Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Remembering My Oklahoma One Arm Great Uncle, Jack Mason

      My maternal Grandmother Alta’s younger sister, my Great Aunt Carrie was married twice before marrying my Great Uncle Jack in the 1950s. Like they say the third time is the charm. Carrie wasn’t particularly lucky in marriage until then. Jack’s marriage to my Great Aunt was his first when he was in his early forties. He was of medium height and size, always wore clean starched tan kaki shirts and pants. Jack Mason was a super nice guy, with a big heart and a generous streak to match. He was a hard worker. My Great Aunt Carrie and Uncle Jack had a nice home in Nowata plus a cabin on Grand Lake also in Northeastern Oklahoma that I visited frequently as a child and teen. It was there I would catch my first and last fish, a carp that had to be tossed back because it was uneatable. I never had the gift for fishing or the stomach, but Jack did despite just having one arm and hand.

      Uncle Jack lost most of his left arm and hand in an industrial accident early in his work life in the Oklahoma oil fields, years before I knew him in the 1950s. Jack was giving a hand signal out of a vehicle when a passing vehicle damaged it to the point amputation was necessary. The missing hand and arm was replaced with a gold hook that served as his prosthesis. Jack used that hook like it was a hand until the day he died. He continued to work in the oil fields and fish incessantly despite his loss. He and his father both worked for Phillips 66 Oil Company from the start. One of my cousins claims Jack’s father sold his share in the company early on.

      The thing I loved most about Uncle Jack as a kid was his generosity and that he always carried a big pocket of change which he shared. He liked to give the money to the youngsters to spend on goodies. Once at a family gathering at my Great Grandparents, Claude and Nancy Wilson in Chelsea, I recall hardly being able to contain myself when I saw Jack was there. I grew so impatient wanting to capitalize on his generosity that I almost jumped the gun and asked him if I could have “some money?“. Was I afraid he would forget? He must have sensed my 7 year old impatience because he passed out the coins without delay and saved me from embarrassing myself.

      Jack worked in the Oklahoma oil fields up until his death in 1966 when he died of brain cancer at the age of 63. May he rest in peace and be assured that he is truly missed by his Grandniece “Alaska“ Mary.

Memoir -
I will always enjoy the memory of my Great Uncle, Charles Esc(h)o
“Jack“ Mason
- April 13, 2009/revised & posted Oct. 30, 2012

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