Friday, September 1, 2017

Bougainvillea Everywhere

I dreamed about you last night. You were as beautiful as ever, exactly how I remember you with your amazing hair, your smile and your stare. Most always talking hopeful and positive, while your life seemed, from my view to crumble around you. Now forever young and always strikingly gorgeous. You only looked different to me because your usual sun soaked skin was white as milk. You were sitting in a tower of a building that had a thatched roof and looking down from a window.
Someone came to me to tell me that you wanted to see me. I'm not sure who it was. I climbed some stairs to where you were sitting. You wanted to tell me something and just walk with me for a while. You had something important to say. I grabbed your milk white hand and your skin felt cold as ice. We walked quietly along the beach.
I asked you if you were really dead and you simply said yes. I saw your children waving to us. We walked a little more turning onto a beautiful cobble stone path that led us through the shade, away from the blazing sun. We passed old and lovely trees and there was bougainvillea blooming everywhere.
I forgot to tell you that I miss you. I forgot to tell you that I loved you and then you were gone.
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  ~Marcel Proust

Photo Credit: (c) Just1backpack Mexico

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tiger Jack, St. Paul, Minnesota

Tiger Jack
For years I drove by this man every day on my way to work in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was just always there. The man hanging at a shack on the corner of Dale Street at the I-94 freeway westbound entrance was always friendly. He sold charcoal and waved hello to drivers stopped at the traffic light. I never gave it a lot of thought. He was just another character in the city. I never really knew how he came to be there. He was a curiosity of sorts but I never bothered to know more. He was just always there until he wasn't.
Everyone has a story and it wasn't until many years later that I even cared to learn a tiny bit more about the man, Tiger Jack. These little bits and pieces painted a beautiful picture of the man, at a shack on the corner.

He came from the east coast and his mother died when he was quite young. He grew up with relatives and eventually hopped a train to Minnesota during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. He talked his way into a 7th Street gym and became a boxer. He boxed at night and shined shoes during the day. In the late 40's he opened a small variety store in a bustling black commercial district in the St. Paul, Rondo neighborhood. The business was successful until the commercial district was destroyed when the Interstate came through in the mid-60's and busted up the neighborhood.
Tiger Jack's Shack
He moved the shack to the corner where Dale Street crossed the freeway and there he was. Day in and day out for over 30 years he shined shoes, sold charcoal, kerosene, candy and occasionally other items. He lived a simple honest life with no debt and worked hard. He spoke his mind. He was diligent. He sent 8 children to school on the profits from his little charcoal and shoeshine shack. Tiger Jack was a survivor.
After his death his family gave the shack to the city and it was moved to the Minnesota History Center. When you visit there, give old Tiger Jack a big wave. He engraved a memory in my mind, a memory that reminds me to persevere and be kind. I don't get over to that corner much anymore but, when I do, I still look for him, even though he is long gone.

(c)Just1backpack, originally published 2013

Mr Respect Documentary:

Film Credit: Mr. Respect is a documentary portrait of the late Tiger Jack Rosenbloom. It was made by a class of sixth grader along with their teachers, Steve Ford and Media Mike Hazard. It is a community lesson for the world.




Friday, August 4, 2017

Coming Soon - New Blog


The Just1backpack.com website is no longer available. Forever gone. It's time for a change.
The website with the just1backpack.com domain name was hacked and the hosting site wanted to basically extort more money from me with no guarantees on restoration. The backups they had available to me for restoration were corrupt and I decided to ditch it all. I do have my archive of writing backed up. I'm excited for a new beginning.

My new blog is here so go ahead and subscribe for email notifications: https://just1backpack.blogspot.com/

Simple and easy.

There are many travel adventures and more stories to tell.

as always, stay tuned...