The story of our family...for my sons

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dwight Fred Stewart, alias Robert Dwight Mason celebrates his centennial

My father, Robert Dwight Mason, born Dwight Fred Stewart, 23 January 1913, in Verdon, Nebraska, to Fred Uriah Stewart and Edna Iva Mahannah. The family was living in the train depot at Verdon, Nebraska since Fred was a telegrapher and station master for the railroad (researching which one). They lived an ideal life and little Dwight was the love of his mother and father. Some time after 1925, the Stewart's had to get out of town, because as family history has it, Fred did something that, well, called for a fast exit.

The family then moved to Santa Maria, California, where we believe Fred went to work for another railroad. Now this is where the Stewart's become the Mason's, and little Dwight becomes Robert "Bob" (named after his favorite cousin Robert Burns). So confusing because when Bob Mason went to Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, everyone called him "Stew" as in Stewart. Anyways, Bob goes to Santa Maria High School, is head cheerleader, and a lifeguard during the summer in Santa Barbara. He does a lot of riding the rails during the summers, and finally heads to Los Angeles after high school (only completed his 2nd year).

Here's another weird thing, my dad is living with his folks (new stepmother LaVerne) during the 1940 census, and Bob says he's 3 years younger than he was, and his father says he's 6 years younger...somebody still running from the law? Meanwhile Bob has been skiing in the local mountains and has become very good. So good he starts teaching skiing in Minnesota, where he meets my mother, Helen Marie Skogerson. This was a very quick romance and marriage, with a ski vacation in Sun Valley, Idaho and other strange things happening. Also, as far as I can tell she married Dwight Stewart, because she didn't legally change her name to Mason until July of 1944, nine months before my sister and I were born.

As the story continues, working as an artist for Northrup Aviation at the start of WWII, dad then joins the Merchant Marines during World War II, sails around the world delivering death to every doorstep. Returns home, works for Douglas Aircraft as an artist, then heads for the mountains (Running Springs, California) to teach skiing at Snow Valley near Big Bear, California. Happy days growing up in the mountains going to a one room school house. Dad hears the call for adventure again and heads to Alaska and works at the Parson's Hotel as a desk person.

He returns to the family, now living in Sherman Oaks, California (I think this is when mom and dad separate and life starts sucking. Dad was a good man and raised another family which produced Mark, my hero and brother. Dad worked for many years for Aerospace Corporation, retired, stayed active skiing, biking, playing tennis and swimming. He eventually had a horrific bicycle accident and never really recovered. He had a wonderful friend in MaryLee, who cared for him until he died on 10 July 1989 of prostrate cancer...I miss you dad, very much...Happy 100th where ever you are.

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