officials with the Town of Brookhaven, where he worked for the Planning Department, described him as a friendly man who seemed deeply devoted to his family. Mr. James's wife, Susan, said she had no idea what was happening at the Masons' lodge the night he was shot.

"This is so very sudden, and I'm just very upset," she said outside the couple's home in Medford. "To me, it was just a social thing."

Faiza Akhtar contributed reporting for this article.

Wilder's Last Stand

Stars and Stripes, European edition
By Steve Mraz
Sunday, February 12, 2006 

MANNHEIM, Germany — Weeks before Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder was found dead in a barracks shower, his parents say, he told them he knew he was going to be beaten.

On Jan. 7, Wilder, 21, was set to become a third-degree Mason with the Prince Hall Masons in Mannheim. A radio communication security controller repairman with the 512th Maintenance Company, Wilder had become active with the Prince Hall Masons in the fall of 2005.

The Prince Hall Masons are a predominantly black, secretive brotherhood. Similar to other branches of Masons, the group offers networking opportunities and performs community service. Several U.S. troops in Europe and around the world belong to the Prince Hall Masons.

In order to become a third-degree Mason, Wilder knew he would have to endure being beaten on his buttocks with a paddle by fellow Masons.

His plan was to get so drunk for the Jan. 7 ceremony that he wouldn’t feel the pain of the beatings, according to a friend, Spc. Tony d’Ercole. His mother, Diane Wilder, said her son told her that if he got so drunk that he passed out, his fellow Masons would take his blows.

On Jan. 8, just hours after the evening ceremony that took place inside Mannheim American High School at Benjamin Franklin Village, Wilder was found dead in a friend’s shower in the barracks at Spinelli Barracks in Mannheim.

An autopsy performed last month at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center was inconclusive, pending further studies, which are due back next week. Marie Shaw, a Landstuhl spokeswoman, said preliminary findings show Wilder experienced a “sudden, unexpected death.”

Wilder’s actions during the days leading to his death have been outlined by a friend, d’Ercole and his mother.

The Prince Hall grand lodge that has jurisdiction of the lodge with which Wilder was active issued an edict against hazing just 10 days after Wilder died.

“Be it hereby known and acknowledged that there will be no hazing or un-Masonic conduct of any sort tolerated during degree work within the Jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction,” the Jan. 18 letter stated. “Any such behavior that is determined to be inappropriate will be dealt with swiftly and unequivocally per our code on un-Masonic conduct.”

The letter was signed by Wendell O. Hutchings, the lodge’s grand master.

In a telephone interview, Hutchings said his group is investigating what happened at the initiation ceremony. He said paddling is forbidden.

He called what happened Jan. 7 an isolated incident and said it was not reflective of the Prince Hall Masons as a whole.

“Those individuals responsible are certainly going to be dealt with swiftly,” he said. “We are going to make a decision on those individuals who participated in that initiation.”

Last days

Donald Wilder’s parents say their son told them quite a bit about the Masons, except for the group’s secrets. He talked about the good work he did with the Masons. The group raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims and for the college funds of children of U.S. troops killed in action. He told them about the roughly $1,000 in dues he paid since September to be a Mason.

Also, he told them about the paddlings he took when he became a first- and second-degree mason last fall: how he would lie in his bed at Spinelli Barracks in Mannheim, icing his body after the paddlings, his mother said.

“He talked about the beatings a lot … and he was very afraid of them,” Diane Wilder said from her home in Seal Rock, Ore. “Prior to the … ceremony, he was throwing up because he was so nervous, that’s what we were told.”

He said the beatings were to show the other Masons just how badly you want to be a member.

“ ‘If you can’t put up with a little discomfort for a little while in order to do some good for people, you don’t want it that much,’ he told us,” she said.

On Christmas, Diane Wilder talked to her son twice. During those conversations, she says, Donald Wilder expressed concern about the paddlings he knew awaited him.

“His plan was to get so drunk that he wouldn’t have to take all the beatings,” Diane Wilder said.

His parents told him not to go through with it. They would pay for him to join the Masons in Texas where he was set to be reassigned by the Army.

“There was something about it, obviously, we didn’t like,” Diane Wilder said. “It made us nervous. It just didn’t seem right.”

The week before his death, the Wilders talked to their son every other day. On Jan. 5 — three days before he died — Wilder promised his mother he would not go through with the third-degree ceremony, she said.

Donald Wilder would not stay true to his word.

“I think he just decided not to tell us because we disapproved,” Diane Wilder said.

Also on Jan. 5, Wilder went to Murphy’s Law Irish Pub in Mannheim. He met friends that evening, including Maria Testai, a German acquaintance, and d’Ercole, a soldier in Wilder’s unit who served with him in Iraq.

The two soldiers talked for about an hour at the bar, d’Ercole said, and Wilder seemed relaxed. Testai said Wilder told her that he would like to go to a movie with her during the coming weekend.

On Jan. 6, Wilder ate dinner with a friend and the friend’s wife. It was there that he told the couple his plan about getting drunk for the following evening’s ceremony, d’Ercole said.

On Jan. 7 — the night Wilder was set to become a third-degree Mason — he called Testai around 8 p.m. and told her he was going to the “party,” she said.

“I have another friend married to an American,” Testai said. “She told me about the Masons. She told me that they would beat up the people and drink a lot when they have parties. I didn’t like it so I didn’t ask for more.

“He sounded, I don’t know, not really nervous,” Testai said. “He talked a lot. I don’t know if excited is the right word.”

The initiation ceremony took place inside Mannheim American High School. The group initially requested to use the facility on Jan. 6. Because of school rehearsals, the high school was not available, said Dennis Bohannon, public affairs officer for Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.

A key to the school was checked out to the Masons on Jan. 5. The group used the key to enter the facility without authorization on Jan. 7, Bohannon said.

When asked how school officials knew that the Masons were in the facility on Jan. 7, Bohannon said, “someone in the school has personal knowledge.”

After the ceremony, Donald Wilder went out clubbing, his mother said.

Sometime during the morning of Jan. 8, Wilder was found lying unconscious and unresponsive in the shower of a friend’s room at Spinelli Barracks, said Diane Wilder. Medical professionals, military police and the German police were called to the scene.

Shortly after noon, Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder, a 21-year-old veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was pronounced dead.

Officially speaking

To date, no charges have been preferred against anyone in relation to Wilder’s death. Until further autopsy studies are complete, it is unknown whether Wilder died of alcohol poisoning or something else.

Officially, the command that Wilder’s unit comes under is working with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, known as CID, to find out what happened.

“We have multiple, ongoing investigations to ensure that the facts are known and everything that can be done to prevent this from happening to other soldiers,” said Maj. Allen Hing, 21st Theater Support Command public affairs officer.

To protect the integrity of its investigation, CID is not releasing details of the investigation at this time, said Christopher Grey, CID spokesman.

Soldiers are not prohibited from joining such groups as the Masons. D’Ercole estimated about six or seven soldiers in his roughly 250-man unit are Masons.

Following 2006 Hazing in Masonic Initiation, Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder drank to .50 BAC

Wilder’s alcohol level was six times U.S. legal limit
By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
Wilder: True to his name

An hour or two before Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder’s death on Jan. 8, 2006, the alcohol level in his body reached 0.50, according to medical documents.

That’s more than six times the 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration that will get you arrested for drunken driving in America. Lethal levels are considered anything higher than 0.35 blood-alcohol concentration.

Officially, Wilder died of “acute alcohol intoxication,” according to his autopsy. Plainly put, the 21-year-old died of alcohol poisoning.

Wilder was found — blue and unresponsive — in a Mannheim barracks shower after a night at the bars with friends. On the evening of Jan. 7, he drank at a Masonic initiation and then hit downtown Mannheim bars.

At one bar when Wilder was already “pretty intoxicated,” a friend saw him take seven or eight shots of rum and drink two to four rum and colas, according to Criminal Investigation Command documents.

Wilder’s alcohol problem began months before his death.

Wilder drank up to 20 12-ounce beers up to three times a week plus he drank one 12-ounce beer a night, according to medical records. Wilder had alcohol tolerance and withdrawal symptoms and reported that he could not stop drinking until passing out or blacking out, according to records.

In October 2005, he referred himself to the Army Substance Abuse Program in Mannheim where counselor Hope Daniels initially diagnosed Wilder with alcohol dependence, according to records.

“Patient has limited skills in coping with the self-destructive pattern of heavy alcohol consumption,” according to Daniels’ summary dated Oct. 17, 2005. “Outpatient group would provide him the context of preventing relapse and developing goals for continued sobriety and quality of life.”

Wilder’s diagnosis was changed to alcohol abuse on Oct. 20, 2005, by Timothy Holloman, the acting clinical director.

“[Wilder] attended all scheduled sessions, both individual and group, and met all of his treatment goals,” according to Daniels’ Jan. 24, 2006, statement. “By self-report and command report, Spc. Wilder remained abstinent for the period of enrollment.”

Wilder left the program as a “treatment success” on Dec. 19, 2005.

But on the night of Jan. 7, 2006, after being hazed and initiated into a Masonic group, Wilder went on a drinking binge.

The two soldiers who went drinking with Wilder that night both knew he had a drinking problem. A specialist from Wilder’s unit told investigators that Wilder’s death could have been avoided if his friends and supervisor had stopped him from drinking, avoided the bars or took him home early.

A CID agent’s questioning of the specialist who was with Wilder that night at the bars gives some insight into Wilder’s mood.

“What was [Wilder’s] demeanor after the ceremony?” an agent asked, according to records.

“Ready to party,” the specialist replied. “He was glad the ceremony was over.”

“What did Spc. Wilder do after the ceremony?” the agent asked.

“He wanted to go to downtown Mannheim to party,” the specialist said.