Growing Up Johnny

A 1950’s World – Safe Unto Itself

Johnny Jackson was born in Cleveland Heights August 30th, 1948 and grew up the middle child of seven in the northeastern hamlet of Hudson, Ohio. It was a time and a place where every young boy and girl should grow up. A 1950’s world safe unto itself which, if you can believe it, actually encouraged kids to roam freely and play to their innocent hearts’ content outdoors under the sun ’til the clang from mom’s dinner bell summoned them home every evening at 5:30.


There were no distractions, the pace was unhurried…perfect really…and everything was just right. Better yet, rock and roll began banging out the background music which lifted youthful exuberance to a level North America has never known since. “I would not trade my days as a kid for anyone’s, nor would any of my friends. It wasn’t just good, it was great!”

A Christmas Morning Memory

Johnny Writes:

Christmas Morning 1958Johnny's New Workbench

Christmas Morning 1958
Johnny’s New Workbench

“As a kid, I always loved making small stuff in my father’s basement wood shop, i.e. spice racks, boxes to bury dead animals in, toy guns, knives and spears, etc. John C. Jackson Sr had skills, too, and would have much preferred an artisan’s lifestyle over his “mad man” career in Cleveland if not for seven needy offspring.


As the story goes; on Christmas morning 1958 he led his 10 year old namesake [that would be me] down to the “cellar” and briskly pulled off an old army blanket covering an appropriately sized pine workbench he’d made special just for me. My jaw dropped to the concrete floor in complete surprise and astonishment. This was no play workbench, folks; this was the real deal!


A brand new Craftsman wood vice mounted solidly flush with a two-board-thick deck, a wide backboard with real tools hanging from clips and pegs, crosscut saws, hammers, screw drivers and chisels all gleaming by the light of bare incandescent bulbs slung from floor joists above. Soon after, dad also [bravely] taught me how to use his ’50’s Craftsman table saw.


The fact that I still have all ten fingers is a testament to the quality of his instruction, too. These moments are indelible and to this day, I still use that workbench, those shiny tools and his old Craftsman 10” tilting arbor saw. My father died young at 56 during my Freshman year at PCA. Regrettably, he missed every step of my career in wood working, too.”

A Young Johnny Jackson in the News

Tribe ‘Hall of Fame’ Exhibit In Hudson

Display is Work of Two Local Boys

Johnny and Tim on the phone

JOHN JACKSON SITS BY ANXIOUSLY awaiting word from Tim Weidman that their call to Bob Feller got through. The boys are hoping the former Indians star pitcher will agree to visit their Hall of Fame this weekend.


While the activities of their boys may be trying at times, two Hudson mothers need not worry about their sons being involved in any juvenile delinquency.


The boys in question are John Jackson and Tim Weidman, sons of Mr. and Mrs. John Jackson. 100 College street, and Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Weidman. 36 Baldwin street. The boys, both of which will start Junior High in the fall, are currently sponsoring their own Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame.


THE HALL OF FAME idea first popped into Tim’s mind last winter. His first plan was to have a general baseball hall of Fame. After talking with John. Tim decided to narrow the display down to the Cleveland Indians.


Since January, Tim and John have spent their space time making drawings, signs and gathering baseball equipment.


THE HALL OF FAME exhibit, which opened Sunday. July 17, is in the garage at the Weidman home. Sunday. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of this week interested Hudson area residents visited the unusual display room. Ten cents admission is charged, all proceeds going to the United Fund.


Today and tomorrow from 2:30 to 5 p.m. the boys will continue to have their Hall of Fame open to the public. As added attractions, free lemonade will be served, a ball autographed by the Indians will be given as a door prize, and baseballs autographed by Bob Feller will be given away.


TIM AND JOHN were busy earlier this week trying to get Feller to come to the Hall of Fame today or tomorrow. Although his schedule would not allow for a trip to Hudson, the former Cleveland player did promise to send the autographed baseballs.


The Hall of Fame consists of pictures and baseball equipment relating to the history of the tribe. Two pictures in particular depict the line drive which seriously injured Herb Score in 1957 and the crucial fifth game of the 1920 World Series.


If nothing else, visitors will get 10 cents worth of chuckles when they see Cleveland grounds­keeper Emil Bossard’s equipment stacked in a corner of the room.


Hudson Hornets

The Hudson Hornets, Top Class F Team

Hudson Hornets, Top Class F Team


THE HUDSON HORNETS, top team in the Greater Akron Baseball Federation, Class F, Little League, took time out for a team picture before a tournament game recently. The HORNETS won 12 and lost 1. during regular season play.


Shown top row, I. to r. are: John Jackson, Jim Bobinchek, Paul Bartlo, Bill Roney, and Chris Ensign. Middle row, I. to r. are: Phil Snyder, Jim Sprague, Dan Lewis, and Jeffrey Camp. Front row, I. to r. are: George Shepard, Barry Hunter, Tim Weidman, and Dan MacLellan.


Absent were Jim Scolaro, Jim Bidell, and Jerry Sanders. The HORNETS are managed and coached by Dave Clark and Dick Hartz. Diane Clark is scorekeeper and the team’s most loyal supporter.

Johnny’s Start in Music

Johnny Writes:

Hudson High School Talent Show Johnny Center and Johnny Jackson on stage at the Hudson High School Talent Show May, 1966

Hudson High School Talent Show

Johnny Center and Johnny Jackson on stage at the Hudson High School Talent Show May, 1966

“People sometimes ask what it was got me started in music? “Dynamite.” I say without hesitation. “Yea, that tune in the early 1950’s by Little Miss Dynamite, Brenda Lee.” It’s absolutely true. First time I heard it on the radio, that was it: my 180 pivot point. I went immediately upstairs to my room, fished a dollar out of my paper route collection box and ran, no sprinted, downtown to the record store to buy the 45. I played that record to shreds in the weeks and months after. I spun it on our old RCA Victor Monaural so many times it must have driven my mother nuts! But, she never took it off the turntable. She either didn’t want to crush whatever was going on inside me or, she was grateful this obsession kept me occupied while she was pregnant and looking after a two and four year old. Whatever the case, it was “Dynamite” blasted the way to my musical career.


I bought my first guitar at a music store in Cleveland just after turning 16. The even toned Zim Gar classical with small-ish body and thin neck drained $35.00 from my bank account but was worth every penny. It even smelled good; a spicy raw mahogany scent wafting into my nostrils with every strum. To me, it sounded every bit as sweet as Peter Yarrow’s and Paul Stookey’s top-of-the-line classical guitars, too. Especially when sprawled in the back seat of momma’s ’64 Plymouth wagon with the windows rolled up figuring out Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind, the first song I taught myself to play and sing.


Then came an infatuation with the 12 string and a [fortuitous] trade-up to the upright piano-like sound of a nice little Gibson B-25. [Oh, where for art thou?] This accompanied me through high school until forsaken for a beautiful blond…a dreadnaught Goya 12 string; the perfect match for a young man’s broadening palm and sinewy long fingers. Eventually, however, even this calliope of sound gave way the guitar of all acoustical guitars, a Guild D-40 purchased in 1967 at a 2nd hand store in Philadelphia. To this day, this handsome instrument rests obediently on its bedside stand; awaiting repairs which will never come; still looking marvelous darling but, sadly, its days played out. Sorry, old friend, but nothing, not even me, lasts forever.


Hmm. That may not be entirely true. I mean, if anything has a chance to last forever it’s gotta’ be the sound of my Fender P-base. They say Rock and Roll will never die! Right! God knows I’ve played my share since 1957 so, maybe all those heavy bottom notes I twanged are out there right now rollin’ along somewhere in space, actually gathering mass and volume instead of dissipating into the cosmos. Better plug your ears, folks ’cause when it comes back around, it’s gonna’ be dynamite!”

Highlights of the Family Photo Album