Water Valley’s History Filled With Success Stories
By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone, I hope you had a great New Year’s eve and day. After I had emailed last week’s column, I learned of the death of Jimmie Jones. I believe I was just starting school at Camp Ground in the third grade. Naturally bigger kids didn’t mingle much with younger ones in those days, but I knew Jimmy and his two older brothers, L. D. and Jack, who were in high school at that time.
Their father, Brandon Jones, was a manager with Metropolitan Life Insurance until the depression forced them to reduce their field force. Like many men in those days, he was faced with raising a family with no job. Like many others, he took what was available.
In those days the school routes were open to sealed bids and the low bidder was awarded the route. I guess if we had been old enough to think about such things, we might have been scared to ride with the low bidder. Mr. Jones cobbled an old truck together and added a home made bed and he was an independent bus driver. I’ve always wondered who made those bus bodies but they were well constructed all wood contraptions. Today they wouldn’t be allowed on the streets with children on board. Dorothy Maynor, whose family lived on Papa Badley’s place and rode Mr. Jones truck, said that they had a break-down every day but one during the whole school year.
In retrospect I doubt that many of the school buses going to Camp Ground were any better than Mr. Jones, but they were doing a job the best they could with what they had. The first time I remember seeing Mr. Jones he came walking up the walk to Papa’s house with a gallon can in his hand.
He said that his truck had no gas gauge and he didn’t realize it was nearly empty and he wanted to borrow a gallon of gas.
Papa had a Model T and they siphoned the gas into Mr. Jones’ can and he went on his way. Papa never charged anyone in a situation like that. I think Mr. Jones worked in some type of defense job in Grenada during World War II and after the war he bought a run-down store on the corner of North Main and Court street.
Like many neighborhood stores back then they delivered groceries to customer’s house and Jimmie would deliver on a bicycle. I’ve always admired Mr. Jones as a person who could come back from adversity and prosper.
Once in the Valley there hadn’t been a strike since the railroad shops in the early twenties, and the Union people approached several stores to get credit for the strikers and were turned down.
When they approached Mr. Jones, being an astute businessman, he said yes. This built him a loyal customer base that lasted as long as there was a Jones store in town. As time went on and Jimmy grew up and took over the business he built a large modern super market next to where the Dollar General store is now. On Saturday before Easter April 1984 a tornado hit Water Valley and the entire store was demolished.
Lupe’s sister, Virginia, and her two oldest children, Sandra and Kevin were shopping in the store and when she realized what was happening she threw herself over the two children and they were unhurt but she received back injuries that trouble her to this day.
Jimmy rebuilt on the same location and his business was good until bad health forced him to sell and retire at a relatively young age.
I haven’t seen Jimmy in several years but did see L.D. at the Veteran’s Day ceremony and I asked about him and he told me that he was in very poor health. This is why I am so proud of being a Water Valley native because we have a history of so many people who rose from bad situations and became successful again.
As you’ve heard me say so many times, if the Government would get out of our lives the American People will find a solution to our problems. That’s what has always made us so great. This month starts the tenth year of REFLECTIONS and again I thank all of you and ask that you still support us with your input or just a note or email once in a while. My new email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at P.O. box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a much better year in 2010 because we’re Americans and that means nothing is impossible.