John Frederick Robinson

Find a Working Girl

robinson-3John Frederick Robinson, born April 28, 1911 in Battle Creek, Michigan, seemed destined to a live a long life. Nicknamed Jack, his first brush with death occurred at the tender age of three months when his appendix burst. Although not expected to live, a surgeon from Detroit answered the urgent call, performed the operation and saved his life. Battle Creek held many attractions: visiting his maternal grandparents, the old trolley, vaudeville shows, and silent movies at the Bijou Theater. The family of four, which now included a younger brother, lived in many places. Jack attended Newtown Senior High School in Elmhurst, New York and organized a band to play in the school gym.   Of all the music jobs he worked, Jack best loved the nine consecutive summers in the Catskills: three nights a week at the Sunset Park Inn and during off hours, other venues. The band, called Jack Robinson’s Rhythm Ramblers, were each paid $5 per night plus a complimentary meal. robinson-4The funds he earned in the band helped to pay for his education. In 1936, he graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Cornell University. He landed his first post-college job at the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York in the promotion department. At a subsequent job he met Janina Gorecka, a talented violist, who gave her first concert at age 10. They dated for several years and married in 1943. Since they were both fully employed, they skipped the honeymoon and moved into their Bronx apartment. From here they happily settled into a home in Westwood and then another in Harrington Park, where they lived for 40 years. The family grew to include three sons. Over his lifetime, Jack has worked as a pianist, band manager, dining car conductor, pharmaceutical salesman, resort manager, hotel manager, auditor and painter. Jack studied watercolor painting with the late Edgar Whitney, considered one of the most impactful and charismatic watercolor instructors of all time. Over a 40-year period, Jack sold over 1,400 paintings at art shows and exhibits. Three of his paintings grace the walls of the Lakeland Bank along Main Street. In 2007 Jack and Janina moved to Bristol Glen and played live piano and violin music. The couple was married for 68 years; sadly, Janina passed away in 2012. While poor eyesight prevents him from painting, he still plays the piano. Jack’s three children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren maintain close contact. His pearl of wisdom: “Be sure you pick a good wife. Find a working girl.” There are 7 Jack and Janina Robinson YouTube videos posted at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOaDRTgOwSc&feature=channel&list=UL