Tag Archives | Polly Jo Masters

The hazy shade of winter…

After a few weeks of unseasonably warm and dry days, the weather has turned back to winter here on Paros.  The rains have started, the clouds have rolled in…the wind has shifted from the north.  We need the water badly.  I am sitting at Port Kafe, waiting for the boat to come and take me to Athens for a couple of days.  The schedules have changed for today so I have a few hours to wait.  Still, I would rather wait here than in my flat.  Pericles makes an exceptional Greek coffee and he knows me well.

Today is the first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church.  For the next 40 days there should be seriousness, sadness, contemplation.  Also no oil, no animal products, no leavened bread,no meat with a backbone.  No weddings, no christenings, no birthdays, no name-days…Thank the gods for octopus and chorta, fresh clams and beans with lemon juice!  Like most traditions co-opted by the Church, the idea began long before Christianity.  It falls around the same time of the year when the stores of food would begin to run low.  The fall and summer harvest’s bounty is beginning to be used up and it is too early for the new lambs…the seas perhaps too rough to fish.  So for the next 40 days we scrimp and don’t eat so much.  Or so we should.  I think, maybe, considering everything that is happening in the world,  we should do it just to experience a little starvation.   Many people don’t have this luxury.

Today is also my mother’s birthday.  She would have been 92 today and we would have gathered and helped her to celebrate with flowers and cards.  I can still celebrate the day.  She was very proud of me and my sisters, loved us dearly and without conditions, without judgment.  She worried, like all good mothers can and do.  She rushed to our aid when she could.  She let us go as we needed.  She gathered us in her arms when we returned home for a holiday, a weekend or a much needed break from all the difficulties that taxed her children’s existence.   For me, she was the parent I turned to for help.  In times of trouble she would look me in the eye and say, “Listen, this is all going to be over soon…” or  “You have always been able to just do it, just go out there and make your own way…!”  and eventually “The last thing I want you to do is waste your life taking care of me…I’m alright.  You get on with it.”  She was quite the woman.  Quite the mother.  My mama.  Our mama! I miss her every Goddamn day…that would have been something she would have said too.  She was brilliant, caring, gentle and could curse like a longshoreman.  Happy Birthday mama.  Many kisses.

Below are some images from the past few weeks–pictures drawn by the children of some friends for my birthday, a photo of me at the bike race receiving the 3rd Place Bronze…Mom would have been tickled pink to see these things and to be at the party.  I would like to think she was.

DSC_0677

bday pic 2

 

bday pic 3

 

bday pic 5bday pic 6

–JDCM

1

Polly Jo Masters March 14, 1924 — December 4, 2015

 

 

Polly Jo and JDCM, Provincetown 1967

Polly Jo and JDCM, Provincetown 1967

 

We mourn the passing of Polly Jo Masters of Ancramdale, NY who died peacefully at home on December 4, 2015 surrounded by her children, at the age of 91.  The family thanks the community of caregivers and friends who encircled her with love, companionship, laughter and music since 2008: Diane, Keavy, Joni, Elizabeth, Gaye, Peggy, Lolly, Anne, Julia, Jackie, Mandy, Mary, Carol, Brian, Becky, Harold, Gregg, David and Terry.

Born in Beckley, West Virginia on March 14, 1924, she was the daughter of Dr. John H. McCulloch and Effie Lajo Stalnaker.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky fate ushered her through the doors of Beckley’s WJLS radio station where, as “Side-Saddle Sue”, she hosted a weekly radio program.   She played banjo and ukulele, singing cowboy music, reading local news and engaging in easy humor.  A year or so later she departed for New York City, where she pursued a career in musical theater.  She sang cabaret, stage managed many productions including “Oh, Captain!” and was a principal in the summer traveling company of ‘Brigadoon.’  In 1951, she and a business partner, the director George Quick, renovated several old stables and barns on the Vanderbilt Estate in Hyde Park, NY, establishing the Hyde Park Playhouse.  While in Hyde Park she also assisted the late Eleanor Roosevelt with the NY State Literacy Project.  When theatrical success required a press agent, she and Quick hired a young writer, Hilary Masters.  Polly and Hilary fell in love, married and ran the Playhouse for the next 7 years.

In 1960 they sold the Playhouse and moved to their new home on Woods Drive in Ancramdale, New York.  From the mid-1960s she was very active in her community.  She volunteered for the American Cancer Society, worked with the local PTA and was a friendly and welcoming face at the polls during election time.  In 1968 she ran successfully for President of the Pine Plains Board of Education, becoming the first woman in local history to hold that honour.  She held that post until 1975 and was, among many other things, instrumental in the conception and building of the Stissing Mountain Junior-Senior High School, also the first of its kind in the region.  From 1979 until the mid-1990s she contributed a regular column for a local newspaper, the Roe-Jan Independent, under the heading “One Side to Everything”.  She wrote about politics, local and national education, television, rural homeownership, the origins of linguistic memory and the diminutive interior dimensions of the original Ancramdale Post Office.

She is pre-deceased by her brother, John H. McCulloch Jr., her parents and her former husband, Hilary Masters, whom she divorced in 1985.  She is survived by her sister-in-law, Carolyn McCulloch of Beckley, W. Va., as well as her three children, Joellen Masters of Lexington, Massachusetts, Catherine Masters of Deer Isle, Maine, John D.C. Masters of Paros, Greece and a grand-child, Kaolin R.E. Pitcher of Portland, Maine.  She was a mother, a grandmother, a prescient community leader, a lover of Broadway musicals, English mysteries, a fount of knowledge and a source of no-nonsense unending love and support to all.  She covered the ground she walked on.

–JDCM

2