After I retired at the end of 2001, I helped some folks start the Maplewood Historical Society. One of our first projects was making enlargements of some of the historic photographs in our library’s collection and displaying them in a then empty storefront on Sutton. To save money we made the enlargements on Kinko’s copy machine. Worked pretty good too. Some of the first old timers I talked to were Elmer Wind Jr. of EJ Tire (on and in the Wedge) and Alan Blood of the Maplewood Mill.
Truth be told it’s me that’s live. Maplewood History is, of course, being created constantly but just about everything I’m going to talk about happened a long time ago. I have carefully selected about a hundred and ten digital images to present to you Thursday evening. As Dawn has mentioned all ripe fruit must be checked at the door. I will be live and I want to stay that way so don’t bring any weapons either.
These stories that Mr. Jones has been submitting are priceless. I’m not sure whether I should refer to him as Bill, Will or Billy but no matter. His stories let us understand past life in our community that we couldn’t possibly imagine otherwise. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his latest called:
My Lesson in Growing Up
February 5, 1939–My sister said, It’s Mr. Harper calling for Billy.” Mr. Harper asked me, “Will you be twelve tomorrow?
April 17, 2017, the New York Times, page A4. That is the location of a disturbing article by Alissa Rubin titled, “As Village Homes Are Stripped Bare, French History Vanishes.” Ms. Rubin then goes on to describe how speculators and sometimes owners are stripping many of France’s historic buildings of their “architectural treasures and sell(ing) them, often abroad, leaving once graceful historic structures little more than empty shells behind gaily painted facades.”
Just what exactly are these defilers of French history making off with? The NYT’s article lists “antique tile floors, wood paneling, mantelpieces and chimneys and sometimes even …staircases.” It also mentions floorboards, wooden window frames and doors. Many of these items wind up in expensive homes in Germany, the United States, Japan and some are bought by foreigners for their vacation homes in the south of France. A terra cotta tile floor for a kitchen might be worth $6,500, a mantelpiece, as much as $10,000, and an antique oak door, $600.
Now this is a story I’ve been wanting to post for a long time. Three years anyhow. Those of you who have been following this blog for that long will recall that is when the magnificent cabinetry of the original Harper’s Pharmacy was removed so the space could be restored. You may also recall how many of us were upset with Mr. John Hickey, director of the local chapter of the Sierra Club because he chose not to have the cabinets returned to the place they had been since their installation in 1926. We had an almost completely intact interior of an historic pharmacy, a time capsule of our community, miraculously survive until that April of 2014.
My last post featured a story from 1910 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that told of a serious yet completely forgotten explosion in Maplewood. It came to light from the furious digging of Maplewood history aficionado, Luke Havel. Commenting on that post, Luke pointed out that there was another very interesting Maplewood related story on the opposite side of that front page. I agreed.
Some posts are easier than others. This is one of the easiest of all. For me it is like shooting fish in a barrel even though I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to do that. For those of you who may be young enough to be unfamiliar with the phrase, like shooting fish in a barrel implies that something is as easy as taking candy from a baby even though I can’t imagine why anyone would do that either. Enough of this.
My co-author, Joyce Cheney, did a good job describing these events in our book, “The First 100 Years, Maplewood, MO.” Writing from her own research, she had this to say. Attention K-Mart Shoppers
James O. Holton, president of Citizen’s National Bank in Maplewood decided to take redevelopment into his own hands. Holton gathered fifty-seven local businessmen at The St. Louis Club and presented his vision for redevelopment: a six-block stretch of Manchester Avenue and surrounding streets, from Oakview Terrace to Big Bend would be rebuilt with retail venues in a park-like setting.
If you’ve been following the action here at Maplewood History you already know that Jim Fischer, whose family had early connections to Maplewood, gifted us with a good-sized box of crumbling, brown newspapers and other items that had once belonged to his parents.
He also threw in a small box of interesting old pamphlets that have nothing at all to do with Maplewood. They once belonged to a neighbor. I’ll have to get her story from Jim once more. I’ll post some of the more interesting of those possibly under a title such as, “Completely Unrelated Stuff Found While Looking for Maplewood History”.
First exhibited on Dec. 4, 2013 all of the photos that accompanied this blog post then had somehow dissipated into nothingness. Given the recent interest in the Wedge and EJ Tire I decided to reload it. Or perhaps since this is an article about a tire seller I should call this post a retread of the original. For those of you who know nothing about retreads, I can tell you I had a few.
Resurrected refers to the blog post not the building. Sorry. Several folks had asked about the history of the Wedge but when I went back to link to this earlier post all of the photos had evaporated into cyberspace.
So here it is again…back by popular demand. I’ll have more to add in a subsequent post thanks to information gained from the soon-to-be-legendary box of Jim Fischer’s.
Dusty boxes of junk are, now and then, one part of this job of mine that others might not care for but I don’t seem to mind. I have trouble remembering how many interesting discoveries I have made in the piles some of these boxes have contained. Most memorable to me are probably the Rannells family papers some dating as far back as the 1830’s that were stored underneath a bed in an old carpenter’s tool chest when I first saw them. This was at the very nice home of a direct descendant of Charles and Mary Rannells who lived in Richardson, Texas. The descendant lived in Richardson, Charles and Mary lived in Maplewood in Woodside as followers of this space should know.