I Came To See The Jackson's "In Memory Of Joe Jackson"
With the recent passing of Joe Jackson (July 26, 1928 – June 27, 2018) Father, talent manager and patriarch of the Jackson family he was truly the guiding force behind their success.
Joseph and Katherine were married on November 5, 1949. In January 1950, they purchased a small two-bedroom home on 2300 Jackson Street near East Chicago in Gary, Indiana.
Joseph's deep-South upbringing during the Great Depression and the Jim Crow years and working-class adulthood hardened him emotionally and made him push his children to succeed as entertainers onstage and off, understanding that African Americans must not only be strong but focused and discipline in order to be a success. I tracked down an article I wrote several years ago about a brief visit to Gary Indiana to see the home the Jackson Five grew up in.
I'm goin’ back to Indiana
Indiana, here I come
I'm Goin' back to Indiana,
Cause that's where my baby's from.
The chorus repeated in my mind, the lyrics looped again and again as the mile markers on the freeway passed by in slow motion. I was on my way to Chicago and decided to detour to Gary, Indiana the birthplace of the Jackson Five. Like a kid going to an amusement park, I was excited with anticipation.
Goin' Back to Indiana was a live/soundtrack album by The Jackson 5 for Motown Records, taken from their September 16, 1971 ABC TV special of the same name. The Goin' Back to Indiana television special featured comedians Bill Cosby and Tommy Smothers, singers Bobby Darin and Diana Ross, football players Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier, and Ben Davidson, and basketball stars Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, and Elvin Hayes. It also featured tracks recorded by the Jackson 5 during their January 31 "homecoming" concert in Gary, Indiana (hence, both the show title and name of 1970 song that appeared on Third Album). The album went on to sell 2.6 million copies worldwide.
I came up to my exit got off, came to a stop sign, made a right turn and drove down about a quarter of a mile. The landscape on both sides played backdrop to old dilapidated industrial buildings. In the distance ahead I saw a huge colorful billboard that stood out against the dingy gray horizon ahead of me. The billboard read: Casino Royale. I thought to myself what an odd place to build a casino. Amidst ruins and decay.
I wanted to make a detour and go try my luck at the casino but I came here on a mission; to see the childhood home of the Jackson Five. This was my first time ever coming to Gary Indiana, a city that was once thriving with steel mills, until their collapse in the mid-1970’s.
White flight left the city of Gary 84% African Americans, with no tax base. In 2005 the murder rate was almost 9x’s the national average. Actually, the crime rate dropped off in recent years. Probably because most of the criminal element moved west.
Hey get this, Gary got 266 million of stimulus money and has according to too “Federal Recipient Reported Data” created a grand total of 327 jobs. That’s $800,000per job. The city of Gary help President Obama to win the state of Indiana. Sound like a hook up to me. Somebody got paid! I see why MJ invested in Neverland Valley Ranch AND NEVER IN GARY.
Aside from several inconvenient detours, I finally navigated my way around the city ruins of decay and pulled up to 2300 Jackson St., it was by chance the Jackson’s lived on Jackson St, named after President Andrew Jackson.
I got out of the car, walked up to the small ranch house and thought to myself, “how in the hell did Joe and Katherine raise ten kids in a shoe box?”
Well, the fanfare was over, look like I missed it by 3 years. The makeshift memorial look like the rest of Gary Indiana abandoned and neglected. I snapped a few photos, echoed my own self-proclaimed lyrics; “I'M getting the hell out of Gary Indiana”, jumped in my ride and drove off into the impoverished urban landscape.
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