Every person has a story to tell. Hopefully, each of us will take the time to listen to the stories.
All my life I’ve heard my grandmother talk about her childhood and this one particular story involving John E. Jones and singing for candy at a store during the 1920s. I wasn’t sure if it was a fairy tale or weird reality. Now I know that it was reality in Jackson long ago, but a reality completely foreign to me.
I recently obtained a copy of the 1939 Fortune Magazine featuring Globe Iron for use at the Jones Museum. It’s not a quick read but honestly, after working through the story and the wonderful paintings used as illustrations, I now fully understand my grandmother’s story.
Thankfully, at age 92, she’s still alive with a sharp memory and could confirm with a smile that her granddaughter finally gets it!
My grandmother lived across the Main Street from Globe Iron and was the youngest of seven children. Her siblings were much older and she was a smart cookie who was virtually allowed to cruise her neighborhood alone back around 1926.
She knew that Mr. Jones always went to his South Street home for lunch and returned to Globe at noon. She recognized him and his polished shoes, fine suits, and automobiles from seeing him at the Presbyterian Church every Sunday. So she would plant herself at age 5 or 6 on the steps of the Globe Store and wait for Mr. Jones.
He would return and see her sitting there. He would invite her into the store and offer her an orange and a bag of hard tack candy. Then together, they would walk through the Globe Store to his office where he would lift her up to sit on the corner of the big desk and he would settle into his big office chair. Grandmother says Mr. Jones had two favorite songs: the church hymn, Into the Garden, and Jesus Loves Me. She would sing with him and then leave to go on about her day with her orange and hard tack candy.
As a young teenager, she recalls one of her greatest delights was the day John E. Jones called her parent’s house and asked for her to come to his house to sing the soprano part of the choral piece a group was practicing. Later I found an obituary for John E. Jones that listed him as the father of the Jackson Eisteddfod before naming his biological family. Singing was important to him and his community, which included my grandmother.
It wasn’t until reading the Fortune Magazine that John E. Jones became a person for me. I finally understood that the Globe Store was across the street from my grandmother’s childhood home and that the offices were at the back of the store. The illustrations showed me Mr. Jones big chair and the tall desk. The Globe Store did a tremendous trade in groceries and so of course it would have oranges and hard tack candy. Certainly, the company president who had transformed Globe Iron into a world leader in the pig iron industry could give treats to a neighborhood girl who shared his love of singing.
Now I understand. I am very thankful to have fully understood the story in time to see the sparkle in my grandmother’s eyes as she reminisced about Jackson in the 1920s.