James Clayton Mason
b.21 Apr 1906 East Conway, Carroll, New Hampshire, United States
d.27 Jan 2001 St. Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida, United States
Facts and Events
James Clayton Mason grew up on the family farm in East ConwayCenter Conway Grammar School(now a community center) in Center Conway village, graduating in 1920. Interestingly, he was known commonly by his middle name, Clayton (most people did not even know he had a different first name, let alone that it was James). At the time he was ready to go to high school, transportation from East Conway to the Conway Village school was problematic. In order to attend High School, he boarded with family in Porter, Maine (residence) and went to the high school there, graduating in 1924. His graduating class had only a few dozen members, and he was the last surviving.
Clayton began his working life making pants at a mill in the Kezar Falls section of Parsonfield, Maine. He cut large stacks of cloth using some sort of deadly sharp band-saw driven from overhead. Living near the mill, it was his job to go in early to stoke fires for the day. After a time, he came back to Conway, initially working at the granite quarry in Redstone. He found that work extremely tough - especially in winter. He managed to change over to working in the company store for Clifford Craig.
Clayton met Cora Leach in Haverhill, Massachusetts on a double-date organized by his brother Harry. Harry was at that time, seeing his future wife, Ruth Ramsey. Ruth was friends with Cora, who was then a Nurse in private practice (she had done training at the Hale Hospital). Clayton and Cora eventually married in Plaistow, New Hampshire and came to Redstone to live, building their house on the site of the first house in Redstone.Eventually, Mr Craig "got done". Clayton got the store from Mrs. Craig, presumably after Mr. Craig had passed. Perhaps around the time that the quarry shut down, or went inactive for WWII, James obtained the land across the street from Mr. Craig's house (diagonally down the street from the old store, as well as James' house). Apparently, that land came from Mr. Craig for little or no money. The spot was too tiny for a house, between the road and the railroad tracks (Maine Central Railroad, Mountain Division), but perfect for a post office that needed to move mail on and off trains.
Around 1960, Clayton donated a section of the post office property for the construction of a village fire station. The property was given free of charge, with a provision that it could not be resold or used for any other purpose. The building has been expanded at least once, and remains in use as a fire station.
During the 1960s, the Redstone Post Office (zip 03866) was actually a first class post office when no other post office in Conway was. The reason for this status being that Yield House sent all of their parcel post via this office (this was part of the reason that it was no longer a store/post office combination - first class post offices were required to be mail handling facilities only. Clayton would often relate that, when the Postal Inspector came to Redstone for a visit, the Inspector joked that he was visiting the only post office in New Hampshire that made money. During the Christmas rush, so much parcel post went through Redstone that the postal service had to put on a tractor-trailer to carry it all. The mail sacks were stacked so high on the loading dock, that they reached the level of the roof line. All this in a building without central heat or running water (and certainly no rest room facilities!). Eventually, Yield House started using other shippers, and Clayton retired at age 65.
A story that Clayton and Cora liked to tell of this time involved a dog they had - a Norwegian Elkhound named King. King had a fine deep bark, but did not like to use it. He could also see the post office building from the bedroom of Clayton and Cora. If someone were to drive up to the post office and stay there too long, King would walk over to Clayton's side of the bed, take his wrist in his mouth, and lead him to the window to see what was going on at the Post Office building.
Postal service consolidation closed the Redstone Post office a few years after Clayton retired. Redstone became an RFD route. Clayton sold the building to Arthur Desjardins who used it to begin a business in granite monuments (ironically, even with a large closed granite quarry in his back yard, Arthur got unlettered markers from Barre, VT). The shell of the old post office still exists, though it has been expanded and modified for use in the monument business over the years.
Shortly thereafter, Clayton and Cora began the regular habit of going to Clearwater, Florida for the winter. After another fifteen years or so, they gave up the house in Redstone, purchasing a condominium in South Portland, Maine, for use during the summer. Much to this author's surprise and confusion, in Florida Clayton was known as Jim! They maintained this practice until the end of their lives.
Clayton's Grandson, during part of his first grade, and all of second and third grades, lived with Clayton and Cora (paternal grandparents) while attending the John Fuller Elementary School in North Conway. During the Christmas rush (Yield House would send several trucks in the afternoon) He would sometimes "help" (not sure how much help he was, but he tried) in sorting the boxes that came from yield house into the different destination canvas mail bags. The mail bags hung on steel pipe racks, and had pre-typed destination tags that you pulled from the front of the rack and slid into a slot on the mail sack. He remembers being quite proud that he could take boxes and sort them into different destination sacks. An additional post-office memory of his was of epic rubber-band wars with Clayton and another school friend who also lived in Redstone. These sometimes involved a fourth person named Jim who drove the mail route (rail mail was done before this time) down to Portsmouth. These were not ordinary small rubber-bands either, but heavy-duty wide bands used to organize mail.
Clayton lived long enough to see his two great-grandsons learn to ride bicycles. Literally, as he watched them ride up and down Karynel Drive in South Portland. He also enjoyed getting them pumpkin pie at all times of the year - their special treat from Great-Grand-Dad.
For more information on "James Mason (13)", possibly including living descendants, see the WikiTree Profile.