Celebrating Cooncie With Hurricane Irene

Yesterday was my grandmother’s memorial celebration, held on our family farm in Ellicott City, Maryland. It was also the day that Hurricane Irene hit America’s East Coast. (Ellicott City is a couple of hours from the coast so all we got were some downed trees and power outages. But still.)

My grandmother’s name was Frances Wellford Mason, born Frances Colquhoun Wellford. Colqhuoun is pronounced “Cuh-HOON”, which is how she got the nickname Cooncie. All of her grandchildren called her that.

Cooncie at age 24. She was stunning, right? (Photo: Wendell Powell)

Cooncie died peacefully in her sleep, in the big farmhouse she lived in for 60 years. She was nearly 92. When Cooncie died, there was a small wire-and-bead elephant sitting on the windowsill in her room; I gave her the elephant when I visited from Joburg last November. Cooncie loved elephants and had always dreamed of going to Africa to see them in the wild. This elephant, made in Melville by my friends Samuel and Silas, became a precious possession of Cooncie’s in the months before she died. My aunts are planning to have her buried with it.

Cooncie just a few months ago. (Photo: Tenney Mason)

There is a lot I’d like to tell you about Cooncie’s amazing life. There’s also a lot I’d like to tell you about Cooncie’s farm, Squirrel Hill, which was a second home to me growing up.

The house at Squirrel Hill, built in the 1870s. Cooncie and Jack, my grandfather, moved here in 1950. (Photo: 2Summers)

Cooncie and Jack with their flock of sheep. Jack passed away about five years ago. (Photo: Tenney Mason)

Bath time in the barnyard. (Photo: Tenney Mason)

There’s a lot I’d like to say about Cooncie’s crazy, quirky, fascinating family, who made me into the person I am today.

Christmas at Squirrel Hill, 1976. Left to right: my great-grandfather Poppa-Daddy, Cooncie, Jack, my uncle Edmund, my aunt Mary Mac, me, and my mother Jeanie. That bulge under my mom’s dress is my sister, Susanna. She was born three months later. (Photo: Tenney Mason)

Cooncie walks her dogs in the snow. Cooncie always had at least two dogs, sometimes many more. Walking the dogs with Cooncie was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. (Photo: Tenney Mason)

Jack was also quite a character, as you can see. That’s my mom with her back to the camera. The little girl is Susanna. (Photo: Tenney Mason)

But, jeez. Where do I start? There are enough stories to fill a set of encyclopedias.

I know this is cheating, but here is the link to Cooncie’s obituary in the Baltimore Sun. It’s very well written and gives a nice overview of her life.

I had also planned to show you lots of great pictures from yesterday’s celebration. This is probably the last time that all of my sprawling family tree, whose roots have spread across the world, will be gathered together at Squirrel Hill. But I’m afraid I didn’t do the greatest job recording the day.

First off, it’s hard to take pictures during a hurricane. Most of the party guests were inside the dark house or huddled in tight groups on the front porch, shivering and trying to avoid being rained on. Also, it’s hard to take pictures while talking to people – especially people you haven’t seen in 20 or 25 years. And especially in my case. I had some variation of the following conversation about two dozen times yesterday:

Person: “Hi! You’re Heather, right? Tenney’s daughter?”

Me: “Yes! Great to see you…!” Fumble desperately for Person’s name. Give up.

Person: “How are you? What are you up to these days?”

Me: “Well…I live in South Africa now.”

Person: “South Africa?! Wow!”

A torrent of questions followed, the most popular of which were:

  • “What do you do in South Africa?”
  •  “Why did you move there?”
  • “Where do you live in South Africa?” (The only easy question.)
  •  “What’s it like living in Johannesburg?” (Often pronounced YO-hann-ess-berg)

And then, my favorite:

  • “Is it safe in YO-hann-ess-berg?”

So I didn’t take as many nice photos as I’d hoped. But here are a few.

My father delivers a eulogy about Cooncie’s life. He talked about her love for animals, her passion for historical preservation, and her hard work raising five children and running Squirrel Hill. He also told us that Cooncie once won a Barbara Bush look-alike contest. Dad spent hours locked in his room over the past week, working on the eulogy. He did a great job. (Photo: 2Summers)

Donald Savoy, otherwise known as Man-Boy. Donald is a retired Arabber. Arabbers sell fruits and vegetables from horse-drawn carts in the streets of Baltimore City. Most people don’t know this tradition still exists in Baltimore. Cooncie was fiercely committed to helping the Arabbers maintain their way of life, and to helping their ponies. Along with my aunt Mary Mac and uncle Steve, Cooncie founded the Arabber Preservation Society and made Squirrel Hill a refuge for retired Arabber ponies. (Photo: 2Summers)

Squirrel Hill kitchen. (Photo: 2Summers)

This kitten, whose name is either Chip or Chipster, slept through both the hurricane and raucous party. He’s one of five cats and dogs currently residing at Squirrel Hill. (Photo: 2Summers)

It was a long trip home. But I’m really glad I made it back to say one last good-bye to Cooncie.

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71 Comments

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough August 29, 2011 at 2:42 am

    I think you have written a beautiful memorial to your grandmother. I’m only sorry you had to remember her in the midst of Irene–not the best of circumstances, all around. It’s good to know you made it back to the US safely, though. Cooncie sounds like a delightful woman!
    Kathy

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 4:39 am

      Thanks Kathy. Dad actually said he thinks Cooncie would have liked being celebrated during a hurricane 🙂

  • Reply amblerangel August 29, 2011 at 3:27 am

    What a beautiful post. I`m sorry for your loss hon. It`s hard. Hang in there.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 4:38 am

      Thanks Emily! Hope you’re doing well.

  • Reply thirdeyemom August 29, 2011 at 4:41 am

    Heather, I truly love your post. Your grandmother seems like she was a wonderful woman and yes she was very stunning. You are so lucky you got to grow up with her and spend so much time on her farm. I think grandparents are a treasure and I’m so lucky to have spent a lot of time with mine. I still have my one beloved Grandfather left. He is 96 and not with it anymore. Yet my memories of him are so incredibly special. Thank for sharing such a beautiful post and glad the funeral went ok given the weather.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 5:08 am

      Thanks Nicole. Wow, 96! Good for your grandfather 🙂

  • Reply thirdeyemom August 29, 2011 at 4:41 am

    Heather, I truly love your post. Your grandmother seems like she was a wonderful woman and yes she was very stunning. You are so lucky you got to grow up with her and spend so much time on her farm. I think grandparents are a treasure and I’m so lucky to have spent a lot of time with mine. I still have my one beloved Grandfather left. He is 96 and not with it anymore. Yet my memories of him are so incredibly special. Thank for sharing such a beautiful post and glad the funeral went ok given the weather.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 5:08 am

      Thanks Nicole. Wow, 96! Good for your grandfather 🙂

  • Reply Lucy Winfield Berkebile August 29, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Dear Heather,
    You have put together a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to Cooncie. I know she would be proud and chuckling that the hurricane showed up to compete with her memorial gathering. I also know that she would have thoroughly enjoyed being at the gathering and hearing the many wonderful stories and reflections celebrating her very well lived life. Actually, I think she was there beaming with love for her children and grandchildren and sending you all some of her profound strength. She was truly loved and greatly admired by many, many people who will never forget her.
    Your Grandmother has left me a powerful and inspirational legacy of golden memories.
    I first met “Cooncie” when I was 14 years old when I was your Aunt Heather’s roommate at St. Catherine’s. Looking back over the past fifty years – ( 50…yikes!) many of my happiest times were spent at Squirrel Hill with Cooncie and Jack (on his boat, the “IMP”) and all of your family. There were sad times also when your Aunt Heather died and when Jack died. I am grateful for all of my memories which remain so real and vivid and unforgettable. I will miss her so very much.
    Heather, Now I want to compliment you on many levels. You are a truly gifted writer and photographer! As I mentioned to you yesterday, I think it is awesome that you had the courage to follow you dreams and move to South Africa! WOW! WTG! I wish we had had more time to talk.
    No matter what, I think you have a very special and successful future ahead doing good works and utilizing your talents in writing and photography. Be safe and happy and believe in yourself!
    With love from, Lucy

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks so much, Lucy. Your thoughtful comment really means a lot. It was wonderful to see you on Saturday, even though it was for a short time. Hope to see you again sometime soon.

  • Reply Lucy Winfield Berkebile August 29, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Dear Heather,
    You have put together a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to Cooncie. I know she would be proud and chuckling that the hurricane showed up to compete with her memorial gathering. I also know that she would have thoroughly enjoyed being at the gathering and hearing the many wonderful stories and reflections celebrating her very well lived life. Actually, I think she was there beaming with love for her children and grandchildren and sending you all some of her profound strength. She was truly loved and greatly admired by many, many people who will never forget her.
    Your Grandmother has left me a powerful and inspirational legacy of golden memories.
    I first met “Cooncie” when I was 14 years old when I was your Aunt Heather’s roommate at St. Catherine’s. Looking back over the past fifty years – ( 50…yikes!) many of my happiest times were spent at Squirrel Hill with Cooncie and Jack (on his boat, the “IMP”) and all of your family. There were sad times also when your Aunt Heather died and when Jack died. I am grateful for all of my memories which remain so real and vivid and unforgettable. I will miss her so very much.
    Heather, Now I want to compliment you on many levels. You are a truly gifted writer and photographer! As I mentioned to you yesterday, I think it is awesome that you had the courage to follow you dreams and move to South Africa! WOW! WTG! I wish we had had more time to talk.
    No matter what, I think you have a very special and successful future ahead doing good works and utilizing your talents in writing and photography. Be safe and happy and believe in yourself!
    With love from, Lucy

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks so much, Lucy. Your thoughtful comment really means a lot. It was wonderful to see you on Saturday, even though it was for a short time. Hope to see you again sometime soon.

      • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 4:39 am

        Thanks Kathy. Dad actually said he thinks Cooncie would have liked being celebrated during a hurricane 🙂

  • Reply [email protected] August 29, 2011 at 8:16 am

    A beautiful tribute to your grandmother! I’m am sorry to hear of your family’s loss of such a wonderful woman.

    Love your father’s photographs – especially the recent portrait of Cooncie, the one of Cooncie walking her dogs in the snow, and the barnyard bath-time one.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks Lisa. The barnyard photo actually appeared in Life Magazine! It was great having an excuse to use so many of Dad’s pics in my blog.

  • Reply [email protected] August 29, 2011 at 8:16 am

    A beautiful tribute to your grandmother! I’m am sorry to hear of your family’s loss of such a wonderful woman.

    Love your father’s photographs – especially the recent portrait of Cooncie, the one of Cooncie walking her dogs in the snow, and the barnyard bath-time one.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks Lisa. The barnyard photo actually appeared in Life Magazine! It was great having an excuse to use so many of Dad’s pics in my blog.

  • Reply Yashik August 29, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Condolences, Heather. Yet, despite it all – you shared it with us with photos and your usual good humour. Thanks!

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks Yashik. I’m glad I succeeded in doing that.

  • Reply Yashik August 29, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Condolences, Heather. Yet, despite it all – you shared it with us with photos and your usual good humour. Thanks!

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks Yashik. I’m glad I succeeded in doing that.

  • Reply Tilly Bud August 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

    A wonderful post about an interesting woman. And beautiful. So sorry for your loss, Heather.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks Linda. I wish I could have written more about Cooncie. I barely scratched the surface!

  • Reply Tilly Bud August 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

    A wonderful post about an interesting woman. And beautiful. So sorry for your loss, Heather.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks Linda. I wish I could have written more about Cooncie. I barely scratched the surface!

  • Reply andybeel August 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Great pictures – thanks

  • Reply andybeel August 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Great pictures – thanks

  • Reply Steve Blake August 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    For those folks that read this memory of Frances, Jack, and Squirrel Hill, it will transport them into the unique times we all have had here over so many years. Both of your grandparents were characters that will always live on in our hearts. Mary Mac and I miss them dearly as do all of the family and all of those that knew them. A beautiful tribute.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks Steve. It’s been great spending some time with you the last few days. See you soon.

  • Reply Steve Blake August 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    For those folks that read this memory of Frances, Jack, and Squirrel Hill, it will transport them into the unique times we all have had here over so many years. Both of your grandparents were characters that will always live on in our hearts. Mary Mac and I miss them dearly as do all of the family and all of those that knew them. A beautiful tribute.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks Steve. It’s been great spending some time with you the last few days. See you soon.

  • Reply laurenbarkume August 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    What a lovely post remembering your grandmother, and beautiful photos.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks Lauren, hope you’re doing well.

  • Reply laurenbarkume August 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    What a lovely post remembering your grandmother, and beautiful photos.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks Lauren, hope you’re doing well.

  • Reply Linda Sneed August 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Heather, I am so sorry for your loss, and am glad you made it back to Squirrel Hill at a time when so many friends and family could share memories. It’s an important time to make this effort. I remember how beautiful and forceful a presence Coonsie was and even more beautiful in her old age! How she and Jack loved that farm!!! Fun to see the pictures, especially of you and your family. They brought back memories of all the times we all spent together! You were such a live wire and so precocious–who would have guessed that you and my daughter Claire would have remained so close after all the years.. It could be that family bonds and old roots make longterm friendships possible! You sound as though you are finding yourself in South Africa and I wish you many wonderful successes and love in the future! Linda Sneed

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Linda, thanks so much for the comment. I miss you! Hope you’re doing well. I’m so lucky to have had a friend like Claire for all these years. Can’t wait to see her tomorrow 🙂

  • Reply Linda Sneed August 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Heather, I am so sorry for your loss, and am glad you made it back to Squirrel Hill at a time when so many friends and family could share memories. It’s an important time to make this effort. I remember how beautiful and forceful a presence Coonsie was and even more beautiful in her old age! How she and Jack loved that farm!!! Fun to see the pictures, especially of you and your family. They brought back memories of all the times we all spent together! You were such a live wire and so precocious–who would have guessed that you and my daughter Claire would have remained so close after all the years.. It could be that family bonds and old roots make longterm friendships possible! You sound as though you are finding yourself in South Africa and I wish you many wonderful successes and love in the future! Linda Sneed

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm

      Hi Linda, thanks so much for the comment. I miss you! Hope you’re doing well. I’m so lucky to have had a friend like Claire for all these years. Can’t wait to see her tomorrow 🙂

  • Reply Bill Stolis August 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Hi Heather – Here is a note from “Uncle” Bill (Stolis). You put together something very special for your family and friends to learn some more about your grandmother. I had read the obituary in the Sun and it took a moment for it to click that it was your family. Then all those — shall we say “unique” names started to jog my memory. And we can’t forget your other grandmother who has been reincarnated as “Lady Gaga”. Your family specializes in colorful characters. Our generations are not nearly as interesting. Thanks for sharing and posting all the photos. My good wishes are extended to you family. Take care, Bill.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Uncle Bill! OMG. This post is reuniting me with so many special people. Thanks so much for the comment. Cooncie and Lady Gaga are smiling down on you right now. Hope you’re doing well. xoxo, Heather

  • Reply Bill Stolis August 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Hi Heather – Here is a note from “Uncle” Bill (Stolis). You put together something very special for your family and friends to learn some more about your grandmother. I had read the obituary in the Sun and it took a moment for it to click that it was your family. Then all those — shall we say “unique” names started to jog my memory. And we can’t forget your other grandmother who has been reincarnated as “Lady Gaga”. Your family specializes in colorful characters. Our generations are not nearly as interesting. Thanks for sharing and posting all the photos. My good wishes are extended to you family. Take care, Bill.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Uncle Bill! OMG. This post is reuniting me with so many special people. Thanks so much for the comment. Cooncie and Lady Gaga are smiling down on you right now. Hope you’re doing well. xoxo, Heather

  • Reply Slowvelder August 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I can only hope that one day someone will remember me as “beautifully” as you have remembered your Grandmother. She sounds like a larger than life character – someone to be really proud of. You have some incredible genes to work with to make your life story as awesome as Cooncie’s.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks Jackie! That’s a very nice thing to say.

  • Reply Slowvelder August 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I can only hope that one day someone will remember me as “beautifully” as you have remembered your Grandmother. She sounds like a larger than life character – someone to be really proud of. You have some incredible genes to work with to make your life story as awesome as Cooncie’s.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks Jackie! That’s a very nice thing to say.

  • Reply Johndoe August 29, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks Heather. It was great seeing some of Tenney’s pictures and remembering all those good times in Maryland. Glad you could be back to celebrate Cooncies life.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Thanks John Doe! By the way, I had a nice chat with Henry on Saturday. Great to see him.

  • Reply Johndoe August 29, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks Heather. It was great seeing some of Tenney’s pictures and remembering all those good times in Maryland. Glad you could be back to celebrate Cooncies life.

    • Reply 2summers August 29, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Thanks John Doe! By the way, I had a nice chat with Henry on Saturday. Great to see him.

  • Reply Nina Neubauer August 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    What a special family you have Heather. So glad you are back in the States to celebrate with your grandmother with your family. Looks like she had a really full life. Wishing you a great rest of your stay.

    • Reply 2summers August 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks Nina! See you soon.

  • Reply Nina Neubauer August 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    What a special family you have Heather. So glad you are back in the States to celebrate with your grandmother with your family. Looks like she had a really full life. Wishing you a great rest of your stay.

    • Reply 2summers August 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks Nina! See you soon.

  • Reply Becky Hartman August 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you so much for chronicalling (?) Saturday’s tribute to Frances. It looked like an adventure that she would have relished. Am sorry I couldn’t hav ebeen with you–however am sure that she was and that she enjoyed having all the wonderful people in her life in that wonderful house. She was truly a unique and creative individual who seemed to know her spirit should always be given the freedom to fly. It seems you have a good bit of her in you…

    • Reply 2summers August 31, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks Becky! Hope to see you before I leave.

  • Reply Becky Hartman August 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you so much for chronicalling (?) Saturday’s tribute to Frances. It looked like an adventure that she would have relished. Am sorry I couldn’t hav ebeen with you–however am sure that she was and that she enjoyed having all the wonderful people in her life in that wonderful house. She was truly a unique and creative individual who seemed to know her spirit should always be given the freedom to fly. It seems you have a good bit of her in you…

    • Reply 2summers August 31, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks Becky! Hope to see you before I leave.

  • Reply Henry Barrow September 1, 2011 at 3:28 am

    It was a nice and moving event…I feel lucky to have known members of your family, both alive and gone, for 60 some years.

    • Reply 2summers September 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks Henry. It was great to see you on Saturday. Hope we meet again soon.

  • Reply Henry Barrow September 1, 2011 at 3:28 am

    It was a nice and moving event…I feel lucky to have known members of your family, both alive and gone, for 60 some years.

    • Reply 2summers September 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks Henry. It was great to see you on Saturday. Hope we meet again soon.

  • Reply Lynn Matthews Davis September 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Heather,
    Like the celebration of her life at Squirrel Hill, what a moving tribute to your grandmother, my long time friend and Old Annapolis Rd., Ellicott City, neighbor from 1959, a year after the historic road got paved! We lived on the road that led from Doughoregan Manor (home of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence) to Annapolis.
    I wrote a post right after you put the Blog up, but the system crashed and it got lost in cyberspace. So here goes a second try. I am so glad I could make it up from Roanoke, Va., where the Blue Ridge Mountains stopped Hurricane Irene from going westward.
    I agree with one of the family members who suggested we called the memorial hurricane Frances! She would love that.
    As others now have written in the Blog, we all have so many memories of Squirrel Hill. Nights sleeping on the upstairs porch with my friend Heather, Mrs. Mason’s oldest daughter who died before her time. Babysitting MaryMac and Edmund, and caring for the dogs when the Masons were away. Geese guarding the house and coming after us. Washing sheep in a copper kettle so they would be clean for 4-H shows and the Howard County Fair. Riding horses on hot summer days in the pond and jumping over jumps on the other side of the hill. Mending fences to keep the sheep in. Sitting out on the wrap-around porch, the home’s wonderful hallmark that could write many a novel. So what better place to fondly remember Mrs. Mason than there, the porch, house, and farm she love so much. Hurricane or not!
    It was great to meet you and your sister now as grownups, no longer little children! As I wrote to Tenney, Jinx, MaryMac, and Edmund — Mrs. Mason influenced my life more than I realized. She led the charge for those of us across the road when zoning battles came up; more than once, my father and the other neighbors would go to the Zoning Meetings with her when development threatened our once peaceful road. I learned from her how to speak up in the public forum when quality of life issues were at stake. I learned about historic preservation from her when I helped give tours for her Historic Ellicott City group and helped to preserve the Patapsco Female Institute on Mt. Ida. Growing up and seeing all that she did and her love of the natural world are what encouraged me to help found the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Western Virginia Land Trust, and the Virginia Association for Parks, and to serve on the Foundation Board of the Virginia Museum of Natural History and Valley Beautiful Board.
    I loved continuing to visit her over the years when I came up from Roanoke to visit my parents. I will surely miss her. But what a legacy she leaves for all of us, family and friends alike.
    May the Lord bless you all with His grace,
    Lynn Matthews Davis,
    long time neighbor and friend
    (I will leave some DVDs of the photos I took with MaryMac this week for you all, as I drive through another tropical storm to fly out of BWI to see my grandchildren in Boise, Idaho.)

    • Reply 2summers September 7, 2011 at 1:18 am

      Lynn, thanks so much for the comment. It sounds like you and Cooncie had a very special relationship. Hope you make it to Boise.

  • Reply Lynn Matthews Davis September 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Heather,
    Like the celebration of her life at Squirrel Hill, what a moving tribute to your grandmother, my long time friend and Old Annapolis Rd., Ellicott City, neighbor from 1959, a year after the historic road got paved! We lived on the road that led from Doughoregan Manor (home of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence) to Annapolis.
    I wrote a post right after you put the Blog up, but the system crashed and it got lost in cyberspace. So here goes a second try. I am so glad I could make it up from Roanoke, Va., where the Blue Ridge Mountains stopped Hurricane Irene from going westward.
    I agree with one of the family members who suggested we called the memorial hurricane Frances! She would love that.
    As others now have written in the Blog, we all have so many memories of Squirrel Hill. Nights sleeping on the upstairs porch with my friend Heather, Mrs. Mason’s oldest daughter who died before her time. Babysitting MaryMac and Edmund, and caring for the dogs when the Masons were away. Geese guarding the house and coming after us. Washing sheep in a copper kettle so they would be clean for 4-H shows and the Howard County Fair. Riding horses on hot summer days in the pond and jumping over jumps on the other side of the hill. Mending fences to keep the sheep in. Sitting out on the wrap-around porch, the home’s wonderful hallmark that could write many a novel. So what better place to fondly remember Mrs. Mason than there, the porch, house, and farm she love so much. Hurricane or not!
    It was great to meet you and your sister now as grownups, no longer little children! As I wrote to Tenney, Jinx, MaryMac, and Edmund — Mrs. Mason influenced my life more than I realized. She led the charge for those of us across the road when zoning battles came up; more than once, my father and the other neighbors would go to the Zoning Meetings with her when development threatened our once peaceful road. I learned from her how to speak up in the public forum when quality of life issues were at stake. I learned about historic preservation from her when I helped give tours for her Historic Ellicott City group and helped to preserve the Patapsco Female Institute on Mt. Ida. Growing up and seeing all that she did and her love of the natural world are what encouraged me to help found the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Western Virginia Land Trust, and the Virginia Association for Parks, and to serve on the Foundation Board of the Virginia Museum of Natural History and Valley Beautiful Board.
    I loved continuing to visit her over the years when I came up from Roanoke to visit my parents. I will surely miss her. But what a legacy she leaves for all of us, family and friends alike.
    May the Lord bless you all with His grace,
    Lynn Matthews Davis,
    long time neighbor and friend
    (I will leave some DVDs of the photos I took with MaryMac this week for you all, as I drive through another tropical storm to fly out of BWI to see my grandchildren in Boise, Idaho.)

    • Reply 2summers September 7, 2011 at 1:18 am

      Lynn, thanks so much for the comment. It sounds like you and Cooncie had a very special relationship. Hope you make it to Boise.

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