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Jim's Juke Joint

My wife, Rose, and I - 1993

My wife, Rose, and I


Part One

(Best viewed at "800 x 600" pixels)

Frequent visitors to the site know I've been promising "personal content" since day one. My son, Tra, has certainly done his part (and my wife her's). Now, it's my turn. The curious may read on. Everyone else, I trust, can find the "back" button.

Like everything else on the Internet, this page is a work in progress. Given enough time, maybe someday I'll get it right.

Don't let anyone tell you baring your soul on the WWW is easy. This is not a letter and there's nothing private about the Internet. Though not just friends and family will read these words, not many others will care who "Jim Coleman" is. Can't say I blame them. That's about how I feel when reading some else's homepage bio. It's to be expected.

I've had a few friends ask for a recounting of the post-Upsala years and I guess I can do that much. I'll try to make it worth a read.

View of Parkersburg, West Virginia

South, Down the Ohio River

By birth, I'm a New Yorker. Though 36 years stand between me and my last New York home, I think it still shines through in my attitude. I still root for the Yankees, appreciate a good piece of cheesecake and love big cities. Toss in a quarter century of New Jersey congestion and you get the picture. Of course, it doesn't take much attitude to cause a ripple in a small town like Parkersburg. There's definitely not a lot to get excited about by New York standards. I guess that's why I like it.

Parkersburg, the third largest city in West Virginia, is very different from any other city I've ever lived in. It's urban and suburban and rural all at the same time and draws its personality equally from all three.

The city's tallest building is ten stories high. From its tenth floor you can easily see miles of surrounding meadows stretch away from center city. The nearest farm is less than two miles away and yet the busiest street in the state can be found within her borders, just as close. I often find myself wondering how I wound up in West Virginia... Even on the best of days, I'm not real sure. Just lucky, I guess.

Freshman ID card - September, 1971

Freshman ID card
September, 1971

Upsala was quite a place. Not everyone I've spoken to agrees but most admit their years there were golden. I know mine were.

For better or worse, Upsala is where I came to reinvent myself after high school. I was determined not to follow the rest of my class to Rutgers and Newark State (Kean). I'd been accepted to Syracuse but could not afford the tuition. Since I was paying my own way, I couldn't afford to get too fancy. Upsala wasn't cheap but it was only 45 minutes away by bus and relatively unknown. Only three Abraham Clark High seniors enrolled that first year. Two made it to the end. After graduation, I taught photography at Upsala's Community Workshop and worked a gig at the YMCA of the Oranges. The next year, Max hired me on at the Upsala College Bookstore where I put in several years as Assistant Manager. A few years later, I had the dubious honor of being in charge.

Staff ID card - Circa, 1978

Staff ID card
Circa, 1978

I've conversed with dozens of Upsala Alumni since launching the page. It's surprising how few remember me from my years in the store. All things considered, that's probably a blessing. I was young and pretty much had my hands full. I had a terrific time and learned a lot about "Business" and myself. It was quite a ride.

Close friends remember when I was a "starving artist". The Bookstore was my life line but it was a great deal more, too. In many ways, it was the best job I ever had. Running the store on such limited resources was difficult (we didn't even have a full-time cashier) but I took few problems home with me. That left me free to pursue the art.

For years I did the New Jersey Art Scene thing, exhibiting here and there throughout the state. It was great fun and I had my share of successes, including a "Best In Show" review from The New York Times in 1981. I typically painted until 2:00am or 3:00am as a rule and still managed to drag myself to work the next day. Don't know how I did it.

About The Author Part Two

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