Henry A. Myers, Jr.

Henry, ca 1920s

Henry, c. mid-1920s

My dad’s father, Henry A. Myers, Jr., was born in Peoria, Illinois on January 2, 1908, to Henry A. Myers, Sr. and Lillie Caroline Herpst. Grandpa Hank’s birth record shows his middle name and his father’s as “Anderson,” but his was lined through and replaced with the initial “A”—I wonder if the correction was made at the time or at a later date? When Grandpa applied for a Social Security card in 1942, he recorded his middle name and his father’s as “Andrew.” Grandpa Hank’s grandfather was named Andrew Myers, but interestingly, there was an Anderson Myers in Sullivan County, Tennessee where Andrew grew up. Could Anderson be a family name, too? In any case, my grandfather usually signed his name as Henry A. Myers, or simply H. A. Myers.

Grandpa Hank was the youngest of four children and the only boy. His sisters Minnie and Phrona were born in 1890 and 1893 respectively; his sister Hattie was born in 1903, ten years after Phrona. Grandpa Hank’s mother died in 1922 when he was 14 years old. By that time, both Phrona and Minnie were married and had been out of the family home at 928 Garden Street for several years. Hattie always doted on her baby brother Hank and after their mother died she was like a mother to him.

Hank at right with Minnie, center, and unknown friend, ca. 1910-12

Hank at right with Hattie, center, and unknown friend, c. 1910-12

Hattie and Hank, ca. 1912-14

Hattie and Hank, c. 1912-14

Hank and Hattie, ca. early 1930s

Hank and Hattie, c. early 1930s

Hank married Evelyn Josephine Nichols on March 6, 1937, in Eureka, Illinois, when he was 29 years old. Shortly thereafter, they moved into the house at 808 N. Ashland, Peoria, Illinois, where they lived for the rest of their lives. Hank and Evelyn had four children, Don, Sharon, Joanne, and Robert (Butch).

Hank and kids, Nov 1951

Hank and kids, Nov. 1951

Grandpa Hank made his living in the concrete business. His first entrepreneurial venture was a concrete block making business that went broke during the Depression. In the late 1930s, Hank started his own concrete contracting company, which was a successful and respected business in the Peoria area for nearly 40 years. Grandpa retired in the early 1970s. He died on January 6, 1986, at the age of 78.

Hank & Evelyn, ca. early 1970s

Hank & Evelyn, c. early 1980s

Grandpa Hank was hard-working, dutiful, reserved, and frugal. He was a St. Louis Cardinals fan and active in the Shrine. When I was little, he had a grumpy old dog named Spot (grumpy because he was old and wasn’t too pleased about toddlers hanging all over him—I was confused and called Spot “Grandpa”). My most vivid memories of Grandpa Hank are in the living room at Ashland Avenue reclining in his 1950s BarcaLounger. On the shelves behind his recliner were kitschy souvenirs from his many road trips with Grandma around the United States. Grandpa favored die cast metal pieces, like the Little Brown Church in the Vale penny bank and the 1917 Model T Ford pencil sharpener (missing its top, a sure sign that my brother played with it).

What do you remember?

7 thoughts on “Henry A. Myers, Jr.

  1. Love the pics! I did not know the Spot/Grandpa story … so cute! What I remember most is the stories of how Grandma Evelyn used to go with Grandpa to his estimating jobs. She used to have to sit in the truck for hours while Grandpa would be visiting with the prospective customers.

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  2. I mostly remember Hank as being very hard working; a no- nonsense type of guy. I remember the house on the Illinois River the most! It was always fun going there and looking at all the stuff. They were not afraid of the trinkets! I loved it.

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    • I remember going to the cottage on the Illinois River, too, and all the interesting “stuff” Grandma and Grandpa had around. I have a hilarious photo of Andy bobbing in that dirty river with a life jacket on (years before the Clean Water Act, eek). I remember digging down into the mud with our toes for clams, collecting shells and being fascinated with dead fish that washed up, the dock and the boathouse, the seesaw and the tree swing, the painted glass wind chimes tinkling away, the jalousie windows cranked open, and ice tea! We had fun there! Grandpa was there in the background, I think, but we didn’t really interact with him much.

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