By guest writer Marva Jackson
My twin brother Jack and I were born in Massillon, Ohio and didn’t move to Minnesota with our family until we were 13 years old, the second half of the 8th grade. This was in January 1941, only two months after Minnesota’s big Armistice Day storm. We were wide-eyed at the amount of snow on the ground.
It took a few weeks to find a home on 41st and Humboldt, and it was February before we got settled. My brother and I found out that there was a skating pond in Camden, so we gathered our skates and off we went. It’s colder in Minnesota in February than Ohio, and the ice was rough and there was no one down there skating. Lesson number one about Minnesota.
I got started in school, and my home room teacher at Patrick Henry said, “I’m going to put you under Marge Nelson’s [a classmate] wing because you have the same schedule.” We soon learned we both went to Salem Lutheran Church, and we became lifelong friends.
One day I went to the Camden library to work on a history report. There was a seat empty at a table where two boys were working on an English report. I knew one of them, Lloyd Hedman, and he said, “Sit here with us.” The other boy was Roger Jackson, and six years later Rog and I got married.
My first summer in Minnesota I biked with a neighbor to work on a truck farm in Brooklyn Center. I truly loved that job. I worked there for several summers. I’ve always loved digging in the dirt. That farm became the future site of the Evans Nordby Funeral Home.
As teens, Rog and I and some of our friends sang in the Salem Lutheran Church Choir. One Christmas Eve we finished singing at the late service, and as we were leaving we saw a big orange glow in Camden. There used to be a grain elevator in Camden and it was burning. We stayed and watched it all night until we had to get back to the church for the early morning Swedish service. We had no idea what was being said, we were just there to sing. Most of us were able to stay awake, but one person fell asleep and fell out of his chair.
The teen years went on with many wonderful friends and memories of Camden. When high school was over, many of the boys went off to World War II. Roger did his military service in the navy, and at the end of the war he attended Gustavus College in St. Peter, and later transferred to the University of Minnesota.
Roger and I were married August 7, 1948 in Salem Lutheran Church and had two children, Frank and Rita. After moving around a few times, we bought a home in Brooklyn Center. We were close enough to Camden to spend a lot of time there and visit all our relatives. Rog’s parents, Selma and Frank Jackson, and Rog’s sister, Jackie, lived on 41st and Bryant right next door to his maternal grandparents, William and Mary Meinke Meyer, who had married in 1888 and had lived in Camden with their five children.
I enjoyed my years as housewife and mom. When we bought our house we didn’t finish off our basement like everyone else. I wanted to have a place where our kids could ride their trikes and roller skate, etc. Consequently, I had a lot of neighborhood kids there, too. The neighbors called our place “Jackson Park.”
My husband was an IRS agent and he worked out of the Minneapolis Federal Building. He traveled a lot and taught classes on tax exempt organizations. He also held offices in our church and helped senior citizens with their tax returns. His hobbies were being in bowling leagues and golfing. When he got sick he couldn’t do that anymore, but he found something that he enjoyed much more, and that was singing in choral groups.
As for my hobbies, I loved gardening and had lots of flowers, shrubs and a nice vegetable garden that gave us most of our vegetables during the summer. I also loved to do needlework such as embroidering, needlepoint, cross-stitch and knitting. Also, cake and candy decorating, baking, etc. I was lucky to have won 10 ribbons at the State Fair for some of my things! One time Rog surprised me with a wood-carving kit and that opened up a whole new world to me and soon became a big part of my life. When our children were a little older I did volunteer work at church, school, community and became a Brownie Leader.
One of the glues that made our life together enjoyable was the mutual joy of singing. Rog delighted in cowboy songs that he learned as a young boy. He knew many of them. We continued singing in church choirs, first at Salem Lutheran and then at our new church in Brooklyn Center. Also, we happily sang in the Brooklyn Center Chorus. But Rog’s biggest love was singing in the Minneapolis Commodore Barbershop Chorus (100 voices strong) and in one of their barbershop quartets. Our whole family loved it, the group was so family friendly and the concerts were exciting. I even once sang in the Minneapolis Women’s Club Chorus and had the experience of singing on stage with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. Our children sang in the junior choirs at church.
Rog passed away in 1976 at age 49, but left us with many wonderful memories. I like to think of him riding around on a cloud singing. My roots started in Ohio, but were easily transplanted to the Camden area, and those strong roots then spread to Brooklyn Center.
Submitted by Barbara Meyer Bistodeau