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?
In 1934, Ray and Tom Kennedy opened the Kennedy Conservatory of Music in downtown Maplewood. They sold musical instruments and taught students how to play them. They and their instructors gave singing and dancing lessons. They also taught dramatics. Tom Kennedy took an interest in photography and opened his own studio.
Who are our most famous Maplewoodians? Who are the folks that have resided in our lovely village and then gone out and done well for themselves in the wider world? I have a few names in mind but I am going to keep them to myself until the readers of this space have had a chance to respond. Let there be no misunderstanding, George Clooney made a movie here but that doesn’t count. He never lived here.
Among the many items in this fabulous trove of Maplewoodiana that once belonged to William Lyman Thomas are these images that I have put into a file called “People” because I don’t know anything about most of them. Hopefully someone out there will see someone familiar and enlighten the rest of us. There is much to be learned from the comments on Maplewood History, as the readers of this space have seen time and time again. If you are just tuning in, we all have been given the gift of being allowed to closely scrutinize a large and very important collection of Maplewoodiana that once belonged to the very active and mentally nimble William Lyman Thomas. Since there is no sense in writing just to be writing, I’ll stop now.
“The boys sat in a circle on the porch of Doug and Tom’s house. The pale blue painted ceiling mirrored the blue of the October sky.” So begins Chapter Fifteen of Ray Bradbury’s “Farewell Summer”. I don’t know when I first became aware of blue porch ceilings. There were no porch ceilings on the house where I was raised. I built the porch ceilings on the house I have lived in for the last 43 years.
One of the great privileges I have had in my role as historian of our small town is that of having been allowed to closely examine many of the documents and artifacts preserved by the descendants of past members of our community. The families of our very earliest settlers, the Suttons and the Rannells, have trusted me with many of their rarest items. I am humbled by that. I take the responsibility very seriously. Followers of my blog know that recently I have been reconstructing a very small part of the lives of some members of the Sutton family. One man in particular is a standout.
Forget stopping, he’s not even slowing down. Just in time for what is left of Valentine’s Day, here is not one but two new historic sketches from the life of Maplewood’s premier memoirist, Bill Jones. A doubleheader! And keep in mind…they’re typed by Barb. WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY – 4th Grade,
Lyndover Grade School – Maplewood
Our 4th grade was invited to write a tribute to George Washington for his birthday at a program on February 22nd. KFUO was our Lutheran radio station and the manager’s little daughter, my classmate.
In his landmark 1911 History of Saint Louis County – Missouri, WLT devoted Chapter IX to The Civil War Period in St. Louis County. On page 105 in a section titled, “Slavery in the County”, he wrote, “Many families owned slaves; a great many did not. So far as our personal knowledge extends we never knew or heard of ill-treatment of slaves in the part of the county that was outside the city. The white boys played with the black ones, went a fishing with them in numerous instances, pulled weeds, hoed potatoes and shared in their tasks.
Five generations began with a blind date on Friday in early 1945. My two buddies at Maplewood High invited me to a Friday supper at the Candle Light Supper Club at Clayton and Hanley. I said, “I work Fridays on my dispatcher job at Missouri Pacific and am not dating because of school and my 40-hour evening job.” My buddies said “BLIND DATE, pretty lady, top student at Rosati Kane Catholic High”. I was a bit shy but couldn’t resist. I called my fellow dispatcher and traded shifts.
Last post we learned from a newspaper clipping that Emma B. Thomas had married William H. Grumley on the lawn (“one of the prettiest in Ellendale”) in front of the family home, Ellendale Home Place. The article goes on to say that “The old mansion covered with the moss and vines of many years growth can be seen from Manchester avenue.” That ceremony was on June 28, 1899. The “old” mansion was eighteen years old. We begin this post with a birth announcement that her father, William Lyman Thomas had written in his 1901 scrapbook on August 18, 1901. The new baby is named after Emma’s deceased sister and called by the same nickname, Kittie, right from the beginning.
William Lyman Thomas married Catherine “Kate” Compton Sutton on March 25, 1869. While I have none of his daughters birthdates in front of me, I know that Ella T. was the oldest, born, say about, 1870. Sarah W. was second born about 1872. Emma B. was third, born roughly in 1874. Catherine A. “Kittie” was born sometime very close to the beginning of July 1876, the centennial year of our country.
My previous post was about Mr. Thomas’ School and Home magazine and the resemblance that I thought it bore to Die Gartenlaube, a very popular German magazine begun in the mid 19th century.
By 1878, when the first owner died, the magazine was at the height of its readership and influence. Die Gartenlaube became increasingly nationalistic and antisemitic following the creation of the German Empire in 1871 and especially in the buildup to World War I. After a couple changes of owners it was bought by the Nazi publishing house, Eher-Verlag in 1938. Not surprisingly it ceased publication in 1944. From my examination of many items that were personal to William Lyman Thomas, there is nothing to suggest that he modeled his own magazine after anything other than the finest features of the early Die Gartenlaube which was created to be “a people’s encyclopedia …committed to …an enlightened population.” See the Wikipedia article for the rest of that story.
The Garden Arbor – Illustrated Family Journal or Die Gartenlaube – Illustriertes Familienblatt according to Wikipedia was “the first successful mass-circulation German newspaper and a forerunner of all modern magazines.” Die Gartenlaube was founded in 1853 in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony with an objective to enlighten the entire family. The founders intended to accomplish this “with a mixture of current events, essays on the natural sciences, biographical sketches, short stories, poetry, and full-page illustrations.”
Die Gartenlaube became widely read across the German speaking world. With an estimated two to five million readers, the publisher at one time claimed to have the largest circulation of any publication in the world. There is, of course, much more to this story. Those interested should definitely read the article in Wikipedia.
William Lyman Thomas married Catherine “Kate” Compton Sutton, daughter of James C. Sutton, in 1869. J.C. Sutton passed away in 1877. At some point after that William and Kate subdivided and began to sell lots from Kate’s inherited portion of land from her father’s estate. They named their subdivision, Ellendale, after their oldest daughter, Ella. I know.
The following is excerpted and condensed from the 1911 History of St. Louis County by Mr. Thomas, pages 476 through 478 of Volume II. Keep in mind as you read this that WLT wrote this about himself. Due to space limitations I have left many interesting details out. DH
William Lyman Thomas
William Lyman Thomas was born on Dec. 6, 1846 in a house owned by a well known shoemaker named Liebig, near the corner of Sixth and Elm streets, St.