Hjordis grew up in west suburban Oak Park, Illinois and Jim, who was born in Missouri, graduated from college in Missouri and later entered the United States Navy. After school and military service, he started working at Encyclopedia Britannica. It was through this job that he moved to Chicago where he met Hjordis. In the mid-1960s, the couple purchased a house on North Lincoln Park Avenue West. From this vantage point, they experienced the riots related to the Democratic National Convention. Each night, shortly after 11:00 pm, the couple would look at Lincoln Park and the streets around their home to see Chicago police officers "taking pride" in clobbering people on the heads as they cleared people from the park. At one point Mr. Garner remembers hearing a policeman say with humor, "Leave your wounded behind. We'll take care of them."