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Jim Shirley

Jim Shirley

Lifelong Hopkins Resident & Volunteer

Born: Hopkins, MN, United States
Heritage: European American

Each of you has a tough road ahead of you but with knowledge you’ll have lots of opportunities. The business with all the drugs is important to not get messed up with. Being honest and taking responsibility for the things you do and don’t do are all important.

Jim Shirley

Lifelong Hopkins Resident & Volunteer

My full name is Jim Cooper Shirley. I was born in 1936. We lived on the east end of Hopkins. At two years old my family moved to 11th Avenue North. My wife, Mary, and I are still living in that same house today.

We were fortunate that my dad had a decent job all through the Depression. We were nicely dressed and had nice toys. My parents were older. My father was 47 years old when I was born. He was retired by the time I was in high school. My parents didn’t always understand what the modern generation was up to. One great blessing about my mom and dad was they always saw humor in things and had a lot of fun.

Many are the stories about Grandpa Cooper, whom I get my middle name from. He was the first police officer in Hopkins. At that time there were eleven bars in this area. It was a rough town. Grandpa Cooper was a pretty big guy, but kind and very persuasive. He didn’t get pushed around. Many people who grew up in Hopkins thought Cooper meant cop because he was the only police officer in town.

My first grade teacher was Alice Smith, after whom the school was named. She taught me how to read. My children went to Alice Smith Elementary School and now my grandsons go there. That’s three generations of us who’ve gone to Alice Smith.

I went to both elementary and junior high school in the old school building, which is now an apartment building on Main Street in Hopkins. That school got too old and small, so they built Eisenhower High School in 1956. I was in college at the University of Minnesota before this school was completed.

After graduating with a degree in economics, I went into the National Guard for six months. I came back to work in the banking business. Five years ago I retired as a person working for the Association of Professional People.

I have been a very active citizen in Hopkins. There is something about giving back to the community that provided me with an education. We all need to give back to help make this a better community.

The year I graduated from high school is when I met my wife. Her parents had a lake cottage by our family cottage. I heard there were girls out on the beach. I went out in the boat and there was a girl that waved at me. I came in and we got acquainted. We started dating and ended up getting married. We have a son and daughter.

My roots are so deep here in Hopkins. I feel it’s important to know what Hopkins was all about, to find out what it once was, and what it has become. Because of this interest, I was involved with the Hopkins Historical Society. I’ve also served on the financial advisory committee for the school district; have been involved with Hopkins Center for the Arts, my church, Hopkins Rotary, and even the book club.

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Honoring Jim Shirley

I Grew Up In A Town Called Hopkins

My name is Jim Shirley
I was born here
When I was two years old
Moved to 11th North Avenue
Two blocks away
From where we are now
That’s where I still live
Right here in Hopkins town
I grew up in a town
called Hopkins
Long time ago I called
it home
Lived here my whole life

My first grade teacher was
Alice Smith
After whom the school
Was later named
She would often wear
A purple dress
With Oxford shoes
So matronly
My Grandpa Cooper
Was the first policeman
A pretty big guy
The only officer in town
Back then it was tough
But so was he
A persuasive man
Who did not get pushed around
There were Protestants and Catholics
Not much in between
Except for me, raised in a
Christian Science family
Who don’t believe in Adam’s
Original sin
But later on
I became Lutheran
Most people worked for
Minneapolis Threshing
Machine Company
Which became Minneapolis Moline
Lots of people came here
To work from Czechoslovakia
Plus start a little farm
Growing raspberries
A streetcar once came here
On 9th Avenue
Over a high bridge
A man came walking
When a streetcar came
He didn’t know what to do
So he slid down a pole
It ripped off all his clothes
We had mixed classrooms
With one teacher
Who taught two grades
This was back
In World War II
With an uncle who
Never healed from those wounds
My father work
For a bank trust
To earn a buck
Through all those years
Mother was a housewife
Took her task seriously
Cooked all the meals
Kept the house clean
Now my wife and I
Drink a cup
Of coffee
Each morning
We read the paper
Then do crosswords
It’s good for us
Never too old to learn
Each of you has a tough road
Ahead of you
With lots of good
Things to do
I am so impressed
By the faces I see
In this school
In this community

Words by LARRY LONG with Karin McKenzie’s 3rd grade class of Eisenhower Elementary School.
(Hopkins, Minnesota)

© Larry Long 2006 / BMI