My Three Months with David Jones

Magazine: 16
Author:
Editor: Gloria Stavers
Published:
Volume: 9
Issue: 1
Publisher: 16 Magazine, Inc.
Pages: 46–47

Davy Jones

Come along for the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of finding out exactly what it is like to have 1967’s fantastic superstar—Davy Jones—spend three months as a guest in your home. Join young New York actor Jeff Neal—and share these fabulous experiences with him!

What junior high student could think of such superfluous things as math, science, Latin and history—when all I knew was that at 2:30, when the final school bell rang, I would be going home to see David Jones at my house!?

I was an extremely lucky kid. I had known Davy since June 1963, when he and I met while we both were performing in Oliver! at the Imperial Theater in the Broadway area of New York City. Davy and I had become firm friends in those days—and, what’s more, he had developed a deep attachment to my family. My mom and dad had returned David’s affection, and he very often came to our house for dinner or weekends during the time we were in the show together. When I left the show, we remained “family friends”. In fact, to this day Davy calls us “…my American family”.

Anyway, back to my story. As I said, David had spent many hours and some weekends at my home—but he had never lived there. Now, he was coming to live with us. It was supposed to be for two weeks, but—well, that’s getting ahead of my story.

What happened was this: David had been rushed to St. John’s Hospital in Queens, New York, a week before for an emergency appendectomy. After the operation, his doctor had told him that he must have complete rest for at least two weeks. When mom and dad heard about this, they offered Davy the hospitality of our home, which he immediately accepted—much to my delight, for that meant that “my brother”—who is the funniest, warmest, happiest, most amusing guy in the world—was coming “home” for awhile. Unless you’re an only child, you can’t know what joy something like that can bring.

Quiet (?) times

Jeff Neal, Davy Jones
Jeff and Davy at Jeff’s house—today.

I ran all the way home from school that day (wouldn’t you?) in hopes that I’d be there to greet Davy when he arrived. But Davy was ahead of me, as usual, and when I walked into the living room—he was sitting in the easy chair in his bathrobe and pajamas, grinning from ear to ear. “Hi, mate”, he said. “Where are we going tonight? Let’s have some action!”

That last demand, I might as well tell you, was David’s favorite expression at the time, and it struck me as being pretty funny in view of the fact that he knew full well that he could not go anywhere at all.

After our usual warm hellos, and questions exchanged and answers given, Davy told me about his dramatic exit from the hospital. He had been there for about a week—just long enough for him to completely charm the entire staff of the floor he was on.

“It was a gas, Jeff”, he told me. “Just as I got ready to leave, all the nurses—from the head nurse on down to the candy-stripers—lined up to kiss me goodbye.” I don’t have to tell you that David had quite a twinkle in his eye when he told me about-that.

“I done me duty, mate”, he continued—exaggerating his Manchester accent, “and I left all the ladies happy—I hope. My doctor and the interns were there, too, and I almost felt as though I was leaving yet another wonderful new family. But coming here is wonderful too—to me, it’s like coming home. You’re like family to me—you know that. Now, what’s for dinner?”

What’s-for-dinner turned out not to be David’s favorite what’s. Mom had talked to the doctor, and he had suggested that David stay on a fairly soft diet for a few more days. So we had chicken soup, chicken soup—and then some more chicken soup. But it was home-made, and David loved it.

“Hey, Mim,” he said after dinner, “that was the greatest! Now, where are the lamb chops?”

My mother laughed, and replied, “You’ll get them in two more days—first, we have to finish that big pot of chicken soup on the stove!”

“Go go” Jones

After dinner, I noticed the first sign of fatigue I had ever seen in David. Anybody else would have been ready for bed at that moment, but “Go Go” Jones was determined to be the last one to close an eye in our house, even though he was still a recuperating patient. When we sat down to watch TV, I caught him yawning twice and nodding once—but I didn’t say anything.

Speaking of TV, Davy is completely gone on Westerns, or anything with horses and lots of shooting in it. When somebody rides across the screen on a horse, it is like Davy was really on the horse. He bounces up and down, holds the reins and digs his heels into the side of the footstool right along with the old cowhand up there in the boob tube. As we sat watching—dialing from Gunsmoke to Lawman to Rawhide—it seemed like David was trying to make up for all those early-to-bed nights imposed on him by the hospital schedule.

I usually had to be in bed by nine o’clock, but I got special permission to stay up on that particularly wonderful night. At about eleven, Mom came in and said, “O.K., men, that’s it.”

Frankly, both of us could hardly keep our eyes open, but we managed to grumble and keep up a front as she escorted us both off to bed. Davy and I shared the same big double bed and, when our heads hit that pillow we did not have our usual who-can-get-the-last-word-in contest that normally went on half the night. We just slumped down, and Davy said, “O.K., kid, I’ll get ya’ tomorrow.”

I smiled, and drifted off into dreamsville.

And so began the most fabulous three months of my life. Next month, I’m going to tell you about it all—minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and week-by-week! Davy and I will meet you right here in 16 in the July issue. The July issue goes on sale May 23, so reserve your copy now!