Miss Jones passed by the house of my childhood so often that she became a part of my memories of that time.
Our house was situated on the top of Bear Hill, but it was really two roads at that point, separated by a steep bank of grass. The lower road ran along our row of council houses, which were filled with families with young children. The upper road carried traffic to the lower village from Station Road, which led to the railway station.
Miss Jones lived in Lewkner Cottages, on Station Road. In earlier, more ancient times these had been almshouses, but by the time I write of, they were merely accommodation for the elderly.
I had a large collection of big copper pennies at that time, when 12 of them made a shilling and 20 shillings made a pound. I had lots of pennies with images of Queen Victoria, from the young, girl queen, to the old, stout, and stern looking matron she became, with double chin and veil. And I remember thinking, as I watched Miss Jones's unhurried progress along the path above our road, that she had been alive when Queen Victoria was alive, for Miss Jones seemed old to my young eyes; a link in a chain connecting me to the past of my penny collection.
Miss Jones was roundly plump and on the short side of average height and I never saw her wear anything but a bright royal blue coat that came almost to her ankles. She wore a hat of darker blue atop white hair, which she parted in the middle and wore in a bun at the nape of her neck. She walked slowly, with the aid of a walking stick and she seemed kind and peaceful although I couldn't tell you why.
She was a Miss in the day when you were either a Miss or a Mrs., a time before "Ms." How clear and concrete those definitions seem now; no in between.
I didn't know Miss Jones, but I think I remember talking to her once. And she belonged in my life, along with the angular Miss Twitty of the sweet shop in the village and Miss Lawton of the haberdashery shop, who, after she retired, walked the village streets with her golden retriever in a slow and unhurried manner.
Writing about Miss Jones makes her real again for me. Now I wish that I knew more about her; who she was, and her story. But maybe that's not important. Like the toy people that fill my grandchildren's Playmobil make believe towns, she was one of the people who filled up the village of my childhood, and thinking of her brings back a time long ago and dear to me in memory.