Okay, finally time for me to tell the story of Grace Rosanky Jones (1921-2008).
You’ll recall, of course, that I’m busily telling the tale of our recent trip to Salado, a small town a few miles north of us. I had just said that the town owed its survival to a number of dedicated citizens and remarkable entrepreneurs. Among the latter, particularly, was the talented Mrs. Jones.
I didn’t know she existed we until visited the Salado Chamber of Commerce and discovered they had a small museum there which included information about Jones. Basically, she was one of those remarkable people who are genuinely larger than life. As such, I tend not to write about such individuals. They are just beyond my power to describe. (You’ll remember I said the same thing about Doris Duke.)
But, basically, here is a thumbnail of Jones: She was born in the little Texas town of Waelder as a daughter of, well, call it rancher aristocracy. At the grand old age of 15, she attended Baylor University and then transferred to the University of Texas. About then, World War II broke out, and she got her father to get her flying lessons so she could join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) so that she could be among the small number of very talented women who piloted aircraft in fairly demanding circumstances throughout the war. (Just because they weren’t in combat doesn’t mean they weren’t in danger. You try ferrying a B-29 bomber from one end of the country to the other through storm and rain and then tell me how safe it was.)
The war ended, and she was off to New York where she became a glamorous fashion model. I’ve already made a joke about going from one runway to another, but I’ll make one again. I mean, why the heck not? It worked the first time.
About the photos: The last time we visited Salado, we went (once again) to the Chamber of Commerce and the tourist information office. There, we met Gracie, who is the C-of-C cat, taking care of any unwelcome visitors, particularly any of the rodentia persuasion. She is a new addition to the Chamber’s offices, and, yes, she’s named after Grace Jones. I got two pictures of her, but couldn’t quite get her with Martha, who looked away just as Gracie finally turned toward me. (Sheesh.)
She also got married a few times. None of them seems to have taken, particularly. Apparently she liked her men in the plural. Again, why not? It worked the first time.
Then, after several years of being the toast of Manhattan, she decided to move back to Texas. She visited Salado and thought (for some reason), hey, why not start a high end boutique in this gawdforsaken little town where nothing much has happened since 1880? And, so that’s what she did. And, by God, it worked! Somehow, she became the “Queen of Texas Fashion” and the Mary Quant of her age...designing and selling clothing to rich and/or famous woman from all over the United States and, indeed, the world.
How did she do it? No idea. Absolutely no idea. But, somehow she did. And it helped put Salado on the map, and kept it there.
There is much, much more to Grace Jones’ life (including, apparently, some juicy scandals and maybe even an outright scam or so. But, she was an artist, and artists tend to “create their own moral universe”).
Rather than try to give you more of her story...which could take all week and several volumes, I’ll just offer some sources. If you’re interested in her, check out these articles:
“Out & About: Lionizing Grace Jones of Salado, by Michael Barnes, the Austin-American Statesman, Nov 7, 2012, https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2012/11/08/out-about-lionizing-grace-jones-of-salado/9794571007/
“Gracing Salado: A pioneer in more ways than one, Grace Jones helped make Salado what is today,” by Samantha H. Hyde, Texas Highways, October 1, 2009. https://texashighways.com/travel-news/gracing-salado/
“Salado loses a little bit of style, 'Grace’” by Patricia K. Benoit, Temple Daily Telegram, Nov 17, 2007, https://www.tdtnews.com/archive/article_b8e19d7c-a4f1-546c-af24-c41cc549d4b8.html
There is also a recent book about her, “Grace Jones Of Salado,” by Mary Margaret Quadlander. I’ve not read it, but apparently it is a quite informative. The book has its own website here, https://gracejonesofsalado.com/, and it is on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Jones-of-Salado/dp/B0B7QZNMG4
So, anyway, that’s Grace Rosanky Jones, one of the remarkable people who kept Salado from declining into nothingness. And I ought to stress that she wasn’t alone. In addition to Jones, and to the people who made the Stagecoach Inn into a going concern, the general citizens of the town itself seem to have done a rather remarkable job of opposing the supposedly inevitable forces of economics. There may be a lesson in that for us all.
But, whatever...that day Martha and I finished up at the Chamber of Commerce and the little museum. We had a nice chat there with Pamela Anderson, the Visitor Center Coordinator, about some of the other attractions of the area -- including a Scottish Gathering and Highland Games festival that occurs regularly in the fall (https://saladomuseum.org/scottish-gathering-and-highland-games/).
That was kind of interesting--particularly given that Martha identifies as Scots-American and I learned in the last year (courtesy of Ancestry.com) that I’m 41% Scottish. (What else am I? Well, when I last checked--and it changes from time to time given “improvements in the technology”-- I’m 39% English and “Northwestern European,” 12% Scandinavian, 7% Welsh, and 1 percent Finnish. Perhaps. Give or take.) So, maybe, someday we’ll attend. Except Martha hates bagpipes. So, maybe not.
And, then, we figured it was time to leave. We picked up our kit and kaboodle, and headed on our merry way. In half an hour, we were home.
Which finishes up our most recent Salado journey. Fear not, though, we’ll head back one of these days, and this time in cooler weather. In which case, I’ll return with rather more stories of shopping and different stores.
Also...stay tuned. Because, you see, next time, I’ll begin taking about two major adventures we had in July and August--a flying trip to New Mexico, and a longer trip to New England.
We had a great deal of fun, and some very real grief, and, I’m afraid, a serious fright...for, once more, Martha had a fall.
More to come.
Special thanks to Pamela Anderson at the Chamber for her input and insights.
Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker
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