The Quarterly

by Wor. Bro. Frederic L. Milliken

I drive up slowly as I always do to The Gentleman’s Club of Distinction to savor its charm. Not what you are thinking. No nude girls here, this is a beautiful Victorian Mansion that hosts an English type Gentlemen’s organization. Men who belong can come after work and partake of choice spirits at the beautiful mahogany bar or have a full seven-course dinner served every weeknight. Or they can enjoy the media room, music room or computer room therein.

The Club is open for rental on the weekends as the Gentlemen of Distinction only have it on weekdays. We have it reserved four times a year on the second Saturdays of January, April, July, and October.

I sit in my vehicle out front just admiring the grandeur of this stately, majestic building before pulling around to the massive parking lot in the rear. I am early but deliberately so. I must inspect the premises and see that everything is in order and especially to make sure we have a bartender and above all else a chef preparing us a scrumptious meal.

So the biggest worry comes first as I enter through the kitchen only door at the lower level into a huge kitchen that could be found at both a large hospital and a first class restaurant.  Chef Ramos is here with his crew, and I greet him, “How is everything going, Chef Ramos?”

“We are right on schedule to serve you at seven as requested,” he replies.

And I ask a question I know the answer to: “And the menu for tonight is?”

“Prime Rib, potatoes au gratin, French green beans almandine, freshly baked rolls and pistachio cheesecake for dessert.”

“Carry on,” I retort as I head for the dining room off the kitchen that takes up most of the bottom floor. The room is quite a bit larger than we need but it has been set up with extra space between the large tables draped with expensive white linen tablecloths and linen napkins. And around tables for eight are comfortable padded armchairs. All seems to be in order. That’s good.

The house is set up this way with the kitchen and dining room in what most would consider the basement, although it does not resemble such, because there is no smoking in the dining room. Upstairs, which is labeled the first floor, there is the bar, a lounge, music room, and the lecture room where cigars and brandy are in order. And that is where I head next.

I proceed upstairs which is laid out with a bar, lounge and lecture hall back to back which can be closed off by sliding pocket doors into three separate rooms or opened up into one huge room. The lecture hall seats about 100 and with the doors open the lounge is a mixture of wingback chairs with side tables and couches and club chairs around coffee tables and along one side wall is a ledge clustered with captain bar stools. On the other side wall is a beautiful stone-faced gas powered fireplace. If the bar which has stools and tables and chairs is left open, then people can sit anywhere in any of the three rooms and hear a presentation being made as there is a superb sound system connected to all rooms. As a matter of fact, there is all the up to date technology – screens, projectors computer connectable, portable battery powered microphones and WiFi to make a presentation visible as well as audible and heard and seen in all three rooms. The bar and the Lounge will have a monitor that picks up whatever is being shown on the screen in the lecture room.  This is ideal for relaxation and comfort, and unlike the dining room downstairs smoking is permitted. So as a lecture is being presented the Single Malt, Crown Royal, Courvoisier VSOP can be enjoyed along with a smoke. There is an excellent fan system that pulls all the smoke out of the rooms to the outside.

The bar also has three 60” TVs while the Lounge has two.

The only other room on the first floor is the music room walled off from the Lounge but again with sliding pocket doors. Inside is a grand piano, more couches, and enough wall outlets to hook up a 25 piece band.

I check in with Max, the head bartender, who I see is setting everything up for a busy night.

“You have some help on the way, I hope,” I say to Max

“For sure Fred. We will have three bartenders and a waitress for tonight.”

“I just love this beautiful mahogany bar with the brass foot rail, “I say. “It reminds so much of an English or Irish Pub.”

“Right you are, Fred,” he says back.

The second floor I need only give a quick check for it will not be much used. It consists of a media room that seats about 50. It has those adjustable leather media chairs and a huge screen with all the most up to date equipment including some great sound around. We have rented the Club the past two Super Bowl Sundays to experience the game in such a great setting. There is a computer room with six computer stations and a printer. And the last public room is the library with its huge floor to ceiling bookshelves with a rolling ladder that can circle the room just about. The room has some comfortable leather chairs and couches and a working fireplace. The rest of the second floor consists of two bedrooms, and a Jack and Jill bathroom should the need arise for any member to stay overnight. I peek into the media room, computer room and library and ascertain that all is well.

There is a third-floor apartment that is the living quarters of the caretaker and manager of the property.

It is still a bit early, about 4:00 PM. So I head downstairs for an adult beverage at the bar. We are scheduled for cocktails and hors-d'oeuvres from 5:00-6:00 PM, followed by some business transactions from 6:00-7:00 PM, dinner at 7:00 PM and a lecture at 8:00 PM. The Mansion is booked until midnight at which time we must all be out.

My second and third in command Pete and Karl arrive at 4:30 PM.

“Do you need any help with anything, Fred,” they both ask me at the same time.

“It has been so easy tonight. I have checked everything and needed to do nothing,” I reply

Pete and Karl wander off to do a double check. It never hurts to have more than one set of eyes.

Soon other members arrive. We will probably be looking at a turnout of about 130. The bar is putting out buffalo wings, cheese and crackers, stuffed mushrooms and shrimp.

Ben, Matias, Harry, and Demetrious all gather around me.

Matias pipes up, “Fred, the sale of our building, the change to a quarterly meeting at this beautiful mansion, and the importation of topnotch guest speakers was a stroke of genius on your part.”

“I agree,” adds Harry. “No more taxes to pay, building maintenance to worry about or other tenants to oversee”

“But it wasn’t me, “ I replied. “Remember we took a vote and it passed.”

“Yes but I am no longer getting dunned for extra contributions and we no longer do fundraisers,” chimed in Ben.

“And I say meeting less often and doing it up proud sure beats meeting so often that it is impossible to create such a grand program in such a grand setting as we have now,” adds Matias. “We have taken ourselves from the mundane to the exotic.”

“And I love this place so much,” exclaimed Demetrious, “That I became a member of the Gentlemen of Distinction. Now I frequent this wonderful place often after work.”

“Well, it only costs each of our members an extra $400 per year to meet here with all the amenities, in addition to yearly dues,” I add. “That is in reality just $100 per meeting.”

“Considering what you get in today’s world that’s almost a steal,” adds Harry

We wander off and mingle. I head over to Victor.

“How is your wife Victor?,” I ask. “Is she getting any better?”

“Much improvement, thank you for asking,” replies Victor

Doug joins us to tell us that he has just changed jobs and that makes him more available to us now.

“That is good news,” I intone.

Just then our guest speaker walks in.  Mike Abrashoff, Former Commander, USS Benfold and Author of the best selling book "It's Your Ship," approaches me.

"Great crowd you have here tonight, Fred," he says

"They're all here to see you," I reply.

"I doubt that.  But we will take them all into the world of leadership."

"That's why you are here."

As more and more arrive the bar and lounge crowd spills over into the lecture hall and music room.  Many are reconnecting with friends they have not seen since the last gathering.

Someone places a low medium sized cloth draped table in the middle of the Lounge.  On this table is placed a Volume of Sacred Law and around it three pedestals with lights on top.

Just then a loud crack of the gavel is heard by all.

"Officers will take their stations and Brethren be clothed."  Happy hour is over.

Lodge is about to open.




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