Where Judy Mason ’60 grew up, the gossip traveled faster than the cars.
She remembers the day her boyfriend picked her up in his car after a stop at the cleaner’s. By the time she got home, the “news” had spread that she was pregnant and eloping.
“Just because there were clothes in the back of the car!” Judy said. “That’s a one-horse town.”
Judy wasn’t pregnant, and she didn’t elope. In fact, she never married at all.
Her aunt, Ella (Mason) Caples 1900, paid for Judy to attend Pacific University. That gift sparked a career in education and a life filled with travel and adventure.
“It’s the greatest gift I ever received,” Judy said. “When you give a girl an education, she rises. She’ll never be the same again.”
Judy wasn’t the first in her family to benefit from such a gift.
Ella grew up in eastern Oregon and started teaching in a local school at age 17. When she wanted to go to college to become a licensed teacher, her own aunt, who ran a boarding house in Portland, took her in and paid her way.
Ella and a cousin went on to tour Europe as young women, alone, in the early 1900s, and they later lived in a studio apartment in Portland, where Ella taught high school Spanish and German.
She kept traveling throughout her life.
“She would usually go to Mexico or Guatemala in the summer,” Judy recalled. “She’d bring back little things for us. I can remember this little seashell, which was pink inside. She told us we could hear the ocean waves when we held it to our ear. She brought back these little bowls made from gourds that had been decorated and cut with our names on them.”
“When you give a girl an education, she rises. She’ll never be the same again.”
When Ella paid for Judy to attend Pacific as well, Judy followed her example and chose a path to teaching.
“Your choices when I was at that age were: you could be a teacher, a nurse, a secretary, or a clerk,” Judy said. “But I probably would have been a teacher anyway.
“It seemed to me that the people I new in the education department, the students, went on to become good teachers. I really felt that I had been well prepared.”
Judy spent her entire career teaching in the Little Lake School District in California. She also went on to earn a master’s degree from California State University Fullerton, and she taught night and summer school courses at a local community college, as well as summer sessions at Chapman University.
And, she embraced the sense of adventure that her aunt had inspired.
Shortly after college, she embarked on a trip to Europe for two months, visiting England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, and Holland. She started out with a group, but got separated from them when she went to pick up her brother’s car where he was stationed in Germany.
She ended up exploring on her own.
“In those days, the way you kept track of anybody, you went to the American Express Office and wrote down the time and date you were there, if you were looking for somebody, or if you were willing to share a ride,” she said.
She went to Scandinavia, which was having a record-cold year.
“You had to go to bed early. I was staying in dorms, and they turned the heat off in the summer,” she said. “There was a feather bed, and so you got in for the night.”
She met up with a couple of girls in Spain and gave them a ride to Italy.
At one point, she left her suitcase in Paris and traveled around with a three-piece knit suit and a single blouse.
“When I got to Spain and it was 100 degrees, I bought a blouse and a skirt, and I did the rest of the trip in that.”
A few years later, she drove through Mexico with a roommate, and later returned to Europe to tour France, England and Scotland with Marge (Putman) Berreth Lantier ‘60.
She went to Honduras to visit a friend looking for gold off the coast, and she explored Mayan ruins on her own.
She visited Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico.
“There were just so many incidents,” she said, with a little laugh. “It’s called being young and stupid.”
Retired now, Judy doesn’t travel so much. But she’s tried to inspire others with the same gifts she received.
She’s given to Pacific consistently for nearly 20 years, creating opportunities for future students, and she’s helped younger relatives with their own school expenses, too.
Her Aunt Ella and Pacific University gave her the world, she said.
“To this day, I am grateful.”