A few weeks ago I started re-reading some letters from old friends. One of them was from Bill
Jackman, the man who used to do the sketches for my Victory Flagpole column. As usual, he was reminiscing about things from the past. I had never met him, but friends from a North United Methodist Church women’s group had turned me on to him, knowing that he had written a booklet about growing up in Camden and historical things of this area. Four of his stories are in my book Behind the Victory Flagpole and many of his sketches, too.
It was on December 10, 2013 that he passed away and I was reading the last letter he had written to me, which was in July of that year. He was reminiscing about his mom and dad and the love letters they wrote each other when they were courting. This is what he wrote:
June 19, 2013– “These Happy Golden Years, aches, pains, they’re what we make of them. I just keep. busy in the shack/cabin working on projects that keep the mosquitoes and deer flies from nailing me. Cabin stays a mess!” He goes on to say….
“Still working on additions to the family photo and history albums. Yesterday I was going through some more of my dad’s “Love Letters” to my mom. Dad lived out in the country and mom lived a couple blocks from North Commons Park. You and I can remember when there were only some cabins and a few farm houses between the Memorial Drive and West Broadway in Robbinsdale. Two bedroom expansion houses came in 1946 after WWII, as did the completion of Highway 100, from Golden Valley to the Mississippi in Brooklyn Center. The houses with hip roofs were built after the Korean War. In other words, hip roofs are the type of houses between 43rd and 42nd Ave. N. from Penn Ave. and Patrick Henry’s football field–used to be called “Porter Football Field.” Before these houses were built it was an open grassy field, or weedy. There was a worn down path from 42nd and Penn at an angle to Henry.
Anyway, Love Letters–time elapse 93 years ago–1919. My dad yet to be, writing to my mom yet to be. They married in 1921. I had four sisters born before me. I came to be in 1936.
Love Letters–Dad was looking for a house to raise a family. Mom sent him a booklet of property listings: One story bungalow on 20 acres out by Maple Grove–price, not sure–could raise chickens, a few cows and 20 to 30 pigs. It sold quick before dad could make it there.
Also, in same book, several farms were listed for rent in Robbinsdale. Houses in Minneapolis were listed in the Tribune from $1,000 to $3000. Dad was even thinking of getting a job in Anoka for $5 a day, then he could ride the streetcar (trolley car) from Anoka to Minneapolis. I know streetcars ran to Wayzata and Stillwater, add on Anoka.
Another Love Letter–Dad must have been to see mom. Driving back home his car quit running out by Rogers. He was in the middle of a blizzard, freezing–couldn’t crank over the Model T, so walked, guess about 10 miles home to his folks’ farm.
My mom and dad did a lot of camping. Camping them days was a little different. My mother’s mom wanted to try camping with them. All aboard, pack up, “oogah-oogah”–we’re on the way with the tin lizzy-tire pump, patches and all. Yes, them Tin-Lizzys could be bought with a ragtop and definitely running boards. Needless to say, they had no trunk. Hard to pack–too much equipment. The running board was where the luggage went. Couldn’t put it up on top–might fall through on your head. Be careful when you get out–you and luggage could end up on the ground. Needless to say, camping was not grandma’s cup of tea. So much for the good old days!”
Yes, I’m back home now–once in a while making trips to daughters-few hours jaunts. Wherever I go, my mail is forwarded. Whenever you need sketches, let me know. Sketches help keep my mind on track. Your friend, Bill Jackman.”
Note: I hope he knows how much I miss him. Barbara Bistodeau