Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

April 3, 1954

On April 3, 1954, the Cleveland Call and Post reported that nightclub owner and number racket king Benny Mason had been killed in a car crash. Mason, sixty, and his friend Walter Woodford died instantly when Mason’s car was struck on Route 42, eight miles northeast of London, Ohio. Mason’s wife was injured, but survived the crash. The group was returning from a vacation in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  The Call and Post described the ceremony for Mason at East Mt. Zion Baptist and the 150 car procession that followed the hearse to Evergreen Memorial Cemetery as “A fabulous funeral!  One of the largest ever held for a Cleveland Negro.”

In 1936, Mason opened Mason’s Farm, a 169-acre nightclub, restaurant, and resort that became a popular place to see jazz artists like saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. “I want to do something for my people,” Mason told the Call and Post. “I want to make this farm a place where they can relax and enjoy themselves. I want to provide a place for them comparable to similar places for other Races.” The newspaper described a renovation to Mason’s Farm in 1942 and concluded: “In this beautiful building, the fine riding horses, the comfortable cabin, in Coleman the beautiful picnic woods, and the reasonable prices charged for these things, we think Benny Mason’s dream has materialized.”

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