Carl H. Claudy, Father of the Short Talk
from the Masonic Service
There was a time, an age before television, video rentals, and pro
sports, when Freemasons read. An age when sitting before a fire with a
book of Masonic lore or history was regarded as an evening well spent.
Emerging from that time is the name of an author unparalleled in his
contributions to Masonic literature. Anyone who has read just a little
of Carl H. Claudy's works cannot help but be charmed by the story told
and the manner of expression.
Foreign Countries, Old Tiler Talks, The Old Past Master, A Master's
Wages, These Were Brethren, Where Your Treasure Is, The Lion's Paw, and
Masonic Harvest, are but a few of his more well known Masonic works.
Carl H. Claudy was born in 1879, and died in 1957. The preceding
year he had been named Honorary Passed Grand Master of North Dakota.
An author of 32 books and a galaxy of essays and short stories
numbering more than 1,600, his literary life began inauspiciously
enough. His formal education concluded after only a year of high school
whereupon he found himself in the hardscrabble workaday world of the
late 19th century.
At age 19 he headed to the Alaskan gold fields. Finding no gold
after six months, he returned to the States and took up employment with
an emery wheel manufacturer. After several years he left that job to
move back to Washington, DC, where he became the editor of a popular
science paper. This was his springboard.
Despite the lack of a formal education Claudy began to read and to
write. In fact, the first story he ever wrote appeared in The
Washington Post. He freelanced for The New York Herald, eventually
joining its staff in 1908 with a special assignment covering the then
infant aeronautical industry.
During this time he wrote a number of articles on the subject and
published a book titled, Beginners Book of Model Airplanes. But he was
also a photographer. His photos of early flights were given to
Alexander Graham Bell who placed in the Smithsonian where they remain
today. At the end of World War I, Claudy went overseas as a
correspondent for Scientific American.
An avid athlete and outdoors man, his hobbies included camping,
mountaineering, boxing, rowing crew, tennis, and football. His love of
the outdoors brought him frequently to Montana and inspired many short
stories written for various Boy Scout publications.
Claudy's association with Freemasonry began in 1908, when, at the age
of 29, he was raised a Master Mason in Harmony 17 in Washington, DC. He
served as its master and eventually served as grand master of Masons in
the District of Columbia in 1943.
His Masonic writing career began in earnest when he became associated
with the Masonic Service Association in 1923, serving as associate
editor of its magazine, The Master Mason until 1931. He became
executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association in 1929 — a
position held until his death in 1957. Under his single handed
leadership the Masonic Service Association was brought to a place of
preeminence through his authorship and distribution of the "Short Talk
Bulletin" which made his name familiar to virtually every lodge in the
Claudy can personally lay claim to authorship of approximately 350
Short Talk Bulletins. In addition to the bulletins themselves he wrote
and distributed innumerable digests, special bulletins, and portfolios
of historical and factual nature all designed to promote the
Craft. One of his finest works of this nature is the "Little Masonic
Library," a collection of 20 pocket size volumes by noted authors. In
1930 he published serially in The Master Mason his delightful novel, The
Lion's Paw, shortly followed by several others, including the timeless
Master's Book, in which are set out the principles and practices of a
successful lodge master. Another classic written during this time, his
primer for new Masons entitled Introduction to Freemasonry, enjoyed
international popularity. In 1934 he penned the first of his series of
12 Masonic plays while in his Washington office. The succeeding plays
were all drafted on the road, so to speak. Nine of them were written in
a log cabin in Montana in the sight of Emigrant Peak — a blue
lodge in the Gallatins as Claudy called it. The plays have, in the
past, had a powerful impact on the fraternity and formerly were
performed countless times in nearly every grand lodge jurisdiction.
In consequence of his long service, Masonic recognition was mighty.
He was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, recipient of the Henry Price
medal and honorary member of many Grand Lodges and lodges.
Some books by Carl H. Claudy
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