Category Archives: Guest Essay

Young Champ

Guest essay, by John Sarkis

July 7, 1962 – 56 years-ago today, Karen Hantze Susman, a teenaged bride from St. Louis, won the Women’s Singles Championship at Wimbledon. She had also won the doubles title at that year’s Wimbledon, along with her partner, 17-year-old Billie Jean Moffitt. A year earlier, they had become the youngest team to ever win the women’s doubles championship. Moffitt would (of course) become better known by her married name, Billy Jean King.

Karen Susman in July 1962, after winning Wimbledon; and six years ago, at her home, on the 50th anniversary of her victory.

Karen Hantze, a native of San Diego and just eighteen years-old, moved to St Louis, the hometown of her husband, Rod, who had attended Ladue’s Horton Watkins High School before becoming a professional tennis player. Marrying against the advice of her family and friends, she and Rod just celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary at their home in suburban San Diego.

Karen would win three Grand Slam Doubles titles in her short career, but gave up playing competitively because there wasn’t enough money in women’s tennis to earn a living at that time.

Wimbledon didn’t award prize money until 1968. The winner of this year’s Wimbledon Women’s Championship, which is currently underway, will take home 2.25 Million British Pounds, the equivalent of just under $3 Million. Each of the Doubles Tournament winners this year will win 450,000 Pounds, or about $600,000.

[editor’s note: gently edited essay by John Sarkis, a Saint Louis native and retiree, who posts and writes regularly as a hobby about St Louis history]


Baseball: Reflecting on some April History

I guess every baseball fan knows that this past weekend, on April 15, the sport “celebrated” Jackie Robinson Day — the day in 1947 when Jackie Robinson became the first black man to play in a major league baseball game.

I put “celebrated” in quotes, because it is also a muted acknowledgement that baseball’s major leagues shut blacks out of participation for some 80 years until then … much to both their great loss and their fans’ loss.

Last summer my wife and I visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.  I knew many of the names, but seeing them displayed Hall of Fame-style was very powerful.  Rube Foster, Satchel Paige, the two “Bucks”, Buck Leonard and Buck O’Neil, Josh Gibson.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum entry

Josh Gibson, oh my gosh Josh.  Gibson hit so many home runs, about 800, that fans and sportwriters who had seen them both play often referred to Babe Ruth as “The White Josh Gibson.”  And he accomplished that while playing catcher, without a doubt the most physically demanding defensive position. And quite likely the most mentally demanding, as well. It was with a bit of a heavy heart that Robinson, and those blacks who soon followed, broke into the majors in those years.  Josh Gibson got a brain tumor and eventually died quite young, aged only 35, of a stroke from complications in January, 1947 … just months before Robinson’s first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  As the tumor started affecting him several years before — well …. there’s no telling how many more home runs he could have hit.  Or if he’d even made it to the Major Leagues, too.  <Sigh.>

As the current baseball season is already some three weeks old, modern baseball fans might wonder what took the Dodgers so long to play Robinson. Well, April 15th was Opening Day back then.  And anyone watching the weather throughout the Midwest and Northeast this spring will understand why.  Baseball is a summer game and it is pretty stupid to be playing all those games with temperatures in the 20s and 30s and snow flying around — in nearly empty stadiums.  Not to mention making for dangerous travel (lots of team buses back then).

Even with a “later” mid-April start, they pretty much had the entire season wrapped up — World Series and all — by the close of the first week in October; when the weather was usually still quite pleasant.  Compare that to today when the threat of snow and freezing weather is almost as bad at the close of the season (often the first week of November) as it is at the season’s opening.

Baseball is a summer game. How did they do it? Back then they only played 154 games a season (162 now) and had scheduled double-headers throughout the season. Most teams played as many as 25% of their games as double-headers well into the late 1950s. And playoffs weren’t the four or five week elimination ordeal they are now, with nearly one-third of teams making it to the playoffs instead of only two.

I well remember the joy of double-headers as a boy, two games in the hot sun with dad, lots of hot dogs and peanuts, yelling and screaming.  Trying to keep a score card. Watching scores from other games around the country on the outfield scoreboard. Game one in the early afternoon — noonish — and game two only 30 or 40 minutes after the last out of game one, barely long enough to re-chalk and drag the infield — in the late afternoon.  Falling asleep on the way home…. memories.

Well, speaking of history, April 17, 1945 is quite a famous day in baseball history, especially for St Louis Cardinal fans.  I’ve borrowed the following from a post by John Sarkis, who has given me permission to “lift” his work. He writes regularly regarding St Louis regional history.


April 17, 1945, Albert “Red” Schoendienst played his first game in a Cardinal uniform. The Hall of Fame second-baseman from nearby Germantown, IL would play for the Redbirds for 15 seasons, the New York Giants for two years, and the Milwaukee Braves for four seasons before returning to the Cardinals for three years of limited action. As a player, coach, or manager he wore a major league uniform more than 70 consecutive years, and is currently the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

On that same day native St. Louisan Harry Carabina, who became known as Harry Caray, made his debut as a Cardinal broadcaster. With the Cardinals and Browns sharing Sportsmans Park, the schedule provided that one of the teams would always be home, which allowed Harry to broadcast both Cardinals and Browns home games that season. He became a full-time Cardinals broadcaster in 1947. After being fired by Cardinal owner Gussie Busch, Caray spent 1970 calling Oakland Athletics games, then joined the Chicago White Sox in 1971. After 11 seasons on Chicago’s Southside, he moved to Wrigley Field in 1982. Harry suffered a stroke on Valentine’s Day, 1998, and passed away two days later.

Also on that day, the Brown’s legendary one-armed outfielder, Pete Gray, made his major league debut, getting one single in four at-bats off Les Mueller of the Detroit Tigers. As the MVP in the Southern League, Gray’s contract was purchased for $20,000 from the Memphis Chicks and he was called up as many of the regular major-leaguers were serving in the war. He had his best day in the majors on May 19, playing in Yankee Stadium and collecting five hits and two RBI as the Browns swept the Yankees. He was sent back to the minors when regular players began returning from overseas. Playing left and center field for the Browns, he appeared in 77 games, batting .218 with a .958 fielding percentage. Pete Gray, the only one-armed person to ever play in the major leagues, died on June 30, 2002. His glove is in the Baseball Hall-of-Fame.

(Thanks John!)

[Editor notes.

There have been a very few other players who were similar to Gray, but having most of an arm yet no hand.  Most notably I remember one-handed Jim Abbott throwing a No-Hitter!!

Checking the almanac, the Browns played that game at home.  So Harry Caray called the game. ]


Joe Girard © 2018

The Man on the Corner

by Milli Girard, 2004

Southwest Mall Plaza is just a few blocks from our home. That’s where I’ve seen him when I’m on the passenger side in (husband) Don’s car, and also when I’m behind the wheel. He’s a skinny shaggy looking man, maybe fifty years old, on crutches, holding a “Need Help” sign.

There is a double left-turn lane at this intersection.  I’m uncomfortable when we make our left hand turn onto Cross Street and pass him by. If I’m driving and in the left hand lane when I come to the stop light I reach for my wallet and manage to give him a dollar; but usually I’m not in that lane and the light is green and I feel badly for him.  It would be a huge traffic hazard to stop to help him if the traffic has the green arrow.

Don dutifully writes a check each month for our favorite charities. I’m as tight with my money as anyone, yet when the weather was wet and cold I hated to see the man trying to stand on his crutches depending on the mercy of us all.

One time, as the light began to turn green, I saw him hurry to hobble back onto the island curb after reaching for a donation in the far lane. Would he make it without falling?

The last time I was in that left turn lane going south on Wadsworth I had plenty of time to get my wallet out.  The light turned red and I had to stop.  I handed the almost toothless scrawny man a single dollar bill.

“Thank you and God bless you!” he exclaimed. After another God Bless You, he said: “I’m a Vietnam veteran. I go to the Unemployment Office every morning. I don’t like to stand here.  It’s humiliating.”

With yet another “Thank You” and “May God Bless You”, I was beginning to feel uncomfortable — a little stingy — like a cheapskate.  It was only a dollar for heaven’s sake.

Would the green arrow ever come? Enough was enough.

And then he said the strangest thing. “You smell good.”

The green arrow came … at last.

Milli Girard 2004


Remembering Lisa

By Ken Hutchison, Feb 3, 2017

Yesterday was a sad day for me. I walked in the building, along with hundreds of my co-workers, former co-workers and friends. I was handed the folded piece of paper; on it was one of my photographs. It’s happened before to me. I should be used to it, but not this time.

It was the portrait I took of Lisa Hardaway (that’s DR. Lisa Hardaway). In the photo, she’s holding a scale model of the New Horizons spacecraft. The spacecraft that passed Pluto last year, capturing the first ever, high resolution, up close and personal images of the furthest thing in our solar system. I remembered taking the shot; it was for various press releases, social media, education outreach, and because she was recently named as the Engineer of the year by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Lisa was so proud, and who wouldn’t be, because that’s the Holy Grail of aerospace engineering. Lisa was the program manager for the Ball part of the mission.

Then, on the paper, were the dates. The date she was born, and the day when she left us with only her memories and legacy. On the cover were two other pictures, of her and her husband, and the shot of her kids. Lisa, mother, wife, friend, co-worker, and damned smart American, died at the young age of 50.

We filed into a beautiful light filled room, hundreds standing and sitting, hugs, tears, handshakes that turn into hugs because men have that awkward “do I hug?” thing that we do.

The Rabbi came out. Now, I’m a flunky Presby kid from Pueblo, not exposed to the Jewish religion at all. I’ve never been to a Jewish funeral, only a wedding. That dance with the bride and groom in chairs is, well, different from our fussy traditions. Looks a lot more fun.

This, hands down, was one of the most beautiful services I’ve been to. The Rabbi began with what I guess was a call to worship or mourning, I’m not sure. It was Yiddish, ( 2/4/2017, author’s update: Hebrew, not Yiddish; pardon my ignorance) and my depth of that language is about as deep as saying “Oy!” Still, it was haunting, moving, having an ancient tone of thousands of years long. The Rabbi spoke, and then gave an outline of who would be talking with us. First up was her husband, James.

I’ve known James for years as a customer and colleague. He proceeded to wrap the entire room around his little finger with stories of how they met, the food and wine they loved, their children, and the things he learned from his wife. The last thing he mentioned that he learned was “courage”. At that point, and that point alone, is when his voice broke… Along with all of the hearts in the room, for we all felt the same. Next, her daughter Jaella Hardaway came up, and captured the room with her charm and grace, her laughter, humor, and stories, some of which she’d never shared. That girl has a future, you could see why Lisa was so proud of her.

There were a couple of more speakers, family and friends. Then the Rabbi addressed the family. At this point, the tears started for me, because she was a rockstar with her words. She asked the folks in the room that would be willing to provide life guidance to the children should they ever need it to stand up.

The entire room stood.

Then there were the closing prayers, chants and other Jewish customs which were alien to me, and the service was over. Upon exiting, I walked past the two men I noticed on the way in. They had pistols on their belts…private armed guards. You see, the Jewish Community Center had a bomb threat phoned in two days prior, along with dozens others around the country.

It was not only a sad day for us, but for our country as well, when those who are grieving need to be protected.

May God bless the family of Lisa Hardaway.

Editor’s Notes: Ken Hutchison is the Senior Staff Photographer at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation.  He also gives tours, entertains high level guests (Congress persons, Generals) and is a heck of a writer.  He lives in Longmont, Colorado.
I also had the honor of working with Lisa on the New Horizons mission (Ball’s instrument was called “Ralph”). Ball is a very close community.


— By Ken Hutchison

I meant to post this yesterday, on Veteran’s Day, but the day got away from me.


Staff Sergeant EB Hutchison

Dad never really talked about the war. As a boy, I always wanted to know how many Germans he killed. He said he didn’t know, wasn’t sure if he did, etc. Looking back now, I remember seeing his blue eyes glaze over, and a heavy breath would follow.

In reading his letters it’s evident that he was in house-to-house, close quartered bullshit. One of his scars went from his elbow, radiating in a spiral across the inside of his forearm to nearly his wrist…it was about a half inch wide. He was searching a house when a “potato masher’ (German hand grenade) broke through the window. He got as far as he could before it went off, costing him a majority of hearing in one ear, plus having his flesh torn apart by red hot shrapnel. It’s the only one of his injuries I heard about first hand. The others I discovered in his letters home. Sniper fire that nearly bled him to death, machine gun wounds in both legs during a battle in a frozen marsh. Despite being hit in the legs, he was able to run to cover, no helmet, rifle jammed with mud.

Despite that, he did tell a few funny stories. In one, he and his men arrived in a train station, largely abandoned, except for the lone tanker car that had a guard (I don’t remember from where, non-US though). The boys thought they’d found fuel. They told the guard to get lost or get shot. He was smart. Efforts to open the valve were in vain, so one of the GIs hit it with the butt of his BAR (rifle).

The valve stem broke off. It wasn’t fuel. It was wine. Rich. Red. Wine.

Being the proud American soldiers they were, they didn’t shy away from the obvious threat at hand. They proceeded to rip out the liners of their helmets and then get six-ways-to-Sunday shitfaced … drinking from their steel hats. Dad maintained, sort of, as he was the sarge, and had to get his men into the boxcar when the time came.

The other story he told was of the tank. Panzer tanks were colossal hunks of powerful deadly steel. Dad and the boys came across one abandoned somewhere in the Ardennes, and of course, boys being boys, they decided to drive it around. Whoever was driving pushed the throttle forward a wee bit too much, too fast, sending the occupants flying into the walls. Then they couldn’t figure out how to steer or stop the multi-ton hunk of German engineering. Poor guys took out a farmhouse, barn, haystack, and God knows what else before stalling it in a dry riverbed.

I would have paid money to see it.


by John Sarkis

November 12, 1946 –


Albert Bond Lambert — aviation pioneer, champion golfer

Seventy years ago today, Albert Bond Lambert died in his St. Louis home at the age of 70. As the Missouri state golf champion, he competed in the (Paris) 1900 Olympics, finishing 8th in the individual event. Returning home, he won several local and national tournaments before competing in the 1904 Olympics, held in his hometown of St Louis.

The event was held at Glen Echo Country Club, which was owned by his father-in-law, Col. George McGrew. Lambert finished 8th once more, but his team won the Silver Medal. [1] [2]

The 1900 Paris Olympics had been held in conjunction with the Paris Exposition, and it was here that Lambert first saw men soaring aloft in balloons. So he returned to Paris in 1906, where he learned to become a pilot. [3]

In St Louis, he became one of the leading members of, what at that time, was considered a sport. Competing in many national events, he would often have his balloon filled by Laclede Gas at South 2nd St and Rutger St, and later at Chouteau and Newstead.

On one occasion, the wind took him over the mountains near Chattanooga and into northern Georgia where he was taken hostage by moonshiners, who thought he was a Revenue Agent.

Realizing he needed a field better suited for balloon ascensions, several sites were considered. One was on Olive, just beyond the city limit, and another was near Creve Couer Lake. A third location, north of downtown, between the river and North Broadway, was also a serious contender.

In 1910, the St Louis Aero Club leased a farm near Kinloch [4], and this would be the site of many aviation “firsts”. Kinloch Field would have the first aerial tower, and was the site of (some of) the first aerial photograph(s). [5]

Taking off from there, Teddy Roosevelt would be the first President to fly in a plane. [6]

In 1912, a plane took off from Kinloch Field carrying Albert Berry, who would make the first parachute jump from a plane (landing at Jefferson Barracks — just outside the city’s southern boundary — from an elevation of 1,500 feet).

Albert Lambert bought an airplane in 1911 from the Wright Brothers, and, becoming accomplished in this field, he began promoting St Louis in aviation circles. In 1920, he leased an additional 160 acres at $2000 a year. Buying the property in 1925, he spent his own money on improvements, and then offered it to the City of St Louis at the price he paid for the unimproved land. The City bought it in 1928, and “Lambert Field” became the first Municipal Airport in the country.

Albert Bond Lambert was able to pursue his many hobbies because of the wealth he inherited from his father’s company, Lambert Pharmaceutical. His father, Jordan Lambert, was a St Louis druggist who invented a product called Listerine. Now known as a mouthwash, it was originally marketed to sterilize medical equipment.

Editor’s notes:

a) John Sarkis is retired, residing in the St Louis Area. He posts regularly on the St Louis, Missouri. History, Landmarks and Vintage Photos Facebook page. All content is his Intellectual Property. Screwups are my fault. This essay is gently edited, mostly as denoted by parentheses.  Footnotes below are the editor’s.

b) ==>Can you imagine filling a balloon with natural gas to fly??.

c) ==>Lambert was the first major donor to Charles Lindbergh’s efforts for a non-stop trans-Atlantic flight, and the publicity helped LIndbergh raise quite a bit of money from St Louis.  His plane was named after the organization that Lambert helped found to help Lindbergh: The Spirit of St Louis.


[1] In 1900 the Olympic Golf competition was a simple stroke play event.  In 1904, there was a 36-hole qualifier.  Sixty-four players went on to a single elimination competition, where Lambert was defeated in the quarter-finals.

[2] Contestants represented their various athletic associations and clubs.  Lambert was on the Trans-Mississippi Golf Association team. Golf teams had ten players each, and their score was the summation of all 10 players over the 2-round qualification.

Although golf returned as a medal sport in the 2016 Olympics – it had not been an event since 1904 – the team event has not returned.

[3] The 1904 Olympics were also held concurrent and alongside a World’s Fair: the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis

[4] Kinloch is just Northwest of Saint Louis, between Ferguson and I-170. At the time, known as Kinloch Park. This area is now part of the city of Berkeley, although Kinloch (in a much reduced state) still exists as a municipality.

[5] First aerial photographs.  This is of course contested and subject to interpretation.  The first true aerial photograph was from a hot air balloon, by Frenchman Gaspar-Felix Tournachon, in the 1850s.
Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel successfully designed and launched a rocket with a camera aboard that took aerial photographs in 1897.

Aerial photographs were also being creatively taken from kites as early as 1888. And by birds about the same time.

Wilbur Wright is most often credited as taking the first aerial photographs from a plane, in 1909. He also made “moving pictures” at this time, while in Italy. Actually the shots were made by his passenger, an Italian military officer.

[6]  At the time, Roosevelt was former president – the flight was in 1910).

[Sources] [Another Source]

From Roly to Phones

Life of Roly and other weird stuff


Happy Friday the 13th. I was wandering around my yard in Erie, Colorado early this morning (garbage day!) and found several of these delightful little creatures.  What do you call them?

Three yoga poses of a Roly Poly

Three yoga poses of a Roly Poly

As a kid, growing up in Wisconsin, we usually called them “Roly Polies”; which is the plural of “Roly Poly” I suppose. Sometimes we called them “Potato Bugs.” I don’t know way. We would tease and taunt them, so they’d curl themselves up into little balls; then we’d wait until they ventured to “come out” and then scare them into little balls again.  Kids are mean. It’s a universal rule, … no?

Now I learn that many folks call them “Pill bugs.”

But they’re not “bugs” at all.  At least they are not insects.  Nor arachnids (i.e. spiders and the like).

Pill bugs are actually, amazingly (!), crustaceans, more closely related to crabs, lobsters and shrimp than beetles, worms or spiders.

Marty Robbins (who wrote and recorded “Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso” … one of my favorites) recorded a cute little song called “Roly Poly” in 1946, … seventy years ago.  Although it sounds like it was about something other than our terrestrial crustacean pals.

Well, my wandering mind. That odd fact got me to thinking about some of the trees in the yard this fine morning.  Got me to thinking about those that are green all year long and commonly all referred to as “Pine Trees”.

Well, they are all related (Coniferous), but they are not all “pine trees”; to be a pine tree it must have more than one needle attached to their branch at any one location where any needles appear.  The most common around here, the Austrian Pine (no, not Australian) – more correctly called a Black Pine (pinus nigra)– has two needles per bundle.  A little higher up in elevation we get a lot more of the rugged Ponderosa pine; those bundles can be either two or three, but most trees have more “threes” bundles than “twos.”

Trees with single needles are not pines; they are either spruces or firs.  A flat two-sided needle indicates a fir.  More frequently found around here are spruces.  The single spruce needle has four sides.  The easiest way to tell a fir from a spruce is to pluck a needle and try and roll it between your fingers; the four-sided spruce needle rolls easily; the flat fir needle, not so easily.

An exception is the lovely larch tree, which we don’t see much around here.  These sweeties have 20 to 50(!) needles per bundle.  So you’d think they are pines. But they are generally deciduous; the needles turn yellow and most of them fall off during the winter. So they aren’t even pines, claiming their own genus, Larix (or Larch).


Moving to one final Kingdom (crustateans = animal kingdom; conifers = plant kingdom; best I know there are 5 or 6, but I can’t name them) we come to what I call “The Magic Kingdom”; or the kingdom of fungi. Yes, the ugly, but often loveable, fungus.

I call it Magic Kingdom because of its mind-boggling diversity and for what its members do: which is a lot of the very cool (and dirty) work in this world.

Among these tasks is a very special assignment for yeast.  At least I think it’s important. Yeast can transform carbohydrates and water into carbon dioxide – and ethanol.  It works this magic on everything from grape juice, apple juice to a brewed concoction of malted barley – turning them into wine, hard cider and beer.  Let us give thanks for the Magic Kingdom!

Finally, returning to 70 years ago (in fact 70 years ago today!) I’ll share this very short guest essay from John Sarkis, whose work I’ve shared before.  [John is a retired St Louis native, who regularly posts interesting St Louis-area history blurbs on the FaceBook page “St Louis Missouri, History, Landmarks and Vintage photos.” He’s given me permission to re-post his material].



May 13, 1946 – 70 years ago today, Southwestern Bell announced that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) had granted them a license for radio-telephone service, which would enable those in St Louis to be the first in the nation to make and receive phone calls in their car.

1946 -- First Mobile Car Phone support equipment

1946 — First Mobile Car Phone support equipment

Covering a 75-mile radius of downtown, calls to an auto had to be placed through a mobile operator at 2654 Locust. This was transferred over normal telephone lines to the office at 1010 Pine, where the call went out over VHF radio from the 250-Watt transmitter on the building’s roof.

Service cost $15 a month, after a $25 installation fee. There was an additional charge per call, depending on time and distance.

As seen in this photo, necessary equipment took much of the trunk space.

(Thanks John!)

[Editor Joe: I think the range was very optimistic.  Still, even at 10-20 miles, Not bad]

See you all in June.  Ciao




Joe Girard © 2016

Dewey felt Bluey

When Dewey Felt Bluey (And Harry Didn’t)

Guest Essay. By John Sarkis 2015 ©

November 3, 1948 – 67 years-ago today, President Harry Truman boards his train at St Louis Union Station, and is handed a copy of the Chicago Tribune, bearing the headline, DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.

Probably the most famous election headline ever -- Dewey Defeats Truman, 1948

Probably the most famous election headline ever — Dewey Defeats Truman, 1948

As the incumbent President, Truman covered more than 22,000 miles, making 271 speeches in his “whistle-stop” election campaign. But FDR’s previous Vice-President, Henry Wallace, had decided to enter the Presidential race on the Progressive ticket. And Democratic Governor, Strom Thurmond (SC), was running on the “State’s Rights” ticket, also known as the Dixiecrats. So with the party divided into factions, most polls and political pundits were predicting an easy Dewey victory. As a U.S. District Attorney, and later as special prosecutor, Dewey came to prominence by his pursuit of organized crime figures, Dutch Schultz and “Lucky” Luciano, as well as white-collar crime figures, including sending the former President of the New York Stock Exchange to prison. [editor’s note: Take that, current DOJ).

For those of us not alive at the time, it might be hard to understand, but Thomas Dewey was the American Hero of his day, considered second only to Charles Lindbergh in popularity. Several movies, and a top radio show of the day,”Gang Busters”, were modeled after his career. Having been the Governor of New York since 1943, he had been the Republican nominee in the previous election, which had been FDR’s narrowest victory.

After voting in the city of Independence, MO, the Truman family spent the night in Excelsior Springs, where Harry went to bed early. Based on the results available at that time, Truman assumed he would lose.

Editors of the Chicago Tribune assumed the same, and with their regular staff on strike, the first-edition deadline was even earlier. Managing editor J. Loy “Pat” Maloney had to make the headline call, and he relied on the record of Arthur Sears Henning, the paper’s longtime Washington correspondent. Henning said Dewey would win. When they realized their mistake, the papers were recalled, but it’s estimated 150,000 made it into circulation, including those headed to St Louis.


John Sarkis posts regularly at the Facebook page for “St. Louis Missouri. History, Landmarks & Vintage photos”
John is a native Saint Louisan, is retired, and now lives in Kirkwook, Missouri, a suburb of Saint Louis.

Editor’s further notes: I know about the fractured ticket, the Dixiecrats and Dewey’s “Rock Star” status.  However, the strike at the “Trib” makes the story of the headline more understandable.  — JG

Beautiful Miss Audrey

Beautiful Miss Audrey

Guest Essay.  By John Sarkis 2015 ©

Few today are familiar with the name Audrey Munson, but depending on your age and location, it’s likely you’ve seen her image hundreds, if not thousands of times.

Audrey Munson, the "American Venus"

Audrey Munson, the “American Venus”

In today’s terminology, Audrey would be considered a supermodel, and quite possibly, the first in America. Born in upstate New York, her divorced mother moved the two of them to New York City when Audrey was fifteen. After a chance encounter with a local photographer, she soon found herself modeling for the top civic artists in the country. And as a result, her likeness can be found in museums and municipal buildings around the country, on canvas and in sculpture. But it was Adolph Weinman who immortalized her. A sculptor by trade, Weinman produced two of the most iconic coin designs in U.S. history, using Audrey Munson as his model.

1916-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar, obverse (w/ Audrey Munson as Liberty)

1916-S Walking Liberty Half Dollar, obverse (w/ Audrey Munson as Liberty)

The Walking Liberty half dollar, minted from 1916-1947, shows Lady Liberty, draped in the American flag, striding toward the rising sun and a bright future. His other coin, which many mistakenly called the Mercury Dime because of its wings, was actually a Winged Liberty, with Lady Liberty wearing a hat with wings, symbolizing one of our basic rights, freedom of thought.

Utilizing her fame, Audrey went to Hollywood, where she starred in four silent films [1]. This was before the industry adopted the Motion Picture Code, and many films of the day, including Audrey’s, featured nudity. Which finally leads us to the local [St Louis] connection of this story.


1916 Mercury Head (Winged Liberty) Dime, Obverse

1916 Mercury Head (Winged Liberty) Dime, Obverse

October 1, 1921 — 94 years-ago this month, Audrey Munson was appearing at the Royal Theater, 210 N. Sixth Street, St Louis, Missouri, where her movie, “Innocence” was being shown. The movie began by showing many of the statues for which she had posed nude, including some which had been exhibited at our 1904 St Louis World’s Fair. [2] Following each statue, were scenes of Miss Munson dancing, fully clothed. But in her personal appearance, she wore a gauzy drapery, posed on a platform under spotlight, in front of the screen. She remained fully covered until the last pose.

Seated, with her back to the audience, she lowered her drapery, exposing her back. She and the theater owner were arrested; the film confiscated. They were charged with conspiracy to commit acts injurious to public morals. Unbelievably fast by today’s standards, the trial was held later that week. After viewing the film, and hearing testimony, the Jury was only out five minutes before returning a verdict of not guilty. Afterward, Munson said, “Clothes we began to wear only when guile and evil thoughts entered our heads. They do harm to our bodies and worse to our souls.”

Sadly, Audrey’s life unraveled when she could no longer find modeling work, and the following year she attempted suicide. Spiraling into depression, she was committed to a psychiatric facility at the age of 39, where she remained for the last 65 years of her life. She passed away in 1996, at the age of 104.


John Sarkis posts regularly at the Facebook page for “St. Louis Missouri. History, Landmarks & Vintage photos”
John is a native Saint Louisan, is retired, and now lives in Kirkwook, Missouri, a suburb of Saint Louis.

Editor notes:

[1] IMDB lists only three movies for Miss Munson, failing to include Heedless Moths, a sort of autobiography of Miss Munson herself (although she doesn’t play herself) and in which she appears in several scenes in various stages of undress.

Audrey Munson in "Innocence"

Audrey Munson in “Innocence”

The movie cited here (Innocence) does not show up on IMDB or her biography. But surely it was filmed and presented, for here is an advertisement I found from a 1922 Duluth, Minnesota newspaper, the Duluth Herald.

So, perhaps she was in at least five movies.

[2] Also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
Audrey Munson could not have posed for the actual statues seen at the 1904 Fair; she was only 12 or so as the sculptures were being made, and hadn’t yet been “discovered.”  As most statues were made of temporary materials, including staff, she had likely posed for re-sculpturing of many of them.
Munson did model for statues at the 1915 San Francisco world’s Fair, the Pan Pacific Exposition.