In 1958, Joan Walsh Anglund and her husband Bob moved to a 1750s home on Kings Highway South. The young mother began writing, and drawing small books.
Without her knowledge, Bob submitted one of her works to Harcourt Brace. “A Friend is Someone Who Likes You” soon became enormously popular.
For the rest of her life, Anglund wrote at home. Her children’s books and poetry sold over 45 million copies worldwide. Meanwhile, she raised 2 kids: Joy and Todd.
Tim Jackson dated Joy while both were at Staples High School. Her parents became big influences on his life. Bob was “the man of a thousand great stories and impressions.” Joan was “the steady voice of inspiration and reason.”
Their home was a place where everyone talked, laughed and tried to figure out life.
In college in 1969, Tim introduced the Anglunds to his new girlfriend, Suzanne. Sixteen years later, they were still together. Joan asked if they were going to have kids.
When Tim said “probably, eventually,” Joan replied, “Well, it only takes one day to have a baby.”
Ten months later the Jacksons’ first son, Max, was born. He turned 33 this month.
Right now, Max is composing music for a film Tim is making. “Joan Walsh Anglund: Life in Story and Poem” is a tribute to thee 92-year-old best-selling author/illustrator.
It’s narrated through a series of first-person oral histories, accompanied by her art and unpublished poetry.
It also describes her own story of tragedy and triumph — one that has never before been told.
Jackson has had quite a life himself. He sat behind the Nixon daughters when the Beatles appeared on “Ed Sullivan” in 1964 — an event that launched his musical career.
He got kicked out of the Staples orchestra for “not being serious.” His band, The Loved Ones, opened for the Rascals at Staples (and provided the sound system the Yardbirds used there).
Jackson majored in drama at Ithaca College (and eventually left, drawn away by Rob Carlson’s Benefit Street band). He went on to play drums in several bands (and open for Bruce Springsteen).
He toured with Tom Rush, LaVern Baker and others, and recorded often. His ’60s band — The Band That Time Forgot — has performed for over 30 years.
Jackson acted (he’s Joe Kopechne in “Chappaquiddick,” due for release next month), earned a master’s in education, and taught for 20 years (mostly film history and production).
Whil teaching, he made 4 documentary films. “When Things Go Wrong” — about Robin Lane — won Best Documentary at the New Jersey International Film Festival. (He was in her group The Chartbusters, the 11th band to be broadcast on MTV.)
The Joan Walsh Anglund film focuses on a woman who, like Lane, is strong, capable, and enriches lives through the arts.
Jackson’s documentary uses storytelling, illustration, animation, poems, music and rare home movies to convey her eccentric upbringing, 3 childhood tragedies, 6o-year romance with Bob, and unexpected success.
“Our world is in turmoil,” Jackson says. “We need stories of personal triumph and celebration.”
He hopes to appeal to Anglund’s worldwide fan base (which included, in its heyday, Eleanor Roosevelt and Queen Elizabeth).
“This oral history honors the wisdom of age,” he notes. “It will encourage people to tell their own stories.”
It could also spur the publication of many short poems she wrote — only a fraction of which he includes.
Next year, Houghton Mifflin releases a special 60th anniversary edition of her first book. It will coincide with the completion of Jackson’s film.
He’s got a unique Westport perspective on Joan Walsh Anglund’s life. And now he’s ready to share it with the world.
(Tim Jackson is raising funds for his editor, composer, animator, Photoshop artist and a producer’s honorarium. He also needs to pay for stock footage and post-production, including color correction and sound editing. All contributors receive screen credit. To help, and for more information, click here.)