Monday, June 6, 2011
Did you know that Miller County was visited twice by the world’s tallest man whose height of eight feet eleven inches has never been exceeded in modern recorded history? His name was Robert Wadlow who was from Alton, Illinois. He was in our county in 1934 and 1940, both times attracting huge crowds. Before describing the details of his visit here, first I will present a short biography copied from the St. Louis Post Dispatch published last year:
St. Louis Post Dispatch
July 11 2010
70 Years After Death, ‘Alton Giant’ Is Folk Hero
By Stephen Cox
People still refer to him as “The Alton Giant.”
Through the 70 years since his death, Robert Pershing Wadlow, known as the tallest man in recorded history, has evolved into a most unlikely Midwestern folk hero (photo 01).
01 Robert Wadlow - Age 18 - 8ft. 3in.
He measured an unfathomable 8 feet 11 when he died on July 15, 1940, at only 22 years old. In his three piece suits with hat and cane, Wadlow was genteel and mild mannered, an American celebrity as the Thirties came to a close.
Born in Alton, he was a baby of average weight who grew to become a true human anomaly by kindergarten. He lived (some say suffered) with an overactive pituitary gland, which pushed him past every growth chart known, with alarming speed.
The fantastic growth of a young corn fed boy in Southern Illinois hit newspapers around the country. At age 10, Robert weighed 210 pounds and stood 6 foot 5 inches, much taller than his father. The giant grade school boy sported size 17 shoes, with much of his clothing requiring tailoring and custom fitting for the rest of his life.
These essentials became an expensive necessity during the Depression, and his unusual accommodations proved a mounting challenge for the middle class Wadlows. All across the country, people read in disbelief about this inconceivable child…including the famed Robert Ripley, who came to investigate the human wonder in person. Newsreel photographers and newspaper reporters also came knocking. And then the doctors.
Because of his unwieldy stature, Wadlow was sensationalized during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Like Charles Lindbergh or Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, he can be considered one of America’s first victims of the press and paparazzi. And without even trying, this curiously likable goliath of the Midwest forged an unparalleled legacy. St. Louis and Southern Illinois were his stomping grounds, where newspaper photographers, newsreel cameramen and just plain folks documented him for the masses.
And so, he became friends with the lens and posed for photos and grew accustomed to stares and audible gasps everywhere he stepped (photo 02).
02 Robert Wadlow on Tour - 1937 - 8ft. 5in.
One famous photograph shows the young man standing in his family foyer with the chandelier resting on his shoulder…it’s found in countless editions of the Guinness Book of World’s Records and Ripley’s Believe it or Not compendiums (photo 03).
03 Robert Wadlow with Chandelier on Shoulder
Wadlow is, at the very least, a vivid memory for anyone who ever caught an actual glimpse of him.
“Bob was an ordinary guy in school,” remembers Robert Landiss, 91, of Godfrey, who attended school with Wadlow in Alton and became a fellow member of the DeMolay youth fraternity.
“Sometimes when he walked in the hallway, he would steady his stride by coming up next to you and putting his hand on your shoulder or even over the top of your head, just to muss up your hair,” Landiss said.
“He was a good spirited guy, very likable. When he used the stairs, he had to walk almost sideways to manage it because his feet were so huge, and he had to do it carefully. It was something to see.”
By all accounts, Robert Wadlow was a passive type, privately contemplating his own fate as his body betrayed him and broke all records. Coping with adversity was a way of life for this young man. As an adult, his size 36AA shoes cost nearly $100 a pair, the equivalent of about $1,500 today. Ceiling fans were his enemy as he toured the nation and visited more than 40 states advertising Peters Shoes for the International Shoe Company in St. Louis (photo 04).
04 Robert Wadlow bows for Ceiling
While appearing at a Fourth of July parade in Manistee, Michigan, the giant became ill. An infection had developed from an abrasion on his ankle caused by a newly fitted ankle support brace. Wadlow’s temperature rose drastically as the parade slowly moved through the streets. The situation became especially desperate when his father could not remove him from the crowded parade route to get him to a doctor.
No treatments diminished the infection, and because he did not wish to be moved, Wadlow wasted away painfully in a hotel room 500 miles from home. Tragically, he missed the cure to his fatal blood poisoning by a year or two, when antibiotics first became widely available in the United States.
Robert’s highly publicized wake and funeral enveloped Alton during those oven baked July days, drawing throngs of people who waited in 24 hour lines to bid farewell to the giant, those who knew him and those who were just curious to see him in death.
“I was one of the DeMolay honor guards at the funeral,” remembers Landiss. “We stood next to the casket in shifts as thousands of people came through.”
An excess of 30,000 filed past his 10 foot half ton open casket, which was lifted by 18 pallbearers in order to place him in his final resting place in Oakwood Cemetery in Upper Alton on July 19, 1940 (photo 05).
05 Wadlow Funeral
What survives is just a few oversized relics proving Robert Wadlow’s brief existence, some of which can be viewed at a display devoted to his memory in Alton’s Museum of History and Art. An impressive life size statue outside the museum is marveled at daily and photographed by thousands of tourist each year.
Robert’s first visit to Miller County was to Eldon on May 10, 1934. At that time Robert was 26. The story in the Eldon Advertiser was brief, a short announcement of his itinerary:
Thursday May 10, 1934
Robert Wadlow Will Be At Reed’s Store
Boy Wonder To Head Parade of N.E.A. at 2:00 O’clock In the Afternoon (photo 06)
06 Robert Wadlow with Father
Robert Wadlow of Alton, Illinois, who is sixteen years old and is 7 feet 10 ½ inches tall, will be at Reed’s Store Saturday from 12 o’clock noon until 4 o’clock in the afternoon as an advertisement for Peters’ Shoes. Robert always wears Peters Shoes, but of special make as he wears a size 35, the largest factory made shoes.
At 2:30 o’clock in the afternoon, he will go to the northeast city limits where he will join the National Editorial Association as they enter the city and will parade with them. Music will be furnished by the Eldon Band.
Reed’s Store will give a special discount of 10 per cent on shoes Saturday. Favors will be given the children.
In 1939 Wadlow visited Jefferson City (photo 07):
07 Wadlow in Jefferson City
Click image for larger view
My mother, who recently had been graduated from High School in Tuscumbia, was living in Jeff attending the Mariwood Cosmotology School. Here are her memories:
I saw him in Jeff City when I was going to Mariwood Cosmotology School. He was out in front of a shoe store, I think it was. He was straight across the street from me & I could see him really good. So you can figure what year that was for I hadn't married yet (She married in 1940). I went to school up there right after I was graduated from high school. He looked like a giant & of course there were people gathered around him. The reason I could see him so good is because our school was up on the 2nd floor way above the crowd so we had a perfect view.
This was on High Street & he was standing up in front of a store on the sidewalk & a crowd all around him so I got a good look at him. I could just look out the window upstairs in the schoolroom & see him & all of the crowd below. He was blonde headed & had big feet. I heard that he was representing a shoe company.
Here is another photo of Wadlow in Jeff from the same newspaper clipping from which I obtained the one above (photo 08):
08 Wadlow in Jefferson City
Click image for larger view
Wadlow returned to Eldon in 1940. He had become more famous by then. The Eldon Advertiser published two announcements before his arrival and a summary article after the event was over. Since his last visit to Eldon in 1934 Wadlow had grown considerably and had reached a height of 8 feet nine and one half inches (photo 09).
09 Wadlow - 8ft. 9in.
Here is the first article published by the Advertiser announcing Wadlow’s second visit:
April 23, 1940
Robert Wadlow to Apear at Reed’s Store Here May 4
The people of this territory will have an opportunity to see and hear the world’s tallest man, Robert Wadlow, when he appears at Reed’s Store in Eldon on Saturday, May 4, from 3:30 to 4:30 o’clock. Everyone will be invited to come and see this 22 year old Alton, Illinois giant who is 8 feet 9 ½ inches tall, and weighs 491 pounds.
Wadlow wears a size 37 AA shoe made by Peters Shoe Company of St. Louis, Missouri. One of his shoes will be displayed in a window of Reed’s Store. They weigh 4 ½ pounds each, are 8 ½ inches high and are 6 inches across the widest part of the sole.
At birth, February 22, 1918, Robert Wadlow was normal in every way, weighing 8 ½ pounds. At six months he weighed 30 pounds and signs of abnormal physical growth were apparent. At 18 months he weighed 62 pounds and at the age of nine years he weighed 180 pounds and measured 6 feet, 1 inch tall.
Today, Robert is 8 feet, 9 ½ inches tall and weighs 491 pounds. Doctors who attend him regularly for the sake of science, believe he will attain the unbelievable height of 10 feet.
In 1928 Robert was brought to the Peters Shoe Company of St. Louis where his feet were carefully measured and fitted in specially constructed size 22 shoes, and he has been wearing Peters Shoes ever since. His present shoes are size 37AA…the largest shoes made for the human foot (photo 10).
10 Robert Wadlow Shoe
A second announcement about the upcoming visit of Wadlow to Eldon was published May 2, 1940:
May 2, 1940
Robert Wadlow To Be At Reed’s Store Saturday
May See World’s Tallest Man Between 3:30 and 4:30 o’Clock In Eldon
Saturday will be “Big Boy Day” at Reed’s Store in Eldon. The big boy who will be the honored guest from 3:30 to 4:30 o’clock is Robert Wadlow, famous Alton, Illinois modern giant, who now towers to the amazing height of 8 feet, 9 ½ inches and tips the scales at 491 pounds.
Wadlow will be making his second visit to Eldon, as he was here May 12, 1934, and drew a huge number of local people to Eldon to see and hear who is now the world’s tallest man.
Mr. Harold Wadlow’s 22 year old son, Robert, wears a size 37 AA Peters shoe, a replica of which may be seen at Reed’s Store where Peters shoes are sold.
With this article the Advertiser published a photo of Robert (photo 11):
11 Robert Wadlow photo in Advertiser
Click image for larger view
Two days after the above article was published Wadlow arrived in Eldon on a Saturday morning. The article in the Advertiser covering the story was published the next Thursday, May 9, 1940:
May 9, 1940
Between 4000 and 5000 See Wadlow In Eldon
The appearance of Robert Wadlow here, sponsored by Reed’s Store as a Peters Shoe advertisement, was a great afternoon and was the big interest of a crowd of between 4000 and 5000 persons of Eldon and community that gathered to see and hear the world’s tallest man.
Robert is much larger that he was when he first visited Eldon on May 12, 1934. He is now 8 feet 9 ½ inches tall and weighs about 491 pounds. A.P. Nixdorf Jr. of Ulman, who is 6 feet 6 inches tall, and Fred Robinett, who is slightly less than that, were called up on the stand with Wadlow, and when they attempted to pick a dollar off the top of his head, they were merely able to brush his face by tip toeing.
Ralph Reed, owner of Reed’s Store, posed with Wadlow and came about to his coat pocket.
Antony Paul (A.P.) Nixdorf (photo 12), a former sheriff of Miller County, was the son of Dr. Anton Paul Nixdorf, one the county’s earliest physicians.
12 A.P. Nixdorf, Jr.
A.P. was a half brother to Brice Kallenbach’s grandfather, John Kallenbach. Brice and his wife Betty were my source for the article above from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
A number of people locally remember the 1940 visit of Robert Wadlow to Eldon. My mother’s sister, Bonnie Bear Tyler had a brief comment:
I was old enough to be standing on the street in Eldon probably after taking a music lesson on Newton street. He was riding either in the back of a truck or some kind of trailer, sitting, and he might have stood up, but I remember that as the truck was moving he was sitting.
Dick Dolby and Wallace Vernon of Eldon told me they remembered the event also. Any event drawing four to five thousand people would have to be considered quite an attraction for a town the size of Eldon so I’m sure quite a few others also remember seeing Wadlow that day.
The story of Robert Wadlow can be found at several websites. One in particular I found which was interesting has a video which begins as soon as you open the site
Here are some more photos of Wadlow taken from the above website (photos 13 - 20):
13 Robert Wadlow
14 Robert Wadlow
15 Robert Wadlow
16 Robert Wadlow
17 Robert Wadlow
18 Robert Wadlow
19 Robert Wadlow
20 Robert Wadlow
Here is another website with a shorter video.
A cousin of mine, Stephen Bear, who was raised in Alton, Illinois, Robert Wadlow’s home town, recently took me to the honorary park which Alton has built to honor perhaps the city’s most famous citizen.
Stephen was raised only a few blocks from the park where Wadlow’s huge life size statue is located. Also in the park is an original size replica of a chair made especially for Wadlow accompanied by a stone with an engraved short story (photos 22 - 27).
22 Wadlow Memorial Sign
23 Robert Wadlow Statue
24 Stephen Bear and Robert Wadlow
25 Joe Pryor and Robert Wadlow
26 Robert Wadlow Chair Reproduction
27 Sign with Story of Wadlow Chair
Click image for larger view
Near the Wadlow statue and park is the Alton Museum of History and Art which is located on the campus of the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, on College Avenue. A website associated with the Museum has some more photos of Wadlow.
Mine and Stephen’s cousin, Carol Stillwell Fritz, who also lives in Alton, had this short memory of Wadlow:
Joe, I never saw Robert, but I do remember when he died. It was a really newsworthy thing. There is a life-size statue of him on College Avenue in Upper Alton that tourists really seem to enjoy. His father was a mayor of Alton. Also, his father owned a shoe store in Upper Alton where I bought my shoes.
Robert Wadlow certainly would be qualified to be known as the “Gentle Giant.” His life must have had many hardships as described above in the Post Dispatch history. One problem with the syndrome of “Giantism” is a peripheral neuropathy which causes weakness and numbness of the hands and feet. If you look closely at the photos of Robert you can detect the atrophy (loss of muscle tissue) of the hands. He would have had to wear “foot drop” braces for the feet (these would have been disguised inside his pants legs) because a peripheral neuropathy as severe as his would have caused inability to lift the feet at the ankle joints. Because of the severe numbness caused by a peripheral neuropathy he would have had difficulty with dexterity of the hands and fingers due to the lack of feeling things. His feet could not feel the floor or ground upon which he walked so he would have had difficulty with balance. That is why many photos later in his life reveal he used a cane to help him with balance on standing and walking.
Reed’s Store of Eldon was the sponsor of Robert Wadlow’s two visits to Eldon. Although the Reed’s business no longer exists, the building is still present on Maple Street (photo 28).
28 Building where was Reed's Store
This is a historic building which housed the first store in Eldon owned by Elmer Graham. Here are a couple of photos of Elmer’s store taken long ago, probably in the late 1800’s (photos 29 and 30):
29 Eldon's First Store - Later Reed's Store
Click image for larger view
30 Elmer Graham's Store
The Graham store was located at First and Maple which is where a lot of community activity occurred including parades. Here is a photo of Dr. Walker’s buggy following the Eldon Band Wagon at First and Maple (photo 31).
31 Eldon Band Wagon - Dr. G.D. Walker and Clarence Ashley in Buggy - 1912
Although the Graham name was on the façade of the store in this last photo it is absent in the next photo which was taken at First and Maple at the time of a “May Day” celebration (photo 32).
32 May Day Celebration - Maple and First - Eldon
Click image for larger view
This last photo was taken at a later date than the last three as indicated by the number of cars, the new brick two story building on the right corner, and the absence of Graham’s name from the store façade suggesting someone else owned it at the time.
I’m not sure when Ralph Reed began his store in the old Graham building but it would have been at least during the early 1930’s since the newspaper articles indicate that Reed’s was the sponsor of Robert Wadlow’s first visit there in 1934.
I remember Ralph and his store and some of the people who worked there. Many others remember the Reed’s Store also, I imagine. My mother, Susie Bear Pryor, shopped there once in a while. I asked her to write for me some of her memories of the store:
Reed’s was the only store I had to shop in as I grew up. I didn't shop very much in Jeff until I got older & wanted to go there for special occasions. When I was in high school Reeds had a very up-scale clothing store having men's & women's clothing. When Dad & I got married we had a car & I went up there for everything we needed. I bought your sister’s clothes at Reed’s and was highly pleased with everything she wore. Reed’s had all the new styles that you could find anywhere. Just about everything we wore always came from Reed’s Store. For one thing Reed’s had a lady that worked in the Ladies Department named Jenny who was very popular for she would help you find things & had a good eye for style. I never would even attempt to buy something all by myself for she could always know how to find the right outfit. There never was any store that came up to Reed's Store & it was a sad day when it went by the wayside. Ralph Reed was the owner of it & he was usually over in the Men's department. His son in law also worked in that department too. Of the people that worked there I remember a few including Roy Baucom, Harry Schell, (who was in my class at Tuscumbia) & Harry Hall. Harry was the son of the family which had Hall's store on Highway 52 between Eldon and Tuscumbia. There were others at different times and I remember them easily. Byrlene Connell worked in the women’s department which sold other things than dresses. So did Kate Hall for a long time. Part of the time Ralph Reed’s daughter, Ruth, helped Jenny in the dress department but not all the time. She was the one who went to St. Louis to do all the buying for the Ladies Clothing. Probably her husband, who worked in the Men's Department, went with her to order clothing for his area. Reed’s Store was an institution! I don't know where all the people that lived in these parts would have gone elsewhere to do their shopping because Reed’s met everyone’s needs.
Of those mentioned in mom’s narrative I do have photos of three of them (photos 33, 34 and 35):
33 Baucom Family - Roy second from Right
34 Harry Schell
35 Hall Family - Ina Fay, Walter, Harry, Rachel and Kathryn (Standing)
One year after Robert Wadlow’s first trip to Eldon, which was sponsored by Reed’s Store, the Eldon Advertiser published an article describing one of the Lady’s wear style shows Reed’s Store presented for its customers. It is a somewhat long article but I was impressed by the detail of description of all the garments worn by the local Eldon ladies who modeled the clothing:
September 26, 1935
Reed’s Store Gives Fashion Show of Winter Styles
Heralding a season of fashion changes and the introduction of new and charming colors into the usual somber winter wardrobe, the fall fashion show of Reed’s Store, under the direction of Miss Ruth Reed, was held Thursday from 8 until 9 o’clock in the evening.
Several hundred women and girls, eager to learn of the style changes contrived by the fanciful Dame Fashion, filled the seating capacity of the first floor departments where the show was held. A raised platform ran the length of the dry goods department and here local girls and women modeled frocks, suits, and coats in four promenades.
Between promenades entertainment of music and dancing was given by local children. Billy Toole, talented young pianist and son of Mr. and Mrs. W.M. Toole, played “Prelude” by Rachmaninoff. Buddy Campion, son of Mr. and Mrs. F.L. Campion, making his first public appearance as a tap dancer, gave two numbers with the ease and carefree unconcern of a veteran. The Vernon sisters, Madolyn and Nina Helen, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Vernon, well known for their ukulele accompanied harmonies, sang “Sipping Cider” and “Man in the Moon.”
Miss Reed, introducing the promenades with bits of advice on the shortening of the street frock and the irresistible materials now used, wore a floor length black dinner dress of Savona crepe, the waist of which was of crushed satin. A close fitting waist length black jacket with dolman sleeves tucked into a yoke at the back, was fastened at the waist with a buckle of rhinestone, and a clip of rhinestone decorated the neck of the white satin waist.
Displaying the cottons which are becoming popular throughout the year, gay plaids of English broadcloth in blues and reds were shown for children from six to sixteen. Not to be outdone older sister or mother is coming in for the popular three quarter smocks of bright color cottons, prints or black satin. The Scottie Smock of printed Scotties, in orange and brown with a Peter Pan collar and ascot tie of brown in belted in the back, giving the slenderizing effect new in smocks.
Both the miss and matron like the sport frocks of boucle and zephyr wool finding it hard though to decide between a Grecian blue boucle of lacy silk knit and a very plain red zephyr wool of the school girl type, of utmost simplicity, buttoned in the front and with a narrow belt of matching material. For those whose tastes run to something a little different, a two piece wool alpaca buttoned in front and with a winged scarf edged with dark galyak, brought them quickly to attention.
In the promenade of afternoon dresses, a frock of Burgundy wine silk with three quarter velvet coat brought a patter of applause. The coat, which can be removed to display a charming dress made with the utmost simplicity, was fitted at the waist with a rippled peplum to the knee. Somewhat similar was a black silk crepe ensemble, the coat of which was reversible with white satin, the contrasting color being used in the decoration of belt and buttons.
For the young matron was a dark green friendship crepe made on slenderizing tailored lines, with sewed pleats to the knee giving a gathered effect in the lower part of the skirt. The waist was trimmed with bands of white pleated material set into the pleats of the dress, with similar decorations at the wrists.
An evening frock in green and taupe changeable taffeta, tightly molding the hips and flaring widely below the knees, brought a sparkle to the eyes and a sigh to the lips of the teens and twenties. Quilted tailored lapels on the waist and a Peter Pan collar, brought as a complete surprise the décolletage back. The skirt was quilted from below the knees to the floor.
In the coat and suit promenade, of outstanding interest was a swagger suit of rust tweed with a large shawl collar of raccoon. The uneven hemline of the coat swept to skirt length in the front. With this was worn a brown blouse of silk seersucker, and a crushed crown brown tailored hat with buckle in front.
Most popular for children and showing simplicity and taste were the tailored, double breasted coats with belted backs. Hats of matching material or color completed the outfit. Leather jackets, still leading in sport, were shown in pig grain leather and suede with zipper fastenings.
With each costume, the accessories of hat, gloves, purse, and shoes, were complete. The hats of the off the face style, tailored sports, and small toques, were especially intriguing and were of utmost importance for the importance of the hat is, as we all know, it can make or break the costume.
Models included Miss Margaret Moore, Miss Margaret Ousley, Miss Dorothy Reeves, Mrs. Raymond Artz, Miss Loraine Neville, Mrs. Dan Burris, Miss Irene Starks, Miss Billy Hogan, Miss Lucille Brockman, Mrs. Leland Vaughan, Mrs. Frank collier, Mrs. J.I. Moore. Modeling children’s clothes were Patricia lynn Castle, Barbara Jean Herfurth, Patricia Adams, Beverly Ann Gunn, Dorothy reed, Ruth Meyer, Betty Murphy of California, Eleanor Toole, Jean Vaughan, Annah Lee Robertson, and Jean Kay.
The Lake of the Ozarks 50th Anniversary Edition 1981 presents an interesting biography of Ralph and Lena Reed and of Reed’s Store including formal photos of each:
Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Reed (photos 35a and 35b)
Founders of Reed’s Store, Inc., Eldon
35a Ralph Reed
35b Mrs. Ralph Reed
Ralph Reed Biography
Lake of the Ozarks 1981 50th Anniversary
Ralph Reed had owned and operated Reed’s Store five years when the construction of Bagnell Dam began. It was very exciting to realize such a project of this magnitude was actually to be built only a few miles from this quiet little town of Eldon in the Ozarks, but quiet not for long. With many employees of the project seeking quarters in Eldon, it became a boom town almost overnight. Thanks to U.E., Reed’s Store and the surrounding area never knew a depression. Mr. Reed was a progressive leader in the community. He was a charter member of Lions Club. Many will remember the annual lamb barbecues for the Lions and their Ladies on the Reed’s farm. He loved farming and raised pure bred sheep. He encouraged young farmers by his patronage of 4-H clubs. He was an ardent backer of “The Lake of the Ozarks Association” from its beginning. His daughter remembers going with him to meetings when they were held in church basement dining rooms. He believed in education and good schools, and embraced the vocational C.O.E. program for its inception in Eldon High School. Banking was another interest of Mr. Reed. He served 35 years as a Director and Vice President of the now Mercantile Bank of Eldon. Not to mention Mr. Reed’s keen sense of humor would be an injustice. Space does not permit relating any funny incidents, but many who knew him have their own anecdotes about this friendly, down to earth, unassuming fellow, whom people liked and respected.
Mrs. Reed, too, made her contributions. She was active in the store, mainly keeping the books. Her community service was given through the civic and fraternal organizations of Euterpean Club, charter member of Sorosis Club, P.E.O. Sisterhood and O.E.S.
The Reeds were loyal members of the First Baptist Church, where he served as deacon many years. In 1955 they attended the Baptist World Alliance in London.
In 1930 Ruth and Charles Bailey (daughter and husband) moved from New York to join the business. This partnership dissolved in 1957 on Mr. Reed’s retirement. The same policies of customer service, good values and timely merchandise under the Bailey’s direction, continued Reed’s growth to become the leading junior department store in Mid-Missouri.
This merchandising institution of over 50 years is now “Carters.” The Baileys opened a second store in Camdenton in April, 1962, and operated both stores until selling them and retiring in 1972.
Submitted by Ruth Reed Bailey
According to the obituary of Ralph Reed (see below), he was from Ulman originally and he married a girl from there who also had the surname of Reed. Lena Reed, his wife, was the daughter of Barney Reed of Ulman, who early on was a very well known attorney. Barney moved his family from Ulman to Eldon. He was buried in the Eldon Cemetery. I don’t know how far back the two Reed families were related; if they were.
October 11, 1972
Ralph Reed, 83, retired Eldon businessman, dies
Ralph Reed, 107 W. High St. Eldon, a retired business man and bank officer, died Friday, October 6, 1972 at Windsor Estates Nursing Home in Camdenton. He was 83 years of age.
Mr. Reed, who formerly owned and operated Reed’s Store in Eldon, now Corner One, was active in community affairs for more than 45 years.
He was born December 5, 1888 at Ulman, the son of the late Alonzo and Alice (Warren) Reed. On November 6, 1910 he was married at Ulman to Lena reed who survives at the home in Eldon.
Also surviving are one daughter, Mrs. Charles D. (Ruth) Bailey of Eldon; two grandchildren; five great grandchildren; and two brothers, John Reed of Knob Noster and Karl Reed of California, Mo.
Mr. Reed purchased the store in Eldon in 1924, and operated it until his retirement in 1957. He remained as honorary chairman of the board of Reed’s Inc. during its ownership by the Baileys’.
He was also a director and vice president of the Bank of Eldon for 35 years, retiring at the end of the 1969 year.
He was a member of the first Baptist Church of Eldon. Mr. Reed was a member of Ionia Lodge 381, AF&AM and a charter member of the Eldon Lions’ Club.
He had been a nursing home patient the past three years.
Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Monday at the First Baptist Church of Eldon with the Reverend M.A. Younger and the Reverend Donald Wainwright officiating.
Burial was in the Eldon Cemetery.
Active pallbearers were Grady Hord, Dr.E.O. Shelton, Fred Thornbrugh, Rohy Baucom, Jim T. Simpson, and Tom Edwards.
Honorary pall bearers were officers and directors of the Bank of Eldon: Robert C. Evans, Herbert E. Harvey, Harry Kay, Howard Singleton, Harold Clotworthy, G. Edwin Popkess, Howard Schott, Burleigh Cantwell, Gene Waite, Robert F. Maylee, Jerry Setser, Donald Williams, and Albert Newby.
Arrangements were under the direction of Phillips Funeral Home of Eldon.
At First and Maple in Eldon across the street from Reed’s Store was another store which was in operation for many years retaining the same name through several owners. It was called the “Sanitary Market.” An article in the Advertiser in June of 1937 gave a short history of that store:
June 17, 1937
Sanitary Market Corner Was Butcher Shop Long Years Ago (photo 36)
36 Charles Barkelow waits for next order
The building shown above is the Sanitary Market corner, owned in 1894 by Herbert Smith and later by Will Waltz He sold it to Dr. J.A. Tayler and W.E. Allen who removed the frame building and erected the present brick building.
Charles Barkalow Sr., the early butcher and meat market man of Eldon, operated his business on the corner where the Sanitary Market is now located. He is seen resting between orders in the photo above. Delivery at that time was made to hotels only and there were no troublesome telephone orders to bother with. The one wheel delivery vehicle was much less expensive than the modern motor truck delivery.
Between 1965 and 1985 my mother’s brother, Arthur Bear, leased the building and continued the name Sanitary Market for his grocery store (photo 37).
37 Arthur Bear
Arthur’s daughter, Sandra, sent me the following note:
Joe, he bought the store right after the war in 1945 from a man named Grady Horde (I think that's how he spelled the last name but can't swear to it). He was a long time Eldon resident and was a very nice man. He and his wife were helpful to mom and dad, introducing them to customers and members of the community. I believe he is the one who invited daddy to join Lion's Club. The store was flourishing but Mr. Horde was getting older and just wanted to retire.
When daddy was ready to retire he was unable to find a buyer, and as he did not own the building, the owner rented it to someone else after daddy closed out. He sold the meat locker to Bill Carr for his liquor store. Then he sold all the shelving, etc. to different ones. The groceries, of course, were sold to customers. I don't remember who bought the cash register but someone did. The butcher block, the meat grinders, knives, etc. all sold to others. I remember he did tell me who bought the butcher block but I've forgotten. The refrigerated meat display case and the produce case went somewhere??? He had added some frozen food cases a few years before he sold out, and I'm not sure where they went. He belonged to Associated Grocers who were based in K.C. and I think they helped him find some buyers. He kept the huge old desk that was in his office at the store. I think he felt like it all went reasonably well. He was pretty satisfied, he told me.
After he closed, the building was rented by several different businesses. The only one I can think of is the Florist Shop. David and I moved away from Eldon about a year afterward, and except for the florist shop I was never in the building again."
I remember that Uncle Arthur had Mark Sooter Jr. butcher for him and that Jack Apperson later on also worked there. Arthur retired in 1965 and played golf just about everyday until he was 92 when he was stricken by one of the more virulent influenza viruses. The illness caused him to lose his balance which prevented him from being able to swing the club. He died at the age of 96 in 2006.
Here is a copy of the Sanitary Market advertisement that Mr. Horde placed in the Advertiser in 1937 (photo 38):
38 Sanitary Market Advertisement - 1937
And here are some photos of the store now which is occupied by “The Tasting Room” restaurant: (photos 39 and 40):
39 The Tasting Room Restaurant
40 The Tasting Room Restaurant
The 1930’s were in some areas times of economic distress due to the lingering depression of those years. However, some stores such as Reed’s seemed to do well, and even could sponsor celebrity trips here such as Wadlow’s.
Cars must have been selling relatively well because the Advertiser was running ads paid for by the car companies for their new products. Here is an entire article placed in the Advertiser by Chevrolet introducing its new 1934 model:
February 13, 1934
The driver and passengers in the new 1934 Chevrolet get a ride like the glide of an airplane. One of the main factors in improving the riding qualities of the new car to such a great extent is the “Knee-Action”…or independently sprung front wheels, to use the technical term.
So much has been written about independent springing that the public has doubtless concluded that it is something too technical to understand. As a matter of fact, there is nothing complicated about either the principle involved or the construction of the system. Chevrolet’s “Knee-Action” enjoys the advantage of being enclosed in a welded weather tight housing in which the entire spring mechanism and shock absorbers ride up and down in a bath of oil.
An automobile gives a perfect ride when both the front and rear springs have the same “frequency,” or tension. Actually this has been impossible to carry out in the past because the front springs had to be over twice as “stiff” as the rear springs in order to hold the front axle, wheels and brakes in place. In independent springing, the wheels and spring mechanism are rigidly attached directly to the frame and there is no front axle. By relieving the front spring of the task of carrying wheels and axle, therefore, it became possible to make the front springs as “soft” as the rear springs. When the new Chevrolet strikes an irregularity in the road, both front and rear move up and down with the same frequency…there is no inclination on the part of the rear end of the car to leap into the air and throw the passengers forward and upward.
Chevrolet’s “Knee-Action” has additional advantages all contributing to a comfort in riding never before thought possible in a motor car. There is a decided improvement in handling, steering, safety at high speeds and tire economy.
In design, the front spring is a neat, compact and efficient unit, as Mr. Holler points out in the above picture. The entire spring mechanism is attached rigidly to the frame. From this enclosed unit the wheels spring vertically at the ends of strong, steel horizontal arms.
In the design and development of the new 1934 Chevrolet, particular attention has been given to driver and passenger comfort. All annoying sensations of disagreeable sound and feeling having been eliminated. The next photo shows the new Chevrolet coach with its long sleek lines. Wind rush has been eliminated by the “Fisher No Draft Ventilators” and the new streamlined bodies (photo 41).
41 New 1934 Chevrolet
Chevrolet’s “Knee-Action” wheels enjoy the advantage of being completely enclosed in a weather tight housing, the coils springs and shock absorbers ride in a bath of oil. William E. Holler, Chevrolet’s general sales manager, is shown at the left holding a chart which shows the internal construction of the system (photo 42).
42 Shock Absorbers
The radiator of the new car has added beauty through its graceful and sharply pointed design. Smartness has been the theme every line of this year’s Chevrolet (photo 43).
Another popular thing to do on Maple street just north of First Street back in the middle part of the last century was to go to the movies at Tom Edward’s Ozark Theater. Here is a photo of Tom and his family in front of the theater (photo 44):
44 Eldon Theater - Tom Edwards, Tommy, Connie and Joan Edwards
Click image for larger view
So that ends this excursion back to the decade of the thirties and early forties for a glimpse at what folks were doing then for entertainment, shopping and admiring cars.
I received an interesting email recently from regular reader Lois Mace Webb, originally of Brumley and Tuscumbia. Lois always has interesting comments which I love to share with other readers of the website. This week’s comments from Lois were inspired by the autobiography Merle Wright sent us which was placed on the Progress Notes of May 2.
Comments from Lois Mace Webb (photo 45)
45 Lois Mace Webb
I always appreciate the historic accounts you post on Progress Notes, though I do not always comment. The May 2 article, specifically a line in the Merle Wright narrative, gives me license to discuss something that's been on my mind in recent weeks. This will be a “connect the dots” commentary, so bear with me if you will.
First dot: and the license line, has to do with Merle's father selling his Shetland pony, Sid, to serve in World War I in Europe.
Second dot: I believe the centennial of WWI is being celebrated between 2014 and 2018.
And now to War Horse. Are you mindful of War Horse -- a play on Broadway [Lincoln Center] based on the [juvenile fiction] book, War Horse and it's British author? I understand that Spielberg is working on the movie now. (Trust me, this will get back to Miller County relevance, and I get moist eyes as mind wanders to plot).
The one TV program I make a point to watch is CBS Sunday morning, which carries segments on the arts; a month or so ago they featured a piece on the play, War Horse. The piece moved me on several levels; first the two Australian men who fashioned the stage horse, a fantastic piece of art and engineering -- think robots and puppets. The stage horse frames the story beautifully. The story is about service and sacrifice of horses and men who served in WWI.
And perhaps the hook for me concerned my great uncle, Harrison Mace, brother of my grandfather George Mace, whom I remember as a dignified looking genteel man who returned to Brumley in late l930s and again in l940s to see his brother George and to meet his nieces and nephews, including my dad, Lucian Mace (photos 46 and 47).
46 Harrison Wesley Mace, George Thomas Mace and Cecilia Mace - Siblings
47 Lucian Mace - Early 20's
Uncle Harrison's story as I recall it went like this: As a teenager, when horses served as the main means of transportation, Uncle Harrison took a harsh scolding from his father, John Mace Jr., for having run the horse too hard and not properly grooming him when he got home (photo 48).
48 John Jackson Mace Jr.
I suppose such is the basis for saying "rode hard and put away wet." Uncle Harrison's response to the discipline was to take the horse and run away from home. No one heard from Uncle Harrison for years. He became something of a legend.
Then, when I was under ten years old, the exciting news came that Uncle Harrison was coming home to Brumley to see his brother George, my grandpa; both men were up in years by then. I recall the anticipation; word had it that he had lived out in Kansas all these years and was "wealthy." He stayed at our house, likely fewer people to occupy the beds, and I recall watching him intently, noting his every gesture, speech pattern, similar to grandpa's, and his immaculate grooming. He was a little larger in size that grandpa, which likely made him a few inches over six feet tall, and a bit more muscular. Grandpa's hair was salt and pepper, mostly pepper; Uncle Harrison's was salt and pepper, mostly salt. He exceeded anticipation in my eyes.
We learned that indeed he had gained stature in his community, St. John and Stafford, Kansas, and had acquired a good deal of land and oil rights. He had never married; had no children, and wanted to see his brother and meet his nieces and nephews.
And, he earned his money working for the government during WW I, buying horses for use in the war; money he invested in Kansas property where he made his home.
From our local library I checked out the book War Horse, and wept several times during the read; I researched the author (whose name is not handy) who was Britain's Children's Laureat and quite prolific. (I may become a reader of juvenile fiction any day now.) I have also heard/read reports that the play in NYC is terrific (I'd go see it in a heartbeat were I physically able), and it surely is if Spielberg is planning a movie.
So, at that point, I thought about Miller County's World War I men who served, as well as the horses. Then Merle Wright's story and his Shetland pony, Sid, put a stop to my hesitation to mention the subject to you, Joe.
But back to Uncle Harrison and St. John, Kansas. As he aged and health issues arose, he said that since he had no children, and had not known his nieces and nephews, he would not call on them for assistance, so, he rented a room at the St. John Hospital and made his residence there until he died. In the 1950s, mom, dad, and Sue, and my husband and I, took a vacation trip to Colorado. We routed ourselves through St. John, Kansas and visited Uncle Harrison at his hospital residence. I recall him as relatively alert, not especially frail, and he hosted us best he could in the limited space. The hospital staff went out of their way to welcome us and feed us. He seemed very glad we came. After he died, he left stock and oil well shares to the nieces and nephews. I do not know how many -- shares or kinfolk -- were involved, but recall that after the stretching, the inheritance was meager. I doubt anyone in the family has retained any of the stock; if so, I do not know of it. If anyone has, it would likely be one of my cousins, children of my uncle Harrison, who was obviously named after grandpa's brother, Harrison.
So, the dots are connected now, aren't they? Miller Countians who served in WWI, as well as the horses. By the way, John Edwards, father of Mary Helen Groves, served in WWI (photo 49).
49 John Gill Edwards
I recall his making references to the time; Mary could tell you much. I remember John as very literate man, likely self educated, and as quite eloquent as he quoted classic poetry. Many men of that era were eloquent in quoting classic poetry, including my dad. The one I especially remember from him is Abou Ben Adhem. I can still [almost] quote it. Dad's eyes would invariably moisten as he recited it.
As another aside, I gained empathetic interest in WWI a couple decades ago while studying work of a French Jesuit priest named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. During research on him, I read of his service as an ambulance driver in WWI, and gained a tearful respect for sacrifices during that war. "The Phenomenon of Man" is de Chardin's main work -- interesting history and philosophy.
So that's the gist of my reaction to Merle Wright's pony, Sid. And I can imagine something of a theme for Miller County history about its place of service in World War I.
Jimmie Mace of Tuscumbia, who is a cousin of Lois, supplied me with photos of the Mace family including those above (photo 50).
50 Jimmie Mace
John Jackson Mace Jr. and his wife Mahalia McKay Mace were the parents of George and Harrison Mace (photos 51 and 52).
51 George Thomas Mace
52 Harrison Wesley Mace and Sister
Here is an abbreviated family history of Jimmie’s descendency in the John Jackson Mace Sr. family:
John Jackson Mace Sr.
John Jackson Mace Jr.
George Thomas Mace (brother to Harrison Wesley Mace)
(Children of George Thomas Mace:
Carlos Conley, Henry Truman, Ralph, Charles, Lucian,
Harrison, Vanus, Ollie, Cleo)
And here is Lois’s descendency:
John Jackson Mace Sr.
John Jackson Mace Jr.
George Thomas Mace (brother to Harrison Wesley Mace)
(Children of George Thomas Mace:
Carlos Conley, Henry Truman, Ralph, Charles, Lucian,
Harrison, Vanus, Ollie, Cleo)
Lois Mace Webb
Jimmie told me that George Thomas Mace, brother to Harrison Wesley Mace (the one featured in Lois’ narrative) was a teamster who kept a number of work horses hiring himself out for various projects including road building. Perhaps John Jackson Mace Jr. also did the same work since the altercation described above by Lois between John Jackson and Harrison Wesley involved a dispute over Harrison’s handling of a horse. Here is a photo of one of George Thomas Mace’s wagons and teams working on a road project (photo 53):
53 Road Crew - George Mace's Team
Now we no longer need the teamsters and their work horses, we have giant motorized machinery for the modern world. But the ingenuity of some people still is surprising in how they solve problems. Peggy Hake sent me a short video of someone in a Spanish speaking country (I presume so since the title is in Spanish) of how to load a front end loader with a back hoe on a truck eliminating the need for a pull trailer for the loader (photo 54).
Note: If you don't see the video player controls below, just Right-Click in the video area and select "Play/Pause" to start the video.
That’s all for this week.
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