The Jack Boys

Apr 1, 2011 | 2 comments

Out of the Past

     In my mail recently was a yellowed, rather crispy news clipping that a friend had saved for more than twenty years and was sending on – during a cleaning spree I suspect.  It was from 1989 and was about me.  What memories came flooding along with it!
     The accompanying picture was of me and several students at work in our classroom at Ocean Park School.  It was a first/second/third multigrade class and I think it was the class that school board member Jack Williams visited a number of times.  He was fascinated with the interactions among the kids and the fact that he couldn’t tell who was in which grade.
     “All the classes ought to be like this!” he boomed.  “All kids should be taught this way!” 
     The Williams, of course, are famous for booming.  Four-star Admiral Jack had put those vocal chords to good use during his naval career and had recently retired back to the peninsula – a local boy made good.   I considered him a ‘shirt-tail relative’ because my mother’s cousin, Barbara Espy, had married his cousin Bronk Williams.  Bronk had a big voice, too.
     During those years of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, it was a proactive school board and, in my opinion, the best school board we ever had.  They got things done.  I was on the teachers’ bargaining team and Jack (along with Ann Kischner and Rick Murfin) sat across the table from us representing the district.  I had many opportunities to admire Jack’s forge-ahead personality and his masterful negotiating skills.
     Also on the school board at that time was Jack Downer of Jack’s Country Store.  He wasn’t part of the negotiating team but he certainly was Mr. Public Relations for the school district.  He never missed an opportunity to talk to his grocery and hardware customers about a favorite project or concern.  He definitely had his finger on the pulse of the community.
     I don’t think I ever met anyone who hadn’t asked Jack’s advice about something – a plumbing project, an electrical switch, what kind of paint for a particular surface.  He was always ready to help and the fact that he was a hands-on store owner gave him immense credibility.  (I notice that his son, Tom, is following right in his footsteps, from sweeping the parking lot first thing in the morning to stocking shelves and suggesting just the right part for a pump-gone-bad.)
     Among the many accomplishments during their tenure on the school board, Jack Williams got the Ocean Beach Education Foundation under way and Jack Downer headed up a sidewalk project so that the area in front of Ocean Park School would be safer for kids.  Although they didn’t always agree, they were both outspoken advocates for kids and teachers.  We called them “The Jack Boys.”  I miss them. 


  1. MaryBeth Kelly

    The thrill of an old newspaper clipping and the way it jogs the memory. Somehow I don’t think sending a web page to someone 20 years later will have quite the same impact.

  2. Memi

    I have that article, too. In fact, I have so many Sydney articles I could easily make a big scrapbook. I might do that one of these days.


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