The sign on the building tells you it is Cline’s Store. At this time, the store is closed, but occasionally there will be someone or a couple of people sitting on the front porch.
Bill Cline, the son of Luther Cline, is the owner of the bottom floor. Waleska Masonic Lodge # 57 owns the upstairs.
The store was built by brothers Luther and Levi Cline. They did the work themselves. It was started in 1924 and was finished in 1925. It was well built and even now has the original tin roof.
Both Luther and Levi were Masons. Since the Waleska Lodge did not have a good place for their meetings, the brothers gave the Lodge the upstairs of the building. It was not just a verbal agreement. The deed shows the Masons have ownership of that part of the property.
At that time in close proximity, the brothers owned a cotton mill, a planing mill and a blacksmith shop. The store is the only one of those buildings remaining.
Later, an addition was added on the back of the store for a kitchen and a bathroom. A chair lift was installed, too, to help older members get to the upper story.
Last week, six members were recognized in observance of their being a member of the lodge for 60 years. They included John Brooke, Forrest Sawyer, Jack Smith, Bill Cline, James Cline and P. A. Cline.
Sources says there are an estimated 6 million Masons worldwide. A square and two compasses joined together are identified as the symbol of the Masons. The letter G is in the middle. The G stands for God and is to remind Masons that God is at the center of Masons.
Some think the organization is a secretive group. Longtime member Steve Townsend says there is nothing secretive other than some of the words they say or a handshake they use to identify themselves as Masons when another Mason is in distress.
Masons come from all walks of life. Until the death of Bobby Townsend, there were three generations of one family who were members of the Waleska Lodge — Bobby Townsend, Steve Townsend and Mitchell Townsend. Some members now are fathers and sons.
Fourteen presidents of the United States have been Masons including George Washington, Harry Truman, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Daniel Boone and Buffalo Bill Cody were Masons.
Even Prince Phillip, the husband of the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, is a Mason.
The Masons have high standards. Those who do not live up to those standards can be expelled. That was the case with Benedict Arnold, one of the most famous traitors in American History. He was expelled when it was learned he had committed treason during the American Revolution.
William Tecumseh Sherman was not a favorite person in the South when he and his troops were marching through Georgia and burning most things they passed. But he never forgot that he was a Mason.
During my childhood, I heard stories of homes that were not burned after General Sherman learned the homeowner was a fellow Mason. According to Steve, one house in Canton was not burned because there was a Masonic flag hanging in the hall. Another Mason, “Buzz” Aldrin, took a Masonic flag to the moon in 1969.
The Waleska Masonic Lodge has 55 members. Worshipful Master Greg Cagle is the leader.
Describing the Waleska Lodge, Steve says there is a Holy Altar with a Bible in the center. At every meeting a collection is taken. The funds go to the many causes Georgia Masons support including the Masonic Home for children, providing for needy children at Christmas, Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, etc.
At Christmas, fruit baskets are carried by Masons to the homes of widows of husbands who were in the Waleska Lodge.
After being asked why he was a Mason, Steve said, “There is nothing in the organization that will ever harm you but being a Mason will always help you.”
Steve is proud of the work the Masons do. He is especially glad for the opportunity to meet people he would never have met if he had not been a Mason.
So, when you are in Waleska and pass Cline’s Store, be thankful for the men who meet there regularly and the things they do for needy people.
And soon you will notice that Cline’s Store is open for business again. Mike Cline will be selling antiques there.
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.