NEGAUNEE - Growing up in Gwinn, Glenn Bjork and his friends spent a great deal of time playing baseball.
"We had fun," he said. "But back then, we had to be careful about one thing. We had to watch out for the cow 'pasties.'"
Bjork, born Jan. 14, 1925, made the observation with a twinkle in his eye, but that's not unusual. Talking about his first 87 years of living, Bjork is an optimist who finds the best in most every situation.
Left:?Glenn Bjork poses with his daughter Linda Bjork Anglin at his Negaunee home. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi).
Bjork is the only boy wearing a uniform in this photo from 1937 or 1938, when he was 12 or 13 years old. Glenn, who is posing with some of his childhood friends in Gwinn, was wearing his father, Everett’s, uniform for this photo. (Bjork family photo)
The old Gwinn Hospital was where Bjork was born an "older" sibling to his twin sister, Gloria.
"I was seven minutes older," he said. "When we were born, it was January, and our parents took us home to Austin Location with a team of horses and a cutter."
The family later moved to Maple Street in the center of Gwinn.
His parents were Everett and Emma (Johns) Bjork. Emma was one of 17 children in the Johns family. She sadly passed away when her twins were just 4 years old, in 1929.
"My dad married again in 1933. My stepmom was Louella and she was a great lady. She was a gardener who had beautiful flowers and vegetables," Bjork said.
His childhood was a happy one, filled with fun.
"We fished in the two rivers in Gwinn," he said. "We went swimming at the Tourist Park in Gwinn all the time. All the kids in town would go down there to swim. ... Those were good days."
Did he like school?
"No," he said emphatically. "I remember when I was in third or fourth grade, our teacher wanted us to play Jack Be Nimble and I would refuse to do it. I didn't want to jump over the candle. She understood. I was a shy boy and didn't want to play the game.
"We had a lot of good teachers," Bjork said. "They weren't allowed to get married back then so they could concentrate on school."
As with most Gwinn kids, he spent a lot of time at the Gwinn Clubhouse, which serves as a community center to this day.
"Oh my goodness, I spent a lot of time there. It was just up the hill from our house," he said. "We played pool. We played ping pong. We visited. Those days, we (kids) had no one making up our schedules for us. You went out and did things when you wanted to."
Bjork served during World War II in the U.S. Navy. His experiences during the war years will be featured next week.
"I got out of the service in April 1946. I was 21 when I came home for good," Bjork said.
He went to work for Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co., eventually retiring in 1987.
"I always enjoyed my work and liked the guys I worked with," he said.
But what he loved was the family life he created with Negaunee native Mildred Hill, called Millie by everyone.
"She was my sweetheart," he said. "She was special. She wanted to fly her entire life. You have to know that airplanes weren't around here very much when we were young. When one flew over, we'd run out of the house to wave at them. Well, Millie always dreamed of flying planes."
Millie wasn't able to be part of the military during the war, so she started flying lessons on her own in 1946.
"In 1948, she earned her pilot's license. She did a solo flight to Green Bay and back," Bjork said. "She always laughed about them having another plane follow her. She said, 'What could he do for me if something happened?'"
Glenn and Millie started dating in 1949 and the couple married on Sept. 29, 1951.
"Some people tell me that I never get all excited. I am not an excitable person, I guess," he said. "The only time I ever got excited was when Millie said yes."
The Gwinn boy became a Negaunee man as Millie wanted to live in her hometown. They built a house in a neighborhood called Beverly Hills by Negaunee residents. The couple had four children: Ed, Linda, Carrie and Carl.
The couple was married 58 years before Millie passed away on Nov. 5, 2009.
"We had many happy years together," Bjork said. "She's still with me every day."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.