History of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

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Jim Jensen's

Photo Gallery of Newton D. Baker Junior High School Teachers


by Gary Swilik

all photographs courtesy of Jim Jensen, West Palm Beach, Florida

Through the generosity of James L. Jensen, now of West Palm Beach, Florida, we're bringing our readers a series of photos of teachers who served at Newton D. Baker Junior High School in 1956. Also included are photos Jim took of the school building when it opened in the spring of 1955.

Jim Jensen grew up at 3874 West 157th Street, about a dozen houses south of the West Park Library. His father was Dr. Edward Wallace Jensen who was a dentist on Cleveland's west side from 1924, when he graduated from Western Reserve School of Dentistry,    until 1982, when he retired.

"Dad's dental office was at 9806 Madison Avenue," says Jim. "The building is called La Belle Vue. It was built in 1890 and still had the old gas jets. You could see the lake from the roof. Dads' office had a genuine tin ceiling. My grandfather, Peter Jensen, had his baking business in the same building. The bakery was founded in 1905."

Jim's mom was Gertrude Foster Jensen. She was active with Goodwill Industries of Cleveland, serving as treasurer, trustee, and president of the ladies auxiliary. She was also treasurer of the Society of Collectors of Dunham Tavern Museum, as well as treasurer of the PTA at George Washington, Newton D. Baker, and John Marshall school.

"My mother was a collector of ornaments, lanterns for candles, and the first electric lights," Jim tells us. "She also collected Easter, Valentine, and Halloween items. Often Mom would have her collections exhibited in the display case as you entered the West Park Library. When she died in 1983, Dad and I donated her Christmas collection to The Western Reserve Historical Society. It was used on the tree in the John Hay Room for some time."

Growing up, Jim was a member of Boy Scout Troop 97 and become an "Eagle Scout."  Those familiar with the challenging physical and academic requirements which must be me to attain the rank of Eagle Scout will appreciate Jim's accomplishment. Jim graduated from John Marshall High School in June, 1961, and later became Direct Mail Advertising Manager at May Company, where he not only purchased all the advertising printing but wrote all the copy.

We hope many older West Parkers will enjoy the photos Jim is sharing with us. How many students would think of photographing their junior high school teachers! Most of us are older by the time we appreciate the value of preserving our memories with photos.

"Just call me a visionary," Jim explains with modest good humor. "Like my father, I've documented the people, places and things I've experienced, and continue to do so to this day. My father started when he was 10 years old in 1912. I did the same with the camera he gave me on my tenth birthday on May 5th, 1953 an Argus camera using 620 film. The film was sent by mail to be developed. How anxiously I would look for the postman to arrive with my pictures."

"I was 13 years old when I photographed my teachers at Newton D. Baker," Jim remembers. "All on the last day of school during the first week of June, 1956. I didn't ask permission but none of my teachers objected. They seemed flattered to be photographed."

"Among the photos you'll find Beverle E. Martindale, my English, Dramatics, and Journalism teacher. Of all my teachers over the years, she was the exceptional one. When school was out in the summer Bev would teach at the Parker Ranch. She was also founder of the Martindale Puppeteers. They used to perform at Higbee's when I worked there during Ohiorama.  Bev and her husband, attorney John Martindale, still live on Butternut Ridge Road in North Olmsted."

(At westparkhistory.com, we spoke with Mrs. Martindale before posting this story. "Oh, yes, I remember Jim," Mrs. Martindale told us.  "He was a wonderfully bright student, with so many interests in so many different things, especially for his age and grade level. I don't specifically recall Jim taking my photo but I think it may have been during a special class I taught for students we thought would benefit from advanced material. Jim's memory is good,"she laughs. "I did teach at Adele Parker's Ranch and I'm still very active with puppet shows.")

"I remember other teachers whose photos don't appear," Jim continues.  "There was orchestra teacher, Stuart Switzer; Mike Massa, social studies; Hugh D. Elliot, history; and Mr. Schall, physical education."

"To my knowledge, none of the teachers ever saw the photos,"Jim explains.  "However years later I did send copies to social studies teacher Victoria Ellis.  The photos came back to me with a letter and subsequent phone call from her niece saying Miss Ellis had passed away. Her niece was most thankful to have photos of her aunt as a teacher. That, in itself, gives meaning to my efforts."








all photographs courtesy of Jim Jensen, West Palm Beach, Florida

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Updated 21 August 2014