Friday, August 6, 2010

A Glass Eye

Perplexed was I. What was a glass eye doing in Pap paw's night stand? I would have to put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and investigate this further.

My first step was to examine Pap paw's face in a new light. I had always assumed that the closed eye lids on the right side were due to his stroke. It was not hard to get a closer examination since no sight was possible on his right side. The eye socket was slightly deformed and the lids retracted somewhat. There were small scars on the right jaw area. The right orbit was deformed and it became evident that something more had happened to Pap paw's face besides a stroke.

My second step was to broach the topic with Mam maw over our coffee and toast. What happened to Pap paw's face, I asked? Dynamite blew up in his face a long time ago, came the reply. Dynamite! What was Pap paw doing playing with dynamite? What?!!, I asked? At this point it became evident that Mam maw did not want to talk about it. I had learned to leave well enough alone when she appeared to lock her memories up like Fort Knox locked up its gold.

My third step was to ask dad. How did dynamite and Pap paw come together. Dad said that Pap paw had an accident while working for the phone company. Some dynamite had gone off in his face. Dad could only remember that this happened before he had started first grade, and did not know much about the accident. Let's see,...hum... before first grade...1926 plus 6 would place the accident before 1932. I wondered if the court house would have a record?

Exploring the last room to the left, there were numerous gray files with dates posted on the outside. Where do you start? 1930 I thought. Opening the file drawer labeled 1930, I faced a hundred or more folded papers with a name and date on each. They were not in order or arranged in any useful way. Man, this was not going to work!

Over the years I would remember Pap paw's glass eye, and wonder how one might go about investigating this further. It was not until both Pap paw and Mam maw died that I found a newspaper article which had been tucked among other papers, clip from a unknown source without a date. It was titled:


" J.W. Jones Suit In Clark Circuit Court For Allege Permanent Injuries "

The body of the article as written:

"A suit asking $20,000 damages was filed in Clark County Circuit Court, by J.W. Jones against the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, charging negligence on the part of the company for injuries which he sustained while in their employment.
In his petition, the plaintiff stated that the defendant negligently blasted holes in the ground during the drilling process in such a manner that all of the dynamite placed in the ground did not explode, and that when he, without knowledge that it did not explode, undertook to drill the holes that had been shot, the unexploded dynamite was set off causing him permanent injury to one of his eyes. The plaintiff further alleged that due to the injuries and loss of time from work, he was damaged to the extent of $20,000 which sum he asks and all proper costs."

For the first time in my life, I understood Pap paw's glass eye. He would have worn it after he recovered from the dynamite explosion. He seems to have recovered well enough to obtain an "Operator's License" dated July 26, 1954. The "Color of Eyes" was listed "Blue", "Color of Hair" was listed "Lt.", "Height" was listed 5 ft. 8 in., and "Weight" was listed as 160. His signature was written clearly and beautifully "J.W. Jones". For the first time I saw Pap paw in new light. What a man! Courage, grit, determination, hard work...John Wayne would have nothing over Pap paw. I saw Pap pap anew through his glass eye, Joseph Wheeler Jones, 1898 - 1972.

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