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?)