My Daddy (Hal Jones, Jr.) was a very special man. I was super blessed to have grown up in what I call a “Leave it to Beaver” type of family. Daddy worked and Mom was a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. I have one brother and I was the “baby” of the family. We were a very close-knit bunch. I grew up in the 1950’s-1960’s during a severe recession where money was tight, but I never knew it. Our family was rich in love. He was such a sweet man who
made my first name tag for me so that I would feel important. He taught me such things as how to tie a bow, how to tell time and he taught me the basics of music theory. He bought me a karaoke machine with a microphone so that I could practice singing and become accustomed to hearing my own voice. He encouraged me to sing and he always came to my various choir performances. Daddy worked hard and had a second job for a while, yet, he always had time to play with us when he got home from work…and no matter how tired he was he never showed it!
If you have been reading Darla’s Journey for very long, then you have read about some of the adventures and vacation trips that we have experienced. I can look back and see that we didn’t need a lot of money in order to have a special time as a family, and Daddy always came up with some great ways for us to have fun bonding activities.
We had special games that we played, special songs that we sang, special places that we would go to eat (such as the Chuck Wagon, Thornhill’s Cafeteria, James Coney Island – Downtown, not to mention Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Shop!)
When Daddy would save a couple of extra dollars, we would all pack up in the car on a Friday night and go to the drive-in movie. How many of you remember those? The one closest to our house was the Winkler Drive-In. We saw many movies there. Whenever we would go to see a Walt Disney Movie, I would sit in the back seat and watch in rapt fascination. When we would go to see a movie that I wasn’t so interested in, well…I would simply go to sleep in the back seat!
As we grew older, we would still try to do things as a family as often as possible, and Daddy was always there for us. He was a fascinating man, full of stories about his growing-up years in McKinney, Vernon and Wichita Falls, stories of the Depression days and stories about his WWII days (He served in the Army Air Corps). He had certainly seen and experienced a multitude of extraordinary things.
I need to also add that Daddy was a songwriter and musician. After Mom and Daddy first married, before children, he played drums and also the saxophone in a little supper club. I don’t know if he ever sang professionally, but he had a beautiful bass voice. He wrote some country love ballads years ago and recorded some demos which he did his own singing on. He even allowed me to sing a couple of his songs on tape so that I could hear what I sounded like. He was also very good at drawing things. In this day and age, He probably would be a good draftsman or graphic artist. He was, in fact, an electrician and was very talented at building things as well as servicing all of our cars.
His greatest passion, however, was his love for airplanes. This was reflected in his choice of military branches in which he served. As years went by, back in the 1970’s, he found out about and joined an organization called EAA, which stands for Experimental Aircraft Association. This was a national organization of airplane lovers who, in fact, under the watchful eye of the FAA (Federal Aviation Association) built and flew their own home-built airplanes. Daddy’s first plane was a Fly Baby that he built and successfully flew for many years. He was considered quite a hero among his friends and family! He later sold the Fly Baby to a man in another town. Daddy was ready for a bigger challenge. He wanted to build a self-designed plane, which he would later name the Woodpecker because it was made mainly of wood. He was also an avid reader in his later years and would spend literally hours in his easy chair with a Louie L’Amour western novel. He dreamed of one day being a writer and he even submitted a story about his love for flying and his Fly Baby to Reminisce Magazine. A portion of that story was actually published several years ago! He was quite gifted and he was a man who was far ahead of his time. He went home to be with his Heavenly Father 15 years ago this Wednesday, June 22. I know I’ll see him again someday and, until then, I love you, Daddy and Happy Father’s Day!