Patrick Henry Loses Friend, Bill Jackman '56
Mr. Jackman, 1956
Bill Jackman '56 passed away recently. Mr. Jackman loved the North Side and Patrick Henry in particular. Read more about Mr. Jackman and his contributions here.
"When I went to Henry there was only one Black kid," Bill Jackman said on his return to Henry on September 27th. "The kids harassed him so bad that he quit." On a tour of the lunchroom Mr. Jackman noted how happy he was to see so many students of color all enjoying each other. He again suggested that students be allowed to dance with each other as they did back in the 50's. See his writings about Henry here.
“Comin’ to America”
“In God We Trust”
Some challengin’ words, faithful words, lovin’ words, we’re just a pebble on the beach, just a bird
at wing, just a seed that’s planted, just a root, branch, or twig, a wave, a splash, a breeze, a weed,
a grain, a wisp in the air. A turtle or hare makin’ due. We’re a tint of dew, a scene in frost, a
eagle soarin’, a windin’ trail, a puppy dog’s tail. We’re the flurries in the air, a ribbon in the hair,
that bright star in the sky or that twinkle in the eye. We’re carin’, shar’in hands, united as one.
We’re the rays of the sun. We’re the hummin’ of the bee and the calmin’ of the seas. We’re the
passin’ of the word, that forever should be heard. We’re the land that lends a hand, we’re the
ship with the sail, we’re God’s people that will no fail, we have love in our hearts and God in our
“Peace Be With You”
Brown Photo started at 4135 Penn Avenue North. There’s a dormer on the front of the house
facing Penn, dormers, at attic level, that’s where the photo business began, right up there. At
that time, they lived in that house.
Used to be many horses went through the area. Course, horses needed help every so often too,
new shoes, and such, look at the cores they did. Many blacksmiths in the area, cross the street
from our house, lived Martin Ranwick. He had a blacksmith shop in his garage, would have
been 4105 Queen Avenue North. Was one of those neat things in my life, watchin’ him make
horse shoes out of a square rod of steel. He’d heat it on red coals, ‘til the piece of steel was also
red hot. Then he’d take his big hammer and work the rod on the anvil, with the hammer and
form the horse shoe right in front of my eyes. Then he’d dip it in water, “pffssst”, it was cooled
down and ready for the horse’s foot. Mr. Ranwick had muscles like steel and a heart of gold.
Yes. Brown Photo, started in their house on Penn Avenue, 4135 Penn Avenue North. Years later,
the Browns moved out to Tyrol Hills, just east of Highway 100. They were fine people, course,
when they started out, cameras were a little different. I can remember them saying, “Watch the
birdie!” Like maybe the birdie was going to do what my sister’s pet crow did.
Horses had team spirit. They’d get you to where you were going, most of the time! Like me, they
liked new shoes about once a year. It took a good blacksmith to get a proper fitting shoe, one
with arms of steel and a heart of gold.
Yes, this was the other end of the train. Sometimes the locomotives were far apart, like a
hundred and some cars apart, but communications between the two ends were with a two way
radio. The brake man rides in the copula above, and watches the cars ahead. Lot I didn’t know
about trains. When a train was going across country, the whole train crew slept in the caboose.
A cook stove was also in there and that’s where they cooked their meals. A train crew consisted
of the Engineer, a fireman to shovel coal, a conductor, and two brake men. Passenger trains had
many others taking care of the passengers.
“Camden Area Heritage”
Jus a bit about me, the writer of the “book of knowledge”. I know how to spell words correctly,
least wise most words, to some it’s important, but not to me. The important thing, is that the
past continues to me remembered and passed on for generations forever, not forgotten, left
behind or left to wither away.
There are so many meanings to many words, that it’s hard at times for many to understand, but
seeing it your way, not as others may see it. I’m goin’ to try to do much of this the way it can be
visualized. My education, I made it through high school, only way I could; by cheating, copying
others’ papers, and who’d I cheat? Myself! I’m 71 now, and it was the only was I could get
through school. I could study all night for a test, and couldn’t comprehend anything I read. I
realized that I was not alone, found out many couldn’t, but teachers didn’t recognize it back
then. That’s why it’s better to ask for help nowadays. If it does any good, at least try to ask for
Anyways, I’m going to write this the different way, not to mix you up, but so you may
Mr. Jackman with family friend, Lunchroom Lady Lynda
realize what’s happening out there. It’s not that anybody’s stupid, they’re just trying, so give
them credit, not grief.
Maybe y’ur fru’m nu’ddercountry,nu’dder state, often is all it takes. Othur’ states talk diffurent.
“Too”, “two”, “to” – how many ways can you use a word? I just bought this typewriter, been
without a workin’ one fer a y’le. The beepin’ on d’is v’ on’s sumptin’ else. Course I figur’d out y -
it beeps at miss-spellin’! She’s a new fangled thing, her understanding this way of writin’. This
is how many are seein’ it in their minds, I’ll betcha! Hard to realize, unless you give it some
My early life was spent in Minnesota, 41st and Queen. Once a year we’d venture on vacation for a
week, pullin’ a box trailer, or a box made for the top of you car. If you car had a trunk, you could
maybe put one small suit case in it. Didn’t get very far, pourin’ water in the radiator, from a
creek bed. Car was boiling over. Had a lot of flat tires back then too, a lot of flats. Flat tires
were a common thing happened quite often. Pull rit’e ov’ur, don’t v’ant to ruin d’e t’ar tube and
d’e hole’ v’urks. Best u change it right away, course’n if t’wasn’t rain’in, best you not only
changed the t’ar, bett’ur patch it too, so next time you v’ouldn’t have to patch a t’ar in de’ rain. It
v’as oft’n know’n to happ’un.
Jack up d’e car, had bumper’ jacks at det’ time, clickedty click. Up v’ent d’e car, if you v’ir on a
uphill grade, best you put a block or sum’ptin behind the wheel, case it took off. Take d’e rim off
d’e car, removin’ lug nuts, best don’t lose dem. With a t’ar a’rn take d’e t’ar off d’r rim, now, take
d’e tube out’a of d’a t’ar, with the pump put air in the tube, find w’har air is leakin’ out, rough up
the’t spot with sand papur’ like stuff, put glue round w’ear patch is goin’, put patch on. Find in
t’ar what made hole, pull it out, so’s it don’t make nudder hole in patch… Put air back in t’ar with
hand pump, put rim back on car and you were back on v’ay.
No, back in dose’ days you din’t trace far, cars had far too many problems. If you went for a
weeks trip you might he’v a cabin rented, can remember one time as a sprig, v’e stayed in a
chicken coop, twas all v’e could find, d’ere v’ir no chickun’s d’ere, ‘ust us’uns. Beat us wheterin’
it, twas cold ‘n rainy. Many a time v’e ‘ust stood in d’e tent. T’wasn’t sew’ bad either, ‘ust at nite’
d’ose timb’ur v’olves howlin’, and d’ose owls a hootin’. Many a time, v’e a pulled the flat bottom
boat long, d’er v’ay v’e could get out v’here d’e fish v’ir a bitin’. Course if you broght d’ boat ‘long,
you put y’er weeks belongin’s in d’e boat, ‘til you got wh’ar you v’ere a goin’. Didn’t have to
w’ury ‘bout stuff getting’ wet v’en a’drivin’ d’ere, boat leaked, watur ran out, fast as it came in.
Leave the boat settin’ in d’e watur; overnite, ‘bout sealed itself. Course, did h’ev lil’ can in case
yer needed to bail out. Don’t think d’ose places knew v’at indoor toilet v’as either, v’e felt right
at home det v’ay.
Din’t every house have an out building? Ours did. Stood out there, long side of the garage.
Summer, spring, and fall, wasn’t half bad. T’was those frosty winter mornin’s one came to dread.
Crink’ly stiff papers from thet’ Sears Roebuck catalogue. For I get going too far on that,they
came out twice a year, Spring and Summer, Fall and Winter. Now, there v’er two types of v’ipes
in d’em , the index, seemed to fastly disappear, v’as a pleasant v’iper. T’was those krinkly pages
that left a lot to be diseired. That wish book was put out there, as soon as it arrived in d’e mail.
Right away those softer pages went out of sight.
Wishbook, was probably the most admired book that came out for free, in them days. Some nice
looking young ladies in there, a modeling. Sombody later told me, they’re just mana’kins, made
to look elike people, couldn’t be!!! Billy, you know that lady framing thing, your mom uses to
make dresses on, when she sews them, same thing, ‘cept thses are full size mana’kins, that look
as if they have personalities. Got me thinking, I guess. Dose’ soft pages, did disappear
Where Bill grew up 4100 Queen
Yes, people came here from all over the world. Most speaking only one language, their own
special language from their own country. Can you imagine them all talking at one time, at one
place or location, happy to see each other, celebrating? I can only imagine one would of wished
for ear plugs to tone the others out, so you could only hear your friends.
I drove school bus for Robbinsdale for thirty years, the youth liked the radio on, course on their
station. Each morning, they were happy to see each other, and would talk, you have roughly 0
youth on the bus, talking, listening to each other, it would get noisier and noisier, they were
normal, liked the radio loud. At this point, I’d turn down the volume on the radio. They’ed say,
can’t hear the radio, 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. The volume of the radio increased pleasantly, it
stayed a peaceful density.
‘Bout a month ago, I stopped at a library on Lowry, the North Regional Library. I arrived before
it opened for the day. There was no defining how great I felt, all the children outside the door
and adults, waiting to go in, not cause they were cold, they were happy and polite, a blessing I
needed from God. They didn’t look at me because I was different, I didn’t look at them that way
either. What I seen was children eager to learn. How much more reward can I wish?
I can never mention it enough, if the shoe was on the other foot, how would they like it? Am
sitting here thinking of the children waiting for the library to open in Minneapolis, for the day, it
was during winter break. So many waiting to go in, so many happy faces.
I know libraries are far different now days, then from when I was young, so many have new
sources or new ways of exploring into. Computers, I can’t look up to type, many use them
though. Hear you can rent movies at libraries, course, years ago you could too, reel to reel ones.
Or the knowledge of the books, to be able to read. Hopefully, understanding what they’re
reading, then again, maybe they’ll end up like me, just tryin’ to remember things, as I grew up,
and passing that on to those that read this.
Each day, I find the mind’s similar to a computer, a human computer, memories, not to be
forgotten, but shared with others, for years to come. Like the locomotive, just a chugging along,
just a rappin’ and a rappin’ and that’s rap.
I can still remember, as a kid, in high school, you were suppose 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 a
class and recite. I’d take detention instead every time. Never could get used to that, still can’t
do it. Some of my grandchildren can read to others, fantastically, and know just what they’re
reading about. Others prefer to read to themselves, and still can restore what the read. Maybe
my trait shows up in them too, maybe. It’s just havin’ and interest in what you’re reading.
You may think it’s not an old thing, but it has been goin’ on since I was a sprig. Nothin’ was
thrown away, everything has a purpose. Don’t throw away what others might be able to use.
The way life was back then, still is with me. Why throw it, may need it some day, be surprised
what I use. Course, lots gets lost in the shuffle, mite be a use for this some day, best save it.
Think about it though, no computer, but saved these here thoughts, all these years in my mind.
Just have to clean the cobwebs out of my mind, lots of good memories.
Can see it like it was yesterday, the horse and buckboard comin’ down the alley, umbrella to
keep the heat shaded, the derby, (horse’s hat), I’d say do the same as an umbrella, picturin’ the
hat, the horse looked like a real gent in it. Well very well mannered horse, I used to like feedin’
him carrots and apples. He’d make a nice pet. I know he did, when his days work was done.
Later, got to know his family. The man that owned him, made weekly trips down the alleys in
North Minneapolis, at least around our house, may have been other collectors too. This man
collected what others didn’t need anymore. I heard friends of mine call him a “cheney” one time,
not realizing I called him a “cheney” one time too. I was within hearing of my dad. I learned a
lesson that day, “cheney” was a swear word, or a dirty name, for ragman or collector as he. I got
the razor strap used on my behind, realizing what it meant, I had it coming. After that, I got to
know that man and his horse real well, as the rest of his family. They lived just north of the
bridge in Camden on the river bank, good family.
Back in those early days, blizzards were common, without any plows, streets and alleys weren’t
cleaned . Milk deliveries couldn’t get through, it took Team Spirit. There were many
Dr. "K" Kociemba receives Christmas giveaways from Mr. Jackman to students
teams around, hard to beat good strong horse power. Only fuel that was necessary was a good
bale of hay and a waterin’ tank.
Green Apples and Melons
I liked to hit that melon patch on the east side of Twin Lake, be closer to 152, or where Brooklyn
Boulevard is now. When those melons were ripe, there wasn’t nothin’ finer good tastin’
watermelon, melt in your mouth. Hit that patch many a night, all goo things have to end.
Farmer got tired of his watermelon walkin’ away, caught me in the act, from a distance, had rock
salt in his shotgun, I took off, course that a’salt burnin’ in my behind. Learned my lesson, never
took a chance on goin’ back there. You didn’ complain when you got home, didn’t need the
razor strap to top off that burnin’.
I liked green apples from others’ trees too. Nothin’ like someone else’s apples, were good and a
There was a plum tree behind a house, cross the street from Patrick Henry High School, by the
path. Those plums, when ripe, were delicious.
Course anybody goin’ to Patrick Henry back those early days from 42nd Avenue South and Penn
Avenue to the west, walked that path. Didn’t have to be shoveled, like a herd of cattle, we kept
it packed down.
Teachers could only take so much pressure back then, some had tempers, even at Patrick Henry.
I can remember a slate black board that got cracked in half. You slam someone up against a
blackboard, it’s gonna crack.
There were also ways kids were straightened out. There was a thing of a wood project for all
kids in class, lil’ wooden paddles. Anyone got way out of line, everyone in the class stand up,
spread your legs, take the paddle in your hand, whop the one on the behind, that’s goin’ be
crawling through. Don’t think anybody ever had to crawl through, think the thought kept
everyone in ship shape, they call it “swingin’ power”.
Back in those early days, there were all kinds of paddles, paddles for ping pong, paddles to move
a canoe, to keep it on the move, and change it’s course, when it got out of hand, or when you
made a decision to go off another way. There were many types of paddles, some with a purpose
of changing your mind or to turn your thoughts. This type came with holes in it almost like a
cribbage board. Yet these holes went all the way through the unit. Was a wood project, for
everyone, the first day of wood shop, everybody made one. They were for swingers and bottoms.
Never was one used, but a point was made clear, holes, gave those paddles the extra speed.
Bottles, made of glass came in various sizes, ½ pints to drink with your school lunch at Patrick
Henry. Course whole milk, the long neck milk bottle with cream on top. Then was the glass
jug, maybe clay for the good stuff?
A pleasant gathering of friends, you were given time to eat, I’m sure, bag lunchers or hot
lunchers. So after eating and conversin, what did you do with the remaining time? If I recall
right, there was ample time. Was time for swinging, time for exercise, might say, out in the hall,
just outside the lunchroom door, was a lil’ room, no, not a rest room. A room where dust mops
and the likes were kept for use. A table or shelf there, not sure, on which a 45 speed record
player set, by its side were 45 speed records on a rack, brought by those going to school there.
They were played during the lunch hours, course, those that liked dancing did so freely. The
Lindy was a popular dance at that time, those skirts and dresses were flying and happiness was
shared. Don’t know if this still goes on a Patrick Henry, but to me, it’s a good way to get along
with the teaching staff, good exercise. After lunch hour a time to rest up and learn. Guess when
I was in school, I daydreamed a lot and admired those around me, think that went on with
Study halls were good too. Think maybe 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students all shared the same
time in the study hall, in the lunchroom. All classes shared the same tables, maybe a way of
mixin’ friends, and meetin’ together with others. Come to think of it, seats weren’t assigned in
the lunchroom. You just sat on a bench by whatever table, kind of nice. Sometimes you sat
across from someone and a good conversation started, somebody you had never talked with
before, it was a good thing.
Can’t remember any ink wells at Henry. No dippin’ pig tails in them. Could be I was seeing a
change in the girls. Course I saw that years ago too, and admired it then too. Hair styles were a
changin’ , ponytails came into style. I think Audrey Hepburn had something to do with that.
She was good at changing others’ hair styles, like when she acted in the movie, “Sabrina” she
changed many hairdos. That happened to girls but could never happen to guys. How about
engineer boots, from the movie, “Rebel Without a Cause”? Many a pair
of boots sold, the trend
School was different back in the 50’s. Girls were not allowed to wear slacks, pants, jeans, or the
likes, ‘cept on the days when there were football games and the likes. Course years later, after
we were out of school, many years later, women started wearing pant suits. Styles have come
and gone, jamaicas were in and the out, and now are back in. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, and on
for many years, if a girl wore a high turtle neck sweater, it only meant one thing, sum’ptin was
being covered up. Once in a while, in the clinic where I go, there’s this nurse. She would look at
me and just smile. “Bill”, she would say, “you may be getting’ old, but your mind is still in tact.
We all remember the old days too. The girl in the turtleneck walks by, we all smile, she smiles
back. If she only knew what we were all thinking about. The 50’s were good times as were the
40’s. Different times but good times.
The inkwell, one of the necessities of life in the early day, being how there were to “Bics” or
“Papermates”. It had many purposes, straightened out minds for a short time. It gave a tang to
fingers and a tint to hair and clothes. It covered up a lot of things too, such as life.
Now am referrin’ to my early childhood at Loring Elementary School. At one time I thought I’s
be going there forever, forever’s a long, long time.
Once upon a time, and that was long, long ago, there was this lil’ boy named Billy. Still has me
wondering if that’s the who they named those old goats after, after me? Anyway, seems this Billy
had a way with ink wells, in school, we had these one piece wooden desks. The writing part of
the desk was the back rest of the desk in front of you and that backrest seat attached to that. In
other words, the person sitting in the seat in front of you, the back rest of their seat was
attached to the writin’ part of you desk. I’ll get a picture of the drawing on a separate page. The
seat you were settin’ on . in turn, the backrest of your seat, was attached to the writing part of
the desk behind you. It worked fine, just sounds complicated. These desks were all nailed or
attached to the floor.
May sound like I’m antique, not necessarily, this was another form of your times, the “Rapp”. In
the upper right corner of the desk was this jar made of glass, don’t even remember a cap on it.
Suzy sat in the desk in front of me. She was a cute lil’ blonde, pig tails in her hair, bright
ribbons, cute smile, I liked her. She grew, not to be so fond of me. Wasn’t her fault, most the
way through Loring, they set me behind girls with pig tails, was something to do with my
Here’s the ink well, here’s Suzy’s pig tails. Like a lil’ sunfish, just bumping a hooked worm, not
to get caught. There’s these pig tails bumpin’ round the openin’ of thet’ ink well, tormenting
your mind, like when are they goin’ for a dip? Goes on day after day, week after week, seem year
after year. No ball point pens in dem’ days, no bics, no papermates, or the likes. I may be
antique, but not as old as your thinkin’. We were beyond writin’ with feathers or quills. We
had these fountain pens and blotters, if the ink got too thick on the paper. Dip and rite’, dip n’
rite’, dip n’ rite , dip n’ rite, dip n’ rite’, now that’s a rapp, good beat to it. Dip n’ rite. Once in a
while swingin’ to da’ rapp, the pig tails are a swingin’ too. “nuff of det’ dip’, dip’, dip’, dip’, dip’,
n’ rapp’. It was all set up for me, teachur’ snuck up behind me with her ruler, straight edge,
knuckles, rapp’ rapp’ rapp’.
Mr. Bill Jackman remembers hundreds of stories about growing up in the Camden area (see back in the day Camden pictures here) and attending Patrick Henry and Loring School. Last year, in the 71st year of his life he began writing down and illustrating those stories. All of his stories are handwritten.
Hope the youth at Henry like this history of the early days. This way they know what the early days were like and not all us kids were perfect, not me especially. I got in my share of problems, like swimmin' against the current, might say, ink wells, dunce stools, etc. God bless the youth of today. I just hope you give them dance music outside of lunchroom.
Patrick Henry's friend, Bill Jackman '56 sends out a New Year's letter to all.