Maplewood History: A Hunk, A Hunk of Burning… Hobby?


According to my meticulous record keeping (Translation: If my camera didn’t do some of this stuff automatically I would have no idea when some of these events occurred). I got a call from Gene Kitson in early 2007 who was wondering if I had any Maplewood matchbook covers. When I said I did not. He said, “Well, I do. Would you like to borrow them?” I said I would and I did.

I went to his home and he handed me his 18 page ( I just counted the photos) album and let me walk out the door with it.  Pretty remarkable considering that he didn’t know me. Nearly all of those pages had eight matchbook covers in their plastic pockets.  I have no idea how long it would take to fill an 18 page album with Maplewood matchbook covers but I suspect it would take quite a while.

It turns out that was Gene’s strategy for increasing the size of his collection.  He didn’t only collect matchbook covers from Maplewood. He had covers from all over.  He claimed that by loaning an album to an interested party they would remember his act of kindness and contribute to his collection when they found a cover he might be interested in.  Had I found any Maplewood matchbook covers or any covers at all I certainly would have given them to him. But that was 11 years ago and I haven’t found any yet.

I should mention that he didn’t save any of the matches themselves which I believe was not only sensible but probably lowered the cost of his home insurance. At the time I thought it was sort of strange that certain folks would collect these covers. But I have since found quite a few of them  to be very interesting in ways I couldn’t have predicted. And I’m not just talking about the ones from Ed’s Tavern with the pinup girls. Have a look at the following photos and you’ll get the idea or maybe an idea. When you do let me know what it is.

See also: Maplewood History: A Hunk, A Hunk of Burning… Hobby? Part 2

All of the matchbook covers shown are courtesy of the very generous Gene Kitson. I have been told that Gene has passed and I’m sorry to hear it. He was a very pleasant and interesting fellow.
There are quite a few of these and I’m not sure how they will show on a small screen. I’ll post them and hope for the best.
I believe it was reader Mark who expressed a desire to see this collection. So Mark I hope you like them.
Some of the following will  contain images of pinup girls. To me these images today look no more suggestive than some underwear ads so I’ve decided to post them.  Famous last words.

You have to love these ones from Ed’s Tavern. Notice the “Bring the Family”.

That’s about exactly half of them. I’ll run the rest in my next post.


  1. Speaking of children running down to get a bucket of beer for their dad’s…..about 15 years ago, I had my aunt and some cousins for lunch. My aunt grew up in Maplewood on Comfort Ave….which I lived on Comfort, thus the remembrance of my Aunt El. On her way home afterwards, she passed the house she grew up in, my cousin was telling me. It was the second house (Now the first house) on the North side of Comfort from Big Bend……She told the story of remembering that she had to ride the pony and cart down into Maplewood to pick up her daddy, who was too drunk to get home by himself…..LOL….Going by the house now, I can see a building in the back…so wondered if that’s where they kept the pony and cart. Their last name was Kramer, her name being Elenora. She died in 1905, and was about 95 or 97 years old….I can’t remember now.

  2. I’ve only looked at this first half, but would like to say, “Congratulations!” to Cousin Hugo’s, Jay B. Smith, and Saratoga Lanes for remaining Maplewood landmarks and supporters of our town!

  3. Absolutely love them. Especially the ones with the half naked girls in suggestive poses. Couldn’t get away with that anymore, everyone is so sensitive. Thanks

  4. My dad drank beer at Johnny Ryan’s with Walker Cooper, Cardinal catcher in the 40’s. The pastor of I.C. Would go to Ryan’s often for a shot and a bottle.

    • Now there’s a thought, Jim. Whenever I photographed them I didn’t bother to take them out of the plastic pages. That would have been much too time consuming. I was thinking only of recording them and not reproducing them. But I think your idea is a good one. They would make a nice poster.

  5. My father always talked about going to Johnny Ryans to get some buckets of beer for the Mill workers at the end of the week. Thing is he was only 10 years old at the time

    • I have heard many stories like that, Scott. Apparently it was once pretty common to send one of the kids down to the tavern to get the tin bucket filled with beer. Thanks for your recollection.

  6. I think from now on any new business coming to town should have to pick out a historic name for their store’s name. Bring the old back into fashion.

    I am surprised at all the different businesses that are shown here. Had no idea some of those places existed.

    • Are you happy now, Mark? I believe it was you who suggested this post, wasn’t it? And that’s only half of them. I think your suggestion was a good one. I held off for awhile because I wasn’t sure how to handle so many of them. This looks like it’ll work out.

      • yes I am happy. While I was never a smokier I am sure that many folks must have thought that I did. I could never seem to pass up a free book of matches. My only problem was not thinking of keeping them. Most I used to start the BBQ grill, light a few candles, start the fire for smores. Lots of places here that remind me that our town may not have changed that much over the years. Places to eat, places to drink, auto shops, etc.

        • Thank you, Mark, for saving and sharing such an interesting way of remembering some of Maplewood’s history! As a lifelong Maplewood resident, this brought back memories of places I’d forgotten all about. Again, Thank You!

    • Joe, that’s something I hadn’t thought of. How many of the buildings occupied by those businesses are still standing? I’d be curious to know but it’s unlikely I’ll do the survey. I just have too many other irons in the fire. Thanks for your comment.

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