Chapter 10 (1971-1980)
ATHLETES AND TEAMS
Wirt Downing is living in Fairview Heights, IL in retirement. He was without a doubt the most outstanding coach and educator of East St. Louis, although there have been some close competitors since his time.
I had a very interesting interview with the "Coach", as I have always called him.
He still goes to six or seven reunions each year. In 1954 he retired as football coach and became Principal of East St. Louis High School in September of 1955 to 1968. From 1970 to 1975, Federal Judge Juergens, appointed him as "Bailiff" of the Federal Court.
BOB SHANNON, COACH
EAST ST. LOUIS FLYERS
STATE CHAMPION FOOTBALL TEAM
Bob Shannon, the present coach of the East St. Louis Football Team, has been something else since 1979. He won his sixth Illinois (6A) state football championship trophy this past year. That makes it six championships out of fifteen years which is unheard of. In addition, he has developed many young men for Missouri, Illinois and Notre Dame football scholarships as well as many lesser known schools.
Example, last year 1991; Chris Moore, 5 ft. 10 in. and 205 pounds ran with abandon. In the state championship game against Glenbard North High, he scored on runs of 30, 1,47 and 9 yards. He set two career state records, with 86 touchdowns and 81 rushing touchdowns. He also moved on State's career rushing list with 5,174 yards. The previous mark was 5,079 yards by Jeff Campbell who played for Catlin High School from 1976-1979.
Moore's other records include: Most points (24) in a class 6A title game; Most touchdowns in a class 6A title game; Most rushing touchdowns in a class 6A title game.
Coach Shannon's record over the past fifteen years is 143 to 20, with State titles in 1979,1983,1984,1985, 1989, and 1991. The 1985 and 1989 squads were named National Champions.
Kevin Horrigan, a columnist and KMOX radio morning show personality has written a new book on the East Side football team history under Shannon.
LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM
Coached by Jim Monken, Lincoln High School Tigers football team had a good record of six and three after the 1989 season. At the time of his retirement Schools: Monken had a career record of 177 wins - 67 losses - 7 ties.
Ted Savage was a four-star athlete and had an outstanding career in baseball with the Cardinals and other big league teams
LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Lincoln High School is located at 1201 Bond Avenue in East St. Louis and the basketball team is coached by Benny Lewis. It is an outstanding team.
The Lincoln Tigrettes won their ninth consecutive class AA State Track Championship in a row by beating
Evanston Township High 114 points to 79 point coach is Nina Fennoy.
CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
Central Catholic High School had many successful athletic programs since the early 1930's.
John Nunn and Carl Totsch were among the most farnous in football. Hank Bauer was the mos twell known in baseball where he went on after WWII to become a star with New York Yankees outfield of Mantle, Di Maggio, Keller and others. He has thirteen world series rings and he told me once that his wife back in Kansas City banked all the series checks into an annuity. In high school, Hienie, as we called him, played shortstop and I played second base.
Anyway Central Catholic High School became Assumption and several years later it closed out on St. Clair Avenue because of asbestos. It merged with Althoff in Belleville.
JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS
We have always had three outstanding junior High Schools:
Clark Jr. High School where Frank Ficke was coach for
many years during the 40's and 50's. Lansdowne Jr. High School where Bob Kurrus was coach
of all sports during the 30's, 40's and 50's.
Clark Jr. High School where Frank Ficke was coach for many years during the 40's and 50's.
Lansdowne Jr. High School where Bob Kurrus was coach of all sports during the 30's, 40's and 50's.
At the Seoul Olympics, Jackie Joyner-Kersee broke the world's record with the Heptathlon and was a double gold medalist (long jump).
Mrs. Garland (Ruth) Smith wrote from Hastings, Minnesota, that she was so proud for Jackie Joyner to carry the Olympic Torch in the Minneapolis Festival for good old East St. Louis which was her "Hometown".
Jackie's husband and coach is Bob Kersee. She is 29 years old and enjoys working with the youth and in fund raising activities as an Olympian under the Olympic Job Opportunity Program. Jackie began running at age nine and is now fighting asthma.
She has been proclaimed as the "world's greatest female athlete" and she has set up a Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Foundation in East St. Louis to help the kids of East St. Louis. "I always stress for the kids to be good human beings. Being a good person will carry you a lot of places!. You will see her now in the Barcelona Olympics. Here she is entered in four events: Heptathlon, long jump, high hurdles, and high jump. This is an undertaking never attempted by any athlete in a major meet.
Mrs. Garland (Ruth) Smith said in her nice letter that "We the people were property owners and we paid our taxes to keep the City and Schools alive in East St. Louis." Further, she said "East St. Louis still has dedicated and loving people".
Today, "Mr. Tennis of the World" is our own Jimmy Connors. He started early at five years old when his Grandfather Al (Lynch) Thompson, cut the tennis handle down six inches so Jimmy could hold the racket. At that time his Grandmother "Bertie" Thompson took over his lessons. She was one of the best tennis instructors that I have seen. Jim Connors Sr. and I played on old Central Catholic High School tennis team and we improved our record after her lessons.
His brother, John Connors, did not want all the practice and regimentation, so he didn't pursue tennis other than as Club Pro around St. Louis. Now, he has his own boat the "Alton Belle".
Both John and Jimmy are fine young men, and their Mother Gloria's efforts have certainly been rewarded. (I wish the Best to the Best).
OTHER EAST ST. LOUIS TENNIS
Norman Dean, Hall of Famer, was an outstanding tennis star of the 20's and 30's; along with Pete Shukest, Joe Pulley, Tom Shanklin, Ted Eggmann, Les Mein, Ben Burkett and Bob Crowley.
East St. Louisans have always had a great interest and participation in bowling.
There were too many great bowlers to mention some and not all, but I'll do it anyway. Gus Lucido and family. My cousin, Helen Maher, was married to Frank Lucido; 'Tony" Pensoneau, Ted Loman and his Bowlaway, and Bill and Pat Kalicki.
I had a bowling team for "English Realty" back in the 60's at Edgemont Bowling Lanes with Gene Shepherd and Art Groh. It was right next to Lawrence Devoli's Edgemont Inn.
East St. Louis has had a long interest in Grand Marais 18 hole golf course. Among its operators were Walter McMurtrey, Frank Moore (Terry's brother), John Hickey, Bud Dietrich, Wes Harness, and my brother Jack and his partner, John (Robby) Robinson at the present time.
Terry Hanson is the Vice-President of Communications of the PGA Tour at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. He is a fine young man in his early 40's who has done so well in coaching, entertainment with Ted Turner and CNN Cable Network and now with the PGA.
Fairmount Park has been here on Collinsville Road since September 26, 1925 (67 years) and is still well attended.
Tom McMahon, 87, has tended bar for Jack and I at Bush's Steak House and is still working at Jack's on Fridays. He is a daily bettor.
Fairmount has year-round racing with the thoroughbred season and later harness racing.
Cahokia Downs ran for approximately 25 years but is now closed. The City of Alorton is trying to get the site for an entertainment Center for a group with the Mississippi River Festival at SIU. The track has been closed since 1979 and has 96 acres on Route 15 about three miles East of the Poplar Street Bridge. It is presently owned by Ogden Fairmount Inc., the same company that owns Fairmount Park.
JACK ENGLISH SPORTS CROWD
A group of sports celebrities come to my brother Jack's and the ring leader is Sam Muchnick, the dean of the Wrestling Group. His group includes Bob Burnes of the old Globe and Bob Broeg the sports editor of the Post-Dispatch, George Silvey, the baseball scout, Captain Ed Moran, a retired St. Louis policeman Joe (Red) Drabelle a former football star of St. Louis U. and an official for major games, Martin Duggan from Channel 9 and a columnist, Jim Bolen, Don Lenhardt, and Rich Hacker, the Cardinal coach who moved on to Toronto. Wrestlers include Andre the Giant, Lou Thesz, Bill Longson, Pat Riley and Gorgeous George who, passed away recently.
Art Voellinger, the sports columnist of the Belleville journal, has been covering the area High School sports and is very dedicated. He is a super guy and does an excellent job.
Soccer stars such as Cobby Rodriguez and his brother Babe Rodriguez, John Major and many old Fairmount City players such as Julie Menendez come to mind.
Dave Roche and Arnold Demarse were standouts at Central Catholic High. Dave Roche, Arnie Demarse, Dean McIlravy and Craig Cholet are regulars at Brother Jack's.
Pop Myles was the Dean of Boxing at the Social Center and recently passed away.
EAST ST. LOUIS HIGH SCHOOL
Bill Cochran, Denny Cochran, John Anderson Dick Snyder, Irv Nicholson, George Fidelke, Ed Posage, Walter Posage, Berkely Halstead, Chuck Stokes, Terry Kerr, Jesse Fowler, Rich "Cotton" Knaus, Peppy Kruta, Earl Smalling, Lloyd Smalling, Cocky Houston, Herb Fash, Max Harned, Max Flach, Ray Rice and his sons.
Basketball coach for many years was Louis "Pick" Dehner who was an All-American at Illinois University.
Outstanding in the field of baseball - Dave Garcia, Coach and Manager and Bill Walker who was pitcher for
the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. Both were from East St. Louis and associated with major league baseball for many years.
CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
John Nunn, Carl Totsch, Dave Roche, Bunky Bauer, Hank Bauer, Bob Bowe, Bob Turley, Mike Magac, John Wyrostek, Coach George Martz, Alan Martz, Ed Blake.
Edward Horrigan was a City Commissioner from 1971 to 1974 when he passed away at the early age of 57. He also served as Justice of Peace (1954 to 1964) and City Clerk (1964 to 1971). He was married to Ruth Neil and they have a daughter (Sandy Cullen).
LOU AND DOROTHY (DONOVAN) BOGGEMANN are old timers. Lou sent me a nice letter and was from the Lansdowne area. Dorothy has always done a lot of charity work, and is now working with "Meals on Wheels".
VINCE AND FRANKIE (DENNIS) HATCH were both East St. Louis natives. Vince, an attorney, recently passed away but his wife Frankie is carrying on with Nester Real Estate. Vince was my attorney for a number of years and I always considered him as one of the best real estate lawyers in the area.
JOHN AND MARCIA (FRENCH) DAVIS are also oldtimers. John being from the Ira Davis family (Terminal Railroad superintendent). But John made his niche in the wholesale coal business in St. Louis and Southern Illinois. Marcia was the daughter of C. L. French, School Board Member, and worked with City Ice & Fuel Co. Marcia worked for years with the Y.W.C.A. on Pennsylvania Avenue in East St. Louis.
AUDIE BOAZ AND JACK KEEFE ran the Golden Gloves tavern on 9th Street and Illinois Avenue. Audie also had a tavern, with his wife Carrie, on Caseyville Avenue at 32nd Street. They have a son, Eddie Boaz, who has had an interest in all local and professional sports.
JIM REED AND HIS LOVELY WIFE, LOUISE, are enjoying retirement in a nice mobile home in Ocala, Florida. He has sent many mementos and even sent an audio tape of East St. Louis being named the "All American City". Jim was with the Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Commission. He had lots of ideas and many of them were worth while if the politicians would have listened. He was close to Oliver Briedecker and Delmar Valine. He said for me to contact a long list of names including: Howard Beck of Beck Vanilla Company, Charles Daily, Bill Popkess, Bob Hackman and Joe Lowery, the attorney
LIL (TRIBOUT) TREESH is still operating the Treesh Neon Sign at 434 E. Broadway, which is across from the old Broadview Hotel. Lil is working with her daughter, Jackie Treesh, and they are still doing a great job in the general East St. Louis area. Morrie Treesh, the husband and father, has been deceased for a number of years. Lil and Jackie look fine and I had a nice visit with them at my Brother Jack's, along with Frank (Bud) Hauss Jr.
DELIA COMLEY was married toGEORGE COMLEY and they had eight children. She worked at Stanley's on Collinsville Avenue for 22 years and has been in real estate for 33 years with Ed Sieron. She also worked for Maggie's Fashion's (9th & Illinois Ave.) for six years. She was Canadian and came from Quebec (maiden name Lemaire) and worked hard all her life to raise her family.
JOHN AND DORA (O'BRIEN) KOSTELAC have a large farm in Belleville and their business is Recyclers of Cooking Oils and Fats, from which they have made a lot of money. Dora's father was an East St. Louis City policeman, Joseph O'Brien, who was killed in the line of duty back in the 1930's. She had a brother Joe and a sister Mary. They lived on 12th street North of State for many years. They were involved in politics and work with the Ancient Order of Hiberians.
MRS. JOHN H. (MARGARET HEALY) STEUERNAGEI was a Iong-time teacher in East St. Louis living in Belleville. Her husband, John, was a school administrator (Supt. of Schools). Her grandfather, John Cantillon, was on the East St. Louis School Board in 1885. Her family home was at 116 Collinsville Avenue across from the Arcade Building.
MRS. HERBERT V.(ORA C.) AVAULT was a school teacher from 1922 to 1961 at Alta Sita, Bunkum and Morrison Schools. Vic Moser sent her a book relating to "Moser's Grove" near St. Phillips and Bluff Tavern. Her middle initial was for Coggins. She had seven children who were all born, raised, educated, and married in East St. Louis.
CAROL (SCHLARETZKY) MADAN lived in East St. Louis from 1925 to 1941. Her father, Rev. Walter Schlaretzki (in 1930) was pastor of the Federated Church at Summit and Washington Place. He also was Superintendent and General Manager of Christian Welfare Hospital. Rosemary Green directed her High School Chorus and she remembers the picnics at Jones Park.
STANLEY JOZAYT, with MAX FRIEDBERG ran the old "Colonial Inn": at Collinsville and St. Clair Avenues from 1948 to 1957 with a dance orchestra.
JEAN MURPHY from St. John's MO, wrote me about the excellent bus service in East St. Louis (safe and not afraid to go to Parson's Field). Collinsville Avenue was the "Shopping Center". Majestic Candy Kitchen with their mashed potato and gravy specialty, she has never forgotten. She enjoyed growing up in a "Great Town", East St. Louis.
LIZETTE H. PETRASEK of Columbia, IL wrote that in 1940 she left home in Southern Illinois and went to the Beulah Club. She worked days and went to Summers College nights. It was WWII and jobs were plentiful in a fine city that had many things to offer.
MUSICIANS IN THE 30's AND 40'S (BANDS)
Do you remember the old bands of the 30's and 40's? George Carr, Larry Broz and his brother Wes Broz, Eddie Ehret, Russ Rigden, and of course Sunny Shields. Sunny went on with music studios around town, married Dorothy Seppi and they have three lovely daughters.
Click here to see more former East St. Louisans at Brother Jack's
On to Chapter Eleven