Chapter 4

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Class Reunion
Police Dept.
Contributors

Chapter 4  (1921-1930)

 

By 1929, Americans were buying about 100 million movie tickets a week and millions of radios and automobiles. Times were good and few realized that they would suddenly end.

Women's groups pushed for equal rights along with Indians and the Blacks. Women voting rights and holding public office began in 1848 but women could not vote in any state until 1890. Then, Wyoming entered the Union and was the first state to give women the right to vote. The movement continued but by 1913, women could vote in only 12 out of the 48 states.

Blacks had helped at home too. Over 500,000 moved north during the war to take jobs in factories, mills and mines. Even though black workers did an outstanding job, most were fired as soon as the war was over, and they faced discrimination with their civil rights, place of residence, and choice of schools. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed in 1913 and still is in existence, although they have made significant gains over the years.

In the 1920's, Americans began buying all these new items on credit; even stocks (on margin) until October 24, 1929 when the stock market crashed and brought on the Great Depression of the 1930's.

 

EVENTS & HAPPENINGS

On 10/31/21, a wireless phone was installed in East St. Louis. Bell and Kinlock were made into one system.

Sterling Steel Casting Co. was formed as well as Ultra-Life Laboratories and Hill Brick Co.

Soldiers' Memorial was unveiled in East St. Louis for the following wars: Revolutionary, Civil, Spanish-American and World War I.

East St. Louis Library purchased the Elks Building for $150,000. as a library located at 9th & Illinois Ave.

Cahokia Mound Park was built on 144 acres on Route 40. Today, it is a multi-million dollar museum and everyone in the area should see this air-conditioned masterpiece.

In 1927, Col. Charles Lindberg visited Belleville and Scott Field on his way to Dayton, Ohio - Also, Amelia Earhart, the famous aviatrix from Atchison, Kansas, visited East St. Louis and Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York and the Democratic presidential nominee for the year 1928.

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Summer 1927: H. H. Jost Jr. and Roy Bowman, who were both sophomores at Illinois University, took 50 mules to Genoa, Italy, from National Stockyards. It took 4 days by railway to New York City where they boarded the Italian ship "IDA", and another 18 days to Florence, Naples, Genoa and Rome, Italy. On the return trip aboard the "Martha Washington", in the Gulf Stream, they suffered through a typhoon which lasted 17 hours. Roy Bowman related in an East St. Louis journal article, by cub reporter Mel Price, that they had 18 days of spaghetti and macaroni and the next day it was macaroni and spaghetti. H. H. Jost Jr. (whose father was an officer at the Soutern Bank) sent a copy of the journal story with the headline "Steamer 24 Years Old Tossed Like Leaf", say 2 Illinois U. Students.

On July 26, 1930 Flag Pole sitting became the rage in St. Clair County and various records of endurance were made. County Judge W.R. Weber ordered all juvenile pole sitters to "Return to Earth."

 

DEPRESSION

On Jan. 20, 1930, for the first time in 25 years, East St. Louis had a "soup line". The basement of the City Hall served as a home for the homeless during the winter and was used as the headquarters for the bread line. The service was kept up by a fund provided by the public.

Here were two very important periods in East St. Louis history that I thought showed the caliber and determination of its people: 1) Depression of the 30's and 2) World War II.

East St. Louis was a city of many nationalities, ethnic groups, work backgrounds, etc., but primarily they were blue and white collar and mostly middle class and religious people. They respected the rights of their neighbors and were proud to be called East St. Louisans. Even today the feeling still prevails.

As an example, I received a beautiful letter from an old friend of my father's and also of mine. Creasy Chadwick still lives on Goose Hill (Stockyards area) and has lived there since the 1930's. Her husband, "Shack" Chadwick, was the Democratic precinct committeeman and after his death, Creasy served in his place. Several times I took my father to her house for political meetings. I am printing her letter verbatim and I want you to know that her letter contained a $5.00 bill (which I returned with many thanks). I want to say that if there were more people like her in this life, the world would be a better place.

(Footnote: Her $5.00 bill was the only cash contribution that I received.)

Creasy Chadwick's letter reads:

 

I am a senior citizen and I live in the Goose Hill area; 9th &Exchange, 4th&Winstanley, Collinsville Ave.& St. Clair to National City, St. Clair - First St. My memories of Goose Hill was all the employment in this small area.

Hunter, Swift, Armour & Circle Packing. National Stock Yard. We had restaurants, beauty shop, barber shop, grocery stores, hardware, druggist, 2 schools, 3 churches, confectionery, moving van, lead company, tailor shop, cleaners, Jessie Harris Manure, taverns, 2 serum plants, funeral home, 2 lumberyards. These are just a number of places to find employment. We used to have 2 precincts 37 & 38. Employment for anyone seeking employment.

We in the Goose Hill area are still together. The last week in August, we have what is called a Goose Hill Reunion. Friday night a dance, Saturday all day picnic. Sunday we worship at a Church, a parade.

I used to work at the English Inn at 1st & St. Clair.

In this area now we have a lot of vacant land with weeds, where there used to be houses and grass. With all these problems that we are having, I still love East St. Louis, especially the Goose Hill area.

You do not have to return this message.

We contact as many former residents as possible to participate in this 3 day affair.

We also hold a memorial service, at one of the Churches. We have a Queen and King contest. We have a Souvenir Book.

Enclosed is $5.00

 

 

MRS. CHADWICK

I also received an invitation from Maxine Isaac of 256 Winchester Place, Belleville, IL 62223. She was ViceChairperson of the Goose Hill Reunion in 19910 a invited me to attend (8th year). She told me that she had lots of pictures and information that would be good for my book. I was unable to attend.

 

A JOB FOR MEL PRICE

H. H. Jost Jr. also told a story that Emmett Griffin, Superintendent of Parks, hired him to work at Jones Park swimming pool which was the largest man-made pool in the U.S. at that time and had swimmers from all over the country. Also, that Pat Griffin hired Mel Price as assistant life guard although he couldn't swim a stroke. However, there was a children's area (3 feet deep) which Mel Price patroled.

 

EAST ST. LOUIS HIGH SCHOOL GRAD CLASSES OF 1923 & 1924

I received several copies of Old Estlians, and will summarize them briefly:

Class officers were Francis Earl Willard (President) and Urban "Buddy" Gates (Sgt. at Arms). Buddy later owned and operated the old "Estlian Tavern" at 4lst and State Streets. Members of the class were Ed Mixon, Elburn Wiegmann, William Finke, Chester Drummond, Joe Goldberg, Wesley Helms (of Parkway Inn fame), Joe Kocher Elwood Johnson, Roy Bowman, Paul Harding, Adele Thomas, Leland Crank, Oscar Waghalter, Jack Ames, Paul Mullane, Marcellus Bosworth, Glen (Art) Shepard, Alicia Sheridan, Russell Fowler, John Hickey, Clarice Ames, Lloyd Adams, Ben Day, Robert Ganschinietz, Herman Jost Jr., Ralph Knewitz, Bernice Fields, Francis Kurrus, Quentin Spivey, Ruth Boyer, Thelma Chenowith, Mildred Dahm, Evelyn Dahm, Frances Polk, Leita Bremer, Milton Harrington and Clyde Smith.

Click here to see reunion photos.

 

EAST ST. LOUIS HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATING CLASS OF 1925

Estlian named the officers of the February 1925 class as follows: Victor Lukas Jr. (Pres.), Helen Eggmann (V.P.), Hulda Bareis (Secy.), Harry A. Pfiffner (Treas.) and Paul Fleming (Sgt. at Arms). Other members mentioned are: John Steuemagel, William Homer, Lawrence Miller, Katherine Meints, Lilian Beckwith, Helen Sorrells, Margaret Shreve (also Queen of Class), Dorothy Bartlett, and Rae Wilkinson.

Class officers of the June 1925 class were: Clarence Curry (Pres.), Mildred Ropiequet V.P.), Anna Snyder (Secy.), Gordon Brown (Treas.), and Edward Powell (Sgt. At Arms) Other members were: Joe Rodriguez, Robert Thomas, George Condo, Walter Maag, Louis Baumeister, Raymond Burton, Thomas McDonnell, Margaret Corrigan, Edith Lieb, Margaret Reimann, Ruth

Grote, Julia Eros, Juanita Fiss, Frances Hackmann, and Helen Hamlin (Queen of Graduating Class).

 

EAST ST. LOUIS GRADUATES CLASS OF FEBRUARY 1927

Estlian showed the February 1927 graduating class officers as: Fred Steuernagel (Pres.), Eugene Tucker (V.P.), Vivian Reischle (Treas.) and Stella Mae Hamlin (Secy.). Other members: Marion Ropiequet, Robert Kurrus, Charles Schiele, Sam Fein, Leroy Larsh, Robert Knauer, Ralph Herrin, William Guyton, Glen Anderson, Willard Keenan, Jack and Thomas William Yakelevich, and Eugene Tucker (Captain of Football Team), which was first year in Southwestern Illinois High School Football Conference.

Note: They won 8 out of 10 games scoring 145 points to the opponents 12 points with only 16 men on the Varsity squad.

Class song was "East Side We Love You", class songster was Nellie Carmichael and class poet was Naomi Machery.

 

EAST ST. LOUIS HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATING CLASS OF JUNE 1927

Class officers named in the June 1927 Estlian were: Virgil Manker (Pres.), Roy Culbertson (Treas.) and Joe Reader (Sgt. At Arms). Other members were: Nathan Crystal, Mary Jean Maule, James McRoberts, Robert Knauer, Robert Kurrus, Wesley Helms, Helen Broderick, Sol Cohn, Esperance Hill, Louise, Hyatt, Elizabeth Hockaday, Everett Erlinger, Jane Sheridan, Chris Reynolds, Mildred Kolb, Margaret Healy, Thelma Hatch, Tom Prindable, Mildred Noble, Vivienne Lawler, Henry McStay, John B. Kramer, Lilian Smith, William Cullinane, Francis Dillon, Joseph Eros, Carl Wimmer, Helen Corrigan, Robert Boylan, Carl Baldwin, Earl and Carolyn Jackson, Inez Hammond Morrison, Elsie Cervenka West, Fred and Liz Begeman, Irma Peterson, Holle, Norman Aud, and Betty McKittrick Foster.

 

WILLIAM C. FINKE

Bill Finke has been a tremendous help to me on information for the various East St. Louis High School classes. He is a very dedicated person and I want to give special mention to Bill and his wife (Marianna Reiss) who passed away July 13,1989.

Bill spent his early years at Monroe School and operated a paper route. He remembers his junior Prom on the steamer J. S. and going to Forest Park Highlands where he had a basket picnic.

His family's first car was a Model T Ford Touring Car. Gasoline was 12 cents a gallon.

He was hired by Continental Can Co. as a timekeeper starting at $15.00 per week. He was there for 40 years. He visited Chicago's World Fair (1933) and visited Chautauqua (Grafton, IL). Married (1940) to Marianna Reiss of Tau Delta Phi Sorority at Lansdowne Christian Church with the reception at the Broadview Hotel.

 

CHARLES VIRGIL MORRIS

I received a very nice letter from Charles Virgil Morris of Granite City, IL. who was a 1928 graduate of East St. Louis High School. He lived in Lansdowne in the 40th St. and Waverly Ave. area. He worked at America Zinc in Fairmount City and Monsanto as a pipefitter and lead burner. He was a classmate of Howard Vogt (St. Louis Post Dispatch photographer and writer) and Carl Baldwin.

 

JULIE WIER

Julie Wier wrote about her husband Jack Wier's family of railroad men. His great grandfather was a conductor for New York Central. His grandfather, William Frances Bolam, was chief dispatcher for the C. B.& Q. for years. His dad, Jack Sr., worked as a railroad engineer for the Burlington Northern. Jack Jr. worked as a switchman, fireman and then locomotive engineer until he graduated from college when he went into management. She wrote about the family barbecues the stories would start off by recalling the latest merger changes on the East St. Louis railroad scene.

Donald G. Moore of Belleville sent me a couple of pictures of a 1907 St. Teresa's Academy float in a St. Patrick's Day Parade and an excellent picture of Swift Packing Plant.

Peggy Fitzpatrick sent a picture of Illinois Avenue with the Majestic Theater in the background.

 

PARKWAY INN

Aunt Mary Helms and her husband James, a/k/a Pop, opened "Parkway Inn" on May 30, 1926 and operated it 29 years until May 31,1955.

At that time they moved the new Parkway Inn to Lawrenceville, IL, on Highway 50, ten miles west of Vincennes, Indiana, but East St. Louis people  will never forget the old "Parkway Inn".

Her son, Wesley Helms, and his wife Virginia are still living (Creve Coeur, Mo.) and they lent me the 1937 Blue Book. Virginia Helms mailed a copy of a Journal story by Russ Maxwell "We Shed a Tear".

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"WE SHED A TEAR"

Many a nostalgic tear, no doubt, was shed here Wednesday. For "Aunt Mary" Helms is closing Parkway and moving to another community.

Parkway Inn is what she called her place officially. To thousands of youngsters yesterday and today, thousands of parents, it has been and always will be plain "Parkway".

It was at Parkway that Many a kid learned to dance, between youthful orgies of barbecued beef and chili mac and thick malted milks. It was at Parkway that many a romance blossomed later into marriage of responsible citizens had its budding over a coke and sandwich. And always, the lady with the warning finger and the twinkle in her eyes presided.

 

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East St. Louis will miss Aunt Mary Helms and her family. In leaving, we feel, she somehow is cheating the coming generations of one of the really heart warming experiences a kid could ever have in our town.

Virginia also sent me a copy of a newspaper story and pictures of Parkway Inn and the four members, of the Helms family.   The news story states "Boys and girls of high school age find their way to Parkway Inn, when they begin going places. As they grow older, they continue to patronize Parkway Inn. Thus, the place remains one of the most perennially popular meeting places of hungry or thirsty persons in East St. Louis".

Thousands of us East St. Louisans will never forget Aunt Mary's hamburgers, chili macs, barbecued beef or pork sandwiches, and their fountain cokes and milk shakes.

(The reason for the Helms to move to Lawrenceville was they owned only the building and leased the ground from Sinclair Oil Co. who wanted to rebuild and expand the old Sinclair Service Station.)

I have visited with Wes and Virginia Helms at some of the reunion lunches held by East St. Louis High graduates of the 1920's and I have enjoyed their company and their friends.

 

AMERICAN LEGION POST 53

The American Legion was started in Paris in 1919 and East St. Louis had two posts (Enright-Hay Post 53 and the 124th Artillery Post 316). They were merged into Post 53 on July 1, 1925. The Post has had many homes and is still surviving in Caseyville, IL thanks to the efforts of many fine Legionnaires such as James A. Egan (wife - Virginia), Gerald Murphree (wife - Mary), Charles Spicuzza (wife - Claire) and others.

Jim Egan (adjutant) was nice enough to send me a brief history of Post 53 and a complete roster of all Commanders from 1919 to 1991. Prominent among the' Commanders are: Dr. Stanley A. Wynn (1st, 1919-1920), Dr. Cameron Wilson, G. Edwin Popkess, W. Fred Powell, Everete Smart, Kenneth Ferguson, Dr. Harry Schmulbach, William C. Huber, Edward Thies, John Gerhard, James H. Egan, Charles Ashton, Hiram Modglin, Paul Ruggeri, Marion Owen, Stan Sieron Jr., Leo J. Sullivan, Joseph Olsson, Michael Bova, Richard Bugg, 0. H. Robinson, Rudy Copotelli, James A. Egan, G. Elmer Touchette, Vincent Buneta, Loy Cartwright, Ralph Guzman (8 years) and Gerald Murphree.

The American Legion Post 53 has done a wonderful job in East St. Louis and I am happy to be, along with my brother (Jack English), a life-time member of Post 53 since the end of World War 11 (1946).

 

O'LEARY - HICKEY FAMILIES

Emmett O'Leary and Ruth (Hickey) O'Leary just recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary given by Vinny OLeary (Emmett's youngest brother and only survivor) at the Belleville Elks Club on September 25, 1990. Their family home was on 18th Street south of State Street and other family members were Dan, Steve, Eddie and Eileen. The Hickey family lived on 16th Street and St. Louis Avenue and Ruth's two brothers were Jim and Bob (attorneys). Bob married Lennamae (Ryan) Hickey. 42-o'leary2.tif (172995 bytes)
 

 

COYNE FAMILY

Kenny Coyne has been a good friend of mine since we were 5 years old on St. Louis Avenue. He gave me several pictures of O'Leary's Tavern (1939) on 15th & St. Louis Avenue (Pinochle Tournament), East St. Louis Police Department (1927), St. Joseph's Grade Schoo1 (1914) and Triple F Club Football Dance Committee of 1940, showing Bill Delaney, Dick Glasow, Ken Coyne, Bob Joyce, Frank Biegler and myself.

Pinochle at O'Leary's Tavern

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The Coyne family home was at 1738 St. Louis Avenue and family members were (with birthdates): Chris - 1883; Thomas - 1885 (Kenny's Father); Nicholas - 1887; John J. - 1889; Mary E. - 1891; James E. (Pet) 1894 (Policeman); Lucille (Ducky) - 1897.

 

Sources

 

On to Chapter Five

 

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