Eulogy for Alice Jones

Alice May Jones (1928-2014)
Alice May Jones (1928–2014)

I think of my moth­er are an adven­tur­ous per­son. She thought noth­ing about pack­ing the five of us into a VW bug and head­ing to British Colum­bia. Or, when we were more grown, into a sta­tion wag­on and head­ing to West Vir­ginia, or Boston.

When she want­ed to revamp the kitchen cab­i­nets, but couldn’t afford to pay a pro­fes­sion­al to do it, she took a wood­work­ing class at the adult school, and built 18 feet of cab­i­net, with a Lazy Susan.

She was adven­tur­ous, and very prac­ti­cal about the steps required to set out on the adven­ture, and also a dream­er who some­times strug­gled when real­i­ty did not match her dream.

I’m going to read an auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal sketch my moth­er wrote, prob­a­bly some time about 1983, I’m not sure when. She con­veys bet­ter than I can the blend of prac­ti­cal adven­tur­er and invet­er­ate dream­er she was. I think you’ll also see some of her sense of humor in her writ­ing.

I was grad­u­at­ed from High School in 1945 in Sheri­dan, Wyoming a small town in north­east­ern Wyoming.

I thought about going to nurs­ing school after that, but nice girls didn’t do that — they became teach­ers or got mar­ried and raised chil­dren. So I went away to col­lege in Hast­ings, Nebras­ka — where I real­ly had a ball. I think I must have majored in cam­pus­try. I took only what was inter­est­ing to me — music, French, Span­ish, and lit­er­a­ture.

I came to Cal­i­for­nia in 1947 and fell in love with the warm weath­er — and no snow to shov­el. I grad­u­at­ed from Glen­dale Col­lege in 1949, major­ing in music & lit­er­a­ture, and got mar­ried.

My hus­band was just out of the Navy, and between us we could­n’t have dug up bus fare out of town, but I start­ed mak­ing plans. It was going to be a beau­ti­ful life: I would have a house, a car, a baby grand piano, and 5 chil­dren — not nec­es­sar­i­ly in that order.

My first child, a daugh­ter, was born in 1950 and by the time she was two we had a car and a house — not bad for 24 years old.

There were 4 more chil­dren in the next 13 years, anoth­er daugh­ter and 3 sons. I worked a lit­tle here & there but nev­er steadi­ly until 1961, when I start­ed a busi­ness: Rese­da Nurs­es Reg­istry, and an all med­ical tele­phone answer­ing ser­vice. I sold this busi­ness when we moved to Simi Val­ley in 1963 — I need­ed to spend more time with my fam­i­ly. In about 1965, I was con­tact­ed by the Pres­i­dent of CNA Dist #5 in LA about run­ning their Reg­istry for them — which I did for about 8 years.

By then I had my piano and I was ready to retire. Every­thing accord­ing to plan. I did­n’t work for sev­er­al years — I took piano lessons and enjoyed being home with my chil­dren. I was for­tu­nate in that I had beau­ti­ful gift­ed chil­dren — just like the plan — involved in music — play­ing foot­ball, drill team etc.

My old­est daugh­ter grad­u­at­ed from Coun­ty USC School of Nurs­ing. My younger daugh­ter fin­ished high school at 16 and went to work for State Farm Insur­ance in T.O. She want­ed to go to night school, but was a lit­tle shy, so I told her I would go with her, if she would pick some­thing we would both enjoy — so we took con­ver­sa­tion­al Span­ish.

That got her start­ed and she went on her way, and so did I — more Span­ish and piano. Then I dis­cov­ered the Simi Val­ley Adult School, where I stud­ied oil pain­ing and stained glass and cab­i­net build­ing — all rather expen­sive hob­bies —. So I took a part time job with Brent­wood Nurs­es Reg­istry — to sup­port my habit.

By now, my youngest daugh­ter was a full time stu­dent and always look­ing for a part time job. Final­ly, she took the nurse’s aide course at the Adult School and loved it. In fact, she talked me into tak­ing it. I fin­ished, but was still work­ing at the Reg­istry. Any­way, one day, Simi Doc­tors’ Hos­pi­tal called her to work and she couldn’t go — but she told them she’d send her moth­er. And that’s how I start­ed work­ing in a hos­pi­tal.

In 1978, my hus­band had open heart surgery (6 bypass­es) — That wasn’t in my plan! — but he recov­ered nice­ly and was back at work in 3 weeks — so that was O.K. and I went on my mer­ry way.

Then, in 1981 Jana was killed in a car acci­dent — that wasn’t in my plan either — and it wasn’t O.K. — I met a Catholic Priest at the hos­pi­tal who has influ­enced my life for­ev­er. Over the next few months I began to real­ize that I had been liv­ing in fairy­land for 52 years. Things were not always going to work out the way I had planned. Life is so frag­ile. I may not have my hus­band for­ev­er, indeed, I might not have him tomor­row, and I had bet­ter pre­pare myself to take care of me.

She trails off there.…

You see, mom was a coura­geous dream­er, and often, but not always, ready to take the next chal­lenge.

Despite the fact that she dis­ap­peared from us over the last decade, I was com­fort­ed that her adven­tur­ous dream­ing, her sense of humor, and her love of music were the last things to go.

Alice May Jones

Alice May Jones passed away May 26, 2014 in Scott Town­ship, Alleghe­ny Coun­ty, Penn­syl­va­nia.

She was born March 16, 1928 in Ord, Nebras­ka, the only child of Ernest Melvin Hill and Helen Kjer­s­tine John­son. Her father was a cloth­ier who lost his busi­ness in the Depres­sion and returned to farm­ing; he died when she was five. Her moth­er was a teacher.

She attend­ed Sheri­dan High School (Wyoming), Hast­ings Col­lege (Nebras­ka), and Glen­dale Col­lege, where she received an AA degree. She majored in art and stud­ied music, lan­guages, and lit­er­a­ture.

On Sep­tem­ber 21, 1949, she mar­ried Carl Lawrence Jones. They raised five chil­dren in the San Fer­nan­do Val­ley and Simi Val­ley. She start­ed a nurse’s reg­istry, and lat­er pur­sued arts and crafts, includ­ing paint­ing, macramé, cro­chet, knit­ting, and wood­work­ing. She liked to trav­el. On one of her trips, she fell in love with Albu­querque, New Mex­i­co, where she retired with her hus­band. After Car­l’s death in 2003, she lived with and near her chil­dren in Cal­i­for­nia, North Car­oli­na, and Penn­syl­va­nia.

She was pre­ced­ed in death by a daugh­ter, Jana Jones. She is sur­vived by four chil­dren: Jacque­line Abra­ham of Swiss­vale, Penn­syl­va­nia; Jonathan Jones of Acton; James Jones of Simi Val­ley; and Jor­dan Jones of Raleigh, North Car­oli­na; as well as three cousins, sev­en grand­chil­dren, five step grand­chil­dren, and six great grand­chil­dren.

A com­mem­o­ra­tion will be held at 10 a.m. Wednes­day, June 4th, at the Rose Fam­i­ly Funer­al Home, 4444 Cochran St, Simi Val­ley. Inter­ment will fol­low at Oak­wood Memo­r­i­al Park, 22601 Lassen St, Chatsworth. In lieu of flow­ers, the fam­i­ly requests dona­tions be made to the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion at

The Demise of Readmill

The best app for read­ing books is being shut down. Read­mill allowed for read­ing of DRM-free as well as Adobe and Google DRM titles on mobile apps for iOS and Android. The read­ing expe­ri­ence was crisp and clear; the app also allowed for social and shared read­ing and anno­ta­tions.

When Ama­zon bought the bet­ter known GoodReads, Craig Mod wrote an inter­est­ing piece at Paid Con­tent enti­tled “The deal Goodreads should’ve struck (hint: it was­n’t with Ama­zon)”:

“In my dream team, fan­ta­sy pub­lish­ing start­up league, I would have had Goodreads buy Read­mill. Here are two star­tups with sim­i­lar­ly over­lap­ping prob­lems. I under­stand why Ama­zon bought Goodreads, and why Goodreads sold itself to Ama­zon. But as a read­er and lover of com­pe­ti­tion in the world of pub­lish­ing, there is a com­pelling alter­na­tive uni­verse in which a Goodreads plus Read­mill com­bi­na­tion offered us all a unique alter­na­tive to Ama­zon.”

Now, Read­mill has come to its Epi­logue. The Read­mill team will be join­ing Drop­box, pre­sum­ably to enable read­ing of e‑books stored there, but … they are not tak­ing the Read­mill app and web­site.

The web­site is no longer allow­ing peo­ple to cre­ate accounts as of today, and it will shut down com­plete­ly, as will the avail­abil­i­ty of the mobile apps, on July 1, 2014.

This is a sad day for inde­pen­dent read­ers. E‑books are dom­i­nat­ed by Ama­zon, with Apple, Google, and Adobe sweep­ing up most of the remain­der. It was an impor­tant part of the e‑book ecosys­tem to have a sep­a­rate (and in many ways bet­ter and clean­er) app from the dom­i­nant Ama­zon, Apple, Google, and Adobe offer­ings. Hope­ful­ly, Drop­box will build the Read­mill tech­nol­o­gy into Drop­box and pro­vide a non-con­tent com­pa­ny way to store and read our geneal­o­gy and his­to­ry e‑books.

Review: “Annie’s Ghosts” by Steve Luxenberg

Book Cover: Annie's Ghosts

Annie’s Ghosts

Steve Lux­en­berg’s Annie’s Ghosts: A Jour­ney Into A Fam­i­ly Secret will remain with me for some time.

The book details jour­nal­ist Lux­en­berg’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the pained life of an aunt he had nev­er known. Toward the end of his moth­er Beth’s life, and then more point­ed­ly just after­wards, it became clear to Lux­en­berg that his moth­er had not been “an only child” as she long con­tend­ed, but one of two chil­dren.

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Review: Family Bee for Android

Family Bee LogoI have been using PDAs for years, and was an ear­ly adopter of the Hand­spring prod­uct that start­ed the inte­gra­tion of PDAs and cell phones back in about 2002.

As a geneal­o­gist, I have used sev­er­al prod­ucts that have allowed for dis­play­ing a geneal­o­gy data­base on my PDA/cell phone, and was quite hap­py with Ged­Star Pro, which could read my data­base direct­ly from The Mas­ter Geneal­o­gist and dis­play it on my Pal­mOS device.

But, folks, the Pal­mOS is dead. Long live WebOS, iOS, and Android!

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Mental Health Records Access

Book Cover: Annie's Ghosts
Annie’s Ghosts

Steve Lux­en­berg writes in the Detroit Free Press about the over-the-top pro­tec­tions afford­ed to the dead in his arti­cle “Dead and gone and still pri­vate: Med­ical record laws need updat­ing.” Suf­fice it to say that med­ical, and espe­cial­ly men­tal health records are locked up far longer than is nec­es­sary. As far as I am con­cerned, peo­ple whose entire imme­di­ate fam­i­ly are dead should have any of their data made pub­lic. The only rea­son for pri­va­cy is the pro­tec­tion of liv­ing per­sons; the rest is his­to­ry, and his­to­ry should be made pub­lic, not hid­den.

As Mr. Lux­en­berg points out, we have a rad­i­cal lack of pri­va­cy in some are­nas — wit­ness Face­book — but med­ical and men­tal health records are anoth­er sto­ry. So, with a cou­ple of clicks, I can find out what your street address and phone num­ber are, but it takes a court order to find out about a per­son who died in a men­tal hos­pi­tal more than 100 years ago.

I’m going to take a look at Lux­en­berg’s book Annie’s Ghosts: A Jour­ney Into a Fam­i­ly Secret.