Jessie Williams


“Make Your Own Fun”
Words and music by Marianne Fridell
with Mrs. Tiffany’s 4th Grade Class
©2002 Marianne Fridell



      Jesse Williams

(chorus A)
We’d sled down hills, straddling our shovels when the snow fell down
When it got finer we’d dig holes to China, use twigs to build a town
Kick the can in the evening all the way around the world
One big family, every boy and girl

(chorus B)
At Tinton Community Hall, Potato Creek Johnny sawed
He sawed on his fiddle while we danced in the middle,
We stamped and reeled, go dizzy just a little
We dozey-doed like spit on a griddle, we whirled and twirled
In that wonderful world—-Make your own fun!

I was born in that big white house right over there
But I lived in Tinton for my first 18 years
Went to high school in this building where you’re sitting right here
My nickname’s Lovey, agreeable and dear
We’d swim in Iron Creek lake, a six mile climb
Potato Creek Johnny would greet us and we’d ask him the time
He’d hold down his flowing beard as it blew in the wind
He said, “Half past kissing time, time to kiss again.”

(chorus b)

I Tinton town the snow would fall and reach up to the eaves
My four brothers and I, how we loved to ski
Some skies were made by Dad, steamed and curled in a boiler pot
The best gift from brother Buck was a pair of skis store bought
In our 2 room schoolhouse, 30 students or more
We raised the flag, fetched the water, swept and cleaned the floors
In the annual, they noted that I was studious
Guess that doesn’t count the snake we put in the teacher’s desk

(chorus B)

I rocked my doll in an oatmeal box, hit homers in kitten ball
Box socials and clip-on roller skates in the Tinton Community Hall
In the summer’s heat we’d find ice deep in the mine
Then we’d crank up some ice cream with the salty brine
Blitzen was a german shepherd, pulled our sleds through the drifts
Good thing he was a police dog cuz there was no sheriff
When we needed protection, Blitz would sniff out the truth
Once he chased a pesky salesman into the town’s phone booth

Tinton is a ghost town now, since the mill burned down
Once there were a lot of folks who filled these hills with sound
People bought their flour and milk with yellow dust and flecks
And If you know just where to go, the gold’s still up there yet.

(chorus A & B)


Our song is about our friend and class elder, Jessie Williams, who has lived most of her life in the Black Hills.

Jessie was born in 1926 in the big blue and white house across the street from East Elementary. Jessie had four brothers, Albert, Buck, Glen, and Chuck. Her Dad managed the mine in Tinton, ran the store and post office and did some placermining on the side.

When she was a baby growing up in Tinton, South Dakota, her nickname was Lovey Dove because she was so loveable. Her family still calls her Lovey today.

Jessie’s favorite animals are dogs and sheep. The favorite pet she ever had was Blitzen. Blitzen was a huge, black German Shepherd. When she was little, she would wander off and Blitzen would pick her up by her diaper and carry her back home.

When Jessie and her brother Glen were quite young they decided they wanted new bikes. To earn the money they picked berries. One full bucket earned them $.25. One day a man came to Tinton selling pianos. Jessie’s Mom had always wanted a piano so instead of buying bikes Glen and Jessie took the money they had saved and made the first payment on a new piano for their Mom. That piano is still in the Williams family.

Jessie’s grade school was so small that it only had two rooms and 30 students in all of the grades combined. Raising the flag, cleaning the boards, sweeping the floors and bringing in the water were the chores all students took turns doing. They didn’t always do chores, one time they even put a snake in their teacher’s desk.

To keep warm when they went ice skating or walked home from school, the kids put newspapers in their coats. When it got cold at night, they would keep warm by putting warm bricks in their bed.

In her freshman year Jessie was the only person in her class. As a sophomore Jessie had to board in Spearfish with the Leeper family to attended high school. Her family paid $30 a month for her room and board. During the Depression lots of the families moved away to try to find jobs. Jessie’s dad was able to make extra money during the Depression by panning for gold. Jessie’s family was one of the lucky ones because her Dad had a job at the Tinton Mine. Some of the boys in her high school class were drafted to serve during World War II.

For fun Jessie and her friends played kittenball, kick the can, run sheep run, marbles and I dare you. They enjoyed box socials and roller‐skating at the Tinton Community Hall and ice‐skating on a pond two miles from Tinton. Jessie loved to ski. Her class yearbook said she was the “best skier”. She enjoyed downhill and cross‐country skiing even when she was an adult. She was still skiing when she became a grandma.


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