A good time was had at the September Goldbug dinner/dance. The dance floor stayed busy all night and Willie Santacruz and his wife, Diane were worth paying to watch dance. They have done competitive dancing and they are great! There are a lot of good dancers among our alumni and it is enjoyable to sit and watch if you can't dance! The classes of 1962 celebrated the 55th anniversary of their graduation from McKinley and the classes of 1957 celebrated the 60th anniversary of their graduation at the dance. We hope to see even more of you at the 2018 dance.
As our older alumni "age out" of being able to attend our luncheons and as growing numbers of them pass on, it is becoming obvious to our committee members that there will be a time when our group will diminish to the point of being unable to continue. While we don't anticipate that happening in the immediate future, it is something for all of us to think about. That is why we encourage all who can to attend our luncheons and various McKinley events. Where we used to mail out over 900 newsletters every other month, that number has shrunk by about 200. And the majority of those 200 are not with us any more. So, think about joining us for lunch... and remember that your first luncheon meal is free! We will be glad to see you!
We have all followed the news about the hurricanes that have hit our country: Harvey, Irma, etc. Well, St. Louis has had its share of bad weather too. There was a "Great Cyclone" in 1896. On Wednesday, May 27, 1896 a deadly storm tore a 10-mile path through Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. In St. Louis, Seventh and Rutger was the deadliest spot in the storm. The intersection no longer exists, but at that time it was an area of working-class people, many of whom were workers in the industries and railroads along Chouteau Avenue and the riverfront. All told, 305 people were killed when that wave of tornadoes cut through Missouri and Illinois that afternoon. The worst tornado, a black corkscrew that seemed to spin horizontally and grind through the city like a turbine, killed 137 people in St. Louis and 118 in East St. Louis and another funnel hit new Baden, Illinois, killing 13 more. In St. Louis, 311 buildings were flattened, 7200 more were heavily damaged and 1300 more had significant damage. The Great Cyclone did all that in about 20 minutes.
The Great Cyclone bore through the near South Side in St. Louis. Its trail of damage, often a mile or more wide, ran from the State Hospital on Arsenal Street eastward, roughly along Interstate 44, to the riverfront downtown and then across the Mississippi into the old rail yards of East St. Louis. Other funnels that afternoon killed people as far west as Sturgeon and Mexico, Missouri and as far east as Vandalia and Mount Vernon, Illinois.
One of the peculiar freaks of the tornado was witnessed at a tobacco company building at Fourth and Spruce Streets. A man was on the roof at the seven-story building, repairing the roof when the storm came up. He ran under a little shed that had been erected on the roof, next to the smoke stack. When the worst of the tornado struck the building, it lifted the shed, with the man in it, far up into the sky, twirled it about "about a hundred" times. It then struck a chimney on a building near Seventh Street and Chouteau Avenue. It struck the slanting roof of a house on Ninth Street, near Hickory, slid down that and fell on a tree that had been blown down by the story. The man walked out of the shed uninjured except for a few bruises. He told his experience to the saloonkeeper at Ninth and Chouteau before going home. (Hmmmmm...)
A jagged remnant of the front wall and steeple was all that remained of St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church at 11th and Lafayette. The storm wrecked the school, which only two hours earlier was packed with 800 children from the Bohemian community that ringed the church. The church that is there now was rebuilt upon the old foundation, according to the original design. All told, six St. Louis churches were destroyed and 15 heavily damaged. Another was St. Paul's German Evangelical Church at Ninth and Lafayette. Only the pulpit remained as the church disintegrated.
Along California and Ohio Avenues, just west of Jefferson, between Russell and Chouteau, whole blocks were shattered. Apartment buildings and storefronts with their brick walls gone, resembled honeycombs. All the roofs were gone. In those days, South Jefferson was the major road for the neighborhoods of the South Side. Although the city's richest people from Lafayette Square had moved to Vandeventer Place, Lafayette Square was still an upscale address, and Lafayette Park was the city's pride. And it was in ruins. All but six of its tall trees were snapped 15 feet above the ground. The wrought-iron fence was flattened, the gaslights bent, the bandstand blown over. Around the park, handsome homes lost roofs, walls, stone facades, whole wings and worse. Lafayette Park Presbyterian Church lost its roof and the upper reaches of its sturdy limestone walls. All over the city, bells tolled for the dead.
On Sunday after the tornado, 50 St. Louis Police Officers had to rush to Union Station because of panic among the out-of-town sightseers trying to get home. More than 140,000 people passed through Union Station that day. Demolition and repairs began almost immediately. The cable car line got back in business in two days and some street lights were back on by the weekend. St. Louis truly bounced back when two weeks later, on June 16, the Republican Party met in the patched-up auditorium and nominated William McKinley of Ohio for President. And, within two years, city leaders were planning their biggest show ever, the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World's Fair).
The next McKinley Goldbug luncheon will be Wednesday, February 21st, 2018. It is necessary to make a reservation to attend the great gathering of Goldbugs.
To learn more about our Luncheons, including directions to the Royale Orleans Banquet Center, please click "Luncheons" on our menu above. To print the required reservation form, please click on the photo to the right.