Parts One and Two of the Fennell trove are both loaded with terrific images. Many folks have taken the time to express their appreciation for having been able to view them. I, too, am grateful to Nancy Fennell Hawkins for having had the opportunity to present them. But we’re not done yet. When I wrote the title and included the word “extraordinary” I was thinking of a couple of images that the reader will see in this post. These images are very rare. They truly are treasures. It is immensely rewarding to discover images like these. Rediscover in this case.
Just a few of our fellow Maplewoodians ever hit the big time. Regular followers of this space will recall my series on famous Maplewoodians that wrapped up last July.
Aided by a powerful search engine driven by computers with speeds that were unimaginable just a few years ago, I was able to offer nearly incontrovertible evidence that Pee Wee Russell, the jazz clarinet virtuoso, was the most famous citizen of our fair town. He was followed closely by Paul Christman, a mere football god. Christman lived on Anna. I haven’t figured out Pee Wee’s address yet but I’m still trying. Why bring this up now while we’re taking a look at the Fennell family trove graciously provided by Nancy Fennell Hawkins? These images of Nancy’s are just as important as the ones of Russell and Christman. Look closely.
Yep. You read that right. Another trove of Maplewoodiana has come to light. This time it is made available by the kindness, generosity and patience (waiting on me) of Nancy Fennell Hawkins. For many decades Fennell family members lived in Maplewood. Nancy has done her family and us a great favor by producing her 224 page, hardbound book, I Remember When – Memories of Growing Up in Maplewood, Missouri 1936 – 1954.
And, boy, remember she does. This book is absolutely loaded with details and anecdotes from the lives of her family and friends. I have just finished reading it. You can too because she is donating a copy to the Maplewood Public Library.
Not our actual earliest settlers, of course. They’re happy right where they’re at, we hope. What I am referring to is my annual limited edition photographic print. This year’s offering, titled Our Earliest Settlers, will go home with the highest bidder at the Mid County Chamber’s Awards Gala and Auction. Their event happens this Friday evening, October the 11th. Click here for the details. The generous folks at the Frame of Mind picture framing shop at 2900 Big Bend have once again agreed to donate an example of the fine work they do. If you haven’t used their service, you don’t know what you’re missing.
The age we live in is simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. There is no clear indicator as to whether our technological advances will save or sink us. Wonderful tool that it can be, the internet is both a boon and a curse. There is plenty written every day about the curse side of it. This post is about the boon. The boon in this instance is my internet subscription to Newspapers.com. From this I was able to learn some very interesting details about my neighborhood. It is identified as Shields Subdivision on the Maplewood map in the 1909 Plat book of St. Louis county. That is all I knew about it. The boundaries are Big Bend on the west, Sutton on the east, Elm on the north and the railroad tracks on the south.
The photographs of Maplewood’s business district that I have been running for the last four or five blogs have generated a lot of interest and a few requests. This post is what amounts to a file dump. Due to the difficulty most readers would have searching my old posts, I am posting some images that I have used before and some that I haven’t. To be honest, I’m not absolutely sure which is which. And I found the text below in the same file with the photographs.
Man. What I won’t stoop to in order to have an eye catching headline? As you may suspect the images in this post shot by Glenn Haley and submitted by Mike Jones aren’t exactly startling. Well, maybe. You let me know if they are. I have looked at these and others like them so many times that I’m numb. I don’t know how those of you unfamiliar with them will react.
Beginning promptly at 6:30 at the Maplewood Public Library and continuing for no longer than the average audience is willing to tolerate (an hour or maybe an hour and a half) I intend to present a digital projected version of my new book, “Maplewood History – Volume Two”. The presentation will be digital because I still have not received a sample hard bound copy from the printer. I will have with me an unbound proof copy. As you will be able to see, the quality of the printing is very high. I assume this is one reason why my printer is so busy. It is also a reason why I am waiting patiently. Begun over five years ago, I am very happy to see this project coming to an end. One reason why the book took this long to create is because I am a night owl.
Everyone seems to enjoy looking at these aerial photographs so here are a few more in this post. If you still have questions after you have looked at these, go ahead – ask away. We all learn from the comments of the readers. If you are just joining us you may want to take a look at the previous two posts in this series. Part One. Part Two. Or if you’ve never heard of the Maplewood History blog before now, you might want to take a look at some of the previous 300+ on the subject that have been drifting in the ether for the past decade. Just Google “Maplewood History”. My wife tells me that there are other cities named Maplewood in the United States. That may be true but I bet none of the others have 300+ blog posts out there about the history of their virtually unknown small burgs.
Perhaps the title of this post should be, “1970’s Era Redevelopment Plan Blasted A Huge Crater in the Middle of a Lovely, First-Quarter-of the-Twentieth-Century, Shopping District.” It’s more complicated than that, I know, but I’ve written about this a couple of times and I’ve got a limited amount of space here to get your attention. The aerial image featured in this post was taken at the same time as the image in my previous post. It was made by Joseph Granich as well. He worked for the St. Louis County Observer newspaper which was located in Maplewood. In the meantime, Thank you, Joe, wherever you are. Taking an aerial photo in the mid 1950’s must have been an expensive operation. I imagine you were in a small airplane rather than a helicopter.
The dog walks my wife and I took in the spring of 2009 had the potential to be a bit more exciting than usual. Probably our most favorite route took us past the Sutton Loop park, often down Hazel to Maple. Then turning right on Arbor, we’d head back home along either Flora or Elm. That spring we favored Flora for the simple reason that there was a chance – a small one – that we’d run into George Clooney. We never did but many of our neighbors saw him. If you lived in Maplewood then you couldn’t not be aware that they were filming the movie, “Up In The Air” where much of the action occurred at Sutton and Flora. I think most of the film shot in Maplewood was in (or just outside of) the Methodist church located there. By doing a minimal bit of research, I was surprised to discover that it has been ten years since that film was made. I was also surprised to see how many actors were in the film that were unknown to me then but are familiar now.
For the tiny town of Maplewood, the 1970’s were a very turbulent era. I moved here in December of 1975. Due to the naivete of youth (I was 26) and the demands of full time employment in an automobile factory, I was blissfully unaware of most of the drama that was playing out just a few blocks away. The following pages are lifted directly from my first Maplewood History book – “The First Hundred Years, Maplewood MO”. They were researched and written by my co-author Joyce Cheney (no relation to Dick). Shortly after the book was published the very talented Joyce moved to Colorado where I believe she is still. Joyce is the author of several books including Aprons: A Celebration, Aprons: Icons of the American Home and All Our Lives: A Women’s Songbook. Many of my readers are still making do without owning a copy of this first book which I have recently rebranded as “Second Printing – Volume One”. There is no need to deprive yourselves any longer for the book is readily available at the reliable Scheidt Hardware (known to newcomers as True Value) where I am still the best selling author. Or the book can be obtained at the Mid County Chamber of Commerce just a few more steps west at 7326A Manchester.
You say you never heard of Rosaleen Bergin Rice? I’d bet that she never heard of you either. Rosaleen for a while was part of the human fabric of Maplewood. In 2007, work began on what would become the now legendary (according to some folks, myself being one of them) “The First One Hundred Years, Maplewood MO”, our centennial community history book, which, by the way, is now available as an improved version of the original. Copies of this long awaited reprint can be had at our Chamber of Commerce and Scheidt Hardware which are almost adjacent to one another in the 7300 block of Manchester. Try Scheidt Hardware first.
As I mentioned in my previous post I have no recollection how I first learned that the jazz musician, Pee Wee Russell, had once lived in Maplewood. I suspected that he was a minor figure who had attained a little recognition and not much more than that. Probably not long after I began to be interested in Maplewood history, I searched for information on Pee Wee on the internet. In 2002 or thereabouts I didn’t find anything. There was not much information on the internet back then. A year or so ago I subscribed to Newpapers.com. If you’re not familiar with that website, it contains the digital archives of, I suppose, hundreds of newspapers from around the country. Some of the files are massive. I noticed that the entire archives of just one newspaper, “The Tennessean”, from Nashville are reproduced. Every page from 1834 through 2019. That’s 2,659,705 pages!
I have no recollection of when or where I first heard or read about this person. Many years have passed since I first learned that this person had once lived in Maplewood. Quite a lot more time passed before I learned any more than that about this person. The first time I googled this person’s name it turned up very little. Since then I have uncovered enough data to make me believe that this person is the most famous Maplewoodian ever! Watch this space. In a few days I’ll reveal details of this person’s life and how I came to the conclusion that this person is our MOST famous Maplewoodian. If you’d like to try and guess the identity of this person, have at it. Here are a few clues. I don’t think that I have ever mentioned this person’s name in my blog. I might be wrong about that what with my memory being what it is these days.
A subject that deserves its own book would be the sports of Maplewood particularly football. Bob Broeg in his book, “Ol’ Mizzou, A Century of Tiger Football”, refers to a time in the 1930’s when “Maplewood and Cleveland High School in St. Louis supplied more talent to MU than any other prep schools”. The 1936 and the 1939 teams were the two best teams ever to come out of Maplewood High according to George Smith who was there. There have been a multitude of fine players from the Maplewood program but the team of 1936 was a standout.
Maplewood has been a good location for many businesses. Many have come and gone and left no trace. Al-Bro Manufacturing Company might have been one of those except they left a building and a brochure. Due to my less than meticulous record keeping I no longer remember where the brochure came from. It might have been in the large stack of stuff I was given when the American Legion Hall closed their doors. Or maybe I found it at the library? It doesn’t matter. I copied it from somewhere and here it is.
Once again I’m sifting through this mountain of Sutton/Thomas artifacts that I have been mining for over a year. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have to admit many of these items are fascinating in their own right. They are even more so collectively for the intimate view they provide us into the lives of a couple of prominent Maplewood families of the 19th and early 20th centuries. And I haven’t even gotten to the love letters yet. Just in case you missed Part Two here’s a link: Found Amongst his Personal Effects – Part Two
Included in this treasure trove are all of the letters William Lyman Thomas wrote to the woman who would become his life partner, Kate Sutton, from the time he met her in 1867 until they were married 2 ½ years later in 1869. These are fascinating to read.
In 1878 Mr. William Lyman Thomas became a member of the Missouri Press Association. In 1880, he was elected treasurer and held that position for twenty four consecutive years. At the end of his service he was made a life member. The only other life member, since the death of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain, d. 1910), was J. West Goodwin of the Sedalia Bazoo newspaper, whose slogan was, “Whoso tooteth not his own Bazoo, the same it shall not be tooted”. John Stillwell Stark knew J.West Goodwin and definitely learned to toot his own Bazoo along with the Bazoos of many other folks as well.
Just in case you missed Part One here’s a link. Found Amongst his Personal Effects
You might notice that there is no “Part One” in the title. That’s because I’m never sure how many parts there will wind up being. As I write these words, I have no idea how many images I’ll be able to turn up to attach below. Those of you that follow this space know that this is the twenty somethingth post I have done from this mother lode of Sutton/Thomas memorabilia that we have been lucky enough to witness firsthand.