June 2020

On Memorial Day, I started trying to write a Column for June.  Maskat has been on lock down for three Months, and I am wondering what I should write about. The world is still round, but the USA and most of the civilized parts of the world are restricted.  Paralyzed by a virus we have only one proven defense against.  Do not catch it!  I have lived through several epidemics in my 75 years, Polio was a big threat when I was born, but basically for young people. The Salk-Sabin Vaccine mostly eradicated it, except it still reemerges in third world countries where the vaccine still is not widely available.

I think I can name the rest of the Flus and other viruses that killed a large portion of the population, but you can too.  Most of them are controlled by some sort of vaccine, some vaccines with serious side effects. Others, not so much.  All that to say, nothing right now can handle this virus. But science is working on it.  Most of us are praying for a cure, obviously. But these things take time.

Virtually everything non-essential has been cancelled since March. I can tell you now activities for May have been cancelled for us. It’s possible we could resurrect something if things change, but I don’t count on it. If we do have an activity, we will shout it from the rooftops, but May is lost for Shrine Activities, along with TSA in June. The Oil Bowl has been cancelled for June also.  Gordie Antill hasn’t given up on the Maskat Golf Tournament, presently scheduled for Friday, June 19. (Rescheduled from May)

This year, the Imperial Shrine Convention will not be held.  It was to be in Kansas City, Mo., starting on July 4.  Representatives will vote electronically.  So scheduled summer activities for Shriners have been cancelled.  We will let everyone know if we can do anything meaningful!  Pray for declining Coronavirus numbers, and maybe the Golf Tournament will be held.

I remember a few years back [1968] when I lost a little more than three months.  Circumstances were a lot different. Like many other GIs, I managed to stop the flight of a bullet.  It was a lot less fun for me than Covid 19, which was awful for a multitude of people worldwide. But Covid was pretty easy for me. I have done a few activities around the house to keep occupied, that really was about it.  But it was still traumatic. We lost a lot of people. Nearly twice the number died of Covid thus far than Vietnam and it is not through taking its toll.  Pray for our People.

The Boards of Houston and Galveston Hospitals have been meeting monthly electronically for these three Months, and will continue in that mode for now. We have a name for the combined hospitals. SHC TEXAS is our new name. More on that later!

For the Children
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder

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May 2020

WILDCAT WAS NOT PUBLISHED BECAUSE OF COVID-19

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April 2020

Happy Easter on April 12, 2020! If everything works the way we planned, we will host an Easter Egg Hunt at the land on Hatton Road On April 11. But in this day of Covid 19, it could just as easily not happen. I haven’t seen the latest, but I am going to follow the Government guidelines, whatever they are. If you are my age and have your health compromised by a few things that put you at high risk, you will try your best to avoid this nasty little virus. Unless you are suicidal.

We did not go to Houston Hospital Board on March 13. We had a teleconference meeting instead. Not ideal, but covering the state of the Hospital as best we could. Several Houston Board members attended in person, most of the commuters did not. In a two hour compressed meeting, we did not even have a Patient of the Month presentation. I always enjoy that presentation, the kids inspire me. We will get through this.

There are many activities worthy of note in April at Maskat. Let’s lead with our Annual Golf Tournament at River Creek, which is Friday, April 17. This is a great event for Maskat, because it is one of our major Temple fund raisers. If you do not play golf, please volunteer to work the event, we always need people to work registration and many other duties. Volunteer! You will be glad you did, and so will Chairman Gordy Antill. Unfortunately, Jennifer and I will be going to Houston for the Houston SHC Board Meeting and may not be back. Don’t forget Maskat Happy Hour on Thursday, April 16. We also have our Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Hatton Road Land, April 11. Bring the young ones out and celebrate with us. Lunch at noon, followed by the Easter Egg Hunt! Easter Sunday is April 12, and everything I said in this paragraph is subject to change or cancellation. Except Easter Sunday, it will happen as usual. Just got an email from Potentate Bing Miller. He is cancelling all activity at Maskat Temple and sending the staff home. Cathy or Donna will be out to get the mail and distribute it, and call people on the Divan and anyone who needs to keep informed. Presently, this applies to Temple activities through April. Unless the restrictions are lifted. We want to prevent loss of life and slow the virus progression.

June is pretty busy, as usual. Starting on Wednesday June 10, Texas Shrine Association will be in Amarillo. More on that unless we are restricted. I add here, the Oil Bowl activities may be on the list of cancellations also. Also Imperial Convention, starting on July 4 in Kansas City Mo. We are planning these June and July dates as if they are on a concrete schedule, until or unless otherwise informed. The Hospital Merger of Houston and Galveston as Texas Shrine Hospitals- Texas, will take place as soon as realistically possible. I will keep you informed.

I know I can’t seem to quit talking about our hospital system. But I can’t apologize for that! Most of you know what conditions we treat, but if you know of a child who may qualify, please call the office. If we can help a child, we want to. I am going to mention again, if you would like to go to Las Vegas and volunteer for the Hospital Benefit Golf Tournament the first week in October, see or call me or Dr. Steve Dryden for more details. And by the way, thank you and yours for being a part of the Shrine Family. Together, as owners of the Shrine Hospitals, we have an opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of some very deserving children. We are making a difference! I have the privilege to see it firsthand every Month at our Board Meetings. Visit one of our Hospitals! It will change your life!

For the Children
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder

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March 2020

March.  When we actually get there in a couple weeks, is something we should all be welcoming. Not much freezing weather planned, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. Just wind and rain.  I am attempting to write this column and thinking about packing up for the O.G. Trip to Shreveport starting next Thursday.  I think O.G. Bill Hammack will remember to go on this one, since we are taking the trip with his nickname for the year on his apron, O.G. Trip. It’s your turn Bill! Have fun walking to Shreveport and back! Enjoy this, you can sleep later!

At our Divan Midwinter Conference the second weekend in February, we talked a lot about Membership, which is an ongoing problem. And, as we discussed last year, we are now implementing some of the Hospital transformation. Houston Board President David Henderson met with the Divans briefly to try to shed some light on Galveston’s and Houston’s merger. Boards are meeting together about half the time, trying to start the merger of the two into the building in Galveston.  Our two Texas Hospitals are doing great, and the merger is going to take about a year and a load of planning.  Now one more thing about Midwinter in Dallas! O.G. Bill Hammack introduced the Divan, and was commended by Judge David Hamm for getting all the names and titles in proper order. But he introduced me as Treasurer and Greg as Treasurer too. We only have one Treasurer. That’s Greg. I’m the Recorder. They didn’t even catch that, and still fined him a hundred dollars for “setting the bar too high.” O.G.s are not supposed to win! But the fines collected go to the Hospitals!

IHOP Pancake Day will be Tuesday, February 25, this year. Chairman P.P. Charles Dean spoke about it at the February Meeting. It is the largest one day fundraiser we have for our Hospitals.  Nobles have been very good about volunteering to work a two hour shift, which is great!  But after you finish your shift, stay and eat. Or eat before, if you would like! Or if you aren’t working the event, eat anyway! The food is great, and the event raises money for our Hospitals. And thank the staff! They graciously donate their time to us and help us make our event successful. Also, please tip generously. Young people love the free pancakes, but are not known for leaving tips.

February 28 -March 1 is the Shriner’s Hospital College Classic Baseball Tournament in Houston. It features Texas college baseball teams in the tournament, and we have our Hospital Board Meeting at Minute Maid Park in Houston.  This game showcases patients from Houston and Galveston, and is played to benefit our Hospitals.   It is fun and rewarding, and you may want to put it on your Bucket List!

We have some Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite and York Rite activities coming up. Go to Blue lodge when you can. Don’t forget your roots! The first two Fridays in March we have some events at Maskat you should try to attend. On the 6th is a Dueling Pianos presentation at Maskat. On the 13th we have a Dinner Theatre by the Rider High Drama Department.  Each event is $20.00 per ticket.  And well worth the money! Thank you all for being Shriners!

Thanks for being a Shriner!  Nobles and Ladies, thanks for supporting our efforts.

For the Children,
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder

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February 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day, among other events we are happy to observe in February if we are married or have kids! February is always short, and if you are a Shriner, pretty busy.

We start February with a Super Bowl Party on Sunday, February 2. This is always a fun party and I’m sure it will be this year as well. Your Divan will be going to Dallas for Divan Midwinter on Thursday through Saturday, February 6-8. The Divan will come home Saturday from Big D, except the ones who will stay for the Potentate’s Ball in Dallas that night. Stated Meeting is February 12 at Maskat, and Maskat Happy Hour for February is cancelled!  That is the Thursday the men leave on the O.G. Trip.

The long awaited O.G. Trip to Shreveport Hospital is February 20-23.  It is a STAG trip to Margaritaville Hotel and Casino in Bossier City, and the bus ride, snacks and libations cost $75.00.  New Nobles first trip is free!  Well, you do have to pay for your room and gambling, but it’s still a good deal! It’s always a lot of fun, and we tour the Shriners Hospital in Shreveport on Friday, which is the highlight of the trip! Our first Hospital was Shreveport, so it holds an historical place among Shrine Hospitals.  This trip gives everyone a chance to see what the Shrine supports, and makes every Noble very proud to be a Shriner.

Don’t forget IHOP Pancake Day is Tuesday, February 25.   Past Potentate Charles Dean is our man who makes it happen locally, but it is a group effort and the largest single day fundraiser we have for the Shrine Hospitals, so it is very important. Don’t forget to sign up to work, and join Shriners for pancakes on that special day!

As a Proud Houston Hospital Representative, I want to thank you for supporting our Hospitals.  I don’t know if you have paid any attention to the Shriner’s Hospitals ads on television, but if you have, they have successfully brought many dollars to our Hospitals!  You need to know that due to good money management, we have been able to keep a little over 95 cents of every dollar raised and devote it to Patient Care. So we are getting a great return on our investments and advertising!

Thank you, Nobles and Ladies, for supporting our cause.  Just a reminder, when you send a check to Shriners Hospital Houston or Shriners Hospital Galveston, please write: for Patient Services.  This ensures the money stays at the Texas Hospital of your choice for our kids.

Just a bit about the merger. We are now meeting with the Galveston Board about half the time. I can’t tell you what I don’t know, but I can tell you we are serious about getting it done. Houston and Galveston patients may not be under the same roof for a while, but we will get there!

For The Kids, Thanks for being a Shriner, gentlemen!

John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder
Houston Hospital Board of Governors

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January 2020

FIRST OF ALL, Happy New Year and welcome to 2020!  As Steve and Sheryl Harris prepare to relinquish the reins and leave the top slot open for Bing and Jody Miller for another great year at Maskat, we have a lot to do!   Bing Miller will be officially installed as Illustrious Potentate of Maskat Temple at our January Stated Meeting on January 14, 2019. That is as late a date as possible for us to have a second Tuesday Stated Meeting. The meeting time will be changed, we will have our regular tiled Stated Meeting at 6:30 pm, then bring the Ladies in for the meal, followed by the Installation of Officers and a reception.

We had Officer Elections at Stated Meeting in December, and the slate looks a little different this year. Chief Rabban Bing Miller was elected to replace Illustrious Potentate Steve Harris, the outgoing Potentate.  Kenny Lemons became Chief Rabban, Dooby Fox moved up to Assistant Rabban, Greg Talley was elected High Priest and Prophet, and Bill Hammack was elected Oriental Guide.  P.P. Greg Stockton was reelected Treasurer, and P.P. John Tunnell will still be Recorder, by vote of the Nobility. P.P. Calvin Carlton was elected to a two year term on the Financial Advisory Board, as was Noble Eddie Fenoglio. The year 2020 is the remaining year of P.P. Bob Hamblin’s term and Noble Bill Yates also has one more year remaining on his term on the Financial Advisory Board.

On a really somber note, Past Potentate Charles Oldham and Noble Dave Corbett passed away in December.  We certainly don’t need any more Nobles to pass from us this year! I pray none of us do.  Changing the direction of this a little, we have seven Nobles whom we voted to suspend on December 31, 2019. That is the last day of this year. These gentlemen can be retained if they pay the dues to make themselves current.  I hope they will do so.  Call me or the Office if you want to give any of them a call.

The Potentate’s Ball, Honoring Potentate Bing Miller and Lady Jody, is scheduled for Saturday January 25.  Illustrious Sir Bing promises us a “Great Casino Night” for his Potentate’s Ball!  The Super Bowl, and you know Shriners will use any excuse for a party, will be Sunday, February 2, 2020. If that’s not a good excuse for a Party, I don’t know what would qualify!  This year, Divan Midwinter will be in Dallas, February 6-8.  Divan /Units Council will meet on Monday, February 10, and Stated Meeting is February 11th.  Don’t forget to sign up for the O.G. Trip which begins Thursday February 20-23 in Shreveport, Louisiana.  We will tour the Shriners Hospital there Friday, and O.G. Bill Hammack will serve everyone on the bus libations and sandwiches all the way to Shreveport and back! I can hardly wait!

Jennifer and I attended the Christmas Tree Lighting at Shriners Hospital For Children in Houston on Friday, November 30, followed by full Board Meeting Saturday Morning and Christmas Party that night.  In addition to our regular patients at the tree lighting ceremony, many former patients and their families attended. Also several Shrine Dignitaries were in attendance.  Everyone enjoyed the celebration, especially the Kids when Santa and his elves showed up!

If you see Steve or Sheryl Harris, congratulate them on a great Shrine Year! They turn the whole thing over to Bing and Jody Miller on Stated Meeting/ Installation on January 14, and ride off into the sunset!

Thanks for being Shriners, Gentlemen, and thank you Ladies for helping us be better men and Shriners!

For the Children
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder