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By Voda Beth Gradine
Most everyone in Garza County has been touched by some way or other by Bo and Marita Jackson. If you have had a bite of Jackson’s Beef Jerky or german sausage, you were touched by Bo. If you went to school or had a child going to school in Post from 1971 to 2000, you may have been touched by Marita. This Christian couple pray for Post and Garza County on a regular basis, so you may have been touched by them and not even known it.
The newlywed couple came to Post in 1957 with only the possessions in their car. They had married in New Mexico and drove to Post. They rented the small one-room apartment behind Clint and Lois Herring’s house on Main Street.
The couple came to Post for Bo to take his brother Jim’s job at the little locker plant. At that time there was a small building Wallace Simpson owned that had been a feed store turned into the meat locker. Jim was headed to the service and asked Bo to take his place. Since few homes had a freezer, there was 300 boxes in the large freezer, but the kill floor and the rest of the plant were small. Bo did every job in the locker plant except slaughter the animals. He unloaded the animals, cleaned the plant, cut up the meat, wrapped and stored the processed product.
When Jim returned from the service, he and Bo asked to become partners with Simpson. Simpson wanted out of the business, so he sold it to Bo & Jim for $15,000.
In the late 1960’s, they knew they needed more room. They went to the bank to borrow $100,000, which was more than they ever thought they could repay. The expansion included a larger kill floor and processing room as well as an office for the state inspector that was now required by the state. The only processing happening during the expansion was for deer. The hands needed something to do so Bo started looking for extra work. He purchased a welding shop and a grave digging business. He also put his employees to work building a swimming pool and waterfall in his backyard. This led to people requesting the same work at their yards. The employees worked at the locker when there was work to be done and other places when the locker was slow. No employee was terminated or missed a pay check during the expansion.
About the time of the expansion, a locker plant in Pampa was selling a large stainless steel smokehouse. They thought it was way too expensive but decided to go eat lunch and ask God about the purchase. After lunch they went back and bought it. It was a good purchase because right after they got the smokehouse installed Dr. Harry Tubbs came to them with a recipe for beef jerky. They started loading the smokehouse with beef for jerky. It was sold for $2.50 a pound. Shortly after that a German man from Slaton and another from Wilson started bringing german sausage for them to sell. This sold so well, the men gave the Jacksons their recipe making them promise the recipe would never be given out. To this day no one but the locker plant knows that recipe.
Governor Preston Smith started an award in 1971 for industrial expansion. It was co-sponsored by the Texas Industrial Commission with the award being given at the Governor’s Conference on Industrial Expansion on October 13 & 14 in Austin. Jackson Bros. Meat Locker won 3rd place. Jim Harwell, commission executive director said; “This citation is being awarded for the first time this year because of the quality of the entries”. Jackson Bros. had been closed for the expansion but still the payroll increased to 21, an increase of 75% from 1969. The total sales for the year was $250,000. Arthur K. and Lawrence J. Jackson were awarded 3rd place at the ceremony. The new plant in Plainview that Jimmy Dean started won 1st place. That same year the state recognized Jackson Bros. as being the largest custom house in the state. Custom house is where the animal comes into the plant on foot and the meat is processed ready to go on the table.
After 26 years of partnership Bo bought Jim out of the locker plant. This was the time Jim built and opened Chaparral Restaurant. Bo continued to build the business until 2000. At this time he was ready to slow down so he sold the plant to his two favorite hands David Hernandez and Joe Rodriguez.
Jackson Bros. Jerky is world renowned now. Soldiers stationed all over the world have ordered jerky to be sent to them. It is still being processed on a daily basis and people are lining up to get it. The Jacksons took a hole-in-the-wall place to the largest custom house in the state. That put Post on the map for many who love good food.
The rest of the Jackson story will follow next week.