Chester and Marie Jackson
Mom and Dad loved
to travel. In 1930 our family of four went by auto≠mobile to
Yellowstone Park. That was a long and difficult trip in those
days. The dirt roads turned to an impassible "gumbo" on rainy
days. The clutch on our car gave out in the Bighorn Mts. of
Wyoming. We had to be towed back to Buffalo, WY. for repairs. For
a precious week of vacation we stayed in Buffalo waiting for a
replacement part from Denver to arrive and be installed in our car.
The original trip plan included a visit to my
fatherís brother, Bartlett, who lived in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Because of the time needed for the car repairs, we had just enough
time to go to Yellowstone Park and return to Minneapolis. We never
did go to visit Bart.
In 1934 our family went to Chicago for the
national convention of the National Association of Retail
Druggists. My father was a delegate from Minnesota. Mother and I
went to several events scheduled for delegate's families, all very
While in Chicago, we rented an apartment owned
by friends of Russell and May Utberg. During that time, we got
together with Lawrence and Othello Utberg as well as Russell and
May. That's the only time I remember seeing Othello.
The Worlds' Fair was also being held in Chicago
at that time. We spent several days there as a family.
Sally Rand, the fan dancer, was performing in
Chicago at the time. I still don't understand how my sister and I
convinced our mother to take us to a performance, but we did.
Mother acted shocked by the performance, but I think she really
wanted to go and see for herself what all the excitement was about.
We just gave her the "push".
In September 1938 our family took a 4080 mile
trip by car to New Orleans, traveling 17 days. Before the trip I
wrote to state and city travel bureaus for information. Our mailbox
overflowed with brochures, advertising, letters, maps, etc. I just
have brief memories of the trip. They include our genteel lady
guide in the French Quarter in New Orleans. She had holes in her
clean white gloves. (She took us to private gardens that are now
closed to the public.) Dad hired a guide to drive us around the
river dock area. The guide also walked us through warehouses. At
one point, many men were unloading a banana boat. Our guide
obtained bananas from them. That was probably the best banana I
ever ate because it was tree ripened. (He also showed us bags of
dried blood from Argentina. I was impressed.)
When we were in the Smoky Mountains, a rear
tire went flat. Children walked along the road as they returned
home from school. As they neared our car, they all went to the
other side of the road, keeping an eye on us all the while. Dad
rarely swore, but when he had to replace a flat tire I heard words I
was unaccustomed to hearing.
I can remember seeing my first cotton field.
Dad stopped the car so we could feel the softness of the cotton
boll. He also stopped the car so I could smell and touch the oozing
pitch on a pine tree. Of course I couldn't get the sticky substance
off my fingers. We finally stopped at a filling station so I could
The trip route took us to the "Little Brown
Church" at Nashua, IA, to Vicksburg, MS, where we toured the Civil
War battlefield, and in to New Orleans.
We stopped at Chattanooga to visit Katherine
Signaigo and to see the parlor in the Park Hotel, where my parents
were married. In Kentucky we went to the Mammoth Cave, Bardstown
My memories of the trip, re-enforced by my
diary entries, are pleasant ones. There were also humorous
incidents along the way about which Marcella and I still reminisce.
My father enjoyed hunting and fishing. I well
remember our fishing trips to Winnibigoshish Lake and to Mille Lac
Lake. My father would get up early in the morning and have a good
wood fire going in the chilly rustic cabin before he called us to
get up. He would be whistling as he bustled around frying eggs and
At some point in time, my parents also owned a
camping trailer which had a large tent and two fold out double
beds. I can barely remember camping in it.
Dad and his long time hunting companion enjoyed
hunting deer and moose in Northern MN. and in Canada. Carol now has
the mounted deer head from a deer shot in Minnesota. When Dad
returned from a hunting trip, he had a pretty "ripe" odor about
him. I can remember Mother reminding him to go to the basement to
shed his dirty clothes before entering the rest of the house. Mom
and Dad ate and enjoyed venison. I didn't share their enthusiasm.
My mother, Hulda Marie Utberg, was born in
Republic, MI on April 30, 1889. She was the fourth daughter and
sixth child of John Oscar and Anna Kather≠ine Olson Utberg, both
Swedish immigrants. Mother went to school and graduated in 1907,
from the Republic public schools. For the next two years she went
to the Michigan State Normal College in Ypsilanti, MI. She
re≠ceived her diploma in June 1909.
In the fall of 1909, H. Marie (as she preferred
to be called) began teaching
in the Republic schools. She
probably taught fourth grade there for at least two years.
Because of records Mother kept of her china
painting expenses, I know she was teaching in Fairmont, MN during
the 1915-1916 school year. Mother met my father in Fairmont when
she made a purchase at Canright Brothers Pharmacy. My father was
employed there as a pharmacist.
Mother may have taught fourth grade again when
she taught in the Detroit public schools during the 1916-1917 and
1917-1918 school years. On Dec. 25, 1916, Mother received a
Christmas gift from Chester Jackson. I know that Mother bought a
piano in Detroit. Also, she was offered a teaching contract for
1918-1919. The principal of the school where Mother taught referred
to her as the ďblonde, fourth grade teacher.Ē Mother went to
Chat≠tanooga, Tenn. and married Chester Jackson on August 9, 1918.
Chester was stationed at Camp Greenleaf, Chickamauga Park, GA, at
that time. He was a sergeant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
During parts of the 1918-1919 school year,
Mother taught at a public school in Chattanooga. Katherine Signaigo
was the principal of the school, and was a close friend of Motherís
for many years.
Miss Signaigo befriended my mother when Mother
was not feeling well during her pregnancy. I met Katherine Signaigo
many years later and was charmed by her warm personality. Bob and I
visited her several times in Chattanooga and took her out for
dinner. I continued to correspond with her until she died about
1980. She was a special person in my motherís life.
My father, Chester Orrin Jackson, was born in
Ottawa Township, Le Sueur County, MN on August 17, 1888. He was the
second son and fifth child of DeWitt Clinton and Cynthia Ann Couch
Jackson. Dad grew up on his parentís farm near Cleveland, MN. It
was a hard life, and Dad evidently decided to get an education and
get away from the farm. Why he decided to become a pharmacist, and
where he got the money to go to school remains a mystery to me. He
went to college at the Highland Park College in the Des Moines, IA
from the fall of 1909 through July 1913 when he graduated. His
degree was Pharmaceutical Chemist. He became a Registered
Pharmacist in Iowa in July 1913, and in Minnesota July 1917.
Dad worked as a pharmacist at the State
Hospital for the Criminally Insane (St. Peter), and at Canright
Brothers Pharmacy in Fairmont, MN before enlisting in the U.S.
Army. His discharge paper from the U.S. Army states that Chester O.
Jackson enlisted when he was 29 3/12 years of age; was a pharmacist;
had brown eyes, brown hair, fair complexion, and was 5 feet 5 1/2
inches in height. He said that he would not have been drafted for
service in World War I because of his age, but chose to volunteer
for service. I think his basic training was at Jefferson Barracks,
St. Louis MO.
Following Chesterís discharge from the Army, in
late April 1919, my parents moved to Minneapolis, MN. They first
lived in a three room furnished flat at 31st Street and Pillsbury
Ave. From July 19 to September 1922, they lived in a four-room
apartment in a four plex at 2533 Blaisdell Ave. During this time
both my sister and I were born.
Mother used to tell me how hard up they were
during this period. She said that Dad went to work in his service
uniform because they didn't have the money for him to buy a suit.
In 1919 Dad worked as a pharmacist at a
drugstore at Cedar Ave. and Lake St. for $25 a week. He also did
relief work in the evenings at Gould Pharmacy. at 50th St. and
Bryant Ave. South to earn extra income.
Dad began working for E. A. Higgins at his
pharmacy at 26th St. and Nicollet Ave. in 1920. He earned $37.50 a
week, plus $5.00 a week for doing the porters' job. For additional
income he also worked as a relief pharmacist at the Kline Pharmacy
and the Gould Pharmacy.
Sometime between 1920 and 1923, my father and
Mr. Higgins operated the Higgins and Jackson Pharmacy at 4101
Chicago Ave. S. In December 1923 my father bought out Mr. Higgins
for $3,000. The business then became known as the Jackson
The family home that I remember, at 4125
Columbus Ave. S, was purchased for $6,250.00 in August 1922. My
parents took possession of the property on Sept. 1, 1922. They paid
off the mortgage in seven years.
My memories of growing up in Minneapolis are
what I call "peepholes" to the past. That is, I can only remember
brief scenes, with no memory of what happened before or after. They
would include the mile long walk four times a day between our home
on Columbus Ave. and Bancroft Elementary School
on 38th St. and 14th Ave. In extremely cold weather, I carried my
lunch to school and ate it there, sitting on the gymnasium floor.
On these days, I stopped at the drugstore where my father would give
me a Hershey bar to add to my lunch. My mother put ginger ale in my
thermos bottle. I remember how surprised the teacher looked when
she pulled out the cork and found ginger ale instead of milk in my
thermos bottle. As a child, I walked quickly. In fact some of my
friends asked to me to slow down because their sides hurt when they
tried to walk at my pace. During one year at Bancroft Elementary
School, I was not allowed to take part in the physical education
activities. Instead, I was allowed to walk around outside in the
neighborhood of the school during that time. Our family doctor
apparently found something irregular about my heart, and forbade my
running or other vigorous physical activity. My mother had quite a
time with me as I enjoyed playing "Kick the Can" in the alley behind
Marcella and I found many ways to entertain
ourselves at home. We played "office" using the clothes chute.
Messages were sent up and down the chute attached to a long piece of
string. We also played "waitress" by taking a simple food order and
preparing it. Another game involved throwing pennies into the air
in the kitchen, then crawling around on the floor looking for them.
We also played "house" in the basement. Under the dining room table
there was a perfect place to leave "messages". These were written
in ďPig Latin" the newest rage at the time.
Sometimes we had disagreements as children will
do. The kitchen door at the top of the basement steps still has the
marks (in 1972) I left in it from kicking it with my shoes.
Marcella had locked the door and I wanted to get into the kitchen.
When Marcella would be upset with our parents,
she would stomp her feet and say "I don't belong in this family".
Shortly after she was born in the hospital she was given to the
wrong woman to nurse. But Marcella had heard the story and perhaps,
as a young child, felt there had been a mistake. Marcella had red
hair and was quite unlike me in appearance. As she grew older, she
looked very much like our cousin, Joyce Ann Peach.
As we grew older we rode our bicycles all over
south Minneapolis. We went as far as Minnehaha Park. There we
carried our bicycles down a steep stair to Hidden Valley, then went
into caves to gather white sand. We colored the sand at home and
put it into bottles creating designs. One day, while in a cave, a
patient from the nearby Veteran's Hospital joined me gathering
sand. Later when my mother asked me about a man being in the cave
with me I realized that was something I shouldn't allow to happen
again. I didn't know why. I just knew from the way my mother spoke
that something was wrong with it.
We also rode our bicycles to Nokomis Park. I
well remember the sunburns we acquired on our backs during the long
hot rides. One day a tire on my bicycle went flat. I had to "walk"
the bicycle home from Nokomis Park.
Our parents very patiently took us to beaches
in Minneapolis to swim. One of our favorites, although the beach
was rocky, was at the 46th St. and Lake Harriet. It was there that
I ruptured an ear drum while playing on the guard rope for the
As a child I remember numerous ear infections,
cotton in my ears to soak up the drainage, ear specialists who had
round shiny mirrors on their foreheads, and much pain. My right
eardrum has a perforation to this day. The left eardrum is heavily
Mother took us to numerous parades, fireworks
displays, "personal appearances" by movie stars, celebrity
motorcades, etc. One Sunday she took us to a motorcycle hill climb
out on France Avenue. When we returned to the large parking lot,
Mother couldn't find the car. We waited until many of the cars left
the lot before we spotted our car.
Because the movie theater at 48th and Chicago
Ave. had an advertising sign in the Jackson Pharmacy side window, my
parents were given free limited time movie tickets. One night my
mother, Marcella and I went in our car intending to see a movie. As
usual we were short of time. Mother parked the car on Chicago Ave.
in the 4700 block. We all got out of the car in a hurry and locked
the doors. However, the motor was still running and the keys were
in the ignition. Mother found a man who lifted the hood and stopped
the motor from running. After Dad finished working at the drugstore
at 11 P.M, he walked the six-plus blocks to the car, and opened the
car doors with his extra set of keys. We all checked more carefully
after that episode before we locked our car doors.