Main Street in Crisis: The Great Depression and the Old Middle Class on the Northern Plains

By Catherine McNicol Stock | Go to book overview

7
COMPROMISE AND ITS LIMITS The Reconsecration of the North Dakota Freemasons

Of all Dakotans who struggled against hard times in the 1930s, those of the Farmers' Holiday Association ( FHA) were the most visible and most vocal -- and their wives were the most invisible but perhaps most significantly transformed. Still, the men and women who made their living from the soil were not the only Dakotans who felt the pinch of hard times. Nor were they the only Dakotans who made important changes and compromises in order to survive. Men and women who had never dreamed of joining a radical farm organization also discovered that staying loyal to their families, communities, and traditional roles meant working out new relationships with the New Deal, its agents, and other representatives of the new middle class.1 No one escaped the harsh realities of the depression decade, just as no one escaped its dirt and grime.

Yet if any group of people could have avoided the suffering, it would have been the Masons. From the earliest days of settlement, the Grand Lodge A.F. and A.M. of North Dakota had been "the archetypical . . . as well as the most popular and prestigious"2 secret

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