I wanted to save this somewhere so that anyone who wants to can read it. I want people to remember my Dad and it was a privilege to write this with the help of my family and then read it at the funeral mass. It was lovely to hear people laughing at my Dad’s corny jokes and to share our memories.
John Richard Jones 23 April 1931 ~ 28 February 2018
Mum and Dad lived in Liverpool during the blitz. While Mum was evacuated Dad’s family stayed together and Dad always proudly told the tale of how his Dad kept the family together and also tales of the war. It must have been terrifying and one of my favourite stories (and one I know Edward and Molly liked to hear) was the time their house was bombed. Dad, Alf, Elsie and Grandma and Grandad were sheltering under the stairs, Grandad with his legs stretched out into the hallway when Grandma shouted ‘pull your legs in Jack’. Grandad pulled his knees up to his chest and at that moment the bomb hit and the front door came in along with a tide of debris. For a short time they were homeless, various shelters offered to take Elsie and Grandma in but the family were adamant that they would stay together and so they did. Eventually the Sally Army took them in and Dad always gave generously whenever they were collecting.
Dad’s faith was important to him. In something that makes Mum and Dad’s courtship sound like a romantic novel, Dad converted to Catholicism so that he could marry Mum at a time when there were still some bitter divisions between the protestant and catholic communities in Liverpool. He was a very active member of the church community and every family holiday began with a walk to find the nearest Catholic church in advance of Sunday Mass. Through church he became one of the Knights of St Columba helping those less fortunate than himself.
Every Sunday he would help with counting the collection plates, and although he took the responsibility seriously, when the task was done he also enjoyed sharing a few beers with his fellow helpers and Father English.
Mum and Dad were the first to move into the Ellesmere Port overspill housing and were even presented with their front door key by the mayor – something Dad was proud of. For most of his working life Dad worked at ‘the metal’. He got his brother Alf a job there and made many friendships. He was secretary of the Van Leer social club, helping to organise panto trips and a Christmas party with a visit from Father Christmas. He enjoyed bingo nights at the club and I remember being excited when I was old enough to join in. Although Dad was always more interested in socialising than playing bingo.
Dad loved music. In the evenings after he and Mum had finished watching whichever TV crime series they were watching, he would often put a record on, pour a whisky and settle down to listen to Nat King Cole or Doris Day. He even loved his steel band records and would proudly tell us that the metal made those drums. One of my first records was from Dad. It was The Brotherhood of Man – save all your kisses for me.
He will be well remembered for his sense of humour. As I’m sure we all know Dad was a huge Everton fan and a season ticket holder attending all home matches. He maintained they were the strongest club in the league (they have to be – they’re holding everyone else up- his words not mine) Lawrence remembered that when Liverpool lost to AFC Ajax in the European Cup in 1966, Dad cut out the name AJAX from Mum’s AJAX cleaning products and placed them all over his workplace! He even went so far as to tape one to his shirt, then unzipped his jacket to flash AJAX at every approaching Liverpool fan.
I remember visiting Aunty Terry and Uncle Jim just after Everton beat Watford in May 1984. Dad, in full kit, knocked on their door which was opened by Uncle Jim – a stalwart Liverpool fan – who shut the door on Dad then quickly re-opened it and dragged him in saying ‘Quick! Get in before the neighbours see you’.
Dad’s jokes- often received with groans from close family still make lots of people laugh. He enjoyed claiming he knew every street in Liverpool. I can’t walk past a boat on a drive without trotting out the line ‘It must have been a high tide last night’ or past the cemetery without declaring both that ‘We must be in the dead centre of say, Ellesmere Port’ and of course, ‘There’s people dying to get in there’. He even had a joke published in the Ken Dodd jokes section of the Echo – What’s black and white and comes steaming out of Cowes? The Isle of Wight Ferry!
Dad loved buying Christmas decorations – the noisier the better! So much so that it became like a mini version of Mission Impossible every time you visited. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, was attempting access to the house without activating the doormat which played “Jingle Bells”, passing the Santa that sang “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, or setting off the Snowman that blared out “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”. Not to mention avoiding the hourly Christmas carol from the festive clock in the kitchen!
Whilst he teased others with the best of them, he also loved to be teased himself, particularly by his grandchildren. As young children, Emma and Aimee would frequently hide his slippers, or switch round the hot and cold indicators on the bathroom taps. Dad would feign annoyance and set off in search of his missing footwear, while all the time revelling in the fun.
All the grandchildren would jump onto Dad’s chair whenever he left the room. On his return, he would delight in staring angrily at them, before lifting them off and reclaiming his seat.
One of Marie’s fondest memories was of holidays with Dad. Dad always seemed happiest on days out or when taking family holidays. Giving piggy backs to his children, building sand castles or teaching them to swim, he was at his most relaxed.
As well as his love of a trip out Dad was renowned for his thrift! One of his favourite discoveries was a free way to go to Chester Zoo. He discovered a foot path that led through part of the zoo and often used to take me there. I used to love going even though the only animals you could see for free were antelopes and deer.
Despite enjoying a bargain, Dad was also generous. I have been reminded of the time he renovated one of the old bikes he had kept in the shed (you see he was right it had ‘come in’) and gave it to one of my school friends enabling her to take a Saturday job that was far from her house. He taught my friend Kerry to swim. And, I always remember that he had a row with a boss at a temporary job because his boss was treating one of the female employees unfairly. Despite people telling Dad to keep quiet in case he lost his own job, Dad’s sense of fairness and kindness would not allow him to sit back and tolerate that.
Dad liked to chat. He was happy to talk to anyone he met in the street, while down at the shops, or when away on holiday. It has been comforting to discover the impact Dad had on the lives of others outside of the family. Over the last few weeks many of his neighbours, fellow church goers and people passing the house, have expressed their sympathy, shared anecdotes and asked about the funeral arrangements.
This is only really a snapshot of Dad. There are so many memories of Dad that we all hold dear and I hope that you will continue to tell his stories and keep his memory alive.