British poet, Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy (March 1844 – 1881) wrote, “We are the music makers and the dreamers of dreams.” It is a quote that resonates with lovers of the arts.
The home of James Oliver Jones is packed with books of all genres, and shelves of music dvds and classical films.
“I always wanted to be a writer, and I’m still hoping to find that missing piece for the part of my soul that can do good and be of real help to someone.”
Jones self-published his book “How to Find your Dream and Make it Come True” in 1990.
“I enjoyed writing it, and sold all the copies, but still had hoped to write other books. Sir Walter Scott was my inspiration—my great writing hero.”
Jones grew up in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, during the Great Depression.
“My sister and I often had just one meal a day, but we were grateful that my father had a job with the WPA. (Work Progress Administration).”
After graduating from high school in 1952, Jones says he followed the example of his wanderlust father and headed for the West, to see for himself if the West was as portrayed in his favorite books by Zane Grey.
“I worked in Yellowstone for one summer and then hitchhiked to the Grand Canyon. I hiked solo to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I was hiking back up on the Bright Angel Trail, I saw a sign warning that there would be no water for the next 7 miles. I didn’t have a canteen with me, but I managed to get out safely, and I fell in love with the West.”
Jones worked a variety of jobs at ranches and construction companies around the country for the next 8 years. One ranching job turned his life around.
“I was having dinner on the ranch with a guest — the president from Heston College in Kansas — and he talked me into going to college. So I enrolled and first earned my AA degree and later completed my college education in Laramie, Wyo.”
In 1954, Jones joined the Mennonite Church for 2 years, and became a conscientious objector during the Korean War.
For 2 years, he worked with the Red Cross on flood and tornado relief, building houses. There were no military benefits and he earned $10 a month for his work.
After his Red Cross assignment, he took a job at the Mennonite hospital in La Junta where his love affair with his future wife Angelina began.
She worked there as a bookkeeper and secretary for nurses in training. She turned down his first offer for a date, but then they started dating casually.
Angie left La Junta and returned to her home in Indiana, but they kept in touch through letters for the next 8 years.
Eventually, Angie took a job in Cheyenne, Wyo., and headed up the medical records department. After receiving a Christmas card from Angie, Jones wrote to her to say he could visit.
They met for a date, about which he says, “When Angie rode up in her uniform on her bicycle, I fell in love instantly.” Angie, being 9 years older, jokes, “I robbed the cradle!”
Daniel was born and for the next 2 years Jones taught English, speech and drama on a reservation in Hot Springs, Mont., and then in Livingston, Mont. “Along with the music teacher, we put on a tremendous production of “My Fair Lady.”
Jones’s interest in theater began in high school when he discovered he had a knack for sound and lighting. But, even though the production was a success, Jones did not feel he could develop the program he wanted with 40 kids in his classes and many discipline issues.
“Well, I had to make a living for my family, so I went into construction, and for most of my career the family moved from one place to another, where there was work.
We lived in Wyoming, Montana, Florida and Boulder until I retired in Buena Vista 24 years ago.”
Jones, and Angie, (who grew up in the Mennonite church)—now attend the Church of the Nazarene, where Jones has participated actively.
“We tried a lot of different churches over the years in our different homes,” Jones says, “but since we’ve been here, the Nazarene church has been home.”
With books shelves lining their walls, Angie says, “Jim can read a book in a day. He is always reading,” to which Jones adds, “And I love movies, musicals and old classics.”
Jones says that he feels like he has always searched for that elusive Utopia in his life.
“It’s the wanderlust in my bones,” he says. “I’m always looking for that Utopian paradise, that place where time stands still, as in director Frank Capra’s film ‘Lost Horizon’ based on the book by James Hilton, depicting the origin of the fictional Shangri-La.
“I still hope that someday I will find that narrow road to help others.”