About Kena Shriners
ABOUT SHRINERS INTERNATIONAL
We are men sharing our best lives.
A brief history.
In 1870 a group of Masons gathered frequently for lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage on Sixth Avenue in New York City. At a special table on the second floor a particularly fun-loving group of men met regularly. Among the regulars were Walter M. Fleming, M.D. and William J. “Billy” Florence, an actor. The group frequently talked about starting a new fraternity for Masons – one centered on fun and fellowship, more than ritual. Fleming and Florence took this idea seriously enough to do something about it.
Billy Florence had been on tour in France, and had been invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. The exotic style, flavors and music of the Arabian-themed party inspired him to suggest this as a theme for the new fraternity. Walter Fleming, a devoted fraternity brother, built on Fleming’s ideas and used his knowledge of fraternal ritual to transform the Arabian theme into the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.).
With the help of the Knickerbocker Cottage regulars, Fleming drafted the ritual, designed the emblem and costumes, formulated a salutation and declared that members would wear the red fez.
The first meeting of Mecca Shriners, the first temple (chapter) established in the United States, was held September 26, 1872.
Badge of a Shriner
The Story of the “Editorial Without Words”
The photo known as the “Editorial Without Words” is probably one of the best-recognized symbols of Shriners Hospitals for Children, yet it was taken almost by accident. Randy Dieter, the photographer, recalled that in 1970, he had been on assignment covering Hadi Temple’s annual outing for handicapped children at the now-defunct Mesker Amusement Park in Evansville, Indiana.
“I was taking shots of the midway and was using my telephoto lens”, Dieter said. “ I saw a local Shriner walking by carrying a little girl in one hand and her crutches in the other. My camera wouldn’t fire. Then they were too close for my lens. I ran past them, but the camera jammed. I had to take my last shot as they walked by. It was the end of the roll. If I had to think about it, I wouldn’t have come up with something like that. Fate guides you."
“It still seems unreal,” said Bobbi Jo Wright, the little girl in the photo. “I have many wonderful memories of the years I was a patient at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital and remember all the fun activities. I was born with cerebral palsy, which resulted in many orthopedic problems that made walking difficult. I had many surgeries at the St. Louis Hospital. They greatly improved my ability to walk.”
Bobbi Jo received her B.A. in English from Anderson University. She is active in her church and teaches Sunday School. “I use a cane when I go shopping,” she said. If I’m walking on grassy areas, I use crutches.”
Today, the famous photo is an integral part of the logo for Shriners Hospitals for Children and has been reproduced on stained glass windows, mosaics, tie tacks, pins, and statues. A larger-than-life replica of the “Editorial Without Words” stands outside the International Shrine Headquarters building in Tampa, Florida.
The Shriner who was unexpectedly immortalized carrying Bobby Jo was Noble Al Hortman, formerly of Evansville and now living in Georgia. On the right is the original photo.