My grandparents Charles & Mildred Jones were married for 57 years. Even though both are gone, their love, dedication and faith still inspire me, here’s their story.
My grandmother’s family escaped Jim Crow south of Galveston, Texas and my grandmother was born here in Chicago in 1910. She converted to the Catholic faith and was a devout Catholic the rest of her life. She was also a working women, employed at such diverse places as Follett Publishing and a crossing guard for the Chicago Police Department.
My grandfather was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1909 and after having to move around a lot for work for his mother and step father (stops included towns up and down present day Interstate 10 in Southwest Louisiana and over to Beaumont Texas), and do manual labor (like pick rice in Crowley, LA), he came to Chicago when he was only 14 years old. He had an older sibling and her family already here and he went to work on the sheep killing floor of the old stockyards. My grandfather worked hard in many jobs during his life including United States Tobacco.
My grandparents married at St Anselm Church (60th & Michigan), on October 14, 1939 and to this union two children were born, my mother and my aunt.
But life would not be easy for this little family, initially my grandparents lived with my grandfather’s family, sharing a large apartment (living in a partitioned living room), but then followed by many moves across the south side over the next years.
My mother recalls living at the following addresses: 6219 ½ S Indiana, 6238 S. Elizabeth, 6226 S. Ellis, 524 E. 72nd and 7207 S. Eberhart.
Now I remember the huge apartment at 7207 S. Eberhart, that’s where they first watched me as a small child and then my grandparents also lived at 82nd & Vernon and their last place together was 62 E. 78th Street.
My grandparents never owned a home, all those addresses are apartments, they never owned a car, they relied on public transportation and in later years cabs (my grandmother was a regular for King Drive Cab), and other relatives with cars.
But their faith was rock solid, the belonged to the previously mentioned St Anselm, St Columbanus (72nd & Calumet), and St. Dorothy (78th & Prairie) and both were very active in the church.
My grandmother sang in choirs, served in Saint Peter Claver (including serving as Grand Lady), Women’s Club, Council of Catholic Women, she was also reader and my favorite was St Columbanus senior citizen group. I used to go to the meetings when I was small and travel with them in the summer.
My grandfather made coffee (that was really strong), for the sweet table after church and was a longtime usher. In fact he worked as an usher the evening of their 50th wedding anniversary mass at St Dorothy and sat in his usual post at the back of church and not with my grandmother or the rest of the family.
I was their only grandchild but they took care of so many other people and rarely did you hear a negative word out of either of them or about them.
Once my grandfather’s health started failing in the 1990’s, my grandmother took care of him, we all pitched in but she was extraordinary in making sure his needs were met. As my grandfather’s health worsened and he was hospitalized and then in a nursing home, we rotated taking her to see him and she was diligent in visiting him.
My grandfather passed in July of 1996 and my grandmother passed in August of 2011, they are buried next to each other in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in south suburban Evergreen Park. I carried each of their caskets for that final walk and stood at my grandmothers final resting place as she was buried and I thought, “you two are finally together again”.
They lived simple but were rich in faith and family and now that I’m married and have a child I respect their lives and how they lived more than ever. They not only showed me love but how to love.
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Filed under: African American History