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By Mrs. Eileen Henson

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E. E. "Al" Henson and Eileen Hammer Henson first established temporary residence in Nederland, Texas in May, 1938, and permanent residence there in June of 1942, when they purchased the first house completed in the 2500-2600 blocks of Avenue E. Hillcrest No. 1 addition was very sparsely settled before World War II, with most streets without shell and only an occasional house scattered here and there throughout that area between Avenue H and Nederland Avenue and the area between the 2000-2600 blocks. Before World War II, the TC Development Company of Beaumont, with Sim Todd as representative, developed the 2500-2600 blocks of Avenues E and D, as well as Hillterrace and Hilldale Streets, adding altogether about 100 new homes to the City of Nederland.

At the time that Al and Eileen first met in 1934, Al was a construction supervisor for the then Pure Oil Company's (now Unocal's) own construction and maintenance crew, which travelled wherever the need arose to the company's various refineries scattered over the central and eastern states.

Roger Eisenmann (a longtime Pure Oil retiree who recently died) was with the same crew which was working at Heath refinery in Newark, Ohio, when Eileen first met both of the young men. Roger Eisenmann and Al Henson shared rooms in Newark, and when they were sent to Smith's Bluff Refinery at Nederland, they again shared lodging at 119 Fifteenth Street, at the home of Hugh and Cora Keeling, both of whom were well-known Nederland school teachers.

The construction crew also worked at the Cabin Creek, West Virginia, refinery, where Maebelle Bolte (Roger Eisenmann's future wife) worked in the club house. These four people became fast friends before either couple ever married.

Eileen and Al Henson had been engaged for some time when the crew was sent to the Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, refinery in May, 1937. Pure Oil Company decided to close that refinery after the crew and equipment had been dispatched there. Norman Yentzen, scion of Nederland's early George Yentzen family, was another supervisor charged with moving the construction crew's equipment.

The construction crew was then ordered to Muskogee, Oklahoma, with Cora Cappell Yentzen (Norman's wife), along with her children, leading the cross-country entourage. Norman followed her with the equipment truck and Al Henson brought of the rear of the convoy.

When the group reached Hebron, Ohio, about five miles from Newark, Al left the group at a motel, told Norman and Cora to wait there for him, and he left for Newark, where he and Eileen were married.

After their sojourn in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the group came back to Nederland in May, 1938, where Al and Eileen took up temporary residence at the Keeling residence, while Cora attended summer school.

Al and Eileen Henson became the parents of three children, as follows: daughter Sonya, who married David Willis, a native of Nederland; daughter Carol, who married Haywood Perkins, and son "Jim," who married Norma Cappucci of Boston. Sonya and David Willis own the Premier Press and Office Center on Highway 365 in Nederland. They are the parents of three sons, Kent, who just graduated from Southwestern University with a BA degree in Business; Kevin, who attended Lamar University; and Kyle, a talented art student, who will be majoring in art at Lamar University. Sonya Willis graduated from Lamar University with a BBS degree and later earned an elementary certification there.

Carol and Haywood Perkins both work for Chevron Oil Company. They are the parents of one son, Ron David, and a granddaughter named Sondra. Carol Perkins attended Lamar University for several sessions.

Jim and Norma Henson are the parents of one daughter, Jennifer, who works for Continental. Jim Henson became an Eastern Airlines captain. He attended Texas Western (now the University of Texas at El Paso) on a football scholarship granted by "Bum" Phillips.

Eileen and Al Henson witnessed many changes which came to Nederland from the moment they first saw the town. In those days before World War II, the Boston Avenue buildings consisted mostly of Nederland Pharmacy on the corner, Dr. J. C. Hines' office next door; the old Rio Theatre, which is now a vacant lot; the old Gardner and Cooke groceries, both of which were old wooden structures; an old two-story, red brick building (the original First National Bank building) at Twelfth and Boston, occupied until 1938 by Yentzen's Bakery; a small wooden post office at 1144 Boston, the old First Baptist Church, which was then a wooden building, but is now a vacant lot at Thirteenth and Boston. Across the street from that old church was the George Yentzen home, which is now the site of NCNB Bank. In 1938 the Nederland streets were topped only with shell, and when it was dry, the shell dust was drawn into the houses by the attic fans. Air conditioning at that time was only a dream of the future.

With no previous college to her credit, Eileen Henson entered Lamar University in July, 1965, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Homemaking in 1969. She also completed a Master of Education degree, with a specialization in English, in 1973. She then taught English at Bridge City Junior High School until her retirement. Al Henson remained active in the construction field, eventually founding his own company, the Jefferson Construction Company. His company completed many contracts for the firm he started out with, Pure Oil Company, as well as elsewhere. Al Henson died in 1978.

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