Jones C. “Jonesy” McConnell

Jonesy is a retired commercial architect. He was a partner with HH Architects in Dallas.

Married 52 years. Parents of two grown children & their spouses…and grandparents to four granddaughters and one grandson.   World travelers, avid readers, members of First United Methodist Church in Richardson.

Jonesy is a long-time member of Richardson Civic Art Society (past President a few times), life member and past President of Southwestern Watercolor Society, and member of Western Federation of Watercolor Societies.

In 2019, Jonesy was honored as Artist of the Year by the Richardson Arts Alliance at their Heart for the Arts Gala.

“No Place Like Home”

By David Nethery, President, Board of Directors AIR4arts and Susan Morrow, Executive Director, AIR4arts

For veterans of over 25 cruises, the one leaving San Francisco on February 21, 2020 began well enough. Ample food, entertainment, new people to meet and beautiful scenery in Hawaii.

Leaving Hawaii on February 29,  the Grand Princess encountered rough seas for four days. After the storm subsided, a more significant storm hit: The captain announced there were to be no more large group gatherings, since a passenger from the previous cruise had died of COVID-19. Two Coast Guard helicopters hovered above the ship, delivering COVID-19 test kits and transporting a passenger to the hospital.

On March 5, it was revealed that nineteen crew members and two more passengers were sick. Everyone was ordered to remain in their cabins; meals were brought to the cabin doors. The ship returned immediately to San Francisco. Passengers remained confined to their cabins. Two days later, officials refused the scheduled docking.

The next day the Coast Guard escorted the ship to a large isolated dock area. The dream cruise to Hawaii was turning into a nightmare of medical tents, Coast Guard personnel, ambulances, rows of porta-potties, handwashing stations, police vehicles, and buses.

Five days after being refused entry in San Francisco, passengers were finally able to escape the ship. Taken to the airport, they were assigned to two locations in California, one in Georgia and one in Texas to complete a 14-day Federal quarantine. Jones (Jonesy) McConnell and his wife, Joan, from Richardson, Texas, became “guests” of the Federal Government at the Lackland Air Force Base “resort” in San Antonio. Jonesy is a retired commercial architect and Joan is a retired high school math teacher.

At least on the ship, there was a certain measure of familiarity. Completely unknown, however, was what to expect of the quarantine. The accommodations—furnished apartments—were surprisingly comfortable.

Nevertheless, the 141 detainees were confined to a complex consisting of two rows of three-story buildings. Temporary chain link fencing defined the perimeter, and guard stations were set up at the corners. Social distancing and masks were required when outside of the apartment. Their routine consisted of twice-daily temperature checks and picking up their meals from food tents in the middle of the compound.

Although avid readers and puzzle lovers, Jonesy and Joan discovered the tedium of 14-days of forced confinement. Jonesy, an accomplished watercolor artist, had brought sketching and watercolor materials which gave him a certain escape and a focal point that others lacked.

Walking at least 20 circuits a day in ¼ mile circles of the compound, the McConnells developed a new sympathy for caged lions and tigers.  Naturally outgoing and social, Jonesy and Joan managed to make friends with some of their guards. Nevertheless, the chain-link fencing was ever-present.

Finally tested for COVID-19, Jonesy described the test in his diary as “a small wad of sandpaper put on the end of a coat hanger and run up as far as possible into your nostril!”  A week later, the McConnells received negative test results. However, ten of their fellow detainees tested positive and were placed in isolation.

The 14-day ordeal over, passengers driving home were presented with rental cars. Buses waited to take others to the airport. Jonesy reported, “the sun was shining, birds were singing. Free at last, free at last!”

Leaving Lackland 33 days after setting sail from San Francisco, the McConnells returned to Richardson. There, they were confronted with “shelter-in-place,” exchanging one type of captivity for another. For Jonesy and Joan, though, simply being able to go to the grocery store and the gas station was “freeing.” Hawaii was lifetimes ago!

About AIRCreates

AIRCreates features the talents of a diverse sampling of creative genius from the Dallas Metroplex and beyond. Whether an exposition of professional artists or the presentation of home-schooled children, we wish to brighten and lighten your day.

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