It was a day to remember when Norrine Jensen invited me to attend a special program of “Memories in Music” program at the Owatonna Art Center on Wednesday, Oct. 19. Once my mother heard I had been invited to go to the Owatonna Art Center, former site of the “State School,” she wanted to go with me. Both she and I knew that anything Norrine was involved in would be wonderful. We weren’t disappointed. In fact, we were overwhelmed. (See story about the Music and Memories program)
We toured the orphanage following the luncheon and musical program. It is with pride that Owatonna has done such a wonderful job of keeping the former Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected children such a respectable place. The museum holds many of the artifacts one could expect for a home that had cared for 10,635 children between 1886 and 1945 from all over the area.
At the height of its existence, the school housed 500 children in 16 cottages. Other buildings at the site included a gymnasium, nursery, hospital, and residences for employees and the superintendent. The school had its own power plant, greenhouse, icehouse, cemetery and complete farm with cows, horses, swine and chickens, making it close to being self-sufficient. It was often referred to as the “city on the hill” or as a “city within a city.”
It brought tears to your eyes when you realized the impoverished existence of these children who were orphaned, abused or abandoned back then and sent to Owatonna, a far cry from our children today.
Because one of the boys who had attended school there had become a frequent visitor and friend of my uncle Paul, Tony Jackovitch, we were more than just interested in touring the facility before we left.
Tony was born in 1923 in Cummings, Iowa and spent his adolescent years in Owatonna at the State School.
When entering the Orphanage Museum at the Art Center, it stirred memories for my mother as one of the first pieces of art she saw displayed was a very large oil painting on Masonite titled “Low Tide” created by Anthony, or Tony, as he was most generally known.
Mom chuckled because the original flavor in that room is still intact and beautifully titled. My mother said she seemed to remember Tony and another student were once disciplined for some infraction of behavior and the cost, for their discipline, was to scrub that huge floor on hands and knees with a toothbrush.
Tony is an artist and was particularly fond of painting seascapes and this painting of his displayed at the Art Center is beautiful. His talent and personality makes him unique. During the war when he served in the Navy he would send letters in envelopes, decorated with his drawings, to my grandmother and to my uncle Paul. Mom said she can remember one of Tony’s letters in particular that came in an envelope that included a drawing of his of two ducks flying, one telling the other he was taking their letter to Paul Hanson.
In addition to being an artist, Tony was a noteworthy boxer in Golden Gloves and from some of the stories I have heard about him, I am guessing a “cutup” for the matrons who took charge of them.
When Tony left Owatonna he moved to Paris where he was also an actor and an artist. He later moved to New York, finally finding his home at Round Prairie, Maine where he and his son currently reside.
Tony’s career path was an interesting one. After studying at the Academia Julian, Academia de la Grand Chaumiere (both in Paris), the Art Students League in New York and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Tony worked as a merchant marine, a boxer, an electrician, a sandal maker, a dish washer, and a cab driver.
Tony went on to have a successful and interesting life. His talents were many and his friendship unique. He was as close as a brother. Most of all he was an interesting friend and companion to many.
My special day with Norrine will be one to remember and cherish. Tony’s painting was just a little more “icing on the cake” for the special day Norrine planned.
Some of our Star Eagle readers have commented that they like to read about events such as family and school reunions, birthdays and anniversaries, and birth and wedding announcements. In order to read about these important things we need our faithful readers to pass along the information to us.
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There are times I make mistakes regarding birthdays and anniversaries because of information I don’t know. Please look at it as a reminder that though they may no longer be with us it is nice to remember they once were and celebrate their birthdays and anniversaries just the same.
Birthdays and anniversaries:
• Thursday, October 27th: Jason Born, David Anderson, Bruce Yanke, James Bremer Jr., Mitchell & Amy Edwards, Donly & Joanne Cromwell
• Friday, October 28th: Lisa Mrotz, David Thompson, Jan Sorenson, Rick Horan, Randy Horan, Todd Brotizman, Rich Weckwerth, Sue Westrum, Tanner Jorge Wilson, Lyle & Darlyne Paulson, Jane & Jeff Allen, Amanda & Paul Rovnak
• Saturday, October 29th: Ann Anderson, Scott Klocek, Mark Motl, Bob Haried, Kayli Rose Johnson, Bailey Ann Davis, Warren & Mary Torgerson, Craig & Jennifer Torgerson
• Sunday, October 30th: Lilly Jane Wacek, Gordon Goette, Angie Broskoff Klemmensen, Allen & Barb Dobberstein
• Monday, October 31st: Happy Halloween! Kyra Barbara Kotsmith, Brooke Hanson Berg, Heather Wayne, Emily Smith, Carrie Thompson, Roseann Kasper, Lorraine Lent, Kaye & Mike Cady, Vonda & Andrew Waako
• Tuesday, November 1 st: Garrett Wangsness, Dakota Wangsness, Troy Hagen, Mike Reistad, Tim McLain, Jamie & Sergio Hernandez
• Wednesday, November 2nd: Karen Osmundson, Gary Dummer, Dan Nord, Tracy Farr Simon, Janis Klinger, Troy Sommers, Sylvia Janet Baker
• Thursday, November 3rd: Nakayla Joy Butler, Preston Dean Shaunce, Brian Muri, Paula Degan Conroy, Tim Hanson, Sydney McCamish, Quinn Sebastian Briedenbach, Jennifer Misgen, Angie & Josh Lair
• Friday, November 4th: Evelyn Elizabeth Benning, Scott Anderson, Andrew Farr, Stuart Vangen, Jeff Carlson, Brant Hemingway
• Saturday, November 5th: Faith Jennie Tweeten, Preslee Jean Twetten, Hope Ann Twetten, Alyssa Hagen, Kerri d’Eustachip, David Wayne, Skyla Knudtson, Mavis Langlie, Chad Bratten, Allison Hanson
May your special day be filled with sunshine and smiles!