The feature Hugh’s Journals appears here each Sunday. For some basic background on Rev. Hugh Bebb Jones and his notebooks click here.
Last week’s inaugural posting of Hugh’s Journals bore a number of unexpected fruits: an email from one of Hugh’s quite distant relatives in Australia, a number of nice comments and emails from Jones family members who I know or at least know of, and… another notebook that I knew nothing of at all.
Last Tuesday I met my father-in-law for racquetball. Before getting started, he opened a plastic bag and said “I don’t know if you have seen this notebook.”
It was the same style of notebook as those Sue has inherited, a bit less faded perhaps. But where the notebooks I am familiar with… and have been reading over the years… merely have a small notation inserted on the spine (“1958 Quotations” or “Poems A – K”) this one had a faded picture of my father-in-law as a boy. Opening it up for a cursory look, I noticed that while the notebooks I have been reading are filled with pages of hand-typed quotations, the one from my father-in-law seemed more a scrap book. There were pictures, grade school report cards, and miscellaneous other documents taped and glued on pages as well as a few pages of typed text.
Later that night, I took the new notebook out and began looking through it. There is one page with two pictures of Hugh and one of his bride, Dorothy. There is a page with my father-in-law’s 4th grade report card from Cambria, Wisconsin, attached to it, and some pages with “From the Minister’s Study” columns that Hugh had written, presumably cut from some congregational newsletter.
My favorite page has two unusual items attached to it, one above the other. On the top, is part of an old parking citation from August 20th, 1945, from the City of Staunton, VA, made out to “Mrs. Hugh B. Jones.” Below is a smaller, square piece of paper where, presumably an outraged Dorothy, had with meticulous care drawn a map showing where “Legitmate Parking” and “No Parking” were on “Beverly St.” And where her car, and other cars were parked. Whether she had drawn this to argue her case with the City of Staunton, or more likely, to send in a letter to Hugh who was still a chaplain in North Africa, I am not sure. She was, apparently, notorious for ignoring the usual parking conventions.
A few pages in, I found the page that I am posting today.
When I came up with the idea of doing something with Hugh’s notebooks, with the pages and pages of quotations and prayers that he had taken so much time to type-out and file, it was because I had always had a vague sense that something more should be done with them. But I never knew what or why.
When I came upon this page… typed double-sided, dated February 17, 1978… I finally knew why I had had that feeling all these years. Hugh wanted to do something with them.
A few words about the names in these two pages. Hugh and Dorothy were usually called by their grandchildren Taid and Nain, the Welsh words for “grandfather” and “grandmother.” Taid and Nain had two children: Daniel (Dan) who was named after Hugh’s father, and Elizabeth (Betsy). Daniel (my father-in-law) married DeLores and they had three children: Sue (my wife), Amy, and Chris. Betsy married Bill and they had three children: Kent, Mark, and Erick.
Hugh saw the notebooks of typed pages as a legacy…. a life-time of wisdom, and study, and faith that he wanted to pass-on to his children and grandchildren.
Over the years, I guess had come to think of them that way as well. Yet also as something more that just a family legacy.
Hugh was always a pastor and a preacher… a proclaimer of the Good News. The light of what he believed – of what he knew was true – did not go out when he died. It burns in some fashion in his children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren… as it burns in the children, and grand-children, and great-grandchildren of all the saints that have gone before.
When those who have gone before are as faithful and studious as Hugh, all of us – children of God – need to hear what they have learned.