John W. Jones

A sort of double-breasted face had old John W. Jones,
Reddened and roughened by sun and wind, with angular, high cheek bones;
At the fair, one time, of the Social Guild he received unique renown
By being elected, unanimously, the homeliest man in town.
The maidens giggled, the women smiled, the men laughed loud and long,
While old John W. leaned right back and heehawed good and strong,
And never was jest too broad for him; for all the quibs and chaff
That assailed his queer old mug thro’ life he had but a hearty laugh.
“Ho,ho!” he’d snort; “Haw, haw,’ he’d roar, ” “That’s me, my friends, that’s me!
Now ain’t that the most skew-angled phiz that ever ye chanced to see?”
And he would tell us this little tale, “Twas one dark night,” said he,
“I was driving along in a piece of woods and there wasn’t a ray to see,
When all to once my cart locked wheels with another old chap’s cart;
We gee’ed and backed but we hung there fast, and neither of us could start,
Then the stranger man, he struck a match, to see how he’d get away,
And I vum! he had the homeliest face I’ve seen for many a day;
Well, just for a joke, I grabbed his throat, and pulled my pipe-case out,
And the stranger reckoned I had a gun and he wrassled good and stout,
But I got him down on his back at last and straddled across his chest,
And allowed to him he’d better prepare to go to his last long rest.
He gasped and groaned, he was poor and old and hadn’t a blessed cent,
And, almost blubbering asked to know what under the sun I meant.
Said I, ‘I’ve sworn if I meet a man that is homelier’n what I be
I’ll kill him; I reckon I’ve got the man!’ Says he, ‘Please, let me see!’
So I loosed a bit while he struck a match; he held it with trembling hand,
While through the tears in his poor old eyes my cross-piled face he scanned,
Then he dropped the match and he groaned and said, ‘If truly you think that I
Am ha’f as homely as what you are – please shoot! I want to die!'”
And the story would always start a laugh, and Jones would drop his jaw
And lean ‘way back and slap his leg, and laugh – “Ho, haw, haw, haw!”

That was Jones –
John W. Jomes –
Queer, Gothic old structure of cob-piled bones!
Hos droll red face
Had not a trace
Of comeliness or special grace,
But I’ll tell you, friends, that condor glowed
In those true old eyes – those deep old eyes;
And love and faith and manhood showed
Without disguise – without disguise,
Though he certainly won a just renown
As the homeliest man we had in our town.

He never had married, had old John Jones; he’d grubbed on his little patch,
Supported his parents until they died, and then had lived “old batch”,
We had some suspicions we couldn’t prove; for years had an unknown man
Distributed gifts to the poor in town on a sort of a Santa Claus plan;
If a worthy widow was needing wood, that night would the wood be left;
There was garden track placed in the barns of those by mishap or if were bereft,
And once when the night was clear and bright in the glorious month of June
Poor broken-legged Johnson’s garden was hoed in the light of the great white moon,

And often some farmer by illness weighed, and weary, discouraged and poor,
Would find a wad of worn old bills tucked carefully under his door,
And the tracks in the sod of this man who trod by night on his secret routes
Were suspiciously like the other prints that were made by John Jones’ boots,
And the wheel marks wobbled extremely like the trail of Jones’ old carts,
But whatever his mercies, he hid them all in the depths of his warm old heart;
For whenever the neighbors would pin him down he’d lift his faded hat –
“now, say,” he’d laugh, ” can a man be good with a physog such as that?”
Then came the days, the black, dread days, when the small pox swept out town,
With pesthouse crowded from sill to eaves – and the nurses “taken down,”
And panic reigned and the best went wild, and even the doctors fled,
And scarce was there one to aid the sick or bury the awful dead;
But there in that pesthouse, day and night, a man with quiet tones
And steady heart kept still at work – and that was old John Jones –
While ever his joke was, “What! afraid? Why, gracious me, I’m fine!
But if I weren’t a few more dents won’t harm this face of mine,”

Yet those who writhed there in their pain within that loathsome place
Saw beauty not of man and earth upon that gnarled old face;
And when he eased their pain-racked forms, or brought the cooling draft,
They wondered if this saint could be the man at whom they’d laughed,
And thus he fought, unwearied, brace, until the terror passed-
And then, poor old John W. Jones – he had smallpox at last,
And, worn by vigils, toil and fasts, the fate he had defied
Descended on him, stern and fierce; he died, by friends, he died.

They held one service at the church for all the village dead,
The pastor, when he came to Jones – he choked a bit and said;
“If handsome is as handsome does – and I now say to you
I verify, I honestly believe that saying true!
If handsome is as handsome does, we had right here in town
A man whose beauty fairly shone – from Heaven itself sent down,
At first, perhaps, we failed to grasp the contour of that face,
But now, with God’s own light on it, we see its perfect grace,
And so I say, out handsomest man” – the pastor hushed his tones,
With streaming eyes looked up and said “’twas old John W. Jones.”

That was Jones-
John W Jones-
Queer, Gothic old structure of cob-piled bones;
His quaint red face
Had not a trace
Of comliness or of special grace,
But i tell you, friends, we drop this shell,
Just over there – just over there!
Good deeds, good thoughts, good heart will tell
In moulding soul serene and fair
And James will stand with harp and crown,
The handsomest angel from our old town.

Sent in by C.L.R., Newton Ma


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