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The secret to 70 years of wedded bliss: obey your wife

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Winifred and Erwin Jones have been married for 70 years (Photograph supplied)
Winifred and Erwin Jones (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Erwin and Winifred Jones on their wedding day 70 years ago (Photograph supplied)

Erwin Jones has the secret to a long and happy marriage: do whatever your wife tells you to do.

It is a method he has tried and tested many times since June 3, 1950, the day he married his sweetheart, Winifred.

“He has a habit of saying, you decide,” she said. “You can’t argue with anyone who tells you that. Can you?”

Because of Covid-19 the couple couldn’t do much for their 70th anniversary last year.

“For our 50th though our son, E. Michael, took us on a cruise all the way down around the tip of South America,” the 91-year-old said. ”That was really nice. My daughter, Rachee Allen, who lives in Canada came too.”

The couple met as teenagers while working at the St George’s Hotel. There was an instant attraction.

“She was so gorgeous,” said Mr Jones, 93. “I melted every time I saw her.”

Mrs Jones was engaged to someone else at the time; the relationship soon ended. A year later, the Jones’ wed.

In all their years of marriage, the St George’s couple claim to have had very few disagreements. Mrs Jones can only think of one time when her husband put his foot down and said no.

“I was out and I saw this rabbit hutch,” she said. “I thought, well we eat a lot of vegetables we could get a rabbit and I could give the peelings to the rabbit. My brother used to have goats and farm animals.”

But as she discovered when she got home, her husband wasn’t having it.

“Rabbits don’t have a toilet and do whatever they do wherever they are,” he said.

The whole thing was a flashback to his childhood when he mistakenly asked his father, Thomas Reynold Jones, for a chicken.

“That was the worst thing I ever said,” Mr Jones said. “When I came home my father had divided up the yard and gotten all these chicken coops. We had Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns and other types. All I wanted was one chicken.

“I used to have to get up early, to feed the chickens and clean up after them. I hated it.”

He also had two cows, Daisy and Sunday, that he was tasked with caring for.

His family moved here from Barbados. Having made regular calls to Bermuda while working on a ship, his father decided he wanted to make it his home.

Mr Jones arrived at the age of two with his mother, Edna, and his two brothers.

“I have never been back to Barbados,” he said.

His father found work printing menus and doing other tasks for the Langton Hotel in Pembroke.

Mrs Jones calls her husband a “town boy”.

Although she has moved house “two or three times” she has spent her whole life on Wellington Hill.

She was the middle of nine children, and says that is probably why she always wanted the people around her to be happy.

“I like to help people,” she said. “And when you have young siblings you are always looking out for your younger siblings.”

Her father, George Smith, managed the swimming pool at the St George’s Hotel; her mother Mabel took care of the children.

“He was a really nice person,” Mrs Jones said. “He was the type of person who tipped his hat to the ladies. He was a very caring man. Later, he drove the ferry for the Kindley Air Force Base as they were building it.”

Her husband moved from the St George’s Hotel to Castle Harbour Hotel and then the Holiday Inn. He also drove a taxi. Mrs Jones manned the concierge desk at the Hamilton Princess, and later worked at the airport welcoming special visitors.

“I remember Tom Jones came in, once,” she said. “I think he was expecting a big crowd outside but actually, there wasn’t anyone. He was probably both disappointed and relieved.”

Mr Jones eventually left tourism and became an agent with British American Insurance. Through the company, he and his wife were able to travel the world to conventions.

“The best thing was they paid for everything, even the tips,” said Mr Jones, who still has the many trophies he won as part of the company’s sales competitions.

Said his wife: “Whatever my husband did, he always put 100 per cent into it. I remember him telling our son Michael, if you become a road sweeper become the best road sweeper you can be.”

In her 60s she took a community education course on flower arranging.

“There hadn’t been a flower shop in St George’s for over 50 years,” she said. “So I opened East End Florist in 1986.”

Their busiest time was Valentine’s Day. Mrs Jones would make the arrangements, Mr Jones would deliver them.

“We had so much to do,” he said. “I would go out early in the morning and get back in the evening, going from house to house delivering the arrangements. I was the one who had to get them out there rain, blow or shine.”

Today he enjoys relaxing at home.

“I don’t have to go out,” he said. “I don’t have to talk to anyone either. I enjoy being with Winifred and my family. I don’t need anything else. I go to church every Sunday and that is it. That is my life.”

In his younger days, he loved playing golf.

“In those days the golf courses weren’t open to the public,” he said. “But [hotel workers] could play on them as long as we were gone by 9am when the guests got there. We used to play golf almost every day.”

He also loved fishing. Living right on the water, he would often put a line over at night to catch sharks.

“I don’t eat fish though,” he said. “I get nervous about getting bones stuck in my throat. So since I don’t eat them, I thought I should give up fishing.”

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published March 17, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 18, 2021 at 12:39 pm)

The secret to 70 years of wedded bliss: obey your wife

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