Jones remembered as a storyteller who made people laugh

Harry Sullivan
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TRURO - Some called him the "friendly giant." To others in the community he was "Daddy Jones."
But to Marie (Jones) Francis he was simply and lovingly known as "granddaddy."
"I know growing up we would hear the stories and we would hear them from granddaddy," she said, in relation to the war tales she and other children were mesmerized by from her grandfather, Jeremiah (Jerry) Alvin Jones. "The community called him Daddy Jones," she said. "And when he would tell the stories, which was rarely, because he wasn't a boastful man, when he did tell the stories it meant so much, because you just didn't hear about the great things that black men were doing. And they were men of valour."
On Monday, Jones is to posthumously receive the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service Medallion, nearly 93 years after the deeds for which he is only now being officially recognized.
But Francis displays no sense of regret or animosity for the lack of recognition and discrimination that her grandfather and other black soldiers endured after fighting for the country they loved. She is simply proud that his day has finally come.
"This is showing that Canada is acknowledging those that have put a lot in for the country," she said. "They loved Canada and to be excluded from the history, that's what it was, an exclusion..."
She also relishes the memories of growing up and, along with her nine siblings and other children in the neighbourhood, the time spent under his wing while he told stories, made them laugh and taught them to be good
"As a person, as I recall and as other people will say, he was a friendly person," she said. "But he was reserved. When he spoke, you listened. He was a man of action, if he saw that something needed to be done, he would do it. I remember he was well into his 80s and he was pulling (stove) wood on these big sleds across the marsh. We were living on Ford Street at the time," she said.
"He would walk for miles and we would walk with him, as kids. All the neighbourhood kids would follow him and we'd go for these long walks ... all the kids would trail him ... it was sometimes like the pied piper..."
To the youngsters, Francis said, her tall, solidly built granddaddy seemed a veritable giant.
"He was very muscular, he had that twinkle in his eye when he talked. You never interrupted him. If he was telling a story, you would not interrupt because he would stop and that was it, you wouldn't get the rest of the story 'till the next day."
He also loved to garden, she said, and he would revel in the woodsman competitions they held in the neighbourhood.
Another of his favourite pastimes, she recalled, were the horse pulls at the exhibition, a special time for him which also translated into the rare pleasure of cotton candy for the children.
"And that was our big treat of the year," Francis said. "We looked forward to that."

Organizations: Canadian Forces Medallion, Distinguished Service Medallion

Geographic location: Canada, Ford Street

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