Every time I pass the Masonic Temple on Taunton Avenue I think of the teenage years I spent inside that opulent building as a “Rainbow Girl”. For those of you who don’t know the current or past purposes of the Masonic Temple, or have not heard of Rainbow Girls, I will give you a brief description. Affiliated with the Masons and the Order of Eastern Star, it is an organization for girls between the ages of 11 and 20 whose goals include, among other things, service to the community, religion, and peer cooperation. Our meetings were held on the first Saturday afternoon and the third Saturday evening of each month. The Order of Rainbow Girls is still very active today, however the Assembly to which I belonged no longer exists.
When I joined Rainbow at age thirteen I was one of five other ‘recruits’ who attended an elaborate Saturday night initiation ceremony. Although Rainbow meetings are usually private, my parents were able to attend the ceremony. I was chosen as the “star candidate” and represented the other five girls in the initiation. I wore a long, white gown (my aunt’s size 2 wedding dress). On the evening of my initiation I arrived at the Masonic Temple and walked up the imposing front steps between the Greek-style columns and into the lobby. The plush carpet was dark royal blue, the walls pale blue and the woodwork a cream color. There were two wooden doors that led into either side of a large main meeting room, and as I peered in I was awed by its grandeur. There was a raised platform at the far end with a podium and several carved “thrones”. To the left of the platform was an organ. There was a raised gallery of seats for spectators on either side of the room, and in front of each gallery there was a carved throne. As I found out later, there was another raised throne at the back of the room with a choir loft above it. The dark blue carpet continued throughout. At the center of the room was a wooden altar covered by a white cloth, in the middle of which lay an open Bible. In a semi-circle in front of the altar seven chairs were arranged, each having what looked like a small gold table next to it. Above the altar the high ceiling formed a large dome painted with blue sky and clouds.
I was led into the women’s dressing room where there were a number of girls noisily chatting while changing into their white gowns. Sofas and chairs were arranged around the room, and I was immediately intrigued by a beautiful mural that covered the walls. The sound of an organ cued the girls to leave the lounge and begin lining up at the two doors of the meeting room. At the start of “Pomp and Circumstance” they made their entrance: two lines of graceful young girls walking toward the front platform on either side of the room, their gowns whiter than white against the background of dark blue carpet. When they met at the front, one line crisscrossed the other and they marched toward the rear of the room. After several more intricate maneuvers that must have looked impressive from the raised galleries, each girl miraculously ended up precisely in front of her own throne or chair.
After a welcoming introduction from the podium by the “Worthy Advisor”, my initiation began. As I was led around the room by “Faith”, we would stop in front of each throne, upon which sat “Hope”, “Charity”, and the “Worthy Associate Advisor”. Each would recite a lengthy passage from memory, which made me wonder how they could possibly remember all that. Then I was brought before the girls seated in the semi-circle in front of the altar, each representing a color of the rainbow. One by one they would recite a memorized explanation of their color’s meaning in the Organization. Rolled up in the little gold table next to them was a satin sash in the color they represented. I would carry the sash to the altar and hook it to a ring. When I had finished, a colorful rainbow of sashes radiated from the center of the altar. During the ceremony the choir sang hymns and a soloist performed “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.
Rainbow Girls was quite an experience for me and I remained a part of the Organization for four years. I have not been inside the Masonic Temple in forty years, but the memories of that beautiful building and the ceremonies held there are still vivid in my mind.