The Life and Times of Jack Heyn

June 2010

There's no way you can write a "little bio" of a life that has spanned 87 years, A child hood in the Great Depression, and Black Blizzards,  WW II and 64 years with the most beautiful girl in the world.  If you want to condense, fine with me.  If you want to delete it, fine with me.  It has given this old man something to take up some time, and I have enjoyed doing it.  Brought back memories, some pleasant, some not so pleasant.

Born March 12, 1923 in Pipestone, Minnesota.  At age one,  Dad took a job as nite foreman in the Ford Garage in Rapid City.  He drove a new Model T (touring type with side curtains) every year.  Summer Sunday afternoons we would drive up and watch them work on Rushmore.  Started 1st Grade at Catholic school and in January  Mom's Dad died in Watertown - 400 miles East.  On a
Sunday afternoon, Dad heated up some bricks in the oven for our feet, and we took off for Watertown, with Mom, Sister and me in back seat, Dad and brother up front.  In those days January  low temps could run any where from 25 to 35 below zero.  Needless to say Dad and brother drove the car back after the funeral, we rode the train.

We are now in the Great Depression and the next summer Dad lost his job.  We moved back to Watertown, both parents were born in Goodwin.  Dad worked WPA and odd jobs when he could find something.  I attended I.C. Sch. in 2nd and 3rd grades. What I remember of the third was some guy by the name of Adolph came to power in the homeland of my Gr'parents.  Also that I passed to the 4th grade "on condition".  I expect that was a case of a kid not exerting himself.  Since in later years he scored 141 on and IQ test and joined Mensa.

Mom didn't like it and the 4th grade I  attended Lincoln grade school.  That winter we moved to the Ritz Apt., a half block from I.C. where they had changed the order of Nuns from St. Joseph to Franciscan.   5th & 6th Grade I was back in I.;C.  Became a good buddy of Ervin Von Wald, who lived across the street. His oldest Sister was a music major in college, used to sit for hours in the summer at the piano.  She used to let me sit beside her and listen.  She would always end the session with Ravel's Bolero and Maleguenia, my favorites.  I guess thats when I got my appreciation of good music. In later years she became God Mother to our Gail.  She passed away this past year at 92 and bequeathed Gail a tidy sum.

Dad's Sister was a Nun in St. Michaels Hosp. in Grand Forks, N.D.  The summer of '35 she got him a job in the Maintenance Dept. and we moved to G.F.  I attended St. Mary's Sch. in the 7th grade, St. Michael's in the 8th grade.  G.F. is just this side of the Arctic Circle, that first winter was one of the  coldest on record, I walked to school when it was 43 below zero.  Also discovered that girls were more than play mates.  I played football and "lettered", and you got to ask a girl to go to the banquet with you.  Hence, I had my first date at the age of 12.

The summer of '37 we moved  back to Watertown and I went to work at my Uncle Julius' Tire Shop.  At 14 he taught me how to drive so I could drive the service truck.  Worked for him all thru H.S.  Summers I put in 72 hours a week for 6 bucks a week.  Winters after school Sat. and every other Sun. for 3 bucks.  That fall I started my freshman year at WHS.  My friend Erv's family moved to D.C., but I made other close friends. Pete McKay and Biggie Magee became life long friends, Jean Kreoger a good H.S. friend.

Sept. 1, 1939 I started my Jr. year, and that Adolph guy in Germany plunged the world into the Second World War.  I was interested in Photography and Jean and I became understudies to the Sr. Yearbook photographer, Dick Bergh.  Dick didn't stay so Jean and I did all the yearbook photographs except the Sr. portraits.  My Sr. year Jean was Editor and I did the photos myself.  My Jr. year I had an interest in Sheila Colwell, but Stretchy Creighton had her pretty well sewed up.  My Sr. year Annie Atkinson became my primary interest, but Sonny Greg was stiff competition,

May 1941 I graduated from H.S.  I wanted to get into photography, but there was no money for advanced schooling.  The war in Europe had been raging for almost 2 years and it was just  matter of time before we got involved.  The Army Air Corp had a deal where if you enlisted you could pick the school you wanted.   They had an excellent photography school in Denver.  I went down to Omaha and on Aug. 29 enlisted in the Army Air Corp.  Before leaving town I spent an evening with Annie.  She insisted our relationship would be plutonic, but I corresponded with her and carried a torch for her for the next 3-1/2 years.

When I finished Basic there were no openings at the School, so I was assigned to Hq. Sq., 3rd Bomb.Gp., Savannah, Ga. and scheduled to attend the School in Jan. '42. Having some typing skills I was assigned to Group Operations as a Clerk Typist.  Dec. 7, 1941 changed a lot of plans, including mine.  In Jan. I boarded the USS Ancon with the 3rd Bomb. Gp. and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge headed for the S.W. Pacific.

We spent 10 months at Charters Towers, an old gold mining town in N.E. Q'land., Aust. That summer I did get into Photography and got on the job training.  We spent 4 months at Port Moresby on the South coast of New Guinea.  Moved across the Owen Stanley Mts. and spent 9 months at Doba Dura on the North Coast.  Then it was 4 months at Nadzab, which is about 30 miles up the Markham River from the port town of Lae.  In July 1937 Amelia Earhart took off from the Lae airstrip and flew off into oblivion.  The next 6 months were spent at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea.

 In early Nov. 1944 we moved up to Leyte Is. in the P.I.  For six weeks we sat on the beach doing nothing, as there were no airstrips available for our A-20 Aircraft.  Dec. 28 we loaded onto an LST and joined the "Christmas Convoy" headed for Mindoro Is. on the west side of the Archepelago.  New Years Eve after 48 hours of kamakazi attacks, in which they sank 8 ships out of our convoy, we landed at Mindoro.  Jan. 12, 1945 I received my orders for rotation back to the States.

On Mar. 8, '45, thanx to a Merciful God and an ever vigilant Guardian Angel, 3 years, 1 month and 8 days after leaving we sailed back under that Golden Gate Bridge.  I had left as a buck Private, came back a S/Sgt. On Mar. 15 they turned me loose on a 21 day furlough.  I spent a week in Watertown renewing old aquaintances and reconnecting with family.

Then I headed to Omaha where I had 2 Sisters living, and where Annie had moved and was attending Nebr. U.  Spent an afternoon with her and family and made a date to take her dancing the next nite at Peony Park.  Was looking forward to spending an evening dancing with my  dream girl.  Just one problem, I had left a 16 year old Jr. in H.S. came back to a 20 year old Jr. in College.  I had spent 3 years virtually isolated from women and any kind of social life.  She had spent that time in the social world of a College.  She just wasn't the same girl.  Dropped her off that night and walked out of her life.

Spent 2 weeks in a redistribution center in Calif. and was reassigned to Page Field, Ft. Meyers, Fla.  Arrived Ft. Meyers last Sun. in April.  While waiting for a bus to take me to Page this perky little brunette walked in and sat down across the room  She looked so neat and clean, just like the girl next door was supposed to look.  Thought to myself I'd like to know her.  She got on the Page bus, but too far ahead for me to get close.

A couple weeks later I was in town for a movie, got back to the bus station to catch the bus to the base, there she was again.  This time I got the seat next to her.  She was a radio operator headed out to pull the graveyard shift.  She let me walk her across the field to the radio shack, where I talked her into a date for a movie. Her name was Evelyn  Johnson, but called Jonnie, from the Johnson bit.  Dec. 10 we will celebrate our 65th wedding anniversary.

She had a home town boy and a couple G.I.s she had met in Denver pressing her for a commitment, but she just wasn't ready.  Along about July I decided I'd like her to be My Jonnie, and asked her to marry me - she accepted.  I was planing to attend Photography Sch. in NYC when I got out, a six month course, and we would get married when I got out.

Aug. 15 the war ended, and within a week I was on the way to Camp McCoy, Wisc. for discharge.  Jonnie had asked for a transfer to the Jaxonville airport and got it.  We rode the train together to Jaxonville, where I kissed her goodby, for the time being. Received my discharge Sept. 5, '45, and my 4 year Military career ended.  Got to NYC in Oct.,but found I couldn't get into a class until Jan., '46.  Went back to Jaxonville and we decided to move the wedding up. At 7:30 Mass in Holy Rosary Church Dec. 10, 1945 we tied the knot.

The first week in Jan. I started school and Jonnie requested a transfer to LaGuardia Field in NYC.  Once again she got lucky and got it.  She joined me the last part of Jan.  Finished the course in July and went to work for a studio in Kearny, N.J.  The next summer I went to work for a studio in East Orange, N.J. that specialized in Commercial Work and Weddings.

The owner had opened an office in Allentown, Pa., the summer of '48 I went up to run that office.  No. 1 daughter Jean was born Dec. 7, '46, No. 2 Gail was born Nov. 18, '47,  Our 3rd girl Dian was born on Jonnie's birthday Jan. 10, '49.  Unfortunately she had a birth defect and only lived two days.  The summer of '49 the owner had bought a farm near Allentown and was moving up to take over the office, wanted me to move back to N.J.  Jonnie, a Kansas girl, and this Dakota boy decided the East Coast was no place to raise a family.  I told the boss, thanx but no thanx, we're going West.

I had a Sister living in Des Moines, Ia. and that is where we ended up.  Couldn't find work in Photography, but a friend of my Sis got me a job as Dispatcher with a ReadyMix Concrete Co.  In '52 I started shooting weddings for a local Studio on weekends.  In '57 I borrowed $600.00 from my next door neighbor, bought a Speed Graphic and Dark Room equipment and started my own Wedding business out of the house.  In '65 business was good enough  so I left the Concrete Co.  In 1968, I moved the business out of the house into a small strip mall.

 In 1989, we sold the business and moved to Denver, where Jonnie had a couple sisters living.  I went to work for J.C. Penney in the Camera Dept. In 1990, we were both drawing Social Security and Jonnie wanted to move back to D.M. where the kids and grandkids lived.  So it was back to D.M. that summer, and I went back to work for JCP. In '98 we got our first Computer and I started reconnecting with WW II people with whom I had never stayed in touch.

In 1950 I started having back problems and discovered I had Arthritis. In the '90s, I started having big problems with the legs. The VA discovered my 4 lower vertibrae were shot to hell from the Arthritis and was effecting the legs. In 2005, I finally had to quit J.C. Penney and I could no longer do the yard work. So we sold the house and bought our present Condo.

These golden years have far too much lead mixed in with them.  Three years ago, Jonnie broke a hip. This past year has been a real bummer for myself. Last July I was "t-boned" by a lady running a red light. They thought I would lose my left arm, but did save it, but it will never be the same, constant intermittent pain. Last Dec. I fell on the ice and broke my hip. I'm afraid that due to the condition of the back and legs, I will never walk again with a cane or walker. Jonnie is not a happy camper in her "prison" as she has always called the Condo.  Fortunately I can still drive so I get out as much as possible. Gail retired from teaching in Jan. and is moving back to D.M. in June.  That will be great for Jonnie, as we seldom see Jean or the Gr'kids.  And that about does it for my Bio ---  not a very little one.



 The Henry Busse Orchestra

These photos were taken by Jack Heyn while he was still in High School. Henry Busse was a famous trumpeter that led his own band as well as playing for other orchestra leaders, such as Paul Whiteman.