Fern Hope Ma­son

The Avenue News - - CLASSIFIED -

To me, he was a very real, liv­ing, breath­ing per­son, and not just a card­board cutout fig­ure in my his­tory book at first St. Ann’s School on Green Mount Av­enue and then, later, at Calvert Hall Col­lege High School, Tow­son.

I was for him the very first time I heard him speak on tele­vi­sion, and prayed, “Please God, let this man be­come Pres­i­dent.” He, I, and all the nuns at St. Ann’s got our wish, too.

I spent the sum­mer of 1960 on my late grand­mother’s farm in the moun­tains of East Ten­nessee, where there was only one TV chan­nel in those days.

To­gether, we watched ev­ery sin­gle day of both the Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can na­tional con­ven­tions that year — gavel to gavel — and so saw JFK nom­i­nated.

On Sept. 16, 1960, Kennedy spoke at a rally in the park­ing lot of then Tow­son Plaza Shop­ping Cen­ter just a block from where I’ve lived since 1989 — and next rode south down York Road, where he passed by my house at 2619 Green Mount Av­enue in Waverly, just within the last five years be­ing torn down

That hot, sunny early evening, driv­ing about four feet from where I stood, JFK rode past, and I watched his­tory pass by me, al­most alone on that de­serted street.

A friend’s mother told me that all I had to do was stand there and I’d see him, so I did, on both counts.

Re­port­edly she — Mrs. Betty Eg­ger — was waved to by the can­di­date one story be­low her, where she re­turned it from that floor’s liv­ing room win­dow, as told to me by her son, John Eg­ger, for­mer U.S. Ma­rine Viet­nam and now re­tired from the New Jersey State Tran­sit Po­lice.

He was sit­ting atop the back seat of a con­vert­ible on the car’s trunk.

The year be­fore, I’d read an ar­ti­cle in then Look mag­a­zine by a re­tir­ing Se­cret Ser­vice chief, who wrote how easy it would be to kill a Pres­i­dent rid­ing in an open car with a ri­fle from a build­ing.

I thought of that as JFK glided past me, even look­ing at the rooftops across the street as he rode by.

He looked like no­body I’d ever seen, be­fore to now, and I’ve seen most of the other ma­jor Kennedys — ex­cept Robert — since then.

To me at 13, he ap­peared to have a huge head sit­ting atop a very slen­der body, his trunk form­ing a V from his nar­row waist up to his shoul­ders.

His head re­minded me of a large foot­ball, with a steel wool-like thick, red­dish-sandy brown head of hair atop it. His ruggedly lined, tanned face re­minded me of a slab of steak.

Then he was gone. I watched the Jan. 20, 1961, In­au­gu­ral Ad­dress on TV, as St. Ann’s shut down in honor of that day.

On the day of his death, I was in then Brother Leo’s French class at Calvert Hall it Tow­son near here, when the room’s pub­lic ad­dress sys­tem sim­ply came on with­out warn­ing.

We heard the un­adorned ra­dio bul­letin that he’d been shot.

Next, we heard that he’d been killed, and that school was dis­missed.

Again, it was un­sea­son­ably warm out­side for late Novem­ber, a few days away from the an­nual CHC-Loyola foot­ball game..

Three years later, I was un­der en­emy Com­mu­nist Viet Cong fire in South Viet­nam in his anti-Com­mu­nist war there.

In 1988, I wrote a full mag­a­zine on the 25th an­niver­sary of his mur­der that didn’t make it to press.

Now — 25 and more years later! — my book was pub­lished in the UK and dis­trib­uted in the US and world­wide for the 50th an­niver­sary of the event that changed all of our lives, and our coun­try’s his­tory for­ever.

It is, Dal­las Fifty Years On: The Mur­der of John F. Kennedy/A New Look at an Old Crime, Nov. 22, 19632013.

I was 16 in 1963, and 71 now.

I have kept faith with John F. Kennedy as best I could, in war and peace, in life, and in pol­i­tics.

The wheel has now turned full cir­cle.

Hail, JFK — and farewell! Blaine Tay­lor is the au­thor of 22 il­lus­trated books world­wide. His next Kennedy book will be pub­lished in 2019, BOBBY! From Robert F. Kennedy to RFK/A Life on the Way to Death, 1925-68.

On Novem­ber 16, 2018, Fern Hope Ma­son (nee Har­ris), the beloved wife of 38 years to the late Howard R Ma­son Jr., passed away at age 97 ½ at Light­house Se­nior Liv­ing, Es­sex, MD.

She had worked in the of­fice at Beth­le­hem Steel and had an in­ter­est in mod­el­ing.

She en­joyed danc­ing, golf, cross­words, word search, and loved trailer camp­ing around the coun­try. She was the fam­ily his­to­rian. They lived in Perry Hall, MD, be­fore mov­ing to Florida. She re­turned to MD four years ago.

She was the daugh­ter of the late Roy Lee Sr. and Car­rie Har­d­away (Snead); Dear step­mother of Terry Lee Blevins (Jim) and Howard F. Ma­son (Dar­lene); lov­ing grand­mother of three grand­chil­dren: Re­nae, Ben­jamin, Joshua; 10 great grand­chil­dren; sis­ter of Frank B. Har­ris, Joan S. Ruth, the late Doris Cur­cio, Deane Lowe, Jean Clarke, Robert S., Roy Lee Jr. and Gil­bert L. Also sur­vived by many lov­ing nieces and neph­ews.

Fu­neral Ser­vice will be held at the fam­ily owned Duda-Ruck Fu­neral Home Inc., 7922 Wise Ave. 21222 on Mon­day Novem­ber 26 at 10 a.m. In­ter­ment: Du­laney Val­ley Memo­rial Gar­dens. The fam­ily will greet friends on Sun­day, Novem­ber 25, from 3-6 p.m. at the fu­neral home.

PHOTO COUR­TESY THE LATE US SEN. DAN BREW­STER TO THE WRITER

JFK (cen­ter) waves with left hand dur­ing a cam­paign rally in the park­ing lot of the-then Tow­son Plaza Shop­ping Cen­ter on Sept. 16, 1960. I saw him within an hour of this pic­ture hav­ing been taken. In the lineup with him from left to right are un­known man, Louis L. Gold­stein, MD Gov. J. Mil­lard Tawes, Mayor J. Harold Grady of Bal­ti­more, JFK, City Comptroller Philip R. Good­man, Con­gress­man Dan Brew­ster, two un­knowns, and FDR Jr. Just be­hind the uniden­ti­fied woman in sun­glasses at right is Dun­dalk politi­cian State Sen. Roy Neville Staten.

FERN HOPE MA­SON

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