recollections about frances cora hurd
ida frances mason's e-mail to russ mason about chicago in early 1950's
Sent by Muffett - March 8th, 2012
As far as my time in Chicago, I went there right after I graduated with a Journalism/Advertising degree from the University of Colorado. I was determined to go to a big city that had a lot of advertising activity and after proposing several locations to my parents, I suggested Chicago and of course they said yes. That is how I came to live with Grandma and Aunt Jane for three years. I got a job in an advertising agency.
You were only a few months old when I moved there in September, 1949. Your dad let me use one of his cars on many weekends and I would take Grandma and Aunt Jane to family functions and to visit friends on occasion. Your dad taught me to drive in the city and how to parallel park, using barrels on his driveway in Park Ridge. He would drive to work, which was then in the basement of the Adams Street house where Grandma and Aunt Jane lived. He would then leave the car and take the train home.
A few times Grandma babysat with you and she was probably 85 or 86 years old. She had a lot of grit. Then sometimes I would come to Park Ridge and stay over the weekend with your parents and you. I remember doing that one time when Don was just a few months old and your mom went somewhere, leaving your dad and me to look after you and Don.
Grandma was a great person and gave me a lot of good advice on things I should do and clothes I should have. She had a great sense of humor and sometimes got the giggles about something. One time she had a nail of some kind in under her dentures and got up from the dinner table to remove it. She had been doing some repairs around the house or something. We all giggled about that.
Another time when Aunt Jane and I came home from work she had made a cake. After we had dinner she told us that she had made one that was a failure and had to go out to the corner store to get more ingredients. She went down the steep back stairs to get rid of the failure, and then went out the front to the store. She giggled about that too.
You don't remember the Adams Street house, do you? It was built by our grandfather and was two flats plus a full basement. Our dads' Mason grandparents lived in the first floor flat along with the Lange family for a number of years. The Lange family moved to Evanston when Louise and Jim Jardine bought the home there. Our dads' family lived on the second floor. In the basement were laundry facilities, furnace, a pool table and the office where Mason and Basedow had their lighting business until after I left in August 1952.
We can talk more about this as I remember quite a bit about those years.
CHUCK LITTLE'S LETTER TO RUSS MASON ABOUT CHICAGO IN THE 40's and 50's
August 25th, 2015
Memories of Adams St. begin with Elizabeth Hurd (1839-1941) in her wheelchair looking out of the front parlor windows keeping tabs on the street characters she had come to know. The back parlor was less spacious and had an upright piano I had to play on at some point each visit. On the opposite wall was the fireplace in front of which Elizabeth's funeral was conducted, with chairs set up there and in the front parlor. Someone from church played the piano and Tony from church sang, followed by the drive to Downers Grove.
After high school I did one quarter at U. of Chicago, commuting from W. Springs, did 18 months army time, and resumed at UC. Someone, I don't know who, suggested I live at Adams so in Sept. '47 I moved in with Grandma, David and Jane. They outfitted a very small room off the kitchen with a bed and a desk/chest. I liked it. My door was opposite to the door to the staircase down the back alley. Deliveries came up these stairs -- the iceman with blocks of ice for the icebox, and the vegetable man who would come up and discuss with Grandma what was good and what she planned to cook. Both men had horse-drawn wagons. The Greek vegetable man was putting his sons through college. During this same time David often brought home odd cheeses and I've had a taste for the smellier the better ever since.
A friend of my father in W. Springs bought a small heat-treating business that occupied a barn behind a building across Adams. So I was hired to go over there weekday mornings at 5AM to light the furnaces and sit there so they would be ready when the workmen arrived. Study time, then off to school. At night I also attended the American Acad. of Art in the Kimball Bldg. on Wabash, which (the school) was operated by a tall man who had been James Mason's basketball teammate at the U. of Chicago. He would always ask about him.
The summer of '48 (I hope my dates are right) Jane Mason and her mother went to Colorado, and I stayed at Adams and took a six-week six-hours-a-day immersion course in French at UC. Quit half way through on the verge of a breakdown. Final graduation was June '49.
On my last day at 1415 Adams I was loading books and clothes into the car parked out front, making several trips up and down. On the last trip I found all of the clothes gone. Aunt Jane was more upset than I was.
Ida Frances perfectly described the Frances Mason giggle. But one night at the Adams dinner table with her and Aunt Jane I mentioned someone having made a minor mistake at school, and when Grandma asked what the outcome was I muttered something about his probably having been hanged, and she fell into a prolonged fit of real laughter. Asked what struck her so funny, she said my comment was something her husband would have said. That has stayed in my mind as a sort of connection with a grandfather I never knew. I was one when he died.
In Jan. '50 I began grad. school in the art dept. of U. of Georgia. In June my mother, Jane Mason and Frances Mason drove down to Athens and we all returned to Chicago. Whose idea it was I don't recall, but it was a nice trip. By Sept. I was back in the army, and on January 1st I landed in Korea.
The 1415 Adams flat was a beautiful place to live, as I am sure Ida Frances would agree, and I think of it and its occupants with pleasure.