You can find the lineage and other photos of Leon on this page.
Everyone who lives in the Cape Girardeau, Missouri, area knows the history of the famous Wimpy's, but few folks know the second half of the story.
When I married into the Brennecke family now almost 30 years ago, when I introduced myself to older folks, many of them would ask me if I were related to Leon Brennecke. It did not take long for me to realize that many people in the Cape Girardeau area were touched by Leon and they had fond memories of him. Now, I rarely run into anyone who remembers him and I wish I had gotten stories from folks all those years ago.
Over the years, I have slowly put the pieces together. The mentions of Leon 30 years ago were that he owned a Standard service station in Cape Girardeau near Wimpy's, that Wimpy's was "way out there" on the edge of town, so before heading back to town, folks would visit Leon after visiting Wimpy's to fill up on gas.
This was during a period of time when a service station was truly a "service" station and the attendant would come out and fill your gas for you and clean your windshield. I'm certain Leon must have chatted with a lot of people.
In Ken Steinhoff's photo taken in 1967 there seems to be many buildings around Wimpy's, so it is my thought that the people I spoke to 30 years ago were referencing visits with Leon much earlier. Fred Lynch has a photo of Wimpy's from the 1940's which seems to fit. This page references history of Wimpy's which includes Wimpy's in May 1942 at the entrance of Arena Park on North Kingshighway, then being moved across the street in October 1947. In 1973, Wimpy's was moved to South Kingshighway. This page by Rob Lewis shares more of the Wimpy history. Jean Eddlemann has drawn Wimpy's.
This newspaper article is from the Southeast Missourian on June 20, 1947, which confirms my thought that these folks remembered Leon during the earlier Wimpy's days.
Leon was born April 22, 1904, and died December 23, 1988. I married into the family in 1986 and only remember meeting Leon once in his home. I can picture the setting of his living room, but that is all my memory of him. His wife, Iva, was born June 5, 1944, and died December 19, 1998, and I remember her much better having visited her many times. Leon and Iva had no children.
Some years after Iva's death, her neice (from Iva's natural family) gave me this photo. As I studied the photo, I realized our own home was in the background! Actually, our home cannot be seen, but the house on either side of our home can be seen and our house is behind the pole. However, this was when I realized the location of Leon's gas station on North Kingshighway.
Our home was built around 1960 and this photo was taken in December 1961. This clue also tells me that Leon, at the age of 57, was still running his gas station.
I understand our home was one of the first on our street. In the photo, you can see the houses immediately behind us, but there are no more up the hill and none in front of our house.
I love studying old photos. I can see in the window and from a display out front that he sold snacks and maybe cigarettes. I also spy advertising on top of the building which says "EAST or WEST" at the end of the top line and "work of fine Motels Coast to Coast" at the end of the second line. He must have made some revenue for billboards around his station. See the old lights along the front edge which must have lit up the station at night. I wonder how it looked at night.
(image source) This photo of Leon's service station indicates a convenience station is located at the site now. A copy of the photo may be ordered from the "image source" link.
(image source) This image gives an address for the service station as 859 N. Kingshighway from the 1958 city directory.
I need to do some research to find the exact location of his gas station, but here is my best guess based on the old photo. I believe it sat where the a-frame blue roofed insurance agency now sits on North Kingshighway. It may have been where the current gas station is or the rental place next to it, but whereever it was, it was only a short distance down the street from Wimpy's.
This is a photo taken at a similar angle to the one taken in 1961.
The a-frame building is at 875 N. Kingshighway and the service station was at 859 No. Kingshighway, so my guess is close!
Now I believe is is where the current gas station is located, (image from google maps), but the address to this location is 865 North Kingshighway. The next building down the line (to the left) is the pizza place, but it is at 841 North Kingshighway, so I am left with "things change" and the address is no longer utilized.
Zooming in closer, this is what is currently the view that would have been behind the service station photo of 1961. We can only see our neighbor's house which is directly across from our house (this house not built in 1961 photo).
This would have been the view from the service station to where Wimpy's was located after it moved across the street in 1947. I can imagine Leon standing outside his gas station watching the patrons at Wimpy's and anticipating them visiting him for a gas fill-up after they filled up their tummy. I bet he even knew who owned what vehicles.
My husband remembers stories of Uncle Leon going to school in Chicago for education regarding running a business before he opened the service station, wanting to go into business for himself. He remembers Uncle Leon being really nice and congenial, never anyone speaking a cross word about him. He was a good Christian man. Leon and Iva married late in life. He was tall and she was shorter. They lived down off of South West End.
If you remember Leon Brennecke, I would love to hear from you and know your story.