14 December 2020

In Memoriam: Meg Jones | Reporter | Raconteur | Friend to Many


Reporter Meg Jones with Skyriter typewriter
Meg Jones with Skyriter Typewriter
Photo by J.A. Jablonski (c) 2018

Two years ago Meg Jones, reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and I met up at a coffee shop on Milwaukee's East Side. I had something to give her: a typewriter. Not just any typewriter, a Skyriter. The Skyriter was popular with journalists and war correspondents due its small size, portability (only 9 lbs including its metal case), and reliable action. In the 1970s, the case was updated to a soft-sided thing so that reporters, writers, and travel writers could tuck it under their airplane seats.

Meg Jones was both journalist and war correspondent. I admired the heck out of her and regular read her stories in JSOnline. I wanted her to have her own "reporter's typewriter." Five years before she'd already typed on the very machine I gave her, though she might not have remembered it that day in January 2018.

Meg Jones typing on a Skyriter Typewriter in 2013
Photo by J.A. Jablonski (c) 2018

I used to collect typewriters. In 2013, Meg contacted me. Somehow she'd heard about me and these machines. I posted about that interview here. This is how I described how it came about:

"She googled typewriters AND Milwaukee, and my post about last year's Summer Solstice Type-In came up.  Like any reporter worth her salt, she tracked me down and asked if she could call.  And like a good librarian, I said, "Sure, I have lots of info you could use for a story." 

Meg called, we talked for about 30 minutes.  Then, offhandedly, she asked, "So how many typewriters do you have?"  "Well," I says, "about 25."  Then came that amusing nano-second pause and Meg asked, "Would you mind if I came over to your house to see them? Oh, and could I bring a photographer?"

It was a lovely afternoon's conversation. Meg was delightful and completely interested in everything. Talking to her was like talking to an old friend. She said she liked to make her own short report videos on her phone and might I please type something for background noise. (That's her typing at the end with me holding her phone over her shoulder.)

Her JS Online Video

From 2013 on we'd run into each other now and then, usually on the way in to a Brewers game at Miller Park. She was a serious fan. She'd stop for a friendly chat but then promptly motored off with great intent. She wanted to see everything game-related: batting practice, pregame, everything! One got the feeling that life itself was that to her: to be seen in total.

She was so excited to receive the Skyriter--wanting to know where it came from, if anyone had used it for writing before her. I had to admit that I'd gotten it via eBay and didn't know. We followed each other on Twitter then, and exchanged snail mail addresses to correspond, and for the couple years since she sent me her holiday letters. They were a blast to read! She SO enjoyed her work, her travel, and the people she met. They were travelogues in and of themselves.

Back in September Milwaukee's own Boswell Books hosted Iranian novelist Salar Abdoh for a conversation about his latest book Out of Mesopotamia, in which Abdoh discussed the "endless war" from a Middle Eastern perspective. Meg Jones was the host for the conversation, and oh my, was it fascinating. I've watched a lot of book launch interviews and this was anything but. Abdoh and Jones were of a kind and clearly respected each others' war reporting experiences.

Salar Abdoh Virtual Event for Boswell Book Company
Host: Meg Jones | Runtime: 59 min

Not too long ago I got another of her letters. She told me what she'd been doing and where she'd been of late. Then she thanked me again for the Skyriter. She had it on display in her guest bedroom, she said.

Meg Jones' obituary is here. You can hear her vibrancy, her joy, her professionalism throughout. And you can hear how much she will be missed by her colleagues and friends.

Rest in Peace, Meg. Rest in Power. Thank you for what you gave us all. How you will be missed.

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