My Grandpa Scott lived to be 101 years old. With his passing about four months ago, I began to learn more about this incredible man and his impressive life story. Maybe my interest comes from the fact that I am his namesake, or maybe it’s because I was his first grandchild. Whatever the case may be, I have become more intrigued with the life of the man I called “Pa.”
I grew up knowing him mostly as my father’s father. I would see him 2-3 times a year when he traveled from his Chicago-area home down to my high school choir concerts, as well as for most Thanksgivings and Christmases. I would also see him each year as my family spent those Glen Lake summers in Northern Michigan. I can still remember those warm summer days as a young boy watching him play tennis with a group of his life long friends—a ritual repeated year after year. He showed grace and class on the tennis court. “The trick to winning a tennis match, Scotty, is just play your best game without being too flashy. Let your opponent make all the mistakes.” A simple lesson meant for the tennis court, but applicable to life.
My grandpa was always one to tell a great story. And, boy, did he have plenty of them. From his experience in World War II to his days working in downtown Chicago, he always would share some amazing tales. Here is my favorite story about my Grandpa Scott…
One night, while an undergrad at Princeton University, a young Scott Jones was rushing to the library when he saw under the light of a streetlamp, a man on his hands and knees crawling on the grass. Perplexed by this strange sight, Scott stopped and asked the man if he could be of assistance. The man looked up at Scott and in a thick German accent said, “I seem to have lost my pipe.” In the soft light from the street lamp above, Scott instantly recognized the face of this man. The man on his hands and knees, crawling like a dog, frantically searching for his pipe was Albert Einstein. Scott joined Einstein on the grass and searched for Einstein’s pipe. After a few moments of searching, it was Scott Jones, my grandfather, who found Albert Einstein’s pipe in the grass on the quad of Princeton University.
When I reflect on my time with him, Pa always seemed more of a legend than a man. I remember him for being more dignified than I do for him being loving. He was a wonderful grandfather who played cards with me and always inquired about my life. Yet, looking back, I think I always viewed him as someone with such reverence and fondness. Early on, I understood that Pa was the glue that held our family together. He was a kind-hearted and benevolent man with a passion for poetry, the French language and nature. He was a man that was always the center of attention when he was in the room. This was not because he demanded the attention or was talking overzealously. He was admired and beloved by everyone he had ever met.