NEW YORK - Penny Jones lives with dozens of characters. There are so many puppets inside her West Village apartment, she joked the only place you won't find them is in the bathroom.
Michael Scotto: How many puppets have you made?
Penny Jones: People ask that - how many hairs on the head?
Jones is a puppeteer. She's been making puppets and performing with them for nearly 70 years. Jones said she fell in love with puppetry while attending college and debating whether to become an actress or a social worker. She found puppetry allowed her to do both.
"Puppetry was what, it fit all the things that I loved to do," Jones said.
Jones moved to the city from Minnesota in the late 1940s. After working for a variety of puppeteers, she struck out on her own in 1973, launching her own company, aimed at staging educational shows for children ages two to six.
"I want them to have a wonderful experience and feel that they're part of it," said Jones. "And learn something from it."
Now 90, Jones works with her son, Geoffrey, to produce shows two Sundays a month in a community space at Westbeth, a subsidized apartment house for artists, where she has lived for 30 years.
During her shows, she's behind a green curtain operating multiple puppets at once. She told me she usually has no trouble figuring out if her audience is having a good time.
"You can tell what children are feeling," said Jones. "They are so, their emotions, everything is right out there.
The puppets come to life here in her apartment. She makes them with everyday stuff.
"It's a bottle head," she said, while holding up one of her creations.
Some of her puppets are older than many of the parents attending her shows, including a Goldilocks that makes frequent appearances.
During a time when technology is taking over everything, some parents said it's nice to watch a show powered by old-fashioned ingenuity.
"It's a throwback to an earlier time, before we were all on our phones and distracted by life in New York City," said one spectator.
It's not just a treat for the audience. Jones tole me the shows keep her active.
Michael Scotto: Is working with kids part of the secret to longevity?
Penny Jones: Absolutely, yeah, and playing - with puppets I'm playing.
For more information on Jones' puppet shows, go to: http://www.pennypuppets.org/index.html.