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.)
Click image to enlarge
J & R /
Spiegel was the left half at street level.
2006 photo. Most buildings have been demolished .
1947 Streetcar to
Jennings and beyond