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Henry's sport and bait approach have been seen throughout its decades and Chicago history.

Steve Palmisano dug out a faded mounted dollar bill and turned it over to show that on May 21, 1952, his father Hank founded Henry’s sport and bait.

Tom, in the middle of Hank’s son, opened a scrapbook and pulled out a picture of Henry’s Wednesday evolution on the second floor of the office.

Henry’s, a bridgeport fixture at 3130 S. Canal, will be closed later this year, ending its operations as a fishing and outdoor powerhouse in Chicago.

It’s a classic Chicago hustle story.

Hank was an instrument expert for the Army Air Corps during World War II. He learned to repair watches in the GI Building, opened a small store in 2452 S. Wentworth, and worked night shifts on the Burlington Railroad. Behind it was a chalk line with hooks, lines, and sinker card products.

“Then he put a well in the basement and we had a minnow tank,” Tom said.

I became a bait shop. Relatives sold it. Hank’s father, Immigrant Ignatius, was good at netting, repairing gridirons and making smelt nets.

“The’One Arm Phil’parked Model A by the lake and put up a sign on Henry’s roof,” Tom said.

A bait checker device used to check all containers of bait in front of customers at Henrys.The motto is

At Henrys, the bait checker device used to check all containers of bait in front of customers with the motto “All baits must be opened and checked by staff”.

In a brilliant marketing, Hank confirmed that all the boxes of the crawler were opened and shown to the customer. It continues to this day. The staff does not count the minnows, but scoops a dozen and estimates.

Henrys then moved to 2222 S. Silverton Way, the now-defunct link between South Park (King Drive) and Selmac. It was a kiosk during the 1933-34 World’s Fair.

The second location in Henrys on the South Silverton Way included several other bait shops on the block.Photo provided

The second location in Henrys on the South Silverton Way included several other bait shops on the block.

When RR Donnelley bought the block, Henry’s had to move, going to 420 W. 31st in 1968, and then to an empty railroad section. The Marine Shop was individually incorporated in 1976 and became a spin-off part of the business.

There was a fear that moving from the lakeside would be costly to the business. But, as Steve pointed out, “every piece of the puzzle popped out in 1968.”

Coho salmon had just been introduced to Lake Michigan. Smelt and Suzuki were strong.

An unknown early employee with one of the early coho salmon in 1968 at Henry's third location.Provided follower

An unknown early employee with one of the early coho salmon in 1968 at Henry’s third location.

Business has quadrupled. Henry’s was right next to Dan Ryan, which has an off-street car park, and remained open from 4 am Friday to 10 pm Sunday.

Around 1974, several condemned buildings were purchased on the southern canal on the 31st, which became Henry’s last home, requiring serious brickwork.

In May 1978, a seven-page ad for Midwest Outdoors announced Henry’s new home.

Henry played a major role in Pepsi’s salmon contests, including boats, motors and trailers. Henrys held open houses in the spring and fall with local experts, including a perch seminar with Frank “Panman” de Francisco, Frank Buzikki, Ronbridge, Kenschneider and Chuck Thompson. The food (fried poroque, french fries, fried turkey, Italian sausage, jambalaya) made it more attractive and promoted the cook.

Henry's Sports and Bait was the last place, 3130 S. Canal, known for its fried turkey, jambalaya, and open house food such as Italian sausages. Credit: Ron Wozny

Henry’s Sports and Bait was the last place, 3130 S. Canal, known for its fried turkey, jambalaya, and open house food such as Italian sausages.

Henry sometimes sneaked into other sporting goods (skating, golf, etc.), but fishing remained constant. However, some food sends pet food and worms to urban compost containers.

All seven of Hank’s grandchildren worked in the store: counting minnows, packing worms, and working at the counter. Everything was successful in other areas.

Henrys, who began working with hundreds of people, proved a fertile path to other careers. Tom and Steve rattled marine biologists, lawyers, doctors, EMTs, EPA staff, business owners and more.

“The two guys who worked here have their own marine shop,” Tom said.

I know two people who became Chicago police officers.

One Brandon Troupe sends the following message: It was a cool time. You’re in the store one night and you literally have to load all of Henry’s inventory into a big box of trucks. Not only were Steve and Tom great owners, but they were also depressed and dirty during the road process! .. .. .. I’m glad Steve gave me a shot when he was so young. “

Richpinkowski began working for Henry in his second year in old St. Joseph in 1983. He became a carpenter of the union and is now a national supervisor. For several years he was the tournament director of the Illinois BASS Nation.

He interviewed his eldest son Henry, who died suddenly at the age of 54 in 2006.

“He asked what my perch fishing rig was,” Pinkowski said. “I said,’The 8-pound line, the 10th eagle hook and the two split shots.’ He said, “Soak some minnows and see how close you are to twelve.” That was my first job interview.

“I packed the night crawlers behind, but worked mostly at the counter … The big thing people were crazy about was Cathar Powerum. When they came in, they lined up. I was there.

“I was a fish head. It was a perfect job for me. I started talking to people when I was fishing.”

Henrys is one of the longtime bait and tackle shops in the Chicago area. Parkbait began as a family business in Montrose Harbor in 1958. Back in 1935, the Barry’s Bait was there.

Antioak’s CJ Smith Resort is the oldest family bait shop that began with Smith’s landing in 1929. Antioak’s Triangle Sport and Marine has been around since 1948. Wakigan’s Salmon Stop celebrated its 50th anniversary in April.

Tom and Steve talk about the rough days of dozens of baiters in Chicago. Capturing a minnow on the Illinois River was a daunting task, and Hank made a spectacular move to lease the best location near Marseille. And he froze other stores.

Every Thursday night, they caught crayfish on golf courses and ponds around Orlando Park, Paros Park, and Kankakee County without permission. For this secret operation, they had a $ 25 beater. In Waders, they jumped out in the dark with a dim flashlight and quickly filled a five-gallon bucket before proceeding.

In a pinch, they chose crawlers from McKinley Park or the lawn.

Henry belongs to history in other ways as well. For example, it includes five current Illinois record weighs. Skipjack herring (Travis Strickland, £ 2, 10.4 oz, May 11, 2022, Illinois River). Kokuren (Jarrett Knize, 72-9, November 8, 1921, Humboldt Park Lagoon); Kokuchibas (Joe Kapilpo, 7-3, October 14, 2019, Chicago Lakeside); tiger muskie (Michael Behmetuik, 31) -3, August 6, 2004, Lake Will); Brown Trout (Deva Vranek, 36-11.5, June 22, 1997, east of Chicago).

Joe Capilupo was able to place Illinois's record smallmouth bass in the basement of Henry's Sports and Bait, live in a minnow tank until certified, and return to Lake Michigan. This is one of the five current Illinois records evaluated by Henrys. Credit: Dale Bowman

Joe Capilupo was able to place Illinois’s record smallmouth bass in the basement of Henry’s Sports and Bait, live in a minnow tank until certified, and return to Lake Michigan. This is one of the five current Illinois records evaluated by Henrys.

“I’m proud of what we did, but it’s time to go fishing and hunt,” Steve said.

“If someone wants to pick up the ball and open the street, I’ll support them,” Tom said. “You don’t have to travel the suburbs to get food.”

Time for someone to build their story.

The Henry's Sports and Bait floor is less crowded as Chicago's fishing and outdoor powerhouse is nearing its end. Credit: Dale Bowman

The Henry’s Sports and Bait floor is less crowded as Chicago’s fishing and outdoor powerhouse is nearing its end.