MRH School District: new superintendent of schools named

The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District announced Wednesday that Bonita E. Jamison, Ed.D, will become the next permanent superintendent of schools. Dr. Jamison comes to MRH from the Ferguson-Florissant School District, where she currently serves as the Executive Director of Integrated Supports and Accelerated Learning. She brings with her more than 19 years of experience in urban, suburban and charter school districts. Her first official day at the helm of MRH will be July 1, 2021. The MRH Board of Education is planning multiple public opportunities to engage with Dr. Jamison in the coming months.

MRH seeks info to help provide meals for non-MRH students

The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District is committed to serving nourishing, quality meals to ALL children, including non-MRH students, 18 and under during the school year, according to a representative. The school district is currently gathering information to help prepare for an upcoming change in meal distribution. The goal is to provide a separate meal distribution time specifically for families that are not participating in the MRH on-campus learning. This includes, but is not limited to, MRH semester-long virtual learning students, families with preschool children, and siblings that do not attend MRH. Please visit and complete the short form to shape the process.

New candidate announces run for MRH Board of Education

Amber Withycombe, a parent of two Maplewood Richmond Heights students, and Director of Institutional Giving for the Saint Louis Art Museum, has announced she is running for the MRH Board of Education. She provided this statement about her candidacy for the Board of Education. Richmond Heights resident Rachel Goltzman is also running, and incumbent Ralph Posey has also filed. Amber Withycombe’s statement:
Dear neighbors,

I am excited to announce my candidacy for the Maplewood Richmond Heights Board of Education in the April 6 election. Our school district plays a central role in the vitality, stability, and diversity of our community.

Maplewood History: The Location Of the Barry and Johnston Caves

To try and solve the mystery of the location of the Barry and Johnston caves, I contacted Joe Light of the Meramec Valley Grotto, a nonprofit dedicated to the study, exploration and conservation of area caves.  I met Joe and some of his compatriots ten years ago when they generously answered an invitation from me to have a look at the entrance to the Sutton Cave here in Maplewood. Joe kindly sent me everything his research had discovered about the two caves in question with the caveat that I not reveal the location of the entrances to the cave to the general public. This is the standard policy of his organization.  It is necessary due to the fact that many of the caves are very dangerous for various reasons.  In many there is always a risk of cave-ins.  In an urban area the caves are often polluted by sewage and the air is unsafe to breathe.  And these folks are preservationists of caves.  Amateur spelunkers not only risk injury or death to themselves but they often damage fragile natural features of the caves and harm the environment in the process. Joe asked me to be vague about the location of these caves so I will.  He is going to approve this before I post it.  I can say this honestly that it will do no one any good to search for the entrances  for one of them has been so modified as to make entrance impossible and the other has a building built on top of it. Hopefully Joe will approve of my telling you that one of the cave entrances (now completely paved over) was located a short distance west of the Schnucks store at Brentwood Blvd.

Commercial building renovations taking place in Maplewood

Renovation work is taking place at two commercial buildings in Maplewood, on Manchester Road and S. Big Bend Boulevard. Cool Stuff moved out of 2301 S. Big Bend Boulevard in October, buying their own building in the the 5700 block of Manchester Road. They’re now doing business as Cool Stuff Period. According to the city of Maplewood, Smart Rentals property management is renovating the building for their use. The former Nix & Associates building in the 7200 block of Manchester road is undergoing masonry repairs to the east and south sides of the building.

Maplewood History: The Barry and Johnston Caves – Part Two

This is the second half of an article about the Barry and Johnston caves that appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on July 27, 1890.  I will include the last paragraph of what was previously published.  If you need to take another look at the first post, here is a link.  The Barry and Johnston Cave – Part One. That is a great story, don’t you think?  It is made even better by the fact that this cave is very close to Maplewood even if it is beyond our western border. We need to find out what property was once the farm of Dr. Barry.  It was situated on the Manchester Road midway between the Rock Hill and North and South roads about 9 miles from the city.  What street today was called the North and South Road in 1890?  Rock Hill still exists.  No problem there. The boys entered the Barry cave and hoped to come out of the Johnston cave some 600 yards away.  Also the Johnston homestead was once owned by Judge Molton whose home was the first in the county according to this article.  Surely someone knows where that home was.

In the news: MRH graduate obituaries

Two graduates of Maplewood Richmond Heights died recently, among other news of the area. Arkansas Democrat Gazette — Frances Irene Cypert (obituary, MRH graduate)
Boca Beacon — Dorcas Amos (obituary, MRH graduate)
KMOV — WATCH: Sweet moment between Richmond Heights boy and sanitation worker
St. Louis Post-Dispatch — Man shot by Maplewood store clerk indicted on federal armed robbery charges
St. Louis Post-Dispatch — 2020: A year to remember in photos by David Carson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch — Messenger: An email string offers new light on criticism of St.

Maplewood History: The Barry and Johnston Caves – Part One

Articles on caves are always very popular. My previous posts about our Maplewood caves (Sutton, Ellendale, Cool Cave Tavern at the Bartold location) have drawn some interesting responses from readers that caused me to do a bit more searching through the old newspapers. Recently I discovered a fascinating article that I think many of you will be excited to learn about. Let’s start with a comment that a Mr. Brian Peters posted in 2012 in response to an article I had run about the Sutton Cave. Brian Peters

8:09 pm on Monday, June 25, 2012

I brought this story up to my father, and SURPRISE TO ME.

Maplewood History: More from Mary

Just as regular readers of this space have begun to suspect that Mary Piles, senior curator of things historical at CNB-STL, has no more vintage images and documents concerning her place of employment that we haven’t seen, I have but one word to say – not so fast.  Actually she has shared with us many more that I had been hoping to find an interesting or unusual way to present them to this audience.  Failing that, they’re all lumped together below. If you have forgotten just what CNB-STL means, make a note of this.  It is the new abbreviation for the old Citizens National Bank of Maplewood and St. Louis, now with 6 locations throughout the area.  Some day I will just be able to write the abbreviation and I won’t have to type out the long explanation or have I already done that? Never mind.  Let’s have a look at some of the images Mary has garnered from the 4 corners of the cyber world.  Later on there will be a discussion, “Does a cyber world have corners?”  But first… Earlier this year we posted, Citizens Bank of Maplewood.  Here are a few more images on that subject.

Maplewood History: 1915 Mitchell Place – Dogtown

Generally I confine my investigations to within the boundaries of our fair city, but now and then a subject of exceptional interest comes along so I make an exception.  This is one of those as were my last two posts about the De Soto Run bicycle challenge.  I really strayed beyond our borders for those two.  I was able to confirm that John W. Rannells, who once occupied the same terra firma as we do now, won a bicycle race.  I was not able to determine that he ever rode the De Soto Run.  I did discover that I had unknowingly ridden a very small part of the De Soto Run when I was a child living nearby.  Therefore the only Maplewood connection to the De Soto Run is me.  That’s it.  So far. Regular readers will recognize by now Mary Piles’ name.  She has contributed much to this space in her role as the curator of things historical at CNB-STL. Just like me she often finds things of interest that have nothing to do with whatever she was actually searching for.  This post is one of those. Very cool, Mary.  What a loss.  The original house on that site was very beautiful.  Is that image from the National Archives?  Thank you for sharing this with us. Christmas is almost upon us.  For the first 70 years of my life, my parents were part of our family’s annual celebration.  This is the first year that neither of them will be here.

Long-term Investment To Improve The St Louis Sewer System

The Metropolitan St Louis Sewer District (MSD) continues to oversee Project Clear, an ambitious program to build nine new tunnels to control wastewater overflows. The sewer system in St Louis is the fourth largest in the US, and the project, expected to be completed in 2039, also involves a comprehensive program of improvements, maintenance and repair. This will improve systems for both wastewater and stormwater. Aging sewer infrastructure is a problem both nationwide and in St Louis, and work on essential repairs and replacement pipes can be lengthy and disruptive. This project will take years to complete, but the upgrading, maintenance and repairs will result in significant and lasting improvements to the sewer system. Inspecting And Repairing Existing Pipes

As well as constructing new tunnels to control overflow from the sewer system, MSD are also committed to a comprehensive schedule of inspections, repairs and maintenance.

Maplewood History: The De Soto Run – Part Two – Frisco Hill

If you are like me you will have trouble remembering just where I left off on my last post titled, The De Soto Run.  Maybe I should go back and retitle it as The De Soto Run – Part One.  Anyway that link will get you there if you want to refresh your memory. Responding to a comment from reader Mark, I stated that as a result of the research I have done regarding this area in which I grew up I had a desire to go back and drive these roads I knew in my youth.  I was afraid that they may have been modernized and updated.  Reassured by my sister that they hadn’t been, I have done just that. Returning from Farmington, I cut over Hwy 110 to 21 and then picked up Old Lemay Ferry just north of the Sandy Creek covered bridge.  Some very early memories of mine are of swimming in the creek below that historic bridge. Very soon I was headed up the south side of what we called Snake Hill.  It is still known as that.  Longtime Maplewood supervisor of the Public Works department and former Maplewood resident John Meyer has told me he lives somewhere on it.  I was pleased that the road was very much as I remember.  As the name implies it is very curvy.  I am more appreciative of the beauty of the area now that I’m an adult.

With Snake Hill behind me the road flattens out as you approach the town of Antonia (known as Bulltown to the early cyclists).  Just south of the town I got a shock when I saw what had been done to Hwy M.  It runs between Hwy 21 and New Lemay Ferry (AKA Hwy 61-67).  Hwy 21 runs along the tops of many ridges.  Turning east on M, before it was modernized, one first encountered numerous dangerous curves, no shoulder next to a very deep ravine. I recall that view from the window of a school bus fitted with chains to handle slippery road conditions.  This still gives me pause to think about it.

Santa, I want a Puppy for Christmas!

Dogs and cats conveniently have a second litter of the year during the winter months which correspond with our gift giving holidays.  However, giving one as a pet is frequently a very bad idea, for many reasons.  Still, there are many creative ways of making arrangements to give a new pet to a friend or family member without the pitfalls of actually having a furry bundle of joy underfoot. If your tradition is in the habit of unwrapping presents, many gift-giving opportunities can present themselves here.  One can wrap collars, leashes, harnesses and bedding up in fancy boxes or gift bags.  Breed books, or books or general care, training and behavior can all be procured.  A framed picture of the new pet can be something that your child can go to bed with – as good as any sugar plums dancing in the head.  The brochure of a veterinarian is a nice addition to a gift card or holiday card.  And all pets need toys!  I guess wrapping up some canned or dry food is the equivalent of getting a Christmas sweater, but it is something else to unwrap, and will eventually be a necessary item to the household. A disappointed child might not understand why a new puppy or kitten is not a good idea on The Big Day.  Gently explaining to them that tinsel and festive light cords pose choking and electrical hazards, and that swift moving, playful fur balls frequently do not mix well with Grandma and Grandpa’s slower foot falls.  Or mine, for that matter – I just recovered from a fourth hip surgery, this one a total hip replacement , an injury begun, ironically, by a fall walking my dog on Christmas Eve two years ago.  I don’t dodge as well as I used to, either! Front doors left open while people linger on their goodbyes are ripe opportunities for a little one to dart out in the dark, making for hair raising rescues, and should any trip to an emergency veterinarian be needed, it could be hard to find one on a holiday.  As an aside, you should have an emergency veterinarian’s name, number, and driving instructions on your refrigerator and in your glove box for any sudden need where you would need to be restraining your pet and have to have a friend help you drive.  Those are not times of clear thought and having preparations written down and rehearsed ahead of time could mean life or death in timing for your pet. One last thing to consider, if you are the gift giver (especially in today’s difficult Pandemic) is this:  well-intentioned though your thoughts may be, does the recipient really want or need a pet?  Initially, our shelters emptied at the start of the Covid-19 virus as newly home-bound people sought company, but they have re-filled as people, now unemployed, struggle to care for the basic needs of their pets.  It has become a crisis that I will write about later.

Maplewood History: The De Soto Run – Part One

Early in this millennium, recently retired, I was searching for reasons to show why Charles and Mary Rannells’ farmhouse/mansion, Woodside, should not be torn down.  It is the oldest building in our town, Maplewood, Missouri.  While searching for Mary’s name I happened upon an article that ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on July 31, 1882 that described the events that occurred at a meeting of the Missouri Bicycle Club on their first anniversary. It noted that Mary and one of her sons had invited members of the Missouri Bicycle Club “to spend Wednesday evening at their residence at Bartold’s Grove.” (Woodside). This caught my attention because I love bicycles.  I have ridden a bike most of my life.  Having been raised in a very hilly area, I have long understood that the reward for struggling up one side of a hill lies just on the other side.  A recent discovery has allowed me to see just how very important the hilly terrain of my youth was to the first bicyclists in this area. I grew up on a road that runs east and west along the tops of four ridges.  It is not surprising that the name of it is Four Ridge Road.

Reports: Maplewood store clerk shoots would-be robber

A clerk at Boost Mobile in Maplewood, at 7222 Manchester Road, shot a would-be robber at about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other sources have reported. The robbery suspect, Malik Dorsey, 21, from north St. Louis County, survived the shooting, Maplewood police Chief Steve Kruse told the Post-Dispatch. Alton Telegraph — Store clerk shoots robbery suspect in Maplewood

Associated Press — Store clerk shoots robbery suspect in Maplewood

FOX 2 — Maplewood Boost Mobile clerk shoots attempted armed robbery suspect

KMOV — Would-be-robber shot inside Maplewood business was wearing ankle monitor from previous robbery


Carsickness in cats (and dogs), and what to do about it

I have clients who found a kitten at the husband’s family farm over the summer, and brought him home.  They already have two, ten year old cats.  B’Orange is a huge female who can handle Pepper, the errant kitten, just fine.  But Bud is constantly tormented by Pepper.  Poor Bud suffers from a multitude of health problems, including a mouth full of no teeth, and he just lays on his side making pathetic noises while Pepper tips him over and chews on him. So I offered to take Pepper home with me for the day to give the two seniors a break.  I have two parrots and a Border Collie and a house full of fish, but thought to myself, “Hey, if I am going to do Kitten Kindergarten, then I oughta get a cat!”

So I loaded Pepper up in the car and made the treck to St. Charles Animal Control, where I am friends with the shelter director.  Together, we combed the kennels, hauling out cat after cat, until I chose my new little “Cat-ten”, who I named Murmer, because she walks around the house all day long making that little sound to herself and anyone else who is listening.  I have not had kittens since 1987, and she fills my house all day long with hysterical laughter at her antics.  I’ll write more about her later. Fortunately, Pepper does not get car sick on his way back and forth to my house, but I get calls from clients who do have this problem.  Just a few days ago, I had to take my 33 year old Eclectus, Clare, to the vet, and there was a person next to me who had a cat who was sick and also suffered car sickness on the way into the vet. When my Scottish Deerhound, Gulliver, was a puppy, he rode in the back seat with a bag of grass seed and snacked, unbeknownst to me, all the way to the park, where he threw up.  I did not do a great job cleaning it up, and did not drive my car for a few days afterward.  When I got back out to take it out, there was a veritable garden of green lawn growing on my back seat!

Work begins on new house at Flora and Sutton, plus a mystery

Work has begun on a new home at Sutton Boulevard and Flora Avenue on the  corner of the house with burned down in 2012. The Maplewood Design and Review Board reviewed two conceptual ideas at the May 14, 2020 Maplewood Design and Review meeting. Owners of the lot, Dhruv Kar and Ritika Sahai-Kar submitted the drawings. See the meeting notes here: D&R staff report. See also: Maplewood History: 7396 Flora Avenue

And there’s a mystery: a grave marker is stuck in the dirt at the construction site — “Buster – The Best Dog.”

Maplewood History: A Powhatan Theatre Movie Guide and A Salvation Army Photograph

Often the reason there is a lot of time between my posts is that the length of the one in the works just keeps getting longer and longer. That is happening right now.  I’m working on a long one about bicycles which still is not ready.  Meantime former councilman Onis Harper dropped off photocopies of a couple of interesting things.  So let’s take a look at those. First up is a copy of a 1939 guide to the movies at the Powhatan Theatre.  What interests me about a brochure such as this is that until now I never knew they existed.  When you think about it, probably most of the theaters had their own.  Still this is the only one I have ever seen.  

Thank you, Mr. Harper, for sharing these with us.  Are you related to the Harper family of the Harper Pharmacy fame?  Harper is a surname well known in Maplewood since the beginning. As always, thanks to everyone who contributes, tips, suggestions, or whatever.  Everything is appreciated.  And don’t forget to wear your mask.

Reported: Richmond Heights tenants uprooted in rehab

St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Bill McClellan, and the publication, STL Reporter have reported on an apartment building in Richmond Heights, 7703 Wise Avenue, that had a change of ownership, affecting the tenants in the process. They report that no permit from the city was applied for when work to rehab a vacated unit had begun. Also that the construction company began the work without an asbestos inspection, then the company’s inspector wasn’t certified, then a following inspector found no asbestos. A tenant then took samples to the county health department from her apartment which were found to contain asbestos.

Maplewood History: John Stillwell Stark – New/Old Images Are Found

Many readers of this blog will recall John Stillwell Stark, the music publisher, from my series of posts on Famous Maplewoodians.  John’s story is complicated.  You are more likely to appreciate this post if you reacquaint yourself with that original post so do that now.  Here is the link.  John Stillwell Stark. For this post I am pirating a column from the internet by this fellow, Larry Melton.  He has his email address at the bottom.  Once I have published this I intend to send him a link and hope that he approves.  If he doesn’t, look for this to disappear very rapidly.  Larry, if it helps you reach a decision, I can guarantee that there is no money involved.  Take a look at my previous post on Stark.  You are welcome to copy it. The image that was most interesting to me was the third one.  Stark’s son, Etilmon and his wife, Margaret are standing in front of their home at 7377 Maple in Maplewood. This is the only known image of that home.  An apartment building occupies the site today.  Stark lived with his son for awhile at that address.  Eventually he purchased a large home across the street at 7360 Maple that still exists. It was there that he died in 1927.