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Butcher knives, goats and eloping at 17
WOODSTOCK – 81-year-old Ginny Mason grew up in Woodstock and went to a Christian Academy in Massachusetts. Meeting her husband Donald changed her life, making her a strong and beautiful woman.
She recently took time to tell us about her life.
Q: When were you born and where were you brought up?
A: I was born on Oct 27, 1929. I was born in a big farm on Pigeon Hill.
Q: Did you have many siblings?
A: I had two brothers and three sisters. There was Bernal Jr., Dorothy, Carroll, myself and then Goldie and Beryl. None of my brothers are alive, and one sister has also passed. Dot is in Virginia, and Beryl lives in Woodstock.
Q: What did your parents do?
A: My mother was a school teacher before the children came. She had met my dad in Rhode Island and his family was from here. They came back to Maine and she got a job teaching. She stopped teaching when the kids came along, but she did take in people to care for them.
Dad was a farmer and a woodsman. He cut wood all day and used horses to bring the wood down at night. It was then trucked to West Paris, Bryant Pond and Rumford.
Q: What was it like growing up?
A: It was cold!
I don’t remember the farm I was born in. My parents had rented the upstairs to one of her students and she didn’t know he smoked. He threw his butt out in the stairway and it wasn’t far from the hay. I was only one at the time.
We moved to Woodstock, to another farm, where I was brought up.
There were plenty of kids to play with. I had four cousins just below us and many other neighbors had children as well.
My aunt and uncle had a 4-H club, and we did a lot with that. We took our produce and animals to the Oxford and Fryeburg fairs.
We were mostly self-sufficient between the animals and gardens.
When I was little, every blessed thing there was to do, we had to do. We milked cows, and worked in the gardens. I didn’t like the barn work at all. I would try to help with the patients as much as I could to not have to work in the barn.
I was scared of the work horses, they were huge. Of course we had to run around all summer in bare feet to save our shoes for school, and one time a horse stepped on my foot and pretty near ruined it.
At four in the afternoon, we had to bring the milking cattle back. There were also other steers and heifers that were out to pasture and we had to sort them all out. I swear there was 1,000 miles they could travel. We had to have them back by six and I’ll tell you, it took the entire two hours to get them.
We didn’t have any helpers. My dad would milk them when he came home from the woods with my two older brothers and Dot.
Q: Was there anything you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: I didn’t think about it too much, but I knew I didn’t want to be a farmer.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I went to the Forestdale Church School in Woodstock.
My mother didn’t believe in children going to school until they were seven. She taught me so much before going to school that I went right into the second grade.
That school went to the eighth grade, and after that I went to South Lancaster Christian Academy in Massachusetts.
It was important to my mother that we went to a Christian school. She didn’t want us to learn about life through evolution. She wanted us to learn only the theory of creation.
It cost a lot of money to go there, so my mother would move down with us and she managed a nursing home right next to the campus. She bought a nursing home about five miles away and we all worked there. Many summers she would come home with the younger kids, and us older ones would stay and run the nursing home. We did come home for holidays and vacations, so it didn’t seem as though we were so much away from home.
Q: Did you get into mischief or play pranks?
A: Oh you better believe it. Back then we didn’t even do too much for Halloween, but I did devilish things. My brother would chase me with snakes, or he would hide one in his pocket and bring it out when we were sitting next to each other. One time I got so mad at him that I took a butcher knife from the kitchen and threw it at him. I missed, thank goodness. I got more corrections than most kids.
Q: What have you had for jobs?
A: Mainly I worked in the nursing home, but I also worked in a bindery in Massachusetts. I think I got 18 cents an hour. I once worked in the kitchen, washing dishes in the dormitory for extra money.
Q: When and how did you meet your spouse?
A: Actually, I went to school with his sister. My sister had hung around with his older sister and he was in the merchant marines. His brothers, Jim and Earl had a goat that was harnessed up and Don was talking to them and she introduced him to me.
We ran it to him again and he asked me if he could take me out.
My parents didn’t know it. They were in Maine and I was in Massachusetts. I was probably 14 at the time.
He wasn’t around a lot, and was on the ships, and that’s where he wanted to be.
When I was 17, he wrote to me and said he had been offered a job and could be on a ship for good. He told me that as much as he loved the water and the ship, he loved me more and if I would marry him he would get done.
It was November in my last year of school, I agreed and he came back home and was working in New Hampshire with his brothers.
He saw me walking to church one day and asked if he could go with me. I was a little worried because, being in the Marines, he enjoyed a few cigarettes and liquor, and the church didn’t approve of such things.
I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong and took him to church with me.
The next day I was called in to the office and told I couldn’t be seen with him. I pretty much told the principal that I loved him and planned to marry him and that I just wanted him to go to church with me. I told the principal that he wouldn’t have to worry about expelling me from school if I was seen with him again. I placed my books on his desk and I quit.
Don and I decided to elope and we ran away to New Hampshire. I told them I was 18 and I didn’t call my parents until the next day! I told daddy that once he met Don he would love him as much as I did and he did.
Q: Where did you first live?
A: We stayed there in South Lancaster. We stayed with his folks for about six months and then came back to Maine and he worked for Alva Hendrickson working in the woods and hauling logs.
We lived with my parents and they gave us trees to have cut and we built a house on adjoining land.
We lived there for a while, but kept the place and went back to Massachusetts.
We came back here and sold that house and it was moved. We bought a farm and lived there for 18 years. That’s where we raised the children, and Don was driving truck all over the country.
Q: Did you build the Mollyockett Motel?
A: Yes. Don came in the house one day and asked me if I liked motels. I asked him where we were going and he said nowhere…we are going to build a motel right there, and pointed to a piece of land. I told him that he was crazy and he said I could live in a motel 24 hours a day. I told him I didn’t know how to run a motel and he pulls out the blueprints that were already made.
This was in the fall of 1967. The first eight units and laundry room were ready in September of 1968. We lived in a trailer for a while next to where the barn and playground was.
Around 1980 it was totally completed with 20 rooms. We sold it in 2001.
That’s also the year that Don passed away. He had passed out and went to the hospital. I was worried that when he came home he would get right back onto the excavator and the doctor told him he needed to stay home and relax. I was to pick him up the next day at 8 a.m. and the doctor called at 1 a.m. and told me that Don had passed away. Evidently it was his heart.
Q: What was it like, running a motel?
I never slept eight hours straight from the time it opened.
In 1989 I fell, and needed a pool to swim. It was kept at 89 degrees for my therapy, and after the pool was in, we got more people staying. In the summer it was on the way to Old Orchard Beach and in the winter it was on the way to Sunday River. Most people arrived between midnight and 4 am.
I loved it though. I enjoyed keeping busy.
Q: Did you ever finish school?
A: Yes. I got my GED and eventually I took the real estate license and sold real estate for 20 years.
Q: Did you work for yourself?
A: Yes. I had an office right at the motel. It worked perfect because many travelers were looking for homes in the area.
My husband also bought a lot of land, would build the houses and I would sell them.
Q: Did you do much traveling?
A: I went to England. My brother was moving there and my sister and mother traveled with him. I decided I wanted to go too and just showed up at the airport.
I had told Donald that on our anniversary, every anniversary, I wanted to go on a trip. So we have been all over the US, Mexico, Canada, England and Ireland. We travelled to a lot of island and took many cruises.
Q: Which place was the most fascinating and why?
A: I loved the islands…the swimming and the beaches in places like Aruba and St. Martin.
Q: Do you collect anything or have a hobby?
A: I collect spoons and I think I am lacking a few to fill up the states. I used to knit, but I am just not a person to just sit. I still swim every day for exercise.
Q: What subject do you wish you knew more about?
A: I am always very interested in the news. I have a satellite dish and I can get the early news from England and Japan. It’s very interesting to find out what is going on in the world.
Q: What is the one thing you could not give up?
A: My grandkids, my great-grandkids; my family. They are the most important thing in the world. I have six grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.
Q: What is the one thing you would happily do over again?
A: I don’t think I could pick a particular day, but it would be with family, either at Thanksgiving or Christmas. I just have so much to be thankful for.
Q: What was the best memory that this interview brought back?
A: The day that my husband went with me to church. It ended up being the changing point in my life and a wonderful one at that.
Q: What would you like people to know about you?
A: I don’t think I am any different than anyone else. I am a Christian and I love my family. I like to stay busy.
Q: If anyone could walk in right now, who would you most want to see?
A: Oh boy, I would love to see Donald walk in that door. I know he will not return, but I’d probably ask him what he is doing here and tell him that I miss him dearly.