Archive for April, 2010

Cabinet for Grandfather’s Clock

clock before works were added

clock before works were added

This grandfather’s clock was finished and has stood many years on the floor of my mother’s home. It is destined for my daughter’s place in Berkeley and it will be, quite literally, her grandfather’s clock.


Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 Works by Don Mason 1 Comment

William George Kidd

My uncle George Edwin “Ted” Kidd (GEK), in his retirement, took on the task of writing a history of the Kidd family centered around his father (my grandfather) William George Kidd. Subsequently, my cousin Phil Kidd produced a neatly typed version of this history and distributed it to the family at large. I am quite grateful for that service. If there is a family member on the Kidd side who doesn’t have a copy I am sure Phil can provide one. That family history is well done and carefully researched. I really don’t see how I can improve upon it in any way except possibly to post some visuals that were not included in the written account.

The extremely short version of William George Kidd’s short life is that of a British soldier who fought in the Boer War at the turn of the century, now well over a hundred years ago, and after the war, worked in the gold mines in South Africa. He fathered three children including my mother. The work in the mines was his undoing and, although it didn’t kill him in short order, it produced a lingering pulmonary infirmity that eventually did him in. On his dying bed he advised my grandmother to take the children and immigrate to the new world where he felt they would have a better chance to make something of themselves. I am certain he was right in that conclusion.

Tin box filled with chocolate sent by Queen Victoria to all the troops in the field at the turn of the century 1900

Tin box filled with chocolate sent by Queen Victoria to all the troops in the field at the turn of the century 1900.


WGK at Aldershot prior to 1898

GEK: "One picture of him . . . shows him kneeling in what was a group picture, equiped with a 'slouch' hat, an ammunition bandolier and a Lee- Metfort carbine."
British Army issue fork stamped WGK

British Army issue fork stamped WGK

Cerimonial Weapons (Zulu?): Souveniers of family life and times in South Africa

Cerimonial Weapons (Zulu?): Souveniers of family life and times in South Africa

William George Kidd family portrait

William George Kidd family portrait

My grandmother, Miriam Phoebe (Williams) Kidd, often related the story of how she met WGK. It seems she was serving hot-cross buns at her place of employment when he strolled by in uniform. On an impulse she picked up a bun and tossed it to him over an elevated railing, saying,

“Here soldier have a bun!”

She always concluded the story with,

“He caught the bun and then he caught me.”

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Friday, April 23rd, 2010 William George Kidd No Comments

Sugaring Off

Bouquet to Arts San Francisco De Young Museum 2010 - With

Bouquet to Arts San Francisco De Young Museum 2010 - Irene Jenkins with Eastman Johnson

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Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 Ikebana (includes video) No Comments

Dad’s Olympic Adventure

Dad as a Young Man

Dad as a Young Man

articleMy father, Donald Lyman Mason, (more here) was something of an expert on bicycles. For some time, during his early college years at Oregon State, he worked in the local bike shop to help pay his way. While working there he assembled what he considered to be the ultimate racing bike from pieces and parts he scrounged here and there. He then took up bicycle racing and in 1932 he won the championship for the State of Oregon. I distinctly remember him extoling the virtues of that bike. It had a special light weight frame and an unusually short wheel base. There were no gears and  the pedals never stopped, or coasted. In fact, the bike could actually be pedaled in reverse. If you were used to riding a bike which braked by reversing the pedal action and you tried that with Dad’s bike, it could pitch you right over the handle bars. He recounted to me, with obvious relish, how he stayed right on the leader’s tail in the final championship race and then sprinted by him in the home stretch to win the race. He kept that bike all of his life and used it as his primary commute vehicle both before and after he owned a car. I used it myself when I was in junior high school. Below is the medal he was awarded for the State of Oregon Championship

Dads prowess with a bicycle did not go unnoticed on the Oregon State campus. See article on right that appeared in the college newspaper. It doesn’t mention him by name, but everybody knew who it was about.

(click on images for larger view):





The  1932 the Olympics were held in Los Angeles and the Coliseum was built for that occasion. Dad’s State Championship was not sufficient to get him into the Olympics, but he was an avid follower of bicycle events and dearly wanted to see them in Olympic form. So, he and a couple of friends bought an old car and decided to drive to L.A. Dad also had a bicycle racing hero named William “Torchy” Peden. The nickname “Torchy” resulted from a head of bright red hair. Peden had turned professional after the 1928 Olympics, but he would be at the 1932 games as coach of the Canadian Bicycle Racing Team, and Dad hoped to meet him.

Olumpic TicketUnfortunately, things did not go as planned. The car was unreliable and  repair expenses along the way left the travelers broke by the time they got to L.A. They sold the car for a song in order buy tickets to the various events. He did manage to get close to Torchy Peden but he was hugely disappointed because Peden had such a foul mouth that my straight-laced father was totally turned-off.

When the games were over, there they were, flat-busted and 1500 miles from home at the height of the Great Depression. Their only choice was to do what many others were doing in those days — ride the rails to get where they wanted to go. Somehow, they managed to jump on a freight train headed north up the Central Valley and they found themselves in an empty boxcar with a mixture of hobos and tramps. Someone started a fire inside the car, then two bums that had been drinking got into a fight. This was a little too much for a young, innocent college student to take. So he left the boxcar and worked his way forward to a gravel gondola. This turned out to be a fortuitous move because, whereas the empty boxcar had been quite a rough ride, the gravel car was loaded and, consequently, the springs were compressed making for a softer ride. In addition, the Sun had been heating the gravel all day and he could snuggle down into it and stay warm through most of the night.

Here my memory of the details of the story begins to taper off. I do recall him describing how, on one occassion, as the train was going slowly up a grade through some vinyards they perfected the practice of jumping off near the front of the train, dashing into the vinyards, grabbing a bunch of grapes and then catching the end of the train before it passed by.

I don’t remember anything about how the trip ended, but since I’m here writing what I do remember, it’s pretty obvious he made it home safe and sound.

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Saturday, April 17th, 2010 Dad's Olympic Adventure No Comments

The Deboards (de Bordes)

To begin the category of Family Stories I have picked one of the oldest that I can remember. This story has been passed down for five or six generations and I first heard it from my grandmother when I was a small boy.

My mother’s maiden name was Kidd. Her mother’s maiden name (my grandmother) was Williams. Her mother’s maiden name (my great grandmother) was deBoard. Her mother’s maiden name (my great great grandmother) was Richardson. Eliza Richardson married Joseph Deboard and they had a daughter Clara Deboard. Here are two photos of my great grandmother Clara Deboard:

Clara deBoard
Clara Deboard

(click on image for larger view)

Clara de Bourde 1870-1880 (yet another spelling)

Clara de Bourde 1870-1880 (yet another spelling)

To have this much information about one’s female ascendancy is somewhat unusual. The story of how this came about is unique in itself, and forms a kind of sub-plot to the story of the Deboards. When I was growing up my grandmother Miriam Phoebe (Williams) Kidd  lived in Santa Cruz, California. She was a British subject and was trained as a registered nurse. She never became a naturalized US citizen because she received a pension from the British government as a WWI widow. Here is a photo of my grandmother:

Miriam Phoebe (Williams) Kidd

Miriam Phoebe (Williams) Kidd

(click on image for larger view)

At one point, while living in Santa Cruz, she met another English woman (Mrs. Watson) about her same age (late seventies) and they often observed the English tradition of tea in the afternoon. During one of these tea-time sessions they started discussing their ancestors and discovered that they probably were related. Sometime after that Mrs. Watson took a trip back to England and promised my grandmother that she would check the birth and death records to see if, in fact, it was true. As promised she came back with a page full of notes which are hard to decipher. I have a copy of these notes and after studying them for some time I came to the conclusion that the two of them were probably second cousins.

The French revolution was a rather messy affair compared to the American revolution. It went on for about ten years (1789-1799) and passed through several phases. Various factions gained the upper hand at various times only to fall later. At certain times you were just as likely to lose your life for being a Protestant as for being a royalist. The Huguenots were one of the largest denominations of French Protestants. A good feel for the situation can be gained by reading The Rover by Joseph Conrad. When persecution of the French Protestants reached a fever pitch there was a large exodus to other neighboring countries, particularly the Netherlands and England. This is where the family story picks up:

The Deboards (de Bordes) were an aristocratic family and apparently some portion of them were Huguenots. Some of the de Bordes emigrated to London where they went into business. Upon arriving in England they either made the conscious decision to Anglicize the spelling of their name to Deboard, or it was something that happened at the immigration office and they decided to live with it. The way it was told to me was that after they had been in London for a couple of generations the patriarch of the family back in France died and left a substantial fortune to be distributed to his heirs. But, alas, the Deboards in London were unable to prove their status as heirs, at least in part, because of the change in spelling to their name. This circumstance tramatized the family to such a degree that the tale of it has rattled down through the generations now for over a hundred and fifty years.

For more Deboard (de Borde) history click here.

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Saturday, April 10th, 2010 The Deboards (de Bordes) 2 Comments

About Sea Stories

Sea stories

With several exceptions, most of Uncle Rob’s formal employment was with nautical or maritime organizations. These stories are gleaned from that history. Some have an element of humor , others are just mildly fascinating historically. In addition, I owned three different boats each with it’s own set of salty tales.

Thursday, April 8th, 2010 SEA STORIES No Comments

32. Pigeon Point from the South

pigeon pt S

pen and ink wash                                              8 1/2 x 12

(click on image for larger view)

This drawing, accomplished on April 19, 1988, was done

while looking through a set of binoculars. Pigeon Point

is the second tallest lighthouse on the Pacific coast and

is now a youth hostel.

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Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 Page 32 No Comments

Where Were You When Nixon Resigned


After four years with MarAd, I decided to bite the bullet and start my own consulting business. I had the technical know-how from my work with Matson, and my MarAd experience had provided me with many contacts. I envisioned my services would center around the port and marine terminal industries. My first client was the Pacific Coast Association of Port Authorities (PCAPA). They hired me and kept me on a retainer to act as their Executive Vice President. This would consume about a third of my time. My basic duties involved running the Association, overseeing various research projects, collecting dues, publishing a newsletter and organizing a convention once a year.

There were approximately 35 ports in the membership and seven of them were Canadian. PCAPA was primarily an organization of commissioners, as opposed to staff. Some of them were elected but most were political appointees. Appointments were usually made by the mayor of a city or, sometimes, by the governor of a state or province. They tended to be successful businessmen in the community associated with a particular port, and in the U.S. they were, to a man, Republicans.

Each year a particular port would act as host for the annual convention, and since one fifth of the ports were Canadian, the convention was held in Canada once every five years. This was the case at the time of the Watergate Scandal that over took the Nixon Administration. The host port at that time was the Port of Vancouver, B.C. The Chairman of their commission was President of PCAPA for that year. At one point during the course of the convention (August 9, 1974) the membership was gathered for lunch in a large banquet hall filled with large round tables that would seat 10 or 12 for  a meal. I was seated at one of these tables in the middle of the room. On my right was a friendly and outgoing commissioner from the port of San Diego. He was, in fact, a personal acquaintance of President Nixon. The Watergate Scandal was the hot topic of discussion and right of the middle of our conversation, the President of PCAPA entered the room and went up to the podium:

“Gentlemen, I have an important announcement to make. The President of the United States has just resigned.”

The entire room was stunned into absolute silence. You could have heard a pin drop. Being as he was a Canadian, addressing a room full of mostly Americans the President of PCAPA was now in a rather awkward position. He felt like he should make some comment but finding the right words was a problem. Finally he said;

“Well, I guess. . . well, that shows. . . well, I guess that proves that democracy works.” He spun on his heel and left the podium quickly.

Slowly, a low murmur filled the silence. Then the commissioner on my right, addressing the whole table, said;

“Yeah, but how many of you can say you voted for the other guy [George McGovern] in last election?”

No one answered. I hesitated for a few seconds, then I raised my hand and said softly,

“I did.”

He slowly turned and looked at me squarely. Then he smiled and said,

“You know, I like you. You’re honest.”

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