Appalachia Appalachian Food Preserving/Canning

Clate & Mary Mason

Funny how images and people from the past often bubble up in our lives. Clate and Mary Mason lived down the road from me throughout my growing up years. More than that, they lived down the road during much of Pap’s growing up years as well.

Pap said they lived in the old Mason place for a while, then in the late 40s or 50s Mary and Clate built their own house, the one they lived in when I was a kid.

Clate was a real character. Pap has story after story he can tell you about him. My memory of Clate and Mary is of a sweet elderly couple. Mary quiet, sweet, and serene; Clate always ready with something to talk about.

Somewhere along the way, Mary died and Clate was put in the local nursing home where he continually tried to escape and find his way back home until the day he followed along after Mary.

Clate and Mary’s house stands empty. A lady from Florida bought it after they died and for a few years she’d bring her family and stay part of the summer. I recall she brought goats and chickens with her too. I don’t know what ever happened to her, nor even if she still owns the house. But no one has inhabited it in the last 10 years or so.

Earlier this summer I noticed the apple trees in Mary and Clate’s yard were loaded. I told the girls we should remember and try to get some of them after they ripened. A few weeks later I noticed someone had mowed a path to the trees I guess they had the same idea I did.

As summer progressed, it seemed liked Mary and Clate popped up in every other conversation I had. Once we begin to talk about Mary and Clate the girls wanted to know more about them and peppered anyone who was old enough to remember them with questions. It seemed we were all talking about Mary and Clate like they were still down the road sitting on the porch waiting to wave at us as we went by trying not to stir up too much dust.

Although I didn’t get any apples from Clate and Mary’s trees, I did end up with an abundance of apples this summer. I spent an entire weekend drying apples, making candied apples and applesauce. At the end of the weekend I was exhausted and still hadn’t put up all the apples.

I decided to look through a cookbook Granny gave me and see if there were any apple preserving recipes in it. As I flipped through Granny’s handwritten spiral recipe book, I came upon Mary Mason’s Apple Butter Recipe.

Finding the recipe didn’t surprise me much. I had already been carrying Mary and Clate around in my head all summer. It seemed only natural that Mary would send me an apple recipe across the years by way of Granny just when I needed it.


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    September 16, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    So sad when perfectly habitable houses are left empty to eventual ruin isn’t it. I’d love to have a sweet simple little house in the mountains like that. Bro Tom would love it as too – he’s a mountain boy at heart.
    Mary and Clate sound like kind, down-to-earth folks that were a blessing to all they met. The world doesn’t have as many solid people like that nowadays like it use to, I don’t think.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    September 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you for the comment! I’ll try and share the candied apple recipe too. They are very similar to apple preserves. Good luck with your apples!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    September 4, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I’m late reading this today, but so enjoyed the Clate and Mary Mason story. They are so like so many people I knew when growing up. And naturally the apples. All of those “back there” had the foresight to put out apple, pear, peach and cherry trees–especially apple trees. We had June apples early, and “Black Apples” (they weren’t really black) until frost got them in the fall if we hadn’t gathered them all. Drying apples, canning apple sauce, canning sliced apples for apple pie (especially cobbler), making and canning apple butter, and of course, apple jelly, too. Much work, but much good eating! We wrapped apples in pieces of newspaper, one by one, and placed them in a barrel for Christmas. These ways were how we took care of apples. Wish I could still go to my Dad’s apple trees and gather an apron-full.

  • Reply
    james gentry
    September 4, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    That’s a wonderful story. I hope you think of Clate and Mary every time you eat apple butter and biscuits on a cold winter morning.

  • Reply
    Dan McCarter
    September 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    what is candied apples? I am getting ready to go to a nearby orchard and get apples for apple sauce, apple butter and I am going to dry some for an apple stack cake.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    September 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    neighbors are a blessing — I remember a couple like that as well. You know your apple butter is going to taste all the better for the loving memories you will be stirring in.

  • Reply
    Dan O'Connor
    September 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I really enjoyed your story today. It took me back when I was a kid and the older neighbors and their kind ways. It was the suburbs of DC, but in many ways it was the same. There are country folk and there are city folk. Both have there characters and there blessings. Our roots may vary, but regardless of our roots the mountains call us. Thank you so much for your window in to your world.

  • Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    That was a nice story about your
    childhood neighbors. We all have
    those wonderful memories of friends
    and family to reflect on. It’s
    stories like this that help us to
    remember “the good times.” …Ken

  • Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Wow! Funny how those we knew somehow creep back into our thoughts and lives. Such a shame that Mary and Clate’s house sits empty, looks like a very homey place. Can’t wait for you to share Mary’s apple butter recipe!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    September 4, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Hey Tipper: I’ll be heading toward the Folk School on Friday and I could just come by and sample that Apple Butter you done made. Now I don’t want to be pushy but I am also leaving about a half dozen copies of “FIDDLER OF THE MOUNTAINS” at the Folk School and hopefully with Clay’s Corner! So yuns just tell everybody where they can find their copy of “Fiddler” for me. Will you be at the Court House on Friday evening? If so I will be looken for you.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Wonderful reminiscences. Part of where we come from and who we are.
    I love apple butter – made it from our own tree when we lived in Virginia. Now I’m looking forward to your recipe and curious about the crock-pot version mentioned.
    I’ll try to not make too much dust as I travel my own reminiscing trails.

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    September 4, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I love it when things like that happen. 🙂

  • Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 10:15 am

    You know, I feel that few things can revive past memories of days gone by or people that are gone than a deserted homeplace. Byron Herbert Reece had a poem “Analogy At A Deserted House” from his first book of poetry (Ballad of The Bones) that describes this feeling so well.

  • Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 9:50 am

    That was such a great story. Memories like that are precious. You made me remember the lady who lived behind us in our summer home along the Jersey shore. She was from Holland and she made the best Dutch cookies. She would make some for my brother and I every summer. Yummy!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    September 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Nice story, loved reading about Mary and Clate, and then to read that she made apple butter! Well, I make apple butter every year so I look forward to seeing her recipe! I think apple butter is one of the best things in the world. ; )

  • Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I can almost see them sitting on the porch, just like my parents used to do. My parents always had an apple orchard with old-timey apples. I remember the yellow and black sheepnose variety. Someone is probably cutting a path to them too.

  • Reply
    September 4, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Very interesting post, Tipper! Wonderful neighbors such as Mary and Clate Mason are going to cross your mind many times. They gave such a special warmth to your life that they are never forgotten. One can find so much research on Ancestry that I have researched some of the very special people from the past. Amazing stories unfold. Winter project!
    Now the apple butter. I found a crock pot recipe online that does not have to be constantly stirred. I have never been an apple butter fan, but I made some for Grand daughter. It certainly looks pretty in the jars, but I haven’t a clue how it should taste. They sell it each fall at the local church Bazaar, so will buy her some in case my batch brings on a wrinkled-up face.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 4, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Are these folks William Clayton Mason and Mary Frances Plott? Are they buried at Maggies Chapel? I think Mary Frances was a descendant of Henry Isaac Plott who was first to breed the famous Plott Hounds.

  • Reply
    Dewayne Hall
    September 4, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Wow…talking of reflections of the past! I remember this place well. I use to mow for the lady, which I now believe she owns a place in Hayesville on the lake and her family is grown and out on their own. And some of the best apples a person could get!!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 4, 2013 at 8:08 am

    It is funny how childhood friends come back and forth into our lives. I just made contact with my nextdoor neighbor who is now living in Oregon, about as far away as you can get from FL and still be in the States. I hadn’t seen her since she left for Viet Nam in the 60’s. It has been so wonderful checking in with her.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    September 4, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for the story on Mary and Clate Mason. I didn’t know them, but I concluded a few years ago that everyone’s ancestors deserve to be remembered, which is why I got into genealogy.
    This is one of my favorite times of the year, primarily because of the availability of fresh-off-the-tree apples. Probably my favorite fruit, and so many varieties available today!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 4, 2013 at 7:42 am

    You called them up, Tipper, when you first began to think about them and the apples. It’s funny how what we think about multiplies. I really try to remember that when I’m out of sorts, like this past weekend. Think about good things and good things will happen. Think about bad things and they will grow. Think about Clate and Mary and they’ll come to visit and bring a new recipe!
    I always look at that house when I come to visit and wonder about it’s story. Now I know.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    September 4, 2013 at 7:34 am


  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    September 4, 2013 at 6:51 am

    I’m so glad you mentioned them. I’m a visual person so when I think about how to get to your house, I visualize the whole road. Of course, that includes going past the Mason’s house. I only got to see them a few times but I can visual them out in the yard as I passed by. Gail and I walked that road almost every time I spent the night with her. When I started driving, I remember trying not to dust the Masons as I went by. Hard to do when you’re a teenager and in a hurry to get nowhere. Thanks for the memories.

  • Leave a Reply