I'm getting published in an area paper. I live in the middle of nowhere. Remember what they say,
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"Nowhere" is also "now here"
figured I'd send this to lit before they own it tommarrow-
Getting Him Started Again-
The Rural Virginian Welcomes Back Columnist Langden Mason
"Remember when there were five sticks of butter in a pound cake?" When
people carried 'calling cards' instead of 'business cards'? When the
world seemed more compassionate and full of pride? There was an easier
quality to life that needs to be remembered, if not rekindled.
"People worked harder, and they laughed harder. They took life seriously,
but themselves, not too much ...the fabric of America seemed to be more
Langden Mason's Southern sensibilities largely shape his take on things.
So do the people who taught and inspire those sensibilities, and they are
the reason he's coming home to The Rural Virginian.
Born and raised in Scottsville, Langden grew up on a two-hundred acre
cattle farm in Fluvanna County. He married his high-school sweetheart, Scarlett (can't get much more southern than that). Both have a history of
four generations in the county. Those are pretty deep roots.
Mr. Mason graduated from Fluvanna High School and earned a degree in
Chemistry and Biology from Longwood College. He worked with the
government for a while as a chemical warfare analyst. The government job
lacked satisfaction and he went to work for State Farm as an insurance
under-writer. He is still with State Farm, though now part of the
"Learning and Development" team. He trains new agents and staff in auto
He felt the inclination to write during his government days and
envisioned something of a "Tom Clancy" thriller, but he said with that,
he "always felt a day late and a dollar short."
When he saw a classified ad seeking a columnist for The Rural Virginian,
he decided to do what he always heard writers should do: write what they
know. What did he know? He knew his community. He knew his home. He chose
to write about the Fourth of July Parade in Scottsville. His canvas was
the epitome of a Norman Rockwell painting. (Not surprisingly, Rockwell is
a favorite artist of Mr. Mason.)
The Rural Virginian liked what he wrote, and his column "Don't Get Me
Started" was born. That was ten years ago. He continued at The Rural
Virginian until two years ago when he left to try his hand at other
Mr. Mason is gifted in the fields of music and drama as well and has
written several productions including "Town on a River", a musical based
on "Of Town and River" by John Randolph Phillips, about the history of
Although only forty-three, Mason has an old-fashioned civility and sense
of fun. One can picture him saying "Let's put on a show!" In fact, his
"Fine-Feathered Follies" was performed at Carysbrook Performing Arts
Center last year.
He hopes to continue in this avenue, and plans a second run of the
"Follies" at The Victory Theatre in the spring. Local residents garner
another benefit from his talents.
Mason's writing was influenced by Agatha Christie in the way she could
bring definition to her characters by use of dialogue and circumstance as
opposed to pure description. He said his writing style is very much
shaped b"y living in the shadow of "Walton's Mountain, the simplicity of good
old common-sense and humor without a need for the sensationalism so
prevalent in the world today.
"Would this offend my Sunday school teachers? Would my grandmother Mason
like to read this? Although they always say 'don't write for your
audience'- for me, it's the most important thing," says Mason.
"My style is to have people laugh at themselves, without becoming harsh
He doesn't get political. To Langden Mason, life is bigger than politics.
He finds his characters and situations in the world around him. He
maneuvers through pet-peeves with aplomb, subtly raising issues with a
gentle prod instead of a jab. He says he uses regular folk, family and
friends, to make his points. Being multiply multiple-generational in the
area, his well is quite deep and according to Mason, "Not one is boring!"
Mr. Mason says that the people who have had the greatest influence on his
life are the older folks of Scottsville, through "their simplicity and
truth and plain common-sense." He spoke of his wife's grandfather, George
"Pop" Newton, and the wisdom imparted with phrases such as "Don't plant
your potatoes too close to your onions, or their eyes will cry." Langden
listens for wisdom in words like that, and has always produced a fine
crop of potatoes- away from the onions.
Nothing would please him more than to see some of the grace and gentility
of the past endure while we burgeon on into the future. He hopes his
writing helps to do just that.
At this time of his life, with two nearly grown daughters (20 and 18), he
and his wife are down-sizing, and looking to see what really matters to
them. One such thing, a deep sense of community pride, led him back to
The Rural Virginian; back to the readers who have taught him so much.
Langden Mason continues to write with the warm and humorous wisdom that
is such a wonderful and integral part of our rural piece of American pie.
With laughter he gently points out absurdities of life. With nuance, he
tactfully teases, encouraging us to laugh more at ourselves as we mosey
through our daily doings. He adeptly reminds us to look for the wisdom
and the balance of life that has passed before, and to find the fallacy
of forgetting that grace, lest we neglect to carry it into the future. He
wants us all to be remember that not long ago, the only "black-berries"
you could find grew on bushes!
Welcome home Langden!