Origins A Historic Decision The First Hospital An Unparalleled Impact
Freeland Kendrick, P.I.P, Lu Lu Shriners

During his year as Imperial Potentate in 1919-1920, Freeland Kendrick visited every Shriners temple in the United States. At the Imperial Session of 1920, held in Portland, Ore., Kendrick proposed that the Shriners build a hospital for children.

Conservative Shriners had their doubts, both about the two dollar yearly assessment from each Shriner, and what it would mean to assume this kind of responsibility. The prospects of the plan being approved were fading when Noble Forrest Adair (Yaarab Shriners, Atlanta) rose to speak.

“I was lying in bed yesterday morning, about four o’clock, and some poor fellow who had strayed from the rest of the band stood down there under the window for 25 minutes playing I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

Adair said that when he awoke later that morning he thought again of the wandering musician. “I wondered if there were not a deep significance in the tune that he was playing for Shriners… I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

Forrest Addair,
Yaarab Shriners

Looking out on the assembled nobles, Adair went on. “While we have spent money for songs and spent money for bands, it is time for the Shriners to spend money for humanity. I want to see this thing started. Let us get rid of all the technical objections. And if there is a Shriner in North America who objects to having paid the two dollars after he has seen the first crippled child helped, I will give him a check back for it myself.”

Noble Adair settled himself back into his chair to the sound of thunderous applause. In that moment, the tide had turned. Although there were other speakers after him, a historic decision had already been made. The resolution was passed unanimously.

A committee was chosen to determine the site and personnel for the Shriners Hospital. After months of work, research and debate, the committee concluded that there should not be just one hospital, but a network of hospitals throughout North America.

This idea appealed to the Shriners, who liked to do things in a big and colorful way. When the committee brought the proposal to the 1921 Imperial Session in Des Moines, Iowa, it too was passed.