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References to Freemasonry in popular culture range from the vitriolic to the innocuous. Far more often they are merely misinformed allusions from which Freemasonry faces a far more insidious threat; that of being marginalized, trivialized, and fictionalized. Most of the references noted on this site are harmless, simply pointing out that Freemasonry has played a role in our society; some are humorous, yet some are disturbing in their associations.
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East of Eden
John Steinbeck has been reported as having been both a freemason and, as a youth, a member of the Order of DeMolay.
While there are several references to Freemasonry, these are also part of a notable number of references to fraternities in general.
When Cyrus Trask's will was read in 1894: 'After the money they listed the personal effects left by the deceased: five ceremonial swords presented at various G.A.R. conventions, an olivewood gavel with a gold plate on it, a Masonic watch charm with a diamond set in the dividers, the gold caps from the teeth had out when he got his plates, watch (silver), gold headed stick, and so forth.' [p. 59.]
Bordello madam, Faye, discusses the expected evening's business with Kate: "Kate, it's Wednesday, Probably won't be anybody in after one o'clock." "The Woodmen of the World are having a do." "Oh, yes. But on Wednesday—the Woodmen won't be here after two." [p. 228.]
Adam Trask receives a letter from his brother Charles' lawyers, informing him "It is our sad duty to inform you that your brother Charles Trask is deceased. He died of a lung ailment October 12 after an illness of two weeks, and his body lies in the Odd Fellows cemetery." [p. 368.]
"The growing century was shucking Adam out of his shell. He subscribed to the Atlantic Monthly and the National Geographic. He joined the Masons and seriously considered the Elks. The new icebox fascinated him. He bought a textbook on refrigeration and began to study it." [p. 429.]
Joe Valery is sent by Kate, who now runs the bordello, to find one of her girls. Wilson tells him: Seems like there was this convention—what was it?—dentists, or maybe Owls." [p. 506.]
"Joe Valery had been drinking a beer with Butch Beavers at the Owl...." [p. 523.]
"Something might have been not exactly on the level about the death of Faye." [p. 524.]
Horace Quinn "had seen much of Adam. They both belonged to the Masonic Order. They went through the chairs together. Horace followed Adam as Master of the Lodge and both of them wore their Past Master's pins." [p. 560.]

John Steinbeck (1902-1968), East of Eden. New York : Penguin Books, 2002.

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