Attend a meeting of the Men’s Club at Oakmont Sterling Assisted, and you’ll no-doubt find Jack – a fixture of the club’s weekly get-togethers. An electrical engineer by trade, and a Detroiter through-and-through, Jack’s story is one of perseverance over poverty, and life-long love.
Surviving the Depression
Like many families in the United States, Jack’s was heavily impacted by the Great Depression. His parents lost most of their money when the banks around them closed and, with it, so did their bank accounts. Luckily, the family was able to survive thanks to a vacant lot they had next door and some fertile soil ripe for planting.
“We had an extra lot there [in St. Clair Shores], and my father grew vegetables and my mother canned,” he recalled. The small urban farm also had plenty of animals including chickens, rabbits, and homing pigeons that would always return to their home after being set free.
At this time, his dad also worked for the Packard Motor Car Company, and when they closed and were bought out by another soon-to-be-closed company, Studebaker, his dad was soon out of a job. “My dad’s pension was just a flat 2,000 for 45 years of service. That didn’t last long, so he went to Curtis Wright when he was in his 60s, and started working on submarine engines.”
Finding a Job; Meeting His Wife
While his father was working to make a living at Curtis Wright, Jack was making his way through Catholic School in the City of Detroit – first at Assumption Grotto and then St. Anthony High School. With no money for college, Jack took on a variety of odd jobs at places like Stroh’s Brewery and Canada Dry before finally landing in electrical engineering at the Square D Company. It was around this time that he met his wife through a friend.
“I met my wife through a friend named Mary,” Jack said. “She said to me, ‘why don’t you get a boyfriend for me and I’ll get a girlfriend for you and we’ll all go on a bowling team. So we did, and that’s how I met my wife, at a bowling alley,” he said, laughing.
An organist by trade who used to play in many of the area churches, his wife would soon give birth to the couple’s six children. After a move to Warren and Sterling Heights, Jack got a job with General Electric, where he continued his work in electrical engineering while attending night school at Lawrence Tech.
A Growing Family
As his children grew and had children of their own (Jack now has 12 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren), his wife, unfortunately, became ill. After living in a condo and serving as her primary caregiver for several years, Jack moved his wife into an assisted living facility so she could continue to be cared for. Now, as a resident of Oakmont Sterling Assisted, he’s enjoying a worry-free lifestyle and remains a fixture at the weekly men’s club meetings.
“I like it here,” he said, referring to Oakmont Sterling Assisted. “It’s very nice, everybody is friendly. The activities keep us busy and the food is good.”