Evelyn Josephine Nichols

Evelyn, c. mid-1920s

Evelyn, c. mid-1920s

Snap.…snap.…snap flash! There’s Grandma Evelyn with her ever-present Kodak Instamatic! Come sit awhile, Grandma, and let’s hear about you. The youngest of my four grandparents is my dad’s mother, Evelyn Josephine Nichols. Evelyn was born in Galesburg, Illinois on December 5, 1908, to Finis Ewing Nichols and Edythe Mae Siepel.

Evelyn, c. 1910-12

Evelyn, c. 1910-12

Grandma Evelyn was the second of four children and the only girl. Her older brother Alfred was born in 1907 and died when he was just four months old. The family moved to Peoria, Illinois in 1912. Evelyn’s younger brothers, Merle and Charles, were born in 1912 and 1915, respectively. Evelyn and her brothers grew up in the family home at 813 E. Republic Avenue, across the street from Glen Oak School. After high school, Evelyn attended Brown’s Business College and then worked as a stenographer for John C. Streibich Company, purveyor of “wrapping, roofing and building paper, blank books and office stationary.” She had a lively circle of girlfriends, several of whom she kept in touch with her whole life.

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Evelyn (right) and friend, c. 1929

xEvelyn (right) and friend,x c. 1929

Evelyn, c. early 1930s

Evelyn, c. early 1930s

Evelyn, c. early 1930s

Evelyn, c. early 1930s

Evelyn (2nd from left) and friends, c. early 1930s

Evelyn (2nd from left) and friends, c. early 1930s

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Evelyn and kids, Nov. 1951

Evelyn and kids, Nov. 1951

When she was 29 years old, Evelyn married Henry A. Myers, Jr. on March 6, 1937, in Eureka, Illinois. She and Grandpa Hank built their home at 808 Ashland Avenue and moved in when they got married. Evelyn and Hank had four children, Don, Sharon, Joanne, and Robert (Butch). After she married, Grandma never worked outside the home, but she was always involved behind the scenes in Grandpa’s concrete contracting business. Grandma Evelyn was with us longer than any of my grandparents. She died on May 26, 1996, at the age of 87.

 

Evelyn and Hank, Jan. 1969

Evelyn and Hank, Jan. 1969

Grandma Evelyn was optimistic, jovial, generous, and understanding. She was a long-time member of the First United Methodist Church in Peoria. Grandma was a great homestyle cook—fried chicken and German potato salad were Sunday staples for many years. She had an insatiable sweet tooth, and you could count on her candy bowls being full of ribbon candy, Mary Janes and M&Ms. Evelyn and Hank took lots of road trips all over the United States. I was fascinated with her charm bracelet which was loaded with dozens of souvenir charms, including enameled states, a silver sombrero, a lamp post labeled Bourbon Street, and a tiny crate of oranges. Even in her later years she was always up for travel and family get-togethers. In her 80s, she flew to Las Vegas for a family reunion and Albuquerque for her granddaughter Amy’s wedding. She attended her Siepel and Knoedler annual family reunions in McDonough County, Illinois, as often as she could.

Evelyn with her first grandchild, Terri, c. 1961

Evelyn with her first grandchild, Terri, c. 1961

Grandma had a second charm bracelet with boy and girl silhouettes engraved with the names and birthdates of each of her 13 grandchildren. She was very proud of all her grandkids and never missed an opportunity to talk about them. (My sibs and I used to feel a little jealous that all she talked about was our cousins until the cousins told us all she talked about was us!) Grandma Evelyn loved to socialize and she loved snapping photos. She always ended a conversation with, “Send pictures!” Of all the grandparents, I would vote Grandma Evelyn most likely to have a Facebook account. She would have loved the ability to keep up with her far-flung grandchildren and great-grandchildren on a regular basis!

Evelyn, c. early 1990s

Evelyn, c. early 1990s

Share a memory of Grandma Evelyn!

16 thoughts on “Evelyn Josephine Nichols

  1. Grandma Evelyn was the only one of your grandparents that I knew. She took me under her wing
    when I came into this family and I liked her. She told me about visiting Cuba, a thing unheard of until
    recently.

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    • So glad you knew her. I remember our trip to Las Vegas (World of Concrete!). Wow, I had forgotten about the trip to Cuba (and not Cuba, Illinois, where the other side of the family lived, but the country of Cuba!)–that really is pretty amazing! Sure wish I had asked more questions of the grands when they were with us. Thank you for sharing, Darlene! Txo

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  2. If there is a facebook in heaven, Grandma Evelyn will be sharing this with all of her friends. Our ancestors are smiling (and perhaps a bit smug) with these beautiful tributes you are creating for us to share and enjoy. Gone, but not forgotten! I do remember Grandma Evelyn’s infectious laugh…and always a ready smile.
    Great job!!

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  3. This is so nice, Sissy! One thing I remember was Grandma Evelyn’s ability to recount and recall her travels!! She remembered the specific highways she and Grandpa drove on, the hotels they stayed at, the site itself like it had happened the day before! What an incredible memory! Maybe that is what happens when you live in the moment? Do you know how many states they visited??

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    • Hi Sissy, what an interesting thought about remembering the details when you live in the moment. That’s something to aspire to, isn’t it? I don’t know how many states Hank and Evelyn visited, but Grandma had charms from 40 states plus Canada and Mexico on her bracelet! And, they visited Cuba, too!

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  4. I remember Grandma Evelyn as being the sweet Grandma kinda in the background at the river house. She was always nice to us (Joel, Tia, and me) even though we were not her biologicals! I remember the candy too and her bracelets… I don’t remember her big Sunday dinners, probably because I wasn’t there! But I do remember she put butter on all her sandwiches which I could barely swallow…like with Peanut Butter and I think even ham. I just remember having the sense not to tell her I didn’t like them, I think I hid them under the teeter totter. 🙂 She took Terri and I on a day trip to Morton Pottery and that was fun. She let us get something and that was exciting! I never knew she was so beautiful.

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    • I only have a vague recollection of the butter, but that makes me laugh. I do remember our Morton Pottery souvenirs–a white swan and a blue glazed Illinois (did we each get one?). I’m pretty sure they were both ashtrays, which is kind of hilarious! I still have the swan!

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