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Jackson was born in Cleveland and grew up in Canton, Ohio. His father was a watch maker and eventually ended up with his own store. The depression years were tough for watch makers. He would trade watch work for potatoes and bread.Canton is the home of William McKinley and of Hoover vacuum cleaners. They stayed in Canton until 1939 when his dad moved the family to Seattle, Washington. In Seattle he learned of another job offer in Portland and moved the family there in 1940.Jackson worked a couple of different jobs before entering the service, one of which was building Higgins Boats [Annotator's Note: nickname given to landing craft designed by Andrew Jackson Higgins] at an iron works.Jackson took a job with a construction company in Alaska. He boarded a transport in Seattle and one day out of port his ship was rammed by a British oil tanker. They were taken under escort by the Coast Guard, had the ship repaired, and made it to Alaska.Jackson's job was pick and shovel expert. His job was to dig demolition trenches around the buildings and the airstrip in case the Japanese came so they could obliterate everything.They worked day and night.Construction materials were hard to come by at that time. They would move concrete in wheel barrows. He stayed there until early December. When he returned to Portland he made the decision to get into the service.Jackson wanted to get into the service because he knew that he would be drafted. His enlistment number was 81-82-20 SS. The SS stood for Selective Service. The regulars gave him grief because of this.
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