(Member: Potomac Lodge No. 5)
(From the Archives highlights interesting stories of past D.C. Freemasons and other hidden historical gems found in archives of the Grand Lodge of D.C. - ed.)
In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully tested their flying machine at the Kitty Hawk airfield, launching man into the age of aviation. Seeing an opportunity to apply this technology in the battlefield, the United States government invited the brothers to test their new military flyer at a public event in Fort Myer, Virginia. The event became a spectacle and a young Carl Claudy, a future Grand Master of D.C. working as a reporter for the New York Herald, was sent to cover the story.
Most Masons today know Claudy through his written work. Specifically, the short series of educational booklets, informally known as “Claudy Books,” that are given to candidates for further instruction, but his publications outside of masonry have often been over shadowed, though they are just as notable. (He even wrote for D.C. comics!)
After living in New York and working for the Herald, Claudy moved to D.C. and became a very active Freemason. He was raised at Harmony Lodge No. 17 and served as Grand Master of the Jurisdiction in 1943.
Claudy arrived at the airfield at Fort Myer on September 9th, and immediately got to work photographing the event. (His glass plate collection can now be found online via the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum’s Digital Archives.) The test flight that day was well attended, to say the least. In fact, President of the United States and Freemason, William Taft, as well as several members of congress made an appearance to see the new “areoplane” fly.
So while Most Worshipful Brother Claudy may be best remembered for his engaging writing for new candidates and members, the larger world remembers the great historic events he covered in his life, and that will live on in his photographs.