Simmons Jones oral history interview, 1993 February 28
Fashion photographer and author Simmons Baker Jones discusses his eventful life, beginning with his formative years growing up in a prominent Charlotte family and continuing through his service as a corporal in the U.S. Army during the Second World War, his experiences in Paris, New York, and Rome, and his return to Charlotte in the early 1970s. Mr. Jones reflects on the privilege of his childhood, his education, and his outlook on the significant social changes that occurred during his lifetime. Strong themes during the interview include Southern culture, significant changes in race relations in the postwar period, shifting perspectives on sexuality and gender in the late twentieth century, alcoholism, and the negative impact of evangelical religion on society. As the nephew of Charlotte News owner William Carey Dowd, and as a reporter for the News himself, Mr. Jones recalls his association with fellow journalist and author Wilbur Joseph Cash, noting that although Dowd and Cash had fundamental differences they maintained a good relationship. Despite his eagerness to escape his Southern roots and conservative upbringing as a young man, Mr. Jones embraced his return to Charlotte to care for his mother in the mid-1970s, and he celebrates the value of Southern culture in this interview. His closing sentiments, however, are that it is crucial for people to be true to their nature and to follow their passions and persuasions, even when these cut against conventional mores.