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Memories of Working at
J & R Spiegel Auto Supply in
Wellston, MO
Hello! My name is Hal and I lived the Jennings area of St.Louis County, Missouri.

I worked in the Town of Wellston which I have learned was one of the busiest shopping centers in the United States from 1930's until late 1950's. Today the area, unfortunately
has fallen on hard times is now an urban ghost town. But in its glory days it was a place of excitement where it was possible that dreams could come true. I wasn't the only student working in Wellston through the World War II years and into the 1950's.

Although I don't recall your names I know we met at one time or another. Perhaps you were washing store windows or sweeping the sidewalks, window shopping or at lunch at one of the counters at a five and dime. Perhaps you went to Wellston HS, Normandy HS, or any other school in within the commuting area and this e-mail is to you asking you to share your personal experiences of working and growing up in the businesses in Wellston.  Don't let those memories fade -share themwhile you can.    Hal


From Hal W..                                                 June, 2008

     The1954, Revised Edition of the "Missouri, A Guide To
The 'Show Me' State, American Guide Series” Copyrighted in 1941, gives the following description of Wellston on page 297.
"Along DeBaliviere and westward on Delmar, small shops, enormous super-markets, and innumerable restaurants and eating places cater to the apartment house dwellers of the neighborhood. Directly to the north of this section is the colorful Wellston shopping center, stretched along Easton Avenue. Along the ever crowded street are open stalls for vegetables and flowers, crates of chickens and geese, and the tantalizing odors of herring and dill. Here cut-rate stores, variety shops, credit clothing houses, furniture and second-hand dealers, shooting galleries, and delicatessens: and everywhere up and down the street, the signs of fortune tellers, faith healers, and astrologers."

I will admit that I do remember some of those shops along Easton Avenue but have to admit some may well have been
long gone before my time. I certainly don't recall the open stalls but I do remember the many, many ethnic food stores just a few blocks from where I worked.

I did not grow up in Wellston nor did I attend schools in the Wellston area. I lived and went to school in Jennings. At that time there were not many stores of consequence for shopping in Jennings so it was either a trip into St. Louis or over to Wellston for my folks to do their Easter or Christmas Holiday shopping. So I became acquainted with Wellston at an early age.

In 1945 my dad was in the Navy and as a 12 year that had to earn his .50c to join the Boy Scouts I became a carrier for the Wellston Journal which was one of the once a week north side community advertising for the area. I don't recall their exact address of the paper's office in Wellston but I believe it was only a block or two from the Loop. We collected .10c a month from each customer that were willing to pay. As I recall very few every turned me away and some were very generous at Christmas. There was always the once a month trip to the Journal where you turned over your collection money and received a share of the money as well as voucher points for prizes that were in the show case for carriers to choose. There was also a side benefit to being a Wellston Journal paper carrier at that time. The Journal also took a bus load of carriers to see the St. Louis Flyer's Hockey team, the St. Louis Bombers Basketball, Ice Capades, and many other attractions that were at the Arena.

My second job came about two years later when I was 15 I went to work at the J & R Auto Supply which was just a couple doors away from the J. C. Penny Store. In the 1940 and 1950's there was still a shortage of new cars on the market and at that time automobiles were a lot easier to repair then they are today. J & R sold every part imaginable for car repair. During this time period a Chicago mail order company Spiegel purchased J & R. As consumer goods became more available the store sold many more items from outboard motors to stoves and refrigerators.

I worked five and six days during the summer months and Saturdays during the school year. I had to have a permit from the school allowing me to work no more then 30 hours a week, earned $6.00 a day at J & R and about $10.00 a month at the Journal and I was happy to have the money.

On those days that I did not bring a sandwich to work I ate at one of the dime store lunch counters. That was a rare treat. There was a music store across the street and a block or two away from J & R and I was forever looking at the sheet music that was available as well as the various musical instruments. Somewhere near the Loop was a Men's clothing store where my dad took me to buy my first tailored suit which was for my high school graduation. There was also a fur Shop near J & R and the lady that managed the shop would let me search through the fur scraps for pieces that could be used for my Indian dance regalia when I traveled to the 7th World Jamboree in Bad Ischl, Austria.
Well there are more memories but for now I would just be rambling on and on as I have already done. I wish all of you well and hope to see more memories of your own student working experiences in Wellston.

I wish you well. Hal W.


(Your response to Hal W. can be forwarded through the Webmaster link below.  Your memories to share are welcome also.)
 

 

                           


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2003 Streetcars are gone, people escape to the suburbs. Business Area in decay.
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J & R  / Spiegel was the left half at street level.  2006 photo. Most buildings have been demolished .

1947 Streetcar to Jennings and beyond

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