In the china aisle in a Goodwill store in Clearwater, FL a love story was discovered.
The story belongs to a girl born in September 1897 named Evangeline Withington or Eva as she was called.
Eva was born in Pennsylvania right before the turn of the century. She had two brothers and a sister. Somewhere along the way, she met a handsome soldier with dark hair and blue eyes, named Clesson Ernest Mason. Clesson was from Ohio, a 1917 graduate of Marietta College. Right after he graduated, Clesson was drafted into the American Expeditionary Force, the first American soldiers sent to fight in a foreign war. The couple was married in June of 1918 when he was 25 and she was 20.
Clesson was sent to France, where he was a pursuit pilot and flight instructor reaching the level of Lieutenant. While stationed in France, he had a set of fine china made by Theodore Haviland of Limoges especially for his wife. The elegant formal service for twelve rimmed in gold is monogrammed with Eva’s initials. The mark on the back of each piece states:
Mrs. Eva W. Mason
Lieut. Clesson E. Mason
Air Service, A. E. F.
The china made it home to Eva before Clesson did. He was honorably discharged in February of 1919. Clesson was also one of the founding members of the Daedalians, the society of fighter pilots. When Clesson returned to the states he became a chemist in the oil industry in Tulsa, Ok. While in Tulsa, Clesson began working for a branch of the Foxboro Company. The family headed to Foxboro’s Massachusetts headquarters in 1929. While with the Foxboro Company, Clesson did extensive mechanical engineering work and invented several patented devices in the area of automated controls, which revolutionized manufacturing. In 1973, Clesson was awarded the Oldenburger Medal for his pioneering work in Mechanical Engineering.
In June 1921, the couple had a son, Richard Withington Mason. Richard followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the military as a fighter pilot. Unfortunately, the Mason’s only son was shot down in 1945 and lost in the south China Sea.
Mr. Mason’s career continued and allowed him to travel. Records show the couple traveling through the port of Miami in 1952. The Masons eventually retired to Island Estates in Clearwater, FL.
Thanks to Legacy.com, MyHeritage.com, U.S. Military Service Records, Haviland and the Order of the Daedalians Military Aviator Society, the ASME and the Oldenberger Medal for the information they provided.