GRACE ELAINE MASON
Grace Elaine Mason was born in Los Angeles, California on February 11, 1920 to John James Mason and Clarinda Maranda Mason, who was born Crawford. Grace Elaine, who always went by her middle name, was the second child born to John and Clarinda. Grace Elaine’s older sister Frances was born almost a decade earlier. Within a five year period, Elaine was joined by another sister, Marjorie Mildred, who was born May 17, 1922, and John Arhur, who was born April 11, 1925.
Elaine’s maternal grandfather, Reverend Newton Jasper Crawford, was a Brethren minister who established churches in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Philomath, Oregon and in Santa Ana, California. As a result, religion had a significant impact on her upbringing. (Her mother and father met while he was a member of Reverend Crawford’s church. As a teenager, Elaine taught Sunday School to younger members of her grandfather’s church in South Los Angeles.
John James Mason was a public school teacher in the Los Angeles School District. John’s wife Clarinda operated her own private school, Magic Lane, in Hollywood. Elaine, despite a serious childhood illness, completed her elementary grades at her mother’s school early enough to complete her secondary education by age sixteen. After graduation from Fremont High in 1936, Elaine went to Los Angeles Community College for two years before transferring to the University of California at Berkeley. The highlight of Elaine’s community college experience was being the Editor of the yearbook. In that role she was in regular contact with many budding journalists, including her future husband, Ivo Lazzeroni. Elaine received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Institutions, and was honored for her scholarship be awarded a Phi Beta Kappa.
After graduation from Berkeley, Elaine married Ivo Lazzeroni in San Francisco on May 1, 1942. Ivo was the son of Italian immigrants, Anacelto Lazzeroni and Laura Mariotti Lazzeroni. Ivo was born December 5, 1917 in Cicero, Illinois. Both of the newlyweds worked at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond during World War II. Late in the war, Ivo was drafted into the United States Army and served as a quartermaster in the Aleutians. While Ivo was in the military, Elaine came back to Southern California and lived with her mom and dad.
Elaine and Ivo were blessed with a daughter, Gracia Marianna Lazzeroni, who was born at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital May 11, 1947. Stephen Vincent was born September 1, 1949. Elaine gave birth to a second son, Peter Anacleto on May 21, 1953. Their last child, Laura Clarinda was born August 16, 1955. Using GI Bill benefits, Ivo and Elaine found the perfect home for their young family in El Sereno. Elaine especially enjoyed the quaintness of their home which looked like it was plucked from the English counntryside. It had rolled eaves, and many unique architectural features, including multiple ponds, and a steep hill in the back which made an outstanding playground for the toddlers, Gracia and Steve.
In 1955, Ivo and Elaine moved to a new suburban subdivision in West Covina. They purchased their new home from plans, and they had the opportunity to see it taking shape during week-end trips to check its progress. 524 South Dancove Drive was a three bedroom and den home with a kitchen large enough for an informal dining set made of Formica and stainless steel. The Lazzeroni family gathered at meal times around this table to enjoy meals cooked to perfection by Elaine. She enjoyed trying new recipes, and her family was always treated to a well cooked meal with a variety of main courses.
While Elaine worked as a homemaker, Ivo commuted to his office job in downtown Los Angeles. It was a single car household, and Elaine counted on Ivo for transportation for shopping and other store trips. As a neighborhood filled with young families, Gracia, Steve, Peter and Laura always had many playmates on their block. Life included Summer trips to Mission Beach and Stinson Beach. There was a long, long road trip to see Ivo’s family in Chicago.
During a brief marital break in the sixties, Elaine shifted from homemaker to returning student as she successfully pursued a graduate degree at CSULA. Armed with a Master of Arts, Elaine tried her hand at teaching, but quickly realized it wasn’t her “cup of tea.” Instead, her re-entry to the work force took her into the County of Los Angeles Department of Social Services. During her career with the County she enjoyed her position as a Social Worker. She also had the opportunity to be the Acting Supervisor of her unit.
Meanwhile, Elaine’s elder daughter Gracia married Mike Heywood, and in 1966 gave her a granddaughter Wendy Elizabeth, who was born August 14, 1966. Mike and Gracia lived in El Monte for about several years and made a point of spending week-ends with Elaine and Gracia’s siblings. Sadly, during this time, March 15, 1969 saw the tragic loss of Peter Anacleto Lazzeroni. Even after Mike’s work transferred him to Orange County, trips to West Covina happened with regularity, and Elaine rewarded the visiting family with waffles and bacon for breakfast Sunday mornings. By this time, of course, Elaine enjoyed a second granddaughter Jennifer Laura.
In retirement, Elaine enjoyed many exciting and interesting trips with her sister Marjorie’s Sister Cities organization. She traveled to Cuba, India and China. She also made several Elder Hostel trips to England and Europe. Ivo and Elaine took Stephen and granddaughter Jennifer on a lengthy trip to Italy. In addition to overseas travel, Elaine enjoyed attending the annual Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.
Elaine taught herself to be a highly skilled Tole Painting artist. She created many heirloom projects that grace the Lazzeroni and Heywood family homes. She then returned to a pursuit she had enjoyed since her youth. She wrote, and with Jennifer’s help, published books of her outstanding poetry. Elaine won a number of poetry contests, and very much enjoyed the opportunity to share her writing with fellow poets at her local chapter of the Chaparral Poetry Society.
Elaine had a special relationship with her husband, children, grandchildren and great granddaughters. She recognized that her connection with each member of her family was unique. Her volumes of poetry speak to the special relationships she enjoyed with members of her household. Gracia was always her “rock.” Though she moved out of the family home at age 18, her elder daughter provided the glue that held the extended family together. Elaine admired the artist in Stephen, and it was apparent that she felt a special bond with his artistic nature. She spent many hours playing Scrabble with her granddaughter Wendy. As with her connection with her elder son, Elaine appreciated the artist in her elder granddaughter. While her younger granddaughter had a clearly stronger bond with her grandfather, Jennifer also enjoyed a special relationship with her Granny-Gumps.”
With her Son-in-Law Mike, she attended symphony orchestra performances at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Elaine would drive down (always over-land) to Huntington Beach and enjoy a home cooked meal with Gracia and Mike, then her Son-in-Law would take her to enjoy a night of Mahler, Bach or other symphonic composers. She always enjoyed family occasions, whether she was hosting the event at her home, or attending a party at her daughter’s house. Though suffering from Dementia in her later years, Elaine still seemed to enjoy the hum of activity at birthday or holiday celebrations.
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