Jim K. Bone


Cresson Crossties – July 31, 2001

By Christopher C. Evans

The entry came online a few days after Memorial Day. It is a terse one relative to most, a fairly short roster of names and related information, prepared by “The Adjutant General for War Department Bureau of Public Relations” in June 1946.

“The World War II Honor List of Dead & Missing, Hood County, Texas,” contains but 21 names. No. 2 on the list, admittedly for alphabetical reasons, is that of Cresson native flyer Jim Kinder “Jimmy” Bone, who must have been what they call today a role model to local youth — and long before his death in action Nov. 20, 1942, over Northwest Africa.

The list, though, says only, “Jim K. Bone, 0-437994, 1LT, Killed in Action.”

Though some of the young Mr. Bone’s exploits have been written about in this space before, many haven’t been, leading me to wonder what he might have become had he not perished at 26 on his first wedding anniversary.

Though his death brings up what must still be awful memories for Bone’s sisters, Julia Bone Johnson and Claudie Fae Bone Teich, and other family members, Lt. Bone, whose smiling face surrounded by an ace’s leather ear-flapped helmet appeared with his obituary, had accomplished much in his short life.

A graduate of North Texas State Teachers College, he had joined the Air Forces in June 1941. Around Cresson, though, he was known as an athlete trained mostly by his innovative and popular father, B.F. Bone, a rancher.

At North Texas State Jimmy Bone was the star in pole-vaulting, then a fledgling sport. In 1938 he set a pole vault record that stood for many years at a meet that was then a part of the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show in Fort Worth.

According to an unidentified and undated newspaper clipping sent to me by Melba Anderson some months ago, Bone’s grieving wife Susan was concerned that she’d never see a medal her spouse was conferred. “Mrs. Jim Kinder Bone today was hoping some of the buddies of her husband, killed in action in Northwest Africa on Nov. 20, will send her the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded him shortly before his death,” the article begins. “It will serve as a life long reminder of the bravery of the man who was killed on their first wedding anniversary…”

Lt. Bone, the article says, “was decorated for participation in raids over occupied Europe only a short time before leaving England (where he’d been stationed) a few months ago.”

How much of a hero was Jimmy Bone?

“As co-pilot of the Flying Fortress Hellzapoppin, he made history when a crew of 10 fought off at least a dozen attacks by dangerous German Focke-Wulf 190s during a raid on Lorient in October and returned to its base without a scratch.”

Might he have become a world champion vaulter or molder of vaulters as a coach? Might he have become a military leader or perhaps a successful and popular Cresson farmer like his dad?

The thought here was that the brevity of the list information on Jimmy Bone — the list is online at www.hcnews.com/depot/veteran/WWIIhonorlist.htm — begged for a long footnote.

No doubt each name on the list could be treated the same.

SIDETRACKS: The Cresson Community Organization, Inc., which oversees activities at the Cresson School, is trying to put together a definitive list of names of people who taught at the school. If you know of teachers whose names might be omitted, please contact Helen Long at (817) 396-4470…Crossties is attempting to come up with a list of names of physicians who at one time or another practiced in the Cresson area. At this point, the list has three names: Dr. Lee F. Crook (1903, ’05); Dr. A.B. McCallon (1911-13); and Dr. G.L. Barret (1917-18). If you know of others, call (817) 396-4811 or write to Cresson Crossties, Box 8, Cresson, TX 76035…In trying to get a handle on just how much sales-tax revenue might be generated should the proposed Cresson incorporation area become a town, consider that the area already includes two (soon to be three) convenience stores, a TXI stucco plant, the Studio II wood-and-iron originals store (already in business for more than a year), a sports car country club, a feed and vet supply, an auto transmission, a retail, two used car lots, one tire repair shop, a weekend rocking chair emporium, at least one horse-training facility and who knows what else in the way of cottage industries that might generate sales tax revenue. Then there’s the always colorful 377-171 squatter’s mercado, which of recent has included the “Golf Balls Cheap” guy, the birdhouse guy, the day-glo flamingo folks, Grandma’s Quilts and a produce stand with a sign that says “Farmer’s Market, Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas.” Just wonderin’ whether these merchants, who are very much a part of the local tableau, would be required to assess sales tax and on what if incorporation is approved in the fall…Though this is the first time it’s been brought up in this space there has been talk for at least three years here of sightings of large felines, probably pumas or mountain lions or panthers, three names for the same species. One reason the matter hasn’t been brought up here before is that it shouldn’t be all that unusual for such big cats to be here as they are/were native to this area at one time — or may be back now simply because of the abundance of exotic wildlife businesses, etc., in Texas now. Another reason the topic has gone unmentioned is that this correspondent and his son actually saw such a cat — about the size of a German shepherd, with a long tail — frolicking in broad daylight about a year and a half ago. It was mid-morning, we were coming back to Cresson from Granbury and my son spotted the animal about 200 yards away on the southeast size of 377. I pulled the car over, we got out and watched the cat, which seemed unaware of us and what was a considerable amount of northbound traffic, for about two minutes. The animal was, as best I could tell, on Mule Harrell’s place.

EULOGY FOR EUDORA: Her name was Eudora Welty and I don’t suppose she ever came to Cresson. Still, the death of the shy, stooped little woman at 92 in Jackson, Miss., last week left me with a sense of loss usually reserved for someone one really knew.

Nope, I never met Eudora Welty, the noted short story writer, shy person and occupant of the same house her papa built on a fairly busy Jackson street. But, then, I did know her lilting descriptions of life in the Deep South in the 20th century, her childish innocence and awe at discovering the soothing effects of her mother’s sigh or her family’s black maid’s supple hands as she did the wash.

See, by the time I myself overcame a certain shyness and lack of direction as a would-be writer, Twain and Faulkner, the truly great southern pundits, were long gone. There was a group of rowdy young southern journalist/writers — Willie Morris, Larry L. King, Larry McMurtry, James Dickey, to name a few — to which an aspiring Texiz-born, Southern-reared writer could lash his lofty literary delusions. Those writers, interestingly, were like Miss Welty at times dismissed as mere regional talents, a criticism particularly popular among eastern writers who looked down on the South.

Miss Welty represented to me an earlier time, the time of Twain and Faulkner. Moreover, she was a woman whose sensibilities, while feminine and reflective of a proper upbringing, were often unapologetically honest and palpable regarding the South as a region and way of life.

Furthermore, Miss Welty was still alive, very much alive, so much so that people in her native Jackson until last week regarded her old home as something of a living tourist attraction.

Though noted for her short stories, most notably Why I Live at the P.O., and the 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Optimist’s Daughter, I love most, but cannot for the life of me put my hands on my own copy of, a little paperback called One Writer’s Beginnings that was actually the text of a speech she gave at Harvard, I believe, in the mid-’80s. Given to me by a Fort Worth reporter friend, Samuel M. Hudson, the little book details Miss Welty’s own journey as she came to appreciate and love the place and environment to which she was born.

Once, I had a writer friend who while on vacation stopped by Miss Welty’s house one fall afternoon, knocked on the door and was invited in for a conversation about writing. Or, as Miss Welty herself would have put it, about listening and anticipating.

“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories,” an obituary in The New York Times quoted her as having written. “Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on.

“Listening children know stories are there,” the passage continues. “When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”

One certainly hopes that children today realize that in the stories their elders relate is the very essence of who they will or might become.

Miss Welty, along with some others, helped me realize that being Southern and Texan, no matter what anybody says, is something of which to be proud.

She also taught me — is still teaching me — to shut up and listen.