To support his family during the dark days of the Great Depression, my father found it necessary to do whatever he could find to do in the rural community in which we lived. Although he had little formal education, he could do many things quite well; therefore numerous small jobs of the handy-man variety became available to him as neighbor after neighbor needed his assistance.
He had few tools and was careful with them. So, from scraps of lumber that he saved, he made a toolbox and placed them in it. I remember that a square, a level, and a plum bob were among the few tools that were in that homemade toolbox. When I was a mere lad, he began to teach me, by example and by precept, how to use those common tools to make corners with straight sides and right angles, to determine when a surface was on an even horizontal plane, and to form lines that were perpendicular.
Although he was not an operative stonemason, I watched him build a stone chimney for the house in which we lived and a stone wall to form a boundary between our neighbor’s house and the road that passed in front of it. Giving careful attention to minute detail and using the square, the level, and the plumb bob often, he made near perfect corners, even surfaces, and perpendicular and horizontal lines. After many years, I go back to that community and look at those two masonry projects that remain. When I do, I always marvel at the even surfaces and sharp horizontal and perpendicular lines that result from his craftsmanship.
As a young man of twenty-four who was seeking more light to understand the mysteries of life, I was, in another situation, shown a toolbox. It, too, contained a square, a level, and a plumb. Then, I was instructed in the proper use of those familiar tools to enhance morality, equality, justice, and uprightness in the everyday pursuits of life among my fellowmen.
When our common working tools are applied in the proper way to our everyday life and action, the end result is integrity of character. Defined as uprightness, honesty, and sincerity, integrity of character is essential in any society, but, in our extremely interrelated society, it is increasingly becoming even more essential. Therefore, few things are more important in the everyday pursuit of life, for we must be able to rely upon those with whom we associate and with whom we do business. Due to this complex interrelatedness, it is not difficult to see that our very existence depends upon the integrity of character of ourselves and other members of our society. Working tools are essential.
Howard Coop, PM and Chaplain
Lancaster Lodge # 104 F & A M, Lancaster, KY
- R. Selby, Sr. Chapter # 4 R A M, Danville, KY
Scottish Rite (KCCH), Valley of Louisville
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