Homemade Chili - Ten Cents

Updated: Apr 5

One of the perks of doing an inventory is finding treasures from local people talking about “ye olden days.” This letter isn’t that old… to me, 1977. It was sent to the Museum by Hazel Henry of Jim Henry’s Restaurant.. Here is how she broke the news to her patrons:

“September 1, 1977. Dear Friends:

Jim and I started Henry’s Restaurant on old ’69 Highway in 1931. My mother and father, Fred and Mary Bailey, had gone to the country and bought a 20-acre tract of land where my father and Jim started a filling station.

My mother had always been in the food business having operated a bakery and sandwich shop across from James School in the Northeast district. Secretary of the State of Missouri, James Kirkpatrick, ate bean sandwiches for 5 cents in that shop while attending school. It was a natural thing for the entire family to get into the restaurant business. We began by frying chicken in a one room that served not only as the restaurant but also as a home for Jim and I and our daughter, Nancy.

Most of you know the rest. It grew like “Topsy” – prohibition ended, and we served liquor for several years without regulations – then liquor license came and we were allowed only beer but we could ell it on Sunday. To go to Henry’s and drink beer and eat fried chicken on Sunday was the big thing even if it did take you an hour to get here from south Kansas City. Chicken dinners were 50 cents but if you did not take the French fires it was only 25 cents. How many of you remember 10 cent and 15 cent bottled beer??? We till have a sign that reads ‘Homade chili – 10 cents.’

The highway changed from 69 to 169 and was the direct route to Smithville and St. Joe. You wore out several copies of the ‘Big Apple’ on the juke box as well as caused the ceiling downstairs to fall from all of the Saturday night dances. What good times we have had in this old building.

We saw the war start and the war end and the death of President Roosevelt which put Jim’s old commanding officer in the White House. Harry Truman and his cousin, Gen. Ralph Truman, were frequent guests as well as Lt. Gov. Bill Morris and Congressman Bill Hull and a host of other public officials. A lot of politics flowed through this building.

What was a county 3.2 joint – turned out to be a restaurant located in the heart of the City of Gladstone and 169 was moved west which gave us a high-class city address of North Oak Street Trafficway.

But all good things must come to an end. On September 18th, 1977, we will close Henry’s to make way for the building of three beautiful professional office buildings. Construction will begin around October 1st. We hope you can come out to see us before that date. … Kinde

st regards, Hazel Henry”

Edit: The Topsy reference is likely referring to the fictional character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Prohibition ended when the 21st Amendment was ratified in

1933, repealing the 18th Amendment of 1919.

WWII raged from 1939 until 1945. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in 1945, making VP Truman the 33rd President of the United States. 3.2 Beer is a low alcohol content type of beer with 3.2% alcohol. William S. Morris was Lieutenant Governor under Warren E. Hearnes from 169 to 1973 and Congressman Bill Hull for a U. S. Representative from 1955 to 1972. The sign she referred to “Homade Chili” is on display at the Museum.

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