Maplewood History: From Up In The Air

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.

Maplewood History: The 1970’s

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.

Maplewood History: Rosaleen Bergin Rice

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.

Maplewood History: The Most Famous Maplewoodian of All Time – Pee Wee Russell

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  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!

Maplewood History: The Most Famous Maplewoodian of All Time!

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.

Maplewood History: Famous Maplewoodians – Paul Christman, a Football Legend

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 History: The Al-Bro Manufacturing Company

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.  

William Lyman Thomas – Found Amongst his Personal Effects – Part Three

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.

Maplewood History: Famous Maplewoodians – John Stillwell Stark

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.

William Lyman Thomas – Found Amongst his Personal Effects – Part Two

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.

Maplewood History: Famous Maplewoodians – Willard McGregor

Any lineup of famous Maplewoodians would have to include Willard McGregor.  I have to include him even though I posted every single piece of information that I have about him last year on March the 19th.  Even so he truly is worth taking another look at. Like Ray and Tom Kennedy, he became known in his spheres of interest, painting and music, in a far wider community than our small one here.  All three hobnobbed with other artists who were also widely known. Is that part of the definition of being famous?

Maplewood History: Famous Maplewoodians – Ray and Tom Kennedy

In 1934, Ray and Tom Kennedy opened the Kennedy Conservatory of Music in downtown Maplewood.  They sold musical instruments and taught students how to play them. They and their instructors gave singing and dancing lessons.  They also taught dramatics. Tom Kennedy took an interest in photography and opened his own studio.

Maplewood History: Our Most Famous Maplewoodians

Who are our most famous Maplewoodians? Who are the folks that have resided in our lovely village and then gone out and done well for themselves in the wider world?  I have a few names in mind but I am going to keep them to myself until the readers of this space have had a chance to respond. Let there be no misunderstanding, George Clooney made a movie here but that doesn’t count. He never lived here.

Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas – Found Amongst his Personal Effects

Among the many items in this fabulous trove of Maplewoodiana that once belonged to William Lyman Thomas are these images that I have put into a file called “People” because I don’t know anything about most of them.  Hopefully someone out there will see someone familiar and enlighten the rest of us. There is much to be learned from the comments on Maplewood History, as the readers of this space have seen time and time again. If you are just tuning in, we all have been given the gift of being allowed to closely scrutinize a large and very important collection of Maplewoodiana that once belonged to the very active and  mentally nimble William Lyman Thomas. Since there is no sense in writing just to be writing, I’ll stop now.

Maplewood History: The Last Bunch of Images from WLT’s History of St. Louis County

Those of you who follow this space understand what that headline means. But if you’re just tuning in, I’ll explain.  Maplewoodian William Lyman Thomas created his terrific two volume set titled, “History of St. Louis County – Missouri” in 1911.  In order to do so it was necessary for him to solicit photographic images of many different things and from many different parts of the county.

Even More Images from William Lyman Thomas’ 1911 History of St. Louis County

This is the fifth post displaying images that William Lyman Thomas collected around 1911 for his landmark two volume set.  For those who may not have been following this blog, these images are from the collection of a direct descendant of WLT and his wife, Kate Compton Sutton Thomas.  Many of these images have never been shown in public before. As has been my habit, I’ll include scans of the backs of most of the photos as well.  Thomas’ notations and instructions to the printer allow us a look at part of his construction process that we’d otherwise never see.

The Troubling Legacy of our Pioneer Families

James Compton Sutton (later Sr.) and his wife Ann Wells Sutton might have been the earliest settlers of European ancestry of the area known today as Maplewood, Missouri. At least I don’t know of anyone here earlier.  Ann West Evans McElderry didn’t buy her 320 acres (west of Big Bend, north of Manchester, sold to Charles Rannells in 1848) until 1839. Henry Bartold didn’t build his stone roadhouse (at Hanley and Manchester) until 1840.  John Baptiste Bruno, whose farm was just north of Sutton’s, got here early but I don’t know how early.

Still More Yet – Images from William Lyman Thomas’ 1911 History of St. Louis County, Missouri

This is the fourth post of original images that William Lyman Thomas collected and used in his magnificent “History of St. Louis County, Missouri”.  We have a rare opportunity to examine these images that he assembled into his final two volume set in 1911. I am again including images made of the backs of these photographs.  I think it is especially interesting to see his notations and instructions to the printer.

Maplewood History: Pale Blue Porch Ceilings

“The boys sat in a circle on the porch of Doug and Tom’s house. The pale blue painted ceiling mirrored the blue of the October sky.” So begins Chapter Fifteen of Ray Bradbury’s “Farewell Summer”. I don’t know when I first became aware of blue porch ceilings. There were no porch ceilings on the house where I was raised. I built the porch ceilings on the house I have lived in for the last 43 years.

Maplewood History: The Heaviest Piece of Maplewoodiana Returns

What must be the heaviest piece of Maplewoodiana in existence is being exhibited at an area museum.  Would you have any idea what that might be? It might help if you knew that the museum is the very popular and fascinating National Museum of Transportation on Barrett Station Road.  Recently I got an email from Mary Kennedy who works there asking me for permission to use some of our historic photos on their social media. They have had an item in their collection since 1961 that was probably seen by many people who were in Maplewood between 1925 and 1961.