Recollections about Jane Mason
Russ Mason RECALLS his Aunt Jane
When Don and I were growing up, our father’s sister Jane lived in a second (or third?) floor, one bedroom apartment near Loyola University’s lakeshore campus in Chicago. Sometimes during the summer when our father, who was a lighting manufacturers’ rep, had meetings in the city, he’d drop us off with her in the morning, and then pick us up on his way back home at the end of the day, unless the plan was for us to stay longer.
In the bottom compartment of her living room cabinet Jane kept some toy cars and planes, as well as several board games, including Chinese checkers, which the three of us would sometimes play. One time I recall Don and I were flying those toy planes around her apartment while Jane tried to rest on her bed, but, unfortunately for her, she became our airport, and had to make her stomach go up and down to refuel our planes every time they landed. No naptime for Aunt Jane, but some silly fun for energetic young boys.
Since Jane didn’t drive, when she’d take us out we’d do things that could be reached by riding the ‘L’. When the weather was nice, we’d often go to the Lincoln Park Zoo in the morning to see all the animals, being careful to avoid the deadly ‘aunt-eater’, after which we’d have a picnic lunch near the duck pond.
Our usual afternoon destination was Wrigley Field when the Cubs were in town, where we generally arrived mid-game (often late enough that we got in for free), but in plenty of time to see Ernie Banks and the Cubs lose another one. My recollection is that we went to quite a few games before we finally happened to be there when they managed a win, but one game we attended in 1959 was particularly memorable, because it was the only major league game to feature two balls in play at the same time.
Don and I were eight and ten at the time, but regardless of age most of us in the stands that day had no clear idea about what we’d witnessed. I recall the next day Jane read us a description of the play from the Tribune, which means we must have stayed overnight with her, but I didn’t remember the details, or the names of the players involved, until I found it described in a book called "The Rules of Baseball" years later (see the footnote below).
My own recollection was just of a very long delay while the umpires conferred, before finally declaring that Stan Musial was out, after which Cubs field announcer Pat Pieper announced that the Cardinals were protesting the game. Of course, the Cardinals won the game anyway, and so they dropped their protest.
Here’s the box score…
Since Don and I were with Jane the following day as well, I suspect we went to Wrigley again, which probably is when we finally saw the Cubs win one…
Twenty-two years later, I remember visiting Jane at her apartment when Gloria was pregnant with Neil, before we knew whether our baby would be a boy or a girl, and asking her what she thought of some of the names we were considering. When we told her one possibility if we had a girl was Geneva, Jane said she didn’t care for it, because it sounded too much like a name that an actress might use.
 Stan Musial walked on a ball that got away from Cubs catcher Sammy Taylor, who started to argue with the umpire that the ball had ticked Musial's bat. So Stan decided to keep going to second. Cubs third baseman Al Dark went after the ball, but the bat boy -- not recognizing that the ball was still in play -- picked it up and flipped it to Cubs field announcer Pat Pieper, who flubbed the catch, causing the ball to roll over toward Dark.
Meanwhile, the umpire handed Sammy Taylor a new ball as they stood there arguing. The Cubs pitcher Bob Anderson, who'd joined the argument at home plate, saw Musial heading for second, grabbed the new ball from Taylor, and heaved it over Ernie Banks' head into center field. Musial slid into second, saw the ball go into center, got up and started for third just as Dark's throw arrived, and Banks tagged Musial out.
A letter from Jane to Lucy Mason in Colorado, in which she talks about Russ and Don Mason staying with her for two nights and attending the two Cubs games mentioned above:
SARAH ALDRIDGE RECALLS HER GREAT AUNT JANE
Auntie was my grandma’s sister. When we were little kids, I remember being jostled on her knees as she sang “Oats, peas, beans and barley, corn” or the “hobbledy horse.” My sister Liz and I enjoyed sleeping over at her apartment on Winthrop, near Loyola University, in Chicago. We got to experience things in the city that were big deals to a couple of suburban kids. Riding the bus to Marshall Field’s to have lunch and buy one special toy. Eating sardines on crackers as we looked out her dining room window to see a sliver of Lake Michigan. Counting the crisp bills in that strong box she hid, at last discovering the source of the birthday money she tucked into our birthday cards. And my fondest memory is of that special drawer in the bottom of the secretary where the antique toys were kept—the metal Indians on horseback and the plow horses.
When Auntie’s neighborhood started changing, she moved into my parents’ home in Northbrook. The front bedroom was large enough for a sitting room. She and our daughter Emily were in cahoots, it turns out. After putting Emily down for a nap, my mom would go downstairs. That’s when Emily would sneak down the hall to visit her great aunt and nibble on one of the Hershey bars Auntie kept in her stash. When she was caught, Emily would blurt out, “But Hantie said it was okay!”