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Looking ahead at 79

| Friday, July 8, 2005

Katherine Madison Mason, a life-long resident of Monessen, enjoys remembering the past but is very active in making the present better.

As a member of the Gate of Heaven Church of God in Christ, she serves on the Mothers' Board and Woman-to-Woman group, and completed almost two decades as a Sunday school teacher.

She is also on the Senior Action Council and the Advisory Board of the Senior Center.

"I get to the Senior Center at least twice a week and try to get people involved," said Mason. "Sometimes just talking to a person for a few minutes can make them feel less lonely."

Mason's current activities at age 79 mirror her very busy earlier life -- before retirement. She headed the housekeeping department at the former Charleroi-Monessen Hospital and then made the move when that hospital merged with Monongahela and formed the current Mon Valley Hospital. Along with those responsibilities, she raised four children.

Mason says that when she talks about her youth to her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, she refers to them as the "used to be" days.

"We were poor, but during the Depression everyone was in the same boat," said Mason.

She recalled a dress-making project sponsored by the WPA.

"They made only one style of dress and it came in only three colors," she recalled. "So my friends and I all had that same dress, but we would try not to wear the same color on the same day."

Mason describes growing up on Third Street in Monessen at that time as a very different place than it is today.

"Many of our neighbors were Italian," she said. "We all played together and it was common for one mother to watch the others' children.

"All of the mothers stayed at home. The Italian mothers taught mine to cook pasta and my mother taught them to make collard greens and corn bread. To this day, I love Italian food.

"No one locked their doors at night and no one thought twice about sleeping on the porch on hot summer nights."

Mason reminiscences are of a bygone Monessen, but her activities are devoted to making a better present and future.

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