Author Curtis L. Jones took his first breath 71 years ago in Muskogee, Oklahoma, but he grew up in many states.
“My dad was always looking for a get-rich quick method,” Curtis said. “He was chasing rainbows.” His parents finally settled in Modesto, California, and Curtis told about how he accidentally joined the Navy. As a teenager, he had come up with a clever scheme to skip school on Friday afternoons to hang out with his friends. He’d managed to convince his principal that he needed that time off from school to visit military recruiting stations, and he actually visited several—something that would prove to be his undoing. The plan worked wonderfully for a couple of months, that is until it backfired. His father learned about the scheme after a recruiter called him, and the next thing Curtis knew he was on a bus headed to a Navy boot camp at just sixteen years old. He spent two years in the Navy and then returned to California.
“When I got home, I was really lonely,” Curtis said. “My family didn’t fill that emptiness, but then I met the woman that I married.”
That woman was Stephanie Mindzak who in 1966 was just 14 years old.
“Now they’d put me in jail,” Curtis said, “but I really did like this gal, and we stayed together almost 50 years.”
Within six months of meeting, Curtis and Stephanie were married in 1967 in Modesto. His book, “Love Endures All Things,” tells the story of the first 15 years of their marriage. Jones worked as a salesman, selling everything from forklift tires to office supplies, and his wife eventually became a chicken processing plant manager. They had their share of hard times, even living under a bridge once. Having to move a lot for work, they traveled all over the United States while raising a family.
At 51, Curtis had a heart attack and ended up having to collect disability. Stephanie’s work took them to Eufaula, Alabama, and they fell in love with the charming town. However, the plant where Stephanie worked was sold, and they had to move to Louisiana. They only lived there for two months, because the Louisiana plant was also sold. They then moved to Oklahoma where Stephanie found yet another job, which was a return to the familiar for Curtis. But that wasn’t to last. When Stephanie returned from vacation, she received another pink slip through no fault of her own. In fact, her boss ended up getting fired for unjustly firing Stephanie. A small compensation for her.
A devout Christian and still living in Oklahoma, Curtis began preaching in 2000 after someone asked him to give a sermon. Though not formally trained, Jones felt a strong calling and asked advice from a friend who was a pastor. That pastor kindly shared his sermons with Curtis who delivered them to his own congregation at a small Church of Christ church while he learned the ropes.
They returned to Louisiana for new job Stephanie had accepted, but she experienced a lot of harassment and threats at that plant due to being in quality assurance. They decided to move to Dothan, back to the state that had made such a great impression. Curtis took a temporary job preaching there, and Stephanie took a job as a clerk at Fred’s. But after a year, Curtis was hired to preach in Interloken, Florida, and they left Alabama again. Curtis retired from preaching in 2012, and they bought a house near Union Springs, Alabama, and made it their home.
Sadly, Stephanie passed away in 2015. Curtis said he didn’t get serious about his writing until after Stephanie died. With the absence of his wife, he missed his children and grandchildren even more.
“I wanted them to know my family history, about growing up,” Curtis said. “I put the stories on the internet for them to read, and people started asking to buy them.”
He already had enough stories collected for two books, which he turned into “Dad’s Old Truck, Volume I,” and “Dad’s Old Truck, Volume II.” He didn’t publish those first though. His first finished book was “From Time to Eternity,” a “religious” book as he describes it and his most popular title. He wrote it to “comfort people during their time of loss.” He followed that with the “Dad’s Old Truck” books, self-publishing on Amazon.
“Everyone ought to write their life’s story,” Curtis said. “All of us are so different, and we’ve had such different experiences. It’s not that difficult to write in today’s world.”
Curtis now has a total of 15 titles available on Amazon as paperbacks and e-books. He has four more books he is working on, but he said they are six months out. Curtis can be contacted at Facebook: The Curtis L. Jones Author Page.