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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Aunt Mary Taylor Mason of Germantown of Germantown, Pennsyvlania (1971-1957)

I was named after my grandmother's aunt Jane Mason, who lived her entire life with her sister in Germantown, Philadelphia. They were always cited thus: "Aunt Jane and Aunt Mary."

It must have been a slow news week when Life Magazine decided to do a story on their 75th anniversary 'At Home' party at Cerne, the house which family legend has it was brought over from France on a boat and reassembled stone by stone on Schoolhouse Lane.

Here's what Life Magazine wrote:

Life Goes to a 75th Anniversary "At Home"

In 1878 Mary and Jane Mason moved into a new house which their father, a wealthy shoe-blacking manufacturer, had bought in Germantown outside Philadelphia. The Misses Mason have lived there ever since -- Jane is now 84 and Mary 82 - and this fall they decided to give a big "At Home" to celebrate three quarters of a century at Cerne.

The years between have been busy for the sisters. Miss Mary was graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1892 and won a medical degree though she never practiced. Almost every other year the sisters traveled abroad and when she was over 50 Miss Mary climbed the Matterhorn. When someone asked if there would be personal friends or just family at the anniversary "At Home" Miss Mary said briskly, "All our personal friends are in the cemetery."

Here's a picture from the story:

All I know about them is that Aunt Jane was the sweet one and Aunt Mary was an old battleaxe, suspicious and frugal and unkind. Their father, Richard Servetus Mason, had inherited a flourishing business from his father James Servetus Mason, and had built it up. He had been a harsh man - the story is that he died of apoplexy when his servant laid out the wrong time for a board meeting. My great-grandfather Charles Thomas Mason fled to California and raised his family there, as far away as possible from his father and his two at least slightly nutty sisters.

I wonder what kind of life "Miss Mary" had, with her medical degree she never used, spending virtually her every waking moment with her sister. Nothing is left of their house on 21 School House Lane in Germantown.