Book becomes a family affair for Elon father and daughter
In 2011 Chris Jones ’80 and daughter Katherine ’14 started working on a collection of photos, poems and stories about the moments that have shaped their lives.
By Natalie Brubaker ’16
Chris Jones ’80 and daughter Katherine ’14 started work in 2011 on a collection of photos, poems and stories about the moments that have shaped their lives. But their unofficial collaboration began the day Katherine was born.
“The very act of living and the experiences that make life was our writing process,” Chris says. “Many of the poems, essays and photographs were written and taken years ago.”
Sections of the book, Sandbars, Sandlots, and City Streets; Growing Up in the Old South (1957), which was published in September, date back to 1976, the first year Chris attended Elon College. He mentions feelings of fear and anxiety during the first day of classes and later, the calm he found in professor J. Earl Danieley ’46, who he calls his “advisor,” “second father” and “sole ally,” particularly in those earlier days.
Thirty years later, the man who helped Chris transition into life at Elon was the same man to convince Chris’ daughter to attend her father’s alma mater. When Katherine visited Elon for the first time, Chris insisted they visit Danieley.
“After our visit, I was hooked,” Katherine says. “To see how they joked back and forth, swapped stories, and talked about the beauty of Elon, I knew right then that I wanted to be part of this family. I wanted to have those relationships with my professors after 30 years.”
Despite the significant changes at Elon between Chris’ graduation and Katherine’s orientation, they both regard Elon as a vital part of their lives. “Katherine's university in 2014 isn’t what I remember,” Chris says. “She will graduate from a global university, whereas I graduated from a small college where most of the students came from North Carolina and Virginia.”
During Chris’ time at Elon, he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and the baseball team. The sport, for which both Katherine and Chris are passionate, is a prominent character in Sandbars, Sandlots, and City Streets. The duo write about the fields on which they played, the players they met, their respect for baseball’s history and their failed attempt to save part of the old Yankee Stadium from demolition. The book also pays homage to their Southern roots. Reflecting on their ancestors, their home on the Eastern shore of Virginia and Chris’ hometown in Richmond, they express a deep respect for the South.
Writing about these topics, Chris and Katherine relay a deeper message about the heartache of change and ever-evolving nature of life. This theme echoes in the book’s pages as Elon College becomes Elon University, one of baseball’s most revered stadiums is destroyed and Southern cities develop into something new.
Working on the book has meant different things for the father and daughter. Chris says the actual writing process was bittersweet as he reflected on both the mistakes he made along with the blissful moments of life. For Katherine, the experience was empowering. “Writing this book with my dad helped me realize the importance and power within myself,” Katherine says. “Everyone has a voice and everyone has a right to contribute their thoughts, beliefs, experiences, heartbreaks, happiness and sorrows.”
But for both, Sandbars, Sandlots, and City Streets is about having a tangible testament to the people and places they love the most.
“Everyone experiences love of family, love of place and relationships,” Chris says. “I hope our book offers a different perspective on growing up, on baseball, on family and on Elon College and Elon University.”