Mason Marley

        Mason Marley was blind.  She also was somewhat crippled from polio as a child, but she was up and around until middle age.  After that, a combination of post polio syndrome and arthritis wore her down, and she would up in a wheelchair.  She didn’t get out much, but a lot of folks came to see her.  If you ever meet her, whatever you do don’t call her a polio victim.  “I ain’t a victim of nothing,” she’d say.

        Mason lived on the River, a couple miles upstream from Indie’s Cabin.  To get there, go north on the bypass.  When you pass the Waffle House take a right at Harvey High, home of the Hornets.  That will put you on Lee Highway.  Follow it a mile and a half to Mason’s.  Her place is the little white frame house with the neat hedges.  Wheatie Wallenburg kept them trimmed, at least when he wasn’t in the hospital.

        I never figured out how a little blind crippled lady gathered so much intelligence, but she did.  She knew everyone.  Back then if you were to go by her place and see a white Crown Vic with N.C. Government tags, it was Wallace Walton, our State Senator.  He said he was there to check on her, but I think he came by to get advice.  Like all of us he knew Mason was discreet, and you could count on her to be confidential.  We were confident she was connected,  too, but unsure of what all her connections were.

         Mason might have been blind, but she was the best read person in the County.  She could quote Shakespeare at length.  One time Mason wrote a book on commercial real estate handicapped access regulations.  She was part of the inspiration for me to write my story.  Neuse River went out and played for the book release party at her house.  When you see a grizzled bluegrass veteran like Moose Dooley kiss a woman on the forehead, you know she is a person who has earned folk’s respect.  Mason was the only woman in town besides my daughter who my wife’d let me kiss.  She trusted her that much, and I did too.

        As far as I know Mason only got burned once.  Her book was published without the benefit of an agent.  She trusted the publisher, and then got taken adavantage of.  When I started mine she called me out to the house.  “Bibey,” she said,  “Whatever you do, don’t publish till you have an agent and a lawyer.”

        “Yes ma’am.”  It was good advice.  As a matter of fact, Mason did the background check on my agent.  After her stamp of approval, I shook hands on the deal.  She said he was clean, and you can take Mason for her word.

        Mason often wore our Neuse River T-shirt.  She loved costume jewelry and logo sweat shirts, but on weekends and holidays she always put on a string of pearls.  I guess it is odd for a Doc to say about his patient, but is spite of the fact she was elderly and gray-haired, I swear the woman in pearls exuded sex appeal.  Maybe it was because she had so much soul.

         Besides bluegrass music she also dug classical, especially anything by Beethoven.  She drank Pabst Blue Ribbon, but sometimes OBAN if she had company.  She favored COHIBA cigars, and somehow could get the real Cuban ones with the La Habana band.  I knew they were illegal in the U.S., and asked how she came about them.  She said, “GK, Bibey,” which meant General Knowledge.

        At the time of the Mandolin Case, Mason was 68 years old.  She was 5′ 3′ but looked shorter because she was in a wheelchair.  Even though I was her Doc I never knew her weight ’cause she wouldn’t tell me.  Her hair was gray, but had been strawberry blond, and she still had some wisps of color, but she didn’t dye it.  Her eyes were green.  Her favorite movie was the ‘Ten Commandments.’  She read all kinds of literature.  Hamlet was her favorite.  It made her mad when old Lady Hamlett sued Indie over he sister’s lost mammogram report.  She said it wasn’t but a few months and the delay didn’t change the course of Sissy’s breast cancer.  She was right, but Indie settled for a small amount ’cause he felt sorry for Sissy- she had been slow since birth.

        Mason was right about a lot of things.  I suspect she was influential in the Mandolin Case, but I’m not sure all the ways she intervened, and she never did tell me.  Mason was the kind to only tell you she wanted you to know, but she always told me what I needed to know.  I was very confident in her intuition, and when she told me to take her word for it, I did.  If you were to move to Harvey County, I would tell you to make friends with her right away.  You can trust Mason, and she is a good friend to have.

        She has been retired as long as I’ve known her.  I never did figure out what she did for a living.  I asked her one time, but she never told me. 

Dr. B

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4 Comments on “Mason Marley”

  1. Susan Shay Says:

    Doc,
    I’ve noticed what you said about Mason is true about many of the LOLs in our church. They’re extremely wise–way beyond education.
    If you think about it, it’s fairly clear why. Much of their time is spent not listening to the radio or watching TV.
    The really wise ones study and pray. Then they listen for the answer.
    Question: Is Mason related to Bob Marley? Just wondering.
    Susan

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Susan,

    Mason is self educated, but very wise.

    She loved reggae music and Bob Marley, but was not related to him. She said her favorite mandolin player was me, but she was just being nice- her true favorite was Sam Bush, ’cause he had so much reggae influence in his rhythm.

    Dr. B

  3. Cindy Carter Says:

    Dr. B.

    Of course you know that women have intuition. They can tell you things that they don’t have any real reason to know. They just know it.

    I grew up in the Carolina Low Country. Those wise old women could read you better than anyone had a right to be able to. They also looked for omens and could put a curse on you that would “stick” no matter what you tried to get it off.

    Those old ladies had some strange habits too. Snuff, cigars, chewing tobacco, and some of the “hard stuff” are just a few of them. Course the “bottles” were always well hidden….

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    I have worked with a group of ladies for many years, and I never discount it when they have a hunch about something. They, like Mason, are seldom wrong.

    Dr. B


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