Grand Lodge of Rhode Island 35 Year Service Medal with Four
- Five year Increment Bars - 55 Years Total
Every Picture Tells a Story...
...and so do a good many fraternal pieces.
John W. Dawson joined Nestell Lodge # 37, A.F. and A.M., in Providence R.I. on March 22, 1906. The new Entered Apprentice was probably about the same age as the lodge which had been founded in 1880. The Lincoln penny was still three years in the future and the nickel had a large letter "V" on the back of it. The dollar bill was half again as large as it is now and most people didnt earn a lot of them--the average wage was around a quarter an hour.
The first of the new automobiles were just starting to clatter through town, frightening the horses. Boxy and open, they did not look all that different from some of the assorted horse drawn contrivances and merited the name horseless carriage. The ring of the telephone had yet to become a common occurrence and the street lighting--if any--was gas. Teddy Roosevelt, the hero of the Spanish American War (1898), was President.
By 1941, the world was in its second great war--and the third which Dawson had witnessed. The thirty-five year jewel given him by his lodge featured a hanger inscribed with the town and lodge and a half dollar size crested pendant with his years service and the lodge founding date. Teddys cousin Franklin was President. When he added the forty year bar in 1946, Hiroshima and peace were only a few months away. Harry Truman had just assumed the Presidency after the death of Roosevelt in his fourth term. Dawson was in his mid-sixties.
In 1951, when he got his forty-five year bar, Truman had been elected on his own--in spite of what the papers said--and was in his last year in office. The country had definitely come to like Ike. The Nation was engaged in a "Police Action" in an unimportant country called Korea. When it finally came to its inconclusive end, the Cold War began. Along with it would come the McCarthy Witch Hunt.
Dawson celebrated his golden anniversary in 1956. Stalin had died--conveniently, some said--and a Ukrainian peasant named Nikita Khruschev had made his way to the top of the Communist Party. In a year, he would announce Sputnik to the world.
He got his fifty-five year bar--his last--in 1961. A young Democrat named Kennedy had brought the Eisenhower years to a close and the country struggled to put a man in space. Unknown to most of the country, Kennedy, like Eisenhower before him, was secretly sending military "advisers" to an obscure Asian country known as French Indo China. It would soon be known to all as Vietnam. Dawson was in his eighties.
Dawson was witness to four wars and the Great Depression. He lived through the administrations of two of the greatest Presidents this country has ever had--both named Roosevelt--and perhaps the most popular named Truman. His life spanned an era beginning with horses and buggies and ending with the space age.
Quite a story. Quite a life!
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