The DeMolay Aventure
by Bill Woolf
One day at Bryant High, Pete Scheiner and I were told of an event happening that evening in Jackson Heights. We then told our friend, Danny DeLeon, and the three of us decided to attend. But when we arrived, boys wearing long cloaks - like the count of Monte Christo - and girls dressed in white finery were standing outside. Parents were there too, dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns. We three Sunnysiders from 45th Street were wearing jeans. As it turned out, the boys in attendance belonged to a quasi-religious organization with some connection to Freemasonry, called DeMolay, and the girls were members of a sister organization. The venue was a Masonic temple.
Not to be discouraged, we decided to break into the basement to see if we could, at the very least, get to watch the event. Gaining entry, we discovered some red and black colored satin cloaks hanging on hooks, much like those we had seen outside. We were in! Donning our red and black cloaks, we joined the group outside, and when asked who we were, replied that we were from the Dewitt Clinton chapter – knowing that red and black were the colors of the Bronx high school of that name. Before there could be further questioning, a voice called out: "Nine O'clock Interpolation," and we followed the group members into a large, candle-lit hall. Off to the side, the parents sat on bleacher seats. The young girls dressed in white were up on a stage at the front of the hall. This was clearly a solemn occasion, but thanks to our presence, it soon became a scene out of a Marx Brothers' movie.
As the procession of DeMolay began, everyone marched slowly around the hall. Suddenly, all but three Sunnysiders went down on one knee. The ritual had obviously been well-rehearsed. As we three kneeled, the others rose; when the others rose, we kneeled. Thus we continued out of sync. As the line wound its way around the room, we three were soon following a different path altogether. A lot of nervous coughing erupted from the parents. Several times we avoided capture successfully, but our adventure finally came to an end. We were pulled out from the ceremony and our cloaks removed.
Memory of the aftermath is kind of hazy. I seem to recall going back down to the basement and finding food, but of that I am not really sure....