next afternoon Louis arrived promptly for his interview. Shaking hands
with this youth brought a response to Land that seemed to blend them
into a common experience that would unite them for years to come.
Louis radiated an honesty of character, a natural aptitude for leadership,
and the grace of movement of the athlete. Frank thought, "If
I had a son, I would want him to be just like this lad."
talked for a while about school. Louis told him of his aspirations
for a place on the track team, of his position as a pitcher on a
baseball team, and in response to a question said, "I am a
fairly good student. Even with the hard time we are having, I want
to finish high school and then help with the education of the others."
responded, "It is a good goal. You will meet the challenge.
Now, tell me about your father. I knew him but only from very casual
hesitated as though reluctant to look into the past but finally
said, "My father was the finest father a boy ever had."
evening, as Nell Land cleared the dinner dishes, she said, "Frankie,
something happened today. You look like you have found a long, lost
a lost friend but a new young friend. This boy I talked to today
is tremendous. One of the finest young men I have ever met. He is
going to work with me in the office and I know I shall enjoy having
him around. Perhaps we could take him to church with us Wednesday
evening. The teachings of Christian Science would be good for him
and you could meet Louis Lower."
we should do just that," she said. "I suggest that you
have him bring a few friends over to the apartment some evening.
I would like to meet him."
was not until the middle of February that the opportunity for such
a meeting took place. "Louis," said Mr. Land, "who
do you run around with?"
have some friends in my neighborhood," said Louis.
would you like to form a Club and meet here at the Temple?"
thought the idea had possibilities and showed up the next week with
eight other boys. That was February 19, 1919.
boys came early that Wednesday evening and each in turn was introduced
to Mr. Land by Louis Lower with, "I want you to meet Ralph
Sewell, Elmer Dorsey, Edmund Marshall, Jerome Jacobson, William
Steinhibler, Ivan Bentley, Gorman McBride, and Clyde Stream. There
are nine of us."
were a group destined to form a great youth organization and each
was to advance through his efforts and determination to prominence
in his chosen field of work.
Land acknowledged each introduction with a handshake and word of
welcome. "Before we get down to business, let's make a tour
of this building. I think you will find it just about right if we
should decide to form a Club and use it as a meeting place."
was a radiant group that gathered about the long table in one of
the meeting rooms that night. There was no doubt that they should
continue to meet as a Club. The only question was a name. One suggested
they use Greek letters as the college fraternities did but this
was instantly voted down as making them only a part of other organizations.
The name must be distinctive and carry meaning. They turned to Land
for suggestions. He pointed to a recent series of prints on the
wall that showed the adventures of Sir Galahad and the Knights of
the Round Table. There was a negative shaking of heads.
greatest of wars had ended only a few months before and the adventures
of knights of old seemed far away. Then names were mentioned from
history and from the Bible. Stories such as Damon and Phythias,
David and Jonathan and of Nathan Hale. Nothing seemed to click until
one of the boys, Clyde Stream, said "Mr. Land, tell us something
connected with Masonry. They must have great names and we are meeting
here in one of their buildings."
smiled, "This year I am serving as the head of one of the Masonic
Groups. I am the Commander for the DeMolai Council of Kadosh. There
are many names and stories directly connected with Masonry, but
I think I should tell you about the last leader of the Knights Templar.
His name was Jacques DeMolay or as they say in history books, James
story and the name caught the imagination of the boys. Here was
heroism. Here was a great example of loyalty, of courage. Here was
a theme from knighthood and chivalry, at its best, and the name
of a martyr to fidelity and toleration. The boys were ready without
further consideration to accept this name as the name of the group.
But Land interrupted, "Now let's wait just a little bit and
sleep over this. Let's not rush into it. Perhaps with a little more
thought we can come up with a better name. One that might be more
in keeping and more appropriate. It is growing late and you should
all be going home. Come back next week and bring a few more of your
friends. We will talk more together about it then. Good night and
thanks for coming."
the boys talked to Land about the Club when they came to the Temple,
it was their long talks together at school and as they walked from
school to home that heightened their interest and gave momentum
to their organization. One afternoon after a chemistry class, Elmer
Dorsey caught up with Louis Lower to ask, "Louis, I think this
club idea is terrific. But what is it all about? What does Mr. Land
get out of it? Do they want us to become junior Masons?" "I
don't have all the answers, Elmer, I only know that Frank Land is
one of the greatest. His only motive is the one he tells us. He
likes to be with young people and sincerely believes that if we
do form such a group each of us will benefit from it. How he ever
talked the older boys into letting us use their temple is beyond
me. They must be interested in us as Land is, because he has told
me that we are not to be a junior Masonic group. He told me these
men are concerned about only one thing and that is that we should
grow into decent men who will be respected in the community."
24, 1919 was the day in history that launched the Order of DeMolay.
During the next few years, however, the date of March 18, the date
in the past that had witnessed the death of Jacques DeMolay, came
to be more frequently used.
boys, all from the same high school, came to the Scottish Rite Temple
that night. Frank Land made each boy welcome and then explained
briefly his ideas of a Club. Land said, "This is your meeting.
I will serve as Advisor but it is your meeting. Why not proceed
with an organization and elect a few officers. I will take charge
until you have completed your election."
the next few months the group grew in numbers, in activities and
interest. Then a fear came to some of them that they were growing
into too large a Club.
suggested that a committee talk with Mr. Land and endeavor to convince
him that membership should be limited to 75. Land neither criticized
or admonished the committee at the time. In fact they didn't know
whether he agreed or disagreed to their suggestion.
when the meeting was called to order, the chairman reported and
moved that the membership of DeMolay be limited to 75. The motion
quickly received a second and was unanimously adopted. It was then
that Dad Land rose from the back of the room where he had been more
or less out of sight for he wasn't the type to take the spotlight,
or the forefront in their meetings. He wanted them to conduct their
he came to the front of the room that night, he proceeded to tell
themand in no uncertain termshow selfish and how inconsiderate
they were. He told them that they were operating and thinking absolutely
contrary to every idea that he had in mind for this organization.
He reminded them that there were three other high schools in Kansas
City which had young men who were just as capable, just as qualified,
and just as upstanding as they were. In fact, he indicated he thought
they were probably much, much better than what they thought they
were. He said that if it was good for one boy, it must be good for
all eligible boys. He reminded them that 'to become big, they must
be big.' The motion to limit membership to 75 was rescinded. It
was then that DeMolay was permitted to grow and develop.
grew it did. DeMolay continued its growth initiating new member
and instituting new chapters in all states of the continential USA.
DeMolay then crossed the oceans and the organization was developed
in many foreign countries. Thousands upon thousands of young men
have had their life enriched by the recinding of the motion to limit
the Order of DeMolay to just 75 members.