Schools I’ve Attended – Jordan Jr. High

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.We rented the house on Fremont Avenue for only a few months in 1962. During the summer of 1962, Budgar[i] bought a duplex at 2419 Bryant Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN and we moved there. We lived downstairs and had renters living upstairs. Grandma Kees lived with us for a short time. Budgar and her argued all the time. He called her a liar and she knew he was an abuser. In any event, Budgar threw Grandma Kees out before Christmas, 1962.  It is interesting that I have no photos whatsoever of anyone at that house. Not me, not my mother, not Budgar, not even my sister Sharon, who was born in the fall of 1962.

Budgar wouldn’t give me an allowance. He said I needed to earn my way. So, while living on Bryant, I had a paper route most of the time. I always delivered the morning paper. I’d get up about 3:30, get my papers about 4 am, and have my route delivered by 5:30. I’d be home by 6 for breakfast and to get ready for school.

Photo of 2419 Bryant Ave N, Minneapolis, MN in May, 2013.
2419 Bryant Avenue – Today (May 2013)

Across the street from where we lived on Bryant was the Franklin Junior High attendance area. Likewise, two blocks south was also Franklin Junior High attendance area, so we lived just about as far away from Jordan Junior High as was possible and still be in the Jordan attendance area. During the winter, some of my friends and I would hop on the back bumper of the city bus. It was really dangerous because the bumpers on the bus only stuck out about a half an inch and the sign on the back of the bus wasn’t sturdy enough to rely upon.  Better than the city bus, we learned the route a postman took and could hop the back of his mail truck for several blocks. We’d also just hop the back fenders of moving cars occasionally.  I think all of us could hop off the back of a car moving at 30 miles per hour without falling. On really snowy days we would just grab a passing vehicle and slide on our shoes for blocks on the snow-packed streets. Budgar hollered at me a couple of times about my needing to walk and not shuffle my feet as I was going through shoes way to fast. Little did he know…. I remember putting linoleum inside my shoes to make it through the summer and not need new shoes until winter.

I attended all three years of Junior High at Jordan starting with 7th grade in 1962 and completing 9th grade in 1965. It was the longest I ever attended a school. There were a couple of excursions during that time, but more about them later. I remember school lunches at Jordan (after my grandmother moved out) or any other school I ever attended.

Photo of Mr. Goodrich in 1963
Mr. Goodrich in 1963 Source: Jordanian 1963

By the time I got to the 9th grade, I was pretty much incorrigible and continually battled with Budgar and with my teachers. I had a Home Room teacher named Mr. Goodrich. He and I didn’t get along at all. I think I received the paddle from him every day for two weeks straight. I am sure I was the bane of his existence in 1965. Within the 20-minute homeroom period, I pretty much always smarted off. Sometimes, I’d be sent down to the Vice-principal’s (Mr. Carlson’s) office, but mostly, Mr. Goodrich and I would step out into the hallway, and he’d give me from one to three good swats with a paddle, depending upon what I had done. For me, it was something of a game and a mark of status in the school.

Music Room, Jordan Jr. High (c. 1937)

During junior high, I learned that I was good at almost everything scholastic and I didn’t need to study. I did great in science and math, very good in history, civics, and social studies, and about average in English. I was a klutz in sports. Even though I once did 1000 sit-ups without stopping, I couldn’t climb a rope up 20 feet in gym class. (I had core strength but no upper body strength). I did well in the shop classes they had, particularly well in print shop but I still did okay in woodworking and metal shop as well. I got a few stitches in my head because in woodshop someone came around the corner with the base for a soapbox derby car and smacked me in the head by accident. I was also in the school orchestra and learned how to play the cello using a school-owned instrument. I had enough skill that my orchestra teacher suggested I try out for the Minneapolis Junior Symphony Orchestra. I asked Budgar to buy a cello for me. Of course, he wouldn’t. I had to have my own instrument to be considered for the Junior Symphony and couldn’t afford one on my newspaper delivery income, so I never had a chance to try out. I wonder how different my life would have been had he purchased that cello… I still love the sound of the cello; it is my favorite instrument.

Jordan Junior High School, Minneapolis, MN (1924 photo)

I remember gaining some “cred” when a school bully was picking on skinny little me. (I was probably over 6 foot and under 135 pounds in 9th grade.) We were to meet in the alley behind Frank’s Grocery store, a half a block from the school.  He and I fought; there were probably 50 kids there to see the fight. My first punch was a lucky punch that broke his nose; after that, I kept hitting on it whenever I could. Blood everywhere. Don hit me a few times but nothing damaging. After a few minutes of fighting, the police showed up, and everybody ran. Neither Don nor any of the other school kids messed with me after that. I didn’t look for fights, and they didn’t look for me either.

Jordan Junior High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Photo of Jordan Jr. High during demolition, 1985
Jordan Jr. High during demolition, 1985.

Jordan Junior High was at 29th and Irving Avenues in North Minneapolis. It was named after Charles Morison Jordan, a Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. The school opened in 1922. It was razed in 1985. Today the school location is Jordan Park. Next to it is the Hmong International Academy.


[i] Budgar is a combination of “Bud” my step-father’s nickname and “Edgar” his actual first name. In the 1960s, I always called him “Bud,” and I learned to call him “Budgar” later in life.

Grandma Donna’s Chili Rice

Donna Darling Collection – Part 4

Treasure Chest Thursday

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.My grandmother, Donna, was a good cook. My mom says that Donna didn’t let her into the kitchen much and Donna never taught my mother how to cook. Consequently, I am sad to say, my mom is one of the worst cooks I’ve ever known.  She cooked a turkey once and didn’t remove the giblets bag before cooking.

However, Donna was a good cook and generally cooked “comfort food.” I remember eating a lot of “hot dish” as a kid. Even if it wasn’t in a casserole bowl, the meat, vegetables, and starch were all cooked together into a single dish – Things like chicken & dumplings, Hungarian goulash, and, of course, chili-rice. No recipes were passed down that I know of.  However, the recently found Donna Darling collection had one handwritten recipe for her chili rice.

I forgot that she used tomato juice often when cooking. She cooked rice and elbow macaroni in a mix of tomatoes and tomato juice often. I hadn’t heard of the “Mexene chili powder” used in this recipe until I looked it up and found that it is a brand name and is still available.

I think it is interesting that her recipe calls for a tablespoon of fat. They must have had really lean hamburger in those days. Anyway here is Donna’s recipe:

Grandma Donna’s Chili Rice

  • Handwritten Recipe of Donna's Chili Rice
    Recipe – Grandma Donna’s Chili-Rice

    2# Hamburger

  • 1 Tablespoon fat
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup        “        onions
  • 1 cup        “        gr peppers
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • ¾ cup rice
  • Mexene chili powder
  • 1 can tomato juice
  • Kidney beans

No directions were with the note, but I think it is just a put it all together and cook until the rice is eatable. I guess use the Mexene Chili Powder to your personal taste.

Anyway, I’m going to have to make up some of Grandma Donna’s Chili Rice and see if taste memories kick in.

Please, if you makes some, I’d love to see a picture of your finished product and your comments about it.

Memories – My First Pet

Memories – My First Pet – Ginger?
Me playing with Ginger
Christmas Morning c. 1958
I was recently asked about my first pet. I thought immediately about “Ginger,” a ginger colored cat we had back in the late 1950s. Not only did Ginger love to play, but she liked to “hang out.” She was a great cat. I knew that I had a couple photos of her so I decided to find them. When I found photos of Ginger I realized a previous blog I wrote was wrong. When I wrote about my first television a couple weeks ago I completely forgot about having a television while we lived in Fridley. There, in the background of me playing with Ginger, was a television. Oh my. 
Ginger “hanging out” in my
tent. c. 1960
I then thought about memories and how we often need triggers to recall them. Because of that photo with Ginger, I knew that we had a television years earlier than I had recalled before. I don’t recall watching it, but now I know we had one. That makes me wonder about what was my first pet. I know about and remember Ginger because I have photos of her and me together. I remember that Christmas and her being totally freaked out by the electric train set I received that year. However, I believe that I remember Ginger, that Christmas, and the train set because I have reinforced that memory through seeing these photos over the years. So, was Ginger really my first pet, or did I have pets before her that I don’t remember because we don’t have any photos? Certainly, it is possible.
Donna with “Wolf” & a cat, c. 1951
I have a photo of my grandmother with a dog, Wolf, and a cat. It is from about 1951. My grandmother lived with us then so we must have had pets then. I just don’t recall either of them. The photo makes me wonder just how long we had Wolf and that cat. Were they replaced when I was a child and I just don’t recall them because we don’t have any photos of them? Maybe, maybe not, I just don’t know because I don’t have the photos to trigger those memories.
I guess the take away from this is that there is a need to take photos of family members, particularly young ones, with their pets. Those photos may be the basis for warm memories for their entire lives. Memories like my playing with Ginger on Christmas morning or memories of Ginger hanging out in my tent.

Pets of my Family

Aunt Barbara says: I grew up in the Chicago Julia Lathrop housing project and pets weren’t allowed…ha..ha..ha..I had a pet it was a little turtle I called him Turtle. He would get loose every so often and be gone for days

My niece Kerresa: Oh so many pets I guess the first pet of mine would be Dee Dee the extra furry pony when I was around five. I don’t remember how it got named Dee Dee maybe because she/he walked soooo slow. But my mom and aunt have always been into horses so naturally I loved it.

My sister-in-law Libby: Growing up we had a family cat named Meow Pinkel Purr. [The name] came from a book of poems [which included “Pinkle Purr” by A. A. Milne.] The first line was, “Tattoo was the mother of Pinkel Purr.”

My sister-in-law Liz: The family has always had either a couple of cats or a dog. Sunbug and George were the cats I grew up with and Tesha was our dog, My own cat wasn’t until I got Casey for Christmas when I was living in the Brookside building in the 90s. That cat went everywhere around the old Down East building with me.

My great niece Maggie: The first pet that I remember was a cockatiel named Amadeus. I was 6 or 7, I think (maybe [Libby] can confirm that), living in Indiana. I chose that name because I had recently seen the movie.

Future Actions 
Take lots of photos of family members interacting with their pets and print those photos for permanent use.

———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Memories – Kid Shows and Poker with Grandma.

By Don Taylor

I’ll admit it. I grew up with television.  Every morning it was TV time.  During the summer, and other times when there
wasn’t school, it was TV for lunch (“Lunch with Casey” comes to mind), too. And, of course, after school was filled
with more kid programs.  It was the golden age
of television and kid programs of early 1960s were wonderful. 

House at 8316 Monroe still stands (Modern Picture)
Photo by Don Taylor
Probably my fondest memories of television were when we
lived in Spring Lake Park (A suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota.  It was a tiny little one-bedroom house, about
780 square feet.  I didn’t have a bedroom;
rather, my bedroom was the “breezeway” between the house and the garage. In the
summer, it was glorious, but in the winter, the unheated room, without
insulation, which had louvered windows was a bit chilly. So, when I’d get up in
the morning it was quick into the main part of the house to warm up.
I was 11 or 12 years old – fifth and sixth grades – when we
lived there. I was an early riser.  Most
of the year, I’d have cold cereal, but in the winter my grandmother (Donna)
would make hot Purina or Cream of Wheat for me. Thinking about, it we were
pretty much a Ralston Purina household. 
We ate Chex, for the most part, when it wasn’t hot cereal. However,
mostly morning was getting ready for school, watching cartoons, and playing poker.
I was usually up by 6:30AM when “Siegfried and his Flying
Saucer” came on WCCO. Siegfried wasn’t really a cartoon; he was a drawing that
was put on screen.  No animation, just a
drawing. My memory is a bit fuzzy about if he even had a voice but his drawing
was better than the test pattern that was there before the show began. On Siegfried’s
there was also “Wallace the Weather Bear.” Wallace was also nothing but a
drawing on the screen, but he provided the expected high and low temperatures
for the day.  I think there were rain and
snow stickers they added to the drawing of Wallace when appropriate.
At 7AM came “Clancy the Cop.”  John Gallos was the host of the show and was just a nice guy.  I recall he was originally a Keystone Cop but metamorphed into “Clancy the Space Cop” and got a more up-to-date uniform. Fitting for the show that followed Siegfried.  In those days, cops were nice and were there to help people much more than to “protect” as they do now-a-days.  Anyway, he had help on the show from a nurse, Carmen the Nurse.
This early morning time was when my grandmother, Donna,
taught me poker.  We had a couple jars of
pennies, one for her and one for me and played penny poker every morning.  She taught me five-card stud, seven-card
stud, and five-card draw.  I think five’
stud was our favorite game. Years later
I was talking with my mother about my learning poker from “Grams” and she didn’t
recall it.  Maybe we didn’t begin until
after she left for work.  I don’t think
it was a secret, I think that it was just the way the morning were and poker
didn’t occur until I was ready to catch the bus to school.

School was a five-mile bus ride to the Twin Cities Army Ammunition
Plant (TCAAP), also known as the Twin Cities Arsenal.  Spring Lake Park didn’t have enough schools to
support the ballooning boomer generation. Rather than building new schools,
they rented some facilities and the Arsenal was one such place.  It was an odd place, even for its time.  I’m sure they couldn’t use such a place today
as, I recall, it still had bars on many of the windows left over from its World
War II factory days. Interestingly enough, I returned twenty-some years later
when I got a government job with the Defense Contract Administration Services
(DCAS) and inspected the Area Denial Anti-personnel Mine (ADAM) bomblets made
there.  Occasionally, I needed to go to
another building at the facility which was same building I went to for
elementary school twenty years earlier. They had taken the bars off the windows
by then.

Life in Spring Lake Park was great. Kid shows morning, noon,
and evening. Axel and his Dog broadcasting from his “tree house” on “Magic
Island” was the highlight of the afternoon. I think my sense of humor from his
closing poems which, continuing in the Robert Louis Stevenson tradition, always
began with:
“Birdie with a yellow bill, hopped upon my window sill,
cocked a shining eye and said:”
and finished with Axle’s punny endings such as:
“What is that in the road – A Head?”   
“What did you do in Saint Louis – Park?
“What did you do with the light bulb, socket? 
It was a memorable time with many pleasant memories.  Nevertheless, I think the fondest
recollection I have of the Spring Lake Park years was learning poker from “Grams.”

————- DISCLAIMER ————-

Madonna Mae Montran (1893-1976)

52 Ancestors #7 — Madonna Mae Montran (1893-1976)

Madonna’s Early Life

Madonna’s life is defined by her names.  Every part of her incredible life is defined by the name she used.  
Only known photo of
Madonna as a child.
Madonna was born 20 Feb 1893 in Albion, Calhoun County, Michigan, to Ida Barber and John Montran. There is no evidence that Ida and John were ever married.  Although there are indexes that indicate Madonna has a birth certificate in Calhoun county, the County was unable to fine a copy of the certificate.  Sometime later in 1893, Donna’s mother married Max Fisher.  Max, Ida, and Madonna were living in Manistee, Michigan, in 1900 and Madonna was using the last name of Fisher.  
We know that Max died and in 1904, Ida married Jos. Holdsworth.  Jos. was from Minneapolis, which is our first connection with Minneapolis.  We don’t know where they lived, however, by 1910, Ida and Madonna, now Holdsworth, were living in Detroit, Michigan. Living with them was Ida’s mother, Sarah (Blackhurst) Barber, and Harvey Knight who was a “boarder.”
Oral history indicates that Madonna attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada where she learned piano and singing. There is a family story about Madonna getting a job because she went to a music store and sat in the window playing a piano.  Her highly skilled playing helped sell pianos so they let her do so.  From that exposure, she got a job playing the music at silent films in Rochester, New York.
Interestingly enough, neither of her children knew that Madonna married Chester Fenyvessey on 1 Oct 1911 in Lake Erie, Welland, Ontario, Canada. Chester Fenyvessey was a theatrical manager at the Rochester Hippodrome. When Madonna and Chester separated isn’t clear, but by 1914 Madonna had changed her name to “Donna” and left for California.
Donna is standing, fourth from left with cap on.

The Show Business Years

In California Madonna became one of Mack Sennett’s bathing beauties, and activity that would serve her later on in her career.  She also had an uncredited part in “Birth of a Nation,” D.W Griffith’s silent classic.  In the film she was one of the “Dancers of 1862.”  The film released in February, 1915. 

In July, 1915, Donna (Montran) was in Boston and was involved in a publicity stunt where she dropped flyers from a biplane onto spectators. 
In 1916, Donna won a bathing beauty competition at Madison Square Garden.  This was four years before the “Fall Frolic” began which would become the basis of the Miss America competition which began in 1921. In some respects, Donna was a Miss America five years before the pageants began.   Also in 1916, Donna applied to represent Boston at at New York’s Crystal Palace Preparedness Bazaar. She didn’t get the job, but it is clear that she was a considerable beauty for her time. 
In 1919, Donna modeled for the cover of sheet music of the song, “In the Heart of a Fool.”  She also appears to have recorded the music, however, I have been unable to find a copy of the recording. Also, in 1919 Donna began her live stage career. She was in the show “Bonnets” by Charles Smith and Abel Green.  Able Green would go on to be the editor of “Variety” magazine for forty years. 
Also, in 1919 Donna joined the cast of the road version of “Chin Chin” and tour the United States from the east to Oregon and Washington and back. The show continued into 1920.
In September, 1920, Donna began as the headliner for a vaudeville show, “California Bathing Girls.”  Obstensively, it was a review of bathing suits from the 1860s to modern (1920s) times.  As one reviewer said, “it offered nothing more than a leg show.” The show continued well into 1921.
In December, 1921, Donna began a new song and dance review with Murray Walker and Walter Davis who in later billings would be known as “the boys.”  I have a lot more research to do to follow Donna through the 1920, what shows she was in, and who she was with. In most every case, she was the headliner.  Later in the 1920’s she changed her stage name to “Donna Darling.”
I am not quite sure when she met Sammy Clark (aka Samson Amsterdam), probably in 1925 or 1926. They were married and in 1928 they had a son, Russell.  
The depression hit in 1929 and it hit the vaudeville industry hard.  In March of 1930 Donna and Sammy went to Panama.  While in Panama City, Panama, Donna met a US soldier named  Clifford Brown. It appears that Donna was smitten by Clifford and Sammy wasn’t pleased. When they returned in April of 1930, Donna and Sammy were clearly estranged. They had separate cabins on the ship and each identified their address as their individual parent’s homes.  About a year later Donna became pregnant with Clifford’s child. Sammy stayed married to Donna, to “give the child a name” and then quietly divorced her after the birth.
Donna’s second child was born in January, 1932 and they lived in Chicago, right down town.  Donna didn’t want to marry Clifford and there was a lot of stress about that. Apparently Clifford wasn’t happy about the way Donna was raising their child and in April of 1935 Clifford child-napped the daughter and brought her to Minnesota. Donna brought the police to bear and Clifford was arrested and returned to Illinois. Proper extradition wasn’t followed and there are many newspaper articles regarding the illegal arrest by Illinois police in Minnesota. Clifford went to prison in Illinois. When he came out of prison, he changed his name to Richard. Why will always remain a mystery. 

Later Life

Donna moved from Chicago to Grand Rapids, Michigan, about the time Richard was released from prison. In Grand Rapids Donna was living with a Russell Kees.  It is unclear if Donna and Russell were ever legally married, however Donna did take his name, the name she would keep for the rest of her life.  About 1942, Donna, Russell, and the kids moved to Detroit and lived in a house on Olivet. 
Where both Donna and her daughter worked in 1952
Photo from 1920s; however, building was not 
renovated until 1983
Thanks to Hennepin County Library
The Minneapolis Photo Collection
In 1950, Donna’s daughter had a son, named Donald, after Donna. In 1952, Donna and her daughter were living at 1221-1/2 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis and both were working at N

even’s Company, Donna as a seamstress, her daughter as a presser.  Her daughter left Minnesota late in 1953 to have a second child, this time a girl, who was also named “Donna.” When the elder Donna was called and told the news, that it was a girl and was named “Donna,” her daughter asked if she could keep the baby.  The elder Donna said to keep with the plan and put the baby up for adoption. Little Donna’s adoptive parents renamed her Glennis.  During the 1950s Donna was the housekeeper for the family as little Donald’s mother worked to support the family. 

Donna’s Final Years

In 1962, Donna’s daughter married Edgar Matson.  Extreme friction developed between Donna, who had a quick wit and piercing words and Edgar who was very abusive to her daughter and her grandson. Donna was forced to move out into an apartment by herself.  The animosity between Donna and Edgar was so virulent that Edgar promised he would “piss on her grave.”

In the late 1960s, I visited Donna fairly often. I am sad to say it was with ulterior motives. Near where she lived a liquor store would deliver “adult beverages.”  My best friend and I would visit her.  While there, we would order booze. When it arrived, Donna would go to the door and pay for it with money we gave her.  Sometimes we would order some for her as well. But, shortly after the booze arrived, my friend and I would leave, giving Donna our love and appreciation. Sometimes she would show us her scrapbooks, which were filled with clippings from the 1920s and her many show business activities.
Donna died on 14 September 1976. To thwart Edgar’s promise, Donna willed her body to the University of Minnesota to their cadaver program.  Donna was cremated in 1979. Her cremains were buried in a mass grave for University of Minnesota donors at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Sadly, her photos and clippings were lost as Edgar wouldn’t allow anything of Donna’s into his house. 
I am sad to say that I was in the navy when she died and hadn’t seen her for several years.  I never had the opportunity to truly thank her for all she did to raise me for the first twelve years of my life.

Madonna/Donna was an amazing woman, who, while young, lived on the edge. She traveled the country from coast to coast several times, she was in show business and lived life in the fast lane. And in later life she was, in many ways, cast aside and forgotten. 

Madonna’s many names included:

Madonna Montran
Madonna Fisher
Madonna Holdsworth
Madonna Fenyvessey
Donna Montran
Donna Amsterdam
Donna Clark
Donna Darling
Donna Kees

I miss Donna and will celebrate her life, on this the 121st anniversary of her birth.  I’ll give her a four-finger toast tonight, I think she’d like that, and I vow that I will never forget her.