Claudy the Man
There was a time, an age before television, streaming media, social networking, 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. And emerging from that time, is the name of an author unparalleled in his contributions to Masonic literature – Carl H. Claudy.
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. His Masonic classics, including his immortal Introduction to Freemasonry series, mingle with his non-Masonic work, such as his reporting for the New York Herald and his historically important photographs of early flight. He was a man of many interests and many talents.
Carl Harry Claudy was Born on Jan. 13th, 1879 in Washington, D.C. At age 19, he headed to the Alaskan gold fields, and when he found no gold after six months, he returned to the mainland and took up employment with an emery wheel manufacturer, although after several years, he left that job to move back to Washington, DC, where he became the editor of a popular science paper, a job he used to springboard into writing for a living.
Despite the lack of a formal education, Claudy loved to read and to write. In fact, his talent for writing was so great, the first story he ever wrote appeared in The Washington Post. Later, he freelanced for The New York Herald and Popular Science Magazine, eventually joining the former’s staff in 1908 with a special assignment covering the then infant aeronautical industry.
During that time, he wrote a number of articles on the subject and published a book, Beginners Book of Model Airplanes. But he was also a photographer. During the early 1900s, Claudy photographed several important aeronautical events - Alexander Graham Bell's tetrahedral kite experiments; flights of the airship Signal Corps No. 1, the U.S. Army's first powered aircraft; and the Wright Military Flyer trials at Fort Meyer, Virginia. His photos of early flights were given to Alexander Graham Bell, who thought they were so important that he placed them in the Smithsonian (where they remain today). Claudy's photographs are indeed a priceless record of the early days of aeronautics and of the people who played a part in them.
Claudy the Mason
Claudy was initiated into Freemasonry in 1908, and later that year, at the age of 29, he was raised a Master Mason in Harmony Lodge No. 17, here in Washington, DC. He served as Master of Harmony in 1932 and later, sat in the Grand Oriental East as the 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 he held until his death in 1957. Under his 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 Mason and lodge in the country.
In 1930, he serially published his novel, The Lion's Paw in The Master Mason, which was shortly followed by several others, including the timeless Master's Book, in which he set out the principles and practices of a successful lodge Master. Another classic written during this time was his primer for new Masons entitled Introduction to Freemasonry, which enjoyed international popularity, and is still given to new Masons all over the United States today.
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, located 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.
Quick Claudy Trivia:
- 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.
- Carl H. Claudy represents one of the two authors writing before Robert Heinlein (the other is Roy Rockwood) whose imagination and storytelling ability still stand out. Robert Heinlein was often called the "dean of science fiction writers.”
- Norman Rockwell, when he was 18, had his first breakthrough illustrating the Tell Me Why: Stories about Mother Nature series written by Claudy in 1912.
- Late in his career, Claudy also wrote for Comics – mainly for the DC Comics’s imprint, All-American Comics, between 1939 and 1941.
- In consequence of his long and distinguished service, Masonic recognition was mighty. He was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, recipient of the Henry Price medal, and an honorary member of many Grand Lodges and lodges.