The occasionally unruly crowd that follows this space has reacted very positively to the first installment of Gerry Vazis’ images from her red album. There are many more to take a look at so let’s try it again. I don’t need to remind my regular readers that we are seeing these images courtesy of Mary Piles, who curates a large collection of historic images for her employer, Citizens National Bank of Maplewood and Greater St. Louis (6 locations). Thank you, Mary. I have about nine more images of this 1936 fire but I’m getting off the subject which is the Vazis Red Album. I think I’ve run all of these images of this frozen disaster in the past but I’m not exactly sure under what title. If I find it later, I’ll link to it here. There is just one more image from the Red Album that you haven’t seen. Here it is.
The mission of the State Historical Society of Missouri is to collect, preserve, publish, exhibit, and make available material related to all aspects and periods of Missouri history. SHSMO also seeks to generate interest in and appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of the state and its people through education and outreach. The main archives and storage facility of SHSMO is located in Columbia. In addition SHSMO has an office on every state university campus. Persons interested in items in the collection can request that they be brought to the campus office most convenient for them. This courier service is an important feature that is not offered by other libraries or historical societies. This is why I recommend SHSMO over the Mercantile Library which is also on the campus of UMSL. The SHSMO office, called the St.
This post and my earlier post (titled, A Startling Glimpse of a Stertzing Past) are both a response to a particular vintage photograph. Two buildings are visible in this image. The Stertzing building can be partially seen on the far right. But the main subject of the photograph is the Shearer Hudson dealership. A quick search on Newspapers.com revealed an interesting story that concerns this dealership. First, let’s take a look at the image again.
There are a few folks in high places today who don’t want their tax returns examined. One fellow who would not wonder why is F.W. Shearer. This is another sad story. History is full of them. I ordinarily choose not to post stories that are depressing or would open old wounds. With that in mind I apologize to any family and descendants of F.W. who might someday read this. But there are several lessons one can take away from this. The obvious, the bigger they are…
Mary Piles, who has seen a lot in her 43 years of employment at the Citizens National Bank, recounted this story while commenting on the relationship between Waldemar Stertzing and his newly adopted daughter, Gertrude Madden. I started to include it in one of the posts about Stertzing but then thought that this is such a great story that it deserves its own post.
Adult adoption must have been a kind of common thing to do, to adopt a person no longer a child. Many did it through unconsummated marriage. We had a customer who was a maid in a home as a teenager. She cared for the mother of the family during the diphtheria epidemic. The mother eventually succumbed to the diphtheria as did their 20 year old son.
After the son’s death she remained in the father’s employ.
The Saga continues. That poor family. What nonsense that they had to put up with. Keep in mind that even with as many posts as I have made of this event, there were many more articles that I am not posting. So far I have only posted articles from two of the St. Louis papers – The Star and the Post-Dispatch. This story was carried in newspapers all over the country. The Clamorgans must have suffered through a nonstop barrage of reporters and who knows what other offenses for at least several months. In their Sunday edition on June 25th (nine days after the above article ran) the Post-Dispatch ran a full page which except for a small article in the lower right corner was entirely devoted to this story. It is so chopped up with graphics I’m not sure how it will look on your device. Bear with me and I’ll try to post the most important parts of it. Let’s hope that the baby Virginia Blanche did have a rosy path before her. I wonder how much of this story did she know in adulthood.
Just when you thought you had it all figured out. My apologies, I could not find the end of this article but it doesn’t matter much. Read on. Crazy, ain’t it? But crazy as it seems, there is still more to come. Stay tuned. Doug Houser June 21, 2020
There is still a lot of nonsense going on in the world today. At least we can be grateful that we have transcended the sort of nonsense described in this article. What these folks had to go through is sad. There are still more Cora Clamorgan articles to come. If you have missed one or all of them, here is the link to Cora Clamorgan – Part Four. From there you can link to the first three. Stunning weather out there today. Things are starting to reopen. I truly believe we are not out of the woods yet. Please be careful and wear your mask when you go out in the world. There is new evidence that shows that wearing a mask is the most effective way to avoid being infected. Doug Houser June 15, 2020
As the reader may or may not recall my first two posts about this unfortunate but important tale of the Clamorgan family were copies of the articles carried in two St. Louis newspapers the day the story broke, June 9, 1911. This post is a copy of the article that appeared the next day in the St. Louis Star. It contains one of the only rays of light I’ve found in this dark tale.
Maplewood History – Volume Two. Selections From the Popular Blog was begun in 2014 and finished about a year ago. For better or worse, this book is the product of one person. I had some strong ideas about how I wanted the book to be. I liked the idea of having no one to clear anything with. I wanted to produce a book with strong visual appeal and not be too light on the text either. This book will be part of my legacy. For that reason I wanted it to be as high quality as possible. Both the soft and hardcover versions are designed to be collector’s quality. I intend them to hopefully last many lifetimes. The book is full color throughout and printed on high quality paper. The soft cover is laminated for extra durability. The hardbound version is constructed the way a lot of books used to be. The cover is green linen with the name of the book stamped in gold on the spine. In addition, the hardcover has a commemorative Scheidt Hardware dust jacket. With an eye towards the highest image quality both versions are printed on the same paper, 80 # (pound) glossy. This is a paper that many printers do not offer. My 2008 book, The First 100 Years – Maplewood MO, greatly increased in value on the internet when it was no longer in print. Enough that last year I encouraged the Maplewood Community Betterment Foundation to print another 140 copies. They did and these are now sold out as well. I can’t predict how long it will take but Volume Two may increase in value as well.
Included in my previous post, Cora Clamorgan – Part One, was a copy of one of the earliest articles I was able to find on this unfortunate subject which is the Clamorgan family having been found to have some negro blood and the repercussions thereafter. That article appeared in the Seventh Edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 9, 1911. This post is a copy of an article that appeared in the Night Edition of the St. Louis Star on that same day. I have much more information yet to post on this particular incident from the Clamorgan family history. Again, I would encourage everyone interested to read Julie Winch’s well-researched and well-written book, The Clamorgans – One Family’s History of Race in America. It truly is a great book.
Those of you who were in the audience for one of the performances of the Maplewood-themed, Shakespearean mashup, “Remember Me”, experienced a rare and delightful event. If you haven’t heard anything about this play, let me say, my wife and I were stunned by the very high quality of the production. It was wonderful…everything from the 10 foot high puppets to the live music. Put together by the very talented theater department of St. Louis U, it was a three-of-a-kind event that took place over three nights of one weekend in September 2016 and is unlikely to be repeated ever. The playwright, Nancy Bell, and I met several times while she was assembling her material. A couple of times she asked me what did I know about the Clamorgan family and their connection to Maplewood. Easy question for me to answer. Nothing. The large puppets represented Maplewood “ghosts”. One was Charles Rannells who you’ve read about here. Another of the ghosts told the story of Cora Clamorgan (Called Clara in the play).
Charlie Bartold might not have considered himself to be one tough hombre. But if he didn’t it was only because the spaghetti westerns wouldn’t be invented for another 60 something years. That he was pretty confident of his capabilities will be apparent to you after you read the following article. But one detail we can’t be sure of is if anyone ever called him Charlie.
Searching for an image from a spaghetti western to use to illustrate my story made me realize it has been a long time since I actually watched one of them. Like about 50 years. I found one site that looked particularly appealing. 10 Great Spaghetti Westerns. I think I may have to take a look at a couple of these. Being quarantined is a bummer. Social distancing – no fun. No swimming pool. No gym. No restaurants. These are trying times. At least it’s getting warmer. Doug Houser April 19, 2020
Included amongst the large assortment of interesting artifacts that make up the Fennell Trove is a journal that is the feature of this post. At first I just gave it a cursory flip through. I assumed it was a workman’s record of his jobs, bids and expenses, etc. Not that those aren’t interesting, they are. But if that were all it was, it might play to a very limited audience. I would be in that audience, don’t get me wrong. But as part of this job I have to decide just how much time should I spend deciphering and translating an artifact such as this.
Yep. You read that right. Another trove of Maplewoodiana has come to light. This time it is made available by the kindness, generosity and patience (waiting on me) of Nancy Fennell Hawkins. For many decades Fennell family members lived in Maplewood. Nancy has done her family and us a great favor by producing her 224 page, hardbound book, I Remember When – Memories of Growing Up in Maplewood, Missouri 1936 – 1954.
And, boy, remember she does. This book is absolutely loaded with details and anecdotes from the lives of her family and friends. I have just finished reading it. You can too because she is donating a copy to the Maplewood Public Library.
Perhaps the title of this post should be, “1970’s Era Redevelopment Plan Blasted A Huge Crater in the Middle of a Lovely, First-Quarter-of the-Twentieth-Century, Shopping District.” It’s more complicated than that, I know, but I’ve written about this a couple of times and I’ve got a limited amount of space here to get your attention. The aerial image featured in this post was taken at the same time as the image in my previous post. It was made by Joseph Granich as well. He worked for the St. Louis County Observer newspaper which was located in Maplewood. In the meantime, Thank you, Joe, wherever you are. Taking an aerial photo in the mid 1950’s must have been an expensive operation. I imagine you were in a small airplane rather than a helicopter.
The dog walks my wife and I took in the spring of 2009 had the potential to be a bit more exciting than usual. Probably our most favorite route took us past the Sutton Loop park, often down Hazel to Maple. Then turning right on Arbor, we’d head back home along either Flora or Elm. That spring we favored Flora for the simple reason that there was a chance – a small one – that we’d run into George Clooney. We never did but many of our neighbors saw him. If you lived in Maplewood then you couldn’t not be aware that they were filming the movie, “Up In The Air” where much of the action occurred at Sutton and Flora. I think most of the film shot in Maplewood was in (or just outside of) the Methodist church located there. By doing a minimal bit of research, I was surprised to discover that it has been ten years since that film was made. I was also surprised to see how many actors were in the film that were unknown to me then but are familiar now.
A subject that deserves its own book would be the sports of Maplewood particularly football. Bob Broeg in his book, “Ol’ Mizzou, A Century of Tiger Football”, refers to a time in the 1930’s when “Maplewood and Cleveland High School in St. Louis supplied more talent to MU than any other prep schools”. The 1936 and the 1939 teams were the two best teams ever to come out of Maplewood High according to George Smith who was there. There have been a multitude of fine players from the Maplewood program but the team of 1936 was a standout.
In 1878 Mr. William Lyman Thomas became a member of the Missouri Press Association. In 1880, he was elected treasurer and held that position for twenty four consecutive years. At the end of his service he was made a life member. The only other life member, since the death of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain, d. 1910), was J. West Goodwin of the Sedalia Bazoo newspaper, whose slogan was, “Whoso tooteth not his own Bazoo, the same it shall not be tooted”. John Stillwell Stark knew J.West Goodwin and definitely learned to toot his own Bazoo along with the Bazoos of many other folks as well.
Any lineup of famous Maplewoodians would have to include Willard McGregor. I have to include him even though I posted every single piece of information that I have about him last year on March the 19th. Even so he truly is worth taking another look at. Like Ray and Tom Kennedy, he became known in his spheres of interest, painting and music, in a far wider community than our small one here. All three hobnobbed with other artists who were also widely known. Is that part of the definition of being famous?