The Highland Home Museum was open on Sept. 2, and we celebrated VJ Day, Sept. 2, 1945, the day that saved my life, as we were training on landing ship-tanks (LSTs) to hit six different types of shores in Japan.
If there would have been an invasion, paratroopers and Marines would have been sent ashore following a devastating bombing, followed by the infantry and artillery. We were a part of the artillery that was training for the invasion of Japan on the west side of Leyte Island, near Ormac, in the Philippines.
David McPherson had brought me a booklet about the dropping the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Dave was in the Navy, and in 1972, was in Nagasaki and went through the museum. The Japanese version of the dropping of the atomic bomb is “USA was bad!”. They don’t start the book telling of the terrible bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, by Japan, to which I say, “Japanese were bad!”. They were the ones to start the war, but we were able to finish it.
Now, let’s go back to Highland after the war, in 1947.
The Lory Theater of Highland, owned by the Lory family since1915, was sold in 1947 to the Kerasota Theater Chain of Springfield, Ill. The Lory was originally called the Opera House and was in the same location.
Fred Morlence of Morlence Electric of 1011 Broadway brought the first TV to Highland, a seven-inch screen. It was sold to Bill Michael and installed at Michael Bowling Alley at 809 Main Street. KSD-TV was the only station operating in St. Louis at that time and was operating on 450 watts. Michael invited people to come watch the upcoming St. Louis Cardinals game as they were set to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Highland car dealers added up their lists and said they had 1,000 names on their new car waiting lists.
The Highland City Council ordered 200 parking meters, then canceled the order in face of strong opposition from Highland businessmen.
Nevco, with headquarters in Greenville, shut down their air-conditioning plant, in the old Highland Embroidery Works plant at Lindenthal & Pine.
Inflation was becoming a major factor in the country, with everyone hungry to buy anything. Farm land was selling for $200 an acre and prices were going up. Dry cob corn soared to $2.45 a bushel.
Rural schools were still operating, but talk was that they would have to close. Districts would need a minimum of 1,000 pupils, to continue. St. Jacob High School was opposed to joining Highland and joined Troy instead. St. Jacob, Troy and Marine now form the Triad School District.
Frederick W. Weinheimer, formerly of Highland, died and left $150,000 to the city for a recreation center to be named after his parents. The city had to match the amount and did. But where was it going to be built? The Turners gave the old Turner Hall to the city so that it could be torn down and the new building built at that location at Main and Pine Streets. The new building was completed in 1952 and called the Weinheimer Recreation Center. It’s now 65 years old and still operating.
Reichert Dairy of 1203 Main St., originally owned by Gus Reichert, was sold to O’Fallon Quality Dairy. (The Highland Home Museum has been given a number of different glass bottles and a metal can from Reichert’s Dairy. Some of the unusual items are a quart bottle that is yellow and made for butter and a cottage cheese metal can.) Reichert’s building has now seen a number of businesses, including Wallpaper to Go by Tom and Lynn Koelz Koch. Today, it’s Main Street Hair Co. of Becky Kloss Ribbing.
VFW Post of Highland, in 1947, purchased the building and grounds of the Hug Recreation Club from Christ “C.J.” Hug. This original Hug building burned in 1951 and was replaced by an eight-lane bowling alley, that also included a bar and meeting rooms. This newer building also burned in December 1982. The present VFW building was then constructed at 1900 VFW Road. (Thanks to Russ and Nancy Rieke for their date information.)
Gast Brewery of St. Louis leased the old Schott Brewery building, which had closed in January 1947. The first beer had been brewed in Highland in 1841. With the closing of the Schott Brewery came an end to beers known as Highland Schott’s Old Lager, Highland Bohemian and others. (We have a photo in the museum of a Highland Bohemian beer truck and trailer, driven by Arthur Bellm.)
The new Airpark Drive-In Theatre and the Airpark Barn Restaurant opened on the Orville Winet farm, just southeast of the Highland-Winet Airport and north of the Highland Country Club, on U.S. Highway 40, northeast of Highland. (We also have a photo and other memorabilia for the Airpark Drive-in Theatre in the museum but need a photo or memorabilia, or both, for the Airpark Barn Restaurant.)
The next scheduled opening of the Highland Home Museum is the first Saturday, Oct. 7, starting at 1:30 p.m., with last tour starting at 3:30 p.m. Tours are available on the first Saturdays of each month or for groups or family tours. Call 618-654-5005 or 618-303-0082. We now have more than 3,828 museum items listing in our computer, courtesy of my wife Lorna and 517 people who have given items to the Highland Home Museum. Thanks to all of our contributors, the museum has grown beyond our wildest dreams.