Friday, November 13, 2009

Mom's 2nd Career

After being a mom and home-maker and church/school volunteer, Jane Shutt Mason became the archivist of the United Brethren Church --when she was almost 60-after my father died of colon cancer at 58. She had the distinction (and connection) of being a previous president's daughter-in-law and long-time member of the college church.

This was like being a museum procurer,church librarian, preservationist. She traveled with some nuns who were attending national conferences on archives for Victory Noll, the convent in our county. Her archives were like a large closet in the church headquarters building.

When Huntington College -now Huntingon U.--built their new library, the church archives were installed in the library's beautiful walk-out basement and she became the college archivist as well. I think she was then an employee of the college, not sure. She says yes. She thinks she was the college librarian; she was not that.

But she used a computer, and rotated displays of historical items, and helped to choose and design a large and appropriate facility with appropriate cabinets and humidity level controls for preserving old documents. She catalogued and organized the place according to the latest archival standards.

Among those documents are letters from the Wright brothers and their father, who was a bishop in the UB Church. An excellent and most interesting book for young people and adults is The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wrightby Tom D. Crouch - 1990.

The museum/archives also includes old church and college publications --including those published by my great grandfather, Emmet Mason, church publisher. Mom has an excellent large photo of him and his family dated 1894 --handsome people! Great Grandma wrote on the back the colors and prices of her then 2 children's outfits --bright blue for little Harry, $4 (he became college president) --and red for his sister Ilah, $2.

Mom did this until she was 80, after Rob had arrived there for college, which was 1997.

One day, she turned in the exit doorway to go back and retrieve her glasses, which she had forgotten, and fell and broke her hip. Fortunately, though it was after hours and no one was there to help her, she had a cell phone that was inexplicably charged --inexplicably since she never used it--and she was able to call 911 and say "Help, I've fallen and I Can't Get Up!" (Just like the famous commercial!) She says she retired the next day. Rob moved out of dorm to stay and help her in her recovery. She had excellent hospital re-hab and some handicap bars installed so she could help herself.

A few years later, she had double knee replacement and Rob went back to help her then, also. She got around with her new knees much better than for 2 or 3 decades previous.

About Dad, Wendell D. Mason, he was a quality control chemist for Huntington Laboratories and also a part time chem teacher at IU-PU extension in Ft. Wayne. And great fun, filled with affection and kindness for his family. Always and ever a gentleman --with the common touch, well-liked by all who knew him, including those who worked at the plant where he worked in the lab.

Together, they were a disciplined couple, faithful in church and parenting, who provided a happy home for me and my brother and passed the baton of faith in God and His Son. They taught us principles of tithing, modesty, generosity, kindness, frugality, and the ability to make friends at all social levels. Our family was not wealthy at all --but practical and frugal, without vices --and they borrowed at low interest (gov't loans) and sent us to college --where I married an ambitious, successful guy. After some lean economic times at the beginning of our marriages, my brother and I have never known want --and have been able to afford things our parents never did. They also passed on to us the value of staying married --and parenting faithfully.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


Barb said...

Mom now archives her clothing in a chest of drawers -- and old newspapers from Huntington in a bag --and her stationary. She got about 20 cards or so for her birthday and she labors over responding to those folks and she lovingly re-enjoys the photo albums my brother brought to her recently from her home. She can spend several hours a day re-organizing my mail and her paper stuff. She loves to go get my mail.

She got 3 food sauces from Anderson's for Rob's birthday at my suggestion -- and those went right to the bathroom counter. I think they could've become hand lotion or tooth paste, in time. But I helped her remember to give them to Rob on his recent birthday.

It's sad that we must get old and move on--but we have a glorious future. I hope Mom doesn't suffer and is always content --it is a grace of God that she is mellowing to be more cooperative --and seems to be content and even happy --considering how ornery she used to be about wanting things "just so!" She is very suspicious of my cleaning help. They want her clothes, no doubt!! And want to hide things from her.

John Paff said...

Barb, I worked with your mom extensively when the campus celebrated its 100th anniversary. I remember her as a tireless researcher, always prepared with a story, a photo, or a news clipping from the college's history. Without her help and resourcefulness, I could never have completed the historical section of our 1997 Centennial Alumni Directory or the articles that appeared in the alumni magazine. Miss Jane became one of my favorite people on campus. Since her retirement, I’ve missed her dearly.

Barb said...

John, what did you google to find this blog? or where do you go that you found it?

Thanks for this comment! Chances are, if she was one of your favorite people on campus, the feeling was mutual.

Bob said...

Jane was the consummate archivist in being exceptionally detail oriented. I am the Director of Library Services, which includes the archives and historical center (Of course the she never needed surpervision; she was quite capable of handling her professional affairs.). Jane seemed to know nearly everything historical about the church and the college, and she knew where to find the information. She was always willing to help church and college folks with whatever they needed. She worked professionally with formal classes investigating research projects, genealogical searchers looking up lost ancestry infomation, and she worked with administrators, laboring much more than they ever realized, finding details concerning their requests.She labored to organize the archives' "chaos." Jane enjoyed her work and never complained about the hours even though she worked beyond the requirements of her contract. She was always pleasant, industrious, and meticulous. At least, she certainly knew where things were even if they had never been cataloged. I knew Jane long before she began working for the college. I was on the archives board for a number of years and always enjoyed her enthusiasm for her work. I'm sure she is enjoying her heavenly home where all is in order and she knows everything that's important. I will always have fond memories of Jane and her contributions to the church and college.

Barb said...

Thanks for the lovely remarks, Bob, about Mom. I'll share them with you but she probably won't remember who you are --as her memory is very fuzzy these days. She is still living --you referred to her "heavenly home," but she is not there yet.