WIDOWS SONS, THE WORLDS LARGEST MASONIC MOTORCYCLE ORGANIZATION
THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE
INTERNATIONAL MASONIC RIDERS ASSOCIATION
ARTICLES WRITTEN AND SUBMITTED BY WIDOWS SONS
AND THE WIDOWS SONS CHAPTERS
Widows Sons of South Africa
The adventure started in late 2009! I had been planning to visit my daughter, son-in-law and grand-son in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada for a few weeks before I finally flew out from O. R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg. A colleague at the bank where I was working was a dedicated motorcycle addict. I had long ago given up on that mode of transport, but still had my licence and few fond memories and as I did not know that a ‘biking fraternity’ existed in South Africa and the pleasure and camaraderie that were experienced within such groups.
In order to show my colleague at the bank (Allan Horwell) some appreciation for his support I thought I would research the biking scene in Toronto and perhaps bring him back a few ‘patches’ as they are very popular in South Africa and the bikers collect them and sew them to their leather waistcoats to proudly display to all the other clubs. Some waistcoats are covered with them!
The internet produced several MC’s in the Toronto area; to my surprise I located one association with a ‘rather strange name’! The Widows Sons! Being a Mason since 1982 I puzzled on the name and further investigation revealed that as I suspected it was an association of Freemasons; and also that not only was it in Toronto I could ‘track’ the association across a multiple of Provinces and States in North America. Very interesting; my colleague was also a Mason but of the English Constitution; I am a member of the Scottish Constitution! (There are in fact five constitutions represented in South Africa; the others being the Grand Lodge of South Africa, the Irish Constitution and a very small contingent of the Netherlandic Constitution! You think that is complicated; we also have eleven official languages!
Back to the story; I finally managed to contact the President of the Widows Sons York Chapter and received a reply that we could ‘meet-up’ when I arrived in Newmarket. A week before I was due to leave Toronto we did get together at a Tim Horton’s coffee-shop; my very protective daughter would not let any ‘biker hooligans’ near her house and decided that her old Scottish father had definitely lost any common sense that he had left, the little that he had still somehow retained.
The informal meeting went along the normal lines; of pleasantry, introductions with the several WS members there, some background information exchanged, one or two Masonic ‘stories’ related, etc. Eventually I said and what about the ‘patches’? Norm Ryan replied that he had ‘good news and bad news’ concerning that! The bad news was that as I was not a member of the WS he could not give me any patches! Oh well, I said very disappointed, it was a pleasure meeting them anyway. No, replied Norm, we have decided to make you an honorary member! I thought that was most kind but all I had intended was to collect a few patches; but then they displayed this beautiful leather waistcoat with my name on it and that magnificent ‘wings patch’. Instantly I became a ‘biker addict’; or was it merely the leather affliction? That waistcoat lay on my bed beside me every night for the rest of my holiday; now my most prised possession.
When back in South Africa I posted on Masonic notice boards on the West Rand my contact details for anyone that may be interested in forming a Widows Sons Masonic Biker Association. I actually did a presentation in open Lodge one night to spread the interest among the brethren, and at the end of the talk I asked permission to remove the jacket of my tuxedo, which the RWM granted with a little confusion. I was wearing my leather WS waistcoat under my jacket! A first for Freemasonry in South Africa I think? I proudly displayed it to all present who were most impressed and interested.
A few weeks later a meeting was arranged and much to my astonishment around forty masons and a few wives turned up! I made a presentation and explained all that I could about the WS and there was great enthusiasm for the establishment of a chapter. I then started to contact the USA, Scotland, England and even Australia to get assistance and advice on how to proceed and what to ‘do and not to do’ as well as the compiling of by-laws and a constitution. The most help was received from Bro David Addams and my Canadian brethren. There was also much support, suggestions and ideas from the aspiring members and a committee that had been formed.
Now the constitution was a major project; it had to satisfy the ideals of the WS, the WSSA members, four main Masonic Constitutions and also the biker fraternity at large! The local motorcycle fraternity is represented by one of several Presidents’ Councils for the area which they cover; there can easily be 140 or more MC’s represented at each PC! And let me tell you these guys are big and ‘rough’ (but have hearts of gold) and I had to stand in front of several of these meetings and do a presentation and give them details of who we were and what we wished to do and importantly that the WSSA was not an international organisation; which is not allowed in RSA, the WSSA is 100% South African and totally independent! Hence a WSSA Grand Chapter and not a WS daughter chapter! Otherwise there would be serious trouble!
At the first PC meeting in Johannesburg Central I was border-line terrified during the presentation and dumbfounded when it was proposed by the chairman, Andy Menkies, that the WSSA be accepted into the Presidents Council; I had only gone out of respect to tell them who we were; not to actually join them?
Eventually our constitution etc. was compiled and e-mailed. Eventually we received our charter. We also received three letters of ‘acknowledgement’ from three of the four Masonic Constitutions.
Our constitution allows for Lady Members and Associate Members (who have no voting rights and do not wear any Masonic symbols) and these members are so enthusiastic, supportive and appreciative in being involved with their fathers and husbands in our association. The Lady members have their own patch (see below). And for an old Scotsman I really appreciate them and their hugs and little kisses of greeting I receive when we meet; from only the Lady Members, I hasten to add!
Since the inauguration of the WSSA Grand Chapter in 2010 we have attended many of the biker fraternity ‘Day Jolls” to support their charities, we have attended District Grand charity functions and several individual Lodge charity functions, support children’s homes and senior’s facilities. All worthy causes but also just an excuse to get us all out on our bikes! As soon as the Grand Chapter began to ‘take-off’ I had to go and buy a motorcycle, a Kawasaki Vulcan 1500, and I am 67 at my next birthday just to comply with the rules?
The WSSA is expanding at a tremendous rate and last year we chartered two daughter chapters; the Templar Chapter on the West Rand and the Sons of Solomon in Welcome in the Free State! This year we will present charters to the East Rand chapter the Sons of Hiram and soon we hope a chapter in Cape Town; Durban in Natal is progressing slowly. In total we have at present …64…. paid up members.
I have both enjoyed and been challenged in starting the WSSA in this country; I could not have succeeded without the assistance, enthusiasm and ingenuity of all of my Grand Chapter members; the National Secretary Bro. Derreck Morris and the National Treasures Bro. Gerhard Van Staden to name only two of the many who have made the WSSA the success that it has became. We have had mentions in local newspapers, acknowledgment from Lodges and institutions and articles in Masonic year books. There have been many non-masons who have joined us and opted to become Freemasons as well. We have received recognition, acceptance and been welcomed into the large biker community brotherhood and also given the greater Masonic organisation of five constitutions at large a new ‘family’; all because of what Bro. Davenport started years ago. It has been a great privilege to have nurtured the establishment of the WSSA of which I have been very proud and continually amazed at the enthusiasm it has generated; I often stop for a moment and wonder how our original founder must feel for what he has created and the legacy that he has left every Masonic motorcyclist; I hope one day that I can meet with him and I can shake his hand!
Article by: Allan
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