Chapter 9 (The 1960's)
In 1960 John F. Kennedy became president and in 1961 he started the Peace Corps. This organization sent thousands of volunteers to countries in need of help. In the early 1960's Vietnam was getting nowhere with their war between the North and the South. The Soviets were helping the North and we became more involved helping the South. President Eisenhower had sent aid and advisers. President Kennedy sent more help and U.S. troops. By 1964, when Lyndon Johnson was president he sent even more American troops to Vietnam. By the late 1960's, President Richard Nixon sent more American troops. Americans were divided over the conflict. After nearly ten years of fighting the war in Vietnam was no closer to ending than it had been in the 1960's. So the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam. By 1973, American soldiers were back home. Two years later the North Vietnamese took over the South and reunited the country.
EAST ST. LOUIS CENTENNIAL
East St. Louis was celebrating its Centennial (1861-1961) in 1961. A big celebration was planned and held at its Headquarters, 240 Collinsville Avenue.
Robert Hackmann and Mel Stonecipher were co-chairmen for the Centennial. Steering committee members were: Oliver Breidecker, William Hitchcock, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thomas P. Driscoll, Harold Baker Jr., Rev. W. P. Alexander, Glen "Art" Shepard, Rev. Arthur B. Smith, Thomas Warwick, Elmer Willrich, James Reed, Mrs. Robin Berry, Robert Brock, Russ Maxwell, Jack Theiss, Mary Keeley, David J. Johnston, Herman Spritz, Bill Kealey and Police Chief George Dowling.
Centennial Queen contestants were: Miss Diane Sagovac (Queen), Mrs. Betty Dorway, Lilian Randolph, Mrs. Edith (Roberts) Anderson, Mrs. Pat Douglas, Mrs. Theresa (O'Brien) Gray, and Miss Jerry Murray.
The program included a play "By These Waters" given at Fairmount Race Track. Noel Spannagel and Mrs. Scotia Calhoun were co-chairpersons. Staff members were: Mary Louise Gromacki, Estelle Matlach, Marjorie Burton, Dorothy Burton, Randy Burton and Dorothy Spannagel.
The play was well received and acclaimed by everyone in this general area.
There were approximately 100 sponsors of this program. They included: Hill Brick Co., Hauss Chevrolet, Bank of Edgemont, Illinois Electric Works, Sieron-Fauss, Jim Davis Furniture, Hill-Thomas, Lowry Electric, Merz Pastry Shop, Brodhead Motors, Call Printing, Adams Motors, Bundy Oldsmobile, Schmitz Printing, E. B. Jones Motor Co., Stop Lite Restaurant, Augustine's Restaurant, lst National Bank, Union National Bank, National Bottling Co., Kurrus Funeral Home, Congressman Mel Price, Kassly Funeral Home, U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen, Burke Funeral Home, Keeley Bros. Contracting, Atlas Building Materials, MontgomeryWard, Lady of Snows, Bucknell's Inc., W. J. Crotty Florist, E. St. Louis Savings & Loan Assn., Esther's Flowers, Taystee Bread Co., Friday Floral, Carr Nursing Home, Haun & Menges, Caseyville Bus Co., Paul E. Mirring, Sutherland Lumber, Pfeifer's Flowerland, Carmody Pontiac, East Side Cadillac, Dan Blackburn Motors, Lewin-Mathes Co, Miller Motors, Midwest Rubber, V. H. Flannery Materials, P. Flannery & Sons, Parks Air College, Oliver L. Parks, Klauss Coffee, Spaghetti House, DeMond Sign Co., Ryan's Midway Tavern, Ralph Levy Painters, Pearl Ryan's Tavern, Checker Cab Co., Shower's Tavern, Arney's Hardware, Claire's Tavern, W. T. Grant's, Gaghen's Tavern, Rotary Club, Jeannie's Question Mark, E. St. L. Wednesday Club, Easton's Tavern, Geiger Printing Co., Devoli's Edgemont Inn, Central Sewing Supply, Czeck National Hall, B & P Office Supply, Scoville's Tavern, Circle Packing Co., Arrow Co., Dixie Mills, Aitken's Mkt., E. St. Louis Stone, Peerless Furniture, Ferd Ganschinietz, Franklin Union Furniture, David Johnston Engineers, Harry Liberstein, Alton & Southern R.R., Ennelee Bread, National Auto Supply, Cardinal Construction, Lurie's Home Supply, Maclair Asphalt, W.I.B.V. Radio, Alpha Asphalt, SearsRoebuck, Jack English Bar & Restaurant, Retail Druggist Assn., Ed English Realty, Joe Foster Agency, Carpenter's Market.
On January 1, 1961, 1 took my wife and two children to see the Orange Bowl game in Miami, Florida. The contest was between the Naval Academy (Navy) and Missouri University. I was fortunate enough to get our four tickets from Missouri University due to our attending games for many years at Columbia. Navy was the big favorite with their Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino.
President-elect Kennedy showed up unexpectedly at the game and of course sat on the Navy side of the field.
We, of course, were for Missouri U. which won the game in a blowout as Bellino was bottled-up most of the afternoon.
I voted for JFK because I thought that he was the best man in 1960. However, I did not like either Bobby or Teddy Kennedy. Bobby's assassination was terrible on top of his brother Jack's tragic murder. Bob was shrewd and was largely responsible for Jack winning the 1960 election.
Note: There has always been a lot of speculation about Mayor Daley throwing Illinois to JFK, but it would have still required Ohio and another state; but let's leave it there.
In January 1961, Presley Tours put on an Inauguration Special from the Relay Depot in East St. Louis to Washington, D.C. The cost was $100. 1 thought that it was too much of a bargain to miss, so I went.
We had about 300 people from the Relay Depot in East St. Louis and we rode on some old coaches and a mail car which was converted into a barroom for the three-day trip. They served us box lunches on the train and furnished a third-rate hotel for one night in Washington, including four meals at the hotel.
The three day tour was cheap but adequate and we did enjoy the inauguration and snow in Washington. Circuit Judge, Bill Fleming and Al Glueck, who was my business partner at that time, were my cronies for the tour. We walked inside the ropes during the parade (as nobody knew who anybody was).
After the luncheon at the Capitol we walked around the rear of the Capitol Building and saw a large black Cadillac and would you believe who came out of a small door but Jack and Jackie. The security was very loose during our days there.
There was a story that 4,000 city detectives from all over the country were there including 200 from the St. Louis Police Department. Anyway, we had a wonderful time and the price was right, although $100. in 1961 was a lot of money.
Bill Fleming has been a friend of mine for many years (as a matter of fact he and his wife, Claire, bought my house at 32 Oak Knoll in Belleville in 1965).
The directory covered the eight major iron factories, the various cattle dealers in the National Stock Yards and the "Viaduct" which was built over the dangerous railroad tracks crossing Broadway. It adjoined our old Bush's Steak House at 100 West Broadway where we were located at the beginning of "Bloody Island". Later in the 1930's they tore down the viaduct and built a subway under the railroad tracks. It used to flood during heavy rains. Bush's was in the middle of the second largest railroad center in the world, and just South of the National Stock Yards.
This Directory belonged to Bill's grandfather, James H. Donahue, which was another old East St. Louis family.
JOSEPH H. GOLDENHERSH
I had a nice interview with retired Chief justice, Joseph H. Goldenhersh, at his apartment on Claymont Court in Belleville on August 3, 1990. His wife, Maxine Zelenke, was from Chicago and both were wonderful people to talk to.
Joe is now deceased and was a retired Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.
In 1970 he was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court where he served seventeen years (1987) until he retired because of Parkinson's disease. He. served three years, from 1979 to 1981, as Chief justice of the Supreme Court.
He and Maxine had two sons and both are lawyers. Richard is an Appellate Judge and Jerold practices law in my office building (Real Estate) at 9700 West Main Street, Belleville.
Maxine studied Art at Illinois U. and the Art Institute of Chicago and is still painting and drawing in her own studio.
They are an outstanding family and East St. Louis can be very proud of them.
Joe said "I have very pleasant memories of East St. Louis because it was good to my parents and certainly good to me and my family".
Many stories have been read and written about Mel Price who passed away on April 23, 1988. But, I have a story that no one but Mel, his son Bill the doctor, and I knew. As a matter of fact, Bill asked me to put it down on paper so he could include it among his papers and memorials.
In 1942, my father supported Harry Odum, the Sheriff from Madison County, for Congress to oppose Cal Johnson, the incumbent Republican. Mel asked my father, who was the Democratic leader of St. Clair County to support him. But, my father told Mel that he had already pledged his support to Harry Odum. In the primary election Odurn beat Mel Price and then lost in the general election to Cal Johnson, who was the incumbent Republican.
In 1944 Mel was in the Army but my Dad had called Mel and told him that he and the Democratic organization of St. Clair County were supporting him (Mel Price).
Of course, the rest is history as Mel won and was reelected for 22 terms. Dad and Mel were friends all those years. During the summer of 1945, Mel while on a Congressional Tour of the European Theater took my APO number and had a jeep and a driver assigned to me in Cologne, Germany, to take me to Weisbaden, Germany, to meet their Congressional party. The European war was over and I met them at their Hotel in Weisbaden. Mel informed me that I was going to dinner with the Congressional group and a few high ranking officials such as General Devers and General "Hap" Arnold. The only grade below a General was a Lt. Col. who was the medical officer for the congressional group from Washington, D.C.
My rank was a Corporal which was Mel's rank when he was elected the year before (1944). 1 was really embarrassed but Mel made it worse during dinner and the cocktail party by continually interrupting the high brass and asking me for my opinion of the German War, such as our crossing the Rhine, our bomb damage and etc. I, of course, agreed with the "Brass" by saying what a beautiful job our military leaders did. It is funny now but wasn't funny at that time. Mel didn't lack any humor in that period.
I was always a close friend of Mel's brother, Harold Price, who was with Meadow Gold. Harold died just after Mel in 1990.
Mel's son, Bill, is an orthopedic surgeon practicing in Belleville and he and his wife Joan are a lovely couple, I must set up a meeting with them soon to exchange stories. Bill was quite interested in learning more about our experiences in Wiesbaden, Germany.
I also want to say a word about Bill's mother, Garry. We met her several times in Washington and also in Belleville, and she was a nice person with a keen interest in Mel's career and the government. She was a great asset for Mel and a beautiful person. She died shortly after Mel.
SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, FRANCE
In October 1945, our 7th Convalescent Hospital was awaiting shipment back to the good old U.S.A. We were given a four day furlough from Marseilles, France to Lourdes, France which was up in the Pyrenees Mountains on the border between France and Spain.
Bernadette was a French peasant girl who claimed to see the Virgin Mary in apparitions at a grotto near Lourdes, her home in 1858. She was born Marie Bernarde Soubirous. After years of unpleasantness at the hands of the curious, she was allowed to enter the Convent of Notre Dame de Nevers. There Bernadette, her health steadily worsening, spent her last days. She was canonized in 1933. (Feast day was proclaimed on April 16th).
I just watched a TV program CBSs "48 Hours" (7/ 22/92) and it specialized on Lourdes. To date there have been many cures but only sixty-five actual miracles attested by the Catholic Church and civilian medical authorities.
We went for a few days of fun and relaxation but we were amazed how religious the town was. It was almost like going to a "wake" here in the U.S.A. The atmosphere made a deep impression on the five members from our Hospital Unit. There were two "cures" attested to while we were there. Even though the war had just ended, there were several thousand people there. They had come by railroads, trucks, cars, bicycles and yes, some were walking the mountains.
I sent a large wine" bottle of the Holy Water to my Mother and she hoarded it the rest of her life (40 years), giving a little here and a little there and several "near miracles" occurred including my nephew, John English, whose stomach closed the first month of his life and he almost died from an intestinal blockage which over thirty babies got in the hospital.
Later we got two weeks in Rome where we had a 300 person audition with Pope Pius XII.
AT BROTHER JACKS
I ran into my cousin, Ed Maher Jr. and his wife, Dorothy Sullivan, at my brother Jack's last week. She is a niece of J. C. "Jit" Nichols and is the mother of five. Eddie was a big wig of the Alton & Southern R.R. They lived on Wabasha Ave.,and in Lansdowne, then on Gatewood Ave. in Belleville, moved to Webster Groves, MO. and are now in the Oak Hills Apartments in Belleville.
I met Eddie in London during WWII and we hired a taxi to see the downtown sites.
His sister, Helen (Maher) Lucido was later married to Corwin Beckette who was a great guy. Helen was my Dad's first secretary in City Hall for a couple of years until my sister, Mary Dorothy Gedda, took over after leaving her job with Illinois Social Services I recently saw Larry Dunne and his wife in my brother Jack's. Larry was a long-time business agent in East St. Louis and well liked by everyone.
Also saw and talked to Joe Hubbard who now lives in Belleville after doing many years of charity work in East St. Louis. (no relation to the Nell Hubbard family). Joe worked many years with the St. Vincent De Paul Society at 8th Street and Broadway and is now with the Catholic Urban Program. Many people, including me, think that Joe has his way cleared to Heaven.
Oliver Lafayette Parks and his brother founded Parks Air Field and Parks College. He gave the College to St. Louis University and built many homes in Cahokia, Illinois after WWII along with Lloyd Adams, Ted Lazercheff and Hubert Kutz on the old Sparks Farm. Later be worked with many Catholic Charities until he passed away. He was my neighbor and friend in Clayton, MO. We did several large real estate deals together and I always found him to be beyond reproach.
He developed the "Stearman" at the start of WWII which was the first training plane used to teach naval aviation cadets. After WWII he along with Father John Walsh, A/K/A the Flying Priest, developed and sold the "Eracoup" which was supposed to be crash-proof.
Two well known Judges come to mind, Dick Carter (Democrat) and Quinten Spivey (Republican). Dick retired in Belleville with his daughter Mary after a long judicial record in Belleville and several years as an appellate judge in Pasadena, California.
Bill has had quite a long and successful business life. He Is now 78 years old and the owner of the Newbold Toyota Co. on North Belt West in Belleville, IL.
His son, Bill Newbold Jr. is an attorney in Clayton, MO, with Coburn and Croft.
W. A. (RED) MCCAWLEY
Red McCawley has spent 48 years with the Fraternal Order of Eagles in East St. Louis and now in Swansea, IL. Red recently, at age 77, has been selected to the prestigious Eagles National Hall of Fame. He is only the third person in Illinois to receive the honor. He is in the company of former Senator Everett Dirksen and Dr. T. V. Watson Bloomington.
Five former U.S. Presidents have received this honor; Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy.
Red retired as an iron worker for Ben Hur Construction Co. in 1977. He began working for the company the same year he joined the Eagles.
SAM AND GOLDIE (CRYSTAL) SPIRTAS
Speaking of the iron business, I see Sam and Goldie at Brother Jack's often for lunch. They are retired from Spirtas Iron Works and live on Claymont Court in Belleville.
KURRUS FUNERAL HOME
Charles G. Kurrus III gave me pictures of the old Kurrus Funeral Home at 26th & State Street in East St. Louis and information about the family.
Charles G. Kurrus Jr. married Mable Knauer and they recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. They had four children: Jane Haynes of Worthinton, Ohio; Suzanne Smithof Freeport, Illinois; Charles G. III of Belleville; and Dr. Thomas Kurrus of Salt Lake City, Utah. They have 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Several years ago, they sold the old home on State Street and moved the funeral home to Belleville (57th St.).
TWO DOCTOR FRIENDS
Dr. Knewitz; and I went out together quite a bit., He loved to eat prime rib and I mean "he ate the whole thing". He passed away several years ago.
Dr. Francis Bihss was a successful radiologist and has just recently retired. He married Margaret Delmore who is quite famous for her puppet shows.
Frank, my Dad and brother Jack, John Soucy M.D., and I went on a fishing trip in Northern Wisconsin in 1951 and we all gained about ten pounds in a week. The resort "Monty's" was excellent and had a French pastry chef who was out of this world. This trip was 4l years ago but I still remember the trip vividly. We met a "Colonel Fehr" from Louisville, Kentucky. He owned a brewery (Fehr's) and was an end on the Notre Dame football team. He was a hero of the Chicago Theater fire saving fourteen persons. He was quite an interesting fellow and I still remember many of his exploits.
CRONIN AND BARICEVIC FAMILIES
The Pat Cronin Sr. family consisted of Pat Sr. and Ethel. Their children were John; Jim, Florence (Cronin) Baricevic, Pat Jr. and Betty (Cro Win) Martz.
They lived on Columbia Place back in the 30's and 40's. Pat Sr. worked as superintendent of American Steel and was President of the Park District with Pat Griffin for years.
John Baricevic who went from States Attorney to County Board Chairman sent me a nice note with some addresses of the family. His parents were Chester and Florence (Cronin) Baricevic. "Chess" was an auditor and Alderman of Fairview Heights in its early years and he died suddenly at an early age.
Recently (11/10/91) the Belleville News Democrat had a large picture on their Sunday Magazine Section of John Baricevic and his sister (Sister John Baricevic) given name, Mary Beth, who teaches at Mater Dei High School in Breese, Illinois. They also have a brother, Dennis Baricevic. Board Chairman John recalls that Sister John was the best baseball player of the three of them because she was the toughest.
MIKE KEELEY (KEELEY BROS.)
Keeley Bros. has prospered many years under Mike Sr., his brother Martin, his wife Mary (Pidgeon) Keeley and Mike Jr.
They were successful contractors and very active in the Hiberians with Mike Sr. and Mary serving as presidents of the Illinois Chapters.
Mike Jr. married Adam Becherer's daughter who came from the Becherer "Four Corners Fame" in Fairview Heights. They are all wonderful people.
EMMETT "PAT" GRIFFIN
Pat Griffin was Superintendent of the East St. Louis Park District. He and my Dad were friends all of their lives. He and Ed Cunningham were the leaders of the real old Irish people of East St. Louis. He married Mildred Nester of the Obear-Nester Glass House and had a nice family that lived on Vogel Place for many years. He had a sister, Anita Hennessy, who was a busy and active Churchwoman. Her son Tom Hennessy was an electrician. He operated the A-Age Electric Co. until selling his business in recent years. Tom and I have been good friends since we were young kids together.
LEO J. DOUGHERTY
Leo Dougherty lived on 33rd Street and was one of my Dad's closest friends (both personal and political).
They were, in my opinion, quite different personalities; Leo was tougher and more aggressive than my Dad who was more the "Gentleman Politician". However, they made a good combination and were very successful together. A good example of this was in the late 1930's. Dad was Street Commissioner and Leo was Superintendent of Streets. They paved more streets and cleaned up more alleys during the Depression. They made many friends together and would work separately so that they could make as many friends as possible. In 1939 Leo was elected Street Commissioner and Dad became Finance Commissioner and in 1941 Dad became Police Commissioner. The street work was vitally needed as well as the jobs they provided during the Depression.
JOHN D. (JACK) RYAN
Jack Ryan was a four star athlete at Central Catholic High School during the late 1930's. He and my brother Jack were in the same class and married girls from St. Elizabeth's. Jack married Mary Catherine Kickham and my brother Jack married Norma jean Burnworth. Both of them joined the Naval Air Corps and were together most of WWII.
Jack Ryan was discharged from the Navy and joined National Cash Register (NCR) for twenty eight years. Then a customer, Ted Wetterau of the Wetterau grocery chain hired him as Executive Vice-President where he spent approximately ten years until his retirement. I have always admired Jack Ryan as one of the most successful young men of East St. Louis in business. He was truly a self-made businessman.
Carl Totsch is another fine example of "from office boy to President" of Midwest Rubber Reclaiming.
Carl was a star half-back with Central Catholic High and St. Louis University football teams along with John., Nunn, the quarterback. He went back to Midwest Rubber after the War and rose to become President of the company.
Carl passed away several years ago.
Stan was a Lt. Col. on the East St. Louis Police Department and passed away in May of 1991. He was an outstanding policeman and worked there 37 years.
DOROTHY AND IRWIN YARE
I received a nice note from Dorothy Yare from O'Fallon, IL. She and her late husband Irwin published the St. Clair County Record and the O'Fallon Progress. They were exceptionally nice people and you enjoyed calling them "Friends".
TERRY AND CLAIRE BLUM
Jerry and Claire Blum were "old time" East St. Louisans out on State Street. Jerry has been an official at Fairmount Race Track and he and Claire are regulars at Brother Jack's. Bill Mertz and his wife were usually in their company. Jerry had a poem from Ellis Veech which I couldn't make out.
TWENTIETH AND CLEVELAND GROUP
Our old neighborhood has been having summer outings for quite a few years. They were organized through the efforts of Jim and Betty Pearson, George Sankus, George Voellinger, and Bernie Soffer at the Moose Park in Belleville. Last year attending was a large group of the Sankus Family, the Voellingers, Tom O'Brien and Francis Archer, the baker from Sandefur's Bakery. Topics of conversation were Mrs. Orr's Confectionery and her son, Russell Orr, and Max and Lena Soffer's Grocery Store, where Jim Pearson Sr. was the butcher and Al and Dorothy (Kolb) Pearson. Art Stankey was missing.
Click here to read about East St. Louis R.O.M.E.O.S.
Rube is former Editor of the Metro-East journal and until this year published six outer county papers besides starting a motorcoach tour business throughout the southeastern section of the U.S.A., with an office in Louisville, KY. (He will also publish my book).
Rube conducted six classes for former East St. Louisans in discussion groups for Belleville Area College senior program in Caseyville Township. Each week there were 25 to 30 persons (I attended all six classes) and there were 25 to 30 persons (I attended all six classes) and there were many in repeat attendance, namely: Donna Anderson, Audrey Dietrich, Celestina Halpin, Marge Hogan, Dorothy Howell, Logan Hutchcroft, John La Busier, Dorothy Longust, Sandra Millatti, Doris Neff, Russell Rigden, Robert L. Sanders, Richard J. Sullivan, jean Thompson, Charles C. Oliver, Anne Gregory, Mrs. Mabel S. Jones, Marg C. Russell, Calvin Soul, Catherine M. O'Donnell, Olga Miller, Hazel Sarchett, Dorothy Lowell, Barbara Awalt, Ruth Schaefer Kirgan, Therza Hann, Charles Keeney, Betty Leahy, Viola Struther, Frances Wilson, Evelyn Yankey, and Virginia Wilson.
Click here to see photos from the classes described above