Long ago I worked for a Shriner. We were involved in law enforcement – private contractors, if you will, operating out of the Shriner’s home basement office. I was the office grunt for the mercenary operation; we provided electronic monitoring to people who had some resources and who gamed the system well enough to avoid jail (their poorer comrades in crime had to do the time). It was still relatively new at the time, so in reality it was a progressive enough alternative to incarceration for low-level offenders.
Onto the point, my boss was indeed a Freemason, and a Shriner to boot (Shriners are a subset of the Masons). He couldn’t say much too specific, what with it being a secret society of sorts, but somehow while not saying much he talked about it all the time. The organization is a social club, and during the year or so I knew him I came to the conclusion that all these conspiracy theories, at least the ones that extend into modernity, are hogwash – it’s a bunch of guys who get together to drink beer and tell stories in funny hats (his words, more or less).
And some of them make music. My Shriner was the drummer for the Temple band – yes, they have temples. He loved playing in the band; making music was a big part of his life. He also loved to tell stories. I think he was never happier than playing a gig with his friends, except for maybe when he was rehashing old stories of gigs with his friends.
He told me that drummers in these kinds of groups are often the glue. He got double the money for the gigs versus the other guys, which he said was due to having to schlep the drums, a much more significant schlep than any of the other instruments.
As I’ve thought about my old friend this morning it dawned on me that he may have moved on from this life by now – I looked him up and sure enough, he has. But a few years before his death he was the subject of a local news story about his drumming. “Hatteburg’s People” was a news segment in Wichita that was produced for many years by a local media personality, and it featured regular people doing slightly irregular things. I’ve always been a fan of the slightly irregular.
Thanks for reading.