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They Had Papers for the Dog but not the Grandkids
Sunday, June 13, 2021



 At their first encounter, she stuck her tongue out at him. After all, she was 8 and he was 15.  That should have given Lee Jones a clue that pursuit would be difficult.

 The next encounter was when Nancy was 14 trying to find shelter from the rain.  And that’s when more serious pursuit began.

 As Nancy recalls, “Everywhere I went he was there.”

 Nancy took it as a sign that “God gave him to me,” even though she didn’t cave in until she was 17.  Nancy and Lee Jones got engaged at Christmas and married as soon as she graduated from high school.  In fact, Nancy missed her senior prom because at 24 Lee was considered “too old.”  They ran away to Elko with her brother and his girlfriend, to find a justice of the peace who happily married them but not her brother and girlfriend because the justice of the peace considered her brother too young.   

 Nancy refers to Lee as “Mr. Caretaker.” And that he was, being the second oldest of seven male siblings and a half sister.  Born at home in Hailey, Lee moved with his family to Twin Falls for five years when he was 5.  His dad was a gunsmith, machinist, pilot and construction worker.

 When Lee was 18, his father left and that’s when his caretaking began in earnest as his two youngest brothers were just 6 months old and 3 ½ years old.  Lee delivered newspapers and worked at the State Theater, giving his mother $40 out of every $50 he earned.  After high school Lee joined the Navy and was stationed in Brooklyn, transporting troops to Europe, Turkey, Japan and even Korea.  In three years he saw a lot of the world and was definitely ready to pursue Nancy when he returned to Idaho.

 While Nancy was born in Wendell, she grew up in the Stanley Basin where her father was a logger. Her father was 20 years older than her mother and brought two sons to the marriage while her mother brought a boy and a girl.   Then, together, her parents produced two more children--Nancy and her brother.

 When Nancy was 4½, she recalls, she picked wild roses to take to her mother, who was hospitalized only to have a nun take them away.  It was a traumatic event, compounded by her mother’s death two days later.  In the aftermath, Nancy—like Lee--became a caregiver,  keeping house, doing laundry and learning her cooking skills from her father.

 Throughout their marriage Lee has had various careers.  He’s worked for the Forest Service, at a gas station where he also learned mechanics, and then the Ford dealership.  Nancy continued her cooking, working for 31 years for the Blaine County School district, although she fondly remembers the summer she was 17 and earned $50 herding cattle. She used that money to buy everyone’s school clothes and supplies. 

 Lee and Nancy Jones spent summers and vacations with their two children--Annie and Eric-- hunting, fishing and camping.  Lee has a beautiful collection of fishing rods from his days angling from California to Canada. It was South Dakota where he caught his biggest fish--a pike ---on a bounce of his “worst cast ever.” Sewing from a very early age, Nancy has created exquisite quilts, including one that was pictured in a quilting magazine, while collecting over 1000 turtles.

 The two of them love road trips. Among them, a particularly memorable trip to Virginia City, Mont. There, after seeing a sign on the courthouse door indicating the justice of the peace would be back at 1 p.m., they decided to wait and get married again. Then they spent the afternoon shopping for a ring.

 There was also the trip to Canada with two grandkids where they spent three hours at the border trying to get back into the US as they had no papers for the kids, only for the dog.  But their eyes light up the most when they talk about Lee’s surprise trip for them to Maui.

“You cannot believe how much fun the two of us had” reminisced Nancy, recalling the 800 miles they drove all over the island and the helicopter ride.

Asked, “What’s next?” Lee responds, “Whatever comes along.”

The most important thing is that after more than 50 years of marriage, two children and five grandchildren, they are still having fun together.


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