Member Focus: A Conversation With WWII Sailor Charlie Hoffman

Charlie Hoffman was born in Brooklyn„ NY. He played stickball, sandlot baseball, roller hockey; something right out of the movies. But, in 1943, he put it away to join the United States Navy.

Boot camp was in Sampson, New York, right by Geneva. They would give you all kinds of test. Charlie had his choice of Arial gunner, torpedo man, or gunners mate. He chose gunners mate. So he went to gunners mate school in New Port, Rhode Island, for sixteen weeks. He was trained on every gun the Navy had, depth charges, machine guns, flack guns, tom tom guns, that shot 20mm shells, small arms; he was a dangerous young man from Brooklyn.


After gunners mate school, he got his ship; The Garfield Thomas, a destroyer. The home port was, wouldn’t you know it, Brooklyn, NY. Charlie could take the subway home at night, and be back in the morning. The ship left port in the dead of the night, made its way out into the Atlantic with the 6th fleet on a shakedown mission to Cuba, then back to New York. Then they went on a mission to Brazil, then back to New York. Then off to England on convoy duty, sub contact, dropped depth charges, back to New York harbor. Five or six times he did this.

Then on to South France and North Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, through the Straits of Gibraltar, this area was called “Torpedo Junction”, zig-zagging was mandatory in this area to avoid detection. You were ordered to strap yourself in your bunk when you slept. The sailor next to Charlie didn’t strap in one night during a storm, fell out and busted his leg. The Captain demoted him back to Seaman First Class.


Tunis….Morocco…Algiers….Libya…Sicily… Iran…. the Garfield Thomas never broke down; it was a brand new ship, Fletcher Class no.DE193.In 1942 – 1944 over 175 of these large destroyers were built. In late 44 and 45, Charlie’s fleet was ordered to the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, into the battle of the Pacific. These destroyers were tough, just like the men on them, ask Charlie: he got into a fist fight one night and had to go in front of the “Old Man” (the Captain), Charlie won.

Three hundred men were on this ship, which went the equivalent of seven times around the world. They were responsible for sending out depth charges, shooting down enemy planes and protecting the flat tops. They left Pearl Harbor headed towards the Aleutian Islands, somewhere in between, Charlie went topside one night; a boat came in, then another. In the morning you could walk from one boat to another for as far as the eye could see, they all sounded their horns: the war was over.

Charlie served through 1946, came home raised a family. And did whatever he wanted. He had seen the eye of the storm and had come out the other side. He is a proud past Monarch of our Grotto. So, if you see Charlie Hoffman in the club, tell him “Thanks”.

Yours in Fellowship,

   Chris Ward (“Topper”)

Monarch, Zal Gaz Grotto #34


Monarch’s Musings | March 2014



Brother Prophets and Friends,

On February 8th we had the “Cowboy Cookout”, It was a bitterly cold day, but, we had several people turn up, we made $100.00 for charity.

The “Mexican Buffet” put on by Tomiko Cowen’s was a huge success, serving over 75 people!

On March 1st, we had the 1st Annual Grotto Art Show, which had a great turnout. Participants included: Tom Kersey, Dwayne Hoy, Joe Ward, Lilly Sheean,Monarch Topper, Pat Tessemer, Dee Knott, Scotty Ward, Stacie Ward, and local artist Larry Zim.



Upcoming events for March 2014……

  • Masonic Golden Rule Lodge No. 159, March 6th, 7:00 p.m.
  • Grotto House and Board Meeting , Wednesday, March 12th, 6:30 p.m. CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER
  • Regular Meeting, Wednesday, March 12th, 7 p.m.
  • "Comfort Foods" Buffet by Tomiko Cowen, all you can eat $10 per person, March 21st, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Upcoming Music for the Grotto this month:

  • Rock’N’Roll Circus (three different bands), every Saturday at 9 p.m. - 1 a.m.
  • Phil Ogilvie’s Ryhthm Kings, every Sunday 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
  • Paul Keller Orchestra, every Monday 7:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Paul Klingers Easy Street Band, Tuesday 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  • Paul Keller Quartet, with special guest; Karriem Riggin’s on drums. March 28th,

Yours in Fellowship,

   Chris Ward (“Topper”)

Monarch, Zal Gaz Grotto #34

Monarch’s Musings | February 2014


Brother Prophets,

We have a lot of great events happening at the Grotto in February:
On February 8th, the 1st ever “Cowboy” Cookout at the Grotto, with Topper’s famous cooking, cowboy poetry and dress warmly…it’s outside!!!  1:00 pm
Grotto Member Meetings:
  • House & Board Meeting, 6:30 p.m. Feb 12
  • Regular Meeting , 7:30 p.m. Feb 12
Dinners at the Grotto:
  • Spaghetti Dinner, $6, all you can eat, Wed Feb 6, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Tomiko Cowen’s Mexican Buffet, Friday, February 28th, all you can eat, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., $10.00
Music at the Grotto:
  • Phil Ogilvie’s Rhythm Kings (P.O.R.K.) Big Band Jazz every Sunday, 5 pm - 8 pm
  • Paul Keller Orchestra Jazz band every Monday, 7 pm - 9 pm
  • Paul Klingers Easy Street Band Jazz Band every Tuesday, 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  • Classic Rock, Three Bands, Saturday Feb 21st, 9 p.m. - 1 p.m.
"Heidelberg Charity Poker Night" - a fundraiser for the Grotto Volunteers needed February 13, 14, 15, 27, 28, and March 1; for the early shift ( 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.) and the late shift ( 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.) Please contact Pat at the Grotto to sign up!!

1st Annual Monarch’s Art Exhibition
upcoming on March 1, at 2 p.m - 4 p.m., at the Grotto, light hors d’oeuvres & cash bar
If you are interested in displaying any artwork of you own, or of friends, family, all ages welcomed….please contact Topper for more information

Yours in Fellowship,
   Chris Ward (“Topper”)
Monarch, Zal Gaz Grotto #34

Monarch’s Musings | January 2014

Brother Prophets and Friends,

Our first buffet in January was a huge success and everyone was raving about the food which was by prepared by Tamiko Collins.

On Friday, February 28, come to the all-you-can-eat authentic Mexican Buffet  6-7:30 pm. Only $10.00 per person - Olé!
The buffet menu will be changing monthly, as prepared by our chef Tamiko!

Don’t forget about our traditional all-you-can-eat Spaghetti Dinner at 6 p.m. on the 1st Wednesday of every month, 6-7:30 pm, only $6.00!

I hope to see some new faces and old friends !!!

Reminder: We need you to volunteer for Poker Nights in February !!
Please contact Pat Tessemer or stop into the Grotto to sign up.

Yours in Fellowship,
Chris Ward
Monarch, Zal Gaz Grotto #34

Sauerkraut Supper | Wed Feb 20

Monarch’s Letter | August 2012


Summer is quickly coming to an end and everyone is getting ready for school this fall. Hope you all had an excellent summer.  The ladies of Zal Gaz  Grotto did a wonderful job with the Grott-O-lympics.   There were about 25 to 30 people attending the festivities, raising $244 for the humanitarian fund.  Thank you very much ladies from all of us.  We are still in the need of customers and help for the all Friday dinners and Sunday breakfasts, as well as other functions.  We’d like to have you volunteer so we don’t have to beg for help from those who come to relax at their club.  Speaking of relaxing at the club, we’d like for more of you to do it, or come for breakfast or dinner.  Help your club by being a customer or a worker.  We’re trying to make the club inviting.   A couple of years ago the membership suggested that we get a Wii system and we did.  Then the membership suggested we get other entertainment and we’ve got live music many nights now.  So what’s your excuse now?   The Board is struggling to understand why we do not get the participation that the club needs to survive.

We will be having fundraisers at the Heidelberg Charity Gaming Room and need volunteers on:

September 20, 21, and 22 

October 18, 19, and 20 

We will need two people per shift.  Shifts are 5 - 9:30 PM and 9:30 PM - 2 AM.  Please come to the Grotto or call and find a date and time that fits your schedule.   Remember each hour worked is a point earned for your enchanted lantern.  All help is very much appreciated.

Please take advantage of what your Grotto has to offer.  The Ladies of Zal Gaz worked incredibly hard and announced their fundraiser more than two months in advance (A BIG THANK YOU). We are looking for more officer candidates for next year.  If you would like to nominate someone, including yourself, come to the nominating and elections meeting in one of these months November, October, September.

Wishing everyone the very best.

 Your Monarch.

Jim Richardson

Upcoming events from our Trestleboard:

September 5 Spaghetti Dinner  6pm -7:30pm

September 12 Grotto Regular Meeting & House and Board  ~  6pm -7pm

September 14 Friday Dinner  6pm -7:30pm

September 16 Sunday Breakfast  9am - Noon

September 28 Friday Dinner  6pm -7:30pm

Monarch’s Letter | July 2012


Summer is here and we’re all enjoying the outside. I, as your Monarch, was invited to Ann Arbor’s  Council meeting and given a plaque by Ann Arbor’s Historic Commission in recognition of our 100 years in the city of Ann Arbor. It is now hanging in the hallway at the Grotto. 

We are still finding it difficult to get sufficient help to put on the Sunday breakfast and the Friday fries. We all hope that everyone recognizes the importance of having these meals. They are to help us pay our taxes, gas, electric, insurance, maintenance, and all other expenses for running a business.  We have come up with a new point system to give you even more of an incentive to volunteer. It works like this.   Any volunteer (member or not) who works at the Grotto ( for example, volunteering for bartending, Friday fries, Sunday breakfast, picking up outside, helping to finish the basement, etc.) will get one point for every hour worked.  Once you have received a total of 50 points, an enchanted lantern will be bought in your honor.

The ladies of Zal Gaz Grotto are putting on the Grotto Olympics on July 28 from 4 -8 PM.  It will be fun for all with games and food.  Bring your family and friends to enjoy the activities.

Our volunteer bartender program is ongoing. This is a great opportunity for any Prophet to learn more about his club. This is for off nights when we are not so busy. The calendar is on the kitchen door, so take a look and see if there is a spot that will fit your timetable.  This is a great help for your Grotto.  You are also welcome to invite your friends and family to keep you company while you bartend.

Please note that we have a new time for our Sunday breakfast.  Beginning July 22 it goes from 9 AM till noon.

July trestle board:

  • July 6 Friday Fry 6 PM to 7:30 PM
  • July 15 Sunday breakfast 9 AM to noon
  • July 27 Friday Fry 6 PM to 7:30 PM
  • July 28 GrottOlympics sponsored by the ladies of Zal Gaz Grotto

Yours in Good Fellowship,

Jim Richardson, Monarch 

Monarch’s Letter | June 2012


We have had a good year. The music that we’re hosting every Monday and Tuesday is helping us sustain the rest of the club.

I would like to thank the GBU for planting all of the beautiful flowers, cleaning up around the flower beds, and trimming the bushes and trees around the property. It looks gorgeous.

I would, also, like to thank those who’ve helped with the charity gaming. It is still the most profitable fundraiser that we put on. It would be very helpful if we could get even more participation.

Our volunteer bartender program is off to a good start using volunteers on the off nights when we are not so busy. The schedule is on the kitchen door. Take a look to see if there is a spot that you can put your name on. This would be a great help for your Grotto. You are also encouraged to invite your friends and family to keep you company while you tend bar. The hours are from 4 PM to closing, generally 7 or 8 PM, later if you would prefer to stay longer. (just a reminder, we do have the Wii game unit with many games to choose from). Your assistance will help relieve the regular bartender, now that we are open seven days a week for most of this year. Please stop in and say hi and keep in touch. Help us make this a very family-friendly club. I hope everyone has an awesome summer.

I would like to thank those who’ve helped with the meals so far this year, but, are always looking for more help at OUR events, after all this is our means to keep OUR (YOUR) club solvent. Friday Fries require kitchen help; a few people to take orders, serve and bus, a plater, a fryer, a griller, a dishwasher, and someone to man the order window.

Sunday Breakfasts require early morning or day before set-up, a bacon and sausage fryer, a potato fryer, an egg scrambler, a waffle maker, a pancake and French toast fryer, a few bussers, and a few new people to clean up at the end. If you don’t value these events enough to volunteer for them occasionally, we won’t be able to continue to have them. These are just some of the types of help we always need. I know there are many more things that need to be done, too manyto list. Please remember many hands make for light enjoyable work.

Coming July 28th - The Grotto Olympics!! Join the Prophets and the Ladies for a day of fun. There will be games for children and adults! Come check out what the Grotto is all about. More details to come in the July Newsletter, or contact the Grotto. Open to all members of the Masonic community and their guests. Any questions should be directed to Amanda Rothman via e-mail at [Amanda is the President of the Ladies’ Auxiliary]. If you need to speak with her directly, you may call the Grotto to get her number.

Yours in Good Fellowship,
Jim Richardson, Monarch 

NEW CRAFT BEERS: Available at the Grotto Club!

Brothers, Prophets and Friends,

We have a few new bottled craft beers in stock at the Grotto Club! Come down, grab a beverage and join us in good fellowship!

  • Motor City Ghettoblaster
  • Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Bells Two-Hearted Ale

We look forward to seeing you here at the Grotto.

Phil Ogilvie’s Rhythm Kings (P.O.R.K.) at the Grotto!

Phil Ogilvie’s Rhythm Kings are a real 1920’s and 30’s style dance orchestra playing the original arrangements of the famous bands of the Jazz Age. Hearing the Rhythm Kings is like being transported to another time and place.

Composed of Michigan’s finest musicians, the Rhythm Kings are one of few bands in the country that can truly claim to be the tops in their class. They have a devoted following of music lovers and dancers who lining up at the Grotto Club to hear and enjoy this wonderful music presented in the Rhythm King’s unique fashion.

UPCOMING SHOWS - Sundays 5-8pm, Admission $7, $5 students
March 18 - IMAGINATION, recognizing the birthdays of two jazz greats, Bix Beiderbecke and Miff Mole, and of the very original songwriter Peter DeRose
March 25 - The Rhythm Kings’ annual “Salute to Industrial Solvents”
April 8 - SAX APPEAL- featuring the music of Fud Livingston
April 15 - KEEP A SONG IN YOUR SOUL - featuring the music of Alex Hill and, in honor of tax day, BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?
April 22 - AIN’TCHA GOT MUSIC? - recognizing Rube Bloom’s birthday with his TRUCKIN’ and other tunes about dancing and music
April 29 - BLACK AND TAN FANTASY - music of Duke Ellington