by Bertha Rose Amelia White Masters
I have considered trying to write a little about a certain person who has been my dearest beloved “Buddy”.
I don’t think it will be easy because the words seem either too much or not expressing my real thoughts.
From the very first time I saw him there was an awareness that somehow he was a very, very special person.
The summer vacation was just beginning and I was not yet 16 years old. In Leadville, there was no special programs or places to pass the time so my usual friends and I spent much time hiking or playing rather childish games. I read voraciasilly always lugging stacks of books to and from the library.
But the fateful June day I first met and talked with John Paul Masters (June 14, 1927) I was sitting on top of an old square wooden fence post in front of Mothers house on 7th street in Leadville.
A slim, blonde young man with gray-green eyes; neatly dressed and shoes shined like Sunday-go-to-meeting! A new man in town!!!
But he only asked if my Mom was home—he had heard that she did laundry and cleaned house—So she got the job. I think one day a week to clean his house (3 rooms—he shared with another fellow).
The second time I was to see him he brought a roll of shelf paper for Mom to use in his cupboards. Most likely an excuse to see me!
The shelf paper had yellow and purple butterflies on it.
He asked Mom if I could go to the show at the Liberty Bell Theater and I did!!!
Instead of going back to school on September, John and I got married with Frank and Nora Starr as witnesses. We were married by Father Stern at the rectory of the Annunciation Church on East 7th Street in Leadville, about a block from Mothers home.
Our first house was the 3 room place on Poplar Street—his bachelor friend having left. So there I was, a bride with a head full of romantic nonsense gleaned from the fiction stories of Kathleen Norris; The western saga’s of Zane Grey and fanciful stories of Peter Rabbit etc. etc. from Junior Classics…also Aesops Fables. From the movies I had the examples of Clara Bos…the It girl—Bette Davis…a young, young Bette…And a head full of romantic songs that we played so often on our Edison phonograph—which was my Dad and Mothers real enjoyment.
I’d never really learned much about cooking—Home Ec. taught such things as blanc’ mange’ and prune whip. So I think that John is very truthful when he says he “raised me” and he still thinks of me as a “Kid”.
Those first years were so very special and somehow we muddled through together. I think that is the key word…together…also muddled.
Somehow I feel as though with him I am a whole person. He has been always there when I needed him. We were always together.
We were gypsies in a way because we traveled from one mining camp to another. We lived in houses or sometimes in the car. Or in a tent or a mine shack. You can’t imagine the beauty of the outdoors like it was in those mountain places or out in Death Valley.
I wouldn’t trade my memories of those days for all the glamorous spots in the world.
Just we two—watching the sun go down behind a purple mountain peak watching the stars come out and listening to the night sounds.
A coyote yelp or a wolf cry or a bobcat scream—and along the Verde River in Arizona the whooping cranes sounded like hyenas.
We hiked and camped in so many places—along the Snake River in Idaho, where we staked a claim but never went to record it.
We camped in New Mexico about where the Uranium was found since. And panned for placer gold in Arizona and California and Southern Colorado.
John worked at a logging camp in Idaho—such a fabulous beauty in the timber country. He worked in the apple orchards in Yakima, Washington and we both worked picking hops in Washington. Also in an onion field…topping, sorting, and sacking onions…(7 cents for each full sack).
Days before the depression, each place we stayed always seemed good to me, as it’s always been where-ever he is, that is HOME to me.
He has sheltered and cared for me and whatever out luck…good or bad we tried to share that too. As a man he stacks up high on the list in my evaluation and as a husband and father, I certainly think he did the best he could.
I’m still his “Buddy” and I am awfully glad he came my way—
With Love to J.P.M.