Bob dylan ‘s footsteps Hibbing Part-1

Bob dylan 's footsteps Hibbing Part-1

Greetings from Hibbing

the town I grew up in is the one
that has left me with my legacy visions
it was not a rich town
my parents were not rich
it was not a poor town
an’ my parents were not poor
it was a dyin’ town
(it was a dyin’ town)
a train line cuts the ground
showin’ where the fathers an’ mothers
of me an’ my friends had picked
up an’ moved from
north Hibbing
t’ south Hibbing.
old north Hibbing . . .
deserted
already dead
with its old stone courthouse
decayin’ in the wind
long abandoned
windows crashed out
the breath of its broken walls
being smothered in clingin’ moss
the old school
where my mother went to
rottin’ shiverin’ but still livin’
standin’ cold an’ lonesome
arms cut off
with even the moon bypassin’ its jagged body
pretendin’ not t’ see
an’ givin’ it its final dignity

Abe and Beatty Zimmerman

Bob’s father, Abe Zimmerman, was the son of Zigman and Anna Zimmerman, Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. Zigman was born in 1875 in the Black Sea port of Odessa and grew up in desperate times. As the power of Czar Nicholas II faltered, he blamed Jews for the problems besetting the Russian empire, and thousands were murdered by mobs. Anti-Semitic hysteria reachedOdessa in November 1905. Fifty thousand Czarists marched through the streets, screaming “Down with the Jews,” and shot, stabbed, and strangled a thousand to death. In the wake of the massacre Bob’s paternal grandfather fled the country, telling his wife and children he would send for them when he had found a place to settle.

duluth

Zigman Zimmerman caught a ship to the United States and found his way to Duluth, one hundred and fifty-one miles north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Like many émigrés, Zimmerman gravitated to a place similar to the land where he was born. Duluth was a small but bustling port, like Odessa, with an almost Russian climate of short summers and long, bitter winters. Duluth was a fishing port, but its main trade was in the iron ore from the Iron Range, a necklace of mining towns to the northwest. The ore was transported by train to Duluth and transferred to ships that carried it to iron and steel works in Chicago and Pittsburgh. Zimmerman worked as a street peddler, repairing shoes. When he was established he sent for his Russian wife, Anna. She came with three children, Marion, Maurice, and Paul. Three more boys—Jack, Abram (also known as Abe), and Max—were born after the couple was reunited in America.

Iron Range - Duluth Trading

Abe Zimmerman was born in 1911. By the age of seven, he was selling newspapers and shining shoes to help the family. Although Abe was not tall and wore glasses, he was an athletic boy. He was also a musician, and the Zimmerman children formed a little band. “Abe played violin. I played violin [and] Marion played piano,” says Abe’s brother Jack. “We had pretty good talent and played together at some high schools.” Abe graduated high school in 1929, a few months before the Wall Street stock market crash, and went to work for Standard Oil.

Abe Zimmerman’s favourite singers were Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole.

Bob Dylan’s mother, Beatrice Stone—whom everybody called Beatty, pronounced Bee-tee, with emphasis on the second syllable—was from a prominent Jewish family in the Iron Range town of Hibbing. Her maternal grandparents, Benjamin and Lybba Edelstein, were Lithuanian Jews who had arrived in America with their children in 1902, and came to Hibbing two years later. Her grandfather, known as B. H., operated a string of movie theaters. B. H.’s eldest daughter, Florence, who was born in Lithuania, married Ben Stone, also born in Lithuania, and they ran a clothing store in Hibbing, selling to the families of miners, most of whom were also immigrants. Beatty was born in 1915, the second of Ben and Florence’s four children. Her siblings were named Vernon, Lewis, and Irene [Goldfine]. Like the Zimmermans, the Stones were a musical family and Beatty learned to play the piano.

Although Hibbing was the largest of the Iron Range towns, the population was only ten thousand, and the Jewish community was small. “It was quite difficult for us because there weren’t too many young Jewish people,” says Beatty’s aunt, Ethel Crystal, who was like a sister to Beatty because they were close in age. “So we used to go to Duluth to visit our relatives.” They were in Duluth, at a New Year’s party, when Ethel introduced Beatty to Abe Zimmerman. “He was a doll,” says Ethel Crystal. “Everybody liked him.” Abe was a quiet, almost withdrawn, young man, and Beatty was vivacity itself, but their differences were complementary.

Abe and Beatty married at her mother’s home on June 10, 1934, three days after her nineteenth birthday. Abe was twenty-two at the time. The country was still gripped by the Depression. Sharecroppers from the Midwest were migrating to California. Newspapers reported the desperate crimes of gangsters like Bonnie and Clyde, who were involved in a shoot-out in St. Paul in March. John Dillinger was shot dead in Chicago a couple of weeks after Abe and Beatty honeymooned in the city. It was a strange, hard time, and it would be six years before they could afford to start a family. In the meantime, they lived with Abe’s mother in Duluth.

It took the Second World War, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, to pull America out of the Great Depression. By 1941, Abe had been promoted to management level at Standard Oil, and he and Beatty had enough money to get their own apartment. Beatty was pregnant when they moved to 519 North 3rd Avenue East, a clapboard house with a steeply pitched roof and verandah, built on a hill above Duluth. They rented the two-bedroom top duplex. At five past nine on the evening of May 24, 1941, Beatty gave birth to baby boy at nearby St. Mary’s Hospital. He weighed seven pounds and one ounce. Four days later when the child was registered and circumcised he had a name. In fact, he had two. In Hebrew he was called Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham. In the wider world he would be known as Robert Allen Zimmerman. Robert was the most popular name for boys in the country at the time. Almost immediately he was known as Bob, or Bobby. His mother said he was so beautiful he should have been a girl.

 Abe and Beatty Zimmerman 1939.

1993.35.741.184 Robert Shelton Collection, Experience Music Project permanent collection (Bob Dylan’s American Journey, 1956-1966, 2006)

Although Hibbing was the largest of the Iron Range towns, the population was only ten thousand, and the Jewish community was small. “It was quite difficult for us because there weren’t too many young Jewish people,” says Beatty’s aunt, Ethel Crystal, who was like a sister to Beatty because they were close in age. “So we used to go to Duluth to visit our relatives.” They were in Duluth, at a New Year’s party, when Ethel introduced Beatty to Abe Zimmerman. “He was a doll,” says Ethel Crystal. “Everybody liked him.” Abe was a quiet, almost withdrawn, young man, and Beatty was vivacity itself, but their differences were complementary.

Beatty graduated from Hibbing High School in 1932.

As a local businessman, Abe Zimmerman was active in local organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary, etc., and was known as a gregarious man in town. His speech was slow and deliberate — compared to Beatty’s machine gun style — and he was often seen with a big cigar in his mouth. Abe’s style of dress was generally a bit different than that of the average Ranger, with sport shirts, slacks and sweaters suggesting more of a West Coast image. Dark hair flecked with gray, and strong glasses rounded out Abe’s appearance. His bout with polio had left him with a slight limp and some weakness in his legs. Abe felt Bob should have shown more interest in taking over the family business someday. After all, it was a fairly successful venture. Abe thought that guitar playing was finefor a hobby, but it was a waste of time that wouldn’t pay the bills…

He impressed his peers and adults alike as being intelligent but unsettled. Even his parents concede that they found some of his ways distressing. That is not difficult to understand, for Bobby stems from a middle-class background in which much emphasis is placed on education and conformity and plans for a respectable career.

Bobby didn’t quite fit into that framework and preferred a more bohemian type of life. His parents say he frowns on being called a beatnik, and they don’t like that designation for him either. But he was in fact adopting some of the manners associated with beatniks – or folkniks – in an area where that makes a person stand out like a strange character.

His parents say they “always knew that Bobby had a real streak of talent, but we didn’t know what kind. We just could not corral it.” Now, obviously, he seems to have done it all by himself.

Bob’s father became president of the synagogue and of B’nai Brith (Bundes Bruder, Sons of the Covenant, a Jewish service organization committed to the State of Israel) in Hibbing. He was a member of the Rotary Club and the Minnesota Arrowhead Association. Bob’s mother became president of Hadassah (the Women’s Zionist Organization of America) in Hibbing.

 

In May of 1932 Beatrice Stone graduated from Hibbing High School. She was listed as a member of the Darwin Science Club, Volleyball, and Track. Beatty’s disposition was described as being “debonair” and her pet peeve was “The depression on dates”.

In May of 1932 Beatrice Stone graduated from Hibbing High School. She was listed as a member of the Darwin Science Club, Volleyball, and Track. Beatty’s disposition was described as being “debonair” and her pet peeve was “The depression on dates”.

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. Odessa is a Ukrainian sea gates on the Black Sea now and has no such hard winters as Russia. Ukrainian climate is milder. And. by the way, life in Hibbing was very close to the life we have in Lugansk and Donetsk regions. Anyway, a great article!

  2. Excellent article!! It’s ALWAYS good to be informed about the roots of the GREATEST SONGWRITER TO EVER BE BORN!!! B-O-B D-Y-L-A-N

  3. Loved the article . What a great family history no wonder he is the great Bobby Dylan. destined for success and greatness.

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