If people live in a community like Lindale long enough there are certain elements around them that they come to regard as fixtures.
Lindale wouldn't be Lindale without the smoke stacks from the mill. Or the star hanging between the stacks at Christmas. Or the mill houses. Or the ducks and water wheel. Or the fire breathing drag on at the high school football stadium.
And Lindale wouldn't be Lindale without coach David Jones.
Jones started attending the Pepperell Schools as a child in 1955 and finished there in 1967.
While he was at the high school, Jones played football. Later he would become a coach for the Dragons. And he continues to help the Dragons today — as well as the rest of the community.
His father, Ralph, worked in the mill. Jones remembers when he was very young, his dad got a house in Lindale.
"That was a big deal," he said. "It was a three-room house on Grove Street. In 1953 we moved to A Street, and it had one more room."
"And then we moved to Jamestown in '56," Jones said, referring to the community of one story homes between the high school and the mill property. "As you got a promotion, you got a better house."
When he got older Jones started working in the mill as well. He became a management trainee and eventually became a supervisor in the card room. Jones was following in his father's footsteps. But it wasn't a path he wanted to continue traveling.
"Daddy — he loved it," Jones said. "I didn't."
Around 1981 he decided he'd had enough of the textile industry and quit. He spent the next four or five years working odd jobs in construction and property management. With the exception of going to games on Friday night in the fall, Jones was nowhere close to being on the field as a coach.
But he had been involved in sports his entire life. Some of that involved watching his father play on sports teams for Pepperell Manufacturing. Some of it was Jones playing sports in school.
"We were at a football game right after [Lynn] Hunnicutt had come," Jones said. He and his wife were watching the new coach for Pepperell. "My wife looked me and said, 'That's what you need to be doing.'"
He realized she was right.
Fast forward to 1986.
Hunnicutt hired Jones for a coaching internship. In 1987, Jones helped start the football program at the middle school, where he stayed for five years. He also was an assistant basketball and baseball coach for Pepperell High School.
"I became the defensive coordinator at the high school in 1992," Jones said.
He said he feels that being away from Pepperell — the mill and the school — for several years before he started coaching and teaching helped him do a better job with the students and players.
"I think it would have been a lot harder if I hadn't been gone for so long," Jones said. "I'm just not sure I would have done very well. ... And I wouldn't have gone anywhere else to coach (but Pepperell). I never wanted to."
Jones said he also never aspired to being a head coach. That would have taken him away from the players and the game.
"Once you get to be head coach, you don't get to coach as much," he said. "You have to do administration, fundraising — not what I did best. I wanted to coach. It didn't mean I didn't try to learn, but I never wanted to be a supervisor. Four years being a supervisor in a cotton mill pretty much burned it for me."
"Very few people get to make a living at something they enjoy doing," Jones said. "It wasn't like going to the cotton mill on third shift at 10 o'clock. I didn't dread going. And I liked practice as much as I liked the game."
Jones retired from coaching in 2010 after his wife, Wanda, passed away.
But he didn't leave Pepperell sports altogether. Jones still goes to the games. He watches practice. He volunteers to run errands for the coaches so they can focus their attention on the players and the game.
"I'll do it till I can't," he said. "I had that opportunity (to coach) so now I just want the coaches to be able to coach."
There is plenty of other activity in Lindale to keep Jones busy. He is on Pepperell's Local School Governance Team. He spends a lot of time in Lindale walking his friend's dog, Bogie. He also is very involved with Restoration Lindale with fellow Lindale native Tim Reynolds.
"When you're retired there's only so much grass you can cut and limbs you can trim," he said. "It's nice in my later years that I have a lot of things to do."
And his community is all the better for it.
'Once you get to be head coach, you don't get to coach as much. You have to do administration, fundraising — not what I did best. I wanted to coach. It didn't mean I didn't try to learn, but I never wanted to be a supervisor. Four years being a supervisor in a cotton mill pretty much burned it for me.'
Former Pepperell football coach