Maplewood History: A Bill Jones Double Header

Maplewood’s premier memoirist, Bill Jones, is at it again. What better way to kick off the New Year than with a couple of Bill’s latest recollections.  Remember they are typed by his wife, Barb.


On February 6, 1943, my dad had his driver’s license but my mom did not and I, on my 16th birthday, needed a driver’s license.  My mother was reading the information for obtaining a driver’s license.  They took our ID”s and my dad and I sailed right through. Then came Mom!  The man at the counter was leaning over and whispering to my mom. We suddenly realized Mom had taken the man’s face in her hands and said “Sonny boy, I see you at Maplewood Baptist Church and I think you may be a Christian, too.  I have been a Christian all my life. I was baptized when I was 3. Now, look at those lights. The top light is very red.” He said, “Yes ma’am.” “The second light is yellow. The bottom light is very blue. The bottom light means “Go.  Now if you think I’m going to sacrifice my Christian life and lie about that light, you’re mistaken.’ My dad came over and got involved. He said, “My wife is color blind.” The clerk made a phone call, came back and said, “I’ve talked to the people in Jefferson City and you have a blue light.”  She said, “God wins!”


On the day my cousin, Laura Lee, was born, my Aunt Laura Spurr was the first to be notified because my cousin was named after her.  In our apartment, my Aunt Laura came from the 1st floor running up the stairs to tell my Mom that Lillian’s baby was born and was named Laura after her.  My mother and Aunt Laura were hugging and were overjoyed. I was about a year old, in my walker, and when Aunt Laura ran up to my mother, she left the safety gate ajar.  Apparently it only took me but a minute to discover adventure awaited me and I began my adventure from the second floor to the first in my little walker. Somebody screamed, “Catch the baby—he’s heading down the steps in his walker.”  My mother fainted and all the ladies carried her to the bedroom and put damp cloths on her forehead. Fortunately, about that time, my sister came home from school and found me crashed against the 1st floor door.  She carried me upstairs, showed me to Mom, and said, looking at my clenched fists, “He’s not hurt—he’s just mad!

This story has lived over 92 years.  I’ve been careful on steps from that day forward!

Billy Jones, Jr.


If you would like to reread the first story of Bill’s ever posted on Maplewood History, you can find it here.

Thanks again, Bill and Barb.  Thanks also to everyone for your continued interest and support.

Happy New Year!

Doug Houser


6 thoughts on “Maplewood History: A Bill Jones Double Header

  1. As for driving permits my grandfather used to tell the story of trying to teach my grandmother to drive. Everyone knew that a red light meant stop. While he was trying to teach her he went thru an intersection on a green light and when she turned the corner the other light for the street she was turning onto showed red for that street. She came to a stop in the middle of the intersection because of the red light. To this day I cannot remember if she got her license or not. When I knew her she was already in her late 60’s early 70’s and I remember us always driving her to wherever she had to go.

  2. I liked Bill Jones recollection about getting a drivers license in 1943. I got my first license at St. Louis City hall five years later. No driving test. Just a few questions about the rules of the road. Then, the clerk said turn around and look out of the window. Across a court yard in another building was a stop signal. The clerk turned on one of the lights a asked what color it was and after my answer asked what does it mean? And so on for all the colors. I don’t remember the cost but it could very well have been 25 cents.
    Back then, the licenses were paper. On the back was a place where courts could record convictions in pen and ink.

    • My how times have changed! That is a great story, Tom. I had never heard of any of those requirements necessary to get a driver’s license 71 years ago. Thanks for your recollections.