Around the world with Rose Jones
A visit with Rose Jones amounts to acquiring a painless education -- about a hunk of this universe I know very little. It was a short couple of hours.
Rose was born in 1911, in Washington, D.C, to Charles and Mildred Chaney. Charles was in the tobacco business.
One of Rose's early job was at the U.S. printing house where savings bonds and money are made. When Rose met Louis Jones, another employee, her entire life changed. From then on, her life would be one surprise after another.
Her only absolute was knowing Louis worked for the U.S. State Department, that if there was anything she knew now for sure, it was that she would never know why, where, or when Louis worked. She could never even ask him.
It was enough for Rose to know that she could almost always go with him. Their first stop was in the Philippines for two years. She had a small staff. The sea that surrounds the islands is so clear sunken Japanese ships on the bottom can clearly be seen.
The next stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico, then before long on to Ethiopia. Ethiopian politics were on shaky ground. What with the throne divided, while Emperor Selassie was hopeful of working something out with Mussolini, his wife, Memen Asfew, and her son were trying to take the government over from him at home in Ethiopia. Some time after the Emperor returned, her son was killed and Memen disappeared.
Rose said, "We lived near the palace and there were bullet holes in all of our walls. One morning we opened our door to see a body swinging from a rope in the park across the street. While no one was gunning for us that we knew of, it wasn't the healthiest atmosphere we've ever lived in."
One of their daughters, Pat, looks back on those years with pleasure. Pat said: "My sister, Mildred, and me played in the palace grounds often. There was this huge shiny ballroom floor, a great place to slide on."
Pat also remembers nuzzling Selassie's lion cubs; they were so playful, like big kittens. Selassie firmly believed himself to be specially chosen as King of kings, Lord of lords, elect of God, the conquering lion of the tribe of Judah. One time, when Selassie was taking his flower loving pet lion, Tojo, for a walk in the garden it took a swing at a visiting diplomat.
After that it was to Egypt and North China. When they were in Bethlehem/Jerusalem, Rose found it to be a sobering experience to trudge where Jesus walked, with that heavy cross on his shoulder.
After this move the family lived many more places, like Athens, Greece seeing the Pyramids, the Sphinx, riding on a camel and more.
Living in the famed Tree Top House in Nairobi was fun. It was 70 feet above the grounds where many kinds of African animals came to feed, get water, or rest in the spotlights. The scene was forever changing and never became dull.
They moved another few times, then Rose said, "Let's go home." Louis had contracted malaria and needed doctoring. They settled for a time in Florida, then he got a job teaching printing in a school in Arlington, Va., for two years.
After that the Joneses bought a house in Florida and unpacked. After only a few months Louis died suddenly from a heart attack. That was the summer of 1971.
What Louis did we, along with his family, will never know, only that it was important to our country, she said. What Rose did is an open book. Rose established Girl Scouts troops in the Philippines, Lebanon and Ethiopia, often places schooling for girls had stopped or been interrupted. When she had to leave them the troops were thriving. Her work was recognized.
Now, what brought Rose to quiet Wadena after all those miles, seeing the wonders of the world?
"Pat" fell for a Marine in a camp nearby, see? And they were married. His name is Herman Finn from the Hewitt area, you know, Al Finn's boy. He wanted to come back home. They live in Wadena, about the only place Pat hasn't lived.
Rose will be back in her apartment, an addition built onto Finn's house, by the time you read this. When I asked Rose which place, or something she saw, impressed her the most, something she would like to see again, what would it be?
Without hesitation, she said "A sunset, from a beach in the Philippines. They have the most gloriously beautiful sunsets in all the world. I'd like to see a Philipino sunset one more time."