Behind the Victory Flagpole, Around the neighborhood – school daze



Below are more musings from our friend Bill Jackman.

Hello again — It’s me, Bill Jackman, doing what | like to do best and that is to reminisce about the old days living in Camden.  Mostly in the ‘40s and ‘50s. So far, I have told about my love for summer because of swimming and fishing, and some of the people around my childhood home on Queen, like a blacksmith across the street and a recycler who travelled the alleys of North Minneapolis. I mentioned summer jobs of working in the fields of adjacent farms and getting shot with salt pellets for ‘borrowing’ melons from another farmer’s field. Summer was a joy!

But then came the time of the year you had to go to school. I was not good at that! I went to Loring grade school and at one time I thought I would be going there forever. We did have nice little wooden desks, nailed to the floor. The writing part of one desk was the back part of the one in front of you. And they all had ink wells, which were a big source of temptation. Oh, we didn’t have Bics or Papermates back then. Just fountain pens, which you had to dip into the ink wells.

There was a cute lil’ blonde girl named Suzy sitting in the desk in front of me. She had pigtails and bright ribbons. I liked her. She grew to be not so fond of me. It wasn’t her fault though. Most of the year they sat me behind girls with pigtails. We had the fountain pens, dip and write, dip and write. Once in a while the swinging pigtails happen to dip too. It was all up to me. Teacher snuck up behind me with a ruler and the straight edge got rapped on my bare knuckles! Ouch!

And then there was high school. Most of the Camden kids went to Patrick Henry. If you lived across the river, which we called Nord-East, you went to Edison. There were good Catholic schools too. It didn’t matter, school was tough for me. I could study all night for a test and I couldn’t comprehend a thing I read. I realized I was not alone and found there were many like me. Some kids resorted to copying other kid’s papers in order to get through. Too bad they were afraid to ask the teacher for help.

I can still remember as a kid in high school, you were supposed to give an oral book report. It was part of your grade on your report card. There was no way I was going to get up in front of the class and recite! I’d take detention every time. Never could get used to that.

The study hall was good. Think maybe 10th, 11th and 12th grade students all shared the same study hall —in the lunchroom. All classes shared the same table — maybe a way of makin’ friends and meetin’ others. No seats were assigned. Sometimes you sat across the table from someone and a good conversation started — someone you never talked with before, it was a good thing!

School was different in the 1950s. Girls were not allowed to wear slacks or jeans ‘cept on football day. ‘Course years later, after we were out of school, women started wearing pantsuits. Styles would come and go, jamaicas were in and then out.

Later on, for 31 years I drove the school bus for Robbinsdale. The youth, of course, liked the radio on their station. Each morning they were happy to see each other, and would talk and listen to each other, getting noisier and noisier, plus the loud radio. At that point I would turn down the volume on the radio. They’d say, “Can’t hear it, Bill.” I’d simply say, “It’s still on, you just have to control the volume of your voices.” They understood and kept it lower, it stayed peaceful then.

That’s about all my remembrances for now!

Note: Taken from the writings of Bill Jackman