Clayton Memories

Take a stroll down Memory Lane in Clayton, Missouri

Carl Rogge

Carl Fredrick Rogge was born Oct. 11, 1910, on Lucky Street, in St. Louis and passed away Aug 4, 2015, at the age of 104. Obituary.

October 27, 2010 – ‘Then and Now: Class of 1928 alumnus reflects on changes of life
in and around CHS’
– Report by Jackie Leong for CHS Globe

Out on the remaining half of the CHS quad are two sugar maple trees, but these are no ordinary trees. Donated by the class of 1928, they have since aged alongside countless graduating classes. And one of the original students who planted the trees is currently a cause for celebration.

Carl Rogge, now one of the oldest surviving CHS graduates, recently celebrated his hundredth birthday. Rogge attended the Homecoming parade and football game, as well as last year’s graduation of thehundredth CHS class, and has watched his former high school, as well as hometown change over the years. Both, he claims, have changed a thousand percent, starting with but certainly not limited to the fact that the CHS that Rogge knew didn’t have a Homecoming to go to. However, CHS was still quite involved in sports much as it is now.

We had tennis courts on the east side of the building, Rogge said,and behind the school we had a field, but with no seats, and a sort of track you couldn’t actually run races on it, but you could practice. CHS has undergone numerous changes over the years, and though its core course matter has stayed roughly the same over the decades, Rogge particularly enjoyed history and geometry classes, among a list of others its facilities have not.

The change that has impressed itself upon Rogge the most, however, is the CHS library.Several years ago, I was talking to the [CHS] librarian, Rogge said. And she said the library now has 25,000 books and maybe 35 to 36 of them are checked out. Our library was the back wall of the study hall, maybe 35 feet wide, and we had maybe 500 books. And maybe we checked 2-3 of them out. Of course, the list doesn’t stop there. Rogge cites the auditorium and the gym, even the lunch counter, which he refers to as unbelievable, among others and for good reason; decades after Rogge’s graduation, CHS itself moved in 1954 to its current location.

Before the move, CHS was located across the street from the grade school and in front of a small cafe-type house where children could buy food for lunch all CHS had to offer in terms of sustenance, according to Rogge, was a drinking fountain.

Rogge’s experience in Clayton was one of a different lifestyle: Clayton, much younger and still developing in places, was less complex than it is now.

Transportation across Clayton, as Rogge noted, has changed drastically over years as Clayton has grown, so have the ways of traversing it. The Wydown streetcar (affectionately referred to as the ˜Wydown Dinky” because of its size), used to run down Wydown Boulevard’s now-grassy median. Until Skinker was a common mode of travel, though, Rogge admits he didn’t use the streetcar much. Hitchhiking, it turns out, was also popular among schoolchildren.

There were some apartments on Skinker, and children had to walk down Wydown to school, Rogge said. And sometimes people might pick you up and drive you as far as they were going, and then of course you’d have to walk the rest of the way.

As is the case currently, there was no busing system, and so tuition-paying children coming in from out-of-district areas would often pay farmers to give them a lift to school and back.

Clayton itself has progressed as well, and the products are seen in both what has been built up as well as what is no longer there. When Rogge was in school, he would often work in one of his family’s grocery stores, of which there were seven. Those stores Jim Remly Markets as Rogge said, are long gone.

However, in terms of entertainment, Clayton has come a long way. There wasn’t anything to do in Clayton, Rogge said. It was a dull town. Though bowling was just starting to come out, which Rogge would sometimes try with friends, and there were a few movie houses on Grand street where one could trade 50 cents for a show complete with an orchestral overture, news briefing, a chorus show, and then finally the feature, there wasn’t much else to do.

Rogge also notes that most of the good clothing stores were downtown. And in 1928, clothing was a different deal. We used to wear suits all the time, and we were never without a tie, Rogge said. We didn’t care how hot it was sometimes we’d wear straw hats. In addition, jeans were for garbage people or anyone whose job required heavy labor, but they were not for everyday wear, a sentiment that Rogge harbors till this day. Nowadays, people wear jeans all the time, and they say it’s okay, Rogge says. I don’t care. I still don’t own a pair.

Clayton has in itself been the site of steady change, but memories of its bygone days are planted firmly in a seat of esteem: in addition to the preserved class portraits from each year, those in Rogge’s class, the class of 1928, hang in a place of tribute near the principal’s office.

Rogge’s class which had about 60 graduates, of the 290 total CHS students it was one of many firsts: the first to give anything back to the school, namely the trees. It was also the first to have a class reunion, another of which Rogge plans to hold for just him and his other remaining classmate, Betty Weinert, who resides in Arizona. For Rogge has never stopped being a part of CHS. He still visits it periodically,especially the one thing that still grabs his attention the most: the library.I try to stop by,Rogge said. I go in, and am amazed.

March 2010 – Interview by Rosemary Hardy

Carl Rogge was born Oct. 11, 1910, in the city of St. Louis, on Lucky St., which is no longer in existence. His family moved to Columbus OH, then moved back to Mt. Olive, on Olive St. Rd. In 1924 the family moved to 167 N. Central, the year that Carl started at Clayton High School, at the corner of Jackson and Maryland.

The school had a single tennis court, east of the school. Their track was a cinder track around the tennis court. This was adjacent to Jackson. Maryland Grade School was across the street, but the Bracken building site was an empty lot.

His wife’s father, Mr. Duffner, was a builder. He was involved in building the Clayton High School, also McBride High School, and St. Joseph’s Church. The Duffers lived in Pasadena Hills, in Normandy. When Carl graduated from Clayton High School in 1928, he went to work for his Uncle, Dave Remley, who had a market at Delmar and Kingsland in the Loop area where the streetcar turned around. There was a hotel (for men?) across the street. Downtown St. Louis was a booming area in 1928. Carl’s uncle had a number of grocery stores all over the city. One was downtown, at 6th and Franklin (now Martin Luther King). It was a huge store. On the second floor, which was cut out in the middle and open, there was a cafeteria. There was also a beauty parlor and music store, and on the third floor a bakery. Then came the stock market crash in 1929, and things were very bad.

When Carl was 11 years old, he worked in the downtown store on Saturdays, for $1. In 1928 when he was 18 years old, he worked for $3 a day, six days a week, with no lunch hour – he just ate and went back to work.

Just to the south, on 6th at Delmar, Uncle Dave’s son had a store that was almost as large. The son’s name was David Lynn Remley, and the store was called “Lynn’s”. David Lynn’s son had a store at 6th and Lucas, called Thomas, the son’s name. And there as a fourth store to the south, where Union Market was – a complete grocery store, running all the way to the rear, that a cousin Edward Remley operated. The area was very populated, enough to support all those stores. There was a large Jewish population, and they sold items on the sidewalks, in front of their homes.

The Rogge family sold the house at 167 N. Central, a Dutch colonial, for $13,000 in 1946. Carl eventually went into “finance”, and worked at the American Investment Company, a large conglomerate that had 150 furniture stores and other businesses. Donald Barnes was the president. It was in the Ambassador Building downtown, and then moved to Clayton, on Maryland Avenue, across from the present Brown Shoe Co., in 1953, into the two buildings (still there) which Mr. Barnes built. Donald Barnes also owned the St. Louis Browns. Al Kerth was mayor at that time.

Carl retired in 1974, at the age of 63. The business was “sold out” four years later. Donald Barnes Jr. built a house across from St. Louis Country Club. He also developed a golf course at Clayton and Clarkson (Meadowbrook).

Carl has been in touch with the principal of Clayton High School, and will be taking part in the graduation ceremonies, in cap and gown. (Says he will look like Rip Van Winkle).

His 1928 graduation class had 60 students, evenly split between boys and girls. There was only one Jewish family attending school, the Kingburgs, who had the newspaper route. When the apartments were built on Skinker, across from Forest Park, more Jewish families moved in, and the school population grew. There was nothing much west of Meramec Ave. Clayton ended at Meramec, except for a small supply company.


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