I was from Fenton before it was cool!
While going through Facebook groups which will be archived, before I leave them, I decided there was some good information in some of them that I wanted to preserve. I absolutely loved my time in the group called "I was from Fenton before it was cool!" The conversations brought back so many memories!
I decided to compile some history and memories in a post.
Was your favorite Fenton hangout the Malt Shop? Did you walk there? Do you remember the drug store next to the malt shop?
Who was once afraid to drive on Highway 141? Do you remember when 141 was two lanes? Do you remember when the only stop sign was at Bowles and 141? Do you remember when Bowles did not connect to 141?
Who hated driving over the old rickety Gravois Bridge? Did you old your breath as you crossed? Did you ever jump from it? Do you remember the shaking? Was it your bus stop in the early 70's? Do you remember the bar there called "The Rivers Edge?" Did you ever walk on the bridge? How much of your car's paint was left on the bridge?
Do you remember Fenton before all the subdivisions were built, when it was all country, corn fields, farmland, or green trees?
Do you remember Bentley Farms? Do you remember Bentley Manor?
Do you remember San Simeon Estates?
Do you remember Green Mar?
Do you remember San Luis Hills?
Do you remember riding your bike between subdivisions? Between Green Mar and San Luis Hills?
Do you remember Halloween in Bentley Manor - Bentley Farms? Do you remember sled riding in the "commons" in Bentley Manor?
Do you remember the Chrysler plant? Did you know someone who worked there?
Do you remember the white house on the hill where the QT is now located?
Do you remember the Duwe (do-we) golf course while driving down Bowles? Did your car ever get hit with golf balls? Did you ever sled down the hill at the golf course? Do you remember Sally Stalhuth who owned the property before it became a golf course? Did you ever get wet finding golf balls in the lake? Do you remember Riverside golf course?
Do you remember when all the schools were built? Do you remember being shuffled from school to school as they were being built?
Do you remember Vandover Elementary? Do you remember the creepy old house behind Vandover that used to be the original school?
Do you remember Bowles Elementary? Do you remember Mr. Pennycook?
Do you remember Kellison Elementary? Did you try to pet the horses during recess? Do you remember when Sheryl Crow was my Kindergarten music teacher at Kellison?
Do you remember Stanton Elementary?
Did you go to Our Savior Lutheran school or St. Paul Catholic School?
Did you live there before there was a high school (Rockwood Summit opened in 1994)?
Do you remember the long bus rides to Eureka High School?
Do you remember the Quick Shop? Do you remember ride the "Quick Shop" stop school bus after school? Do you remember riding your bike to the Quick Shop for candy?
Do you remember houses on stilts along the Meramec River? Do you remember students who road to Fenton School during the floods?
Did you play soccer at Fenton City Park?
Do you remember Buder Park and the old fire engine? Do you remember riding your bike to the book mobile at Buder Park?
Do you remember the boat races at George Winter Park?
Did you watch the parades? Do you remember the carnival?
Do you remember Wet Willies water slide at Highway 141 and Highway 44? Do you remember the colored mats that determined when your time was up? Do you remember all the scratched arms and legs from the concrete? Do you remember the long walk up the hill? Do you remember the Zoom Flume? Did you ever lose your top crash the pool below? Do you remember the hill behind Wet Willies for sledding and snow tubing?
Do you remember when the only stores were Brown and Sons' grocery, Rexal Pharmacy, Coast to Coast Hardware, Mr. Dave's Shoes, Velvet Freeze, Long Horn Restaurant, and a few other stores where Fenton Plaza is now? Do you remember Casey's Sports and Mac's Gym in downtown Fenton? What about the pawn shop? Do you remember Friedewalds Drug Store?
Do you remember buying groceries at Schnucks and it seemed a long drive to get there? Do you remember when the McDonald's was built next to Schnucks, with no drive-thru? Do you remember the Burger King built before the McDonald's as the only burger joint?
Do you remember Browns IGA (and the Easter Egg Hunts) and the Dime Store and Ben Franklin? Did you have shoes from Buster Browns? Do you remember the Fenton Produce Stand? Do you remember Carol House Furniture in Valley Park?
Do you remember the old cemetery near Greenmar Apartments?
Do you remember Weiss Airport and the day the plane crashed into the house on Larkin Williams?
Do you remember the Route 66 Drive-in in Sunset (Crestwood)? Do you remember Ronnie's Drive-in? Do you remember the I-44 drive-in in Valley Park?
Do you remember the Springdale Pool between Fenton and Arnold? Do you remember Surfside Meadows Pool, formerly Greenacres Park and Pool? Do you remember the Rivera swimming pool? Do you remember the Blue Springs Pool?
Do you remember when the phone exchanges were Davis 6 and Diamond 3 for Fenton? Did your telephone number begin 225?
Here are my memories.
I remember riding my bike and watching the streets extend outward from St. Bernard Hills subdivision. It seemed each day I road, the street would get a little longer.
Three subdivisions appeared as one, but the middle one, the oldest, was St. Bernard Hills and it had no sidewalks. Bentley Manor and Bentley Farm had sidewalks and I remember them being built. My parents were the second family to move into St. Bernard Hills on Gladiator Drive (I believe when my brother was 1 year old in 1963). I was born in 1965. The Spears next door were the first family and sometimes I wonder where Timmy Spears is today.
I remember that although we said we lived in "Fenton," the three subdivisions were actually a part of a small unincorporated area which included land up to the ever small incorporated area of Peerless Park near Highway 44 and down the road where the horseback riding place was located.
I plugged my address into Google Maps and was surprised to see a photo of the house!
I remember when Dover Mill Estates subdivision was built and I would ride my bike down Gladiator to Guebert to Ben Clare (Ben Clare did not circle back to Gladiator back then). On the circle end of Ben Clare there was a small wooded area between the two subdivisions. Rumors had it that bullies stayed in the woods who might "beat you up." I remember the first time I adventured through those oh-so-dark woods, daring to get my nerve up, and being nervous as I peddled on the dirt trail as fast as I could, over child-made bumps and ramps. It was exhilarating to make it out the other side and have traveled all by myself to some far-away unknown location! Okay, yes, I was very young and it was not really that far, but to me, it was an expanse of my horizon. Of course, once over on the other side of the woods, I had to travel back again, holding my breath the whole way.
I see there are houses there now!
I remember sledding in the commons area behind my house. It was a long trek across the commons to the top of the hill at the end of Quirinal Court. It was a spectacular hill to all the youth that would gather there. If you were not careful, however, you could accidentally sled right into the creek. The slope of the hill would cause the sleds to suddenly take a turn for the worse unless you knew how to make a hard left steer on the sled. At the speed of the sled, it was difficult to stop the sled once your direction was wronged. I remember my brother ending up in the creek one time and being really scared for him, but he came out with just some bumps and scraps.
We used to walk right along the creek and it was thrilling as a youth. I do not think our mom wanted us in the creek, but I mostly remember traipsing in it with my brother. I cannot even see any water along the creek area on the Google Maps now and I wonder what it looks like in person.
I remember that our subdivision was the best for trick-or-treating! Mom would hold us back until we saw someone else out on the street because she did not want us to be the first ones knocking on everyone's doors. The walking traffic from door to door was so much fun because there were so many people out you knew most everyone. There was a short line at every door.
GreenMar and San Luis subdivisions (and many others) are a memory of all countryside and trees. There were few houses along 141 between my house and Our Savior Lutheran Church where I attended. I remember all of the subdivisions being built. It seemed once the first ones went up, the others came along quickly.
As the subdivisions were built, new schools were built. I never moved, but attended Bowles through 4th grade, Vandover in 5th grade, and Stanton in 6th grade, as they accommodated the quick growth. I attended Eureka Junior High in 7th and 8th grade and graduated from Eureka High School.
I remember a bar on the playground at Vandover and being able to hook my knee around it, anchoring my foot around my shin, and turning around and around and around at a good speed many times. I had to jump to reach up and grab the bar, so it seemed a very high scary bar to fall from. I remember this because classmates marveled that I could do such a thing and always wanted me to do it again so they could watch.
Who doesn't remember the Malt Shop! But I only went there with my family when Dad would treat us. It was a special trip for our family. I never went there on my own to hang out.
The place to go on my bike was the Quick Shop. The ride down Gladiator and the whole length of Centurion seemed such a long bike ride. We would go there to buy nickel candy and then ride home. It was just something to do.
For those that went to Eureka, you may remember the "Quick Shop bus" which was an after school bus that made a stop at the Quick Shop. There was a 4 o'clock bus and a 6 o'clock bus. Parents would pick up their children after school there rather than traveling the half hour to the school. I remember walking home after getting off the bus there during high school. I understand that long after it became a 7-11, people continued to call it the Quick Shop stop/bus.
I remember Buder Park and attending summer programs there, but my memory is vague. My biggest memory of Buder Park was the book mobile that came there certain days of the week during the summer. I was at home while my parents worked watching my little sister and we would walk to the book mobile regularly to trade in books. I did a lot of reading during the summers while my parents were at work.
I was a teenager or a pre-teen when Wet Willies was built. I only went a few times because I remember it being too expensive. I do remember what a thrill it was to have such a gi-normous water slide! We had never heard of such a thing before and to think it was so close to my house was just an honor.
I remember Grandpa coming to town to play golf, but I also always wondering where the golf course was located. I was too young to have bearings on where the golf course was located. I think it was the Riverside Golf Course where he played, but it seems to me there was another one along Bowles Avenue.
I remember the Chrysler plant well. My Dad worked his entire career at the General Motors truck plant, so it was a big deal when his brother and his sister's husband began working at the Chrysler plant.
I remember Weiss airport, but mostly because you could see it from Highway 44 and the planes flew over the highway. My Dad's brother did fly planes there and I remember the only time I have flown in a plane, I was sitting with a parent saying "do you see it, that's our house." I looked and looked and could not make out anything until finally I just said "uh-huh" to get them to stop asking me. I know I was really little.
I remember fondly a model air plane park on the other side of Highway 44 near Valley Park. My Dad would take us there to watch him fly his model planes. I remember those planes always hanging so big from the basement ceiling.
I only remember going to the boat races at George Winter Park once and it seemed so difficult to see anything; I mostly remember being shocked that I had no idea that lake was even in Fenton.
I remember taking swimming lessons at Springdale pool between Fenton and Arnold.
I remember going to movies at the Route 66 Drive-in in Sunset (Crestwood). It was on the other side of the street from the Crestwood Mall. I still have the original "Escape to Witch Mountain" record that my Grandma gave me after I watched the movie at the drive-in.
Of course, I remember the two-lane Highway 141. I remember we shopped at Schnucks in downtown Fenton and that it seemed to take 15 minutes just to drive there, which was a long drive for us. I remember the Dime Store in downtown Fenton too. When I was a child, the only time we ever drove that far was to go grocery shopping. Otherwise, we only went as far as church or school. Looking back, my world back then was very small, mostly known by peddling my bike. We would travel to my grandparents in Shrewsbury which was about a half-hour drive and that seemed like a long way to us and was a big event. Our doctor was in Crestwood and I believe we shopped there at the mall too.
I remember being allowed to wear dresses only to school until about the fourth grade. I remember the exciting feeling, yet odd feeling, of wearing pants to school for the first time. Of course, the pants were usually knit and not jean material. Each year Mom would take me shopping and I was allowed to buy five new school dresses, one for each day of the school week. If some of my dresses from the previous year still fit, then I had even more choices to wear.
Written July 28, 2011