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North Side Memories

Site visitor Jack Tharpe shared with me some of his memories growing up in the northern part of the St. Louis Place area. These images show what's left (very little, alas) of the block he grew up on. With his permission, here are his stories:

"I grew up on the 2300 block of Dodier between 25th and 23rd... I could tell you alot about the old place, but when I was growing up there, the stories weren't always so good. It was the time between the good old days and the bad days, The late 50s thru the late 60s...In the early days, alot of the houses were cold water flats with out side toiliets. Fun huh?

"The early part of my child hood in North St.Louis was fun. We would run behind Charlie the milk man, and beg for chunks of ice to chew on. The reason I'm telling you this is Charlie had one of the last horse drawn milk wagons in St. Louis. The scissors Sharpener man would be ringing his bell, to let everyone know he was there. His wagon was pushed by him, and it was a big one. There was the vegetable man with his truck that would holler, EGGS,TOMATOS, STRAWBERRYS. We had a rag man that came up the alleys to collect old rags. We had a garbage man and a trash man that came up the alleys also. The Paper boy would come with his steel wheels on his cart making noise, and if that wasn't enought, he would holler. When I was a paper boy, the sound was like this. If I can put it on paper, here it is. OoooooooRrrrrrrrrrORRR. You had to do this very loud. Back to the street, we had a Hot Tamale man that would come around with his push wagon. He would serve his tamales in corn husks wrapped in news paper. He would holler RED HOT-HOT TAMALE.

'I would go to the tavern and get buckets of beer for some of the older ladies in the neighborhood. The streets were alive back then. I was a shoe shine boy, so I got to know quite alot of people. I made the rounds at all the taverns. I also sold out of a kit that had combs,shoehorns,shoe polish and about any other thing a man could use. It wasn't hard to make money in those days if you wanted to.

"Some fun, we would grab hold of car bumpers in the winter, and slide as far as we could in the snow. A guy was a big shot if he grabbed a police car. The cops would slam on their breaks if they saw you, and try to slam your head into the bumper. Some fun huh? Transportation was easy, just jump on the back of a bus and grab the sign. We traveled the city that way."

Bottom image: 2300 University; all others, 2300 Dodier. January 2003.

Update, May 2006: The northern half of this block has been completely redeveloped with a seniors' home. Steve Patterson (www.urbanreviewstl.com) has photographs on Flickr.com.

Update, March 2008: All but one of the houses on the southern half of the block have been destroyed by brick rustlers. One was owned by Blairmont; the others belonged to the Land Reutilization Authority.

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