The Season Ends on a Merry Note

 
halfpricebooks st. charles 2
Here I am on Christmas Eve at Half Price Books in St. Charles with happy customer David Scully Jr.

I finished the season on a high note on Christmas Eve signing books at Half Price Books in St. Charles. It wasn’t the kind of monster day I’ve had lately, but it was decent. I loved talking up the Gateway Arch with buyers of my Arch book The Making of an Icon, 2nd Edition like David Scully Jr. I hope those who didn’t buy still got a little more excited about our local treasure. Then there was Donna C. Wood of Ballwin, who sent her son to pick up two copies of Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans as last-minute gifts. Yeah, Donna!

All told, I had a great December signing at nine places. God blessed, and we’ll be able to pay a few end-of-the-year bills.  I’ll keep signing next year, including when Growing Up St. Louis comes out next fall. I hope to see you at one of them.

A Very Merry End of the Season

 

halfpricebooks st. charles 2
Here I am on Christmas Eve at Half Price Books in St. Charles with happy customer David Scully Jr.

I finished the season on a high note on Christmas Eve signing books at Half Price Books in St. Charles. It wasn’t the kind of monster day I’ve had lately, but it was decent. I loved talking up the Gateway Arch with buyers of my Arch book The Making of an Icon, 2nd Edition like David Scully Jr. I hope those who didn’t buy still got a little more excited about our local treasure. Then there was Donna C. Wood of Ballwin, who sent her son to pick up two copies of Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans as last-minute gifts. Yeah, Donna!

All told, I had a great December signing at nine places. God blessed, and we’ll be able to pay a few end-of-the-year bills.  I’ll keep signing next year, including when Growing Up St. Louis comes out next fall. I hope to see you at one of them.

The Shutdown Won’t Shut Us Down!

sky monument arch saint louis
Photo by Brittany Moore on Pexels.com

It’s odd to imagine, but one place where you won’t be able to buy a signed copy of my book about the Gateway Arch this weekend is the Gateway Arch. The government shutdown shut down the Arch, where I was set for a book signing on Sunday. But you do have three other opportunities by a copy of the second edition of The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch Christmas.

Today, Saturday, I’m scheduled to sign from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Half Price Books, 1664 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield, and from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in the West County Center. Then from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, you’ll see me at Half Price Books, 2107 Zumbehl Road in St. Charles.

At both Half Price Books locations, you can also buy my other books, Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, The Colorful Characters of St. Louis, and my self-published novel, The Devils Island Lighthouse. I have lots of ways to make sure your Christmas book shopping isn’t shut down!

Will I Ever Stop?

jimbusy
Here comes another signing.

Am I crazy? I must be, because I’m doing three book signings this weekend. But that’s good for you and any other Christmas shopper who’s going crazy trying to find the perfect gift for that certain St. Louis history lover. Today, Saturday, I’ll sign from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at STL-Style/Stylehouse, 3159 Cherokee Street and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Half Price Books, 630 McKnight Road in University City. Then on Sunday you’ll find me from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Tower Grove Farmers Market’s outdoor Boulevard Holiday Market, 1 The Boulevard, Richmond Heights, off Galleria Parkway across Brentwood Boulevard from The Galleria. If you think that’s crazy, I have four signings next weekend.

Two Down. Two to Go

PragerSaturday’s dedication events for two honorary German street signs increased our conviction of the importance of pointing out how patriotic German Americans were the victims of a farcical patriotic orgy during World War I.

Those words, “a farcical patriotic orgy,” aren’t mine. They’re from a fine book about the 1918 lynching of Robert Prager, Patriotic Murder: A World War I Hate Crime for Uncle Sam. The book by Peter Stehman talks about how the hanging was the result of a patriotic frenzy during the war. During the dedication service for the the honorary sign for Robert Prager Way at Bates Street and Morganford Road, Stehman talked about how the danger of a similar frenzy is just as great now as it was back then.

Bismarck

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen recently voted to grant the honorary designation to Bates Street from Morgan Ford Road to Gravois Avenue. Prager is buried in St. Matthew Cemetery next to Bates at that point. Among those who attended the event were 13th Ward Alderwoman Beth Murphy, who sponsored the bill making the designation, James Martin, president of the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis (GAHS); Gwendolyn Murray of the Better Bevo Now neighborhood organization; Kevin Sterett and others from the cemetery; and residents of the street.

The honorary sign for Bismarck Street at Lami and Seventh Street in the Soulard neighborhood also was dedicated on Saturday.  The name of Bismarck Street was changed to Fourth Street in 1918. That street no longer exists, so the honorary street for Bismarck was located from Barton Street to Lami Street on Seventh Street. Seventh Ward Alderman Jack Coatar sponsored the bill approving the designation.

The day finished at a reception sponsored by the German American Heritage Society of Saint Louis at the Schlafly Tap Room downtown.  I’ve been working on this project for the last five years with the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis.  They’ve been an essential part of this work. More than that, I could have done anything. I love working with James Martin, Lansing Hecker and the whole group.

There’s still work ahead. The city has approved five streets. We have two streets to go. We’ll keep going until we reach our goal.  Meanwhile, my deepest gratitude for all who offered their help and encouragement.

Beth Murphy 1
When a rope meant to pull the covering from the sign pulled loose, Alderwoman Beth Murphy climbed a ladder to remove it.
Prager crowd
This group turned out for the dedication of Robert Prager Way

Closer to Our Goal

PragerSaturday’s dedication events for two honorary German street signs increased our conviction of the importance of pointing out how patriotic German Americans were the victims of a farcical patriotic orgy during World War I.

Those words, “a farcical patriotic orgy,” aren’t mine. They’re from a fine book about the 1918 lynching of Robert Prager, Patriotic Murder: A World War I Hate Crime for Uncle Sam. The book by Peter Stehman talks about how the hanging was the result of a patriotic frenzy during the war. During the dedication service for the the honorary sign for Robert Prager Way at Bates Street and Morganford Road, Stehman talked about how the danger of a similar frenzy is just as great now as it was back then.

Bismarck

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen recently voted to grant the honorary designation to Bates Street from Morgan Ford Road to Gravois Avenue. Prager is buried in St. Matthew Cemetery next to Bates at that point. Among those who attended the event were 13th Ward Alderwoman Beth Murphy, who sponsored the bill making the designation, James Martin, president of the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis (GAHS); Gwendolyn Murray of the Better Bevo Now neighborhood organization; Kevin Sterett and others from the cemetery; and residents of the street.

The honorary sign for Bismarck Street at Lami and Seventh Street in the Soulard neighborhood also was dedicated on Saturday.  The name of Bismarck Street was changed to Fourth Street in 1918. That street no longer exists, so the honorary street for Bismarck was located from Barton Street to Lami Street on Seventh Street. Seventh Ward Alderman Jack Coatar sponsored the bill approving the designation.

The day finished at a reception sponsored by the German American Heritage Society of Saint Louis at the Schlafly Tap Room downtown.  I’ve been working on this project for the last five years with the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis.  They’ve been an essential part of this work. More than that, I could have done anything. I love working with James Martin, Lansing Hecker and the whole group.

There’s still work ahead. The city has approved five streets. We have two streets to go. We’ll keep going until we reach our goal.  Meanwhile, my deepest gratitude for all who offered their help and encouragement.

Prager crowd
This group turned out for the dedication of Robert Prager Way
Kaiser
This street going west on Kingshighway Boulevard just north of Gravois Avenue was originally Kaiser Street. Renamed Gresham Street during World War II, it now has its original name in honorary form.

Honoring the Original Names

Kaiser
These street signs note a thoroughfare going west on Kingshighway Boulevard just north of Gravois Avenue. The streets was originally Kaiser Street. Renamed Gresham Street during World War II, it now has its original name in honorary form.

     I’m overjoyed to share this news release from the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis. It tells about the culmination of five years of hard and sometimes discouraging work. I hope to see you at the events on Oct. 27.

During World War I, patriotic German Americans were made to choose between their heritage and their nation.  Schools ended their German language education programs. Churches were pressured to stop holding services in German. In Collinsville, Illinois, a mob went farther by lynching a German alien named Robert Prager.

Now the German American Heritage Society of Saint Louis (GAHS) and author Jim Merkel have developed a citywide memorial to this time of anti-German hysteria in street corners around the city. They’ll celebrate these memorials on Oct. 27, fifteen days before the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

“These honorary designations are an important historical artifact for St. Louis.  When someone walks by these signs, they will learn the stories behind the old names and the new names, and the important lesson underneath,” said James Martin, president of GAHS. “On this 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, these signs provide a concrete reminder of our past, and will hopefully provide insight and wisdom for future generations.”

For five years, GAHS and Merkel have worked to mark the six streets whose German “enemy” names were changed during World War I. So far, they have completed the time-consuming process of obtaining city approval for honorary designations noting the original German names for four streets.

The city also has granted the honorary designation of “Robert Prager Way” on Bates Street between Morgan Ford Road and Gravois Avenue in the Bevo Mill neighborhood. It’s next to St. Matthew Cemetery, where Prager is buried.

habsburger
Habsburger Avenue at the corner of Gravois Avenue and Cecil Place was given the name Cecil Place in World War I. The yellow sign at top indicates that it again has the honorary title.

On Oct. 27, honorary street signs in German colors for Robert Prager Way will be dedicated at 9 a.m. at the corner of Bates and Morgan Ford.  The Bismarck Street signs will be dedicated at 10:30 a.m. at Seventh and Lami street. Depending on city and neighborhood approvals, there will be additional ceremonies  on Oct. 27 or later.

The Oct. 27 ceremonies will conclude with a reception and program open to the public at a place to be designated. Details will be posted at https://germanamericancommittee.org/ as they are finalized.

The three honorary streets that have already been dedicated are: Knapstein Place (now Providence Place.) in the Dutchtown neighborhood; Kaiser Street (now Gresham Street) in the Princeton Heights neighborhood; and Habsburger Avenue (now Cecil Place) in the Boulevard Heights neighborhood. Two streets that are under review for designations or markers are Von Versen Avenue (now Enright Avenue) in the West End neighborhood and Berlin Avenue (now Pershing Avenue) in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood.

Merkel began the campaign to give the streets the honorary designations after learning of the anti-German hysteria while he was writing his book, Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans. In 2013, he teamed up with GAHS to promote the concept.

Under city ordinance, a street or a portion of a street may receive an honorary name designation if at least 60 percent of registered voters in that area sign a petition requesting it. Then the alderman for that area may introduce a bill calling for the designation. Alderman often request support from neighborhood organizations first. The actual street name stays the same.

The city requires an organization to pay for honorary street signs. GAHS is paying the cost for signs in bright German colors.

Organizers see the citywide series of honorary street signs as more than a memorial to what happened to German Americans in World War I. They view it as a reminder that any person, group or nationality can be targeted under certain circumstances.

Knapstein Place
The name of Knapstein Place from Michigan to Minnesota avenues was changed to Providence place in World War I. This sign shows its honorary names.