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My Friend Jimmy Allen
I first met Jimmy at Bible School when it was held at the Edina Public School. Yup, at the public school, I have pictures to prove it. Jimmy and I were classmates from 2nd grade thru High School. Jimmy was one of those guys who did not have a still bone in his body, so sitting still in class was a chore for him. Jim and I also attended the same church and Sunday School. Jimmy can brag with me that we helped build the old Assembly of God Church. Yup, Jim, Merle Durbin, and Bob Pinson all helped fill brick buckets for the fellows building the church. But hey, we got wages for our labor – a penny a day if I remember right. A penny was a real chunk of change in 1936.
Jimmy and I used to search the alleys, dumps, and byways in search of scrap iron, other metals, pop bottles, rags, etc. All which we could sell to scrap dealers around town, like Cup McKinney, G.B. Ellison, and old Jim Cornelius. Jimmy and I did a lot of gathering scrap for the war effort. We worked doubly hard at gathering aluminum for the war effort.
We hunted rabbits for spending money. Rabbits were abundant and would bring 10 cents each. Big money in those days. It seemed each season brought new opportunities for kids in the 30’s and 40’s. Jimmy always had a keen eye for possible ways to make some pocket change. In those days, the woods and bottoms were loaded with blackberries and dewberries. He and I made big money selling blackberries at 35 cents a gallon. Old ladies about town put in orders for berries. Wild berries ripened almost on schedule starting with wild strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, dewberries, then the king of all berries – the blackberry. Thus, from spring till fall one berry or another was ready to pick.
But summer turns to fall and winter which ushers in another opportunity to make money from mother nature. In the winter months Jimmy and I trapped muskrats and skunks. Now we are in the big money, muskrat pelts are two dollars each. I remember one day when I was in the army, home on pass, and stranded because my car broke down. I called Jimmy and he said, “If you got gas money, I will get you back to camp.” I did, and he did.
But time changes everything. Jimmy marries, I follow 10 months later. Jimmy goes on to be one of Edina’s more successful auto dealers. Jimmy, for all his vigor, died a young man in his seventies. Jimmy was one of my 5 true friends.
Contributed by Bill Lewis