Chapter 12 (1991-2000)
I received a call from a young man, Denny Kroenung, who is thirty six years old and grew up in Alta Sita. He probably has the greatest collection of memorabilia on East St. Louis that I have encountered. His father, Stanley (Sid) Kroenung worked at Bloemker's Hardware Store at 27th Street and Bond Avenue for forty seven years. His mother, Beatrice (Denny) Kroenung, lives in Fairview Heights, IL.
Denny lives in Richmond Heights, MO near my home in Clayton. He is a student at Washington University and owns the Lambert Maintenance Co. He has the original picture and story on the opening of the Majestic Theater (February 25,1928) by Harry Redmon and Fred Leber. They spent a reported $1 million on the Majestic showplace.
Mayor Frank Doyle's daughter, Miss Mildred Doyle was given the "key" to the theater at 10 A.M. on February 25,1928.
Kroenung also has the glossy picture and a program of the Majestic's twentieth anniversary with a picture of Vinny O'Leary, its general manager in 1948. He also has postcards of the East St. Louis City Hall, Broadview Hotel, Lansdowne and Rock Junior High Schools, St. Henry and Sacred Heart Catholic Churches, various scenes of Jones Park, Burke, Kassly, Sedlacekand Kurrus funeral homes, Y.W.C.A. (judge Joyce's home), and now the museum of Katherine Dunham, and a 1914 carriage of the daughters of M. J. Walsh.
In addition, he has copies of the St. Louis Star-Times newspaper of Wednesday August 15,1945 proclaiming the end of World War II (V-J Day).
HARRY AND TODDY CRUNCLETON
Harry Cruncleton is an old time banker starting at the First National and Union Banks in East St. Louis. He made his mark at Magna Bank and has gone on as one of the founders of the West Pointe Bank & Trust Company in Belleville, IL. Harry is Chairman of the Board of West Pointe Bank. His wife Toddy works with him in the banking business. I think Harry's secret of success is that even though he is a busy, busy man, he listens to all problems and he always returns his telephone calls.
Sixty years ago (1932), the Rockettes of New York City's Radio City opened in Rockefeller Center. However, they had their beginning and actually opened in St. Louis in 1925.
Tootie (Crowe) Gromacki and later her sister, Pat (Crowe) Alberts followed her to the St. Louis Muny Opera Opera chorus and later to the New York Rockettes.
I read about their 60th anniversary and they have an Alumni of almost 400 members. They were inspired by the John Tiller girls of the Ziegfield Follies.
Tootie and Pat had two other sisters Betty (Crowe) Sanders and Ruth (Crowe) Waldron and two brothers Jack and Bob Crowe. They lived on 24th Street near State Street and were cousins of my sister-in-law (Norma jean Burnworth English) who recently passed away.
"SENIOR STEPPERS" AND THE "HAPPY TAPPERS" On January 30,1992 the Belleville News-Democrat ran a feature story on the "Senior Steppers" which is a group of seventeen late-in-life women, whose ages range from 61 to 76. Two groups of women, the "Senior Steppers" and the "Happy Tappers" make up the Senior Tap Dancers of Belleville.
The group is part of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Belleville Area College. Under the guidance of Becky Kern, who runs a dance studio on East "B" Street in Belleville, the women have put together an entire show which they take on the road to nursing homes and dub events.
Their manager, Earl Morris and his wife Virginia, operate the group along with Becky Kern. The newspaper story was about the group of dancers. Their names with their ages are: Delores Cange 65, Marie Fausler 74, Wilma Gerse 63, Dee Hilpert 53, Bettye James 65, Virginia Morris 68, Edna Munier 76, Helen Webster 69, Kitty Bloemker 66, Jeanne Buesking 63, Jeanette Maggio 65, Mabel Otten 67, Maurcette Range 67, and Rosemary Rigden 66, all of Belleville; Arleen Funcke 66 of Fairview Heights, Betty Goetz 61, of Swansea and Mary Ann Brickery 71, of Jerseyville.
WEW (AM - 770) "MUSIC OF YOUR LIFE"
My good friend and neighbor, Charles P. Stanley II, is former President and General Manager of radio station WEW. Charley is a great guy and recently gave me over 400 albums of music from the 1920's to the 1960's. East St. Louisans have always been music lovers and I appreciate his generosity very much.
PROSPECTS FOR EAST ST. LOUIS
RICHARD J. KRAUSE has been a coach and official for over 4,000 games. He runs the All Stars Sports Club and is a real example for kids in East St. Louis. He has been active since 1966 and takes hundreds of kids to Cardinal games and other athletic events.
DONALD HENRY (East St. Louis native) was United Nations Delegate for the U.S.A. State Department (1990).
WARRINGTON AND REGINALD HUDLIN are filmmakers, residing in New York City and Los Angeles. They recently had a newspaper full page spread on their success in the film-making business. They attribute their success to their parents Warrington Sr. and Helen who live in East St. Louis. The Hudlins both credit Katherine Dunham whose Cultural Arts Center their sons attended.
MAYOR GORDON BUSH
I have known Gordon Bush for approximately thirty years and he is in my opinion the best qualified man to be Mayor of East St. Louis since the 1940s.
He is a good Christian family man, educated and into the ways of politics. He is a leader who will lead but also listen to advice. His main opposition has been from the aldermen but that can be expected. We all like to be leaders but there must be some followers as advisers.
Mayor Bush is listening to men like H. C. Milford (former Chief Supervisor of St. Louis County) as his Economic Director of East St. Louis, the Illinois Advisory Board, the local bankers and most importantly to the people. He has a Committee for the Improvement of Local Government.
He has fought for and gotten a Riverboat Casino for the East St. Louis riverfront and the water fountain across from the Arch as well. He is working for the proposed expansion of the National Stock Yards and also the railroads. He is working with Bi-State in the development of the light rail system and the joint use of Scott Field as a commercial airport along with military use. Now there is a committee working for a St. Louis World's Fair in 2004. (One hundred years since the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair).
Most importantly he is trying to secure new industries for East St. Louis which are so important and necessary for furnishing jobs.
I believe he could become one of the greatest Mayors East St. Louis has ever had and at a most crucial time. My sincere good wishes to Mayor Gordon Bush and the good people of East St. Louis. They are the people about whom this book was written. People ask me what are the Good Things of East St. Louis and I say simply "Its People".
Elmo Bush has been a teacher, school principal and in the vocation of education as long as I can remember. Upon retiring he was Superintendent of Schools. Elmo is another good friend who has contributed much to the city in which he lives, East St. Louis.
It hasn't always been easy writing this book but I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed the task of putting it together.
We thank those from whom we received correspondence.
You are the Good Things!
Ed English, Author
On to the Appendix