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Mason mystery: Apron returned to its owner after more than 50 years

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Masons are a fraternal organization that aim to build men and their communities. Each Mason wears an apron that symbolizes their membership in the fraternity, and most are even buried with it. Thursday night, one of these symbolic aprons was returned home.

Earlier this year an apron was found in a shoe box in the library of a Masonic lodge in Shelby. Its owner, Horace Clifton Johnson, died in 1956. Thursday night, Mason members from both near and far gathered in Johnson's honor.

"We're going to have a memorial service for our brother who is resting across the street in Greenlawn Cemetery. Kind of a way of honoring him and letting him know that his apron has been gone a long time but it's back home now," Dennis Reel said.

Reel, a Master Mason and member of the Wilmington Orient Lodge, lives in the mountains. After the apron belonging to a fellow Wilmington brother was found, Reel was given the honor of presenting the garment back to the Lodge.

The apron is dated back to 1919. It's still a mystery as to why it was not buried with its owner, but everyone at the memorial service could feel the significance of it being returned home.

"I have not heard of another, anybody else I know having this honor of being able to preserve something like this so it's a big deal," John Bordeaux said.

Bordeaux says that the organization strives to be a symbolic representation of the builders of King Solomon's Temple.

Bordeaux also says that the brotherhood is more than 600 years old and had a lot of well-known members. Those members include George Washington and country singer Brad Paisley.

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