Birth of the Triangular Meets
Providence ~ Hyde Park ~ Attleboro Councils
1931-32 ~ 2015-2016
V.I. Markeith E. Host ~ Attleboro Council R & S. M. M.
To appreciate the significance of this Masonic event we must return to its roots and examine the environment of its birth. During the early 1930’s in America, money was scarce. The prices of the necessaries seemed to be low; milk was fourteen cents a quart, a loaf of bread was nine cents, and round steak was forty-two cents a pound. But this was an era of hard times known as the “Great Depression” with unemployment approaching twenty-five percent of the population. The average annual salary was $1,368.00. Instead of advancement, survival became the keyword. Those who could find work usually had their income reduced as much as forty percent. During this decade, institutions, attitudes, and lifestyles changed. People did what they could to make their lives happy. Movies were hot, parlor games and board games were popular, and “the family” gathered around the radio to listen to Yankee baseball and President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats”. And through it all democracy and social harmony prevailed.
During these hard times in America, the Masonic fraternity also felt the pinch. The fraternity in general and the Council in particular, began a sharp contrast in its membership rolls. Due to a very large number of demits and several deaths, the membership could not be sustained and the activity of degree work was quickly curtailed. Visitations and special events were the only times when a large attendance was recorded. To maintain interest and attempt to subdue the declining membership, the exchange of visits between the Councils became the benchmark of the Cryptic Rite. Such an event occurred on Tuesday evening, September 22, 1931 when a delegation from Taunton Council, lead by its Deputy Master Companion Frank B, Place, presented Attleboro Council with a “Traveling Broken Triangle” they had received earlier in the year from Columbian Council #1 of New York City in celebration of their Centennial Anniversary. This “token of friendship” had been traveling across America for twenty-one years. On November 13, 1931 it was passed to Providence Council #1 at the first Fraternal Visit between Attleboro, Hyde Park and Providence Councils. That evening Thrice Illustrious Arthur W. Peace greeted Illustrious Samuel R. Smith of Hyde Park Council and Illustrious Norman J. Stone of Attleboro Council. The event was so successful that regular exchange of visits between the three Councils continued as an annual event.
Over the next few years this event became known as “Friendship Triangle Visits” or “Triple Triangle Visits”. Then, maybe by coincident, in 1934 both Recorders of Hyde Park and Attleboro Councils coined the term “Triangular Assembly” in their respective minutes and the title remained fixed for several years until the early 1960’s when the term “Triangular Meeting” became popular, and was later shortened to “Triangular Meet” as it is know today.
Each of the three presiding Illustrious Masters upon his installation receives a special triangular pocket jewel that he wears during his term in Office and then transmits it to his successor upon the completion of his term. This tradition has continued unbroken for seventy-five years. These jewels were presented at the first Triangular Assembly on November 13, 1931 by Albert Knight, Past Most Illustrious Grand Master of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and are said to represent a perfect triangle denoting the Faith, Friendship, and Fidelity that exists between the three Councils. By whom these jewels were manufactured is not recorded,
By tradition, the sitting Most Illustrious Grand Master and his “Board of Officers” in both Grand Jurisdictions are received at these ceremonies. This began at the first Triangular event when Most Illustrious Alden B. Hefler of Massachusetts was the guest of Most Illustrious Fred W. Johnston of Rhode Island. This “Grand Tradition” has continued through the years and has cemented many life-long friendships and memories within the Cryptic Craft. Also contributing to the harmony of this event is the annual “breaking of bread” among the Companions at each of these Assemblies. Over the years everything from a simple meal to an elaborate banquet has been served much to the delight of the participants.
But perhaps the single most binding element that makes these ceremonies so unique has been the “special ritual” which each of the three presiding Officers performs in unison. Its origin and author has escaped recorded history; nor is it known when it was first presented. By barrowing the form and ceremonies of the Royal Arch, this simple but powerful ritual speaks of the very core of our Cryptic purpose; a simple trust which eternally binds us into an everlasting “Circle of Friendship” united by the elements of Faith * Friendship* and Fidelity. May we earnestly strive for their growth and perfection.