Every year, on his birthday, his family comes together from as far as the US to celebrate the special day. “By the help of the Lord I’ve lived this long. Every year the children have a birthday party for me with cake and ice cream,” Mr. Victor says with a subtle smile. “I can’t get to them, so they have to come to me.”
Since suffering a fall that fractured his hip five years ago, an injury on which the doctors were reluctant to treat with surgery because of the possible side effects of the anesthesia on a man of his age, and for which they instead recommended bed rest; Mr. Jones has been bedridden ever since.
Prior to the hip fracture, Mr. Victor was up and about and took care of himself. “He was able to support himself besides cooking,” said his daughter Verne Jones who has left her job in the US to help take care of her dad. “My sister Linda would spend the night,” she said. A house worker, who has been with the family for years, would do the cooking.
The eldest of four children born to Gustave and Lena Jones, and the only one still alive, Mr. Jones was an example his younger siblings. “I never gambled, smoked or drank alcohol, but I loved to hunt for rabbits and deer and loved to fish,” he remembers.
Mr. Victor does not speak much Spanish because while he was growing up “The teacher would come from the mainland, stay for a few months and leave never to return,” he said. Mr. Victor did receive English lessons however, and one of his teachers was Mabel Bennett of Flowers Bay.
Alert and sound of mind, Mr. Jones can recall incidents that happened when he was a child such as a story he related to his late daughter, Linda, five years ago. He told of a church bell that was donated to the Bethany Methodist Church in Jonesville Point and was later thrown into a pond during an altercation between locals at the school house where it had been stored for safekeeping after the church had been leveled by a hurricane. The bell was never recovered.
Some of Mr. Jones’s fondest memories, as a child, come from the time he spent on the family farm with his father who was a farmer and kept a few cows and hogs and grew enough provision of plantains, bananas and other fruits and vegetables to feed his family.
Some of his not so fond memories include the difficulties of traveling from one area of the island to another: “I remember when you wanted to get to French Harbor; you had to paddle or walk to get there.”
I never gambled, smoked or drank alcohol, but I loved to hunt for rabbits and deer.
Mr. Victor, who worked as a seaman, started his career at the age of 16 with the Standard Fruit Company and worked on a ship that belonged to Joe Gough of Oak Ridge. The ship ran from Belize to Tampa Florida, delivering bananas. As a seaman, Mr. Jones has traveled around the world twice and favors the country of Singapore amongst all the places he has visited.
Working as a seaman during World War II was scary, he recalls, “we had to sleep under the lifeboats, which was hard to do because of the discharge going of all hours of the night,” he said.
The end of the war was welcoming news for the seaman who would spend months on the sea before going home to spend a few months with his family. “We were coming out of Tampa when the War started and we were passing through the Panama Canal when it ended,” he said. “Passing through the canal we heard the celebration; guns going off and ships blowing their horns and when the pilot came aboard to take us through, he told us that the war was over”, he remembers.
Like for most islanders of his generation, country and western was Mr. Jones favorite kind of music to dance and listen to. “We used to kick-up our heels every now and then at the Miramar club in Pandy Town,” he says. “I loved all the country singers, but my favorite was Earnest Tubb.”
Mr. Victor was married to Ema Midence of West End for 62 years and they had five children, of which three are still alive. Mrs. Jones has been deceased for 24 years, but Mr. Jones still remembers the first time he saw the 17-year-old doing her chores. It was the day he fell in love.
He is the grandfather of 11 and great-grandfather of 15, still live in the home where he lived with his wife from 1942 until the day she died, and where they raised their children.