Lynetta Jones Interview 2
Linnitta [Lynetta] Jones Re: JJ
Leroy: Give a little bit about your own background.
Lynetta: That’s what I would like to have written first.
Leroy: In other words, if we begin, just as a good starting point, what background did you come from, where– what happened to your real father?
Lynetta: Have you got it on now?
Lynetta: My real father was, I think, he died in the Southern states when I was about 16 years old.
Leroy: When you were about 16 he died?
Lynetta: Yes, I think this setting there, however, he wrote when they first came together. Wouldn’t that be a good starting point?
Leroy: Your mother and father, all right, what kind of family tree did your mother come from? What kind of background her family? Were they–
Lynetta: A slave, I hear she was reared by a colored mammy, that’s all.
Leroy: Were her people plantation owners?
Lynetta: Evidently they had been, but for some reason they saw fit to abandon the Southern way of life from plantation. By this time–
Leroy: Did she have money as a girl?
Lynetta: I would suppose that she did.
Leroy: She apparently was fairly well-to-do as a child. She didn’t have to want for things in her growing up years?
Lynetta: I don’t know, but–
Leroy: I can’t hear you.
Lynetta: I don’t know. Let’s see, I don’t know too much about the background part, the mother I understood was a hard worker, and the father was also able to get by, I don’t–
Leroy: Did your mother have an education, did she go to college?
Lynetta: No, I don’t think she did in the era. In those days, they didn’t even think anything about going to college back in them days, and that particular part of the country.
Leroy: Yes, did you have brothers and sisters?
Lynetta: I have two brothers that followed me that died in infancy and my sister that was–
Leroy: Two brothers and sisters? Are any of them alive now? Which one? Is that one of the sisters?
Lynetta: A sister, one of them died, and that was one of the reasons I was, I guess, separated from the family, because of the fact they thought that my mother was too– My foster father, you know, after a while, at that time, he thought it would be too great a burden on her, or that she was not able because her– she was married young.
Leroy: Well, when did you meet your foster father? You were 16 when your father passed?
Lynetta: Yes, she met–
Leroy: And it was after that when she met her foster father?
Lynetta: No, the foster father was in the beginning.
Leroy: He was at the beginning?
Lynetta: Yes, and there–
Leroy: Did she divorce your father?
Lynetta: No, he reared my father, my foster father reared my father. He became so attached to me that he would not let me go out of his house when they built the house for the parents. He forgot that they was too young. He built a house because he didn’t want to be pestered with a spoiled brat, as they say, you know. He would just let go of me as he had burdens of his own, his (unintelligible) was there and–
Leroy: Well, it was your father’s foster father then–
Lynetta: It was my father’s foster father, and he became mine too. I was never afraid of him, I was born in his house and every time that people would take me away from him, he finally agreed to let my mother have me, and I would yell and raise Sam Hell–
Leroy: Till you got back with him?
Lynetta: I would sit on his porch in front, and he would say when he got tired of it, well, bring my baby home.
Leroy: What was his name?
Leroy: What was his first name?
Lynetta: Lewis, Lewis Parker.
Leroy: What did he do?
Lynetta: He was a mill owner. He owned mills all over southern Indiana.
Leroy: What kind of mills did he own?
Leroy: Timber mills, and he was very well to do? Did he lose his money or what?
Lynetta: Oh, many years later, when the Great Depression came–
Leroy: In the Great Depression?
Lynetta: There are three depressions in the past that I am unable to describe (unintelligible) and money (unintelligible) and all this, he was great politically. He was practically in control of what happened in southern Indiana, he was able to vote, lots of votes, you know. People work for him, he was very popular with the miners, but when it came to running for office, he would have no part of it, because even back then, you couldn’t be your own man and run for office. He was persuaded to run for governorships, and several times for lieutenant governor, and he constantly refused, but he would attempt to turn the vote to the person who could qualify first. (Unintelligible) to meet their needs, more or less (unintelligible). Strange to say, he was industrious and yet he was always pretty common with–
Leroy: What kinds of things did he do in his mills that would show that he was more concerned with the common man?
Lynetta: Well, he would take a– (phone rings)
Leroy: Anyway, where were we? Back with your– oh, you were telling me that he gave jobs, he gave jobs to anyone that came along and needed a job whether they were qualified or not?
Lynetta: Yes, he would train them or he would do whatever he had to do or nothing as the case may be, if they wouldn’t work he would let them just do mediocre things or something like that, but he always saw that their families ate, you know, and it was not unusual for transients to come through. The timber country, you know, the country he called the timber was uh– that’s why my father became devoted to the gentle country, and to the valley country. He would always buy acres, saws and hills so they can enjoy the wilderness. He worked for–
Leroy: Her father worked for your foster father?
Leroy: What did your father do?
Lynetta: Worked in the timber, he was a timber scout. He would go ahead of the workers and find the land and so on, and he trapped, and this is where we parted company early in my life.
Leroy: Your father and you?
Lynetta: My father and me, because he trapped animals and I would follow the trap lines for miles and I had an uncanny way about it. I was almost like an Indian back there, I could follow whatever anybody went even if there had been only one there. Well, I could still–
Leroy: You could find it?
Lynetta: A half dozen, I could still follow them.
Leroy: Follow them, huh?
Lynetta: Go to the river, I put (unintelligible). Lots of times when they, you know, stepped in the mud puddles, you might not refill the hole or their feet don’t sink down, you know, they wore boots, but anyway I would follow them and we went according to that (unintelligible)
Leroy: What did you do, spring his tracks?
Lynetta: Yes, you see my foster father had really spoiled him, you know, and he raised and reared him and he was the only boy, you know. It was almost like that we were brothers and sister, and he, I think, always had a feeling toward me, because he didn’t know (unintelligible), but I was the greatest thing that ever hit the deck when I came along, you know. He had always been spoiled.
Leroy: He had been the spoiled one, and now you were, huh?
Lynetta: Yes, and now I was, so he didn’t get much attention, except that he was always given what he wanted and everything. Even in opportunity to grow forward into his gentle country and that sort of thing and work the way he liked, and he would put up the money to do this whether he was going that direction of his operation or not.
Leroy: Yeah, you mean your foster father would put up the money for your father whether your foster father expected a return or not.
Lynetta: Yes, he would at that, he had a big responsibility (unintelligible) and even homesteaded. When they decided they wanted to homestead it, well, he would build a cabin and all.
Leroy: Yeah, when did your dad meet your mother?
Lynetta: At the headquarters of the place in southern Indiana, the mills.
Leroy: Through one of the mills?
Leroy: Was she working there or what?
Lynetta: No, no, Lord no, she wasn’t working there. When a– this is not very clear, and that sort of thing, and a– he– well, the family, he’s a friend of the family. They exhausted their resources or something or the other, were on the way on this covered wagon and a– and so he just befriended the family there. They would have died, I guess.
Leroy: He took care of your mother’s family until they died?
Leroy: So it was your foster father that befriended her or your father that befriended her?
Lynetta: My father was young and she wasn’t. Nothing had (unintelligible) other than my mother had reared him. He had whatever he wanted and all that.
Leroy: So it was your foster father that had befriended her family.
Leroy: And then your father just naturally got together with her, is that it?
Lynetta: Yes, that’s the way I understood it.
Leroy: How old were they when they got married?
Lynetta: Well, she was probably about 16 and he must have been about 18, they were very young. Well, she was 16 when I was born.
Leroy: She was 16 when you were born?
Lynetta: Yes, she must have been 15 when they got married. The people did back then, especially in the South they often married when they were 16, or 15, some of them as young as 14. I remember that because at college at 15–
Leroy: Then you grow up in your foster father’s house?
Lynetta: No, I was torn between two fathers, after– yes, I grew up there.
Leroy: How old were you when you left his house?
Lynetta: Well, I think I must have been about 12. I grew up so fast you know, I must have been about 12 or 14.
Leroy: Twelve or fourteen?
Lynetta: Yes, because my grandmother, the mother of my father, now she had helped with the mill, she kept those– of course she didn’t do nothing much but she managed all the cooking arrangements. They lived and ate in the woods, you know, at that time.
Leroy: Yes, did you spend quite a bit of time in the woods?
Lynetta: Yes, and there were men (unintelligible) help themselves, but I was as pretty as the first dawn, and I was like a china doll, you know. I was frail and pink and strong as a tiger too. They thought I should behave like a china doll, but I didn’t and I was, God, (unintelligible). The business of my being out investigating the animals in all this.
Lynetta: There was quicksand and all this.
Leroy: What area of the country was your home, where your foster father was?
Lynetta: He was just across the Wabash River in Indiana.
Lynetta: About five miles into the interior of Indiana was where his mills were at that time.
Leroy: Where his mills were?
Lynetta: This particular–
Leroy: What city was that near? Five miles into the interior of Indiana near what city?
Lynetta: Near the city of Princeton, Indiana, which was the county seat. Gibson County, I think Gibson County.
Leroy: And you stayed there until you were about what age?
Lynetta: Well, (unintelligible) and there I attended a school and finally he got teachers and those things in. That was before I was (unintelligible) as I was supposed to be. He had teachers always to ride the school bus and (unintelligible). All of the grades was public there, and that’s when I went through there, was Pinesville, both there and in high school. That’s when I decided to cross the river. In high school. I needed (unintelligible) my grandfather because I took a notion that, you know, there was five or six times getting my feet (unintelligible) come into the big house when she became an invalid, keep her house, and I would carry books and all, experience of cooking and so forth. I decided to take care of her and she of course was most upset when I decided to, that I could not forego in education that was, you know, sold on books. Our house was books, there was no wall, just all books.
Leroy: Books every place, huh?
Lynetta: Yes, and I don’t loan anymore for money or– and she would preach, you know, when I agreed so much, why she thought that, (unintelligible) and I would get under the dining room table with a cloth hung down, and that was before she became an invalid or quite, and she was still ambulatory. She could oversee, you know, the work.
Leroy: What did you do hidden under the table so she couldn’t see you read? Well, then, that’s probably why you had trouble with your eyes because the light down there probably wasn’t very good.
Lynetta: I can remember she put light bulbs, there was always a lot of light.
Leroy: That’s amazing. What college did you go to?
Lynetta: I went to the agriculture college.
Leroy: Agriculture college?
Lynetta: Yes. I think we are talking too much about me and not enough–
Leroy: Well, we’re just starting, just don’t worry about it. We will get there.
Lynetta: I don’t want it to be about me.
Leroy: I know, I recognize that, and wanted to be excerpts that will be–
Lynetta: Yes, I went to business college in the South, college in the South, and I should have gone on to Indiana, I guess, because I don’t know, I got about everything I wanted to do with, but then this business of I had to run periodic visits, or periodic runs from the south to the north, because I would get lonesome to see my mother, and I was (unintelligible).
Leroy: You were close to your mother and your foster father, but not your father? Well, where were you in the South when you were sent to college? What city was that?
Lynetta: That was in a county, I know the county, but I don’t remember now the city it was close adjacent to, it was pretty much a wilderness though. A train ran through it, I hopped the train, I got good enough to hop the train to my mother’s house and then I hopped the train to get back before they hardly knew I was gone. I didn’t think they would ever catch up with me, you know, after that.
Leroy: You mean to say that you have to train without paying a fare? Like a– you just rode the train?
Leroy: Where did you ride?
Lynetta: To the inside–
Leroy: Inside the baggage car?
Lynetta: No, my no, in the caboose.
Leroy: In the caboose? How did you start that, wasn’t very far, it takes several hours?
Lynetta: Sixteen miles, and it was fun, and they thought that it was fun to see me hitch on the train, they was all in on it.
Leroy: Oh, they didn’t mind, they knew you were doing it?
Lynetta: Oh no, they didn’t mind. They thought that’s a pretty good idea, and I was always doing something at college. I remember some kind of a ghost story, or something. I played ghost, oh God, they was so straight-laced you know, like about the English, and I am telling you, there wasn’t in my hand and I went and– I don’t know how many years old–
Leroy: You mean on the train?
Lynetta: Well, on the trains, and started playing ghost in the dormitories, and doing everything I could think up normally, ‘cause I was up all night usually, well you know, they always have a curfew where you had to go to bed, and Christ, I had a rough day. I was always doing things and studying. I would play ghost and they would think it was awful.
Leroy: What kinds of things did you take in college? What did you–
Lynetta: Oh God, I don’t remember now, just everything that goes with–
Leroy: Anything that they had, huh?
Lynetta: Yes, I was always good in writing and that sort of thing, and mathematics. I was good in all of it. I had no particular plan to do at this time, just thought it was the done thing, you know. I decided I wanted to go off into another direction, I would just go to school in a different direction, that’s all there was to that.
Leroy: Did you go to more than one college?
Lynetta: I was in Stuttgart, Arkansas.
Leroy: Why did you study there?
Lynetta: Oh God, I don’t remember what I studied there.
Leroy: Did you get a degree?
Lynetta: Yes. I got one and– but then I went back to Evansville, Indiana to a business college, but I don’t remember–
Leroy: Was all this before Jim came along? Right? All of these colleges, right, did you ever do any schooling after he came along?
Lynetta: Well, no, I did not, because I wanted to rear him at this particular time, because I thought it was bad for him, that it was wrong for me, ‘cause of the things I would have been doing. I would not have been available and that thing, so when I was working and going, I thought it would give me a better advantage going, you know, quite a ways.
Leroy: When were you working? What kind of work was that? Factory?
Lynetta: It was just work. You could make more at a factory in them days, so I worked at a factory.
Leroy: When did you meet Jim’s father?
Lynetta: I– this was after Jim’s father, I met Jim’s father in southern Indiana.
Leroy: Were you in school at the time?
Lynetta: No, I had much work in a big firm in Evansville, Indiana, and my health was failing. I knew him before that though, because I knew him for quite a long time, he had done some construction work. He was in construction work, and they had been there building roads in that section, but I wasn’t too much interested in him or him in me either. Of course, my contracts were in Evansville, Indiana where I was one year. I worked there. I started as a secretary and in one year I started as a top aide there to go with that.
Leroy: What type of business was it?
Lynetta: Gas and electric. And then among other things I walked so many blocks, about 13, what have you, and winter weather came about during that year and I would take shortcuts once in a while through a still very dangerous area that I would walk, it has some creeks, and streams, what have you, but it didn’t flood me out any, I still walked across those areas and still about 13 blocks.
Leroy: Thirteen blocks?
Lynetta: Yes, it seemed closer to me. By this time, my foster father was getting on in years and I was sort of trembly all the time. Some of the doctors said I wasn’t outdoors enough, I had an opportunity, in a way. I was in some kind of a lung condition they called it, so I could not get married until I was cleared of this condition.
Leroy: Was it a tuberculosis type of thing or what?
Lynetta: They did not know. We are talking too much about me.
Leroy: No, I recognize that, Lynetta, but there is a certain amount of background that has to do with the kind of person you are, which has to do with the kind of person you brought up, as a son you know. He has commented on this himself that if you had not been a very strong person, that he would not have been able to be the kind of person he is.
Lynetta: You know, I can’t seem to fit this big business in with this, I got a right, you know, because, well, just a right, you know– well, Lord have mercy, this aggravates me, this taping.
Leroy: Well it actually saves a lot of time, ultimately it puts things in that you wouldn’t get otherwise. You never did tell me though, how you came to meet Jim’s father. How did you actually need him? When you were ill, and you came home?
Lynetta: No, I had known him a long time before that. I had backed out on marrying him, I think, about eight times before that.
Leroy: You mean you had said yes and then changed your mind?
Leroy: Were there other young men that were interested in you?
Leroy: You just changed your mind about the whole thing?
Lynetta: Well I changed, yes, that’s why I changed my mind. I know all the people that I went with, you know, because I just, I was romantic, just at a romantic age.
Leroy: Nothing really in common with them, huh?
Lynetta: I don’t mean that they was not people (unintelligible) but they was just not going my way and they did seem to be a little younger than I was, not dry behind the ears yet. They was nearer my age, you know, however, (unintelligible) he was–
Leroy: Sixteen years older?
Lynetta: Yes, and that was–
Leroy: What did your foster father think of him? Of your husband? Did he like him?
Lynetta: Yes, he thought, you know, he even told me he was (unintelligible) he thought that my– that he would provide for me and almost everything that we needed, or that’s what he wanted to believe because he was getting along in years.
Leroy: How old were you when your foster father passed?
Lynetta: About 27.
Leroy: You were born in what year?
Leroy: Did he pass before or after Jim came along?
Lynetta: Jim was a year old, I believe.
Leroy: Jim was a year old when he passed, he did get to see Jim then. Was there any particular affinity between them, I mean, was he attached to Jim or was Jim attached to him in any way?
Lynetta: I was thinking that he was (unintelligible) what I was thinking that he would get a germ (unintelligible).
Leroy: You mean afraid Jim would pick up a germ?
Lynetta: Yes, I was (unintelligible).
Leroy: Going back to this illness. Was it– now you told me about the dream you had or what ever it was at that time that you were in the crisis stage. Where were you physically at the time that you had that? Was that at your foster father’s house?
Lynetta: Yes, it was.
Leroy: You are not married to Jim’s father at that time?
Lynetta: Not until about a year after that. It seems to me that my mother’s death occurred when I was six, and then I had the shots because I thought I felt I was loaded with this jungle fever, and I had the feeling that it might be too late.
Leroy: When you took the shots? You mean you had the feeling that it might be too late and you were going to pass with it anyway.
Lynetta: Yes, I felt that that was true, and I don’t know where I got that idea from, but they said that I had been too fortunate and–
Leroy: And what?
Lynetta: And so far I have never done, just grabbed real hard by the jungle diseases, you know. I had been around them, I suppose, most of my life was in danger for itself, and I had thought that malaria fever had lived for ever in my body really, because I knew something was wrong with me.
Leroy: You mentioned when you had this experience when you had this crisis point with malaria–
End of tape