Eysail Hammer, at 103, is the eldest resident at Lakeview Village
By Shellie Sullivan
Eysail was born in 1913 in Edwardsville, Kansas – population 350. She was the middle of 7 children. Her father was a potato farmer. To help with the family expenses, Eysail delivered the Kansas City Star while growing up. At that time it came out twice a day. It was an era where her mom was able to pay the doctor with milk from their cow in exchange for his service.
Eysail’s father died, and so she was only able to finish one year of high school so that she could work and help at home. Money was tight and her mom wasn’t able to make ends meet, so they had to send her two youngest sisters to an Odd Fellows home in Manhattan for a few years. Then her mom remarried and was able to bring the girls back home to be with her.
Eysail married at the age of 18 a 22-year-old man named Carter. Carter was a secretary at Morris feed lots, where he worked seven days a week, 10 hours a day and made $25 per week. It was a lot of hours, but they were so thankful to have a job with the way the economy was during the depression. Carter had an enlarged heart, and found it hard to find work after the feed lot job, so he went to California to work in the shipyards. Eysail heard about a sheet metal school that the government had started for war work, so she learned how to be a “riveter,” and moved to California to join Carter. Carter was currently living in a house with other workers, and the only reason they allowed Eysail to live there was that they had to work opposite shifts, due to space in the house. After awhile, Eysail quit her job so that she could actually spend some time with her husband. So she went to the employment office where they sent her to Pan American where she read blueprints and laid out the repair plan for ships. In fact, the first injured clipper ship from the war was sent to her shipyard for repair. She was then sent to the shipyards so she could work on ships. They also made Liberty Ships. These were ships that took supplies to the fighter ships. It was a male dominated workforce for sure, and the men let her know that, but for the most part, they left Eysail alone because her husband worked there, too.
In 1948, Carter died at the age of 38, so Eysail moved back home and lived with her mom and went to Donnelly College for accounting, which allowed her to find a job as a bookkeeper. She then married a man named Fay Duncan who had 3 children. She calls them her “gift children.” She is still in touch with them to this day.
Eysail said she worked harder after she got married to Fay because they fixed up houses. She said she learned a lot about construction and fixing and such, and that it was hard physical labor!
Fay died years later and so Eysail moved to Kansas City where she was a member of Covenant Church. She put her fellowship in the church and was elected to be a deaconess. Eysail became friends with a nice couple, Roy and Addy Hammar through church. They were friends for years. Time went on and Eysail decided to retire and move to Lakeview Village. Roy happened to move to Lakeview as well, after his wife Addy died, and he and Eysail continued their friendship, until they married. Eysail said, “Why not?” They were married for 19 years before Roy passed away.
At the age of 103, Eysail is currently Lakeview’s oldest resident and has lived here for 31 years. It’s amazing how much change she has seen in the world. She enjoys reading and visiting with her “gift” children and grandchildren. Whenever you see Eysail, there’s always a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. She is a delightfully sweet and genuine woman. You should stop by and get to know her. It’ll make your day.