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Retired diver reflects on adventurous life in U.P.

July 30, 2012
By KELLY FOSNESS , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

CENTENNIAL HEIGHTS - While more than a decade has passed since Jim Jackman hung up his scuba gear, he still has a lot of memories to share - stories of sunken commercial tugs he's attempted to surface, bodies he's recovered and shipwrecks he's taken divers to.

One can say he's lived an adventurous life.

"I've never been afraid of anything," the 79-year-old said as he leafed through his scrapbook of newspaper clippings at the kitchen table of his Centennial Heights home. "I used to skydive just for kicks."

Article Photos

Jim Jackman of Centennial Heights holds a Daily Mining Gazette article about when he plunged into the icy waters of the Portage Entry in search of the 57-foot commercial fishing tug Ronald E, which had sunk. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Kelly Fosness)

Skydiving with Michigan Tech University's former skydiving club was just the tip of the iceberg for Jackman's adventures. A retired auto mechanic of nearly 50 years, Jackman said the day he made his last jump was the day his late wife Mary finally decided to watch.

"I remember seeing the car pulling into the airport while I was standing on the wing strut," he recalled. "By the time I got down to the ground she had already driven home. When I got there she was pointing a finger at me. She said, 'I don't care what you do, you're going to give that up.' So, I brought some scuba gear home."

It was the beginning of an era for the adventure seeker. Getting his hands on an early 1940s U.S. Navy Divers manual, Jackman studied its pages from front to back. His first dive was at Tamarack Waterworks, which was "close to home."

"My folks had a rock shop in Delaware on the way to Copper Harbor so they prompted me to dig for rocks and souvenirs," he said. "Then you start finding different things like old bottles and shipwrecks, stuff like that, so interests change."

Around the time the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company closed in 1968, Jackman opened his own scuba diving shop, Narcosis Corner Divers, in Centennial Heights.

There he sold equipment and provided instruction.

Treasure hunting in Lake Superior is what Jackman said he fondly enjoyed.

"I had quite a collection of bottles from way back," he said. "I really got into the history of the Copper Country with the shipwrecks."



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