Maplewood History: White Castle and Saratoga Lanes

By Bill Jones: White Castle was our only stop on the way to Saratoga Lanes.  The White Castle was located in the 7400 block of Manchester–about 40 feet west of Sutton.  Johnny Ryan’s Tavern was on the southwest corner of Sutton and Manchester and did NOT serve food.  The City of Maplewood wouldn’t license them to serve food. Their customers would take White Castles to Ryan’s and have them with their schooners of Falstaff.  We eleven-year-olds had the Globe-Democrat coupon for five White Castles for 25 cents!  We really enjoyed the stop!

Saratoga Lanes was a great spot to hang out for eleven-year-olds’ fun.  We enjoyed watching the bowling.  The cost was 15 cents a line.  There were no automatic pin setters in 1938 so our friend (a lady) would call us when they had bowlers and we would set pins manually for the customer.  We loved it and got a nickel a line.  We even got to set pins for league play which was after 5:00 p.m. and that was great–about four or five on each team.  Most league teams would slide an extra nickel down the gutter as a tip, if we were good.  We confess if the team did not tip us, we would watch for the “non-tippers” and always leave out the 5-pin so they rarely got a strike (only spares).

When Saratoga was without much business they would let us play the pool tables.  We loved that!  At age eleven, we loved Saratoga Lanes!  We kept the floors swept, too.

I still remember those happy days when our nickels were so treasured!

Transcribed by Bill’s wife, Barb.

Saratoga Lanes opened in 1916 and has been in business continuously ever since! It is the only “upstairzer” still operating in this area. I’d be curious to know how many are left around the country. The Blood family is well represented in the history of our town.  They were the longtime owners and operators of the Maplewood Mill.  From the Maplewood Champion Newspaper.

From the collection of the Maplewood Public Library comes this image of these very attractive yet unidentified folks posed with the Saratoga Lanes directly behind their heads. On the left is a Kroger store. The building survives and is now the home of The Muddled Pig restaurant.  Judging from the car, I’ll guess the year is in the early 1940’s or possibly a bit later.

This image and the next two are provided by the gracious Wanda Kennedy Kuntz of the musical Kennedy family. Wanda has produced her own very interesting book about the Kennedy Family. It is definitely a good read. Pick up a copy. The title is “Kennedy Music — An Historical Novel based on the Kennedy Family, Maplewood, MO.”  The above is a nice photo because we can see the big sign that once enhanced the facade of the Saratoga building. The year is early to mid-70’s.  The light-colored car parked in front is an infamous Ford Pinto.  They were famous for exploding when struck in the rear.  But after all, who wouldn’t?

This unusual angle gives us a bit more information about the big sign. Bring back the big signs! Joe Edwards knows this. Go look at the Delmar Loop.

Well it took three photos but we now have a fair idea of what the big sign looked like.  Bill Jones story, typed by Barb as they all are, is a wonderful glimpse back at life in our community.  There are many, many stories like Bill’s ( I love that part about the 5 pin)  connected to Saratoga Lanes.  Unfortunately nearly all have been lost.  You can find much more of the history of this landmark of ours by reading the excellent nomination to the National Register prepared by Lindsey Derrington when she was working for Landmarks, St. Louis’ superb nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation.  Ms. Derrington’s essay/s are well worth your time.


14 thoughts on “Maplewood History: White Castle and Saratoga Lanes

  1. Bowling Grand at Grand and Juniata was another second story bowling alley. Bowled there for years with the St. Louis Baptist Bowling League.

  2. Barb Jones – Bowling Grand at Grand and Juniata was another second story bowling alley. Bowled there for years with the Baptist Bowling League.

  3. There were three Blood brothers that owned and operated the Maplewood Mill and built and owned the Saratoga building. There was my grandfather, Walter, and Wiley and Albert. Not sure why Wiley’s name is the only one on the advertisement.

    • Well Blood brothers they were, Scott. Sounds funny to say that. Perhaps bowling was Wiley’s purview.

  4. Wish they could recreate or restore that great sign. Why was it removed? Anyone know?

    • Those large old signs probably needed a fair amount of maintenance, DS. They could certainly rust and the neon tubing was expensive to maintain. I think sometimes they were just replaced for the sake of having something new up there. After all, we mostly don’t know what we’ve got ’til its gone. I’m told the new old-looking signs use led light bulbs instead of neon. They are more durable and much cheaper to replace.

  5. My father used to visit my mother on Sutton when they were dating. He used to sit and wait at the White Castle for the streetcar to take him home to North St. Louis

    • That makes an interesting mental picture, Charlotte. At the appointed time he must have crossed Sutton and Manchester and caught the streetcar on either the east side of Sutton or the south side of Manchester.

  6. Was Johnny Ryan’s tavern located in what is now Tiffanys diner? Talking to the owners of Tiffanys many varied stories.. Some said it once was a beauty school.. etc

    • I do believe you are correct. In the mid 1930s, my dad would take two buckets from the Maplewood Mill up to the tavern at the end of the day. They would fill the buckets for him and he would take them back to the shop for the men to have a drink before they went home. I do recall him telling me the name of the tavern was Johnny Ryan’s and it was at the corner of Sutton and Manchester

      • If there were very many men those must have been two very large buckets! Thanks for your input, Scott.

  7. Cool story! I believe Arcade Lanes in University City was also a second story bowling alley. Sadly it burned to the ground in 2003.

    • You’re right, Uncle Jedd. From my more and more untrustworthy memory, it was on North and South just north of Delmar.