I was the first child of John Henry Meierdierck and wife Ida Getto. I had an older brother Victor Elliot but it has never been ascertained who his father was. The only rumor that
The four Meierdierck boys: L-R: Hank, George, Wilbur, Victor
The four Meierdierck boys: L-R: Hank, George, Wilbur, Victor
I ever heard was that his fathers name was Miller. Nobody in the family ever brought the subject up. I think that he was adopted by my mother and father when they were married. I know of no documents or conversations that would corroborate this premise. It was obvious that he was not the son of my father. His features and swarthy darkened skin were very different than that of myself and my twin brothers, George Calvin and Wilbur John, who were 4 years younger than me. Census reports verify this premise; although I do have a photo of my father holding Victor when he was very young? Most of my family and my forebearer's history can be found in Jays 'Biography of the Meierdierck family' so you will have to revert to that document for the details.
       I think that I was a pretty good-looking baby and since my mother wanted a girl, I had long blonde curls and I guess that I was dressed in dresses  until I got too old to do that. They also entered me in several Baby Parades on the boardwalk at Asbury Park, N.J. but I
Hank at 3 years old
Hank at 3 years old
don't know if I ever won any prizes. We also have a photo of me in a pongee suit taken at Long Beach L.I. N.Y. when I was about 6 years old. I kept my wavy hair until I went into the service and it has been short ever since. The only 'Wave' today is my hair waving good-bye.
         Early in my life my Mother used to call me 'Henry The Great.' During the ensuing years  this was contorted to sound like 'Henry The Eighth'. [Henry the VIII] This stuck and became a part of the Meierdierck genealogy and particularly when it was determined that my father, grand father, and my great grandfather all were named John Henry Meierdierck. Well, today we refer to my son John [Jay] as IX his son John as  X and my great grandson John [Jake] as  XI. We use Roman numerals on correspondence, Xmas gifts and in general conversation.  
         One day as Jake [XI] was having breakfast with his dad, he queried him with this profound question. 'Dad, when I get married will I have to share my roman numerals?.' Another profound statement by I think, my grandson Gregory was ' Mom, It's a good thing that our skin and bones grow at the same time'.
         For several summers I stayed with my cousin, Billy Wasmer and his Mother Helene [my fathers sister] in their apartment in Brooklyn. They weren't very wealthy but we managed to go to auto races, movies etc. When we moved to the Adirondacks, Billy came up and spent the summer with us. I also made several trips on the train from Newark New Jersey to Long Beach, Long Island, N.Y. to visit my Aunt Mateel. She had a cottage on the beach and several houses that she rented out in the summer. She was fairly rich and very intelligent. 
Mon and Dad at Long Beach, NY
Mom and Dad at Long Beach, NY
         I learned many  social manners while visiting my Aunt Mateel [Matilda] in Long Island. Only once did it backfire! I was at the dinner table with the family and relatives and the adults insisted that I eat my spinach. I tried and I did get it to stay in my stomach for a few seconds and then, that was the end of everyone's eating for the night. Interesting times but I was only eight years old .
         When people hear my vocal ability, they will find it hard to believe that I actually was paid to sing in a choir as a boy soprano. The pay was 10 cents for carfare to go to practice and if we sang at a funeral or wedding  we got $1. A princely sum in those days.  I'll agree that I can't, and never could, carry a tune or hit any notes correctly. I used to kind of mouth the words. To save the carfare I would wear my skates and hang on the back of trolley cars or buses.  A very dangerous game, but so was life in Newark N.J. in those days. The church where I sang was Grace Episcopal Church on Broad St. in downtown Newark. A good seven or eight miles from my house at 761 S 14th St. near Avon Ave.
          During my early grammar school days I also had a part in several operettas. I don't remember which ones. Once I was called upon to recite poetry. The only one that I remember, partially, goes something like this: 'I ain't afraid of snakes or toads or bugs or worms or mice, and things that girls are fraid of, I think are awful nice. I'm pretty brave I guess but then, I hate to go to bed cause when I'm tucked in warm and snug and all my prayers are said', Memory fails me at this spot.
          My hangout was in the candy store on the corner of 15th St. and Avon Ave. and sometimes with the gang at 19th St. and Springfield Ave. There were no drugs or liquor, but lots of talk and a pinball machine. That's where my money went. There wasn't a playground nearby except at Madison Ave. school, which I had attended in the 7th and 8th grade. There also was Weequahic Park about 6 blocks away. In the park was a small lake and we used to go there and fish for goldfish. When we caught one we would try to keep it alive to put in a very small pond in our back yard. It was a fast run to get the fish into the pond. We actually were able to save a few.
          While in grammar school, [Madison Ave, Jr, High on 17th st. and Madison Ave. in Newark, N.J.] I was very short and light. During our graduation exercises we made some human pyramids and being the smallest, I was on top. I think that we only went three high but during practice I fell headfirst towards the mat. Our gym teacher, a Mr. Ceres caught me in mid air and saved me from a possible broken neck. At graduation all went off as planned.
          Most of our playing was in the street. We played stickball, similar to baseball but we used a rubber ball and an old broomstick for a bat.  We also played Dodgem and Knuckleaire, Hide and Seek, Kick the Can and a few more, and all in the middle of 14th St. Another dangerous place, a block away, was a series of garages and a burlap bag processing company.  They used to store bales of bags up to 30 ft. high and it was great sport to climb in and over the bales.
          In my room  I had a crystal radio set. To operate it I would wear headphones, scratch a thin wire across a crystal and hear radio programs. Very primitive but it was fun for an inquisitive mind. One day Dad brought home a large cabinet radio. It was a Westrad and had a large circular dial that showed a depiction of the world. We could pick up short-wave programs with it.
          There were few radio shows but some of the family favorites were Amos and Andy, [two colored comedians], The Shadow, [a mystery show] and on Sunday, the Father Coughlin talk show. These were the most popular programs of those days.
          I attended South Side High School [now Malcolm X] and I had to walk about  5 to 6 miles each way. It was a pretty wild place with the student body about 95% black. Discipline was almost nil but I  managed to graduate in June 1938. My school activities were very minimal due to my having to work in grocery stores in the afternoons and deliver papers very early in the morning.
Our home at 761 S. 14th St., Newark, NJ
Our home at 761 S. 14th St., Newark, N.J.
      On Dec. 7th, we were all at home on 14th St. [Note: This was owned by my Grandmother Getto and when she passed away, my Mother inherited the house] when we heard the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
          My older brother Victor worked at the shipyard and he was deferred from military service, the two twins signed up at once. George went to the Marines and was in seven initial assaults in the South Pacific while Wilbur went into the Navy and was assigned as a guard on transport ships. I joined the Army Air Force, as I will relate in more detail, later on.
          The house on 14th St. was heated by a coal furnace in the cellar and a little coal 'pot stove' next to it, for hot water. We would buy the coal from trucks that would drive in from Pennsylvania and I think we paid about 15 dollars a ton. Later we changed to coke and finally my Mother put in an oil burner. This was a lot cleaner and a hell of a lot less work. I don't know where she got the money to keep the house going but somehow she managed. She even had asbestos siding put on the house. During the war she had two gals boarding on the third floor and later on, a man lived in the back bedroom on the second floor.
         Some time later she met a Jack Barret and they were married. He died in a few years  and  soon after that she met a Walter Pofahl and they too were married. He also passed away shortly thereafter.
         Several times she was robbed. Once in the alley along side of the house and once in the house where she was roughed up a bit. When Millie and I were settled in Virginia, we had her move in with us. I sold the house for her for $7500, furnished. There was no way that we could keep it in that neighborhood.  When I would drive up from Washington D.C. to inspect the house, I would pass by and look at it, then park, and then take a loaded shotgun out of the car and walk all around the house and when I opened the door I would put the gun in front of me before I went from room to room. The reason for these precautions was that they would break in the house to rip the copper pipes out of the walls and sell it for scrap.
          The house had three stories with a living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor, three small bedrooms and bath on the second and two bedrooms on the third. As you progressed in age and your brothers left, you moved upwards until you were alone in the third floor back bedroom. As you may know, Newark gets very hot and humid in the summer and New Jersey is noted for its mosquitoes. Well, the screens in the house were either torn or didn't fit the windows so we were all subject to their voracious appetite. I guess that one could actually lose weight living in that kind of  environment.


           It seems that I was always working. My first job  was on a bread truck delivering bread and rolls in the early morning. After the first week, the driver would not pay me. I told my older brother Victor and he got some of his gang together and collected for me.
          My next job was delivering newspapers in the early morning plus getting new subscribers and collecting during the week. I picked up the papers at 5 AM, [about 5 miles from my house] and delivered them. I must confess that the bread boxes outside the delicatessen stores held fresh rolls and when it was cold and I hadn't had any breakfast, they were very tasty. Then I would walk home, walk to South Side high school, try to get new subscribers and try to collect for my deliveries. Almost impossible since I had a route in a poor neighborhood and people didn't have any money. Besides, a crew of men would go into my  territory and write up a bunch of orders. I'd deliver all week and the people would say that they never ordered the paper. Life wasn't easy in those days.             
          My next jobs were in the National and A. & P. grocery stores. I worked behind the counter and made up orders. We didn't have any bags or boxes, only brown paper and string. It was a real challenge to wrap a large order up in paper and tie it together so that the customer could carry it out of the store. Many times the paper tore before I could get it off the counter. Great fun!.  
          Some of the tricks of the grocery trade, so that the inventory would come out even were, butter came in large tubs and we dug it out and weighed it on a balance scale. We always set the scale at 15 oz.  The same with cheese that came in big rolls. We ground coffee from beans. The trick here was to pour the beans in the grinder, turn it on and, after a couple seconds, put the bag under the spout. Later on we would sweep all the collected grounds together and sell it by the pound as 'Just Ground' coffee.
           The most interesting scam was selling eggs. Eggs were advertised at about six different grades  that sold for  [I cant remember the exact amount] 11, 13, 15 or 17 cents a dozen plus brown  and cracked eggs.  When a customer wanted cracked eggs,  I would go in the back room and gently crack a dozen of 11 cent eggs ]and sell them for 14 cts.
          All this time I was attending South Side High School [now called Malcolm X H.S.] and I never had time for sports, extra curricular clubs or any school activities. So it goes!.
           As soon as I graduated from high school in June, 1938, I was able to get a job as messenger and runner at the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. in Kearny N.J, I used to take the mail, blueprints in packages and long tubes, two briefcases etc., to various offices in New York city. If I had to deliver an exceptionally large check or something very valuable, I would have  a car and driver take me over.
          On one of my first trips, I was loaded with lots of blueprints, briefcases, tubes over my shoulder etc, and was trying to get on a very crowded subway. I wasn't having much luck getting to the door and the guy behind me said 'Are you going to get on? ' I said that I was trying. He said -'Lets go' and gave me a big shove and I was on the train. Later, I was assigned to a warehouse in Jersey City and was in charge of all the files in the warehouse. A dirty but very interesting position as I was working with an outside storage company and was on my own.
          I also worked in the accounts payable office for awhile at nights preparing the incoming bills for payment the next day.  I met my first boss, Robbie Robinson and although he has recently  passed away, I still write to and visit his wife in Florida.
          I guess that I was a pretty wild young man at the shipyard and probably harassed all the gals in the accounting department. At the office Christmas party, about five of the girls circled me and started to kiss me. I did not know that each had put on a thick application of lipstick and when they were finished, I was a complete RED mess.                                             
         My buddy, Bob Bennis and I used to go to a roller skating rink in an amusement park named Olympic Park in Irvington N.J., about ten miles from my house. Of course, in those days our funds were always limited. Well, this one night we met two nice looking girls. We talked it over and decided that we could afford to buy three beers and one Tom Collins and still have carfare home. The game was that Bob would go to the men's room, I would take the gals to the bar and order three beers. Bob would come out and say 'Oh, I see you are all having a beer, I think that I'll have a Tom Collins'. So, off he went to the men's room. I asked the gals to go to the bar with me and when we  got there I said 'What will you have?'. They both said Tom Collins. I had a beer, Bob had a beer and we had to walk home.
          This amusement park also had a very large swimming pool where I spent a lot of time. At the pool edge was a jukebox. We fed in nickels and danced barefooted on the very rough concrete. You can imagine the wear and tear on the soles of our feet, particularly after doing many jitterbug dances. Ella Fitzgeralds 'A tisket A tasket' was our favorite tune.
          Over on tenth avenue in Newark, in the Italian section, enormous Pizzas sold for a dollar and they were large enough to feed three guys and their dates It was a lot of fun to drive over there whenever we could scrape up enough money to pay for one. Another favorite spot to take dates was to Stars Long Bar in Jersey City where one could buy a Tom Collins for ten cents.
           During this growing up period I was earning $55 a month, which I gave to my Mother, so you can see that I had very little to spend on a date, let alone keep a car going. Somehow I was able to do both.

         The family on my fathers side consisted of himself and two sisters, Helene Wasmer who lived in Brooklyn N Y  and who had one son named William or

Hank's Dad and Family. L-R: Aunt Helene Wasmer, Uncle George Protzman, Brother Victor, Cousin Wm. Wasmer, his Grandmother Meta Meierdierck, Hank in hat, brother George, his mom and his dad. Bottom Photo depicts Hank's mom, dad, Uncle George, Grandma, and Aunt Helene
Hank's Dad and Family. L-R: Aunt Helene Wasmer, Uncle George Protzman, Brother Victor, Cousin Wm. Wasmer, his Grandmother Meta Meierdierck, Hank in hat, brother George, his mom and his dad. Bottom Photo depicts Hank's mom, dad, Uncle George, Grandma, and Aunt Helene
Billy and Matilda Protzmann, and who lived in Long Beach. Long Island, N. Y.  Matilda seemed to have all the money. I think a lot of it came from her Mothers {Meta} inheritance. I visited Matilda several times at the beach. She also came to visit Millie and I when we lived in Virginia. We thought that she was coming for the weekend but she brought 13 pieces of luggage and stayed months.
          My Aunt Mateel was a very exceptional woman. She was a world traveler and a brilliant Real Estate Manager.  At eleven years old she managed the Meierdierck Rock Cellar brewery when her father passed away. Married a very well known painter [George Protzmann] who taught at the New York School of Art. She was once engaged to an Archduke of Austria. She was cataloguing an enormous  collection of antiques for a friend in New York when he passed away, after being hit by a subway train. There was  a four column obituary in the New York Times and he was heralded as 'The Bard of Broadway.' She was a woman of many and varied talents and always very interesting to be with but also very domineering.
          She constantly had nosebleeds and used to pack her nose with gauze to stop the blood. In those days, we didn't realize that she had very high blood pressure.
         Some years later I got a letter from her asking me to come up from Va. to see her as she had  some important things to tell me. I went to Long Beach but couldn't find her. I talked to the Postmistress and she wouldn't tell me her address but suggested that I go to a certain address and look. I did just that and found her in a private nursing home. She had had a stroke, couldn't talk and just lay there. She stayed that way for 13 years and there went the family fortune down the drain.
          After she died and the will was settled [ I was co-executor with her lawyer ] it ended up that I and my two brothers received about $10,000 each plus some jewelry for the gals. Such is life.
          One of the tragedies of this happening is that a few years before, she had given me two paintings, Christmas Morn and Christmas Eve. I never got them and they were sold at an estate sale.
          Also missing was her collection of paintings and antiques. It was thought that she had built a false wall in her house at 315 West Olive Street. We actually drove her to the spot but she refused to reveal whether they were hidden there. My own belief is that her lawyer stole them.
          Some of the few things that I do have from the family are two antique plates, some very large WW I  books in rotogravure and several large books on women's fashions.
          But we must continue. Although my Grandparents were well off, my father was poor all of his life. His total assets were 3 cents when he passed away very suddenly at home one night, at the age of 48. He probably died from a heart attack although the Doctor diagnosed it as acute indigestion?.         
Hank's dad, mom, nephew Billy
Hank's dad, his mom, and nephew Billy
He was  tall, 6 ft. 1 in. with thin red hair and loved the outdoors. At one time during his youth, he went West searching for gold but never did make a strike. In fact, he was out west when his father passed away.
           Dad didn't have a very happy marriage and I remember his many arguments with Mom. Whose fault? My mother was a hard person to get along with when she was married. Domineering might be a good word  for her too.
          Dad tried selling used cars but in the depression, nobody was buying.  To survive, every morning we would go to the German bakery on 15th St. and Avon Ave. and get a dozen of day old sugar buns for breakfast. We also were able to get some food on credit at two nearby Jewish delicatessens. Also one of our staple meals was bread with gravy on it. To supplement my diet I would buy a roll with cheese on it for a nickel at the corner deli and a Pepsi, also for a nickel.
          Three blocks up Avon Ave. was a small Italian store that had a grill and sold hot dogs with all the trimmings, like onions, peppers and a half loaf of round bread for 5 cents and a sausage sandwich for 10 cents. They were huge and sufficed for a meal.
          My Dad died a few years later, when I was 17 years old and I never will know how we all managed to grow up. This event precluded my being able to attend collage [there were no government loans in those days] but I did manage to get three credits by going to night school. George and Wilbur joined the service when they were 16, Victor had gotten married and worked in the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.
          Backing up a little, before the depression came my Dad had a tire store on Mulberry St. in Newark where he sold Schenuit tires. He had one colored man as his helper named Shorty. He worked very hard at this  but was never very successful. I think that there are a couple photos around of him in the store. One of his customers was the Somerset Bus Co. that owed him a lot of money that he never did collect. He also would load up his car with tires and go to the Farmers Market and sell and install tires at night. He tried hard all of his life but had very limited success.
          He was very strict as far as dress and manners  were concerned. I had to have the top button of my shirt buttoned before I could leave the house. Table manners were very important too. Hats off, break your bread, cut your meat, wait for everybody to be ready to eat before starting, etc,. One of my pet peeves till this day is the lack of manners in today's youth, including my whole family. But times change and so do standards but I know that the lack of clean dress and good manners will close a lot of doors, conversely, advancement comes with dress, manners, cleanliness and knowledge. A word to the wise, Grand Kids!.
          In those days we kids had white painters jackets on which we inscribed sayings, pictures and all sorts of graffiti. My Dad didn't like my wearing this and threw it in the furnace several times, luckily it was summer time and I was able to retrieve it and sneak it out of the house.


        My Mothers family was named GETTO and they lived in Hillside N.J. We visited them when I was very young, but as the years passed, so did our very 
Hank's mom arriving at Burtonwook, UK.  Mom and brother George in back yard on 14th St.
Mom and brother George in back yard on 14th St.
young, but as the years passed, so did our contacts. Jays genealogy will give you their names and a few facts concerning them. I do know that her mother and father are buried in the cemetery on Lyons Ave in Union N.J. The plot and small tombstone can be seen from outside the fence.
          As my Mother was getting older, it became obvious that she needed someone to care for her needs. She came to live with Millie and I and Millie assumed the burden. Hank's mother was fun to have around and she could take good care of herself. I had her declared as my dependent. Her only income was a very small social security check. We moved to England and decided to have her come over and live with us. The Air Force flew her over to Burtonwood, Eng. and I flew up in General Blanchards [Commander, 7TH Air Division] plush airplane to pick her up. Lou Garvin came along as my co-pilot.
           At Burtonwood we met the incoming transport and escorted her directly to this beautiful shiny C-47 with a paneled interior. She was the only passenger. 
Hank's grandma ariving in England on General Blanchard's C-47.
Hank's Mother arriving in London on General Blanchard's C-47
 After we got her baggage aboard and took off, I went back to talk with her. She called me close and whispered in my ear, 'Henry, did you steal this airplane?'
          She stayed with us for several years and  attended all the social functions with us. After several of these, she asked Millie 'What should I say when people talk to me and I don't understand the conversation? ' Millie told her to smile and say 'OH'. This worked wonders.
          Later on we took her on a trip to Germany.  Grandma could speak German but after living in N.J. for so long, she had acquired a Jewish accent. We visited many cities and took a boat ride up the Rhine river, got off in a small town, did some wine tasting [Grandma never touched a drop] and then took a coach back to Wiesbaden.       
        The seating on the bus was as follows. Two German ladies together, in front of them, one of the ladies husband and my Mother  then in the next seat  behind the ladies, Millie and I, Grandma was quite excited to be in Germany and was trying out her German on the man seated next to her.  Remember she was about 75 years old and the man about 30. Finally the wife could not contain herself and said 'Ich denka diesen frau habben su viel su trinken' [I know that my German is spelled incorrectly] meaning ' I  think this lady is drunk and is trying to steal my husband'. We all had a good laugh over the incident.
          Grandma stayed with us in England until she heard, don't ask me how, that a man that she had dinner with once, was dating her girlfriend. She was on the next plane to the USA and married him a few months later. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years after that and Grandma was back with us. By then we were living in Albany Georgia and were assigned to Turner AFB.
          After about six years in this assignment, we all left Albany GA. [See Military History for details on Albany Ga.] in a new cheap two door Chevy and headed for Calif. In this small car was myself, Millie, Grandma, Jay, Gail, Vicki in a basket and Nicodemus our boxer dog. We all squeezed in and somehow we made it. We also towed a small luggage trailer filled with Christmas presents. When we arrived in Riverside, Ca. I drove by the house that I had bought, to show it to all the family and as we were looking at it, the moving van pulled up with our household effects.
         Some years later  we moved to Vienna Va. and then to Las Vegas NV. She was with us all that time but in Las Vegas she fell and broke a hip, and then later on, did it again and was confined to a wheelchair. An impossible burden for Millie or me, so we entered her in a Nursing home. Here her mind began to fail. I think she had Alzheimer's disease. A short while later, at 89 years old, she had many medical problems and was being kept alive in a hospital on life support systems. I called all three brothers and explained to them what her health problems were. All three volunteered their opinion and suggested that I withdraw the life support systems. She is buried in the Meierdierck family plot in Flower Hill Cemetery in Jersey City N.J.

1929 Ford Model A 1930 Model A Ford
1931 Model A Ford
1929 Model A Ford
          During my youth, I was the one in our group that always had a car. I owned 13 various models of the 1929 through 1931 Model A Fords. Some very sporty convertibles and some plain sedans, The junk value for a Model A was $10 each and a used one cost $20, so when you had a problem, junk the car and buy another.           
1931 Model A Ford
1931 Model A Ford
          Many times the car sat idle since I was out of gasoline or money to buy some. We would all chip in our coins to buy gasoline which sold for '11 gallons for one dollar'.  If we didn't have any money, we would walk past our favo rite station [Z-80 on Springfield avenue near 16th St.] with a long look on our face. The owner would call to us and say, 'I know you are out of money. Push it around and I'll give you a few gallons'. One of my cars had a cretonne interior roof and another one had a very leaky roof so that when I took my mother for a ride, she had to hold an umbrella over her head.
          A couple of my friends had motorcycles and in 1938, we decided to go to the Indianapolis races. Four of us went on two motorcycles. The trip west was uneventful but fun and very interesting for city boys. We had 'Infield' seats and it was very difficult to follow the race. All you heard was the cars going by, It was hot and really not much fun.
          Our travel rule was that we would only drive by day and in dry weather. On the way home one bike slid on the white dividing line and the riders were both bruised. Then in the rain, we slid into an intersection and were broadsided by a new convertible car driven by a young man with three gals as passengers. He was probably showing them how fast the car could accelerate. I flew through the air about 69 feet and hit a steel girder with my head. I don't remember a thing after that till I got home. All four of us were a mess what with the bruises, scrapes and overall fatigue but we made it 'alive' to Newark N.J.  FUN ???
         I taught my good friend Bob Bennis to drive his first car, a 1930 Chevrolet. We drove down Springfield Ave near our house, and he knocked down six white horses. Luckily they were construction horses and not live ones. I think that he has done much better since then because I recently talked to him and he is still alive.
         My all time favorite car was a 1935 Ford Cabriolet. It had side curtains to keep the rain and cold out and glass wings for wind deflection. Guess I've owned 
1935 Ford Cabrolet
1935 Ford Cabriolet
at least one of each manufacturer,
         Ford, Chevrolet etc, and yes, even a Kaiser and Fraser. One of the better models is a 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis. 13 years old and only 48000 miles on it and never in for repairs. {until recently}
         I worked at the Federal Shipyards, in Kearny, N.J. One Saturday, I was driving my 1935 Ford Phaeton convertible, 'REAL CLASS', with the roof down, a small bag on the seat next to me and going quite fast along the open back roads near the shipyard in Kearny N.J.  I kept hearing a loud noise, like a scream or whistle. I looked in my rear view mirror and there was a large black sedan right on my rear bumper.
         I pulled over and four men jumped out with drawn guns and surrounded my car.  They asked me questions and checked my ID. After they were satisfied that I was OK, they explained that there had been a payroll robbery close by and they thought that I was the getaway car. They said that if I hadn't stopped then, that they  were going to shoot out my tires and I had just put on four new white  walls.
         During my career in the Air Force, I had received orders to transfer to Panama and to report to the Navy docks in New Orleans for transportation to Panama. On the way to New Orleans, I was driving a 1938 Pontiac coupe. I had planned to sell it in New Orleans but it gave me so much trouble on the way down, that I decided to get rid of it.  Several cylinders were missing badly, the radio wouldn't work, and several other irritants. I gave some guy a ride and when I had a flat, he helped me change it but I left my overcoat by the side of the road, etc, etc. Things were piling up. The engine miss was so bad that I had to disconnect a spark plug wire to make the engine run more smoothly. I probably had a frozen valve.
         Then I saw a sign that said 'Cash for your car' In I went. We bargained and he noticed the loose spark plug wire. I said 'So that's my problem but I still want to sell it and if you take me to the train station in your car, I'll sell it to you'. 'He said OK' He paid me in cash, about $199 more than I had paid for it a few weeks earlier, and off I went. I sent Millie most of the money. I stayed in New Orleans for about a week but I can't remember what I lived on.
         We once bought a beautiful black Studebaker that had been in storage for years. I forget what year it was but probably a 1938 PRESIDENT.. It was a great car until one day the big left side door fell off. I was able to repair that but then the gear shift, which was activated by  a vacuum system, would stick in gear, sometimes in reverse, I decided to trade it and found a dealer that would swap. {You never can beat a dealer  when trading cars } The deal was that I would deliver it. Enroute to the dealers the shift stuck in third and would not go into reverse so I drove around the dealers area till I found a parking spot that I could drive into and not have to put it into reverse. He came out looked at the car and we settled the deal and again I didn't want to get into my old car again. We took the new one and left as fast as we could.
         During the war there were no automobiles being built and when they did 
Millie, Jay and Gail in 1951 Kaiser
Millie, Jay and Gail in 1951 Kaiser
start production, the dealers made you pay a premium under the table. I needed a car and I had a chance to buy a maroon Kaiser. It turned out to be a pretty good car and looked great. Some years later I traded it for a Frazer which we took to Panama. This one wasn't too good.
         Millie was driving this Frazer in Colon, Rep. Of Panama one day when the transmission became stuck in low gear. Luckily an Airman was near and offered to unstick it for her. Meanwhile, of course, traffic is building up and drivers are getting agitated. Then a bunch of kids were climbing on the roof and hood. This didn't phase Millie, she merely put it in gear, hit the accelerator and they all went flying.  GOOD GIRL
.            The story of cars would not be complete without the tale of my 1935 Austin 10. An Austin is a British car that, in the four door model that I owned, looks like a 1930 Model A Ford. Visualize that and then squeeze it in half, and squeeze it in half again. I bought it in England soon after I arrived. We drove it on several trips through England and enjoyed the novelty of it.
         The Officers Club at High Wycombe was at the top of a very steep hill. There was a good road up to the top but one  evening after Happy Hour [Martinis yet ] I decided to try the 'back road' down the hill. This really wasn't a road but more of a path.  My vehicle was very narrow so we started down. Remember, this car had mechanical brakes, not hydraulic, and when the pedal was pushed very hard, the connecting rods would bend and the brakes would not stop a Kiddie Kar.
         Down we went thinking it was great fun. At the bottom was a main highway and they were having a parade of some sort and this vehicle was not going to stop. My only recourse, other than hitting something, was to jump the curb, ride the sidewalk for a hundred feet or so, behind a utility pole and back onto the street in front of the parade. Now we were the laughing leaders. Whew!!
         A few weeks later our Turquoise and white 1955 Olds convertible with a white top arrived and now we had the best 'Sports 'car in England. It attracted attention wherever we went. Our neighbor referred to it as the 'Ugly Barge ' She even complained that the sunlight reflecting from it was giving a glare to her front room.
1955 Olds Convertible in UK 1955 Olds Conv. in UK
1955 Olds Conv. in UK
1960 Austin Healey Sprite
          While stationed in England, I purchased the 60th Austin Healy Sprite that was built. It was white and a real beauty to drive. Millie and I were able to take trips in it without the kids since it only had two seats. It came with a one year warranty and when that was almost up, I took it to the factory for a few repairs. I complained that it was a little noisy. 
          The gentleman that took it and me for a test drive explained ' But sir, you are sitting amongst the works, you know' He also gave me a demonstration of gear shifting by putting the engine at 3000 RPM and going up and down the range of gears.
         We brought this car to Oxnard Ca. and that was where Gail learned to drive. She had done something ridiculous with the car and I grounded her for a month. At the end of that period, I took her for a check ride and she did very well. Mildred and I had to go to Los Angeles the next day and Gail wanted to use the car. O K.
         When we returned, a neighbor met us and told us of a crash but that the girls were O K, just shaken up a little. What had happened was that Gail over controlled the car and it went into a sideslip and then rolled. The girls didn't have their seatbelts on but this was a rare case where that saved their lives. When the car flipped, Gail fell out the door and her girlfriend slid down to the floor. IF they had had their seatbelts on, they probably would have been decapitated when the car slid along upside down.
         Being the Fighter Group Director of Operations, I could drive over the runways and anyplace on the base. Also the Squadron decided to harass me and while I was up flying, they carried the car into the briefing room and put it up on the stage. Well, to get them to bring it down for me I threatened to call an alert every couple hours and they would have had to return to the base. I soon found the car in its  normal parking place.
     At present, 2003, we own a 1993 Ford F250 with 164,000 miles on it [on this round the USA trip I had to put a rebuilt motor in it for $6500] and a 1990 Mercury Gran Marquis with only 40,000 miles, and I don't plan to trade either one.

         I guess that I first met  Millie while we were both attending South Side High 
Hank and Millie circa 2000
Hank and Millie circa 2000
School in Newark N.J. Although we previously had attended several grammar schools at the same time, we really never met till South Side. Our dating was very sporadic due to my working and the distance to her house.  We did get to attend some parties at her girlfriends house, played Post Office, Spin the bottle and a few other kissing games. There was no drugs, liquor or sex at these affairs. Guess we didn't know anything about them.
         We used to skip school [High School] and go to a movie and did a little sleighing and ice skating. We didn't get serious till a long time later. There were lots of hazards to the romance like very little money, step fathers dislike of Millie. [He even went so far as to loan me his station wagon to drive to the Jersey shore for weekends if I didn't take Millie.] There were times when I was at her house for a little kissing session and he would shout from upstairs that it was time for me to leave. So it went.
         She lived in Orange N.J., about 15 miles away from my house. After I would kiss her goodnight, my car would not start, so I would have to walk all the way home. The next morning one of my friends would drive me back to get my car, and it would start right away, A mystery that I have never been able to solve.          We double dated with several couples that we still keep in contact with at this late date. On our round the country trip in 2002, we visited both couples. The Haase, Al and Florence, live in Ft Meyers Fl and the Bennis, Bob and Emily live in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Both couples are in very good health and I think that after almost 60 years of marriage, that it is somewhat of a record that we six are still HERE and  still enjoy each other.
          One of the local fellows was a guy named Lenny Kohlhofer, kind of a weirdo. He had a car and if we needed a ride or to be picked up after a late date [if we didn't have our own car] we would call Lenny and he would come and get us and charge only 10 cents. The same as the carfare, this was a heck of a good deal.
         Lenny was also very frugal!! One new years eve Bob and Emily and Millie and I and Lenny, in his car, went to the Rainbow Room at the Main Central Hotel in Asbury Park N.J. [A good 60 miles away ] Well, Lenny drove since we were going to drink and after a great evening, we let Lenny pay the tab, which we would divide up later. We couldn't believe our ears when he told us the cost. How he did it I don't know but I think that we each only paid about six dollars for a great New Years Eve.
         Millie and I were dating, on and off. Seems we would have a date, then things would get estranged and I wouldn't see her for a week or so. I'd call and we'd try again.  The Jewish man that owned the candy store  [whose name was Herman] where I hung out always said 'Hank, you are going to marry Millie.'
         When Millie's Mother died, I borrowed a BIG 1935 Buick to use to pick up some of her relatives. It almost ended in disaster. I had two or three of them in the car  and going about 35 miles per hour when I went across an intersection that had a big dip. We all hit the ceiling but I was able to maintain control and we went safely on, although a bit shook up..
         In October 1942 I left to go into the Army Air Force and we were still not too serious. Millie got  along  great with my Mother and would come and stay with her when it was a little late or if she didn't want to go to her grandmothers, where she was living.
         When I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant with gold bars and silver wings, I was able to come home on leave. Even then we didn't talk of marriage but we did spend a lot of that time together.
         A friend of mine loaned me his new blue Mercury convertible to use during my leave time. Millie was working at the Prudential Insurance Co. in Newark. There were 10,000 gals working in that building. One sunny day I came down to pick up Millie and the policeman, a friend of ours, let me park right at the front entrance. I had the roof down, dressed in my officers summer tan uniform with the bars and wings and here came all the gals from the office. I received many inviting glances but I remained firm and waited for Millie to emerge.
         After my leave, I left Newark to go to Fighter School, flying P-47 Thunderbolts, in Ft. Meyers FL.. We corresponded frequently but nothing final. As Millie tells it, I called one day and said ' I'm tired of this. Either quit your job tomorrow and come on down and get married or forget it ' She quit her job the next day and took the train to Florida.
         Her trip down is another story but when she arrived in all the Florida heat, and the messy pancake makeup on her legs, tired from the long trip by train and bus, her first words to me, when she saw that I had a mustache, were 'Shave it off'
         Millie had a room in the Royal Palm hotel and since all the pilots were restricted to the base, she had to come out to Page Field to see me. There was no Officers Club or recreational building so we got to sit on a bench on the flight line and let the mosquitoes feed on us.
          Getting a marriage license and the blood tests were easy but to get a minister to wed us was a different story. It seems that the only minister was off on a  trip but was due to come in that weekend. Another couple that was waiting for him had been there for four days. Well he finally did show up and we were wed. A couple that we knew in the Army stood up for us and all was well. 
          Mildred had to go to the hotel desk and ask for a double room. A little embarrassing but we had a nice room. A juke box played just outside our window and it only had three songs on it. I thought that I would never forget them, but memory fails me.
          We stopped at the hotel bar one evening for a drink and it was full of Army pilots just back from overseas. They bought the 'Newlyweds' a drink, then another and then I had to buy a round. This was pretty expensive so we had to avoid the bar after that. A few days later we received orders to our first duty station but that will be found in another section.
Millie and Hank just after being married in Ft Meyers, FL 1943 Millie Hank and Millie
Millie 1943 Millie 1943 Florida Hank and Millie just after the wedding Ft. Meyers FL Sept 1943

          Christmas always has been and still is a major holiday at the Meierdiercks. One Christmas at my Mothers house on 14th St in Newark, N.J., Victor and Eleanor were taking their presents out to the car and as he would leave a load and come back in the house, somebody would take them out of his car and put them in the alley. But they dropped one and it was a bottle of after shave lotion. When we heard the crash we all ran out and chased the guy. Vic caught him and we called the Police.
        Many are the times that we would drive all night to be at my mothers house in Newark, N.J. for Christmas. We never could afford to go to motels so I  would drive and Gail would stand next to me on the front seat and we'd sing songs and look at the Christmas lights along the way. Later in life we would have the family at our house and more recently at Jay and Jan's or at Gail and Mannys. It seems that anything that was bought after 1 Jan. was put away, wrapped and put under the tree. There were many years when there were 3 to 4 hundred wrapped presents plus the stocking gifts.
        Our ritual is that we are all up early, open the stocking gifts, have breakfast and I give out the gifts, one by one so that everyone may see what the others had received.
        During one of our Christmas eves, my brother Victor acted as Santa with just a mask on and sticking his head around the corner of the door to talk to the children. He asked 'Where is Uncle Victor?' Someone answered that he was at the neighborhood tavern having a beer. The next morning at church, we were talking to some friends after service, when one of the ladies asked how our Christmas was? Gail [three years old] ,said that it was wonderful except that Uncle Victor missed Santa because he was at the Gin Mill drinking beer.
        I can think of two more interesting incidents, one when Victor was quite young and announced that there was no Santa. Now comes the time to open presents and all that he received was a small bag of coal. It was quite a long hour or so before my Dad relented and gave him his presents.
        Another happened when we lived in Chestertown, N.Y., in the Adirondack mountains. [1932 and 1933] Note: Chestertown NY is about 65 miles North of Albany on Highway 9W. Our house was 9 miles north of Chestertown, just before Loon Lake. There is a cross road and if you turn right onto this road, there is an old barn that is now a domicile set back on the right. Our house WAS about 150 feet to the left as you face the barn. The foundation is still there.
        I guess that I was 11 years old and the twins would be 7. We knew that we three would receive B B guns for Xmas because they were laying on the bed in a small bedroom. It seems that someone was playing with one of them and shot a hole in the window. Dad said 'No presents till someone owns up to shooting the gun. 'No one answered but a few days later, when it became obvious that there would be no presents, I said that I had done it. To this day I really don't know who made the hole. I know that it wasn't me.

         While I'm rambling about the Adirondacks, my Dad took two small sleds, fitted a plank about 6-8 feet long on top of them, to make a sort of a bobsled. We would pull it about one to one and a half miles up the road that ran past our house and then ride it all the way back down. This was generally at night and it was a very cold trip.
Dad and twins at Alligator Pony in the Adirondacks 1933
Dad and twins on raft on Alligator Pond, NY
         Up this same road about a mile and then a couple of miles over a mountain was a small lake called Alligator Pond. Dad built a small raft on the lake and we would go  there and paddle around on it. One of the few pictures that I have of my Dad is on the raft with the twins.
          We also would pick apples and crabapples up there and carry them home for jam.
          My Mother did a lot of preserving of string beans, apples. jams etc, and we had a place in the cellar where we could store turnips, potatoes and other root vegetables for the winter. When Dads hunting friends would come up from New Jersey they would bring the necessary staples such as sugar, flour, spaghetti and other things in bulk. It was a long and very cold winter.
       There was a small dairy not too far away and one of our daily chores was to walk there and bring home the milk. We had our own chickens. They arrived in a large box, by U S Mail. Our dogs name was Thistle and the cat was Spotty.
          There was a large wood burning range in the kitchen that had a water jacket on the side. Here is where we got the hot water for our Saturday nights bath. In an unheated room was a chemical toilet that was no more than a can with a seat on it. The boys and Dad did their urinating out the back door and there was always lots of yellow snow near the door, depending on the pressure that one  generated.
          Our well didn't produce the necessary amount of water and we would take a large milk can on a sled and fill it at a nearby neighbors well.
           During the first winter, I belonged to the Boy Scouts and we went on a three or four day camp out. The first night out I nearly froze because I only had my clothes on and two blankets. Then I got smart and the second night I bunked with a friend that had a buffalo robe cover. That was a lot warmer even though the temperature went down to minus 42 degrees fahrenheit.
         I had a trap line through the woods and caught one white mink, several foxes, rabbits and a few other small animals. The idea was to skin them and sell the hides. Somehow I never did get the animals skinned correctly and my profits were zero.
         During the summer we had a large garden and Dad and the four boys took turns weeding it. We also had a deer hide in the barn that was soaking in some sort of brine. This had to be kneaded daily to make it supple. It smelled and was a very hard chore.
         Dads car was about a 1920 vintage ford suburban that never did run correctly. He tore the engine down to grind the valves which was done by having a stick with a suction cup on the end which held the valve. The trick was to put your hands on the stick and rub your hands together so that the stick would rotate and the valve would be ground into the head and thereby be seated. A long and tedious task and we all had our turn at grinding.
         One half mile through the woods was Loon Lake.  We swam there and fished for yellow perch. There were lots of frogs and we would catch them and pen them till we had enough for a meal. In the summer, the lake was where we bathed. This part of the lake was rather desolate and we never saw fishermen, boaters or tourists. An idyllic spot.
         I went to school in town by bus. I guess that there were about 4 or 5 rooms for all the students from the first grade through high school. Across from the school was a very steep mountain named Panther Mt. During our lunch break in the winter, we would get cardboard boxes from the grocer and use these as toboggans and slide down the toboggan slide on the mountain. A real thrill ride for us kids.
         My cousin Billy, [actually William Wasmer from Brooklyn N Y] would spend the summer with us. We took a 22 rifle along one day when we went for a climb up a mountain to gather apples. It had no trigger guard and  while all of us were standing around it, it went off. Luckily no one was in front of the barrel.
         We also had a heavy spear to play with. One end was sharp and the other end was blunt. We used to throw it at a stump in our front yard. One day I threw it and it glanced off the stump and hit my brother Wilbur in the leg. Again, luckily it was the blunt end and not much damage was done.
         The reason that we moved up to Chestertown in the first place was due to my fathers health, lack of money and the depression was in full swing. My father had some inheritance money due him from his Mother but his sister Mateel controlled it and would not give it out. He made several trips to Long Beach, Long Island NY to try to collect some but was able to get very little. So we cut firewood, raised a few chickens ate lots of venison, and had a garden. My Mother got very tired of this life and when she learned that her Mother in Newark, N. J. was very ill, she left to take care of her Mother.
         The end of this adventure came in April 1933. I had gone to Chestertown {the nearest town and nine miles away} on Sunday to go to church and to attend the Epworth League dance for kids {I was 12 years old} and I stayed too late and missed my ride home. Now I faced a long walk along highway 9W at night. My Dad was quite concerned when I didn't show up at home on time. He and Victor walked the highway near our house looking for me but to no avail. When I did arrive, he was very angry and told me to get upstairs and get to bed. [All four boys and my Dad slept upstairs where it was warm.] We had a Pot bellied stove in the downstairs room and Dad or Victor put a log in it and banked the fire for the night.
          A little while later we all woke up to fire coming up the stairs. The only way out was through the bedroom window.  Victor jumped out onto the snow and my Dad handed we three boys down to Victor. It so happened that there was a nail protruding just below the window sill and each of us caught our pajamas on the nail but we all got out safely with nothing but our pajamas. There was a house across the street so we broke in the door and stayed there. Three days later we boarded a bus to Newark N.J. and went to my Grandmothers house at 761 South 14th St.
         We managed somehow and when my Grandmother died a few years later, my Mother inherited the house. That is where I grew up.
A four boysat house in Chestertown, NY. Mom, Victor and Thistle in NY. Account of fire in our house in NY 1934

          My Dad died a few years later, 1938, and I never will know how we all managed to grow up. This precluded my being able to attend collage but I was able to get three credits by going to night school. George and Wilbur joined the service when they were 16, Victor had gotten married and worked in the Federal Shipyard and Dry-dock Co.