Grandfathers We Never Knew

Grandfathers We Never Knew

These are not an upbeat posts. Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers died at the early age of about forty, and yet each was important in shaping the character of their descendants including me.


Friday, May 21st, 2010 Grandfathers We Never Knew No Comments

Ralph Leslie Mason

My paternal grandfather Ralph Leslie Mason (RLM) was a graduate of Carlton College in Minnesota. By all accounts he was a brilliant scholar. His main field of study was physics and after graduation he went into teaching, but I am not sure at what level. He eventually married “his best student,” Nellie Harriet Sly, and the cap and gown he used at graduation has subsequently been used by following generations — a tradition that I hope will continue.

Ralph Leslie Mason

Ralph Leslie Mason

This signature from a rubber stamp is quite close to my own. We shared the same initials.

This signature from a rubber stamp is quite close to my own. We share the same initials.

My sister, Irene, wearing the cap and gown at her graduation from San Jose State University in 1962

My sister, Irene, wearing the cap and gown at her graduation from San Jose State University in 1962

At age forty RLM took the position of Superintendent of Schools for the town of Ada, Minnesota. Ada is located in the northwest corner of the State, and his first year coincided with the great flu epidemic of 1918.

During the summer of 1919 the family and some friends went for a picnic at a nearby park. While the picnic supper was being prepared RLM took son Donald (my father) into waist deep water for a swimming lesson. Suddenly RLM gasped and sank into the water. He was apparently the victim of a heart attack that was swift and fatal as almost no water was found in his lungs. Dad once told me that his last contact was with his father below him reaching up and trying to push him toward shore.

It is a very sad story and is covered in greater detail in the July 31, 1919 issue of The Aitkin Republican (see  header below — a copy can be provided). Looking back from the perspective of many years, I now see that the legacy of RLM is a very strong emphasis on education among his descendents.

article II

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Saturday, May 1st, 2010 Ralph Leslie Mason No Comments

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

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."

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
 

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