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A Shaken Community Fights for Its Children : Worried About Violence

Parenting: The Joneses have seen lots of changes in their neighborhood in 32 years, but still think it's a good place to live.

September 08, 1996|SCOTT HADLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OXNARD — Lizzie Jones is one of the residents of the area around Durley Park who worries about what's happening in her community. She worries for her children and her grandchildren, and she worries for her neighbors.

As she and her husband, Earlie, have watched their neighborhood change over the decades, she says, she has seen things happen that she had never seen before.

"Four or five streets over we had a murder about a month ago, and a drive-by shooting two or three months ago," she said. "It seems crime is on the rise. I don't know if it is, but it seems like it."

The Jones home is on Iris Street, a few blocks from Durley Park and just around the corner from Kamala Elementary School.

Lizzie Jones makes sure her 17-year-old foster child, Kevin, lets them know where he is at all times, and she makes sure he is home before the 10 p.m. curfew.

"I still can't believe that some parents don't know where their children are at that time of night," she said. "I know where Kevin is at all times. He gets in about 8 or 9 p.m., and if he's going to be late I always get a phone call."

The neighborhood is still a good place to live, but the violence has her worried, she said.

"Earlie's sister lives near where they beat that boy to death," she said, referring to the beating of 17-year-old Jaime Morales in July.

The Joneses have always made it a point to keep their children busy with sports and family activities. Their older children are grown, but the couple care for several grandchildren and their foster son.

They attend all their children's sporting activities.

"We make every one," Earlie said. "Make it a point."

Their goal is to stay involved to prevent their children from being lured into gangs or taken in by some of the darker forces in their community.

Earlie Jones bought the home in 1964 when he moved to Oxnard from Alabama to take a job with the county. Almost 20 years later, he and his wife met and married. It was the second marriage for both. She had six children from her previous marriage; he had five.

Their children grew up going to local schools and wound up with good jobs--a welder, a nurse, an electrician.

"We've been blessed," Lizzie Jones said.

The couple keep to the tradition they set from the very beginning. Each evening the Jones family does something that has become increasingly rare in the nation--sits down together to eat dinner.

"I insist on it," Lizzie Jones says. "I believe that if more families ate together and played together and parents were part of their children's lives, we wouldn't have a lot of the problems we have today.

"I thank God that we never had problems with gangs or anything like that," she added. "I can't rest if I don't know where my kids are. I can't rest unless I know, especially around here."

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