The Jackson Kids: Bonnie and John Jr.

Bonnie Jackson Billick (1921-2000)

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Early Years § Pregnancy and Marriage § The Lost ’40s § Toledo: Home and Work § Lifelong Waitress § John Jackson, Jr.

Early Years

Bonita Mae Jackson was born on Sunday, January 9, 1921, in Toledo, Ohio. It’s not known if Bonita (“Bonnie”) was named after any specific person. There are no known ancestors bearing that name although she did have a cousin (via uncle Anthony) who was also named “Bonita M.” The middle name, “Mae,” however, is prevalent in the family. Mother, Dorotha’s middle name was Mae as was great-grandmother’s, Matilda Millie Mae Clink. A cousin in the Krotzer lineage was also assigned Mae as a middle name (Dorothy Mae Sams, daughter of Bonnie’s aunt Susie Krotzer Sams).

Bonita passed her childhood years in the Point Place neighborhood of Toledo, where her father, John, worked as a baker.

It’s worth noting that Point Place was just beginning to develop into a modern community during this period. Telephone lines and city water were installed in 1920, with a county sewer system following in 1921. The first fire truck was put into operation in 1923. In the fall of 1928, the Shoreway Theater opened on Summit Street along with six retail outlets and a gas station; all this about one-half mile north of the Jablonski residence. That same year, Webber’s Restaurant, which played a role in the life of Bonita and her mother Dorotha, opened for business.  Summit Street was finally paved in 1933 and Point Place was annexed to the city of Toledo in 1935.[1] She may have attended Kleis School on 117th Street which had just opened in November of 1927.[2]

I think Bonnie did not complete high school. I’m rather certain she mentioned this more than once while I was growing up. Whether she began high school and dropped out, I don’t know. I believe she mentioned beginning her waitress work while still a teenager.

The 1930s must have been years of tumult. In the 1930 Census, John is reported as a baker and Dorotha is listed as not working; and nine-year-old Bonnie and seven-year-old John attending school. But by 1935 John and Dorotha had split up.[3]  It’s not known where Bonita spent that critical five-year span or even what her living arrangement was. Very curiously, she does not appear in the 1940 U.S. Census taken in April; father, John, was living in Gibsonburg with John, Jr., and mother, Dorotha, seems to be residing in Toledo with new husband, Joseph Schneider.

Another detail about which I have found no information is the accident that left Dorotha Jackson/Schneider crippled for the rest of her life. As far back as I can remember, Grandma Dolly walked with crutches and later with a walker and had an unhealed wound on her lower left leg. Bonnie occasionally alluded to the difficult relationship she had with her mother when  assisting her through an apparently long and painful rehab process.

There was a troubling incident reported in the Fremont Messenger in November of 1936. The short article notes that “Charges were brought by John Jackson of near Gibsonburg, father of a 15-year-old girl, following an alleged attack.”[4] No further information is available about this event.

My mother never alluded to any such occurrence. There’s no way to be certain this was Bonnie but the name, date and her age all correspond to the information reported in the newspaper.

Pregnancy and Marriage

Although Bonnie’s residence is a mystery, we can calculate that by December 1940, she was pregnant with her first son, Paul John. How her relationship with Paul Billick evolved is another unknown. In spring of 1940, twenty-four-year-old Paul was still living at home with his parents at Sibley Place in Adams Township,[5] about fifteen miles from Bonita’s neighborhood. The Census notes he was employed as a clerk in a toy factory. This detail provides some conjecture as to how the young couple may have met.

It is quite possible that Paul was employed by the American National Company, at that time the largest manufacturer of children’s’ vehicles (e.g., tricycles, peddle trucks, etc.) in the world. The plant employed over 3,000 workers at its plant at St. Clair, Superior, Jackson and Adams streets. This locale is just five miles from Bonita’s Point Place home and three miles from the New Horizon Bakery where John Jackson may have worked. One can imagine a chance encounter at the bakery. Or perhaps more likely, Paul and some coworkers heading up Summit Street for an after-work sandwich and a few beers at Webber’s Restaurant where we think Bonnie worked as a waitress.

By mid-1940, Europe was fully engulfed in World War II and isolationist sentiment in the U.S. was beginning to fade.  At the same time, financial troubles hit the toy company and the Toledo plant moved to Perrysburg. These factors may have influenced Paul to join the U.S. Army. In February 1941, he was sent to Camp Shelby in Mississippi for basic training.  In March of 1941, Bonita, four-months pregnant, journeyed to Mississippi where the couple were married on March 15th. Son Paul John was born five months later on August 29. Bonnie gave birth to two more children: David in May of 1947 and Paulette in September of 1963.

The Lost ‘40s

That’s the extent of data about Bonita available in official documents. She probably passed the war years in Gibsonburg. Her sister-in-law, Judy, stated that Bonnie lived with her son, Paul, on one side of the second-floor duplex occupied by her father at 109½ South Main Street.[6] The Census enumerator may have not realized the adjacent apartment was occupied thus explaining Bonnie’s absence from the 1940 Census listing. This address was also the location of Lutz’s Restaurant where Bonnie may have worked during this time.

Toledo: Home and Work

During the 1950’s, Bonita continued her waitressing at Dolly & Joe’s Restaurant on Airport highway, a little east of Swanton. At different times, the family lived in a farmhouse on a rural road hear Swanton[7] and then in a home on Wrenwood Road a bit southeast of the intersection of Talmadge and West Alexis Roads. Finally, around 1952-53, they settled in at 1010 Blackburn Road, next door to Paul’s parents’ house at 1026 Blackburn. Bonnie and Paul lived there the rest of their lives, raising their two sons and countless dogs, cats, lizards, rabbits, fish and turtles. In September of 1963, at age 42, Bonnie gave birth to a daughter, Paulette Anne, an event that brought great joy to both parents. Paulette eventually added a goose to the litany of pets at Blackburn Road.

In the kitchen, circa 1980-81

Lifelong Waitress

With the construction of the Ohio Turnpike in the early 1950s, Dolly and Joe’s Restaurant relocated to 1045 South Reynolds Road. Typically, Bonita worked weekday lunches and Saturday and Sunday all day; the restaurant was closed on Mondays.  Bonita worked there until a few years after Dolly’s death in 1974 when she sold the enterprise to long-time employee, Robert F. Wahl (1927-2012). Later, she worked at the Commodore Perry Hotel and finally at the Dana Corporation banquet facility on Dorr Street. Bonnie suffered a heart attack around 1990(?). She passed away on Saturday, June 10, 2000, at age 79.

Bonnie did not view waitressing in the least bit demeaning. She saw her work as a profession and took immense pride in serving each of her customers; regular visitors to Dolly & Joe’s would ask for her specifically.

The family experienced a home fire around 1954.

Took a cross-country road trip, following Route 66 west, in 1956 to visit Paul’s brother, Donald in California.

John Jackson, Jr.

John Jackson, Jr. (1922-2007) was born July 29, 1922, in Point Place, Ohio; just 18 months after his older sister. He would have spent all his pre-teen years in the Point Place neighborhood. When his parents split up sometime around 1930, he relocated with his father to Gibsonburg, Ohio, and resided at 109½ South Main Street.

John attended Gibsonburg High School, graduating in 1942. He was an outstanding football player.

John enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in November of 1942, at age 20, less than a year after the Pearl Harbor attack. His service began on the 16th of November 1942.  As part of the 15th Air Force,[8] he fought in Italy and Northern Africa. From Foggia, Italy, the 15th’s B-24 bombers targeted German oil production and industrial plants.[9] John was awarded two bronze stars, two silver stars, and the air medal with seven oak Leaf Clusters.  He was separated on the 10th of September 1945.


John married Martha Jane (“Judy”) Poer, an Indiana native and Gibsonburg resident, in November if 1947. The ceremony performed by Judy’s father, Rev. Jacob Poer.  The couple honeymooned in the New Orleans and Gulfport, Mississippi area.[10]  Work with Edison Co., retiring in 1984.

The couple had four children, all boys: Ronald (1951), Travis (1955), Mark (1957), and Chris (1960). For many years they lived on Yeasting Street.

John passed away on November 11, 2007.

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[1] “History of Point Place.” At Accessed January 9, 2018.
[2] Since demolished; now the location of the Point Place Branch Library.
[3] The 1940 U.S. Census included a column indicating where each household occupant was residing on April 1, 1935. For Dorotha, she was already with Joseph Schneider in Toledo.
[4] The News-Messenger (Fremont, OH), November 24, 1936, p. 2.
[5] “Sibley Place” is probably an area designation for a collection of properties between current-day Sawyer Road and Sibley Road. It is most likely the same residence that was eventually designated as 1026 Blackburn Road.
[6] Phone interview with Judy Jackson, January 1, 2018.
[7] Possibly County Road 3.
[8] The 15th Air Force was for a time commanded by Major General James Doolittle who led the famous April 1942 raid on Japan.
[9] Most of the B-24s were manufactured at the Willow Run plant near Ypsilanti, Michigan. The plant produced over 8,600 of the aircraft, reaching a peak production of eight a day in 1945.
[10] Judy did not recall why they chose Gulfport as a destination. It is an odd coincidence that’s it’s the same location where John’s, sister, Bonita, was married in 1941. I wonder if Paul Billick recommended Gulfport as a less expensive, more relaxed locale with nice beaches, while still having easy access to the city of New Orleans, an hour or so west across Lake Pontchartrain.
{last update: 10-Mar-2020}