Florence Lodge No. 281 hosted a Colonial Ladies at the Table with the National Sojourners Omaha Chapter #18 and the Heroes of ’76 Joseph Warren Camp at the Benson Masonic Center in Omaha, Nebraska on September 27, 2019. The table lodge dates back to the earliest Masonic times in the 18th century, when the feast was a significant occasion to gather about the “festive board,” to honor a brother who might have been initiated or passed. Masonic historian H.L. Haywood writes that the result “was that Masonic fellowship was good fellowship in [the lodge], as in a warm and fruitful soil, acquaintanceship, friendship, and affection flourish – there was no grim and silent sitting on a bench, staring across at a wall.”
Brother Col. Ed Nolte, Past National Commander of the National Sojourners served as Master of the Table Lodge. He began the evening with the Toast to the Flag, written by John J. Daly in 1917. In recounting the history of the table lodge, he told members and guests that in Colonial times, the Table Lodge was one of Masonry’s greatest assets, buoying up the spirit of colonists who were members of the Craft – Washington, Warren, Montgomery, Clinton, Lafaytette, Franklin, Revere – when they were at their lowest ebb. The food may have been meager, but the fervor and zeal were in full force. Objects in the room took on a military flavor – the table became a trestleboard, the tablecloth became a standard, the napkin was the flag, and the glass was the cannon. Thus, today, we continue that tradition by charging the cannons (filling the glass) with strong or weak powder (wine or juice), take aim (raise the glass to one’s lips), fire or discharge the cannon (drink). Then the Master orders members to ready arms, in which case everyone slams the glass down in unison (or perhaps less so as the evening toasts go on), emulating the roar of the cannons.
Throughout the evening, Ed Nolte gave a history of the American flag in its different forms over the course of American history. Members and guests rose to propose patriotic toasts to our founding fathers and founding mothers, to the branches of the Armed Services, to the Grand Lodge, to Brethren near and far, and to our departed Brethren. We took time to remember Brother Major Chuck Folsom, U.S.M.C. who passed away earlier this year, and who would have attended, offering correction and instruction whenever needed.
The evening was catered by Sweet Lorraine’s Catering, who served chicken parmigiana, smoked pulled pork, California mixed vegetables and rice pilaf, and black berry cobbler. 48 guests attended for a wonderful evening, and the members of Florence Lodge No 281 extend their deep appreciation to the National Sojourners, the Heroes of ’76, and all the members and Brethren who served our nation in the armed services.