Chapter 7

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Chapter 7  (1941-1950)

 

On Sunday, December 7,1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor killing 2,400 Americans and 1,100 were wounded. Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast shipped to prison camps farther inland. School children collected old newspapers, tin cans and scrap metal. Thousands of men and women took jobs in factories, mines and farms. They built thousands of ships, tanks and airplanes. They turned out enough food, weapons, clothing, and medicine to supply not only the American armed forces but also those of the Allies. No other country has ever produced so much so quickly.

By 1942, American troops were fighting in Europe, Africa, Asia and on the islands of the Pacific Ocean. It was truly a world war.

On June 6,1944, nearly 3 million soldiers invaded the continent from England. They came from many different countries under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower. By August, France was free. By spring of 1945, these troops were moving toward Berlin, Germany's Capitol. The Russians were also pushing toward Berlin. By May 8,1945, the Germans had given up. Hitler killed himself and the war in Europe was over. The Allies, in the Pacific, captured one island after another heading north toward Japan. The Allies had destroyed most of the Japanese Navy and Air Force and an invasion of Japan seemed necessary when Franklin D. Roosevelt died unexpectedly. Vice-President Harry S Truman became president.

The United States had developed the atom bomb and after much careful consideration and many consultations, President Truman decided to drop an atom bomb on Hiroshima on August 6,1945. Three days later the second atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The next day. August 10, 1945, the Japanese surrendered. The war was finally over. In excess of 40 million people were killed in World War II.

In 1945, few Americans were isolationists. The U.S. through President Truman pushed for the United Nations (U.N.) and included all the 50 nations in the world. However, the Soviet Union continued taking over every country available and the Cold War began.

 

CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL

Fifty-two years ago today June 7,1940 (I am writing this on Sunday June 7, 1992), I graduated from Central Catholic High School.

It was a happy time although Hitler was overrunning all of Europe and bombing England incessently. Our country was still not involved but the cloud hung over the world.

My date was with Lee Wilde and we doubledated with Pat Cronin Jr. and Lee's twin sister Lynn. We often doubledated with Ellalouise Sidwell and her boy friend, Hobart Jennings.

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Graduation night we went to Meadowbrook Country Club and did all the nice things for a high school graduation.

The Wilde Twins (really Wild) were beautiful and talented singers on the old Admiral and we spent a lot of time waiting for them to get off the Admiral or leave the KXOK radio station at the Star Times building, since we were interested in dating them.

I should add that Lee told me early in our courtship that they were interested in their careers, and going on to Hollywood. I told her that I was not interested in following her across the country, although she was a wonderful person and very beautiful (a lovely girl). I kept in correspondence with her and I have received several pieces of news from her. She is living in Oregon with her husband and two grown children. She has become a pilot, worked at the real estate business with her husband along with pursuing her education and musical career. She and Lynn married brothers. Lynn's first husband is deceased and she has remarried and resides in Indiana.

They sang with the Bob Crosby Band, Les Brown, etc. and made 15 or more movies. I was always proud to have known them. They are apparently coming back in a late career in Hollywood, California.

Lee sent me a number of pictures, write-ups, and letters about my book which I appreciated very much.

 

50TH REUNION

On September 16, 1989 the graduating classes of Central Catholic High and St. Teresa's Academy held their fifty year reunion at Panorama Bowl in Belleville One hundred 87 people attended enjoying a buffet din. ner, band and dancing.

Many former students could recall fond memories of Brother Bill Callahan, Francis Rounds and wife Martha, Msgr. Cletus Cunningham, Msgr. Bernie Sullivan, Father Malec and Father Louis Trawalter.

1939 graduates attending the affair were: Jack Ryan and Kate (Kickham), Bill Brennan and Eileen (Hogan), Gene Menges and Carol Lee (Kane), Norbert Eisele (wid. ower), Leo Abegg and wife, Tom Biegler and Gloria (Vonnahyme), Al Wurth, Ed Belz & and Norma (Waldron), Jack English and Norma Jean (Burnworth), Jack Peters and wife of California and Grif Barry and wife of California.

1940 graduates attending were: Ed Schindler and Cathy, Jim Pearson and Betty, Pat Sullivan (bachelor), Hank Bauer (old New York Yankees), Vince Kiefer and Lucille, Ed English & Millie, Elmer Schramm and Dotty, Roy Maxwell and Helen, Gene Oulvey and Alice, Herman Schandl (bachelor), Bob Nunn (widower), Frank Becht and Audrey, Al Prosser and Dorothy, Tom Crane and Betty, John Major (bachelor), Bob Tessmer (wid. ower), Jack Coughlin and Mary, Jess Brunow (bachelor), There are 27 deceased out of 54 persons graduating.

1941 graduates attending were Justin and Blanche Eisele, George and Mary Francis (Danley) Weilmuenster, Msgr. Bernard Sullivan, C. J. and Margie (Schwarztrauber) Vonnahyme, Louise (Grogan) Heffernan, Dorothy Jane Manley) and Marty Hubbard, Carl and Audrey (Effinger) Dietrich.

 

VINCENT KIEFER

Vincent Kiefer was one of my fellow graduates from Central Catholic High School and a committee member of our reunion class of 1940. He has been the Village Clerk of Centreville Township for over 30 years and has a lovely wife, Lucille, and a son who has been a deputy sheriff for Mearl Justice (current sheriff of St.Clair County) for a number of years.

Vince brought me a copy of "A Time of Favor" which was written by Betty Burnett in 1987 and is the story of the Catholic Family of Southern Illinois. It is a history of the Diocese of Belleville (28 counties in Southern Illinois) and its six bishops including John Jansen (1888), Henry Althoff (1924), Albert R. Zuroweste (1948), William Cosgrove (1976), John Wurm (1981), and the present Bishop, James P. Keleher.

Kiefer also brought me three old postcards of the Webster School, the bridge at Jones Park and the Merchants' Bridge. He also included a Cahokia Book celebrating its 250th anniversary.

Thanks Vince for a job well done, as always.

 

MONSIGNOR THOMAS DRISCOLL

I received a nice letter from Monsignor Maurice Driscoll who has been retired the past several years from his parish of Mary Queen of Peace and his duties with the Belleville Diocese. He lives near his last remaining brother, John Driscoll and his family, in Mobile, Alabama. John was with Alcoa in East St. Louis , and later in Mobile.

Msgr. Maurice writes about our fine transportation system and the 13 Catholic Parishes in the East St. Louis deanery. He said that most of the Diocesan revenue was from East St. Louis in former years and Bishop Zuroweste was so proud of that. He said that East St. Louis had many fine families and that he inherited a lot of them in Queen of Peace Parish in Belleville. He recalled that there were many changes in industry, not only in East St. Louis but all over the country and the world.

He recalled East St. Louis had so many good soccer players like Cobby Rodriguez and Julie Menendez. (I took my grandson and a friend down to see Julie Menendez when he was still coaching soccer at San Jose State. He treated us fine and gave the boys quite a number of medals, pictures and other memorabilia.)

You might remember that Julie is the only coach to have two different teams in the Olympics. (Soccer and boxing--Muhammad Ali). Quite a feat for an old East St. Louis athlete.

Vince Kiefer's book has a picture of Lt. Com. Thomas P. Driscoll in his U.S. Marine uniform taken after World War II. Msgr. Tom served 19 months overseas and participated in three invasions as a Catholic chaplain attached to the 4th Marine Division. He celebrated the first Mass on Iwo Jima.

The Driscoll family was one of the finest families that ever came from East St. Louis.

 

TOM O'BRIEN

Tom O'Brien retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the East St. Louis Police Department. His parents were Timothy J. and Bridget O'Brien and lived at 1804 Ohio Avenue.

He married Norine Forkin and they had five children: Maureen Gilchrist, Thomas, Judge Sheila M. Anderson and twins Patricia Reising and Ellen M. O'Brien, M. D.

Judge Sheila (O'Brien) Anderson married U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Anderson in Chicago, where they are now living.

Tom has a brother, Jack O'Brien, who married Marie (Dougherty) O'Brien and they have a daughter Ellen who lives in California and is married and has a daughter. Jack works in the Real Estate Tax Department of St. Clair County.

Marie O'Brien is the daughter of the late Leo J. and Antoinette (Savard) Dougherty who lived at 643 N. 33rd Street, East St. Louis.

Tom O'Brien gave me a number of things for this book:

1)  History and Tour Guide of Cathedral of St.Peters (Belleville);

2)  Cahokia 250th Anniversary Booklet (1699-1949);

3) Pictures of East St. Louis Police Dept. in front of City Hall (1945) and a list of East St. Louis policemen in service during World War II: Albert Bott (Army), Raymond Bischoff (Coast Guard), William Connors (Coast Guard), Richard Daley (Army), Walter Kloczak (Army), Thomas O'Brien (Army), Michael Schwartz (Army), Stanley Sieron (Army) and Frederick (Tex) Sanders;

4)  A list of National Live Stock Exchange (1949) Commission Companies: Lee Brown & Son L. S. Commission Co., Gene Buechler L. S. Commission Co., Cassidy Commission Company, Caudle & Son Commission Co., Jim Cecil Commission Company, John Clay & Company, Creson Commission Company, Daniels Commission Company, Harry C. Daniels & Company, Fred Dunham L. S. Commission Company, Galloway Commission Company, W E (Bill) Gant Commission Co., Harrison Commission Company, Inc., Hensley.Co., Harrison Commission Company, Inc., Andrews Commission Co., The Hog Commission Company, Hulen-Jones-Yancey, W. S. Jenkins & Company, Wade Landrum's Sons, Leiner L. S. Commission Company, Marshall Bros. L. S. Commission Company, McClure Commission Company, McNeiley Bros. L. S. Commission Co., McPherson-Sutter L. S. Commission Co., Milton-Montgomery Commission Co., Moody Cornmission Company, Nalley-Brown L. S. Commission Co., National L. S. Commission Co., W. J. Penny Commission Company, Pool L. S. Commission Company, Rigney Commission Company, Rogers-Nichols L. S. Commission Co., John W. Sanders L. S. Commission Co., Sanford Commission Co., Harry P. Smith L. S. Commission Co., Stewart-Carson-White & Company, Inc., Underwood Commission Company, Wilson-Shields L. S. Commission Co., Woodson-Fennewald L. S. Commission Co., Wootten-Faddis-Dillinger Commission Co.;

 

ST. BENEDICT'S COLLEGE

In September 1940, a large contingent of East St. Louis young men invaded St. Benedict's College (now Benedictine College) in Atchison, Kansas. This group included my brother Jack and myself, Bob Tiernan Jr., Bob Dewolf, Gene Oulvey, Gene Menges, Ed Barman Jr. and several others that I can't remember.

In November 1940, on my way home from St. Benedict's for Thanksgiving, I saw Henry Ford and his wife in Union Station of Kansas City. They were in the Fred Harvey restaurant. Mr. Ford went over to the cashier and bought the Kansas City Star newspaper for three cents. He laid a nickel down and waited for his two cents change.

All the spectators were amazed as he only gave very nominal tips to the waitresses.

He was known to have given his children and other kin a check not to go to college as he didn't believe in formal education.

Bob Dewolf was my roommate for two years and I have many happy memories. Bob was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Dewolf of 622 N. 22nd Street. The Dewolf family consisted of a daughter (Thelma) and two other sons, Louis Jr. who was a city fireman in East St. Louis for many years and Harold, who was married to Bernice and worked at the National Stock Yards.

Bob and I returned to East St. Louis in the summer of 1942 and I started in the Army Reserve at St. Louis University Law School under an ~Cctilserated program. Dan (McGlynn) Ryan was in my class along with three others.

Bob and I tried to enlist in the Navy Air Corp in Kansas City and St. Louis. However, I was color blind and Bob had a problem with his ears and nose. In September, Bob was called up in the draft and went to Ft. Bragg and off to North Africa. He went through the North African campaign and on to the invasion of Sicily and Southern Italy. He was killed during one of the coast invasions and was awarded the Silver Star posthumously.

Bob Dewolf, Bob Joyce and I were very close friends and enjoyed all the school activities and dances from 1940 through 1944. Later, I was to lose Bob Joyce to emphezema in 1959 (he was only 39 years of age).

Other friends in those days were Kenny Coyne, Henry Beykirch, Eddie Miller, Gene Canavan, Frank Grogan, Bob Price, Pete Flaherty, Tom Heffernan, Tip O'Neill, Tom O'Donnell, Jerry O'Riley Travis Blasengame and others.

 

ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL & U.S. ARMY

I attended law school for three semesters (one year including summer school) when our reserve group was called to active duty.

I took basic training at Camp Barkely, Texas and went to England in 1944. 1 was in the Medics (7th Convalescent Hospital and went through England, Etampes (France) and to Cologne (Germany). When the European War ended in May 1945 and we got a two week furlough to Rome and and another to Marseille, France, when the Japanese surrendered.

Oh, What a Happy Day!!

 

DEGREE FROM ST. LOUIS U. SCHOOL OF COMMERCE AND FINANCE

I attended two years at St. Louis University Commerce & Finance School working on my B.S. degree. I didn't go back to Law School since I would have had to take it all over as I had been out of school for three years.

I received my degree in 1948 along with my bride, Mildred Laurel Hicks, from Maplewood, Mo. I saw her in a coffee shop on Grand Blvd. (across from College Church - St. Francis Xavier). She attracted me the first time I saw her, but I was shy, and had a mutual friend, Larry Hoff, introduce us, and the three of us went to lunch at the Piccadilly (Melbourne Hotel). It was love at first sight as I proposed to her on our first date - she thought I was crazy but it all worked out okay as June12, 1992, we celebrated our 44th anniversary.

I am getting ahead of my story. We went together for 17 months before getting married at College Church.

Our first apartment was at 734 N. 23 St., East St. Louis and one and a half years later we moved to another apartment at 1600 Belmont Avenue. I continued on in graduate school at St. Louis U. and I completed the required hours for my Master's Degree in Public Administration but I couldn't pass the French examination (I took it twice). It is no longer a requirement, but time has elapsed.

 

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HIS EXCELLENCY - MOST REVEREND

ALBERT R. ZUROWESTE

BISHOP OF BELLEVILLE

 

Bishop Zuroweste was born April 26,1901 and died March 28,1987.

He was reared in St. Joseph's Church and spent a great deal of his life there.

Ordained a Priest on June 8, 1924

Ordained a Bishop on January 29,1948

Retired on September 3,1976

He was an amazing man throughout his life which was long and eventful. He enjoyed good health.

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His mother was a sister of Frank Holten, and his two sisters married Thomas Prosser, DDS, (Lottie) and Larry Prosser, (Esther).

My parents, although a little older, were contemporaries and loved him dearly. He, Msgr. Tom Driscoll and my Dad were very close friends all of their lives.

Above is a picture (in 4th Degree full dress) of my brother Jack and myself (far right) when Rev. Zuroweste was installed Bishop in 1948.

 

STATE SAVINGS & LOAN ASSOCIATION

The State Savings & Loan Assn. published a 50 year history "Fifty Golden Years (1894-1944). It is a well documented history of East St. Louis along with the growth of the Association. (This booklet was lent to me by Ruth Horrigan, widow of Edward Horrigan, who was a city commissioner in the 1970's).

The work was very well done and traced the early history of old and new buildings, officials, schools, floods, cyc1ones, fires and other historic events. The 1944 City Council was composed of Mayor John T. Connors, Leo Dougherty, Albert Lauman, Joseph Ganschinietz and my father, John T. English, who was police comrnissioner.

Homes of Fraternal Lodges and social organizations iast St. Louis were shown: Ainad Temple, Scottish Temple, Knights of Columbus Club, Croatian Hall, Czech National Hall, Odd Fellow Building, Polish Hall and Ukrainian National Hall.

In May 1944, East St. Louis had a population of 76,000 with ten parks with 1,349 acres, 64 churches and 52 schools with 19,000 pupils.

 

VETERAN ORGANIZATIONS

The American Legion had a 50th Commemorative issue of their national magazine "Legion" in September, 1991 which had a detailed history of World War II.

Our East St. Louis American Legion has had an outstanding history (seen elsewhere in this edition).

The Veterans of Foreign Wars #805 was in East St. Louis from World War I - I joined it after World War II through Pat Cronin Jr. It eventually merged with the Post in O'Fallon, Ill. Several years ago I transferred my membership close to where I live in Missouri (Richmond Heights) Post 3500.

Also after World War II, I was a charter member and Post Commander of Amvets Post 121 which we located under Jimmy's Malt Shop at 31st and State Streets in East St Louis.

Other Charter Members and Officers of Amvets Post 121 were Jack Theiss, Bev and Seth Cherrington, Russ Maxwell, Paul Ruggeri, Ben Cooper (then State Auditor), Bill Stratton (then Governor of State of Illinois), Wayne Highsmith (while living in Mt. Vernon, IL) and Joe Knewitz.

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Joe Knewitz and his wife Lucille, were married in 1941 and recently had their 50th anniversary and their picture in the Belleville News Democrat. Joe and his 'brother "Babe" operated the "Mad House" tavern at 14th & Lake Avenue.

Joe and Lucille's son Dennis Jacknewitz is a CPA and is one of the foremost tax attorneys in the area. He is a wonderful outstanding man.

 

MARLENE DIETRICH AND GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA

In Etampes, France during World War 11, my outfit was the 7th Convalescent Hospital. I was in Special Services which dealt with our visiting celebrities. One, Marlene Dietrich, recently passed away in Paris where she spent most of her life. She was beautiful and talented. She kissed me on the cheek and said "If you were 10 years older or I was 10 years younger I could go for you." She did give me a kiss on the cheek and gave a beautiful show. Of course she sang "Lili Marlene" which was her trademark and theme song.

We also had the Glenn Miller band on a regular basis as they gave two shows daily in Paris which was 30 miles north of Etampes.

We developed some friendships with the band members and there was a mystery about Glenn Miller being lost over the English Channel on a trip from London back to Paris. There have been numerous "findings" of his plane but none ever productive during the past 50 years.

Recently, there has been another story about his being killed in Paris with an old musician friend who had gone A.W.O.L. and was smuggling supplies and was a real gangster. In a confrontation with the Military Police, Glenn was killed in a raid on an apartment house that the gang owned. To people who were living then and are familiar with the times, the places and the circumstances, this story is accepted as unfortunately true. They believe that the military in order to protect Miller issued the Channel story.

There is no question that Miller was visiting his friend and had nothing whatsoever to do with the gang. His music, his fife, his patriotism were exemplary and he was a wonderful person.

Other entertainers we had were Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, the Andrew Sisters and Victor Mature who turned up drunk and was a real dud.

 

POST WORLD WAR II

Ted Loman with the backing of Ed Andrews (Ultra Life Laboratories) opened the Bowlaway at 39th and State Streets. They did have some difficulty in getting a liquor license since the City Council put a limit of 200 licenses (at the time they had 235 licenses). It was absolutely necessary for a first class bowling alley to have at least a beer license. John Connors was mayor and excise commissioner at that time (1946) and he reluctantly granted Ted Loman a license. Ted is a great guy and is quite a golfer today, at 75 years. (Incidentally I tried to sell the Bowlaway in 1970. During my listing contract, it burnt down while Ted was out of town).

It seemed that everyone was enjoying our hometown again, but it was rather short lived. Our generation missed a period between high school and college. In 1946, it seemed like everyone wanted to get married and settle down.

Lou Boggemann wrote me a nice letter telling about East St. Louis after the War. He talked about the Estlian Tavern of Buddy Gates, and Aunt Mary's Parkway.

Lou Boggemann and his family were successful in the trucking business. He is still owner and president of Plaza Automotive on South 7th Street in St. Louis.

Ted Loman and I were good friends for many years and we shared friendship with another great guy, Fred Mersinger, C.P.A.

Fred and his wife Mercedes (Tribout) had one daughter, Patty, who was quite a tennis player like her mother and the rest of the Tribout family.

Do you remember the old "Orient Restaurant" on Sixth and Locust in downtown St. Louis? It was between our two downtown department stores (Famous Barr and Stix, Baer and Fuller). A column recently had several old recipes in the paper including Lemon Bread.

My old friend, Bob Bowe, recently passed away in Richmond, Virginia, where he lived over 40 years. He was married to Dorothy Piot and was one of the most accomplished baseball pitchers from East St. Louis. He came up through the Edgemont Blue Jays and spent a season or two with the St. Louis Browns. Bob was always with Tom Hennessy on his two trips home each year.

I received a post card from Marguerite Harding who lost her husband, Paul, recently. Paul Harding was a successful realtor for many years and just recently retired to O'Fallon. Marguerite said she and Paul grew up in the Lansdowne area. Both 86 years of age, they had been married 64 years. She is living with a daughter in O'Fallon, IL.

 

WAR NEWS

Several news services came out during World War II, namely, 20th Century Fox, Movietone News by Lowell Thomas and Gabriel Heater with his "There's Good News Tonight".

You knew they were exaggerating at times but it kept the American people up and optimistic. How different it would be today with our present media -They are all Downers!!

 

PROSTITUTION (THE VALLEY)

My father was appointed Police Commissioner in 1941 and he immediately started to close the notorious Valley, although it was not an easy matter to do because it had been in existence for over 100 years. My father had a dislike for prostitution and gangsters all his life but particularly in his term during World War II.

I have the original letter, which I am inserting here; and a copy of the original letter in the appendix from a Dorrin F. Rudnick, M.D., of 55 East Washington Street, Chicago 2, Illinois. The letter is dated March 14, 1947and directed to my father, Commissioner of Police, East St. Louis, IL. The letter was sent Air Mail, Special Delivery and my father prized it, as he should:

Click here to read a letter on "cleaning up" ESL's prostitution in the 1940s

 

GANGSTERS (HOODLUMS)

My father didn't know or tolerate gangsterism. He told me a number of times, "'if a public official condones them, they will end up owning you". I believe that this is true.

They did move into East St. Louis and the area when he went out of office in May, 1951. In the 1951 election Frank "Buster" Wortman had his 11 precinct committeeman in East St. Louis. He ordered these committeernan to beat John English. My father was defeated in this election.

He met Wortman for the first time in 1953, and then only on a casual basis and he was a private citizen.

The East St. Louis Journal was never known for telling the "WHOLE TRUTH".

 

Sources

On to Chapter Eight

 

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