Jerry Van Amerongen, who is of Dutch and Polish origins, was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He started cartooning for his school newspaper while attending Ferris Institute in Michigan. After school, he went to work as a middle management member of corporate America. Nearly twenty years after his school period, he returned to cartooning for a community newspaper in Minneapolis. He wrote and drew the syndicated comic panel 'The Neighborhood', which was published in about 130 American newspapers. He also came up with 'Ballard Street', which became his main focus after ten years, when he dropped 'The Neighborhood'.