More coffee, more cigarettes. A copy of the Rocky Mountain News with the front-page headline "Vision for the City's Heart." The story is about the Civic Center, but here on Federal, we can feel the city's heart beating. "Have a good day, my friend." -- Patricia Calhoun
Littleton Golf and Tennis Center
5800 South Federal, Littleton
Federal Boulevard may be the metro area's most culturally diverse corridor, but the landmark at its southernmost point -- the Littleton Golf and Tennis Center -- is exceedingly homogeneous, at least at this time of the morning. With very few exceptions, the golfers on the course, the putting green and the driving range, at the pro shop and grill, and in the parking lot near an oversized bubble structure that protects the indoor tennis courts are well-dressed, well-toned white women over the age of fifty -- and most of them are way over that age. The sign at the first tee box informing duffers that "ABSOLUTELY NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES MAY BE BROUGHT ONTO PREMISES UNLESS PURCHASED IN RESTAURANT" appears wholly unnecessary. These ladies aren't here to drain a couple of six-packs and then re-enact favorite scenes from Caddyshack. They're more interested in getting the sort of exercise that'll help them outlive their husbands, who seem to be in awfully short supply.
Across Federal is Bowles Grove Park, whose main path meanders past bucolic patches of greenery and ponds so stagnant and algae-coated that even the ducks congregated nearby show little interest in wading. There are no bikers, no joggers, no strollers, and definitely no homeless people. Just one lonely guy checking his PDA as he hurries south, stepping from the spot where one end of Federal quietly comes to life. -- Michael Roberts
Highlands Masonic Temple
Three cathedral chairs are enthroned against the east wall of the great room in the Highlands Masonic Temple. East, because it is the direction from which the sun rises, and the sun governs the day, and thus the seat of rule, says Worshipful Brother John Lawton. He points to the center chair. This is where the presiding officer from any of the several chivalric orders of Freemasonry that use the temple -- the Worthy Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star, the High Priest for the Royal Arch, the Imminent Commander for the Knights Templar, the Thrice Illustrious Grand Master for the Cryptic Council -- always sits.
Lawton has a pretty heady title himself: Captain General of Denver's Knights Templar commandry, a position attained only after many years devoted to the study of Masonic symbolism and ceremony. It's his duty to give a 35-minute lecture on this subject to any hopeful seeking initiation as a Freemason apprentice. The ritual also involves the applicant taking "an obligation" at an altar at the center of the room, swearing on the Holy Bible, a square and a compass -- "the furniture of the lodge," Lawton calls them, because they represent the moral correctitude to which the fellowship aspires. To become a Mason, you must be of good report and believe in the existence of a living God, for "no atheist can be made a Mason or else no oath or obligation can be considered binding by him," he recites.
His lingo may be anachronistic, but Lawton's attire is very contemporary: tennis shoes, shorts and a white T-shirt with holes about the shoulders. He's also in charge of maintenance at the historic, 14,000-square-foot building, the cornerstone of which was laid in 1927. Prior to that, the Masonic orders of north Denver resided at what is now the Delmonico Hall just down the street. To celebrate the new temple, which resembles a neo-Grecian mausoleum, a procession of 150 Knights Templar marched up Federal, followed by the El Jebel Shrine band and thousands of paraders.
Inside the building, an impressive marble staircase leads to a three-foot-high bust of George Washington. The Father of our Country was a Mason, along with Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. "Masons built this country," Lawton points out. Some historians trace the origins of the Masons much further back, to the construction of King Solomon's temple; others see a link to the Egyptian pyramids. The main purpose of the brotherhood, though, is not to build buildings, but strong men. Washington himself was painted wearing a Masonic apron, a vestment meant to denote moral purity.
"It reminds us that we put away the base things," Lawton explains, motioning to his crotch, "and focus more on the intellectual and spiritual endeavors." Lately, though, it's been difficult to convince young people to smooth their rough-hewn edges by following Masonic traditions. Back in the '80s, the temple's great room would be filled with members. Any more, a meeting attracts only twenty or so brothers -- maybe fifty, if a Grand Master is visiting.