Friday, December 22, 2023

Zombies Invade the Southside! New Book by Walter A. Schroeder

Hi, everyone, it's Julie, the daughter of Walter. He's the author of this blog, but I'm the one who posts his essays here online. I'm also the editor of his publications for the Old Munichburg Association, and I wanted to let you know he has a new collection of memoirs!

We just picked up the books from the printer a few days ago. Are we in time for Christmas? Not quite, but Downtown Book & Toy and J Street Vintage will soon have copies for sale. I'm sure there will be other places, as well. We are also anticipating some booksignings and perhaps some public author talks, too.

Why is it called “Zombies”? you may ask. Well, this is collection of essays about a number of different topics. Would people pay attention if it was titled “More Essays by Walter”? We went with a title that grabs your attention. So: the title comes from a whimsical story about the time when all the kids on the block saw the 1943 comic-horror movie Revenge of the Zombies . . . and then spent the next week staggering around the neighborhood's sidewalks, arms outstretched, wearing vacant expressions—causing passing motorists to do double-takes! Worse, as they muttered "I will do thy bidding. . ." their mothers caught on to the trick and told them to clean their rooms, or do the dishes!

But perhaps more to the point, it has to do with the magic of details. In his introduction, my dad talks about how “history” comes to us as a collection of facts, but we all have a hard time picturing how things really “were.” His goal in Zombies is to revive scenes of the past so we can better understand and imagine what Jefferson City was like (at least for him) in the 1940s. (Was his experience “representative”? Well, if not his, whose would be?) As he explains, “In every generation . . . young people learn only the skeleton of the past. I want to put meat on the skeleton’s bones.”

In other news:

  • Dad's book Buddy's Stories, published in 2018 by the Old Munichburg Association, sold out this year, so we reprinted it. So it's still available, too!
  • His Breweries and Saloons book is also available. It's a relatively small book, but it's packed full of interesting information about the early breweries and saloons/taverns in Jefferson City. Sure, it's got lots of cool photos, old ads from the local German newspapers, and other illustrations, but it's also got a lot of colorful information in the text—the text is substantial, so don't let its compactness fool you. Be sure to check it out!
  • Dad's book Southside Sketches, published in 2016, is now out of print and unavailable.

One more note: Zombies, Buddy's Stories, and Breweries and Saloons are all published by the Old Munichburg Association, which is a nonprofit neighborhood association dedicated to the revitalization of Jefferson City's historic Southside. We are a group of homeowners, business owners, and others who share a love of the district and a desire to promote, preserve, and protect it. Proceeds from the sales go to OMA.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

New Publication: Broadway School in the 1940s

It’s a fact: a school is more than a building, more than books, more than the teachers and students within—and the farther you get from your school days, the more you appreciate the impact of school on you and your community.

The building on the northeast corner of Dunklin and Broadway was a public school from 1904 to 1955. Today, most people know it as the Carpenters Hall, since the local Carpenters union operated it as an office building longer than it was a school. Now, it has been remodeled into private apartments. Schroeder breathes life into the history we sense as we ponder this historic building.

Reflecting in his eighties, historian Walter A. Schroeder shares his personal experiences of attending Jefferson City’s Broadway Elementary School in the 1940s. It was a much different learning environment than what today’s schoolchildren experience. While public documents and newspaper accounts can present a basic outline of what public elementary schools were like in the past, only accounts like these—of personal experiences—can make history come to life.

A slim volume packed with information, Broadway School in the 1940s offers details like these:

  • All boys wore long pants; all girls wore dresses. All shoes were made of leather.
  • Class size was 30–35 children, and all the teachers were unmarried women.
  • All pupils had their weight and height recorded every six weeks.
  • Student desks had a round hole originally meant to hold an ink bottle, but the ink bottles used in the 1940s didn’t fit the holes. So kids dropped paper wads down the holes: “Bombs away!”
  • Students learned to write in cursive using the Palmer method.
  • Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays were observed separately, on different days.
  • The playground had separate sides for boys and girls, with the same playground equipment on both sides.
  • The hand-held, brass school bell was wielded by the principal or by the janitor.
  • Report cards included notes on deportment, study habits, and attitudes.
  • Cloakrooms held coats, caps, gloves, scarves, and galoshes—but no actual cloaks!
  • All the students, and nearly all of the teachers, walked to school every day. School was never closed for inclement weather.

In addition to his detailed accounts of what Broadway School was like in the 1940s, Schroeder offers his reflections on the changes he’s observed after seventy years: decorum in the classroom, changing technology, evolving public educational policy, diversity, and more.

“I want people to have a detailed description,” Schroeder says. “Over a thousand kids were educated in that building. Early education leaves an indelible imprint in our lives. Elementary education was so different in the past. And there are few people left who have memories of Broadway School as it was.”

An entertaining, authentic collection of memories of a wartime schoolchild, Broadway School in the 1940s paints vivid scenes of a historic elementary school, inspiring readers of all ages to make comparisons to their own school memories.

Broadway School in the 1940s, by Walter A. Schroeder
Published in 2023 by the Historic City of Jefferson, Inc.
58 pp.; 28 photographs and illustrations