From that pinnacle, the order has slowly lost more than half its members. To more and more Americans who spend their leisure in private pursuits--including heavy TV viewing--the monthly meetings and volunteer commitments of fraternal life seem too much. But in recent years, says Morris, the rate of decline has stabilized. Historian Moore suggests a reason: "A lot of men are joining at retirement age." With the rapid graying of the U.S. population, the lodges may begin to fill with people who have more spare time than most working Americans do. And who knows? Those aging boomers might even figure out how to bring younger Americans back into the craft.
In 1882, England's Puck magazine depicted the Masons as apron-clad buffoons.
Masons raise a glass to their lips, drink a toast, then slam the heavy-bottomed vessel down to mimic the sound of cannons.
Every Freemason has an apron--a stylized contemporary version of the stonemason's utilitarian garb.
The Order of Odd Fellows, like the Freemasons, is a fraternal society whose members are committed to good works.