Laughter & Freedom

Laughter and Freedom

Clarence, Lena, Lorene, Papa, Tres and George Mason (Lena's husband)

Backyard at 811 W. Cary St., Oregon Hill

Granny’s family lived at 811 W. Cary Street. In those days Oregon Hill continued into that area, before the Downtown Expressway sliced through it’s edge, and before Virginia Commonwealth University put up a parking deck at Cary and Laurel.  The house was just a few doors down from Paragon Pharmacy, where Granny and her friends would roller skate out front due to it having the only concrete. The rest of the sidewalks in the neighborhood were red brick. The family’s house had two sets of steps on the front: one set went up to the porch and front door, the other set went down to the family grocery store where Granny would steal penny candy throughout the day.

Clarice (Ikey) and Frances Mason

Sisters Frances and Claryce (“Ikey”), eldest two of the four siblings

The house was attached on the right side to another home and the two families were friendly. Granny says she rarely got from one place to another in the usual fashion, much to her mother’s (Lena’s) chagrin: To visit her neighbors, Granny would simply climb over the railing dividing their porches.

Bruce Mason - 1927

Bruce Mason - 1

Little Brother, Bruce

Eventually the family moved around the corner to Randolph Street. On the left side of the home there was a low building with a metal roof. Instead of going downstairs and out the front door, Granny would jump from her second story bedroom window onto the metal roof next door, then jump once more to the ground to run off and go play. She still describes this act with a far away look in her eyes and laughter in her voice.

Laughter and Freedom.

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811 W. Cary Street (with Harvey Hardware in the background) Photo courtesy of Charles Allen Sugg

The two middle homes pictured here – the first of which is 811 W. Cary St. – were torn down just a short time before I arrived to take a picture for my Granny. I was devastated. She had given me the address in her distinctive “Old Richmond” accent: “Eight Eleh’m West Curry Street” (811 W. Cary Street). Fortunately, Charles Allen Sugg had photographed it in 2008 and came to my rescue. A copy of this photo now sits framed in my Granny’s home. She brought it to her brother Bruce’s hospital bedside to decorate his room before he passed away in January of this year.

Granny is the last remaining of her siblings.

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