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MERCER ISLAND, WA | A book detailing the 95-year history of Hammond's Edward C. Minas Co. is finished except for two chapters still to be written by its former customers and employees.

That could mean you.

"My son wanted me to add contributions from customers and from employees, so I'm looking for people to send me anecdotes about their experiences at the store," said Edward C. Minas, grandson of the company's namesake and author of a book about the company.

On Feb. 12, 1890, Edward Conrad Minas opened a hardware store that was the forerunner of what was to become Hammond's premier shopping emporium. The original location was about a block from the vastly expanded three-story store's final address, 460 State St.

Like most family members, the younger Minas began working at the store as a child, when -- at age 10 -- he became an unpaid train operator and toy demonstrator. Minas' career with the family company actually began in 1952 after he received his MBA from Indiana University and he was employed in the store's men's furnishings department.

Minas stayed with the company while it grew and opened branches in River Oaks and Southlake malls. He held the title vice president and general merchandising manager when he left in 1979, a year after his father's retirement as company president, and his brother-in-law took over.

After leaving, Minas moved to Washington state, where his youngest son, David, settled after attending college there. He worked in retail for a year, before starting a 10-year career with a communications company that ended when he took early retirement in 1990.

His son, Edward C. Minas IV, also lives in Washington while his middle son, Randy Minas, remains in the region, living in Schererville.

Minas, 80, began writing the book about the company "on and off" more than a half-century ago.

"I started writing the book in 1957, and it has been worked on in three separate phases," he said last week. "First, when the store was going well, and I decided someone should write its history. My father was still alive and could give me its early history, and I had access to early photos."

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Minas set the work aside until 1988 when he added information on the closing of the company and the changes in downtown Hammond's retail landscape through the previous century.

"The Hammond Bible Church had bought the site and all the stores I knew had left Hammond, and I decided there should be closure to what had transpired there," Minas said. "I added to what I had written and filled in some blanks."

In 2007, Minas brought the book up to date and closed it off, or so he thought.

But after reading a book about a similar family-owned defunct retailer in Oregon -- the Crescent Department Store -- son Edward decided his father should add chapters with contributions from employees and patrons.

"We hope people will send us their memories of Minas'," the elder Minas said.

"We want to have it published by June or maybe even sooner. My son David is incorporating it into computer format now."

The yet-titled book and its more than 50 photos will be self-published and printed through a POD (print on demand) organization, he said

"Once it's published, I will contact the Hammond Public Library to offer to give a presentation in the Calumet Room to anyone interested," Minas said. "We hope people will respond as soon as possible. I've been working on this for almost 60 years, and I'm getting tired of it."

Calling all former Minas department store employees and customers

To submit information or memories for the book, e-mail or write Minas within the next 30 days to ed.minas@comcast.net, or Ed Minas, PMB (Postal Mail Box) 111, 7683 SE 27th St., Mercer Island, WA, 98040.

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