In the early 1970’s I lived for a while in the Delmar Loop area. I had a very cheap ten speed bike that I had purchased used from a friend. I didn’t need a lot of money to live on in those days. Somehow I had managed to accumulate the staggering sum of $325 in my savings account. It seemed perfectly reasonable to take $125 of it and buy my first fairly good bicycle.
I went down to the Touring Cyclist Shop which was in U. City on Olive. I had made up my mind to buy a Peugeot bike. I had spent some time looking at one while I was in the army. Also I remember reading an article about a local fellow who was discharged from whatever branch of service he was in near Seattle. He had bought a Peugeot bicycle there and ridden it to his home in St. Louis.
That was good enough for me, I thought. I’ll get one for myself. So I took my money, went into the bike shop and was promptly dissuaded from buying the Peugeot bike of my dreams. The bike repairman/salesman somehow, in ways I don’t remember, convinced me I’d be better off with a Raleigh Grand Prix. He had a beautiful blue one. It had no kickstand so at my insistence he installed one made of an aluminum alloy. He sawed a couple of inches off the end of it and threw the scrap in a bucket. He was saving the alloy for a friend who was building his own airplane, he told me.
In those days I worked the second shift at the Chrysler plant in Fenton. I had friends there named Dan and Mary Glen. Dan rode a bicycle made in Holland called a Gazelle. He was very tall so his bike had a very large frame. One day Dan came to work with an interesting story. He needed a spoke wrench. For some reason he went to the Maplewood Bike Shop to get one. He didn’t live in Maplewood so I haven’t any idea why.
Dan told me when he walked into the store there was a man who was working on a bike in the front room. He asked Dan if he could help him. Dan said he needed a spoke wrench. The man picked one up that happened to be sitting near him, tossed it to Dan and said, “Here you go.” No charge.
I thought, “Wow.” That is the kind of bike shop I need to go to. So I did. I didn’t live in Maplewood, but I came often. I rode my bike from my apartment on Delmar to my friend Tom Harrison’s house on Princeton and caught a ride to work. Then at about 4:00 in the morning I’d ride my bike back home.
The man who tossed Dan the spoke wrench turned out to be the owner of the shop, Rich Morris. Over the years, my family, friends and I bought thirteen bicycles from the Maplewood Bike Shop. Not a bad return on a spoke wrench.
I moved to Maplewood in 1975. Rich and his family had a house on Del Norte in Richmond Heights. I would ride right by it on my way to Forest Park. Many times he’d be sitting out on the front porch. On one trip I noticed he had a new Mercedes Benz sitting in the driveway. “How many Schwinn Paramounts are there in a Mercedes?” I yelled as I rode by. “27”, he answered.
After Rich finally retired I ran into him at the gym at the Heights. I said now that you’ve retired you’ll finally have some time to ride those bikes. Rich said, “Oh, I never do. They’re too dangerous.”
The Maplewood Bicycle shop is a first class establishment where everyone will feel welcome. If you haven’t been there, you should go. If you haven’t been in awhile, you should go back. You’ll feel comfortable no matter what level you ride at. Check them out online. This is another long time Maplewood business that deserves our patronage.
As always, I appreciate the support, tips, comments and whatever from all of you. As far as the virus goes, we are not out of the woods yet. Wear your mask.
Doug Houser November 5, 2020