Chapter 8

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1947 Majestic

Chapter 8 (1951-1960)


In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower became President of the United States and he expanded President Truman's aid program (Marshall Plan) to nations around the world. In 1949 China became a Communist nation and in 1959, Castro set up a Communist government in Cuba, an island just 90 miles from Florida.

In 1957, the Soviets launched the first satellite into space. The U. S. then set up the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA). Also, we became involved in the Korean War with no apparent winner.

Our family was Democrat for many years as my father was a leader of St. Clair County Democrats. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Truman were his friends. However, after supporting Adlai Stevenson for Illinois Governor in 1948, my Dad and he had a disagreement and we all supported Eisenhower in 1952. Dad thought Adlai was an "Egghead."

Other than supporting Jack Kennedy in 1960, I have been Republican on national politics. The Democrats left me as they became progressively liberal during the past thirty years. I consider myself a conservative although I have always been strong for Alan Dixon. He reached the third highest position in the U.S. Senate and I fully expected him to be the Democratic nominee for President in 1992. I thought Dixon was right and courageous in crossing party lines to vote for Clarence Thomas for confirmation in October 1991 for Supreme Court Justice. Otherwise, the vote would have been a tie and Vice-President Quayle would have broken the tie and confirmed Thomas. At this time they are nominating Clinton and Gore in New York City. I will vote for George Bush and Dan Quayle as I give Bush credit along with Ronald Reagan for Russia going democratic. Most people have already forgotten that fact.



The 1950 decade was an eventful one for me both good and bad (my Father died in April 1957).

The happy events were the arrival of both of my children: Linda Marie and Edward Walter. They have been the highlights of my wife, Millie, and my lives.

Linda is married to Bob Booth and they now live in Jacksonville, Florida, with our three grandchildren: Robby (15) and twins, Laurel Elaine and Katherine Marie (11). Linda graduated from St. Joseph's Academy in St. Louis County, attended Rockhurst College in Kansas City for two years and came back home to graduate from Maryville College. My son-in-law is from St. Louis and is a computer engineer, getting his education at Washington University, St. Louis.

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My son, Ed, is married to Ellen (Williams) English and they live in Glendale, MO. He is a journeyman carpenter and graduated from Clayton High School. He attended junior college and finished the four year carpenter apprentice program. Ellen is a legal secretary for one of the largest law firms in Clayton.

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We have had a wonderful life together with our family. We would like to be closer to our grandchildren in distance but we are fortunate to be able to visit one another often.

My daughter-in-law, Ellen, is from Clayton and graduated from Visitation Academy. Her name is the same as my paternal grandmother's. I am truly happy with my family. God has been very good to me!

My sister and brother-in-law, Mary Dorothy and Louis Gedda have no children although they treat all our children as their own.

My brother, Jack, and sister-in-law, Norma Jean (Burnworth) had five children: twin sons (John, a Belleville attorney and Tom a physical therapist). They also had a little girl, Mary Jean, who is deceased. Then they had two more sons, Joseph who works in computers for the May Co. and Dennis who attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, married a local girl and stayed on in computers. He was first with Texas Instruments and now is with Digital Corp.

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My sister-in-law, Norma Jean, passed away in May, 1991.


Click  here to read about ESL landmark, Bush's Steak House 





I met Nell Hubbard for an interview at her apartment in Belleville. She is retired but you would never realize that if you tried to keep up with her. She still drives around Illinois trying to keep up with her children - She has Marty who is married to Dorothy Jane Manley), Tom, Walter and daughter Mary Ellen who is out of the country.

We call her "Mother Hubbard" and she really is always perky and very charming - very alert and a good conversationalist.

Nell - Good health and many more healthy years from an old friend.



"Dolly" Watts, as I knew her, was a good friend of Elmer Arnold. Dolly spent her early life in Chicago until her family moved down Rt. 66 near Troy, IL., which her mother's family (Jarvis) founded. She attended Webster, Franklin and Cannady Schools, swam at Jones Park, attended St. Clair Theater across from White Castle and Cars Cafe on St. Clair Avenue.

In 1957-1960, her parents operated "Watt's Hamburgers" next to State Theater at 25th & State Street. (Picture in appendix).

Marilyn had a nice write-up in the Belleville News Democrat on June 21,1992 as she is writing her deceased Dad's notes as a tribute (Fred Watts). The title is "Chicago: Just a Memory".

She also sent me a picture of the East St. Louis Booster Club (1913). 1 am going to try to reproduce it.


ELMER J. ARNOLD (1904 TO 1987)

Elmer Arnold was an attorney and branch manager for the St. Clair Guaranty and Title Co. (later to become Chicago Title Insurance Co.). The original telephone number was 2518.

After retirement from law and title work he became Vice-President of Magna Bank on 48th & West Main Street in Belleville. He held this position for 17 years after being with Chicago Title for 50 years.

He was a long-time Realtor in East St. Louis a remember in 1957, Pres. Bert Wuerz was installed by Elmer. That day Elmer was rewarded with a beautiful plaque at our restaurant "Bush's Steak House".


326 CLUB

The 326 Club was organized in 1940 by eight men meeting in Room 326 at the Broadview Hotel. The Club is still giving a surnmer and winter party each year for the businessmen of East St. Louis (wonderful gathering)



Seidel Apparel Company was founded in 1905 Donald and Ida Seidel, Marty's parents. They have had several locations and store openings over the past 87 years.

Their present location is 239 Collinsville Avenue and is being operated by Marty's widow, Minnette, who has always been an active participant in the business. She is a lovely lady and is carrying on since Marty passed away recently. I attended his funeral services in St. Louis (Rindscopf). The chapel was filled and included rnany familiar faces such as former Mayor Carl Officer and his Mother, Myrtle Officer, who is the matron of East St. Louis society and an outstanding lady.

The Seidel's have a son, Harold Seidel, who left the family business and is a shrewd investor in the stock market.

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I always refer to Marty Seidel as "Mr. Collinsville Avenue". He gave me many pictures and a write-up for my book: 1) Picture of Jo Strautz (1942), head of the Retail Clerks at Polio Luncheon. 2) Picture of Marty and Minette's 25th wedding anniversary (1949) at the Columbia Club in St. Louis. 3) Picture of Seidel's Grand Opening of 9/28/40. 4) Picture of Marty and Bill Shepard on boat during flood of Mississippi River (1947). 5) Aerial view picture of Seidel property and the general area of Collinsville and Missouri Avenue. 6) A newspaper article concerning his purchase of the Majestic Theater (1988) to make a retail mall and an article regarding his donating a whole block of downtown real estate for more parking for shoppers. He was the largest landowner in Downtown East St. Louis.

The Majestic Theater was built by Harry Redmon and Fred Leber in 1927 at a cost of $1,000,000 for an "Amusement Palace". Over 10,000 people attended opening night and Mayor Frank Doyle's daughter, Miss Mildred Doyle, was given the "Key to the Majestic".

Click here to see a photo of the Majestic Theater on its 20th Anniversary

The Seidel Apparel Company included several other apparel stores on Collinsville Avenue and most of their employees have worked there many years.

One of my favorite people, Mrs. Ruth Hattle, has always been nice and fiercely loyal to the Seidel Family as are the other employees.

Marty gave me a list of the Downtown Retailers Association in 1947 when it had 43 members and I am having it reproduced in the appendix of this book.

On September 24, 1990 Marty Seidel said of my Father; "John T. English was an Honorable Man - and the finest Police Commissioner with the best Police Department in the United States".

I consider Marty Seidel as a close friend and I will miss him very much.



NORMA (JEROME) FARROW, widow of my good friend Jimmy Farrow, who died recently visiting Belleville from Ft. Worth at our 49th Central Catholic High School reunion. The Farrow Brothers were Chester (Chick)) from Hunter Packing, Charlie (a baker in Florida), Roy a retired police dispatcher and tavern owner with wife, Jean; Robert who married a beautiful East St. Louis girl (Joan Helton) and lives in Chicago after retiring as a Vice President of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

BiLL KEALEY who was my accountant and formerly a County Auditor. We went through St. Louis U. School of Commerce and Finance after WW II and were good friends all of our lives.

BERNARD (BENNY) GRIESEDIECK is married to MARION MENGES and they have three daughters and reside on Commodore Drive in Belleville. Benny is a retired brewmaster who was with Stag Brewery.

THE MENGES FAMILY (BUD & ELSIE) are former owners of Haun & Menges Florist on Missouri Avenue and had a family of GENE MENGES, MARION, AND PATTI who is married to John Luscomb Jr. Gene is married to CAROL LEE (KANE) MENGES. Her father DR. C. C. KANE was Coroner of St. Clair County for many years.

There were not many people more thought of than Bud Menges and Dr. Kane.

Incidentally, do you remember "MISS SULLIVAN who worked so many years with Haun & Menges? She comes into my brother Jack's with ADELE HARRINGTON, NANCY AND IZZY SCHMIDT (BILL AND ADELE HARRINGTON'S daughter and son-in-law). Izzy came from Hays, Kansas, in 1952 and met Nancy at Johnny Perkins Playdium. The Harrington's have a son Robert, who owns a small hotel in the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas).

DR. HENRY HURD's widow is 92 and still lives in Belleville. She and Dr. Hurd Jr. still own an island in the Virgin Islands.

Edith Lieb of Fairfield Bay, Arkansas wrote to tell me that East St. Louis will be on a Donahue program. (Probably meaning Mayor Carl Officer's appearance last year).

Don Gergen of Granite City wrote that his father, Gene Gergen, was President of B.A. Music Union #717 back from 1944 to 1948. Don worked at Amax and suggested that I get a copy of "The Other Side of the Arch". I haven't been able to locate it.

THEOLA (PUBRAT) GUETTERMAN wrote from Atchison, Kansas, that she wished me well on my book and will forward some old news.

JANE (GOETZMAN) CROWE wrote from Plano, Tex about the good times, good friendships and the clean fun' we had as teenagers and young adults. (We dated in high school and she has always been a nice lady).

ROY AND IRENE LOVE lived fifty years in Granite City before moving to the Lake of the Ozarks in 1976. She remembers Stop Lite Restaurant, Elliotts, Collinsville Ball Room, Kruta Bakery, Majestic Theater, Ho-Made hot tamales and do-nuts and Sears at 10th and State Streets. She said "I guess we weren't born too late".

BETTY (WIRE) DOUGHERTY called me in Clayton, where she lives, and told me her husband DICK DOUGHERTY died several years ago. (Her father P.H. WIRE. was in his nineties and living on the West Coast. He was publisher of the East St. Louis Journal and has since passed on). She promised to send me some pictures and articles of East St. Louis.

MRS. ARTHUR ELTRICH of Hemet, CA. wrote that she is living with a daughter, Georgia Sigurdson. Her mother was a grand-daughter of Pioneer Casper of East St. Louis. She lived in the northern part of the city "Polo Park" (probably Jones Park) and they always had a ball game on Sundays.

MRS. PATTI BAUR of St. Louis wrote that she graduated from, East Side in 1937, and the city had great schools and Dr. Campbell was President of the School Board. A teacher took the class to the American Theater on a bus and everyone was perfectly safe. Her family were railroaders (Penn RR) and she has relatives in Fairview Heights, IL (Ruth Sympson Luscomb).

MRS. NELLIE ASHLON of Colfax, IL. wants a copy of this book and she just returned from her 50th year high school reunion last year. She was "born and raised in East St. Louis and had a great life there.

MRS. FRANCES M. SPRICK, Green Valley, Arizona, wrote that she was coming for their 50th East Side reunion soon and she only remembers the many good things of East St. Louis and its people - Very Safe!

CLARENCE AND DORIS PAYNE of Highland, IL remembers wonderful aroma coming from Sandefur Bakery and walking to the Gaty Theater perfectly safe. Bud is retired Mayor of Highland and CEO of Basler Electric. Doris is a first cousin of mine.

LORETTA SANFORD wrote for me to get the Illini Federal Memorial Book, which I have used. Thanks Loretta.

KAY (BUCKSAT) DEERING of Chesterfield, MO lived on Vogel Place and is a good friend of my cousin, Rosemarie English. She is interested in my book.

MRS. RAY BAKO of Belleville, lived on 76th Street in East St. Louis and moved to a Belleville mobile home when her three girls were ready for high school. She said that "I would like to see East St. Louis change and be like it used to be".

JIM TIPPETT of Belleville sent a card about his company (Rose's Lime juice). He said he would be glad to help on my book and has always been proud to call East St. Louis his hometown.

FRED RADMAN of Creve Coeur, MO had a men's store at #14 Collinsville Avenue until he retired a number of years ago. His store was also at 109 Collinsville Avenue and he still owns some real estate in East St. Louis.

DOROTHY P. BEACH, niece of HENRY ROHM who had a drug store at 13th Street and St. Louis Avenue, where we used to get the best malts and ice cream sodas in town wrote to me about Henry Rohm. He was at that location for fifty years. He had a son Ronald Rohm who was a brilliant engineer.

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DAN SUSSMAN sent me several pictures of the old Guyton Drug Store at 40th Street and Waverly Avenue which Dan bought in later years. He also sent me a picture of the flood of 1942 at this location. He now has a drug store in the old Shopland Center at 70th and West Main Streets, Belleville called the Medicine Shoppe.

DOROTHY (PARKER) YETTKE of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, writes about Parkway, Inn, Majestic Theater, Crystal Candy Kitchen, dances at the K.C. Hall, "with no fears of going or coming home". "It was a fun place to grow up and as kids there was always a lot for us to do".

REID AND DOROTHY BRASWELL of Beaufort, MO, wrote that she graduated from East St. Louis High School in 1930 and sent an article "Collinsville Avenue in 1862" from the East St. Louis Press (1873). (See Appendix). She was a granddaughter of Henry Mannle. She writes about "Collinsville Avenue at Christmas time, tree-lined streets, friendly neighbors. good honest people that worked at all the industry that the city thrived on. It was a very busy industrial city with plenty of work".




On to Chapter Nine


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