If you are familiar with ginkgo trees you know that the leaves all turn a brilliant yellow in the fall. Then the tree drops them…(in what seems like) all at once. Every year about this time my wife and I, and I’m sure others, try to keep an eye on the landmark ginkgo tree at 7380 Flora. The yellow carpet created by the falling leaves is worth the walk to see as well. The McGregor legend says that a treasured family matriarch, Evelyn, bought the tree at Shaw’s Garden (Missouri Botanical to you younger folks) and planted it in front of her home. As we have record that the McGregor’s bought the home in 1922, it seems likely to assume the ginkgo will soon be approaching 100 years on this planet. A cakewalk for it. Ginkgos have been known to live 1000 years. If you would like to revisit the posts on the McGregor family, here are two. A Serendipitous Encounter with the McGregor Family Home and History
The McGregor Bakery and the Family Behind It
As followers of this space probably already know I used the carpet of leaves from Evelyn McGregor’s ginkgo on the soft cover of my new book, Maplewood History – Volume Two. If that seems curious, I used maple leaves as well. My goal is to increase awareness of this very special tree. It is as much a part of our history as most of our buildings. I am sure there are many other trees that qualify. We must remain mindful of them and not lose them needlessly. If you couldn’t get over to see Evelyn’s ginkgo’s display this year, here are a few of the photos I took today.
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.
Let’s pick up where I left off yesterday which was in about the middle of the demolition process of the Barron Mansion.
If you missed yesterday’s post you can link to it here. Barron Mansion – Part 1
What makes it worse is that we keep doing it. You’d think we’d learn. Since it is now Halloween, here is a bonus ghost story about the Barron Mansion that is from photocopies that were in Joellen’s file. I don’t know who the author is so I apologize to him/her ahead of time and will happily give them credit once I find out the author’s name. Don’t you love a good ghost story! I hope to see a lot of folks doing safe trick-or-treating. Happy Halloween, everyone. Doug Houser October 31, 2020
The Italianate mansion that Henry Barron, the dentist, had built for his wife and family (I suppose) in 1868 was built to last. And last it did for 134 years until it was taken down. It was located at the SE corner of Clayton Road and McKnight in Richmond Heights. So what does this have to do with Maplewood history, you’re thinkin’? Keep reading. Followers of this blog should have a great deal of knowledge about one of our most prominent Maplewood residents, William Lyman Thomas, 1846-1914. If you have just recently joined us or have gotten a little foggy on the details of WLT’s life, here is a link to take you to a post I made in December of 2019 that contains links to all 28 posts that I had made regarding Thomas including a few concerning his father-in-law, James C. Sutton, Sr.
William Lyman Thomas’s father was Jacob P. Thomas, a Pennsylvanian who moved to St. Louis in 1835. His mother was Eleanor G. McCutchan, daughter of William and Rebekah McCutchan, Virginia pioneers who purchased a farm on the Clayton road. Jacob with his brother-in-law, Samuel Black, established a livery-stable business on Walnut St.
Perhaps the title of this post should be Where was the Maplewood Laundry and Why Would Anyone Care? In just a couple of minutes you’ll be able to answer both of those questions. Though I don’t know the exact years, the Maplewood Laundry prospered more than 100 years before today’s Maplewood Wash House. The impetus for this post is an article about the Maplewood Laundry that Mary Piles, relentless curator of things historic at our town’s Citizen’s National Bank of Maplewood (now known as CNB St. Louis Bank) had uncovered in her research. I decided it would be interesting to include what images I could of buildings that once shared space with the laundry on Manchester. Thanks again, Mary.
There is a lot more but the size of Charlie’s fictional walk is getting unwieldy. I’ll continue it at some point in the future. This is my three hundred and third post about Maplewood History on 40 South News. I was in a couple of other places prior so there should be somewhere around four hundred posts floating in the ether. I started with Doug Miner and 40 South almost exactly seven years ago. My first post was on Oct.
If you are not buying everything you can from Scheidt Hardware…well, why the heck not? It is located in one of our best historic buildings. It has been continuously in business for 115 years, 104 in its current location at 7320 Manchester. It is a rare survivor. Nearly all of the neighborhood hardware stores have fallen to the big box ones. We are very lucky to still have it. I usually park around back to avoid the traffic on Manchester but you can quite often park almost directly in front of the store and be maybe 50 feet away from the object/s you desire. As for desirable objects, they have very many. The interior of the store is very clean, well-lighted and a masterpiece of efficient packaging of the very large inventory of goods that they offer. I am familiar with a few of the objections some customers had in the past. Specifically tobacco smoke and a radio playing a program that a few of us didn’t agree with. But that was a long time ago. The new owners, Ben Reynolds and George McCandliss and family, are unfailingly cheerful and accommodating. You owe them your patronage while at the same time you are helping to preserve one of our finest examples of early Maplewood architecture.
Walter Notter lived in what would one day be Maplewood as early as 1892. He lived with his parents at 7516 (or possibly 7511) Woodland. His WWI draft induction notice says Woodlawn but other records show Woodland. In 1930, Walter and Lillian bought a house at 7237 Bruno for ten dollars. A handwritten deed seems to attest to this fact. They raised four sons, Charles, Edward, Joseph and Donald, all of whom served in the military. Charles, the oldest, served during WWII. (Correction: Should read, He served immediately after WWII.) His son, Edward, has very kindly shared these images with us. I would like to thank Ed Notter and the Notter family for sharing these items with us. It is very hard to imagine what it must have been like to live in our community in the past. These images make it a bit easier. We are in to September already. This fact causes this summer person to worry. Soon we’ll again be inflicted with the annoying coolness. I know, I know, a lot of you claim to enjoy it including one very close member of my own family. Just keep it to yourself and wear your masks.
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