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Adventist News: Vegetarian edition

The Seattle Times notes high-tech workers and Seventh-day Adventist influence in the emerging vegetarian culture of the Pacific Northwest.

Stewart Rose points to the region’s immigration patterns and religions. The vice president of Vegetarians of Washington and longtime vegan notes that newcomers from Buddhist and Hindu nations brought their traditional meat-free or low-meat diets, including engineers who came in droves from Asia to work for Microsoft, and other tech hubs. The Northwest also is home to a large population of Seventh Day Adventists (sic), many of whom are vegetarian. These groups opened stores and restaurants to cater to their tastes and needs, Rose said.

“You had the immigration of different ethnic groups, you have homegrown groups that took on everything from yoga to health food,” said Rose. “And then you have something else that has been growing in interest and that is the animal-rights movement, which has a very strong presence in the Northwest.”

And yes, the Inland Empire’s Press-Enterprise has a great story about Loma Linda native gets her high school diploma. . .80 years later.

Her husband, a graduate of what was then called the College of Medical Evangelists, now Loma Linda University, died 18 years ago. Now Neva Powers Mason (pictured) lives alone in the cottage-like hillside home in Hollywood that they bought 65 years ago.

Born in St. Helena in Napa County, Mason came with her parents to Loma Linda at age 3. Her father, Jason Powers, managed the farm that fed Seventh-day Adventists attending the college.

“Most people were vegetarians,” she said. “That was not part of the religion. It was part of the health thing.

“I remember the kids who didn’t go to the Adventist school. They would take the bus to Redlands,” she recalled. “When the bus would go by, I would be out sometimes mowing the lawn or something. They would yell out, ‘Cabbage eaters.’ “

Mason enrolled at Loma Linda Academy at age 7. The first and second grades were combined in one classroom of fewer than 20 students. She finished both grades in the first year.

“You were expected to go to church,” she said. “You knew everybody and we all kind of looked after each other. Nobody had too much money. They sacrificed a lot to get that school going and keep it accredited.”

Students at the academy, much like students at the college, played in the town’s orchestra.

“It was surprising how many doctors and medical students are musicians,” she said. “And they are very good at it. So we always had a good orchestra.”

She played the coronet. Christopher Mason, a medical student six years her senior, played the flute. Between rehearsals, they dated under family supervision.

Loma Linda Academy opened in 1906, but as a junior academy that only went through the 11th grade. Neva Powers Mason and four classmates took a bus to La Sierra Academy for their senior year.

She enrolled in a nursing school at Pacific Union College in St. Helena and stayed there until Christopher Mason called six months later.

“He wanted to know if I was going to marry him,” Neva Powers Mason remembers. “I said, ‘You haven’t asked me.’ He said, ‘The reason I’m asking is because I’m going to intern now and it will make a difference. If I’m going to get married, I’ll take the one that pays the most.’ I had known him and I had never gone with anyone else. I said yes.”

The higher-paying job was at a hospital in Washington, D.C., and she was living there during the Roosevelt inauguration.

“It was cold that day,” she said. “It was so crowded. I put my arm up to adjust my hat and I couldn’t get my arm down.”

They returned to Loma Linda in the late 1930s while her husband taught anatomy at the college. Then he moved on to a practice in Los Angeles.

Neva Powers Mason never lost touch with her Loma Linda roots.

“I’ve always felt like Loma Linda was my hometown,” she said.

. . .two years ago. . .Mason met Mary Morgan, the academy’s director of advancement and development.

“She is just the sweetest, cutest little old lady,” Morgan said, “and she felt bad because her sister, who graduated in 1935, has a diploma from Loma Linda Academy and she does not.”

Only a year after Mason’s graduation from La Sierra, Loma Linda Academy added the 12th grade and began issuing diplomas.

Morgan persuaded her fellow administrators to issue a diploma, dated 1929. She checked with La Sierra Academy but they had long since lost records from those years. Morgan secretly arranged for 20 members of Mason’s family to attend the graduation ceremony at this year’s alumni weekend.

“They told me I was representing the class of ’29, which didn’t exist,” Mason said. “They said they had something for me.”

Morgan said school officials called Mason to the podium in the school auditorium and told her they were going to give her the diploma.

“We put a cap and gown on her,” Morgan said.

Mason keeps the gown pressed and breaks it out, along with the diploma, to show off to guests.

“I think it means somebody loves me,” she said. “A lot of people love me.”

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