Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Club 15

This painting by Morris Collins hangs in the basement of the Johnson County Historical Society.

Beside it is the history of Club 15:

"It was the only black club in town, one that inspired the Nace Brothers to write a song about it and name an album after it.

The club was named for its 15 original members," said Spencer Taylor of Warrensburg.  Starting in about 1970, Taylor was one of those 15.  "Most of the members are gone now," he said.  "The owner Verlon Ewing, is gone." Taylor said Ewing had peppermint sticks and bubblegum for about 2 cents, 25-cent hot dogs, soda pop, barbeque and 3.2 percent beer.

Club 15 was located on the corner of Marshal and Warren streets in Warrensburg.  The building is gone, but David Nace remembers the times he used to walk past the old barbecue and social club on his way to Reece Elementary School when he was eight or nine years old.

"In the day, when all the kids walked past, he was always kind to the kids," David said. "He had candy and he would let us have a charge accout up to 25 cents."

When the members got together, Club 15 changed from a candy and barbecue store into a nonprofit organization. "We paid dues and we had a charter. We held parties and had dances."

In the spring, they boarded a bus and went to St. Louis to see the Cardinals play baseball.  They went Omaha, Nebraska to watch the horse races and they went to Springfield to visit Silver Dollar City. 
"We just went everywhere," Taylor said.

They also went to various churches around town to donate some of the proceeds they made from dances.  The club was too small for the dances, so they would rent the armory on Gay Street or other places in town.
Then the membership bagan to dwindle and the club ended up closing in about 1985.

Herb Nelson joined Club 15 in the 1980s after his father, Mack Nelson.

"It was a pretty good club," Nelson said.

He remembers helping churches, giving scholarships to students, and especially the bus trips.  The club put on chili suppers and hosted New Year's Eve parties, Nelson said.

"We had a jukebox and some guy would come in and put in new music all the time." he said.

Club 15

i woke up this morning from across the track
one arm out the window and a pain in my back
and that old train whistle
was a lonely sound
and when I opened my eyes, my head started to pound.
Now everybody wants to see
what's the big mystery.
You know what I mean. I'm talking about the Club 15

It's just a broken down shack
on the poor side of town.
Nobody knows what they are putting down.
i used to see 'em on the back porch
having a time
playing low down blues and drinking moonshine.
Now everybody wants to see
what's the big mystery.
You know what I mean now. That's the Club 15

mama said,
"Don't go around that place any more
to high a price- to pay."
That's what the old man will say
He said every day,
"Hey, hey, hey, hey."

I was feeling cray and brave
late last night.
I went up to the back door
take a look in side
when an old black man said, "Boy, drink from my cup."
i Imade it back out to my car
and that's when I woke up.
Now everybody wants to see
what's the big mystery.
You know what I mean, inside the Club 15


Monday, January 9, 2017

Rundle Rexall Drug

Martha Baile's best memory of Rundle's Drug Store is of sitting at the counter sipping pineapple soda. Buddy Baker remembers when it was called Rundle and Ream and didn't have a counter to sit at and drink soda.
Rundle's evolved over time.  It started out at the turn of the 20th century when "Rags" Ream... Well here's his story.

He was a partner with John E. Clark who soon died. About the same time (1903), George O. Rundle came to Warrensburg and purchased the interest of the late Mr. Clark.  Thus began the partnership of Rundle and Ream.  They were still in business together in 1927.  Here's their entry in the phone book for that year.

George O. Rundle, died May 8, 1938 and left his half of the drug store to his son Oliver.  Here's part of George Rundle's obituary:

The many friends of Mr. Rundle were shocked to learn of his death as few could realize the seriousness of his illness.  Mr. Rundle had friends among all classes, business associates, customers, scores of small children and others who appreciated his evident sincerity.  Particularly was he liked by sportsmenas many of his spare moments were spent in the out of doors.  In spring and summer fishing and in the winter hunting.  He was a lover of nature in all its forms and took great pride in Mrs. Rundle's flowers.
Born in Colchester, Ill., he was a son of William and Emma Wakefield Rundle, both of whom were born in England.  He entered Hyde Park College in Des Moines, where he graduated in pharmacy. He married Lillian Davis of Manitou in 1909 and they were parents of two children, Oliver, now of Windsor and Elsie who died a few years ago.
Mr. Rundle had a large and varied collection of arrow heads which he had collected upon his fishing excursions.  Recently he devoted his spare moments to wood carving and had made three figures which were expecially noteworthy.  One, characteristically is a fisherman carrying his basket of fish and his pole and line.
As a measure of respect, the retail committee of the Chamber of Commerce has asked all drug stores to close between 2:15 and 3 o'clock Tuesday afternoon.

George's son Oliver continued the partnership with Mr. Ream until 1942 when he bought out the older man's interest.
I think the picture below is of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Rundle.

For the next few years the business was known simply as Rundle's Drug Store.  
Then it became Rundle Rexall Drug. Here's the 1959 phone book.

Then it closed in 1960.  Here's some more pictures of the store developed from negatives found in the Simmon's Studio collection donated by Ben Pierce.

If you have any memories of Rundle Drug Store, please share them in the comments below so they can become part of the history of this long-time Warrensburg business.

Friday, December 16, 2016

He Hung Himself and She Burned to Death

A few weeks ago Bruce Uhler asked me to do some research on the Cheatham House.  This one at 414 South Holden.
Image may contain: house, plant, tree and outdoor
It's the house that UCM just bought.

I couldn't find anything about the house but Bruce did.  Here's a link he found to a Facebook page with some amazing photographs and stories about the home.


What I found in my research was that the above home wasn't the only Cheatham house in town.  There was once this one at 204 Grover.

Here's a really interesting story about the old house.

In case you can't (or don't want to) read the tiny print in this article, here's part of it:   
"There has been a great deal of happiness, sorrow and tragedy in the house.  The first owner known to me was a Mr. Howard.  He hung himself from the stairwell.  Some years later as Mrs. Howard and her children, John and Mable, were getting ready for bed, she pulled the hanging oil lamp down to extinguish it - it fell and set her nightgown on fire.  She burned to death."
I guess that proves that having a fancy house isn't necessarily a key to happiness.

Thanks to Bruce Uhler for providing current pictures of this house:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

We Used to Hunt Rats There

Buddy Baker, 92, remembers Jay's Garage very well.  "It was where BiLo is now.  Jay's dad owned all of that land all the way to Gay Street - that area where Parkview Gardens is now.  That creek between BiLo and Parkview Gardens - it was an open sewer back when I was a kid.  We used to go down there and hunt rats for fun.

"He was a fine fellow.  He did a lot of mechanic work for me.  My son, Bob (Baker), worked for him until Jay died, then his wife sold the land and the garage.

"He had a cat in the shop that would climb a step ladder clear to the top and would sit up there and watch everything that was going on.  He had his garage there when I was young.  He built it before I was driving."

Jay was Jay Eller.  

He died in 1974. He was so young but he had heart trouble.

And the building sold in 1976

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We Treat You White

Some of the best reference books at the Johnson County Historical Society are the phone books housed in the archive room in the basement of the Smiser building.  Looking at the advertisements and lists of names and businesses in the old books can give you a glimpse of what the county was like way back when.
There was a time when "white privilege" was openly proclaimed and celebrated.
This ad is from the 1927 phone book.
See how colorful the books were before the great Depression.
During the Great Depression phone books got gray and depressing.
For a short time Sweeney-Phillips took on a third partner.  Business hint: If your name is Gore, don't go into the funeral business.

Another business hint:  If you are in the funeral business don't start an ambulance service.  Nobody is going to get into your meat wagon if your main source of revenue is burying dead people.

In 1961 telephone numbers changed for people in Holden

But not for people in Warrensburg.
By the way, Robert L. "Buddy" Baker still lives at 319 W. Culton and still remembers his old phone number.

In the 1960s the covers got colorful again -
-but not very imaginative.

I like this picture.  I think that's a cool phone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Hamilton Motor Company

"They called him Precious.  Precious Hamilton.  Where he got that name, I'll never know but everybody called him Precious." Buddy Baker, my resident walkingWarrensburg History Book, couldn't even point out which of these gentlemen in the picture developed from the Simmons Studio collection of negatives was Precious Hamilton.  Maybe someone else knows.

I couldn't blow up the calendar behind them, so I have no idea when this picture was taken, but Buddy believes the car below is a Desoto from around the mid-40s

Buddy remembers when Hamilton Motors was on East Pine street just behind where the United Missouri Bank is today.  However, in the 1948 Warrensburg phone book, they had already moved to 314 N. Holden.
They were still in the 1966 phone book, but weren't listed in 1968.

I think next week, I'll do an article on phone books.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

MO.-Pac. R.R. Imegration Bureau

I love finding a mysterious picture in the Simmons Studio collection of negatives.  This one, for example. I had a million questions. Why is a photograph of a Denver touring car stored in a Warrensburg studio?  What's the connection? What is the Mo. Pac R.R. Imegration Bureau?  Where can I get a neat car like that?

So I looked in the Transportation File upstairs at the Johnson County Historical Society and did a little reading. Did you know that getting a railroad to come through your town was once so important that people killed each other over it.  Here, read this:
Then after you shot all the right people and got a railroad line, they would defraud you and your neighbors by selling you worthless land out west.  Here's an example:
The above story is about the Northern Pacific Railroad but apparently MO PAC had an Imegration (sic)Bureau, too. And I'll bet that one of the Imegration Bureau members pictured above was a capper from Warrensburg with capacious pockets.  (A capper is a huckster.)