Berna C. Mason
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Berna C. Mason

State of Michigan, Office of Financial and Administrative Service

 

 

Berna C. Mason

BIOGRAPHY
Mrs. Berna Mason was born on December 26, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan. She is the daughter of William McConnell and Edna Stommon. Mrs. McConnell migrated to Detroit with her father, Arthur, in 1909 from Macon, Georgia when she was around three years old. Mr. McConnell came to Detroit from Nova Scotia, Canada. Mrs. Mason began living with her mother's cousin several years before her mother's death in 1940. Her father died in 1946.

Mrs. Mason decided to leave Cass Technical High School near the beginning of her senior year in 1947 to get married. After raising five children, as well as putting one of them through the University of Michigan, Mrs. Mason decided to return to school herself in 1971. She began her GED studies at Wayne County Community College and subsequently enrolled at the University of Michigan. Her husband died in 1976.

Mrs. Mason received her bachelor's degree in business education in 1979 and her master's in education administration in 1980, both from the University of Michigan. She was featured in a story about older college students in the Fall 1978 (Tenth Anniversary) issue of Nutshell magazine.

Mrs. Mason is knowledgeable about community folk healers and nontraditional health care providers, such as homeopathic practitioner Mother Bracey. Mrs. Mason has taught business courses at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan and then at Marygrove College in Detroit.

She was the director of admissions and financial aid at Jordan College in Flint, Michigan and has taught accounting and computer programming languages in the Birmingham, Michigan Public Schools. She has been an employment counselor with the Michigan Employment Security Commission and a contract specialist/departmental analyst with the State of Michigan's Office of Finance and Administrative Services.

Mrs. Mason has had memberships in the Michigan Education Association, American Vocational Association, Occupational Education Association, Business Education Teachers Association, and American Education Association. She has also embarked on entrepreneurial ventures in the areas of home improvement and transportation services.

Tape recorded interview;
Southfield, MI
8 July  1998
audio clip

Ms. Mason discusses her relationship with Mother Bracey, an informal neighborhood health provider

I: Do you recall any informal type advisors, like health advisors in the neighborhood?

R: Yes. I went to Mother Bracey because I took my husband there and I was a grown woman then. She was a homeopathic doctor and her husband was a chiropractor. But, that wasn't in the [19]40s. That was in the [19]70s.

I: Tell us a little bit about Mother Bracey.

R: Well, [have] you ever heard of homeopathy?

I: Yes, but why don't you tell us about it.

R: Well, I guess it's like a precursor of modern medicine. I found out about it [when] my husband had lung cancer. He didn't want to be at U of M [Hospital] and I didn't want [him] to be at U of M, either, because I was trying to go to school and it was a burden for me for him to be at the hospital. And he didn't want to be there. So, I took him home. So, they had given him up. They said that he's terminal. Well, he couldn't smoke anymore because smoke bothered him, because he had lung cancer. So, I was making-this is something I was doing on my own-I was taking marijuana [and] making the tea, just steeping it to make tea, and giving him that, putting honey, lemon juice [in it and] giving him that. Because he didn't want to be on [any] drugs and he wasn't going to take chemotherapy and all the rest of that stuff. So, I just made the tea.

And so, a friend of mine told me about this woman named Mother Bracey. And she said, "Take him down to Mother Bracey. Mother Bracey probably can heal him. Because [there'd] be people lined up all the way around the block because when they would give people up at Harper Hospital and different places, the doctors would tell them, 'Go around there and see Mother Bracey.'" And so, I took him around there. I took him down there and [there were] a lot of people in there. I took Jimmy, my husband by there and she said, "You don't want to live, do you?" And he said, "No, ma'am." And she said, "Well, take him on away, because it ain't no need of me being bothered with [somebody who] don't want to live."

He didn't want to be disabled and [be confined to] wheelchairs and all. And I'm like that, too. So, anyway, she told me, she said, "Well, I can tell you how to get Laetrile." [Have] you ever heard of Laetrile? Laetrile is [made from] apricots. Anyway, it's against the law to give people Laetrile [in the United States].

I: What does it do?

R: It's supposed to help with cancer.

I: Is it like a narcotic effect or [what]? Why would it be against [the law to dispense it]?

R: I don't know. That's what people wonder. But, anyway, I had to get it, I had to violate the law. Mother Bracey had to tell me where to get it from Mexico and you had to send the money down there to get it. It's ridiculous. But, anyway, it's spelled L-a-e-t-r-i-l-e, Laetrile. I think it comes from apricots. Because homeopathic stuff is natural, it's a natural process. It's not narcotics or anything like that. Anyway, I got it and it helped him for a while. I don't know whether it was psychosomatic or what it was, but it seemed to help him. I was giving it to him when he died and I was also giving him my little remedy of making marijuana tea. And so, I know that he never did have to take morphine or any of this stuff.

I: It was helping him deal with the pain?

R: Yes, he was able to deal with [it]. He didn't have any pain because I would keep him filled up on that tea and I'd give him that Laetrile. And I was right there when he died. I certainly wasn't going to put him in no nursing home. [I'm not] into nursing homes. I didn't put him there. I was right there, right there with him.

 

William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young

 

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Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
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