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Meet Ingrid Jones, Resident of Carillon Assisted Living’s Mint Hill Facility and Survivor of World War II Battles in Germany

A resident at Carillon Assisted Living’s newest facility in Mint Hill, Ingrid Jones enjoys knitting. When she’s not fashioning dish rags or prayer shawls, she can share a treasure trove of memories from her childhood in Germany. World War II broke out when she was 10 years old.

The daughter of an American father, Ingrid’s dad died in an accident when she was just two, but no one ever told her about the circumstances. The tragedy left her, one sibling, and their mother to confront the awfulness of war. Since German women had to work, Ingrid’s mother found a job in a lab. During the day, Ingrid’s grandparents cared for her after school.

“I remember the bombings the most,” she says. “We always had a suitcase packed with clothes and ‘treasures.’ We were trained to know if a bomb was coming, although they were aimed at businesses, not homes.”

The war included many harsh experiences. Other than going to school, wandering outside meant possibly getting shot. Often, the family’s only food supplies were sugar, flour, and powdered milk, which they made into a thin soup. One time, the adults were so desperate they ate a horse that they had cut up.

American history books usually focus on German atrocities committed under Adolph Hitler. Ingrid saw the ugly side of Allied forces. Many German women were raped by Russian troops; Ingrid often heard their cries. French soldiers would walk inside German homes and grab whatever they wanted. Her family lost furniture, silver, china and other belongings to the invaders.  

During school days, when Allied forces dropped bombs on her native city of Berlin, Ingrid and her classmates would go down to the basement, where they had snacks and waited out the attacks on couches.

Those childhood memories live on. Years later, when Ingrid had her first MRI, the machine’s ding-ding-ding sounded just like the guns being shot during the war, which frightened her.

“It is painful to talk about it now, so I don’t like to think about it too much,” she says. “The Jews were in prison near Berlin, but we had no idea what was happening; no one spoke about it much. I hate what happened. It makes people like me feel guilty, even though we didn’t do anything. My grandmother said that God would punish those who did it.”

Despite the challenges of growing up in a war-torn nation, Ingrid completed her schooling and studied for three years to become a beautician. However, she developed an allergy to beauty products and had to give up on a career in cosmetology.

Besides, life had other plans. In the late 1950s she met United States Air Force recruit Steve Jones—a native of Kings Mountain, North Carolina—in a bowling alley in Bitburg (he bowled for the next 50 years). They married in 1960. When the oldest of their two daughters was about two months old, they moved to the U.S.

“We planned to return to Germany, but it never happened,” Ingrid recalls. “I have two cousins and three half-cousins there. I used to visit a lot, but since my mother died in 1994 I have only been back once.”

If there’s one thing she misses from her homeland, it’s the food, especially the delicious sandwiches. Still, the USA is her home now, since Ingrid became an American citizen in 1963.

Today, she enjoys living in Mint Hill since the residence is close to one of her daughters’ home and work place. Family is especially important since her husband died in November of 2016. To show much Steve meant to her, Ingrid’s definition of happiness is being married for 58 years to a great husband.

“I hope to be remembered as a good and helpful person,” she says. For now, Ingrid will fulfill the role of being one of Carillon’s leading living history books.

Posted in Sage Stories on October 31, 2017

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