Our Massachusetts Rainbow History
By Miss Sandra J. Marshall, Past Supreme Inspector
Rainbow began in Massachusetts with the Institution of Boston Assembly on June 18, 1924 after Mrs. Lulu H. Gobrecht’s appointment as head of the New England District by Rev. W. Mark Sexson, Rainbow’s founder. This Ceremony, held at the Square and Compass Club in Boston, was the beginning of the growth of Rainbow in Massachusetts. With the addition of other Assemblies over the years, Massachusetts had a total of one hundred nineteen assemblies. Convention Hall in Boston was the setting for the first Grand Assembly and was called to order on October 27, 1925.
Mother Gobrecht’s warm and loving manner and her enthusiasm for Rainbow and “her girls” was recognized, and she was honored with the position of Supreme Immortality, the first to hold this office. She was Supreme Inspector in Massachusetts until 1954, and retained the title of Supreme Immortality until passing away on May 27, 1959.
In the summer of 1936, Boston was the host city for Supreme Assembly Sessions, the only city in New England to have this honor. It is reported that Rainbow Drill teams from Massachusetts and other states gave exhibition performances one evening, and there was a Supreme Ball. Another highlight of the session was a boat ride through the Cape Cod Canal to New York.
We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to share with the rest of New England, the 2016 Sessions to be held in Providence, Rhode Island, the perfect opportunity to attend a session so close to home!
It was through the efforts of Mother Gobrecht that the Rainbow Advisors’ Club of Massachusetts was formed. Initially, Past Worthy Advisors met at her home; later, when the group became larger, meetings were held at the YWCA in Boston. This group was responsible for our Rainbow magazine, the RACOM, started in 1934. In the mid 1970’s, Grand Adults took over the responsibilities of the publication. The club met monthly until 1964, providing a table with handmade Rainbow items at each Grand Assembly with proceeds going toward the RACOM and Rainbow Camp. Members of the group still meet once a year, and many of these members have continued to work with Rainbow.
It was during Mother Gobrecht’s tenure as Supreme Inspector that farm property in Hanson, with frontage on Lake Maquan, was purchased. Rainbow Camp opened in 1949 with much excitement. To this day, attending sessions at Rainbow Camp is always a highlight of time spent as a Rainbow Girl.
Two items of interest to present members are the fact that in 1941, in order to participate in a special meeting in Western Massachusetts, the Grand Officers traveled in a private railroad car, and that at least once, Rainbow and DeMolay held a combined church service aboard the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides).
Mrs. Blanche S. Field was Supreme Deputy from 1954-61. The tradition of traveling to neighboring New Hampshire to hold a Vesper Service at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge was initiated by Bancroft Assembly No. 70 in 1956. For several decades this was a yearly occurrence, but the service is now held every other year. The outdoor cathedral provides a natural setting to worship in “God’s great out-of-doors”, and never fails to inspire those who attend. Over the years, many assemblies have hosted the event; with the recent addition of a pavilion, our membership and guests are able to enjoy a picnic lunch following the service.
On June 10, 1956, at our Rainbow Camp, the Gobrecht cabin was dedicated to “Daddy” Gobrecht. Built on the hill overlooking the lake, it stands as a fitting tribute to his dream that there be a camp for the Rainbow Girls.
In this year, too, the Traveling Pot of Gold was started by Gloucester Assembly No. 41. Because of the distances to travel, additional Pots of Gold were added; today we have four areas with the traveling pots being awarded and returned at Grand Assembly Sessions. Many activities, including Prospect Parties, are now done by Pot of Gold areas.
The first Grand Assembly Ball to benefit the Scholarship Fund was held in 1957. This has become an annual affair, and the proceeds from the dance and special projects of the Grand Officers and the Grand Scholarship Committee have been largely responsible for the hundreds of scholarships granted to our Rainbow Girls.
Eleven Massachusetts Rainbow members and adults were invested with the Grand Cross of Color through 1937, but no additional designates were named until 1957. At that time, a class of 247 Rainbow Girls, Master Masons, and Eastern Stars became Masters of the Grand Cross of Color at the Ceremony held at the Hotel Bradford in Boston. Each year since then, Grand Cross of Color designates have received the Degree at the time of Grand Assembly.
When Mother Field retired, Miss Blanche E. Robinson took over the helm of Rainbow in Massachusetts, serving as Supreme Deputy from 1961 to 1969. During this time, the membership and adults were actively involved in selling Rainbow key chains, the proceeds of which were used towards the recreation building at Rainbow Camp. In June 1963, many gathered for the dedication of the recreation hall, dining area, and kitchen. Since 1966, approximately 1100 camperships have been provided by Grand Assembly and sponsoring bodies, assisting our members to attend. In recent years, numerous girls from other grand jurisdictions have participated in summer camp sessions, as well.
In 1969, Mrs. Ona M. Carnes was appointed Supreme Deputy, following the retirement of Mother Robinson. In 1979, she was elected to the House of Gold and became a Supreme Inspector. During this time, Rainbow was honored to participate in the Turn-Around of the U.S.S. Constitution. How excited everyone was when Mother Carnes and a representative of Grand Assembly were invited to take part in the festivities.
Also during these years, walk-a-thons and rock-a-thons were begun to benefit the Shriners Hospital in Springfield and the Burns Institute in Boston. The work done by the Shriners was especially meaningful to Mother Carnes because of the help they had provided for her brother. During these years, and in succeeding years, a total of over $100,000 was contributed to the Shriner’s Hospital through state-wide projects.
Spring and early summer brought yard sales to benefit Rainbow Camp. The Grand Deputies held sales in their areas with their Assemblies pitching in, and a large sale was held in the recreation hall of the Camp for several years. In 1974, a 50’x25’ swimming pool was dedicated to Mother and Dad Carnes. Close to the administration building, this is the focal point for great times on hot summer days.
Mother Carnes retired as Supreme Inspector in 1982, but was a Member of the House of Gold until her passing on July 27, 1988.
Miss Sandra J. Marshall began her duties as Supreme Deputy in September 1982, the first “Supreme” in Massachusetts to have been a former Rainbow Girl. A Past Worthy Advisor of Gloucester Assembly No. 41, she was selected to serve Grand Assembly as Grand Service. Mother Marshall was involved at Rainbow Camp as a camper, counselor, cook, director, and member of the Board of Directors. She was also on the Advisory Board and Mother Advisor of her own Assembly, on the Grand Scholarship Committee, Grand Deputy, and the editor of the RACOM magazine.
Leadership Camp was popular at Rainbow Camp from 1988-2001. Two-day sessions, held in August, brought together Massachusetts Rainbow Girls, Grand Adults, and friends to share in the Rainbow experience. Various activities assisted girls in planning their terms as Worthy Advisor, and Rainbow trivia was implemented during these sessions. Over the years special craft activities were done --- among them, scrapbooks with fabric covers personalized with puff paint and liquid embroidery designs; tye-dyed shirts; gingerbread houses decorated with frosting and candy; and Vermont slate signs with scenes done in paint…most of them featuring rainbows.
After having Grand Assembly at Symphony Hall and at the Civic Center in Springfield for many years, it was moved to Lowell in 1990. The auditorium with its dome and fine acoustics added to the dignity of the formal Grand Assembly Session. At this time, a “fun program” was started with the Parade of Grand Representatives and “talent” by the Grand Adults. Awards and presentations were made to assemblies and individuals. In 2005, the location of Grand Assembly was changed to Memorial Hall in Plymouth.
A first for Massachusetts was the commissioning of a Sebastian Figurine entitled “The Rainbow”. Nearly 800 pieces were sold, each with a plaque on the back giving a brief history of Rainbow. In more recent times, two additional Sebastians were commissioned, one showing the Rainbow emblem, the other being a Rainbow ornament.
Founder’s Day has been observed at Rainbow Camp since 1992. Many of our Rainbow families and Assemblies have made this a yearly event, enjoying the chance to relax and share time together. In 1996, a “Fidelity” blue tennis court was dedicated to Mother Marshall, who at that time held the office of Supreme Fidelity. Swimming, badminton, tennis, volleyball, softball, and kickball are just a few of the activities available. Those attending can bring lunches, or have hotdogs and hamburgers prepared on the grill.
Ritual contests began in 1997 and allowed girls the opportunity to compete with sisters from other Assemblies. Special “Ritual” pins are awarded girls in the categories of Bow Ritualist, Floor Ritualist, Worthy Ritualist, Grand Ritualist, and Supreme Ritualist at the yearly Grand Assembly Session.
Massachusetts was thrilled to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California on January 1, 1997. Rainbow Girls from seven states rode on the “Family of Freemasonry” float, and we were honored to have our Grand Worthy Advisor represent Fidelity on this float. Our Assemblies had New Year’s Day parties in order to share this exciting time together.
A Memorial Site was dedicated on August 6, 1999 in McAlester, Oklahoma, in memory of Reverend W. Mark Sexson. A large number of engraved bricks from Massachusetts’ girls, adults, and Assemblies are in the Rainbow Reflections Walkway, a special part of the site. Those visiting the Supreme Assembly Temple for tours and seminars often visit the cemetery and the church where Reverend Sexson preached.
In December 1999, a bus full of enthusiastic Massachusetts folks traveled to New York City for a weekend enjoying the sights of Christmas. The visit to Radio City Music Hall was deemed the highlight of the trip by everyone, and it was special to have a view behind the scenes of this landmark!
Massachusetts celebrated its 75th Anniversary in June 2000. This festive occasion was held at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium and will always be remembered by those in attendance. At this Grand Assembly Session, a lovely embroidered altar cloth was presented by the Past Grand Worthy Advisors of Massachusetts. We were honored to have our Supreme Worthy Advisor at the time, Mrs. Mary Muhs, present. One of her projects was Teddy bears for the Shriners Hospitals; our Assemblies and individuals presented her with an astounding number of bears!
Grand Officers’ Nights have been held in Massachusetts since Rainbow was instituted in our state and are popular even today. These meetings are held three times a year with various Assemblies serving as hosts, making it possible for those attending to observe Rainbow ritual and floor work at its best. Most Assemblies have one or more girls serving as Grand Officers/Grand Representatives, providing special memories for each of them.
With the retirement of Mother Marshall on September 1, 2011, Miss Susan A. Torrey, Past Worthy Advisor and Past Advisory Board member of Concord Assembly No. 53, and Past Grand Page, became Supreme Deputy. She had been a member of the Grand Executive Board since 1997 and had been active at Rainbow Camp as a camper, counselor, cook, director, and member of the Rainbow Camp Board of Directors.
Two contests initiated by Megan Fowler, PGWA are the “Elevator Speech”, the purposes of which are to develop self-esteem, learn to share our Rainbow story, to increase awareness of our Order, and to provide state recognition; and a “Flag Tribute”, to develop self-esteem, to increase the sense of Patriotism, to become stronger members, and to receive state recognition.
Massachusetts Rainbow had some more exciting news and changes in the last few years:
In 2014, the Massachusetts Supreme Ritual Team won 2nd place in the world - our first team
In 2015, the Grand Representative Flags were introduced, allowing our Representatives to present
Flag drills at each Grand Officers Night and Grand Assembly.
In 2016, the New England jurisdictions hosted Supreme Assembly in Providence RI where
Massachusetts enjoyed having the larges jursdiction in attendance, Brianna B PWA of Saugus
took 1st place in the Ritual Competition for hte World, and our Ritual Team earned 2nd place
In 2017, the Scholarship Committee hosted our first ever Mr. Rainbow Pageant to recognize our
male supporters who work tirelessly to support and promote Massachusetts IORG.
There has been a major change in communication with Grand Officers, Assemblies, Mother Advisors, and Grand Adults. Information is being provided through the Massachusetts Rainbow website: www.massiorg.net
We are proud of our Rainbow heritage in Massachusetts and the traditions that have served us well over the years!