Friday, January 21, 2011

Brother Skip Boyer and the Ship Builders

Brother Skip Boyer and the Ship Builders

When people ask me how we came up with the idea behind the Freemason Academy I think of Skip Boyer. I should point out that Skip was the person most responsible for my signing a petition for the degrees of Freemasonry. In fact, he not only answered my questions about the fraternity he also sponsored my petition. Of course, he asked me not to talk about that fact, especially after I gained a reputation as a “loose cannon”.

But as Skip would say I digress.

Skip besides being a great writer loved to build model ships. I asked him one time how he became involved in building these exact replicas which were absolutely great works of art.

“Yeah,” he said fingering one of his many pipes as he spoke, “I belonged to the biggest model ship building clubs in the Valley for several years. We would all get together every Saturday and talk about our progress and problems. You know, how to set the rigging, use the correct material for the sails, how to get the colors just right, that kind of thing. We would share our secrets and on the whole have a great time.”

“Sounds great” I said admiring his work, “Do you still do belong to that club?”

“No” Skip replied “Sadly the club lost its purpose and now I work in the garage”

“What happened?”

“Well, things were going along quite well for a couple of years then a guy joined. I forget what he did for a living but he did not seem to be very good at building sailing ships.Anyway one Saturday he announces that we really had to get organized and elect officers so people would know who to go to for various things. Well at first everyone thought why not? And said sure let’s pick some officers.

“Unfortunately, our new member insisted that we hold elections so for the next four Saturdays no work was done while the members put up nominations and printed ballots and finally we had our elected officers and we all thought that was it. But it wasn’t. Our new member, let’s call him Bob, had been elected Secretary and at the very next meeting decided that the club needed a set of By-Laws.

“Why a group of guys who just wanted to build replicas of the great sailing vessels in history, needed a set of By-Laws was beyond me but our new Secretary was determined. For the next six months every meeting was taken up with making sure the club had a solid set of By-Laws that covered every conceivable circumstance. Somewhere along the process we began to lose members. These were the guys who had made being a member of the club exciting and enjoyable. They were the real experts in shipbuilding who had grown tired of waiting for our focus to return to the purpose for which the club was formed. They were not interested in having a hierarchy, or a complicated set of rules what they wanted to do is build ships and share their knowledge with like minded people.

“Without the pleasure of visiting with these guys I just lost interest and stopped going” Skip said softly, “now I just work by myself in the garage. Sometimes a few of the guys stop by but it is not the same anymore.”

The idea behind the Academy to teach the fine art of shipbuilding once again, but in our case the vessel is inside us. I like to think that Skip would approve.