A distinct cool spell fell over the mountains in late July to dispel some of the early heavy rains for our hometown, yet the arrival of August seems to have brushed away the chill.
Maybe today. It could be next week or at least by early fall. Perhaps the end of the year. And Homer Jones, long time manager of the Newport McDonald’s Restaurant says it is retirement time.
It has nothing to do with the change of ownership of the Newport franchise that had been owned by the Crock Family of Knoxville since it opened in the new building in 1983.
You have seen the ruddy complexioned jovial manager and might have smoked a cigarette at break time with him, when you worked as a youngster. Most likely Homer never expected to have completed 37 years in the fast food side of the hospitality industry.
At best, it seemed to me, reflecting on his life growing up at Bridgeport, that he would face a struggle. His father Homer Jones Sr. had died within a week of young Homer’s birthday in 1958. This left Huggette Jones to raise eight children.
Have you been to Pig Trott lately east of Newport? The Jones family lived in a two-story frame house not far from the old post office. If you wonder about the name Huggette, yes it is French. Homer Sr. served in World War II and met her in France. They fell in love and he brought her home to Tennessee.
My Mom only had four to raise when Dad died with my youngest brother being two months old. So, I can and can’t imagine the anxiety for Mrs. Jones and her larger family. But most likely neighbors helped. Homer Jones mentioned how nice the Willis family had been to them.
The Willises operated a small grocery store off the Asheville Highway. Huggette sent her shopping list to them. The order got filled and delivered to the Jones home. Young Homer said he always remembered working and credited his Uncle Herbert Norton with stepping up to become like a father.
“He was my role model. He was my man,” and taught the child the importance of working. “People took care of each other back then,” said Homer.
The children along Pig Trott and Bridgeport attended Bridgeport School where Mr. Cureton was his favorite teacher. Mr. Seay served as school principal. I am thinking and would not be surprised to find out that the Jones children turned out to be outstanding citizens.
The oldest sister, Doris, was a straight-A student. Homer recalled that Josephine Huff made sure that Doris attended college. Homer attended Cocke County High School until 1977 and then took the route of the US Army and Ft. Sill for basic training.
He spent three years in the Army and another nine years in the National Guard Armored Calvary in Newport. “It made me what I am today and was the best decision I made,” he said.
At the time Homer had married his first wife, Rose Edwards. They had two children: Jeffery and Jeremy Jones. “We are still a family.”
He married again, to Mary Ann Hensley. They had two children: Miranda Jones, who is in college, and Joshua Jones, who is disabled and has special needs. Homer’s other child is Angel Jones, who holds a special place in his heart. As you know, McDonald’s is all about family and children so I see the natural fit this has been for Homer.
To Be Continued