A Gift That Keeps on Giving


by Carol S. Wolf

Richard Wolf, Commander of the Legion of Honor at Arlington National Cemetery Wreath Laying.

In 1872, in New York City, Walter M. Fleming, MD and actor William J. Florence along with eleven other Master Masons, formed a group they called “The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine”, later to be called the Shrine of North America and “Shriners”.
They had attended a reception given by an Arabian diplomat and were fascinated by the ritual and ceremonies. William Florence helped develop the Middle Eastern Theme including the red Fez as a headpiece. He designed the logo, wrote rituals and used cities and town names for the Temples/Centers. The original thirteen Masons were named charter members of the first Temple which was called Mecca. The second was established in Rochester as Damascus Temple. Now there are 191 in the US, Canada, Mexico and Panama. The newest club has been started in Germany by servicemen.

As the fraternity progressed they supported multiple charities. The first Shrine Circus was held in 1906. But, they wanted to do more with their time and money.
They voted to open a Children’s Hospital dedicated to treating children with orthopedic problems (mostly from polio at that time). The hospital would be free to all and care would be available to anyone up to age 18.

The first hospital opened in 1922 in Shreveport, LA. An entire network of hospitals would soon follow. Over 700,000 children have been treated to date. It costs approximately 1.6 million dollars a day to keep the hospitals open.

There are eighteen hospitals that provide comprehensive pediatric orthopedic care for children with congenital orthopedic deformities, problems resulting from injuries and diseases of the bones, joints and muscles. Some of the problems treated include:
• Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
• Osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease)
• Orthopedic problems of cerebral palsy
• Hand problems
• Back problems
• Limb deficiencies and growth problems
• Orthopedic problems of spina bifida with myelodysplasia (paralysis of limbs due to faulty congenital development of the spine and spinal nerves)
• Club foot and dislocated hip
• Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
• And many more

Three hospitals provide excellent Burn care. The Shrine opened three pediatric burn hospitals in the mid-1960’s and a fourth opened in 1997.
One hospital combines both.

Today, these hospitals remain pioneers in burn treatment. They are actively involved in the development of artificial skin and other major research and advancements that will continue to revolutionize treatment of burn patients. Today there are 190,000 children in treatment.

The Ismailia Shrine Center, which was the 37th, is located at 1600 Southwestern Blvd. Buffalo, NY 14224 (716)674-8666. The President of the Shrine is elected each year and is called the Potentate. This year it is Douglas R. Blajszczak. When I asked Doug why he became a Shriner, he answered, “I always wanted to be a doctor. When I came back from the service I never followed through. So I became a Shriner and that way I can help the kids.”
According to Joseph Horner, Recorder/Office Administrator:
• In the past 5 years, 3,000 children from WNY have been treated.
• The hospital travel fund expenditures are approximately $60,000. a year.
• 15-20 trips per month are made to Erie Hospital with 40 volunteer drivers.
• Presently 5 patients from WNY are transported regularly to Cincinnati burn hospital.

These three groups assist the Potentate.
• Under the direction of Commander, Howard E. Smith, the Unit Staff organizes and takes part in Ceremonials, Parades and other public appearances.
• Chief Aide, Gerald B. Copperberg, coordinates The Aides to assist at Ceremonials, visitations, dinners and social and special events.
• Director, Kenneth Tornow works with this Staff for the purpose of perfecting and maintaining a good organization for doing the stage, electrical and mechanical work for the Shrine Ceremonials. Their motto is, "We make Shriners so that children can walk." The Director's Staff also takes part in all parades, dances, the circus, and hospital benefit drives.

Everyone loves to see these antique cars in the parades. This group, besides having a good time, promotes the preservation and enjoyment of antique automobiles. Their President is Herbert Forbach.

Ismailia’s Concert Band was organized in 1893 and has operated continuously ever since. From that early start the band has grown and developed into a much appreciated organization. They have won many Shrine awards both in concert and parade. Their Director is Clarence Hopper and the president of the group is Craig Rebman.

You can’t forgot hearing these men in parades. They march in parades and help make the public aware of the charity work of the Masons and Shriners. President Charles Graber leads this group in their Middle Eastern type costumes, probably the most colorful in the parades. Who can forget those curley-toed gold shoes, and head dress. A musical background in not necessary to join them.

Something for everyone! This group is open to all those who are nautically inclined, own a boat or are just interested in boats or boating.

Like to act? This one’s for you. The Ceremonial degree, is a part of a Noble’s initiation. This group has been in existence since 1925 and they portray the ritualistic portion of the ceremonial.

The Chanter units in Shrine Temples were originally organized to perform the chants which are an integral part of the first section of the ceremonial initiation. They were composed of Nobles who enjoyed singing and the fellowship with others that enjoyed music. As time passed, the Chanter units expanded their activity to providing vocal entertainment at many and varied affairs. They have won the North American championship nine times.

Their President is Charles R. Turner and their Director Jeff Trenchard, Music teacher at Mill Middle School in Williamsville.

The Ismailia/Fisher Price Circus Train was built in 1974 by the employees of Fisher Price on their own time and at their own expense. It was constructed to scale of the original “Toy Train” and took approximately 7 months to complete. Since 1977 when the Ismailia Shrine received the Train from Fisher price, thousands of people have viewed it in parades and recognized it as that “famous toy”. The train is operated by the Hillbilly Clan.

The Shrine Circus Train unit has shown the Train at various parades and functions in the U.S. and Canada, thus reminding everyone that the Shrine is interested in the welfare and happiness of children everywhere. Their President is Orville Eyring.

Each clown is responsible for purchasing his own clown costume, makeup, wig, and shoes. Clown unit members assist a new member in designing a costume and selecting a clown name. The Clown "character" that is developed must be their own and the person also develops the makeup design, costume and the "personality" for their Clown character. When in costume, you will no longer be "Joe Smith, a Shriner"; you will become your Clown personality.

Your final Clown character will be yours alone, they have the opportunity to participate in many Clown Unit "gigs" and parades as a member of the great Shrine Clown Unit. They also spend many hours and days in supporting other related charities and events whenever and wherever they can such as; entertaining children, the elderly and the infirm during visits to hospitals, Nursing Homes and the Development Centers.

President, Philip Bateau says, “I always told jokes at parties, acting silly with no purpose. Now I have a purpose. As clowns, we have a chance to put smiles on faces that normally might be sad.”
"Be a Clown, be a Clown, all the world loves a Clown..."

Commander, Richard A. Wolf, The Legion of Honor Unit invites all Veterans to join them. Formed in 1926, the purpose of the Legion of Honor is to assist the Potentate and other Officers of Ismailia Shriners at ceremonials, parades, wreath laying and memorial services and to foster a spirit of patriotism and love of our country and national flag.
Last month Commander Wolf attended the Legion of Honor Convention in Arlington, VA. “As Commander this year”, he said, “It was an honor to participate in the Wreath Laying Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The sacrifices of our men and women in the Armed Forces, so that we may enjoy this great freedom, are greatly appreciated.”

President, Robert S. Glace invites anyone interested in riding motorcycles and would like to belong to a Motorcycle parade unit to join them.

Are you a bowler? This group of avid bowlers was organized in early 1926. At the present time the Headpins are enjoying inter-Shrine center bowling with Zem Zem Shriners of Erie, Pa. Their President is Jay Strong,

Rabban of the Clan, Craig Rebman explains that its sole purpose is to promote sociability among Nobles. The Grand and Glorious Hillbilly Degree was founded and written by Jim Harris of El Hasa Shrine, Ashland, Kentucky, in 1969.

William Sadler, writer, producer and director of shows in Key West in the winter, suggested to the group a Talent Show as a fundraiser. He became the original organizer of the “Geritol Follies”. This November they had the Tonawanda Cloghoppers, the Sassy Seniors, tap dancers, from the Orchard Park Senior Center and a variety of skits and music. They raised over $2,000., which is donated to the Hospital Travel Fun.

President, Charles R. Turner,
The Road Runners are all volunteer drivers who transport the children and their guardians within Ismailia’s jurisdiction to the Shriners Hospital in Erie Pennsylvania. This allows the families to keep and make medical appointments with the Shrine Hospital. The members of this unit drive Ismailia supplied vans and not their own vehicles.

• Howdah Club of Jamestown, a parade unit with an unusual Jeepster parade vehicle. President - R. Kenneth Brunner
• Kart Corps, A Go Cart unit, President-Manley Clark
• Knights of Mecca, President, Richard P. Loring. They assist the Masonic Lodges, at their invitation, by putting on a part of one of the Degrees.
• Medical Unit, President, Mark Malaniak The Medical Unit attempts to have a Doctor and/or corpsman present at every Ceremonial and function.
• Gowanda Mini Corps, Inc. President, Kevin Hinkley This group ride small Mini Bikes in intricate maneuvers in parades.
• Mini Kar Corps, President, Robert Nader. They demonstrate their driving skills in Shrine and local parades, but also help other organizations - Kiwanis, Lions, by entertaining children and giving them rides in their Kars.
• Camel Headers Stable #77
• Horse Patrol -This unit is available to anyone that is interested in riding and would like to belong to a mounted parade unit. Their President is Donald Weinholtz.

There are a variety of clubs that are usually social and geographic in nature.

• The Ladies of the Oriental Shrine of North America, Ailiamsi Court # 12 –
Susan Fuhrmann, High Priestess
• Daughters of the Nile, Athor Temple – Chris Dykes, Queen
(That’s another whole story for another time)

To join the Shrine a man must become a Mason. Call the office for more information.
(716)674-8666. “FUN WITH A PURPOSE”
If you know of a children that could use our services call the local office or call toll-free 1-800-237-5055. Applications can also be downloaded at www.shrinershq.org

If your organization would like a speaker to come and talk on the hospital systems and success stories, give us a call 674-8666.

Ismailia Shrine Chanters, Jeff Trenchard, Director(standing far left) and choral group practicing.  
Shrine Geritol Follies – The Harmonicoots  
Shrine Geritol Follies –
Hillbilly’s having fun
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