From the August 2003 Fraternal Review of the
Southern California Research Lodge, F&AM

[{This begins with a comment by Brother Ralph A. Herbold, Secretary, SCRL} “About 20 years ago the Southern California Research Lodge F&AM published this article which means that it should be issued once more as it is a wonderful story. At that time it was republished so many times in other Masonic publications that I told Duke it must have reached over a million readers. We found that Duke was just as nice a guy as this story portrays. Duke passed away in 1992.”]



By Robert F. "Duke" Robbins - Member - Southern California Research Lodge


May, 1961, U. S. Interstate inbound.


Pushing my 18-wheeler at 65 MPH (then the legal speed) about fifteen miles from Los Angeles, I was all smiles. After six long months I was returning home from a distant location in Mobile, Alabama. The thought of being home with my wife and two sons had me tingling with joy. Then I saw him. He was old and looked half scared to death. He was standing alongside his automobile giving the "Grand Hailing Sign" over and over. Son of a gun, I was past him before I could pull over safely. I scanned my rear view mirrors hoping desperately to see someone come to the old man's assistance. Nothing. I felt myself wondering where all the members of the Craft were today. I glanced back once more. He was still valiantly and hopelessly seeking help. I sought out the next crossover and headed back; .As I passed him I blew my air horn and waved an assuring hand. The old man seemed to collapse against the car. After making my turnaround I pulled up behind the stopped car and turned on my flashers. I didn't really know what to expect - someone dead or gravely ill maybe. The old man fell into my arms sobbing. Arm in arm we walked back to his car. Other than luggage, it was empty.

The long and short of it was simple. He had lost his wife several months ago and his daughter had persuaded him to come to Long Beach to share their home. But you must picture this. In his seventy five plus years he had resided in a very small Kansas town and had never been four hundred miles from home. Now lost, scared out of his wits, on an eight lane freeway with cars passing on all sides, he was near hysteria. As we stood there face to face I couldn't keep from laughing. His white linen shirt revealed a roll of money above his sleeve garter, where his bicep should have been.

"What's this, Pops?" I said as I touched the spot where the money was.

"You a travelin' man ain'tcha?" His face searched mine.

"Mount Olive #506, right here in Los Angeles, Hiram."

Our hands met His eyes twinkled with relief as he spurted out his Lodge back in Kansas. He dug out the roll of bills.

"Here, Hiram, take it - please. Hold it for me 'till get to Sister's so's I won't lose it"

I gripped him squarely by the shoulders. "Look, Pop, I want you to…"

That's all he let me get out, when "Oh, please, Hiram, Oh Dear God ... I can't drive on that thing," his thumb indicating the freeway. "Oh! Please don't leave me here."

"OK, OK, brother." I looked at the "No Riders" sign on my truck and shrugged my shoulders. Stuffing the old guy in my cab-over was no easy chore, but by the time I got up behind the wheel he was grinning like a school boy.

The bottom line was - getting off the freeway, calling his daughter, and waiting for their arrival.

In the interim, my new found brother and I found a small cafe and as we sipped our coffee the story trickled out. He had owned a two-chair barber shop. Raised eight children. A boy had been killed at Iwo Jima. A daughter and her boy friend were coming home from a football game and were killed at a grade crossing by a train. The voice trailed off. We sat silently, and the old man stared into his coffee as if seeking an answer.

Suddenly his family arrived. After the "Hellos," after I gave "Sister" the money, after we retrieve the car, as if as an afterthought, the old man straightens up, "I was Master of my Lodge, son, did I tell you that?" With that he turned and got into Sister's car.

I climbed into my rig and forty five minutes later was in the yard at Warner Brothers Studio. I took my luggage over to my car where the hugging and kissing makes homecoming so sweet.

"You're almost two hours late, Holley," my wife said, "What happened?"

"Had to help my brother get squared away."

From the back seat came a squeal of glee from my oldest. "You're a trip, Dad, always joking. You know you were an only kid. He's putting you on, Mom, he ain't got no brother."


They couldn't see my smile in the dark.


(The following is a notation by Brother Ralph A. Herbold, Secretary, SCRL).

RAH: "Brother Robbins sent this to me and I think it is a wonderful change of pace item for our mailings. And to quote his accompanying letter:"

"This is a true story - I wrote it just as it happened. I had put it away and was cleaning out an old cabinet - and there it was.

I spent 40 years in the motion picture industry in the transportation department. I saw Masonry surface many times during this period."