In Memory of Vida Damon

In Nina Winn’s diary entry for May 7, 1922, she wrote of visiting Mount Pleasant Cemetery and viewing the grave of her close friend since childhood, Vida Damon, where a marker had been installed recently.  Nina wrote:  “Saw Vida’s stone—very severe and simple & beautiful.”

Vida Damon was about six months older than Nina Winn, and they likely attended the Russell Grammar School together on Medford Street in Arlington Center.  As they grew from girls to young and then mature women, they were part of a close circle of female friends around their own ages that got together socially for many years as the “Christmas Club.”  Most of the members were single women.

Vida was the youngest of four Damon children surviving into adulthood.  She lived with her widowed mother, Ella G. Damon, and her bachelor brother, Frederick W. Damon, at 275 Broadway (a home still standing).  The Damon Park subdivision created in the 1950s is located on what was the large rear garden of the Damon home, and is bounded by Warren and Webster streets. 

Vida was listed as a kindergarten teacher in the 1900 federal census, and as a school teacher in the 1910 federal census, but in the last year of her life, the 1921 True List of Arlington Residents lists her occupation as “At Home.”

On August 27, 1921, Nina Winn wrote in her diary:  “Rang Florence Harris just before one & she told me the awful news of Vida Damon’s death.  Word of Vida’s drowning at Kennebunkport, [Maine] yesterday in the morning paper. . . . Found floating on water, brot pulmonator from Old Orchard by airplane, but useless.  Would have been 44 the 14th of October—a lifelong friend.”

“Christmas Club sending a basket of yellow roses,” wrote Nina Winn regarding Vida Damon’s funeral.  Of the eight individual gravestones in the Damon family lot, only Vida’s has an epitaph.  It is a verse from Psalm 25 of the Bible, and seems particularly fitting for someone who lost her life by drowning in the Atlantic Ocean:

Vida Damon’s stone would have been starkly brilliant when new, as it was made of white marble.  Unfortunately, marble rapidly discolors, and becomes heavily weathered, eventually rendering inscriptions unreadable.  Years of acid rain have contributed to an overall degradation of the surface, known as “sugaring.” Marble markers have a life of 100 to 150 years on average, so granite markers predominated by the early 20th century.  Vida Damon’s stone is old fashioned for its era.

Vida Damon was an active member of the Arlington Historical Society, serving on the Relics Committee (today’s Collection Committee) at the time of her death.  Below is a portrait of Vida as an adult.

Vida Damon