By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
Elmer Jones jokes he can have a class reunion anytime he wants to because he’s the only one still living from his graduating class of 1931 at Portales High School.
Quiet and unassuming, Jones recently celebrated his 95th birthday but the milestone isn’t slowing him down much.
As a young man in Childress, Texas, Jones, with his brother Allen, drove a team and a wagon of forms, to help in the construction of Route 66. During those times, much of the work was done with horses and mules, he said.
“I don’t remember the wages, but they weren’t too high though,” Jones said.
Jones spent most of his working life in the Portales area where he worked for a grocery store, a hatchery and eventually at Cannon Air Force Base in Civil Service, retiring in 1973. While he held those jobs, he also farmed peanuts and cotton, said his daughter Glenda Reynolds.
Reynolds, whom Jones adopted when she was 6 years old, recalls her father always working and his love of horses. Though her mother passed away when she was 13, Jones continued to raise her and remain a part of her life, she said.
“He’s really the only dad I’ve ever known. He’s just been a really good dad. He was a man of few words but when he did speak, you listened,” Reynolds said.
Jones fondly recalls a horse, Buster, that he broke during the depression. Jones was able to ride the horse without a bridle and was able to guide him with just hand and leg commands. Jones sold the horse and then crossed paths with him a few years later. He was able to ride him and demonstrate what he and the horse could do together, he said.
“I had a lot prettier horses, but none like him,” Jones said.
Today, a portrait of Jones and Buster, painted by his son-in-law, hangs in the Jones living room.
“He always enjoyed his horses. He has a lot of good memories of that horse. They spent a lot of time together,” said daughter Teresa Smith.
Smith also recalled her father always working hard. She reminisced about how he would get up early to do chores in the morning before heading off to work. Then working in the field when he got home in the evenings, irrigating row crops. Jones would sometimes lay down at the end of the rows at night to rest and lay his hand out in the row, when it got wet, he knew it was time to change the water and then he would go in to bed, Smith said.
“He put in some awfully long hours,” Smith said. He was a hard-working guy and a tough guy,” Smith said.
Just five years ago, Jones was able to participate in helping a friend drive his cattle from wheat pasture to the feedlot. Something that he did quite a bit in his younger days for area farmers and ranchers, he said.
“I told a friend if I had a horse I would come help,” Jones said.
The response of his friend was that he would get him one. With that Jones threw his saddle in and headed for Texico to help out, he said.