My corralling of Maplewood’s historic photos began early in 2002. Barry Greenberg, now a councilman, had issued a call for persons interested in starting an historical society. Recently retired I showed up along with a fair number of like-minded souls. I don’t recall how many were at that first meeting but I know we had around twenty show up for a few of the later meetings. I didn’t know it then but that was a number that proved difficult to eclipse. Such is the fate of an historical society I would find out later. Possibly the first event we planned was a physical display of historic photographs and items set up in one of the empty store fronts on Sutton. There were several to choose from. Our event took place in one that is now the Maya Café or very close to it.
On a warm weekend in the middle of last September and in the middle of Sutton Avenue, the theater department of St. Louis University presented their Maplewood/Shakespeare adaptation play, “Remember Me”.
The very large audience (I heard 1700 on just Saturday night) was charmed by an all Maplewood cast and the many ghosts of Maplewood portrayed by giant puppets and conjured by the playwright, Nancy Bell. A couple of my favorite ethereal personalities, the Maplewood Spectre (she of the variable height of whom I have written several times) and the ghost of Charles Rannells, the builder of our most historic piece of property, Woodside, were among the spirits roaming the stage those nights. Nancy also borrowed details from a tragic story concerning a very old St. Louis family, the Clamorgans. Some of them including a young woman named Clara once lived just beyond our border in the City of St.
Maplewood resident Eileen Duggan’s father, Les Duggan Jr., a B-17 co-pilot in World War II, was scheduled to fly a combat mission to Germany, but another pilot took his place. The bomber was shot down, and Lt. Duggan was spared. Les Duggan and his two brothers who served were residents of Richmond Heights, nephews of the long-running mayor Lee Duggan. Eileen Duggan wrote about it recently in a piece entitled, The Crew — Dec. 1, 1943, in her blog, Versatiliosity.
It is these old photographs and old buildings that have gotten me into this history business. I’ve been called by others the Maplewood historian and have introduced myself that way. Truth is I’m a history broker. If you have pictured me spending long hours in dusty basements of public buildings or hour after hour in our fine libraries, well I’m afraid I don’t do enough of that. Nine years ago I did a massive amount of research for our Maplewood community history book that I produced for the 100th anniversary of our fair city which was 2008.
It’s stories like these that are true historical treasures of our community. Rarely recorded, they are usually lost when the eyewitnesses to history pass on. Thank you, Mr. Jones for sharing this with us. I’d encourage anyone else with interesting stories or anecdotes to do the same. DH
DECEMBER 7, 1941
I had been a “soda jerk” and cashier at the drug counter at Harper’s Drugs since I was 12 in 1939. In the fall of 1941, Mr. Harper and his son had a discussion and called me over. Bill Harper said the bandages and adhesive tape boxes really looked “shop worn” and, although still sterile, they were several years old.
One part of this job that I haven’t been very good at is creating headlines that will attract attention. Could be just the subjects but Miner’s articles are always clicked on more than mine. I’m thinking his headlines may have something to do with it. For instance would you be attracted to an article titled, “Changes Throughout the Years at 2541 Big Bend”? I don’t think so. It’s boring! Or how about, “EIFS and Historic Buildings.
Once again it’s the time of year when many of our neighbors are dressing themselves in costumes designed to scare you witless. The distraction is disrupting to those of us who are trying to prepare for the zombie apocalypse that we know is coming. All sizes of ghouls and goblins will inhabit our streets and living rooms tonight. Most are in search of candy and treats or just a good time. The supernatural to them…ain’t. Be alert if you’ll be out roaming the streets in one of our historic neighborhoods. Was that a face or just a reflection at that unlighted second story window? The following story is not a work of fiction. A few years ago I received this email:
This is going to sound a little off the wall, but here it goes anyway. I live at (here she provided her address that I have removed due to concern for her privacy) and have lived there for about 17 years. We have 2 ghosts, a man and a woman, that reside in our home.
Thursday, October 27th, marked the third anniversary of my association with 40 South News. True to form, I took the day off. If I hadn’t you might have seen the photos below a couple of days earlier. That is truly one of the wonderful things about this job of mine. I’m in charge. No one else. Of course, I don’t get paid but I’ve had plenty of those types of jobs. They’re not this much fun. This is a good time to mention that Doug Miner, Editor-in-Chief of 40 South News, is an awfully nice fellow to be associated with. For instance, he would never dream of editing my preposition off the end of that last sentence. This is part of why we get along well. At times I feel pretty cavalier regarding commas, hyphenated words and stuff like that. Editor Miner understands this and almost never interferes. Three years, 156 weeks – I’ve posted 136 posts, less than one a week. In the same period, Doug Miner has posted way over 3,000. We must consider that each of his posts required time to assemble, some more than others. This is a huge accomplishment on his part. Never before have we had the gift of information about our communities to the extent that he has provided.
Last post I said I was finished with this subject. Wrong. Here are a few more details that may interest you terra cotta heads out there. Many of you may not be aware that Maplewood is only about a mile or so from an area that once was the location of at least two major producers of ornamental terra cotta. Winkle Terra Cotta Company, a large national supplier, was located at 5739 Manchester which is very close to the old Central Hardware location just east of Hampton. St. Louis Terra Cotta Company was apparently right next door at 5801-15 Manchester. That area was once known as Cheltenham and was home to many other industries that produced items from the clay deposits found there. There are very many known mines in the area.
Doug Houser added this story in the comments, emailed to him from a 1945 MRH graduate about Reller Chevrolet — formerly of Maplewood. It’s about two boys with a broken wagon who took it to Reller Chevrolet for a repair, and the wonderful way they were treated. Maplewood History: Back By Popular Demand – Reller Chevrolet
This great story arrived by email. I think you’ll enjoy it. DH
When I was 8, my closest playmate was Oliver Sivcovich.
Although I named this series Whole Lotta Terra Cotta, we really don’t have a whole lot of it here in Maplewood. We’ve seen that we have some very nice examples. I’ll include many of the remaining ones in this post. Hopefully the readers will conclude that they are worth protecting and require close attention so they don’t disappear. Our buildings are a part of Maplewood that can survive. We won’t. Owners of commercial property can die or just lose interest and move on. The changes they make to our buildings endure.
We aim to please so I went back almost three years and reworked this previous blog post about Reller Chevrolet. Hope you enjoy it. From Doug Houser’s previous post: In my previous post about EJ Tire, parts of the Reller Chevrolet building can be seen in several of the historic photos. I became curious to know just how long the building was before it lost its western end. So I combined the two historic photos using Photoshop. Read his full post from 2013.