Maplewood History: By Request – The Five and Dimes

Last post reader Michelle lamented that she had seen a lot of old Maplewood photos but strangely enough none of the images were of J.J.Newberry’s or Woolworth’s 5 and 10 Cent stores. Then she asked the question, “Doug?”

OK, Michelle, I’ll admit I don’t think I’ve run any images of those two stores.  Not on this blog anyhow.  I put a couple of Woolworth- themed photos in “the First 100 years, Maplewood MO” (The title of the 2008 book co-authored by Joyce Cheney and myself contains no typos, blame the cover designer.) So I will run those photos again here for those of you who are not lucky enough to have one of the 1,000+ copies that have been sold and will someday soon be available again through our C of C.

Also, Michelle you are doubly lucky because the well-known and highly regarded Maplewood memoirist Billy Jones somehow channeled this effort and unsolicited provided the following manuscript.

Music and Maplewood – 1935

We had Newberry’s and Woolworth Dime Stores at Sutton across Manchester from our “Bank of Maplewood”. My sister, Dorothy, would take me to Newberry’s Dime Store where a lady played the piano with all new sheet music songs My sister was a good pianist and the lady would have her play often.

Dorothy played a number herself and I tried to sing with her–it was fun!  Dorothy asked, “Billy, what did you do with your nickel allowance daddy gave you Sunday?” I said, “I have plans for that nickel!” Dorothy said, “I have two nickels and with your nickel we can buy this music!”  She played “Red Sails in the Sunset” one more time and I began to pick up the words from a copy of her sheet music. Dorothy said, “Uncle Buddy will love this tune.” Dorothy was 8 years older than I was so when she handed me her two nickels, I dug mine out of my shoe and paid for the sheet music.

We sang together every day and my sister made a musician out of her baby brother. I didn’t know this was for life. I thought it was for fun only.

My sister took the streetcars daily to McKinley High School from Maplewood and her class was presenting  the HMS Pinafore operetta. She sat me on the top of our upright piano and played for me. Dorothy said she was a contralto. I said, “I’m not going to tell Dad you’re not a Baptist anymore!” Dorothy laughed and said, “That means I sing the low parts with the chorus. You can sing the high parts and I can practice my contralto to harmonize.” I said, “Whoa–I sing the same words you sing but higher?” She laughed and said, “They are the same words over and over. The star singer sings and then we other girls sing ‘And so does her sisters and her cousins and her aunts’ over and over with me singing the low part and you singing the high part.” I said, “I’ll try, but don’t fuss if I’m no good.”

We did this each day for weeks and the night my folks took us to the McKinley High HMS Pinafore presentation was great. My sister introduced me to her girl friends and they picked me up and said, “Here’s Dorothy’s opera singing little brother!” On our way home, I asked my sister not to ever do that again (but, in my older years, I secretly was proud to have helped).

I’m still happily remembering my childhood with my sister and I am still singing.

Billy Jones

You sure are, Billy.  You’re singing to all of us now. DH

This image of Newberry’s is from a panoramic photo that I found in a couple of places. The Maplewood Public Library and the American Legion Hall.  Last I looked, this building in the 7300 block of Manchester still had part of that ornamental parapet.

I have no idea if this fire spelled the end of Newberry’s in Maplewood. The image is undated. Interestingly the street looks like brick between the streetcar tracks and concrete on either side.  Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

I don’t know, Michelle. Maybe I shouldn’t have posted these images. You’d probably been happier not knowing the outcome. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

Now for Woolworth’s. There is one of the original streetlights just like we have now. This image is also from the aforementioned panorama. This building still exists as well. It is just a bit further west of Newberry’s.  Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library or the American Legion Hall.

Woolworth employees 1930. This photo was given to me by a very sweet woman, Millie Durban, to be included in our 2008 centennial book. She also donated some interesting material about the Cupples Corporation where her husband had worked. She was in her 90’s when I met her. Later I had the great pleasure of being able to present her with a copy of the book with her photograph inside. She is no longer with us.

The back of Millie’s photo.

A shopping basket from Woolworth’s. Collection of Martin Fischer.

Ditto.

Bonus photograph of the employees of Neisner’s. I don’t know anything about this store. I think it may have been in the 7400 block of Manchester on the north side. The building behind them looks like they may have been in the parking lot behind one of those storefronts.  Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

Headshots of the same. The man on the left in the rear row obviously is a gangster.

I’ll close with this footshot of these poor folks who deserve better.  Are you happy now, Michele?

For Beth.  See Beth’s comment below. The back of the Neisner’s photo. Surprise. Look who is the photographer. Maplewood’s own, Tom Kennedy. Wanda’s brother. I take back what I said about the one man being a gangster. It’s no longer OK since he’s not anonymous any longer.

 

 

22 thoughts on “Maplewood History: By Request – The Five and Dimes

  1. Thank you for posting these photos Doug! Yes, I’m very happy to see that we have photos of these 2 old five and dime stores. Many of us who grew up in Maplewood back in the 60’s and 70’s have fond memories of shopping there…whether with our parents or going there as teenagers and sitting at the food counters and having a milkshake and grilled cheese sandwich! We were at one of these stores quite often as kids.

    These places were the ultimate five and dime stores…along with Katz. We loved going even if it was just to browse. The photos, although they are before my time, still bring back those good memories.

    I’m wondering if the foyers to the entrances still have the mosaic style tiles with their names in them, or if they are long gone? I know some of the buildings along Manchester have remains of the mosaic tile entrances. I think Airedale Antics has a rug covering one. but can’t remember what store was there.

    Thank you for finding these and posting them Doug! I knew if anyone could find these, it would be you.

    • You are welcome, Michelle. I am a fan of the mosaic tile entryways that you mentioned. I don’t know of any buildings on Manchester that still have the store’s name in them. I think there are a few that still exist but are just tile. There is a nice one on Sutton though. It is at the corner of Sutton and Maple. It says Harper’s Pharmacy. This space had some beautiful cabinetry until just a few years ago. Have I mentioned that?

  2. Thank you, Doug. I remember the upstairs beauty shop, Ragsdale, and a great beauty school. Was upstairs of the building at southeast corner of Sutton and Manchester…Woolworth’s building? Ragsdale later was across Sutton.
    My mother took us to the beauty school for haircuts all the time. I remember that the space was very old and had to climb an old stairway.

    • You are welcome, Judi. Thank you for sharing your memories. After I moved to Maplewood in 1975 I got haircuts from Ron Ragsdale on the southwest corner of Sutton and Manchester. I believe his brother Rich still owns that building.

  3. Thanks for these photos. I loved going to those dime stores when I visited my grandparents on Sutton. I went to Newberry’s in the 50s. I don’t remember a fire so must have been before that.

  4. Who is the lady wearing pants in the Neisner’s photograph? And the other woman wearing jeans?
    Ahead of their time…..wish I knew their stories.

    • I agree with you, Beth. They must have been forward thinkers. You are in luck when I checked I realized I had copied the back of the photo as well but forgot to post it. (It’s late when I do these things.) I will add it to the post so you will know all of their names. If you find out anything about them, let us know. Thanks for your question and comments.

  5. Wow thanks Doug and Billy! You really can see the outline of the old Newberry’s and different remnants all over our building. People always remark about remembering the staircase from coming here as kids. Is there any way we can get copies of these photos? We would love to hang them on the wall in the bookstore.

    Michelle Barron
    The Book House, 7352 Manchester Rd

    • You are very welcome, Michelle. I will provide you with high resolution copies of the photographs that are large enough to print. I’ll send them by email hopefully in a couple of days.

  6. I work at The Book House, which is in the building that used to be the Newberry’s. Thank you so much, Doug, for finding these! The main remnants of the store you can see are the staircase (which is apparently iconic) and the old bathrooms located in a storage area in the rear of the building.

    • Very interesting information, Mark. As you know but the reader probably doesn’t, I’ve done a presentation at your store. My signature is on that staircase wall. I did not know that the stairs once belonged to Newberry’s. You are welcome, Mark. I’m glad you like the images.

  7. Newberry’s was rebuilt. I remember spending time there with my friends in the ’60s and ’70s. There was a back entry with a pinball machine.

    • It is nice to know that the fire did not spell the end for them. Thanks for that info, Wanda. Did you know they had burned? If so, do you remember what year. Thanks for adding a pinball machine to the story. Pinball machines are works of art in my mind. Since you can never have too many works of art it follows that you can never have too many pinball machines.

    • Don, Thank you very much. I always appreciate your comments. This time I think Debbie came in first but don’t be disheartened. Please continue to offer your recollections.

    • Thank you, Debbie. It is interesting that Neisner’s had wooden floors while the other two stores did not because Neisner’s was in a newer building. They occupied a building that was in what was called by the developers (I guess) the Gold Block. Correct me, Wanda Kennedy Kuntz, if I don’t have this right. The Gold Block was built in 19?? (Help me, Wanda). It was touted to have the best retail locations ever in Maplewood. Kennedy Music answered the call, moved in and nearly lost their shirts. If I remember correctly they moved again in time to save their business. This story has to be in Wanda’s book, “Kennedy Music”. I’ll reread it when I get a chance. BTW: If you don’t have Wanda’s book, why not? Get it. It’s fascinating.

    • Yes, and Newberry’s was alive and well in the 50 and 60’s. Spent a lot of time there. We lived on Arthur which disappeared when K-mart was built.

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