George Jones was one of several recipients of the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors this weekend in Washington, D.C.

Such an occasion can be a cause for reflection. George recalls how he got started playing music for a living:

“I was about nine or ten years old when my dad took me into Beaumont from a little country town, Koontz, Texas. And he took me in on a Saturday him and mother, and they bought me this little Gene Autry guitar, about 16 dollars I think it was.

Follow up:

Sister Annie Stevens at the church we attended, she taught me the chords. It was a big thrill. We moved into Beaumont later, the big city, and I used to play hookey and I’d hide my little guitar out in the little wooded areas outside of the school, covered it with leaves. But anyhow, I got to ride in the buses ‘cause I wanted to sing. And I wanted to sing, you know, to people. I’d ride from one end of the line to the other and get off and get on and pick some more on the next bus.”

George adds that every bus driver in town eventually got to know him. Another fond memory was the 24 dollars and some odd cents he made performing on a shoe shine station. Jones says he thought he was a rich little boy that day because at the time that was the most money he had ever seen in the world.