Bro. Marcus Cartlidge
To my Brothers and Sisters who read this article, many may find it funny, many find it upsetting but I ask you, if this happened to you, how would you find it ? The following article is a story that happened to me....
As a child I always wanted to be a Mason! All my male members of my family are Masons . My oldest brother is a Prince Hall Mason from Florida. I remember when I was 16 years old . I went into a known Masonic bookstore called, Drew Sales .Today it is called " JZ Enterprise " located in Chicago. I went in there and told them I wanted to be a Mason! An older brother there asked me my age .When I told him my age, he explained to me that I was too young ,but he wrote me a recommendation to go to some lodge on 42nd and Cottage Grove. I never did go. As I got older I had my share of trouble with the law. I knew at some point I wanted to change my life . I inquired to my uncle, how I could get into Masonry . He stated that he would talk to his Worshipful Master. My uncle came back with a reply that they were not accepting anyone at this time.
I would ask anyone on the streets of Chicago that I saw wearing a Masonic ring! And sad to say that nobody would call me. One day I saw a brother wearing a jacket with the Square and Compass and gave him my info. He never called until I ran into him 3 more times. The last time I was persistent.
This Brother’s name was Bro. S. I. He was the Worshipful Master of Micah Lodge No. 212 which was neutralized by the Grand Lodge because the only active Brother Worshipful Master S.I. had was me. S.I. told me my application fee would be $300 and before he could say would that be any problem I pulled out the money and paid him. I never heard from him again until I received a phone call a few days later stating to be at 540 N. Cicero at 6:00p.m. I almost thought I had been scammed!
S.I. told me to report to " Most Worshipful St. Paul Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Modern Masons. " I received their version of the First Degree . Several months later I received of what they called, half of the Third.Degree. I didn't receive my other half until a month or two later. At this point I never received a dues card until I left Bro. S.I.’s Lodge and went to Sawyer Lodge No. 3. The Worshipful Master there (whose Lodge was named after him) taught me a lot that I thought was pure Masonry. I received a dues card that I begged for so long to get ! On the card, it had the Grand Master’s and Grand Secretary’s signature on it , however it never stated the dues(monetary information) on the back. When I inquired about that, they told me that, “ it was a old card “and that “they are going to print up the new cards that will have the dues structure on the back.” I accepted this because I didn't know any better.
This Lodge used the ritual, Lester's Look to the East. I studied this book hard because I was so excited that I became a Mason. I started memorizing everything quickly . The Grand Secretary Bro. C. W. took the ritual from me and told me the stuff that I'm quoting is useless if I can't show him any of it in the Bible. Bro. C.W. stated that I was a book Mason. Another Brother, Bro. . C. C. told me, “I'll fit right in with Prince Hall organization because of my memorizing the ritual!”
My $300 application fee only covered just my entry fee. No dues, no apron, no ritual! All the Worshipful Masters and elected and appointed officers had aprons. The rest of the Craft did not. They stated that they did not have any for us and had to reorder them. When they did reorder , it was $65.00 each. Our dues was $30.00 per month, plus $360.00 a year for taxation fees. Another $350.00 was due every December for their annual convention. (Funny but no other lodges or Grand Lodges would be there except St. Paul).
We have to buy a Grand Lodge jacket that cost $170.00. They give us a minimum of 10 raffle tickets each and were told if we do not sell them all , we would have to pay out of our pockets for the tickets that were left. All that including the application fee was like close to $2,000.00 the first year!! Including dues!
I paid the total cost and was very excited that I was a Mason ! Nothing else in the world cared. I called my Brother(P.H.A.) up in Mississippi, and told him everything . He basically went off ! My brother explained to me that there is no such thing of two halves to a Third Degree and I should of went Prince Hall Affiliated. I ignored my brother because " I was excited to be a Mason "!
They taught us things about Prince Hall. For example;
1) Prince Hall could only be a Mason if he dropped one letter and be a three letter.
2) He was only allowed to be a Mason while he was on shore.
3) The moment he stepped on land, he wasn't a Mason, so all these Prince Hall Lodges out there are clandestine because they are on land.
4) Prince Hall’s cargo on his ship were black slaves.
5) He was a slave driver.
6) Prince Hall Lodge's are scamming people out of money.
7) They make you pay for everything !
8) It is at least $1,000.00 dollars for each degree that you get in Prince Hall.
9) When you go up to the higher degrees, you start practicing devil worshipping and sacrificing goats.
These are just " some " of the things they told us about Prince Hall Freemasonry. I took it upon myself to research all of this and found out it was a down right lie. I would ask myself, why are they lying to me ? Why don't we attend the conventions with other Lodges? Is it something they don't want us to find out there ? Why do they tell us don't associate with Prince Hall Brethren? I thought all Mason's were our Brother's ? What happened to those hundreds of Brothers and Sisters that use to be apart of this Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter? Why is the total membership of Brothers are less than 300 ? All these questions erased from my mind when they appointed me Senior Deacon! You thought I was excited then! I had some power! All of the officer’s positions are permanent position's, until someone dies.
Our Grand Master is C.W. He is an old man that has had many heart problems. Grand Master C.W. drove a nice Cadillac and had no job. It was said that he had been a Prince Hall Mason and has received every degree He told us that his name is in the book of older brothers at the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois.
In St. Paul Grand Lodge we only go as far as three degrees. All the officer's including the Worshipful Master has only three degrees, including the Grand Master. I asked them, why do we not confer the other degrees? Why do we only have three degrees?
They told me that is all I needed.. They taught us that there is no such thing as " 3, 5, 7 " and that it is, " 4, 6, 8 " because you have to count the " Tyler "! The Tyler is important too!. They taught us that the story of Hiram Abiff was a myth and don’t let anybody call you " Bro. Hiram " on the streets because Hiram is a dead man and you are not dead. They also taught us that " King Solomon " was not a Mason and he never had possession of the Master's word because if he did have it, he would not be looking for the substitute word. They were hard stating, do not let any Mason call you Solomon because its disrespecting you by calling you a name of a man that was not a Mason.
We couldn't wear our jackets unless we could " Walk the Circle ". The circle is St. Paul Grand Lodge emblem that has the letter “G” , with the Square and Compass, but it also has the nine emblems that is in the 3rd. Degree. Well there are 10 emblems and we have to explain what they mean to us in order to wear the jacket that we bought. They told me that I wasn't a Master Mason unless I was dead because the only Master Mason is Jesus Christ.
I joined the Order of Eastern Star and became a member of Dorcas Grand Chapter. They also meet in St. Paul Grand Lodge. I never received the white book(ritual), no studying, no classes, but Symbol for the Order of the Eastern Star was on my jacket.
They use to irritate me about bringing a candidate. They needed more candidates to join the lodge. They wanted me to hit the streets to find people to join the lodge like I was trying to get someone to convert to a religion or something.
On Saturday November 3, 2001, I was healed into Charity Lodge No.108 of Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Illinois and its Jurisdictions, F&AM., Prince Hall Affiliation. I can tell you this, I didn't have to pay for no dues card, no ritual, gloves, apron , etc. All that was included with my dues card and application fee. Only $100.00 a year compared to $30 a month in dues is beautiful ! My subordinate Lodge’s meetings are attended by 30 and more Brothers. Grand Lodge Meetings have Hundred's maybe thousand's of Brothers that are Prince Hall.
When I was in St. Paul Grand Lodge F.A.M.M., subordinate lodges had about 8 or less Brethren and their Grand Lodge meetings had less than 30 Brothers attending. Prince Hall has thousands attending their Convention's, while St. Paul has not even 50. I'm no longer excited and gullible like I use to be, but I'm happy now that I found a warm home in a just and lawfully constituted Lodge of Masons.
I wrote this article so that people that are involved in the lodges such as the one I was in can wake up ! I ask that some Brothers and Sisters to stop being excited and gullible and use your common sense. To my understanding there are two Grand Lodges recognized in the state of Illinois. One is the my Grand Lodge and the other is the Mainstream Grand Lodge.
I didn't know that when I was very young , the Junior Crafts that the brother referred me to join when I was young visiting the bookstore is the Grand Lodge on 42nd and Cottage Grove. This is the same Prince Hall Lodge that I am active in now! And you know what?? I still have that old recommendation.
There are some good Brothers in St. Paul that just joined. I am trying to get them to come into the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. Those who are still members of St. Paul Grand Lodge, I know you are reading this and I hope this may give you something to think about and wake up. Just like I did.
Bro. Marcus Cartlidge
Charity Lodge No. 108
Most Worshipful Prince Hall
Grand Lodge of Illinois