The Cryptic Friendship Gavel
The What Cheer Trestle-board
Providence, R.I. – February 1930
What today is known as the “Annual Triangular Meet” between the Councils of Attleboro,
Providence and Hyde Park began at Providence on November 13, 1931 under the title of
“Friendship Triangle Visits”. But before this “Tri-Annual” event began, Attleboro and Providence
Council had been exchanging visitations and working the ritual of their Grand Jurisdictions in
each other’s Council for several years.
According to “The What Cheer Trestle-board” (a newsletter publicized be What Cheer
Lodge #21 then seated in Providence) for February 1930, an account is given of Providence
Council No. 1 paying a return visit to Attleboro Council on Tuesday evening January 7, 1930. The
evening was enhanced by the presence of Companion Alden Brooks Heffler – M.I.G.M. for the
Massachusetts Grand Council of Royal & Select Masters. The work exemplified that evening by
Illustrious Charles Thomae and Officers was the Royal Master Degree.
During the course of the evening, M.I. Heffler, on behalf of Attleboro Council, present to
Companion Henry S. See, the Trice Illustrious Master of Providence Council, a unique gavel that
had been made by Companion Henry Alexander Turner of Foxborough. Companion Turner would
later become the Illustrious Master of Attleboro Council for 1934.
The gavel was reported to be unique in that the top half of its head was fashioned from a
piece of wood taken from the original timbers of the Frigate Constitution (Old Ironsides), while the
bottom half of its head was made from wood taken from the favorite flagship of Lord Nelson’s fleet
(HMS Foudroyant) that was driven ashore and wrecked near Backpool, England on June 16, 1897.
The handle was made of wood taken from the last of the Old New Bedford whaling vessels (The
Wanderer) that was wrecked off Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts on August 26, 1924.
This gavel is an emblem a triangle of brotherly love, peace and friendship. One angle
reaching from Boston, where the Constitution was built and from where she sailed on her many
voyages of glory; to that of England, where is found a piece of wood from the ship of the glorious
Lord Nelson. Then returning in a line to Providence; where in close proximity is found the wood of
a ship representative of a former American industry and valor; thence by the other hypotenuse
through Attleboro, where the clever artisan wrought the gavel and created the thought, to the
original starting point of Boston.
What an emblem of friendship is this gavel. Symbolical of the friendship that now exists
between England and America, and for whose glory, two of those vessels so staunchly performed.
Also of that friendship and brotherly love between our Councils. A symbol which recognizes no
barrier or boundary line, domestic or international, but silently stands as a harbinger of good-will
and friendship of our English speaking countries and our beloved Cryptic Craft.
Long may it ever stand, and long may it ever be to Providence Council, a treasured
possession of the fundamental principles that we, as Cryptic Masons, so revere, – “Friendship”.