Ford as a high school senior

Young Jerry Ford: Athlete and Citizen

William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2013 ($14.00)

Meet the All-American Boy of the 1920s, a handsome, hardworking football captain whose high-school years revolved around family, team sports, and the Boy Scouts. Jerry Ford grew to maturity in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the upper class observed Prohibition and the Jazz Age was a distant roar. His only problem was the choice of a career -- sports or law?

Readers say:

Steve Ford: "A wonderful early life portrait of my day growing up in West Michigan during the 1920s. All of the colorful stories and more that Dad told around our dinner table are here.

Amity Shlaes, biographer of Coolidge: "A tale to inspire all would-be presidents, put together with consummate skill and meticulous research. No biographer builds a better picture of young presidents than Hendrik Booraem."


Boy Scout records make it possible to date precisely when Junior Ford began calling himself "Jerry," like his stepfather. It was in his ninth-grade year, in the summer of 1928, when he turned fifteen. But those Scout records cannot tell why he made the change. Certainly it was appropriate to his physical size and the leadership position he was coming to have in the Scouts that he no longer be known as "Junior." But it also reflected the increasingly close bond he was coming to feel with his stepfather: "Jerry" was a name of honor to him. Boyhood friends, with an effort, adapted to calling him "Jerry" rather than "Junior." His mother never did; to her he was "Junior" all his life.

In the same year, ninth grade, he acquired another nickname. That was the year he began playing second-team football, and his teammates were boys who had known him as "Junior" through their years in school up to this point. These teammates came up with a compromise between his old name and the new one he had just assumed: they called him"Junie." His athletic nickname became Junie Ford for the next three years at South High, originally among the players, then among the coaches as well. By his senior year, the rest of the school had learned it, and even Arthur Krause, the serious, businesslike principal, called him Junie on occasion. But that nickname failed to make it into Scout records, where from 1928 on he was "Jerry."

Selected Works

Gerald R. Ford and His World, 1913-1935
William Henry Harrison and his world, 1773-1798
Calvin Coolidge and his world, 1885-1895
James A. Garfield and his world, 1844-1852
Andrew Jackson and his world, 1767-1788
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