Biography of Jack Gator Part I

Sometime ago, in the last century, Jack was born in Minneapolis at Swedish Hospital. His parents were doing OK as they both worked and Jack was put in the care of his Grandparents for a bit. Out in a western suburb called Golden Valley. At that time, his father was working for the Minneapolis fire department and his mother worked downtown for the school administration.

It worked for the family and besides, Jack had a sister that was four when he was born. She helped for five years. Sis went to school in the one room school right on the highway a few miles away. No buses then, they hadn’t been invented yet. I have no memory of how she got there. Maybe cut across the golf course

Life out there in the valley was pretty bucolic, a big truck garden to joyfully weed by sis and I. Grandpa was a Mpls fire department chief and my dad was a fireman at station 16’s. The both smoked pipes and it wasn’t high quality Latakia tobacco either. Seemed an odd habit for firemen.

Jack had a neighbor friend, Freddy and they lived right across the fence line at the southwest corner. I exploited Freddie’s friendship in a way. All I can remember of him was his super electric train set in his basement. Hours we would spend down there. I never got him to help weed the big garden and I never really knew him. Maybe that happens more often than I realized. It worked as he was probably just as bored as I was. No climbing trees, no forts. We did go fishing in Bassets creek however. It was right across the road from the big fancy Golden Valley golf course. The creek was fairly narrow but to me, it was a mysterious river. Adventure unknown.

Once I got a hold of a fish that was so big, I could not raise it from the water. No one believed the story but I still remember it. Maybe it was a big Sturgeon! Probably a nasty cat fish or bullhead. Looking back at it, I suddenly realize that it’s not the catching that was important. It was being a part of the fish and the water having business together. A. I just got to go along with for a brief time as they did business with me too. Lasting and poetic things we did. Catch the spirit and never release it for life.

The golf course was a good place to slip into (before the six foot chain link fencing) and golf balls abounded in the creek. Pretty good, easy money for my sister and I. It was a water hazard and the golfers were very grateful for us. These days we would probably be detained or scolded. Different times, last half of the twentieth century.

When I got old enough to go to school with my sister, we had to move. A neighbor that took offense at us, turned my dad in for being a city employee that did not live in the city. Grandpa fire chief had a bit more seniority and was close to retirement, so he got to stay there. He made stuff in his basement for the Shriners. I remember the huge scimitar with lights all around the perimeter he made. They might still use it for the Shrine Circus.

Grandma was a tough old Norwegian that made the best deep fried doughnut holes on the planet. She loved me and I loved her too. She was an orphan from superior but I never did hear how she and Gramps met. A lot of family history was just gone for me until I really wanted to know it. So there we were in a stucco and brick house in North Minneapolis and it was time for me to go to kindergarten. It was only five blocks away so I walked. It was OK. I enjoyed the time alone and got to eat my lunch at home alone with the TV on the linoleum counter. It was tuned to ‘Lunch with Casey’ A guy with a railroad engineer outfit and a sidekick named ’roundhouse Rodney’ We were rich. We had two TV’s with rabbit ears too! (too be continued) It’s pretty good. Jack Gator A. George MacDonald The Highlanders last song.

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