Local Woman Marks 75th Year With Masons

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Anna Burghardt looks wistfully out the glass door near her room at Payson Care Center, thinking of nine grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She loves it when they come up in a big group to visit with her.

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Following in her father's footsteps, Anna Burghardt joined the Masonic Lodge as a young girl. This year, the Payson resident is being honored by the organization for 75 years of service.

The next time they visit, they'll be able to congratulate her on being honored by the Masonic Temple of Brooklyn, N.Y. for her 75 years in The Order of the Eastern Star.

Burghardt was born in 1907 yet looks many years younger. She attributes her health, both mental and physical, to the fact that she never smoked or drank hard liquor.

"I had a good life, a good husband and two good children. I couldn't ask for anything else," she said.

One of her fingers sports a 14-carat gold ring with the number 1921 cut out across the top. It represents her "graduation" from Bushwick High School, but in reality, she dropped out to gain a different kind of knowledge.

When her father bought the first of several bakeries, she went to work behind the counter.

"The bakery sold coconut cake, butter cake, and crumb cake, cutting six big squares out of one big pan. We used to sell them two for a quarter. There were round cakes and fruit pies and blair cake ..." her voice drifts off as she pauses to think. "Father put my salary in the bank and when he sold the stores and retired he gave it back to me. I had a nice sum of money."

Burghardt's father was a Mason and she joined when she was a young woman, attending meetings and learning the stories of the women each point of the Masonic star represents. She also served as an assistant matron.

"I learned to be honest and truthful and not to lie, even when it hurts," she said.

The Roaring Twenties coincided with her teen-age years and she loved to dance.

In fact, she went just about every night to dance the waltz and the fox trot. "And," she said in a strong voice filled with good memories, "we always did the Peabody."

Today, she enjoys watching people who are wheelchair bound square dance and she likes "any kind of music except that loud stuff they are playing today."

Once a week, she went to the gymnasium for exercise. It was there, when she was 22 that she met Ernie, who took a fancy to her and began to walk her home. They were married for 68 years.

Her son, who now lives across the hall from her, brought her to the Payson Care Center a few years ago when she had a stroke. "It is a wonderful place," she said.

These days she keeps busy doing chair exercises, singing karaoke and winning stuffed teddy bears at bingo. The mail carrier she waves to every day brought her a plate of Christmas cookies.

Her face lights up with a smile when she speaks of how much she loves the Masons.

"They do good work at hospitals and for children," they said. "They send children to St. Jude's Hospital, whose parents can't afford to send them any place and (the Masons) pay for everything."

She said the Masons also support a care center for widowed or married members who couldn't otherwise afford it.

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