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Hello, my name is Mr. Speers. I was born in 1931. I’ll let you guys figure out how old I am. But it was 1931 in November so that makes me way up in the seventies. I almost forgot what I’m supposed to do now.
I was born in the South and they didn’t have no kindergartens in those days, everybody started off in the first grade. The teacher taught from the first grade to the eighth grade, I think, or the sixth. I believe eighth grade. And she had fifteen kids in the first grade. Seventeen kids was in the fourth grade. Maybe twenty kids in the sixth or eighth grade. She had to teach every one of them she had. I don’t know how she did it, but she did it. She had the first grade, the second grade, the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. And we all in one room and the whole room probably wasn’t much bigger than this—the whole school.
We had to take a bus to school. We walked about a quarter of a mile before we got the bus and we’d get off. In the evening, we had to walk a quarter of a mile away from the bus and that was the same routine every day, same routine going back to school and then on the weekend we’d go to church, finished up like that.
We had regular chores to do just like all kids. There was ten in my family. I was next to the oldest one. I lost my brother in 1966, he was older than me, a year and two months, I believe, older than I am.
I got my high school diploma here in the state of Minnesota. And I got my mechanics background to be an airline mechanic right here in Minnesota. Down at the old Vo-Tech out in Eden Prairie before I got my license to be a mechanic.
It’s kinda been a long, long journey, but it’s been good for the most part, it’s been positive. I’ve been active in the community with the Boy Scouts. My wife was a Girl Scout leader for many years. That was the system, a Scout Master for many years.
We used to go camping by Bemidji and up by Brainerd, and Anoka on the Rum River. We had to give badges and my son was a second-class scout. But before he got to be a second-class scout, he had to do a lot of different things, earn badges and stuff. That means overnight sleep outs in the summer, spring, and fall and sometimes the winter. We camped out on the Rum River at like ten below. But we were all in a big tent about as big as this room almost. You had a big sleeping bag and all kinds of stuff underneath the sleeping bag so it’d cushion the ground underneath otherwise you’d be cold all night. I think we used some kind of insulated foam-looking material. Some had hay like you use out on the farm or what have you. And so that’s how we survived the cold and survived sleeping in the tent at ten below zero.
My wife, she’s from the south as well. When I met her she was already doing college work. I knew her for like ten months and about fifteen days and we were married after ten months and fifteen days, we were married. We’ve been together for fifty-four years. The same girl that I thought so much of, it’s the same today, I think a lot of it. We’ve been around for fifty-four years, married.
I was at the airline as a mechanic. They guys used to tease me all the time, my supervisors and my bosses and my crew chief. “Ol’ Jake got a new wife, when you gonna get a new wife?” I would just look at them and smile or laugh. You know my crew team always kidding me, calling me Reverend and Deacon and all that kinds stuff. They knew I was active in my church. Even if they didn’t know I was a deacon, they heard the other guys call me deacon. They’d say, “Deacon, Deacon Speers, what are you gonna preach about today?” My crew chief would always say that. “You gonna preach to us today? What was the message?” And they were always kidding me about that. I was just have to, kinda like, “Aww, there’s no telling, I might give you a real message today.”
They would bug you all the time, but it just meant that they cared a lot for you. If they knew they could, they would kid you a lot, too. It was kinda like fun, so that’s how they got a long. I didn’t let anything bother me. You gotta be good-natured. You gotta not let stuff get under your skin. You can’t be worried about if this is gonna happen or that’s gonna happen. You have to be straight forward and do the right thing and think positive all the time. If that’s possible, just keep going.
My wife, when she got a teaching degree, she was a Girl Scout leader for many years. And director of summer activities. I used to sometimes go up as far as Bemidji, directing a camp up there. Sometimes out of Anoka, sometimes out of Mound, Minnesota. I used to go to her, she’d be gone for two weeks. After about a week, I’d drive up and say hello to her. We may have lunch or dinner or whatever and I wouldn’t see her for another week. By that time, she’d be coming back home after doing two weeks.
She be up by Brainerd or Bemidji, not far from the language camp, about a quarter of a mile from the language camp up in Bemidji. She directed and had a lot of girls from Edina. They were a little different. They heirs to lawyers, doctors, teachers, professors at the U of M. So they were a little different. They said to my wife one day, they said, “What we having for lunch?” Several of the kids from Edina said, “We don’t like that. We don’t eat that kinda stuff.” She said, “Okay, no problem, no problem.” She didn’t say anything because all the other kids, they were havin’ a blast with it. She didn’t never say anything. So pretty soon the kids from Edina were eating it, too. It was pretty good stuff. So that was kind of comical.
You have to be positive and have a good, positive attitude. Never let anything bother you. Just go straight forward with upbeat and keep studying if you wanna make something out of yourself. You have to be good in your books. You have to know how to grab the dictionary and look up words you don’t know. Pursue whatever you want to do.
My son was a second-class boy scout and he left the boy scouts and he wanted to fly. So we got him in ground school out at Flying Cloud. Then coming up to his sixteenth birthday, about three weeks after he was sixteen, he got his private pilot’s license to fly.
He had to solo and that means you have to take the plane up by yourself. I think he went to St. Cloud, down southern, maybe Albert Lea, Minnesota, I believe, or Rochester, one of the two and then back to Flying Cloud. He had to go fifty miles west of the Twin Cities and bring the plane back down safely. He got his private pilot’s license at sixteen. So, you know, it’s all what you want to do.
I’m possibly looking at doctors, lawyers, teachers, technicians, electricians, and weather forecasters. I’m probably potentially looking at a lot of doctors and teachers and lawyers and maybe mechanics, maybe avionic mechanics in the airlines, a diesel mechanic. They all make $28 – 30 dollars an hour. That’s worth going to school for two years and get your license to do those kinds of things. Potentially you can do what ever you want. Be focused and be ready to learn.