Covering California Freemasonry

The Getaway Gang

A SCOOTER-LOVING MASONIC GROUP FINDS BROTHERHOOD TWICE OVER.

By Ian A. Stewart

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There are few sights more moving to Barry Gwin than 300 vintage, gleaming Lambretta scooters riding three-abreast as they crest the Marin Headlands, the jewel-box vista of San Francisco spread out before them. “It almost makes me want to cry,” says Gwin, a longtime member of California Lodge No. 1. “It’s like a religious experience.”

Part of the blessing is riding with his “twofold brothers”—members of Cal 1 who also belong to the vintage-scooter enthusiast Black Sheep Scooter Club, which Gwin founded some 35 years ago. Over the years, several members of the Black Sheep have ended up petitioning to join the lodge, and vice versa. Today Gwin, who is chaplain of Cal 1, is joined in that dual membership by Past Master Sean “Duke” Cassidy, Marshal Rhett Marino, Junior Steward David Stein, Senior Steward Anthony Kitz, and lodge members Dion Garcia and Diego Torres. Several other Masons, while not card-carrying members of the Black Sheep, participate in its semiannual group rides, which attract so-called scooter boys in droves. “There are a lot of Masons on scooters out there,” Gwin says.

For Torres, the Masonic-scooter connection runs especially deep. He joined the Black Sheep 13 years ago, and after an injury kept him from getting construction work, Gwin offered him a job at the San Francisco Scooter Centre, the repair shop he’s run since 1987. In 2011, Torres, who still works at the shop, petitioned to join the lodge. “It’s all about the camaraderie,” he says. “It’s a great way to meet people you’d never meet otherwise.”

The club, which modeled its patch on a Minor Threat album cover, places its emphasis on vintage Italian scooters—pre-1980, all metal, manual transmission—and especially Lambrettas, which were discontinued in 1970. “A Vespa is something your mom buys for you,” Gwin says, referring to another prominent brand associated with the scooter culture. “When I was starting, a Lambretta was something you found and fixed up and got running. You had more skin in the game.” Gwin’s prized ride is a Lambretta GP 200 that he modified with a 300cc KTM motorcycle engine; it goes 120 miles per hour.

Adrian Howard, a member of South Pasadena No. 290, doesn’t belong to the Black Sheep but could be considered something of an associate member: He’s driven his scooter from Los Angeles to San Francisco 11 times for various meetups, including the Black Sheep’s late-summer ride. In 2015, at Gwin’s request, Howard helped host the annual Lambretta Jamboree at the South Pasadena Masonic Temple, which brought out more than 300 scooter heads and curious lodge members.

“They’re just fun,” Howard says of the zippy two-wheelers. “Even if you’re in a group ride with 100 people blocking traffic, no one gets upset. There’s just something about them. You can’t take it too serious.”

SCOOTER-LOVING MASONS (FROM LEFT) BARRY SYNOGROUND, DAVID STEIN, ADRIAN HOWARD, TONY KITZ, DIEGO TORRES, RHETT MARINO, SEAN CASSIDY, AND BARRY GWIN.

PHOTO CREDIT:
WINNI WINTERMEYER

More from this issue:

The Borderland Lodge

At Imperial Valley Lodge No. 390, Masons are making valuable community connections on both sides of the border; and tracking Masonic first pitch misfires in anticipation of another Masons4Mitts season.

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