My blog entry yesterday included a surprise sighting of the old International Shoe Company headquarters. Today my father responded with a great amount of recollection about St. Louis. Pop, now 73 years old, grew up in De Soto, in Jefferson County, one county south of here. He worked in St. Louis for a bit in the late 1950’s, and of course came into town regularly during his teenage and college years.
Here’s his recollection from an email today:
“Your getting re-acquainted with St. Louis is going to be fun for both of us!!!! I used to shop at that same hat Company–it had the same name, but was located closer to downtown on 11th or 12th and Washington. I bought one or two good hats–the style that was in then as well as some novelty hats for a collection that I had started then, which is now long since gone away. It was a good place to shop and fairly cheap back in ’57 when I was working at International Shoe.
“I dropped out of MU in the Spring of ’57 after I had met your Mom and when I received a notice to take my physical to be drafted into the Army. I passed the physical, but was able to enlist in the National Guard before my name came up on the draft lists for Jefferson County. So Pop Carter helped me get on at Int’l and I ended up working on the same floor as my Dad, but in the Juvenile Division. I was a clerk whose main tasks were to take huge orders for shoes from JC Penney and others and process them through the various childrens’ shoe factories that made those shoes. I broke the orders down into dozens of pairs of different sizes and then was also responsible for seeing that the particular factory had the shoe lasts there were needed to make the shoes. This entailed sending orders for transfers of lasts from one factory to
another in time for the shoes to be lasted.
“We did all of this with adding machines for the math, but without computers!!!! It was fun. I worked from June through December or early December-then served six months in the Army. Since it was a military assignment my job was frozen and I returned for the summer to work before re-entering Mizzou in the fall of ’58. Your Mom and I began dating in the spring semester of ’57, so we were back in school together in ’58. Sometime in there–June or July–I had bought your Mom’s rings and we were officially engaged to be married. We were married in Aug. of ’59. I enjoyed working at Int’l Shoe and they were good to me.
“During my lunch hours(45 minutes) I used to shop up and down Washington Ave–going down to Stix Baer and Fuller or another department store–Famour Barr. I shopped Levines and several speciality electric shops. I remember buying my first transistor radio–paid $85 for it, but I was one of the first in De Soto to have one–it was a bit large, but I loved it as it was the radio of the future then. I found serveral other shops, etc. up and down that street and several neat places to get something to eat. There used to be a good chocolate store somewhere along there, which both your Pop and I shopped in. There was also the Majestic Tie Store along there where Pop bought all his bow ties. I rode to work with Denny Doyen, a classmate. He worked at the Mo. Pacific Railroad main office and we parked his car over close to Union Station, near Keil Auditorium.
“So as you scout around there, you can wonder if your Dad checked out some of those places as well. Of course, it has changed quite a bit, but some of the structures will be the same. Hey, I also brought a neighbor girl from DeSoto up to St. Louis to go for an excursion on the Admiral–one of the evening dinner and dancing, etc. cruises. Bill Blase used to work down there somewhere not too far from 15th and Washington and we would meet for lunch on occasion or I’d go home with him for the night while we went to a Cardinal game or the zoo or the amusement park, the Highlands, which I doubt is there anymore. [It’s not.] It was out near the Blues Hockey Arena there fairly close to the Zoo area–close to Hampton Ave.
“Also one other bit of trivia–My Grandmother Carter died of a unoperable brain tumor in August of ’44 or ’45 in Barnes Hospital [just up the road from where I live-a massive hospital complex]. I had come up there several times with Mom and Dad to visit her in late June and July, before she passed away. I was 11, so it must have been ’45. We also used to meet Uncle Bob and Aunt Mac at the Highlands and go on all the rides. Uncle Bob and Pop Carter would take Jim and me on the high roller coaster and another ride called the flying turns that we loved very much.”
I love stories like this.