Remembering Polky

Filed under: Family History — Chamberlain @ 10:57 pm
No. 192

Today we celebrate the birthday of William Julius Polk Jr, born October 1 1911, affectionately known by all as Uncle Polky. It was 10 years ago that many of us gathered at the Missouri Botanical Garden for the dedication there of a commemorative plaque and bronze relief given by the family in his honor.


Poppies for Polky


Kate Dunn Smith did the artwork which was generously subsidized by the family at large. It gave Polky a great deal of pleasure, and it was wonderful to be able to acknowledge his generosity to us while he was still alive.

On this anniversary of his birth it seems fitting to share with the family the rich set of recollections that Uncle Polky recorded in a series of interviews with the journalist John W. Curley. These were made during Thursday afternoon luncheons between January and November of 2000. They formed the basis of the small book “Uncle Polky, Memories of St Louis” (Virginia Publishing Company, 2002). Over the past year we have saved these 14 some odd sessions in unedited form and they will be in our family blog library for anyone who would like to hear his voice again. They contain much that was not included in his book, and indeed for those interested in not only family but St Louis history, they are a treasure. If you are patient as Polky slowly collects his thoughts, and waits for the sirens of the passing ambulances to die away, you will be rewarded. We owe a debt of gratitude to John Curley who so carefully explored these memories with Polky. John died at age 50 in July 2003, just two months after Uncle Polky, so this was his last effort – we are so glad that he undertook it.

Here then are the Luncheon Conversations… I hope you will enjoy them. Happy Birthday Polky!



  1. Thanks, Bob, for saving these wonderful recollections of Uncle Polky.

    Thanks, Kate, for the lovely bronze relief, plaque and fountain. We consider it a family treasure and visit it frequently when we are in St. Louis.

    p.s. We also treasure our “Hellmuth and Dunn” flowered mugs and thistle pitcher.

    Uncle Calvin

    Comment by Uncle Calvin — October 8, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  2. The fountain is now missing several tiles, and needs painting, and the pergola is trotting, daily members might want to call the garden, as I have done recently.

    Love, Anne

    Comment by Anne Dollimore — January 16, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

  3. Thanks Anne for the update. I’ll ask Kate if she can get matching tiles to replace those that are missing


    Comment by rcdunnii — January 17, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

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