Friday, July 22, 2005

Excerpt from "John Joseph and St. Joseph"

…Dad was a man to emulate. He wasn’t tall, powerful, or of genius grade---but he was quite intelligent. He didn’t have a lot of education. He wasn’t a drunk, a drug user, or an abuser. He had love, loyalty, responsibility, values, and strong religious beliefs. He was a carpenter, and we didn’t live the high life, but I always felt secure and wanted as a child. I never felt a particular financial want. Obviously, we couldn’t expect expensive items in our lives, but we had what we really needed: the basics and love. He was a good man by any measure.

…Dad’s spankings---taboo in the politically correct current belief---were probably deserved, better by his hand than by a switch (which he never used,) and usually short in duration. I imagine the spanking was even tough on his work-hardened hands, but they weren’t especially hard on us. After all, we usually had clothing to stay between his hand and us. And if we expected the spanking (which was usual, since Mom only threatened us,) there was usually an additional layer or two. Yes, the spankings hurt---but not that much---and after a few minutes, there was little to cry about. Besides, once the spanking ended, we got sympathy. And Dad never bore a grudge. He was immediately mild mannered Dad again.

The major thing Dad was obstinate about was Yankee ball games. He followed them whenever he could. Our family listened to them on the car radio when we took our Sunday rides. It was expected. I remember many of those rides, never knowing where we were going. And the roads we went on were old and hilly. Up and down, up and down. Some hills were like a roller coaster and they would give you that same feeling as Dad motored up and down at normal speed. Those areas of the road were called “Mary Annes” because my little sister liked them so much. Our trips would often end at an apple orchard where we could go into the cool barn and pick out a basket of apples and some cider. What an aroma! One of the great memory smells of autumn. Or we’d end up in New Jersey, perhaps Hamburg (we loved the name) or just through the back roads and stop at an A & W Root Beer stand for floats. Those were days to re-enjoy with memory. Fuel wasn’t a problem. Gas sold for about 20 cents a gallon, except at some corners where there were three or four stations. They’d often have gas wars, and I remember the prices once going down to 13 cents a gallon. Our only deterrent during that period was a rainy day. And, of course, we didn’t make trips in the winter.

I didn’t particularly care to hear the Yankee games all the time, but baseball was a connection between Dad and me, even though I was a Dodger fan. He assumed his team was best, but never belittled my fandom. After all, I knew the Dodgers were the best team around. The only conflict we really had was when the Dodgers and Yankees both had games on the TV at the same time. Dad usually won. After all, he worked hard all day. He paid the bills. He bought the TV. And he had a louder voice, and an ally with Mom, who didn’t care about the games, but agreed that Dad had precedence.

Dad and the Parish men sometimes took us to New York for a baseball game, and it was always to Yankee Stadium. They were all Yankee fans, and despite my pleas, I never got the group to Ebbets Field, where real baseball was played.

My first visit to Yankee Stadium was my first visit to any major league baseball park. Waiting outside on line was no big thing. I had certainly done that before. Whitey Ford being escorted parallel to us on the other side of a cyclone fence was a unique experience, even though he wasn’t a Dodger. But when we entered the cavernous stadium, I saw the field. Viewing the bright, fresh green at the end of a huge ramp and then as we entered the seating level---it was awe-inspiring for a little kid. No lawn I had ever seen could compare with it. I actually felt honored to be there. This was it. This was the field of battle for my knights in ballpark armor. This was where almost-real baseball was played. (Remember, I was a Dodger fan, and the only place for real baseball was Ebbets Field.) I can only imagine what I’d have felt if I was entering Ebbets Field. I might have had a kid swoon. The ballpark field was impressive, but being ensconced in the nosebleed seats and having to watch the Yankees play took some of the awe out of my experiences.

Dad had a strong religious sense, and he and Mom tried to teach us right from wrong and the proper way to be family and pay attention to each other and the Catholic religion. They sacrificed to send us to Catholic school, and made us stay there and participate in all the activities, especially the religious---although in my case, that wasn’t a problem. I was perfectly happy to be where I was and learn what was necessary and desirable. It was all very natural. Living across the street, and Dad being so involved in volunteering, our family was well known to the Priests and nuns. We were often called upon for various services, especially during the summer when we were the only kids around. I was asked to help at school unpacking and distributing supplies or packaging textbooks, or anything the nuns needed. And at Church at all seasons, I served time at Monday night devotions, even when I didn’t want to.

I learned and understood enough about the Catholic Church in those years up through College to stand me in good stead throughout my life. This knowledge included the horrors and mistakes of the middle ages, and I wasn’t unaware of reality. Many non-Catholics who criticize the Church really don’t understand it. The misinformation around lends itself to the drift from non-Catholics and Catholics alike. Case in point is the continual criticism of the Church about the Pope being infallible. He is, but only in matters of faith and morals, and only with the agreement of a special council of bishops. Hence, infallibility as a truth is only proclaimed in rare instances. Too often, people have the wrong “knowledge” that the Pope claims to be infallible with every word he utters. The critics, then, spout opinions having no understanding of what infallibility entails. So what else is new?

None of us, especially Dad, could say no to any requests, although if I was called at the last minute for evening devotions and the Dodger game was on, I was a bit peeved. And I’m sure that wasn’t the proper attitude for a religious service. The priests noticed my annoyance and kept the fact filed away. I know it came back to haunt me one winter when the priests were taking some altar boys to St. Joseph’s lake for ice skating and winter activity. I was only “tentatively” on the list to go---my first experience with the word. I did go, but I’m sure Dad’s influence was the reason.

Dad never missed Mass, prayed when time permitted, visited the Church for confession regularly, and was always ready to receive communion. I was able to observe him at times, and he was truly involved with what he was doing. He probably prayed in private, but I could never tell for sure. He wasn’t one to talk about his faith.

During the fifties, we usually prayed the rosary together, notably during the Marion Year of 1954. I remember well, because we knelt around Mom and Dad’s bed while we prayed. We passed the rosary around to whoever was saying the decade or mystery. Every night after dinner. As a young kid, I let my attention wander at times, and I used my parents’ bedspread as a canvas for my imaginary travels.

The design was a combination of parallel lines, gently curving like roads---all in pink and purple. We had a large brown family rosary, but I don’t remember now what happened to it. Mary Anne probably has it.

The adage at the time was that the “family that prays together, stays together.” That was fine until Ed went into the Air Force in 1957. We still prayed, but we weren’t really together anymore. As we got older, the family’s praying together let off. It was just too difficult to get us all in one room at the same time. Jack was off somewhere right after supper, and I might have been off to the schoolyard to play Wiffle Ball with Feeney. Dad had started volunteering at the Church, and his carpentry skills were being utilized to benefit the Church.

We always said grace before our dinner, no matter whom was with us or how many of us were present or where we were---except maybe at a big picnic or dinner. But, I still noticed Dad was as religious as before. His Church habits remained steadfast all his life. I still have the rosary beads he used: silver ones with intricate designs. Since he had the rosary, I have to assume he used it…

End of excerpt about my Dad. RIP

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Why must we always “keep up with the Joneses?” Well, why not? They're all around us. Mr. & Mrs. Jones are really Mr. & Mrs. Average, everybody’s neighbors. Jones is the fourth most prevalent name in the U.S. In France, it would be the Dubois family; in Germany, the Meiers or the Müllers.

As with so many semi-forgotten names in the annals of literature and society, “Jones” represents many individuals who have contributed much to our society. And we should appreciate what they have accomplished---even if only 1% of us read some of their works or research their efforts.

I confess I first considered looking into the Smith Family, but decided that it was entirely too large a universe to draw from. But, how many writers and doers could have the name Jones anyway? Quite a lot as it turns out. This list is not all inclusive either with the Jones writers or their works. Even if we had the space for everything, only readers of the Jones persuasion would finish the article. And for some of the family, I could not find accurate dates of death---or even confirm whether or not they’re still alive. With so many to choose from, only the really outstanding Jones members are covered by historical or literary records.

Adam Leroy Jones (1873-1934,) taught Philosophy at Columbia University and wrote Early American Philosophers (1898) and Logic (1909.)

Alfred Jones (1819-1900,) was an engraver for “Godey’s Lady’s Book” and “Graham’s Magazine,” and he invented the process for photo-reproduction directly on a plate which could be printed with type (the “half-tone” process.)

Amanda Theodosia Jones (1835-1914,) was an inventor, poet, and songwriter. She wrote for “The Methodist Ladies’ Repository,” “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated,” and was literary editor of “The Western Rural” and “Bright Side.” Her works include: Ulah and Other Poems (1861,) her first book; Atlantis and Other Poems (1866); A Prairie Idyll (1862); Rubaiyat of Solomon and Other Poems (1905); A Mother of Pioneers (1908); and A Psychic Autobiography (1910.) Amanda also found time to invent a vacuum-preserving process for canning without cooking or without using preservatives: the Jones Direct Feed Safety Oil-Burning System; and the Jones Protection Valve. She doesn’t sound so average to me.

Charles Henry Jones (born 1848, probably dead by now,) was a journalist and a confederate veteran who had served under General Joseph Johnston. He edited several magazines and newspapers: “Eclectic Magazine”; “Appleton’s Journal”; “The Florida Daily Times” (he helped establish it in 1881); the “St. Louis Missouri-Republican”; “The New York World”; and “The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.”

Charles J. “Buffalo” Jones (1844-1918,) was a buffalo hunter through 1872. In 1886, he began breeding experiments and ultimately crossed buffalo with cows---which he called “Cattalo.” [??? Sounds more like he crossed them with cats.] He was also the first game warden for Yellowstone National Park (1901.) One biography, edited by Henry Inman, was published in 1899: BUFFALO JONES’ FORTY YEARS OF ADVENTURE ON THE PLAINS. Another, BUFFALO JONES was written by Ralph Kersey. Buffalo was mentioned in Zane Gray’s ROPING LIONS IN THE GRAND CANYON, and LORD OF THE BEASTS by Easton and Brown. He was awarded a medal by Edward VII for his work with animals, and he entered the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1959.

Ebenezer Jones (1820-1860,) was an English poet with strict, Calvinist views. He wrote Studies of Sensation and Event (1843) and Land Monopoly (1849,) which anticipated Henry George’s economic theories by some thirty years. Ebenezer is best known for three poems: “Winter Hymn To The Snow”; “When the World Is Burning”; and “To Death.”

Edith Newbolt Jones was the birth name of Edith Wharton (1862-1937,) and she used it for her first book, Verses (1878,) which was published in Newport, RI. Her other works include: The Valley of Decision (1902); The House of Mirth 1905); A Motor Flight Through France (1908); Ethan Frome (1911); The Age of Innocence (1920 and a Pulitzer Prize); Twilight Sleep (1927); Certain People (1930); and an autobiography, A Backward Glance (1934.)

Ernest Jones (1819-1869,) a poet, was born in Berlin and moved to England in 1838. His first book appears to have been: The Wood Spirit (1841,) a romance. In 1844, Ernest was “called” to the bar and became a radical leader in the Chartist Movement, issuing “The Labourer, Notes of the People” and “The People’s Paper.” He rejected an annual income of 2,000 pounds---payable only if he gave up his Chartist activities (the latter which led him to an 1848-1850 term in solitary confinement.) Ernest’s other works include: The Battleday and Other Poems (1855); THE PAINTER OF FLORENCE (1856); BELDAGON CHURCH (1860); and CORAYDA.

Harold Spencer Jones (1890-1960,) was an English astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope (1923-1933) and England’s Astronomer Royal from 1933-1955. His works include: WORLDS WITHOUT END (1935); LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS (1940); and PICTURE OF THE UNIVERSE (1947.)

Henry Arthur Jones (1851-1929,) a Welsh dramatist who wrote his first play at 16, worked in the business community until 1878. Then, with Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, he found “realist problem drama” in England. His first play was ONLY ROUND THE CORNER, produced in Exeter in 1878. Other works include: A Clerical Error (1879,) in which he acted; The Silver King (1882,) his first big hit; Saints and Sinners (1884); The Dancing Girl (1891); Rebellious Susan (1894); Michael and His Lost Angel (1896,) a failure on stage but Henry considered it his best play; and The Liars (1897,) considered by many to be his masterpiece. The Life and Letters of Henry Arthur Jones was published by his daughter in 1930.

Henry Macnaughton Jones (1848-1918,) a surgeon and professor of mid-wifery, was educated at Queen’s College, Cork, Ireland. In 1868 Henry Macnaughton founded Cork Ophthalmic Hospital (and was its first doctor); with Dr. Cummins, he founded Cork Maternity Hospital (1872); and he helped found County and City of Cork Hospital (now Victoria Hospital) in 1874. He published several volumes of verse privately and MANUAL OF DISEASES OF WOMEN (1884,) which lasted through nine editions.

Howard Mumford Jones (1892-1980,) taught comparative literature at the University of Texas, University of North Carolina, University of Michigan, and Harvard University. He was literary editor of “The Boston Evening Transcript” (1938-1941.) Howard Mumford’s first book was A LITTLE BOOK OF LOCAL VERSE (1915.) He won the Pulitzer Prize (non-fiction) in 1965 for O STRANGE NEW WORLD (1964.) His other works include: AMERICA AND FRENCH CULTURE 1750-1848 (1927); THE LIFE OF MOSES COIT TYLER (1933); THE HARP THAT ONCE (1937,) a biography of Irish poet, Thomas Moore; and REVOLUTION AND ROMANTICISM (1974.)

Hugh Jones (1669-1760,) born in England, was an Anglican minister, mathematician, historian, and professor of mathematics at the College of William & Mary, and his works include: AN ACCIDENCE TO THE ENGLISH TONGUE (1724,) the first English grammar written in America; and THE PRESENT STATE OF VIRGINIA (1724,) a contemporary view of social, economic, and religious life in the colony.

James Jones (1921-1977,) was born in Illinois and served in the U.S. Army 1939-1944. He is best known for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1951,) a novel of Army life in Hawaii before the Pearl Harbor attack. It was made into a 1953 movie with Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, and Frank Sinatra (remade in 1979.) James’ other works include: SOME CAME RUNNING (1957,) set in the mid-west between WWII and the Korean War (a 1958 Frank Sinatra movie); THE PISTOL (1959); THE THIN RED LINE 1962,) set in Guadalcanal 1942-43 (a 1998 Sean Penn and Nick Nolte movie,) was a sequel to FROM HERE TO ETERNITY above; and WHISTLE (1978,) another sequel to make a trilogy. He also wrote THE ICE CREAM HEADACHE (1968,) a collection of short stories, and VIET JOURNAL (1974,) about his 1973 trip to Vietnam.

James Athearn Jones (1790-1853) wrote as Captain Matthew Murgatroyd: THE REFUGEE (1823,) a two volume romance of the Revolutionary War; TALES OF AN INDIAN CAMP (1829,) three volumes of legends of the Eastern and Plains Indians; and HAVERHILL; OR, MEMOIRS OF AN OFFICER IN THE ARMY OF WOLFE (1831,) about General Wolfe’s army.

John Beauchamp Jones (1810-1866,) a frontier novelist born in Baltimore, MD, founded “The Southern Monitor” in Philadelphia in the mid 1850s. His works include WILD WESTERN SCENES (1841,) describing Daniel Boone; THE WESTERN MERCHANT (1849); FREAKS OF FORTUNE; OR THE HISTORY OF NED LORN (1854); and THE WARPATH (1858.) He also wrote: A REBEL WAR CLERK’S DIARY AT THE CONFEDERATE CAPITAL (1866,) a good description of contemporary conditions; and BOOKS OF VISION (1847.)

John Luther “Casey Jones” (1863-1900,) at 17 was a telegrapher in Cayce (pronounced cay-see) KY---hence his nickname. In 1888, he was a locomotive fireman for the Illinois Central Railroad, rising to engineer in 1890. He didn’t write anything, but people have been writing about him for over 100 years. Casey bragged that he always brought the trains in on schedule, a trait which led to his demise when he was engineer on the “Cannonball Express,” a dangerous run from Memphis, TN to Canton, MS.

Trying to make up lost time on the night of April 30, 1900, Casey was speeding along with his well-know series of whistles. But, there was another train in front of him (the tail end of a freight sticking out onto the main track from a siding) near Vaughn MS, and when he saw it, he knew he was going to collide. He ordered the fireman to jump, slammed on the brakes, stayed with the train, and was killed in the crash. All the passengers were unharmed. According to the official railroad investigation, Casey was at fault---mostly because of his excess speed. He died with one hand on the whistle and one hand on the power lever. A fellow railroad worker, Wallace Saunders, wrote the original ballad of “Casey Jones,” found in AMERICAN BALLADS AND SONGS (1922, by Louisa Pound.) A biography by Fred J. Lee, CASEY JONES: EPIC OF THE AMERICAN RAILROAD was published in 1939.

John Paul Jones (1747-1792,) born John Paul in Scotland, was a naval officer
and author. His two volumes of memoirs were published posthumously in 1930. Biographies of him include: THE LIFE OF JOHN PAUL JONES (1841,) in two volumes by Alexander S. Mackenzie: THE LIFE AND LETTERS OF JOHN PAUL JONES (1913,) in two volumes by Anna F. de Koven; JOHN PAUL JONES (1927,) by Phillips Russell; and KNIGHT OF THE SEAS (1939,) by Valentine Thompson. John Paul, a dashing figure, also appeared in a Philip Frenau poem, James Fenimore Cooper’s THE PILOT (1823); Herman Melville’s ISRAEL POTTER (1855); Sarah Orne Jewett’s only novel, THE TORY LOVER (1901); Winston S. Churchill’s (the American writer and not the English Prime Minister) RICHARD CARVEL (1899); and James Boyd’s DRUMS (1925.)

John Pringle Jones (1812-1874) was the presiding judge of Pennsylvania’s 3rd District in 1874. He went on to become the president of the Berks County Courts from 1851 to 1861. He wrote EULOGY ON A. LAUSSAT IN 1834.

John Taylor Jones (1802-1851) was a missionary to Southeast Asia, where he learned Taling and Siamese. He wrote BRIEF GRAMMATICAL NOTICES OF THE SIAMESE LANGUAGE in 1842, and he published a Siamese translation of the NEW TESTAMENT in 1843.

Joseph Stevens Jones (1811-1877,) was an actor and an author of 150+ melodramas, farces, and comedies. He was also Boston city physician. His works include: THE LIBERTY TREE (1832); THE PEOPLE’S LAWYER [aka SOLON SHINGLE] (1839,) about a shrewd yankee; MOLL PITCHER (1839); THE CARPENTERS OF ROUEN (1840); and PAUL REVERE AND THE SONS OF LIBERTY (1875.)

Evarett Leroi Jones (born 1934,) is a militant black author and dramatist who changed his name to Immanu Amiri Baraka in 1965. His first books were published in 1961: CUBA LIBRE and PREFACE TO A TWENTY VOLUME SUICIDE NOTE, a book of poetry. Leroi’s dramas include many intensely anti-white plays, such as: DUTCHMAN (1964); THE SLAVE (1964); and THE TOILET (1964.) His novel of frustration and bitterness, THE SYSTEM OF DANTE’S HELL (1965,) equates Newark NJ slums to the Inferno. His poetry and essays include: THE DEAD LECTURER (1964); and IN OUR TERRIBLENESS (1971); HOME (1966); RAISE RACE RAYS RAZE (1971,) in black idiom; SPIRIT REACH (1972); and SELECTED POETRY (1979.) He has written non-fiction as well BLUES PEOPLE (1963,) re jazz as an expression of black people; BLACK MUSIC (1967); BLACK ART (1967); and BLACK MAGIC (1969.)

Leonard Augustus Jones (1832-?) was editor of the “American Law Review” and wrote a treatise on the law of mortgages of real property in 1878.
Mabel Cromise Jones (born 1860, probably dead) was a journalist and author; she also developed an educational system for her daughter, Dorothea, who read newspapers at age 3, attended Dickinson College at 13, and graduated at 17. Mabel’s works include: GETTYSBURG (1902); SIX OF THEM (1902); DOLLY’S COLLEGE EXPERIENCES ( 1909); IN DAYS OF OLD (1912); and ROME’S FOOL (1915.)

Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones (1902-1971,) was a practicing lawyer, professional golfer, and author, his first book being DOWN THE FAIRWAY (1927) with O. B. Keeler. Bobby won the U.S. Amateur Open: 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, and 1930; the U.S. Open: 1923; 1926; 1929, and 1930; the British Amateur Open: 1930; and the British Open: 1926; 1927; and 1930. In 1930, he was the first golfer to win the Grand Slam: British and United States’ Amateur Opens and Opens. His other written works include: GOLF IS MY GAME (1960); BOBBY JONES ON GOLF (1966); and BOBBY JONES ON THE BASIC GOLF SWING (1969.) His biography was published as: THE BOBBY JONES STORY (1953,) by O. B. Keeler, a close friend. A 2004 movie, based on his life, “Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius,” stars Jim Caviezel, Claire Forlani and Malcolm McDowell.

Rufus Matthew Jones (1863-1948,) was an author and educator at Haverford College. His works include: THE LIFE OF ELI AND SIBYL JONES (1899); PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY (1899); QUAKERISM, A RELIGION OF LIFE (1908); THE STORY OF GEORGE FOX (1919), NEW STUDIES IN MYSTICAL RELIGION (1927); SPIRIT IN MAN (1941); and the autobiographical SMALL-TOWN BOY (1941.)

Thomas Samuel Jones, Jr. (1882-1932,) was a poet and journalist for the “New York Times” and Reuters. His works include: THE PATH OF DREAMS (1905); LEONARDO DA VINCI, AND OTHER SONNETS (1930); and THE UNICORN AND OTHER SONNETS (1931.)

Virginia Smith Jones (1827-1906,) produced one work (only 90 copies printed): ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE NESTS AND EGGS OF BIRDS OF OHIO, (date unknown.) It had 68 hand-colored plates.
William Jones (1871-1909,) a Fox Indian, was an ethnologist and author who worked with the Field Museum in Chicago. His works include: ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE FOX INDIANS (1912,) edited by Margaret W. Fisher. He also wrote many papers on the Fox tribe.

William Jones (1675-1749,) was a Welsh mathematician. He wrote SYNOPSIS PALMARIORUM MATHESIOS in 1706, a book for beginners which included differential calculus; A NEW COMPENDIUM OF THE WHOLE ART OF NAVIGATION (date unsure,) and DISCOURSES OF THE NATURAL PHILOSOPHY OF THE ELEMENTS (1731.)

Sir William Jones (1746-1794,) was an orientalist and jurist: Judge of the High Court at Calcutta (1783-1794.) He was founder and first president of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (1784.) Sir William was best known for his efforts with oriental languages, including Sanskrit. His works include: PERSIAN GRAMMAR (1772); POESOS ASIATICAE COMMENTARIORUM LIBRI SEX [Latin Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry](1774); ESSAY ON BAILMENTS (1781); and MU’ALLAQAT (1783,) his version of the Arabian work. His collected works were edited and published by Lord Teignmouth in 1799.

Other Jones writers include: Anson Jones, MEMORANDA AND OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS (1859); Charles Colecock Jones, a Georgia historian, MONUMENTAL REMAINS OF GEORGIA (1861,) and ANTIQUITIES OF THE SOUTHERN INDIANS (1873); Daniel W. Jones, FORTY YEARS AMONG THE INDIANS (1890); Dennis Jones: COLOSSUS (1966,) and filmed in 1969 with Eric Braeden as “Colossus, the Forbin Project.”

Douglas C. Jones, THE COURTMARTIAL OF GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER (1976); Edward Dewitt Jones, a clergyman, THE INNER CIRCLE (1914,) and WHAT I LEARNED FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1940); Edward Smyth Jones, THE SYLVAN CABIN (1911); or Gayl Jones, CORREGIDORA (1975); George Jones, clergyman and naval chaplain, SKETCHES OF NAVAL LIFE (1829,) in two volumes, and LIFE SCENES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT (1868); George William Jones, a mathematician, TREATISE ON ALGEBRA (1882,) and SOME PROOFS IN ELEMENTARY GEOMETRY (1904); Grover Jones (1893-1940,) a short-story writer, book collector, and scenarist; he wrote 400+ scenarios for motion picture plays; Herschel Vespasian Jones, newspaper editor and book collector, ADVENTURES IN AMERICAN (1928,) in two volumes.

We also know of: Idwal Jones, VINES IN THE SUN (1949); Joshua Henry Jones, BY SANCTION OF LAW (1924); Jenkin Lloyd Jones (1843-1918,) Unitarian clergyman, editor, and reformer NUGGETS FROM A WELSH MINE (1902,) and AN ARTILLERYMAN’S DIARY (1914); Llewellyn Jones, editor and critic, FIRST IMPRESSIONS: ESSAYS ON POETRY (1925,) HOW TO CRITICIZE BOOKS (1928,) and HOW TO READ BOOKS (1930); Livingston Jones, STUDY OF THLINGETS OF ALASKA (ca 1914); Louise S. Jones, THE HUMAN SIDE OF BOOKPLATES (1952); Nard Jones, OREGON DETOUR (1930,) and SUN TAN (1935); Owen Jones, HANDBOOK TO THE EGYPTIAN COURT (1854); Raymond F. Jones, THIS ISLAND EARTH (1952,) filmed with Jeff Morrow in 1954; John Richter Jones (1803-63,) THE QUAKER SOLDIER (1858,) written anonymously; Justin Jones, aka “Harry Hazel,” THE BELLE OF BOSTON (1844,) RED KING (1850.)

Uh oh! My mind’s racing out of control. Jones to the left of me! Jones to the right of me! Into the valley of Jones rode the six hundred. They were amassed before me. Barnaby Jones the detective; Buck Jones the astronaut; Buck Jones the cowboy; Carolyn Jones the actress; Chuck Jones the renowned cartoon animator; Cleon Jones the outfielder; Davy Jones the Monkee; Davy Jones the pop singer; Davy Jones the locker; Grandpa Jones the Hee Haw!; Henry “Indiana” Jones the archaeologist; Indiana Jones the Jones family dog; Chuck Jones the cartoonist; Jeffrey Jones the actor; Jeffrey Jones the illustrator; Ben “Cooter” Jones the actor turned politician; Catherine Zeta-Jones the---just wow!; Jenny Jones the talker; Tommy Lee Jones the man in black; Osmosis Jones the cartoon; Dow Jones the average; Grace Jones the singer; George Jones the singer; Inigo Jones the architect; Jack Jones the singer; James Earl Jones the voice; Smarty Jones the racer.

Jennifer Jones the actress; John Jonzz the manhunter from Mars; Marcia Jones the cute red-head who sat next to me in third grade; Mother Jones the activist; Quincy Jones the musician; “Sad” Sam Jones the pitcher; Shirley Jones the singer/actress; Tom Jones the singer; Deacon Jones the football player; “Too Tall” Jones---anything he wants to be; and Jones Beach the sandy one.
It was too much! I was overwhelmed with Jones! Spike Jones! Save the bones for Henry Jones! Turkey and Gravy flavored Jones soda! I called my martini supplier for a refill of my prescription: Jones Package Store. I called my doctor for a case of valium---he was out of town and his temporary replacement was Dr. Billy Jones!

Friday, June 17, 2005

In Passing

My cousin and godfather died last October. I just found out about it. He was diagnosed with leukemia and died a short three weeks later---hardly enough time passed to get his affairs in order. It must have been a painful demise for a robust man, and he probably paid for every slight---and there were many---he gave to his family, friends and colleagues.

John was born in 1932, and I can still see his childhood pictures among our family treasures. He was called Brownie for a reason unknown to me. By the 1950s, when I became somewhat cognizant of my surroundings, John had been to Williams College and served a two-year stint in the Army.

I remember when he came back from the service in the mid-fifties. We all lived on Cottage Street in Middletown, NY at the time. Since John had been away to Williams and then the Army, I had hardly known him. I was about eight at the time, and when he planned to go to New Jersey to pick up his trunk, I wanted to go along. My brother, Ed, and John’s brother Bob, went with him as well. They are six years older than me.

The chosen conveyance was the family convertible, and being bigger and not anxious to be cold, the three of them chose to sit in the front seat. I was relegated to the back---which wouldn’t have been so bad except they had the top down. They couldn’t hear my complaints over the sounds of the heater, radio, and their own laughing and talking. I was pretty much the forgotten element of the trip. But, had John hit a bump, I might have gained in prominence by taking flight over the highway and bouncing to a stop. I’m sure they all would have been roaring with laughter while scraping me off the road.

On the way back to Middletown, along Route 17 in New Jersey, we stopped for gas. I asked for and received permission to go to the bathroom. When I returned to the pumps, no one was there! They had driven off without me. This was years before Robert Barone of the TV sitcom complained about a similar event in his TV childhood.

But, thankfully, I didn’t have long to fret. I was still frozen with surprise when I saw the car coming back for me. They had forgotten my existence for a few minutes. I don’t remember who had the presence of mind to question my absence. And for the entire trip back, which became family lore, I heard almost constant laughter at the situation, especially from John, who had a robust, German laugh.

When I was just a toddler, John---as my godfather---had kept an eye on me and taught me to speak well---so well, in fact, that I corrected nearby English misstatements from the crib, especially for the use of the dreaded word, “ain’t.” That was my job. To listen for the dreaded word.

“Johnny don’t want ain’t! Johnny don’t want ain’t!” My ungrammatical calls led to much laughter and maybe fewer “ain’ts” along the way. John was the resident intellectual in our family, and I had taken to emulating him.

After the New Jersey incident, John and his family moved to North Street, about a five minute drive from the old homes. I remember visiting there often. One time Aunt Helen and Uncle John tried to get me to eat ice cream. “I can’t. I gave it up for lent.”

“But, Sundays don’t count,” I was told. So, I enjoyed ice cream with my Aunt and Uncle.

I don’t remember what kind of work John did at the time, but I’d usually visit him in his room when I was there. Sometimes he wasn’t there, but I was allowed in anyway. It was like an inner sanctum, or Sherlock Holmes’ great room. I looked at the fancy books and listened to his classical music, with a bit of Spike Jones and others of his ilk thrown in. “Save the bones for Henry Jones, because Henry don’t eat no meat.”

John had no answer to my question about Spike’s grammar---or rather lack of it. He just laughed and started telling me something deep, I’m sure. It was during this time that my little sister, Mary Anne, visited with me and John in his room. John kept a small bottle of cognac in his desk. He had poured himself a libation, and in true John-fashion, offered Mary Anne a sip. She spit it out and John roared with laughter. His mother and mine didn’t share his jovial sentiments about the situation, but John didn’t care. He enjoyed it.

As a growing boy, I became enamored with tennis, even though I could barely manipulate a racket. One warm summer afternoon, John took me with him to watch him play tennis. I think he was playing with his friend, Fred Schmidt. They chose to battle at a shaded tennis court up near Orange County Community College. I spent the afternoon chasing tennis balls. I didn’t mind too much.

We returned to my frantic mother, who didn’t know where her son was. Apparently, in his usual independent way, John hadn’t bothered to inform my mother of my trip to the tennis court with him. And, of course, telling her didn’t occur to me because I thought John had done it.

Early in his manhood, John strayed from the Catholic Church. I guess the restrictions of faith didn’t fit his independent life style. No one could tell him what to do about anything, especially religion---although he must have acquiesced to greater theologians when he attended Yale Divinity School. He became an Episcopalian Minister, but I’m not aware of any regular parish he ever administered.

During the 1970s, John was Dean of Goddard College, a small liberal arts college in Plainfield, VT. The college had originally been planned using the principles of John Dewey, and during the 1960s and 1970s it was the scene of radical thought and educational experimentation. Plainfield had a population of just over 1,000, but John opted for the big city and lived nearby in Montpelier, Vermont’s capital---population about 8,000. I visited him once in 1979 with my son, Geoffrey, and he said his home was rather historic, which I think was his term for rather run down. It was only a few blocks away from the State House, so we could walk to the sights.

John must have fit in well at Goddard, though his departure in the 1980s seems to have had a cloud over it. His personal demeanor and brain cells flourished with the radical-thinking atmosphere. I can picture his hair flying about as he was engaged in fiery and deep philosophical discussions with the students and staff. He could never have been mistaken for a conservative, that’s for sure. He hated all Republicans and rarely championed a Democrat unless he agreed with him about something, and I doubt he ever got around to voting much in his lifetime. He rarely joined with the majority of a group about anything.

John had the unfortunate habit of insulting his family and friends and then later wondering what all the fuss was about. He had a strong, German voice, which he used a great deal, as he was particularly raw with his immediate family. His difficulties with people led to few family invitations---many of which he’d probably have ignored anyway. But, he always wanted to look good to strangers, even if he rode roughshod over everyone else in sight. John wasn’t loved by his family so much as he was tolerated. That was a sad truth he had to live with.

But we got along okay. He never insulted me. He talked with me almost as an equal, and treated me with as much respect as he ever afforded a stranger (except for those who inadvertently stepped on his toes.) The two of us never argued about things that I remember. We talked and visited numerous times, and he helped finance one of my early computers. I don’t think anyone else ever got so much out of him. I learned a lot from John. My love of writing, reading classic books, listening to fine classical music, and always being aware of a chance at learning something are probably due in no small part to his influence. But, I didn’t grow up with his love of cognac. It gives me a headache.

I visited him once with my wife and children when we were leaving the area to return to Connecticut. It was the holiday season. John served us all a small glass of eggnog. He offered to put a touch of rum in the ones for me and my wife. But, somehow, little Geoffrey got one with rum and claimed that it tasted funny. John said it must have been a mistake and roared with laughter. But, based on previous events, I think he did it on purpose just to see what would happen. Geoffrey didn’t oblige him by spitting it out.

In his later years, John changed the spelling of his surname from Eurich to Eyerich. He told everyone that this better represented the German pronunciation of his name. I don’t know. I don’t speak German, and neither does anyone else in the family. He became a more visible Episcopalian minister and served the inmates at local prisons. Such efforts deserve much praise no matter what the circumstances. In fact, his ministry was the subject of a feature article in a local newspaper, so he must have been doing some major good for the inmates.

To the best of my knowledge, John’s last home was in Montgomery, NY. When I was younger, Montgomery was just a dot on the map, mostly farmland and the little central village commercial district. Now, the population has burgeoned to over 20,000. That surprises me because I thought it was still small. The local builders must be doing great business in the area.

John owned an historic building which he completely renovated to an extent that one would think it had been that way for decades. Wide plank floors, plaster walls, a mishmash of rooms, etc. It had been a blacksmith’s shop in the 19th Century, and John wanted to maintain some historical accuracy about it. He had fixed up the bottom floor as an office which opened up on the street with double doors. It was a nice place.

Despite his many flaws, John had good attributes. He was very intelligent, shared fascinating thoughts with those few people he respected, opened his home to my parents for a few years after they sold theirs, and always remembered me on Christmas and my birthday when I was a kid. Not much perhaps, but then so few understood him it was hard to get on his good side and share his extraordinary learning and experience. He taught himself Latin, Greek, and German before he needed them and read books easily in those languages.

So, John is gone. I’ll miss him. I don’t know nor do I care whether anyone else does or not. He left behind of lot of burned bridges. There was much turmoil and anger in his life, and I’m glad he’s reached a lasting peace---and hopefully, he’s not yelling at St. Peter to “shut the damned gate!”

Sunday, April 10, 2005

From...A Scout With No Tonto

…but I know we didn’t get lost. It’s not like we were in Thousand Acre Woods or anything. We weren’t far from real people. If we needed someone, there was a fellow in the Ground Observer Corps hut on the hillside next to our woods---the hillside that would shortly be sporting the new junior high school. But we couldn’t expect the observer to make a phone call for us. His phone was a direct line to a military facility. There was no sense in calling in the Army or Air Force for a few Boy Scouts behind Lloyds. We’d have to go back to Lloyds in an emergency. It would have been opened since 9 am.

The Ground Observers were set up to keep keen eyes on air activity, part of the early warning system in the 1950s. Each hut was about 8 by 8, seemingly thrown together with 2 x 4s and scraps, and fitted with a table, a chair, a logbook, an airplane identification book, and a direct line telephone to a central military facility. It was normally situated on a hill or other raised area.

Observers phoned in all sightings of airplanes---and descriptions of them where possible, using the reference book. Entries were made in the logbooks. These huts were manned 24 hours a day every day until 1958, when night observing was curtailed. As electronic capabilities improved, especially with the DEW Line’s becoming operational in 1957, the Ground Observer Corps faded away. All in all, I think the system may have been based on Cary Grant’s WWII movie “Father Goose” and its frontline aircraft sightings---but without the liquid fortification. In reality the DEW Line began in 1954 as the Pine Tree Line and later added the Mid-Canada Line. All in the cold, frosty north of high winds and falling snow.

This was the height of the Cold War. People were jumpy, and the being Ground Observers gave them a feeling of doing something positive instead of just sitting around and worrying. In most communities, the Corps was a visible reminder of the dangers of the Cold War. They were also helping with the early warning system at a time with limited electronic capabilities. But that was about the extent of the visible reminders in Middletown. We had no Civil Defense Drills or Tests that I remember, although there were “S” shelter signs sprinkled about the city buildings. In school, atomic bombs and associated horrors were barely mentioned.

I don’t remember seeing the “Duck and Cover” movie with Bert the turtle or any other of the Civil Defense movies of the 1950s. We never had any drills at St. Josephs. No hallway ducking. No desk ducking. No panics. We just had a few pamphlets distributed to us, and occasionally we’d have a fire drill. Maybe the nuns thought our religion was enough.

Things may have been different in the public schools, I can’t say. If they had such movies and tests there, the knowledge didn’t reach me.

I saw the “Duck and Cover” movie a short time ago, and the pictures of kids hiding under their desks (rather useless) from the 1950s are just as strange to me as to people born later. My parents never exhibited fear of the Cold War to us kids. If they had any, they kept it to themselves. They housed us, fed us, clothed us, loved us, and gave us “running around” freedom and no reason to be fearful for anything other than the day-to-day dangers. Our home had a safe aura that never left it. I was secure, and I think that’s why I have so many good memories. There were some bad ones, of course, but I tend to minimize them in the little memory cells of my brain. No one I knew in Middletown built a bomb or fallout shelter—unless its existence was kept quiet. We had no Middletown example of a “Blast From the Past.” It would have made a great place to visit, though.

I remember Ed and Jack observing the skies on that Ground Observer’s wooded hillside for a while until the site was changed to the roof of the State Armory, on the top of the hill on Wickham Avenue. They grew away from observing by then. Ed had gone off to the Air Force and Jack left for the Navy a year or two later. And the Ground Observer Corps died a quiet death---not because of their departure, but of natural cause and technological advances, such as the expanded DEW Line.

People are quick to criticize government and social activity of the 1950s, especially about the atomic bomb scares. Maybe if they had lived through them as a child or young adult, their perceptions and criticisms would be different. Nuclear knowledge was what it was in the period---not as extensive or detailed as it is now. Too many current historians, pundits, and observers make the mistake of putting today’s knowledge and social structure into the past and making skewed judgments. Hindsight from a future society is the standard weapon of these people---and something we didn’t have at the time…

Sunday, March 06, 2005

From.....Be a Sticky Good Sport

...In late 1954 we moved down the street to across from the School and Church. A whole new world of play areas opened up to us. We had the huge School yard/parking lot to the side and behind the School, the playing field beyond that, and the cemetery to the side of that and behind the Church. It was our destination in all types of weather. We played baseball on the field. We played wiffle ball, tag, jump rope, red rover, and other running games on the School yard. And the cemetery was great fun for chasing and hiding, go-karting, bivouacking under the numerous trees, winter sledding and snowball fights.

When the sledding wasn’t good on the School yard or cemetery, or there was no one else around who wanted to sled (I didn’t like to go sledding alone,) we’d play among the stones and trees of the cemetery. This was also a summer activity. There were plenty of trees all around the cemetery, usually pine oriented. In the winter, we’d push snow away and use the bases of the trees for forts. In the summer, there was no snow to move. The lower branches reached the ground and made good hiding places. There was enough room under some of the big ones to replicate Fort Apache. We’d play up through the darkness without any fear of our surroundings.

We could also use the unmowed school field portion going down hill in right field for our summer bivouacs. Crawling along fearlessly in the tall grass, mindless of bugs and snakes, we’d try to find each other and win the round of whatever we were playing. It was often me and Bill Feeney against Pat and Vince Smith. Feeney was a little big and reticent to crawl in the grass, but we enjoyed what we could do. He was hardly invisible in the brush, and we both ended up with grassy mouths. Dry grass in the mouth was a sign of manliness, especially if you chewed it. Since that part of the field was treeless, we had to crawl around to make anything interesting.

“Okay, Feeney. You crawl towards Eldred Street in a flanking movement. I’ll sneak around toward the cemetery and up the hill. Pat and Vince will see you and start moving down the hill….uh…Then I don’t know what we’ll do. We have no weapons, and they have nothing worth capturing. Let’s think this whole thing all over again.”

The big trees were down at the bottom by the cyclone fence. They were probably placed there originally to block the pedestrian view of the railroad property right behind the field and cemetery. But the bottoms were too open to provide any cover or interesting places to play.

On warm weather evenings, our neighbors, the Smith’s, often came out with their go-kart. Pat and Vince did most of the driving, but I got a chance on occasion. We’d drive it on the cemetery roads around the stones in relative safety and unburdened with religious misgivings about our location and without priestly interference. We were generally the only kids around the neighborhood most of the time, and they let us be. Any noise we made certainly wasn’t going to annoy the residents. Vince Smith, the father, would do the maintenance and fueling. Dad sometimes stood around to kibitz. Except for bumper cars, that was my racing career. The go-kart wasn’t fancy, just a frame with wheels, a seat, and a motor---probably from a lawn mower. The “gas pedal” was rudimentary as was the braking lever. The steering was done by with a small wheel and worked well. There were no safety features that I remember except for the parental “Be careful!”...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Anna and the King

Released by Fox in 1999, Jodie Foster’s movie Anna and the King is a re-telling of the teaching-adventure story of Anna Leonowens. The story, by now a familiar one, is about a 19th century English woman traveling to Siam to teach the monarch’s children.

The storyline is based on the 1946 Anna and the King of Siam, starring Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison (where Anna was presented as Anna L. Owens,) and 1956 movie musical, The King of I, starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. The latter was based on the successful Broadway musical of the same name.

The Broadway Musical was based on the 1946 movie, Anna and the King of Siam, which in turn was based on the book ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM (1944) by Margaret Landon, who wrote it as a modern update of Mrs. Leonowens’ full story from the 19th century.

The basis for Miss Langdon’s work was published in 1870: THE ENGLISH GOVERNESS AT THE SIAMESE COURT And in 1872: THE ROMANCE OF THE HAREM. Both were written by Anna H. Leonowens. The illustrations were based on photographs given to Mrs. Leonowens by the King of Siam, His Majesty Somdetch P’hra Paramendr Maha Mongkut. Imagine having to say that ten or twelve times a day.

Yes, a bit confusing. Well, just think of the story in chronological order: in 1862, Mrs. Anna Crawford Leonowens (1834-1914) was hired to teach the King’s children in Siam; then her book THE ENGLISH GOVERNESS…” (1870); her book THE ROMANCE OF THE HAREM (1872); Margaret Langdon’s book ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM (1944); the movie Anna and the King of Siam (1946); the Broadway play The King and I (1951); the movie, The King and I (1956); and now the movie Anna and the King (1999.)

Going back again, Mrs. Leonowens (who had already decided to accept) was officially invited by a letter from the King, February 26, 1862:

“Madam: We are in good pleasure, and satisfaction in heart, that you are in willingness to undertake the education of our beloved royal children. And we hope that in doing your education on us and on our children (whom English call inhabitants of benighted land) you will do your best endeavor for knowledge of English language, science, and literature, and for conversion to Christianity; as the followers of Buddha are mostly aware of the powerfulness of truth and virtue, as well as the followers of Christ, and are desirous to have facility of English language and literature, more than new religions.

“We beg to invite you to our royal palace to do your best endeavorment upon us and our children. We shall expect to see you here on return of Siamese steamer Chow Phya.

“We have written to Mr. William Adamson, and to our consul at Singapore, to authorize to do best arrangement for you and ourselves.

“Believe me

“Your faithfully,

(Signed) “S.S.P.P. Maha Mongkut”

Somehow, my mind hears these words in the voice and style of Yul Brynner. Indeed, it is a puzzlement.