We lived in Maplewood and this was 1936. Our Observer (local paper) had a memo and mother read, “Maplewood Police will this year fine any and all Maplewood residents $5.00 for exploding any firecrackers in the city limits” One of my Dad’s employees had sent me a box of “cannon crackers” as a gift. My grandmother had a large house and my aunt and her family lived at 1800 Lafayette in St. Louis. Dad drove us to Grandma Price’s on the holiday and we had lots of hot dogs, marshmallows and treats for little kids. When sundown came, sky rockets and sparklers were all brought out. I gave the older kids my “cannon crackers”. I picked up all unexploded cannon crackers and my cousin shared a warning too late. My little hand was badly burned. All of our family worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad so I was taken to their hospital by my dad. My little hand had a big splint and big bandages. When I was carried out of the doctor’s office in my Dad’s arms, the whole lobby was filled
with my family! Daddy sat me down on a bench. A pleasant young man sat beside me and said, “Sorry about your firecracker.” I asked him, “Did all the relatives come out because of my accident?” He put his hand on my “well” hand and said, “No, youngster. My uncle Lemuel Price is having a serious heart attack.” I said, “Lemuel Price is my Grandpa.” He shook my good little hand and said, “My name is Vinnie and I guess we are cousins. Vinnie carried me around and introduced me to his family and Washington University classmates. I asked Vinnie, “Did Grandpa Price give you a $20 gold piece when he moved back from Colorado? Vinnie replied, “He sure did!” I said, “I think I lost mine. Will the marshals put me in jail if I don’t find it?” He laughed and told his friends about my concerns. They all laughed.
As the reader may or may not recall my first two posts about this unfortunate but important tale of the Clamorgan family were copies of the articles carried in two St. Louis newspapers the day the story broke, June 9, 1911. This post is a copy of the article that appeared the next day in the St. Louis Star. It contains one of the only rays of light I’ve found in this dark tale.
Maplewood History – Volume Two. Selections From the Popular Blog was begun in 2014 and finished about a year ago. For better or worse, this book is the product of one person. I had some strong ideas about how I wanted the book to be. I liked the idea of having no one to clear anything with. I wanted to produce a book with strong visual appeal and not be too light on the text either. This book will be part of my legacy. For that reason I wanted it to be as high quality as possible. Both the soft and hardcover versions are designed to be collector’s quality. I intend them to hopefully last many lifetimes. The book is full color throughout and printed on high quality paper. The soft cover is laminated for extra durability. The hardbound version is constructed the way a lot of books used to be. The cover is green linen with the name of the book stamped in gold on the spine. In addition, the hardcover has a commemorative Scheidt Hardware dust jacket. With an eye towards the highest image quality both versions are printed on the same paper, 80 # (pound) glossy. This is a paper that many printers do not offer. My 2008 book, The First 100 Years – Maplewood MO, greatly increased in value on the internet when it was no longer in print. Enough that last year I encouraged the Maplewood Community Betterment Foundation to print another 140 copies. They did and these are now sold out as well. I can’t predict how long it will take but Volume Two may increase in value as well.
Included in my previous post, Cora Clamorgan – Part One, was a copy of one of the earliest articles I was able to find on this unfortunate subject which is the Clamorgan family having been found to have some negro blood and the repercussions thereafter. That article appeared in the Seventh Edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 9, 1911. This post is a copy of an article that appeared in the Night Edition of the St. Louis Star on that same day. I have much more information yet to post on this particular incident from the Clamorgan family history. Again, I would encourage everyone interested to read Julie Winch’s well-researched and well-written book, The Clamorgans – One Family’s History of Race in America. It truly is a great book.
Those of you who were in the audience for one of the performances of the Maplewood-themed, Shakespearean mashup, “Remember Me”, experienced a rare and delightful event. If you haven’t heard anything about this play, let me say, my wife and I were stunned by the very high quality of the production. It was wonderful…everything from the 10 foot high puppets to the live music. Put together by the very talented theater department of St. Louis U, it was a three-of-a-kind event that took place over three nights of one weekend in September 2016 and is unlikely to be repeated ever. The playwright, Nancy Bell, and I met several times while she was assembling her material. A couple of times she asked me what did I know about the Clamorgan family and their connection to Maplewood. Easy question for me to answer. Nothing. The large puppets represented Maplewood “ghosts”. One was Charles Rannells who you’ve read about here. Another of the ghosts told the story of Cora Clamorgan (Called Clara in the play).
Newspapers.com is packed full of interesting information. It is very easy to get sidetracked while using it as a source for your research. Often I discover something very interesting but completely unrelated to Maplewood. For quite awhile I’ve had the idea of doing a blog post about some of these unrelated items. This post features an advertisement I stumbled across that nearly caused me to do a backflip. This advertisement gave a solid reality to an event that I had always considered was probably just a legend. I was very pleased to find that it was almost exactly as I had been told sometime in the distant past. I have known of this event for so long that I no longer know if someone told me about it or perhaps I heard about it on the radio. I don’t know. I’m nearly certain I didn’t read about it. This is the first black and white evidence I’ve found. I’m pretty sure of that. Anyhow here it is.
Charlie Bartold might not have considered himself to be one tough hombre. But if he didn’t it was only because the spaghetti westerns wouldn’t be invented for another 60 something years. That he was pretty confident of his capabilities will be apparent to you after you read the following article. But one detail we can’t be sure of is if anyone ever called him Charlie.
Searching for an image from a spaghetti western to use to illustrate my story made me realize it has been a long time since I actually watched one of them. Like about 50 years. I found one site that looked particularly appealing. 10 Great Spaghetti Westerns. I think I may have to take a look at a couple of these. Being quarantined is a bummer. Social distancing – no fun. No swimming pool. No gym. No restaurants. These are trying times. At least it’s getting warmer. Doug Houser April 19, 2020
Reader Michelle emailed a couple of interesting images to me that I felt warranted a post of their own. From the information available online she has figured out a way to show us almost exactly where Bartold’s Inn was once located. Enough people have questioned me about this that I thought if I put it in the title of this post it may help folks who are searching for this information to find it. I’ll start off with a couple of images some of you have seen before just so you’ll have them handy.
HABS was the brainchild of Charles Peterson of the National Park Service who said at the time, “The plan I propose is to enlist a qualified group of architects and draftsmen to study, measure and draw up the plans, elevations and details of the important antique buildings of the United States. Our architectural heritage of buildings from the last four centuries diminishes daily at an alarming rate.
John Boone Hardy and I were invited to the pastor’s office. Pastor turned to John and me and said, “I spoke to your dads before calling this meeting. You may have noticed our country is at war. The US Secretary of State has ordered all American missionaries and their families back to the United States for their safety and to avoid any major incidents.
The staff of our Ridgecrest Assembly was to be comprised primarily of missionaries’ sons and daughters. None have US driving permits. Billy is 16 and John turns 16 in June. The Assembly has accepted each of you to work all summer and your fathers both agree this will be your decisions. I know Billy works for the railroad some evenings but his dad said the job would be open at the end of the season.
I was 12 years old and a student in Maplewood schools. I worked as an apprentice soda fountain jerk and cashier at Harper’s Drug Store. I always dressed neatly. On weekends, I am sorry to say, many teenagers came in barefooted and shirtless with their belly buttons showing. This truly embarrassed me. My grades went up to A+ in school because I had a lot of time at work to read and study when customers were scarce.
William Lyman Thomas’ The History of St. Louis County contains an unknown but large number of very interesting details about this area we live in. By accident I discovered another one while looking for something else. Interesting that this article should pop up right after the last post about the painting of the Bartold Inn that Larry Giles has been kind enough to give us. Wow. How about that? A very old oil painting of a two-and-a-half story house on Broadway with clothing in the south end, groceries in the north end, a barbershop and a saloon kept by Frederick Bartold. Sounds like a commercial building with maybe four storefronts. The painting also depicts a newspaper carrier and a two horse omnibus driven by Erastus Wells. What a cool painting. My first thought was to wonder if the History Museum has this painting in their collection? I would love to see it. Wouldn’t you? Often when you read of something like this, the object of interest has completely disappeared. No one has any idea of where it might be or what could have happened to it.
Stories of events and happenings at the once very popular Bartold’s Grove could easily furnish enough material for a few books if we could only recover them somehow. I have made a few blog posts about this historic inn in the past. The most recent two were posted in 2016. If you care to refresh your memory, here are the links. Bartold’s Grove
Bartold’s Grove continued
Recently Clark Hickman, a former Maplewoodian whose name many of you may recognize, found an interesting article while scrolling through copies of The News-Champion newspaper that are on microfilm at the Headquarters Branch of the St. Louis County Library. He kindly passed it along. The News-Champion was published in Maplewood. The article originally appeared in the May 3, 1931 edition of the Globe Democrat which had allowed the Champion to reprint it. It is a very interesting article. I encourage you to read it. I’m going to attempt to reproduce the original article here. This is always an iffy proposition so bear with me.
First day in the 1st Grade, Valley School, Maplewood. Our teacher asked a simple question, “What do you know that qualifies you to be a 1st Grade student instead of in Kindergarten?
The little girl sitting next to me said, “I know my colors.” The teacher said, “Take the pointer and tell me the colors you’re pointing to.” She got all but one right. The teacher said, “Now, Billy, I want you to tell me what you know that qualifies you to be a 1st grader.” I said, “I know 9×9 is 81.” She wrote It on the blackboard. The teacher asked, “How do you know that, Billy?” “My mother is a bookkeeper. A year ago she said ‘I’m teaching you the multiplication tables.’ I had never heard this word before. Mother made a game out of it. Every day I learned a little more. My mother showed great pride in my memory from day to day.
“PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD”
We moved to Maplewood from St. Louis city for clean air. The county offices put a big yellow sign beside our door on Zephyr Place. The sign said “Caution. Resident is a TB patient.” My mother lived in her own bedroom at our house and we had 5-days-a-week home visits from our doctor that cost $3.00 per visit. In 1932, my daddy woke me up. “You don’t have to get dressed for kindergarten. Just put on your knickers and your shirt.” I got dressed and daddy said “You’re going with me today to work.” Suddenly my mother was getting dressed and drove daddy and me to the Maplewood train station. (Mother was still allowed to drive.) The conductor lifted me up and sat me on the walkway to the seats.
Here are a few more images of the results of the disastrous fire that spelled the end of 7396 Flora Avenue. You can link to the first post here. What is the takeaway from all of these pictures of destruction? I suppose it is don’t take the threat of a fire lightly. Proper fire safety precautions should be adopted by us all. There was no coming back for 7396 Flora after this conflagration. Be thankful for and protective of our historic buildings. As always thanks to everyone who has commented on the posts and sent tips, suggestions, etc.
For the past few nights I’ve been staring at the computer screen, scrolling through my archive of historic Maplewood documents and photographs waiting for something to jump out and suggest itself for my next blog post. Nothing has been jumping. It’s not like I’m running out of material. I have plenty. The love letters of William Lyman Thomas alone are huge. But every time I sit down to try and coax a blog out of them I get overwhelmed. There are far too many to put on this blog. Reading them and trying to decide what will interest the readers is taxing. I think my brain is shutting down on that subject. There is also a family story in Jim Fischer’s box that I have been meaning to sort out ever since he gave it to Luke Havel and myself several years ago. I need to just sit down and do that.
I have no evidence that Thomas was aware of T.S. Eliot and his poetry. Their lives overlapped a bit. Thomas 1846-1918 and Eliot 1888-1965. Hopefully the spirit of Eliot will forgive me for parodying the title of one of his most famous poems, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Prufrock as it is commonly called (I am told by Wikipedia) was first published in 1915. The Thomases by then had just about lived their entire lives. Kate would pass in 1917, William in 1918. I suppose the love letters of William Lyman Thomas to his intended, Catherine (Kate) Compton Sutton, could also be called a love song.
Or more accurately “That Was.” A comment from reader and county historian Esley Hamilton in my last post started me thinking that I could generate another post with a minimum of struggle by elaborating on his comment some.
Esley said, “I have seen pictures of the twin-gabled house now at 7430 Flora being moved, but never one of its original location. The postcard showing the house in its original spot on Oakview Terrace is the kind of evidence that historians rarely find.” I agree Esley. I got lucky on that one. I photographed the event that Mr. Hamilton is referring to. I even had a couple of pages on it in my first book, Our First One Hundred Years, Maplewood, MO, which was published for our centennial in 2008. I believe the second printing of that book has sold out once again. Michelle at the Book House may still have some copies but Scheidt Hardware (True Value to you newcomers) was down to two copies when I was in a few days ago. The Chamber has none. I am in the process of getting quotes from a couple of printers so hopefully we’ll have some more copies in the future.
I’m sure no one would be surprised to hear that the rediscovery of the history of our small inner ring suburb involves keeping track of very many different bits of info gotten from a wide variety of sources. Roughly three times a month I attempt to gather in a single post many of these randomly acquired bits that are somehow related to one another. In my mind, and in my computer, these bits are floating around waiting to be drawn together by some common theme. My computer is much better at keeping track of these things than my mind is. Truth is this blog would not be possible without the record storing abilities of the computer. I was terrible at keeping track of pages of information back in the analog days of filing cabinets. I can’t tell you how many times I searched for that certain piece of paper that I just saw a moment ago but now is nowhere to be found. These days I often am looking for information online. The bits I find, first, go into my Documents folder – the plan being to file them in separate more specific folders later. Some are cross filed in a few different folders.