I am pausing here somehow to pay a memorial tribute to great friends of Helen and mine, Bill and Lyn Mason. As fellow members of Westminster Presbyterian Church, the Masons came to know us as adopted children. Since my parents live in New Hampshire, and Helen’s in Minnesota, the Masons’ presence in our life amounted to a third set of parents– and grandparents for our two boys. It was today in 1944 that they were married; and although that was 68 years ago, it being a leap year we can say with tongue in cheek that it would really be their seventeenth anniversary.
Bill had been Assistant State’s Attorney for the state of Illinois, and Lyn and he retired to Knoxville to be near their sons Tom and Bill, Jr., and their families in the 80's. They were major KSO supporters, being active in a Westminster Church KSO-attending group, and had many musician friends both here and in Chicago. In the early 90's, when our youngest son Thomas was a toddler, it was they who would trek out to Johnson City with Helen to care for him while she played as concertmaster. Another trip they made was from Sawyer to Indianola, Iowa, to visit us while I played with the Des Moines Metro Opera orchestra in 1991. As soon as each of our children could speak, the words “Grampa Bill” and “Gramma Lyn” became part of their vernacular. When our oldest son Thomas was 2 or 3, he actually called KSO violist Bill Pierce “Grampa Bill Pierce,” so naturally was he acquainted with the term.
The Masons had a summer home in Sawyer, Michigan, about as far up the eastern shore of Lake Michigan as Chicago is up the west coast. This was a frequent stopping place of ours between Knoxville and Minnesota on visits to Helen’s parents, being the point just about half-way. It was there that I met very good friends of theirs who happened to be world-class musicians. Jazz trombonist Ray Anderson and Chicago Symphony Principal Trumpeter Bud Herseth both had summer places in the same community as them. I will never forget the mornings on the beach, the two of them locked in a game of dueling long-tones for their morning warm-ups.
When either Helen’s or my actual parents visited us, the Masons and they got along famously, with many “Greatest Generation” tales to share. Their own grandchildren got along well with our kids, and Lyn’s Game Nights (featuring “Pass the Shoe” and “Spoons)” were a total riot. Although they have both passed, (Lyn in 2004 and Bill in 2005, I think), I will always remember them on February 29th of any year as majorly important people in our lives.
So.... Happy Anniversary, Bill and Lyn!! We miss you.