Answer Man

August 2, 2014

Answer Man: Was Krey Packing located on West Main Street?

Answer Man

Got questions? You've come to the right place

As usual, I found your column last Sunday about the old Suppiger plant on West Main in Belleville interesting. However, if my memory serves me correct (as it sometimes doesn't), it was once utilized by the old Krey Packing Co. What do you think? -- Butch Hettenhausen, of Millstadt

Funny you should ask because a day after that column appeared, Joe Mueller, of Swansea, could hardly wait to tell me that he had worked there for a brief time in the '50s before going into the service.

Blessed with a keen memory, Mueller says Krey took over the building on Oct. 1, 1950, and used it until May 1959, when operations were moved to Ohio. Then after the building sat unused for several years, Pepsi added its fizz to it in 1968 for about 20 years, according to city directories.

For those unacquainted with the old brand, John Krey emigrated from Germany to St. Louis, where he started a meatpacking company in 1882. For decades, its slaughterhouse at 3607 N. Florissant Ave. was a landmark in the Hyde Park neighborhood, employing as many as 850 workers at one time. But with St. Louis' continuing decline as a hog market, Krey sold its trademark name to John Morrell & Co. in 1978.

More honors: A couple of months ago, I was proud to cite Col. Robert H. Voss, of Swansea, for his distinguished service during World War II.

A member of the 8th Air Force, Voss flew 35 missions over enemy territory in Europe and won honors too numerous to list. He even named his B-17 Flying Fortress Dorothy V after his beloved wife.

Well, he's still earning international praise. Last month, Voss was named a Knight of the French Legion of Honor for flying critical supplies to the French Resistance in the south of France during the war, according to his pastor, the Rev. Kirk Clayton at Zion Lutheran Church in Mascoutah.

The award is given to living veterans who served with distinction in one of the three primary campaigns that liberated France from its Nazi occupiers. If you haven't already, you might want to check out https://veterans.othstoday.com/colonel-robert-voss.

Speaking of heroes: As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am awed each time I watch "The Longest Day" and think of the troops who rode in those flimsy gliders that helped launch D-Day on June 6, 1944.

My recent column on the tragic St. Louis glider crash on Aug. 1, 1943, that killed the mayor and other dignitaries only reinforced those feelings when I received emails from two local residents whose fathers rode in those things.

One came from Tim Thompson, whose father, Joseph, was a glider pilot and participated in D-Day.

"He was in training in North Carolina at the time of the tragedy," wrote Thompson of the St. Louis catastrophe caused by a substandard wing component. "His dad was in the crowd watching the crash. Later (my dad) returned to St. Louis to help fly the remaining gliders to North Carolina."

One can only imagine what went through Tim's grandfather's mind when his son took off in those things. But Joseph is now a healthy 93 and living in Fairview Heights, Tim writes.

No doubt area Realtor Roger Reeves heard all kinds of war stories from his dad, Robert, who was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.

"He would mention how the glider was light wood and canvas -- and he rode it into battle!!!" Reeves wrote.

He also sent along his dad's extensive war memoirs, including his time as a POW in Stalag VIIA, which you can find at www.lp-net.com/pow. The site even has a picture of the telegram dated Dec. 12, 1944, that informed his mother, Ida, that her son had been captured. Robert Reeves, who made his home in Washington, Ill., died at 85 on New Year's Day 2009.

To err is human: My recent blunder about the Illinois State Police headquarters in French Village turned out to be one of the best mistakes I've made in my 46 years here.

Longtime residents were eager to offer their memories of the building shared by the troopers and the Department of Transportation -- including a picture of Detective Hubert "Jerry" Fitzgerald showing off a confiscated Thompson submachine gun (sans magazine) to a troop of Boy Scouts.

That brought a glowing email from Gary Fitzgerald, who said that without my error, he and his family would not have been able to see pictures, read stories and relive memories about his father, who passed away in 2009.

In return, I would not have caught up with Fitzgerald, whose exploits as a Belleville Hilgard pitcher I remember covering some 40 years ago. He is now president of Lyon Industries in Sauget, which deals with door fabrication and distribution (www.lyondoors.com).

Today's trivia

Where is the tallest free-standing flagpole in the world and how tall is it?

Answer to Thursday's question: In October 1939 -- just 16 months after the arrival of Superman from Krypton -- Timely Comics published Marvel Comics No. 1, featuring the original Human Torch and Bill Everett's mutant anti-hero, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner. The very next month Marvel Comics was retitled Marvel Mystery Comics. The Timely Comics company eventually morphed into Marvel Comics in 1961, when they produced the first issue of The Fantastic Four in November. Everett, by the way, would join the great Stan Lee in introducing Daredevil in April 1964.

Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or rschlueter@bnd.com or call 618-239-2465.

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