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Tell it Like it Was - Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Adapted from the original email-letters from Paul Ovaitt - Original dates 5/4/2021 and 5/8/2021


Helen Mae Haupt Weissflug – Janet Haferkamp Fuhr – Edwin and Regina Haferkamp Haupt – Uptown Store – TNT area – Elmer Kemp – Ruth Struckhoff Heman

Hello again, gentle readers. Do you ever wonder who lived in your house before you? Even if your dwelling is new, you are undoubtedly walking the same field or terrace that some early Augusta resident owned. I have been quizzing local people so long now, that I realize that Augusta housing is a lot like musical chairs.


I and my wife, Denise, for some 36 years, owned, lived in, then rented out, the beautiful frame house on the northwest corner of Chestnut and Jackson. In February, 2021, we sold it to Kevin and Susie Snyders.

Local historian, Bill Schiermeier, visited the house in the late 70s and wrote, “Although it was built in 1902 by Berthold Mallinckrodt, its style is typically 19th century. A comfortable corner front porch, Sharon mould room ceilings, suspended brick flues, and very interesting wood graining on doors and trim, combine to give this home the pleasant atmosphere of days long ago. Louis Haupt, an early Matson merchant purchased the home in later years.”

Often, it occurred to me, that I too, was participating in this real estate merry-go-round. Of course, I had heard about the Haupts, who dwelled there right before us. But recently, Janet Haferkamp Fuhr, organist at Ebenezer UCC, told me that her cousin, Helen Mae Haupt Weissflug, grew up in our house, and was living in Chesterfield. Janet thought Helen Mae might participate in one of my tortuous, but benevolent, telephone inquisitions. Deal.

Photos: 1-Home Sweet Home, 2- Helen Mae with Edwin, Regina and Ina, 3 and 4- Augusta High Yearbook 1945 (text and photo), 5-Helen today at home in Chesterfield.


Helen today

Paul: Hello Helen Mae, have we ever met before?

Helen Mae: I don’t know. I know I met your wife. She showed me your kitchen one time.

P: May I ask when and where were you born?

H: March, 1929, in St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Charles. There was no hospital, of course, in Augusta, and I don’t think the bridge to Washington was built then.

P: And your parents were…?

H: My father was Edwin Haupt; he was from Matson.

P: In my last story I reported that Edith Knoernschild’s father bought the Matson general store from your uncle, Louis Haupt.

H: Okay, that was my dad’s father. He ran the Matson Store. So, it was my grandpa Haupt.

P: I stand corrected. At any rate, I read in Cracker Barrel Country that Louis Haupt bought the store from John Schiermeier in 1898. And your mother was Regina…?

H: Haferkamp, and she was Janet Fuhr’s aunt.

P: (Janet’s father was Arthur Haferkamp. He ran the Uptown Store from 1941 to 1966. Her grandfather Haferkamp owned the store from 1917 to, I suppose, 1941.) During the years I knew Arthur, he was a real estate agent for Countryside Brokers. And no matter how high my ladder as I painted the town, he would always call out a greeting to me as he drove around Augusta.

P: Did you have brothers or sisters?

H: I have one sister named Ina. She lives in Silver Springs, Maryland. She graduated from Elmhurst College with a financial degree, and she worked at the botanical garden in Silver Springs as a bookkeeper.

Helen (Left) and Family

P: Wasn’t your dad a bookkeeper for the Augusta Garage? Is there a connection there?

H: I don’t think she planned it that way. The garage came late in dad’s life. Pete Kemner, the father of Paul, Bob and Peggy owned it. During the war dad worked for Atlas Powder Company, in what they called the TNT area. And he also worked for Uncle Arthur in the Uptown Store for a while.

P: Were there many people who worked in the TNT area?

H: I think a lot of Augusta people worked there. It was good for the locals, but not good for the people who were run out of Hamburg and Howell.

And mom was the organist at Ebenezer Church after Mrs. Schaaf retired. Mom also played for the glee club in school. And she taught piano to kids in the area.

P: Did she teach you piano?

H: No, I took lessons from Mrs. Schaaf. They had the house uphill from Augusta Winery, across from Dan Kemner.

P: The Hackmann family lived in that house when I first came here. The Augusta Wine Co. has a wine garden there now.

Did your mom ever work outside the Augusta area?

H: No. I don’t think so; she did have one year of college at Mizzou. She wanted to be a home economics agent, but then the war came along, and her dad said she was needed in the store. So, she didn’t go any further in college.

P: The first time I ever set foot in your old house had to do with your aunt, Erna Haferkamp. In the eighties, I owned and lived in the Salem School House down by Berg’s crossing. Every year Erna would call me and give me marching orders to canvass my neighborhood and collect money for a mental health organization. Eventually I would bring the cash to Erna at your house.

Did Erna live with you as you grew up?

H: No, not growing up, but later, after my dad died, she lived with mom off and on. Before that she lived in the family house, the Haferkamp house, a block down the street from the church…that big yellow house.

P: Down Public Street?

H: You know, they didn’t have street names when I grew up.

P: That house is owned by Lyndon Stelzer and it’s no longer yellow. The Wilsons once owned it too.

H: Right. That’s where my mom and her family grew up. And we lived there until I was 6 or 7 years old. We lived upstairs. I think Janet and her family lived up there for a while after we left. That’s when we moved to your house.

P: Did you like one house better than the other?

H: Well, we had more room when we moved to the one you bought. The first house had that big pasture, a garage, the barn and a lot more outbuildings. But at the new house we had a shed and a chicken house besides the barn…and the outdoor facility.

P: Yes, the two-seater outhouse which I used daily, because no one told me I couldn’t, and I didn’t see anybody harassing Mops Fuhr for using his. So, when did you get an indoor bathroom?

H: I think it was after I was in college!

P: Where did you go to elementary school?

H: Okay, our school was, at that time, a little east of Mt. Pleasant Winery where Dan Kemner’s house was. When they tore the school down, he built there.

P: Dan told me that two houses were built from that school, his (now owned by John and Susan-last name lost from my porous brain) and the home owned by Kathy Kessler. And the high school was in the same building you are speaking about I believe.

H: Correct. I went to 7th and 8th grade in the new building on Locust, and then high school. But they didn’t have the gym. We played our sports on a dirt court behind the church. The gym was built after I graduated. The grade school was downstairs and the high school upstairs.

P: My friend Sam Stang, the glass blower, has a 1945 yearbook, and I found your picture in there. You were a junior.


P: What about the black schools; were there still any in the area when you grew up?

H: I think it might have been somewhere on Schleursburg Road. But cater-cornered from our home, where the Fuhrs lived, that was a black school when my mom grew up.

P: You mentioned Schleursburg Road…I remember Elmer Kemp and his wife lived up on the ridge when I first came here.

H: Yes, that was one of the names…there were a couple people…they dealt with my grandpa Haferkamp’s store. And mom worked there for a while, and she had a real good…communion with those fellows. They got along really well, and they liked for her to wait on them.

P: Well, Elmer seemed like a sweet man. I liked him a lot. I would see him at Frank’s General Store. And on one occasion he hired me to winterize his home.

Tell me what you did for entertainment when you were young.

H: At the Legion Hall, I think once a month, they had dances. After they built the bridge to Washington we could go to movies if we found somebody that had a car to drive.

P: When you were little, was it fun to go to the Legion dances and watch your parents dance, or would kids get up, jump around and dance too?

H: What I kind of remember is in the back room, where there are bathrooms now, they had this big bed thing, like a featherbed, and we kids all got dumped there to sleep while the parents had their entertainment. And of course, they had picnics there and we always celebrated…like, Memorial Day. We’d meet up at the Legion Hall and parade all the way to the cemetery.

P: Nice! That’s still a very moving ceremony.

Did you ever have any jobs as a youth, small ways to pick up a little money?

H: Well, I picked strawberries one time…(laugh). Actually, one summer, between my junior and senior year, I worked at Deaconess Hospital. And the next summer, I worked at Southwestern Bell, typing most of the time. And then I went to college. After college I worked at the Masonic Home of Missouri for three and a half years. I was secretary to the superintendent. I got room and board there, plus my salary. Then I got married to Robert Weissflug, and I worked at Phillips Petroleum Co. for 34 years.

Robert and I were married November 25, 1954. It was Thanksgiving Day. There was a group of us together on Halloween after he got out of service, and somebody asked when we were going to get married, and I said, “well, we’ve got a long weekend after Thanksgiving, why don’t we do it then?” So, in less than a month, we planned our wedding and got married, and that was it.

P: Did you have children?

H: No.

P: Where did you go to school after high school?

H: In Kirksville, at Northeast Missouri State Teachers College. Now it’s Truman State. North of the Missouri River, you went to Kirksville. South of the river, you went to Cape Girardeau.

P: Can you describe what Augusta looked like in your youth?

H: I recall the streets were paved then, and I’m sure everybody had a garden. We always had a big one. I know there was a butcher shop over where the woodshop is (Augusta Gallery.) Olie Thilking, who had the house behind there, he delivered fuel oil. Olie was also the undertaker.

P: Was fuel oil the main source of heat?

H: I think so… unless you burned wood. Our kitchen had a combination stove; you could burn wood or coal, but the other half was electric. The town already had electric while I was there. Of course, every time it thundered in Troy, the power went out. So, we kept our lanterns ready to go. And for water we had a cistern, but when they put in the well system, we had running water. Our well was shared by 3 households.

I remember the Whitehouse Tavern. Kids used to go there for hamburgers and cokes. They had a pool table in the back. There was also the uptown tavern, across from the Uptown Store. I recall Rupie Mallinckrodt and his wife ran it for a while.

The blacksmith shop was there, but before Mr. Holt took it over, my great-uncle ran it. His name was Fritz Schmidt, and his son, Herbert, was the doctor in Marthasville.

P: What role did the Missouri River play in your own life?

H: Well, it flooded periodically, and that’s when Anita Mallinckrodt lived out in the Bottoms. When it flooded, she came and stayed with me. So, we were really good buddies. Anita and her dog, Fido, came and we stayed in the upstairs bedroom.

When Rupie Mallinckrodt caught catfish from the river, everybody in town had catfish. He had catfish sandwiches and fries and fresh tomatoes. It was good!

P: Can you describe what your roaming range was when you were young? How far would you walk, for instance?

H: Well, we’d walk up Klondike hill. And sometimes, we schoolkids had barbecues up there. Or we would walk from the house out to the Lutheran church, up 94 to the town cemetery and back on that road. We did a lot of walking. 94 was a gravel road. Or we walked the railroad track

P: (Then Helen Mae and I wandered into a different topic: relatives. Now, people who have only lived in Augusta for a few years, probably have no idea how important it was for an outsider like me…I’ve only been here since 1976… to pay attention to who is related to whom. Not only did it help you understand how the town works, but it prevented stepping clumsily on the toes of someone’s first cousin or sibling. Like Bambi’s mother said, more-or-less, if you can’t think of something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.)

I believe you said it was your father’s father, Louis, who owned the store in Matson before Edith Knoernschild’s father bought it.

H: And my other grandfather owned the Uptown Store in Augusta. And Fred Knoernschild, who ran the downtown store was a cousin. So, I’m related to Edith also. My maternal grandmother was a Knoernschild, and there’s lots of Knoerschilds.

And if we’re going to talk about Matson, the depot agent for the MKT, that you mentioned in your last story, was my uncle, Otto Dieckman.

P: What was the hardest or most frustrating thing about living in Augusta in your youth?

H: You know, today it would be frustrating, but we were able to get along, we had grocery stores. We had…how many service stations? Uncle Arthur had Texaco, and then there was Standard at the Garage, and downtown we had something also. Basically, we had everything we needed. We had doctors in town; we used Dr. Schmidt in Marthasville.

I’m glad I’m from Augusta, but I’m glad I’m not living there now. I’ve read about the guy who’s buying all the wineries and building a golf course and all that fancy stuff.

P: I’m not going to touch that, Helen Mae, but I enjoyed talking with you. Thank you!

Many of you know that Ruth Struckhoff Heman (Aloys Struckhoff’s sister) died on April 8, 2021. She was the fourth person interviewed by Tell It Like It Was videos.





I had several conversations with her over the last few years. She was always friendly and helpful, and I will miss her.

Be good and be curious.

Paul

 

Errata for Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Original date 5/8/2021


Hello gentle readers. I’m back with a few more notes from Helen Mae. After I emailed her a copy of my writing, she sent a rapid correction. It seems I misspoke when I addressed Ms. Schaaf as Mrs. instead of Miss.

Helen Mae: Thank you for the copy of our interview. It was fun reminiscing.


I think one correction is necessary. It is Miss Schaaf rather than Mrs. If ever there was a candidate for single person of the year, I think she would qualify. As I recall there were three single ladies as I was growing up -- Miss Alita Schaaf, Miss Evelyn Koch and Miss Clara Schmidt, who chummed together. The first two remained single, but after Clara sold her house (across from the downtown store) she moved to Marthasville to live with her brother and ended up marrying his best friend.

Paul: Thanks for the correction. I know I’ve heard Evelyn Koch’s name more than a few times. Can you tell me more about her?

H: I've been trying to remember some things about Miss Evelyn Koch. I'm sure she taught in the lower grades, but I can't remember that I was ever in any of her classes. She was quite active in Sunday School, and was my teacher for a lot of the time. I still have the Birthday Book she gave me in 1944 for perfect attendance. And I remember she was active in planning the reunions of Augusta High School graduates. Since the classes were small, the gatherings always included all graduates, not just one particular year.


I think both she and her mother -- Tante Koch -- were good cooks and bakers. Her mother used to bake a dozen doughnuts for my birthday every year. And I think Evelyn baked my wedding cake. Their house was across the road from the school, and the property is probably now a part of the winery complex.


I hope this helps you with a bit of information on Miss Koch.

So, I called Hellen Mae this morning to ask her permission to use her emails. She responded affirmatively and went on to tell me where Ebenezer’s Sunday school was. It was there on the UCC grounds, a small building on the southeast corner of the property. Across the street to the east was Lowenhaupts’, which some of you know as Jody McWilliams’ art shop, or Kate’s Coffee or Root Restaurant.


Sunday School

Just to further satisfy my curiosity I consulted the writings of Anita Mallinckrodt and Bill Schiermeier. Here’s what I gleaned:

In Anita’s Harmonie Verein book, I read that in autumn 1919 there were “ homecoming events for veterans, especially those returning from Europe….” As part of the ceremonies, “four granddaughters of Civil War veterans (Alita Schaaf, Evelyn Koch, Walda Mallinckrodt, and Laura Nahm) conducted a special Gold Star Service at the Homecoming in honor of the soldiers who had died in ‘the Great War.’ All businesses in Augusta were closed for the day (at the time they included three general stores, furniture store, blacksmith shop, mill, two ice cream parlors, saddlery shop, and bank.)” I can’t help but notice there’s no mention of taverns in the list of businesses that were closed that day. Personally, I think that is just dandy, but also remember that prohibition had been ratified by the states on January, 16, 1919 and went into effect on January 17, 1920. From reading Anita’s work, I know that “ice cream parlor” sometimes translated to “drinks sometimes available.”

In Cracker Barrell Country, Vol. 1, Schiermeier notes that Miss Evelyn Koch “taught in Augusta schools for 39 years.”

Now, my unseen readers, it may or may not interest you to know that I am not on Facebook. I do, however, email each story to Debbie Schaefer, and she posts the stories for your reading pleasure. Sometimes Dave Klaas sends me a screenshot of some of your comments. What I’ve seen looks friendly enough, and I don’t think I’m in any great danger of being tarred and feathered just yet. Thank you, all,

for reading my musings!

Happy Mothers’ Day and stay curious.

PaulO

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