Maplewood History: Nazis!!…in Maplewood?

Don’t panic. To the best of my knowledge there are no Nazis in Maplewood. At present anyhow.

There is a persistent rumor that I’ve heard from a few different folks that concerns Nazi spies or someone spying for the Nazis on railroad traffic through Maplewood during WWII. These dastardly fellows supposedly were tracking everything that came down the track from a room they let near the intersection of Greenwood and Big Bend. One version of this story has them in a room above a popular restaurant once located there by the name of The Tulip Box.

I have never seen a newspaper clipping that might verify this rumor. If one of you careful researchers should ever locate an article about vintage Nazi spies in Maplewood, I’d love to get a copy.

The last photographs of this post are about swastikas that were once used many different ways to promote peace and good luck prior to the Nazis changing that forever. Much can be found about the svastika (sic) (the name comes from Sanskrit) on Wikipedia.

It is a shame this symbol used for thousands of years by too many different cultures to name will now be associated with the horrors of the Third Reich.

The back of a matchbook cover showing the Tulip Box Restaurant. Courtesy of matchbook collector extraordinaire Gene Kitson. Mr. Kitson has since passed on I was sorry to learn.

The back of a matchbook cover showing the Tulip Box Restaurant. Courtesy of matchbook collector extraordinaire Gene Kitson. Mr. Kitson has since passed on I was sorry to learn.

An aerial view of the intersection of Greenwood and Big Bend probably from the 1950's. Courtesy of Maplewood Public Library.

An aerial view of the intersection of Greenwood and Big Bend probably from the 1950’s. Courtesy of Maplewood Public Library.

A painting of the intersection of Greenwood and Big Bend by the talented Ruth Grubb. three of her painings are known. Two are on display at the Maplewood Public Library. The Tulip Box is on the left.

A painting of the intersection of Greenwood and Big Bend by the talented Ruth Grubb. Three of her paintings are known. Two are on display at the Maplewood Public Library. The Tulip Box is on the left.

The original gas valve from 3134 Edgar in Maplewood. The county has a build date of 1890 on this home. I suspect this may not be accurate but I've been unable to find anything else on it. both the house and the valve are from the collection of the author.

The original gas valve from 3134 Edgar in Maplewood. The county has a build date of 1890 on this home. I suspect this may not be accurate but I’ve been unable to find anything else on it. Both the house and the valve are from the collection of the author.

This antique bearing scraper was once a necessary tool for rebuilding babbet bearings on machinery. Collection of the author.

This antique bearing scraper was once a necessary tool for rebuilding babbet bearings on machinery. Collection of the author.

The flip side of the bearing scraper head displays this svastika (I'm deliberately using the Sanskrit version to identify these pre-Nazi era symbols.

The flip side of the bearing scraper head displays this svastika (I’m deliberately using the Sanskrit spelling to identify these pre-Nazi era symbols).

While not in Maplewood, this building on Cherokee in St. Louis has a terra cotta shield that contains a svastika. Notice that it is flipped in the oposite direction of the others. Photo by the author.

While not in Maplewood, this building on Cherokee in St. Louis has a terra cotta shield that contains a svastika. Notice that it is flipped in the opposite direction of the others. Photo by the author.

The flag of the Nazi party takes this once great symbol and rotates it a bit. It is now impossible to look at any of the older examples and not think of the unspeakable horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. The flag image is from Wikipedia.

On the flag of the Nazi party this once great symbol is rotated a bit. It is now impossible to look at any of the older examples and not think of the unspeakable horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. The flag image is from Wikipedia.

Looking to the SW at the intersection of Big Bend and Greenwood in 2010. I don't know exactly when the Tulip Box Restaurant disappeared from this scene. The widening of Big Bend and the building of the railroad viaduct would have certainly necessitated its demolition if it was still there at the time. From memory I think those events happened prior to 1965.

Looking to the SW at the intersection of Big Bend and Greenwood in 2010. I don’t know exactly when the Tulip Box Restaurant disappeared from this scene. The widening of Big Bend and the building of the railroad viaduct would have certainly necessitated its demolition if it was still there at the time. From memory I think those events happened prior to 1965.

9 thoughts on “Maplewood History: Nazis!!…in Maplewood?

  1. Hello Doug Houser: As a young kid (born in 1942) and at that time living in Maplewood, then as well as many years later every time we would drive past the Tulip Box restaurant my Mom (born 1920) would remind us that it had been a spy nest during WWII. My most recent memory of the place was triggered several weeks ago when something on TV mentioned a different tulip box. I mentioned the spy nest story to my wife, and vowed to google it to see what if anything there was to be found. My jaw dropped when I saw your piece, and I thought, “AHA. So Mom was not the only one aware of the spy nest story.” In fact, her sister who was several years older, as well as our maternal grandparents who were long time Maplewood residents, were all aware of the situation, something that obviously has persisted over the decades. I have been gone from the St. Louis area for nearly 50 years and have no idea what is on that corner now, but wonder if the operators of whatever is there have any idea of the location’s sordid past. Whether you found any clippings or not, to still produce smoke after all these years there must have been quite a bit of fire in the spy nest. Looking forward to anything you turn up. Thanks!

    • Hey Doug, Thank you very much for your very interesting post on this topic. I just added a photo of the location from my photos on file so you can see “what is on that corner now”. This story has come at me from so many different sources I suspect there must be some kernels of truth (if not Colonels of Klink) to it. Searching the newspaper archives should definitely turn it up. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to pursue this once our weather goes to hell. If anyone else finds anything, won’t you kindly share it with us?

  2. Gee, I find it impossible to think of the swastika as a benevolent symbol – I don’t even want to. Shows how powerful our habits and associations are.

    • Bill, I wouldn’t be surprised if the symbol is still tainted a thousand years from now.

  3. The Nazi symbol, before it became associated with Nazis, was considered a pleasant design in the pre-Nazi era…as opposed to the evil-ness of it now.

  4. I remember this story from my mother or father about the Nazis at the Tulip box. I hope you find confirmation because I have believed this story since I was about 8 years old.

    • I hope we do too, Bob. For those unfamiliar with him (who could that be?), Bob Scheidt is the current and probably soon to retire Scheidt family member to run Scheidt Hardware, Maplewood’s longest business (since 1905).