Elmer Jones; Banner Maker Helped Design L.A. City Flag

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Elmer S. Jones, flag, banner and bunting maker to Southern California and the world, has died. He was 92.

Jones died Wednesday at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, where he was recently hospitalized. He had been bedridden for the last six months because of complications from a broken hip.

Before his hip fracture, Jones had worked steadily five days a week at his Jones Decorating Co., 2807 Sunset Blvd., which he founded in 1926.

"His work was his life," said Alfredo Rubalcava, Jones' stepson, who also works at the decorating concern.

Born in Illinois, Jones moved to Los Angeles in the early 1920s, sleeping in the park or bunking with a friend until he found a job.

He was hired at 35 cents an hour by a decorator to festoon a new Elks Club in Oxnard for its dedication, and decided there was enough money in the parade and event decorating business to make that his lifework.

After his boss went bankrupt when a client failed to pay, Jones took over the business and set it up under his own name in 1926. He adopted the ambitious advertising slogan "Jones Does Everything," later refined to "Just the Best."

Within a year Jones hit the big time when he was hired to festoon Los Angeles city streets for the visit of Charles Lindbergh after "Lucky Lindy's" historic flight across the Atlantic.

That same year, Jones created electrical floats for a Boulder Dam parade in Los Angeles, and in 1928 he hung airplanes over the streets for the National Aeronautical Exposition and Air Races and decorated City Hall for its dedication.

In 1931, Jones helped design the current flag for the city of Los Angeles, incorporating its newly designed seal in a three-color background of yellow, green and red as part of its mammoth 150th anniversary celebration.

In 1932, he decorated streets, buildings, stores, City Hall and the Coliseum for the Olympics. When the games returned to Los Angeles in 1984, Jones was the official purveyor of Olympic flags, pennants and other memorabilia.

Jones put the special decorating touches on Pasadena for the Tournament of Roses for 40 years (1932-72), and decorated for some of the Academy Awards presentations, the Orange Show in San Bernardino and the 1935 San Diego Exposition.

Dabbling in politics, Jones festooned Gilmore Field for a speech by President Harry S Truman in 1948, hung the bunting for the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, and made British flags for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1983.

Jones, a World War I Navy veteran, manufactured 100,000 code flags for the Navy during World War II and decorated the scene of 100 Army and Navy award ceremonies. During the Vietnam War, he sent hundreds of California state flags to servicemen who requested them through Gov. Ronald Reagan.

As the demand for parade decorating declined, Jones shifted part of his energy to a year-round Christmas store patronized primarily by film studios. The operation was a spinoff of his many years of decorating Broadway's flagship downtown store for Christmas and all of Hollywood for the annual Santa Claus Lane Parade.

Despite failing eyesight, Jones personally continued to handle about 100 decorating projects a year.

Jones is survived by his wife, Mary, four stepchildren and two grandchildren.

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