Maplewood History: 4th of July Celebration – Grandpa Lemuel Price by Billy Jones

We lived in Maplewood and this was 1936. Our Observer (local paper) had a memo and mother read, “Maplewood Police will this year fine any and all Maplewood residents $5.00 for exploding any firecrackers in the city limits”  One of my Dad’s employees had sent me a box of “cannon crackers” as a gift.  My grandmother had a large house and my aunt and her family lived at 1800 Lafayette in St. Louis.  Dad drove us to Grandma Price’s on the holiday and we had lots of hot dogs, marshmallows and treats for little kids.  When sundown came, sky rockets and sparklers were all brought out.

I gave the older kids my “cannon crackers”.  I picked up all unexploded cannon crackers and my cousin shared a warning too late.  My little hand was badly burned.  All of our family worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad so I was taken to their hospital by my dad.  My little hand had a big splint and big bandages.  When I was carried out of the doctor’s office in my Dad’s arms, the whole lobby was filled

with my family!  Daddy sat me down on a bench.  A pleasant young man sat beside me and said, “Sorry about your firecracker.”  I asked him, “Did all the relatives come out because of my accident?”  He put his hand on my “well” hand and said, “No, youngster.  My uncle Lemuel Price is having a serious heart attack.” I said, “Lemuel Price is my Grandpa.”  He shook my good little hand and said, “My name is Vinnie and I guess we are cousins.  Vinnie carried me around and introduced me to his family and Washington University classmates.

I asked Vinnie, “Did Grandpa Price give you a $20 gold piece when he moved back from Colorado?  Vinnie replied, “He sure did!”  I said, “I think I lost mine.  Will the marshals put me in jail if I don’t find it?”  He laughed and told his friends about my concerns.  They all laughed.

My grandfather Lemuel Price did pass away and they had what my family called the largest funeral ever in St. Louis.  Grandpa Lemuel Price was my grandmother’s second husband and my daddy’s step-father.  Aunt Lorraine Price was his only child and my dad’s half-sister.

Fifteen years later my Aunt Lorraine Price took all our kids to the Maplewood movie and paid our way.  She said, “Our cousin Vincent Price has a small part in this movie and we all can clap and cheer for the Washington U. student who is your cousin.”  Aunt Lorraine treated us to ice cream after the movie.  Happy days growing up in Maplewood.

 

Billy Jones (Now a 93-year-old fifth generation great-great-grandfather and resident of Maplewood.)

(Vincent Price was born in St. Louis and grew up in St. Louis and at Washington University. What Price greatness?)

7 thoughts on “Maplewood History: 4th of July Celebration – Grandpa Lemuel Price by Billy Jones

  1. I remember folks going onto high porches and low roofs to see the aerial fireworks at Washington University. My mom took us only once but when Ingot ashes in the eye, we began watching from our upstairs sun porch. (50s-60s).
    $5 and $20 gold pieces were always a prize to receive. My grandfather had 5 small gold coins hanging from his watch chain in the 50s after they were no longer circulated. Remember the concern when currency was taken off gold/silver standard.

  2. Yes Janet, I do remember those fireworks. It was in the 50’s. The whole family walked there and we thought they were wonderful. My siblings and I went to Lyndover Elementary and hoped they might have fireworks there, too, because of the large field and bleachers and it was closer to home, but they never did.

  3. What a wonderful memory!! I do remember when my Dad was a Policeman and had the job of gathering fireworks when he found anyone that had them. We were not allowed to shoot off fireworks when I was a kid.

    Another thing I was reminded of when I read that story was when Mom told me she had been given a $20.00 gold piece. She said she was so afraid of losing it, that she put it in the bank. That was a big mistake because when she went to get it, she got a $20.00 bill. No more Gold Pieces!!

    • Another thankless job for the police to do. I hope they didn’t look too hard for those fireworks, Nancy. Wouldn’t you love to have that 20 dollar gold piece today. I wonder what one of those is worth now? I think Bill Jones told a similar story. I’ll look for it and link to it if I can find it. Thanks for your interesting recollections.

  4. Does anyone else remember the great fireworks they used to do at the high school? Ground displays too! I think it was probably in the 50’s.
    Stay safe!

    • This is the first I’ve heard of it, Janet. Now that is something I would like to see. Thanks for your comment.

    • Yes Janet, I do remember those fireworks. It was in the 50’s. The whole family walked there and we thought they were wonderful. My siblings and I went to Lyndover Elementary and hoped they might have fireworks there, too, because of the large field and bleachers and it was closer to home, but they never did.