In Memory of David R. Jackson born January 28, 1949 – died June 19, 2011.
On a beautiful August day, the 5th to be exact, of 1972, I married my sweetheart from college, David Ralph Jackson. I was 21 and he was 22. We had hopes, dreams, excitement and love. I remember the air of excitement that filled me that day, marrying my first love, getting to wear a beautiful handmade wedding gown, one that my talented mother custom made for me. I felt like most brides do, so special. We all had so much fun that day, it was a packed chapel, I didn’t want a large wedding, so I asked to have it in the chapel. The chapel was small, intimate and very crowded, as I recall. It was a simple wedding by the standards of today, and even then, but it was beautiful ceremony, and David and I were so happy.
This is one of the very few remaining photos of him that I have, he was dressed for my sister Kay’s wedding a year or so later. This was him, my first husband, he who had no living parents, no siblings that gave a crap for him, well his, much older brother Pete did, but he lived in B’ham, Alabama, too far to come to our wedding. So, on our wedding day, all the friends, family, guest and basically everyone in attendance, outside a few groomsmen, were all there for me. He had recently come home from Germany, where he was stationed during the era of the Vietnam war, he had not finished college at that time, and he was working at a place in Little Rock called Orgal Brothers, he was an entry level clerk. I had not finished college either, so we neither had our college degree, both of us had lots of college hours though. We moved to Little Rock, AR, we had rented a nice little townhouse and even though we had very minimal furniture and basically zero decorations, we had our love. We had a wonderful first few years, I loved to cook, so I learned how to do that, we had very little to live on, and my goal was find a job as soon as I could and help supplement our meager income.
I ended up getting on to Timex Corporation and doing “assembly line” work, what a shock that was and I was not cut out for it, I did not last long. Then I lowered my sites and ended up getting a low paying job as a retail clerk in an place in North Little Rock called Ken’s Factory Outlet store, basically making minimum wage, which at that time was 1.62 an hour, whew? I forgot how low it was, that is nothing. I must have made at least 2.00 an hour? I don’t recall? But, we did not have much extra money to spend I remember that.
But we made advances; we made plans, goals, and dreams. We figured out we were on a fast road to no-where, so we decided to change our course. David enrolled in a trade school in Little Rock, he used his GI bill to help fund the education, it was a electronics school and he would be able to fix tv’s and other stuff like that after he graduated. I don’t think you realize (us older folks will) that during his early education he learned how to work on the tube style of tv’s
This is the inside of 1972 Chassis the newer stuff did not begin until a few years later, David was great at this kind of work and he excelled in his class, it was apparent he was gifted in this way. He got a job during that time working a big time electronics store, and fixed tv’s, stereo’s and any kind of electronic devise they gave him. But, he still wasn’t making that great an income, and I had found a little better paying job at a small time advertising paper called The Shoppers News, I was given the title of “paste-up” artist, which sounded good to me. It was during that time that he and I realized that we still were never going to reach our full potential unless we went back and finished school. He had his GI bill, and called on my parents, (the nerve I had) to ask them to help with my tuition. They were unbelievably supportive and did not say no, and so we applied to school. We both had only a year or so left and we did great. I got my degree in teaching, and he got his grades up, I had less time left in school than he did, so I graduated in the midterm of 1975. David never made below an A in school at Henderson and truly, never cracked a book. He was driving back and forth to Little Rock each week to work at that Big Box TV store, and attending class as well, and we had the GI bill extra check to help us along too boot. But, all that he was doing, I watched him and I realized he was one smart fellow. Everything he did came easy to him, he was very smart.
With my graduation coming on and realizing there was no reason for us to stay at Henderson, I told David, you need to get into something that is challenging to you David, all of this stuff you do here is too easy, you can get a really good degree in something like Engineering. Heck I didn’t even know what an Engineering degree was or meant, but it sounded good to me, and he was smart enough. He kind of argued with me a little, and I told him, look at how easy it is for you here at Henderson, you make straight A’s and you don’t even look at your books, I on the other hand, have to study all the time and even though I too was getting A’s, they took me long, hard hours of grueling study time to get them. He thought about and all the while we would toss out ideas on what school would he go to in order to get this Engineering degree, well in my larger than life imagination, it seemed that he should certainly go to one of the best Engineering school in the US, and one of the best at that time was at the University of Texas in Austin. It was 1975 and they still referred to Austin Texas, as a small town in Texas. I had no qualms moving there, heck I grew up just a few miles from Texas and they had lots of small towns around me, so no big deal right? WRONG??? (more on that later)
David made out his application to attend UT and got accepted. So we packed up a Uhaul, and made our way to Texas in December of 1975. I drove the car and followed him in that big Uhaul. I will never forgot my first vision of Austin, it was a sight to see, the idea that this was some small Texas town suddenly melted away and what I saw was this huge metro area with sky scrapers and nothing but bright city lights. I cried wondering, what had I gotten myself into this time. We had already rented our apartment, and found it that night. We unpacked a few items to sleep in and on, then began the next day settling in to our new life.
David got enrolled in school, I began to try and find a job, it was a battle all the way. I couldn’t get a teaching job, I was credentialed to teach in Texas, but I wasn’t much of candidate, it was during the heyday of teachers, and not only that, everyone wanted to live in Austin who graduated from UT, so I was up against not only Texas graduates, but UT at that, I wasn’t looking much like a teacher, I moved on to other possible jobs, I tried to sell Insurance, a complete disaster, I went through some kind of training to sell at home correspondence courses, another failure, I tried substitute teaching, what a joke, that is when I realized I would never teach. I read classified ad after classified ad looking for a way to make extra money. I finally got hired on at UT at the medical center as a secretary. The woman I worked for was mean to me, and hated the job, I met two PA’s working there, and they were cool, they were friends outside of work and I ended up introducing David to them, (they were both guys) and we all became friends. One of the guys dated the Pharmaceutical rep who would come to our office and she and I got to be friends as well. I like the job, but that old biddy that was my boss was just too much for me to endure, I finally quit. But during that time and afterward, Don, one of the PA’s, had a really cool place out on Lake Travis, we all would go out there on weekends, play volleyball, cook out, drink and just have fun. I remember that being some great times. I began to notice that David was having a hard time in school, he worked hard on his classwork, he wasn’t able to breeze though school like he had been able to do in Arkansas, he spent hours at the lab working at the computer science lab writing programs using all kinds of strange mathematical formula’s that I cannot to this day understand or recall. I remember him bringing home rheams of sheets of papers that he would run off in the lab and he worked his butt off. He told me that the Asian students far excelled over him in this stuff and that they had it down to the point that he just wanted to give up. He also had gotten on at Texas Instruments working on some new stuff that involved the beginning of what we take for granted today, that would in his view change the world of electronics, and of course he was right. I found his work totally foreign, he may has well have been talking to me in Japanese, for all that his work/education that he was immersed in meant to me. I had found my own little world, I was working in the most beautiful French restaurant in Austin, it was so fancy, so expensive and our clientiel were the movers and shakers in the city. I found his world small and complicated to the point that he began to bore me. He was doing something with his life, he was making wonderful progress, I was playing in my life, we grew farther and farther apart. I wanted to be there for him, but I wanted him to be a part of my world too. He did not get “my world” any more that I got his. We had been married for a little over 5 years, and I was getting tired of him. I told him that too. I told him that wanted to go out and have fun, that he just sat home on the couch smoking pot and drinking hard liquor and that he and I were drifting apart. I wanted us to go out with friends on weekends, go to the ‘fern bars’, dance and mingle with folks. He wouldn’t listen to me and I had fallen in love with my world. I was living in the land of oz, and I wanted to drink the wine, dance the dance and eat the Apple! I left him in December of 1977. I hated to do it, but I knew it was the only thing for me to do. I was done, I wasn’t going back, I hated to hurt David, I still regret that part, it hurts me so much to even think back on how much I hurt him. He was a good guy, he worked hard, he finished school, got his Engineering degree, he kept going, but he never remarried. I don’t know what kind of life he had. I don’t know what kind of friends he had. I don’t know what happened to him. He contacted me back in 2002, I was on my way to Santa Fe NM, with my bf at that time, David wanted to know if I was interested in moving to Hawaii with him? He told me he had retired, sold his home in Houston and was going to Hawaii, of course I said no, I had a bf and was going to Santa Fe, that was good enough for me. He called me during the middle of the afternoon, I can hear the ice rattling in the glass of Jack Daniels he was drinking. I knew he was still drinking heavy. I knew even if I did not have a current bf, I would not go back with him, it was never a second guess for me in that regard, but that did not mean that I hated him, or held any anomoysity toward him at all. I felt and still do a huge amount of compassion for him. I hope and pray he had a happy life, that in the end he didn’t die lonely. I don’t know what caused him to die, I don’t know if he had any money left or if he died distitute? I know he died in the hosiptal in Corpus Cristi, TX, so he wasn’t in Hawaii any longer. I know that his daughter Terri was listed in his obit, I hope they had renewed their relationship. He had been married before he married me, and had Terri, I haven’t seen her since 1976, she is now in her 40’s. I wanted to write this, it was my first marriage, my first love and my first time to live on my own. It was a big hunk of my life too. I just needed to say all of this. I pray David died a peaceful death, he was a very good man. I wish I could have said Goodbye to him in a better way. I mean that.