Memorial Day weekend was the occasion of a momentous gathering of the Chambers’ tribe. We will try to capture the flavor and scope of this hugely successful event. Such a Herculean labor of love on the part of so many precludes giving appropriate thanks to all that deserve it, but in this posting we will try. We will inevitably miss important contributors, for that we apologize. A big ‘Thank You’ is owed to everyone that attended and worked to make it such a memorable celebration of the Chambers Clan.
Before we begin we must provide some important background information. Given that Bepaw’s company was the Harris Polk Hat Company, we felt it was fitting to commission a souvenir that tied into that history and also into a theme of Making Chambers Great Again. But a confession is appropriate up front. Sad. Our family classicist (belatedly) pointed out a grammatical error in our hat logo. The logo should have read “Deus Fortitudo Mea”. Instead we have the word “Meo” (as in “Hold the Meo”), which does not agree in gender with the female noun fortitudo. Horribile dictu! I’m certain that everyone noticed the error but charity precluded any critical comments for which I am very grateful. Anyhow here is the offending item:
Anticipating the inevitable weaseling from Iowa, the answer is: “No, despite this minor error, there will be no discounts nor refunds.” Indeed in the philatelic realm, errors such as this increase the value of the item. Hence management is contemplating raising the price of the hats accordingly. We will let you know the final decision about this shortly.
Thanks to Katherine Law and Bill Cromie we have lots of reunion photos to share. The Salters, Quicks and Dunns kicked off activities on Thursday May 25th with a visit to the family grave site at Calvary Cemetery followed by a visit to the chapel of the Pink Sisters for a prayer for our clan, especially those recently departed family members including Claiborne Pentland, Ray Salter, Bill Hollo and Ralph Kalish. They were sorely missed throughout the weekend. A luncheon at the City Garden featuring its many whimsical sculptures followed. On Saturday evening, May 27th, Bobby and Mary Dunn hosted a spare rib cook ‘in’ (owing to inclement weather) at the newly renovated Moone Athy farm house (hat tip – kitchen update thanks to the planning efforts of Jennie Quick, Susan Cromie, Eleanor Withers, Katherine Law and Helene Tatum). Danny Cromie once again stepped up to the plate to provide delightful vocal and instrumental entertainment for the clan’s enjoyment that evening. Flying Chinese Sky Lanterns were a special treat after dark. On Sunday sleep in was made possible thanks to Fr Gerard Garrigan of the St Louis Abbey who very kindly agreed to travel to the farm to say Mass midday. Captain Charlie Skinner noted how extraordinarily beautiful the ceremony was in our outdoor setting. Many thanks to Fr Gerard! Sarah Fehlig provided the Cantor’s duties with vocal and guitar accompaniment. Following lunch, many participated in a nature walk through the Jack Cromie trail. A late afternoon sing-along in the Quick room capped Sunday’s events featuring Sarah and Ed Fehlig’s recently donated Yamaha digital piano – thanks Sarah and Ed! We must note that numerous meals throughout the weekend were provided and prepared by Cynthia and Bill Cromie – many thanks to them both for these! Memorial Day itself centered on the clan’s Florissant roots. The day started with a trip to Cold Water Cemetery, considered to be the oldest Protestant Cemetery west of the Mississippi still in use, for a Memorial Day ceremony. We regrouped next at Taille de Noyer where we were hosted for a private tour of the historical family homestead by family relative Jean Hilmer. Here Alicia Salter and those of her generation shared their recollections of their time there as children. Finally we moved on to St Ferdinand’s Church where again we were given a wonderful tour of the shrine where St Rose Philippine Duchesne lived and taught as she founded the first convents of the Society of the Sacred Heart in the United States. Bill and Karen Skinner then treated the family to a delicious picnic lunch on the grounds of the shrine. Thus it was appropriate that we culminated the wonderful weekend on the stomping grounds where the family took its St Louis origins.
Weekend photographs starting with the visit to Calvary Cemetery:
A few snapshots from the Saturday night cook in:
Sunday May 28th. Mass at Moone Athy followed by baseball at Kalish Field and the Jack Cromie trail walk:
Memorial Day at Taille de Noyer and St Ferdinand’s shrine:
This last photo from Katherine Law pretty well sums up the Memorial Day Reunion – doesn’t get much better!
Let’s hope there’s another Making Chambers Great Again event in our future!
June 17, 2015
There have been several newsworthy events since our last (alas, way back in January!) publication. At the very top of this list we are delighted to welcome our newest clansman James Stephen Forster, born one month ago, May 16, 2015, at 8:00 in the evening, apparently prosperous (7 lbs, 14 oz, or, for Lincoln Chafee supporters, 3.57204 kilos). Clan accolades are owed to Suzanne and Stephen, and also to grandparents Donna and Peter Forster, and Karen and Bill Skinner!
Next, we are happy to share some images from the recent wedding of Emily Gatch and Alex de la Fuente. This spectacular event took place in Coral Gables FL on March 26, 2015. Here is some context for the happy occasion, kindly provided by Barbara Gatch:
“Emily Gatch and Alex de la Fuente, who met at Harvard, were married on March 26, 2015 at the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, Florida , where Alex’s paternal grandparents live.
It was a joyous celebration of close friends from around the country, the de la Fuente and Gatch contingents and great Cuban food and music.
Alex and Emily continue to enjoy Seattle where Alex is an emergency room physician. Emily completed her doctorate in plant pathology from Washington State University and is teaching at Edmunds Community college.”
The ‘joyous’ aspect of this celebration is clearly on display in the following photos:
The Lord Chamberlain is hopeful that the new family Fuente connection includes access to the famed Fuente cigar factory in Cuba! Is Alex related to Arturo?
The clan wishes all the best to the newlywed Fuentes!
Next we have two news items from Betsy Barbieri. We send a belated congratulations to Betsy and Al on the marriage last fall (Oct 2014) of their daughter Cecelia Barbieri to Thomas Constantiello. Tom is the founder and owner of Consus Wealth Management LLC in Columbus OH. The wedding took place at the Old Cathedral in St Louis. Many thanks to Betsy for sending in this photo of the newlyweds:
Betsy adds another heads up for the family:
“I need your help to get the word out on your â€œChambers web-siteâ€. All family members are invited. It is good the Mullanphy descendants come because some people still think there are no Mullanphys left.
September 13th, 2015 is a celebration of the 170th anniversary of the founding of St. Vincent de Paul Society in the United States. Of course, Bryan Mullanphy and Dr. Moses Linton are the founders along with 11 other men.
Would you please post this information on the site. I will send the actual invitation in July.”
We look forward to getting more details about this celebration and will post them for the family.
We’ll end this posting with a request from Betsy for a missing Mullanphy photograph:
“One more item to put in your Ourrumpus Information.
We have pictures of each of our fore-bearers: Jane, Octavia, Catherine, Ann, Elizabeth, Mary and Bryan.
We do not have a photograph of ELLEN. She was the oldest daughter of John and Elizabeth Mullanphy. She died in 1827 in Paris.
I have asked different relatives to look in your old picture albums and see if you have it. There was a photograph or painting of her and it is said, the Chambers had it (thatâ€™s us).
I would like to make a copy of it for the Missouri Historical Society to complete the family portrait.
Once we have all of these images it would be nice to have them available for viewing in our Gallery.
Thanks to those who have contributed to today’s posting. Hope all will have a nice summer holiday!
February 7, 2014
The Admiral – A History
Here is a great read for those with an interest in St Louis history and who have fond memories of one of our bygone treasures, The Admiral (Little River Books, Florrisant Mo, ISBN 13 978-0-9841503-2-8), by J. Thomas Dunn. The clan’s prolific book publishing continues unabated.
This is a history of a family (the Strekfus family), an industry (the riverboat excursion business), an indeed an era (of design, music, and fashion). It provides a fascinating retrospective about what was a St Louis riverfront landmark for 75 years. Included are literally hundreds of photos and news clippings which for many of us will be nostalgic, including iconic photos of such greats as Louis Armstrong and Fate Marable.
Wonderful anecdotes abound:
“…Fate Marable [the boat’s famous band leader] told the story about the time in 1921 Captain John Strekfus nearly dragged Louis Armstrong off the bandstand ‘because he was too bashful to sing a song’.”
… an article in the St Louis Post Dispatch in July 1908: “The ‘new barn dance’ — the rage among young people here — was banned by Captain John Strekfus from his excursion steamer JS. Members of the Alton Social Club were whirling through the dance when Strekfus stopped the music and denounced the dance as indecent ‘because of the display of hosiery.'”
“On one occasion two men got into a fight on the Admiral’s fourth deck promenade; one threw the other overboard. He was arrested but couldn’t be held because they couldn’t find his foe. He was arrested again two weeks later when his opponent resurfaced down river.”
A final snippet concerns the young St Louisan Mazie Krebs, a W.U. grad in Industrial Design who landed the job as interior designer of the Admiral…
Mazie Krebs, Admiral Interior Designer
“One of Mazie Krebs’ ideas was to give names to the ladies’ powder rooms…[she] decided to use the names of the most popular movie stars of the period: Deanna, Sonja, Greta and Glamour”
The Sonja Restroom
“Cool Retreat of Crystal Beauty”
The Glamour Restroom
reflect milady’s beauty
at every turn”
Admiral is a chronology in three parts. The first is the story of a family and its role in the creation of not only river boats but an industry. Next is the history of riverboat cruising and all that this entailed, with special emphasis on entertainment, especially music and dance. Finally there is the story of the boat’s final dockside days, with the politics and intrigue of its multiple owner/investors (Six Flags – $36 million expended, John E. Connelly’s recurring entrepreneurship, and finally Pinnacle Entertainment). All in, over $100 million dollars were spent during this final phase in an attempt to revitalize her. This is an astonishing amount given the unwillingness of bankers to lend more than $500,000 to the renovation effort at the outset of this phase of the Admiral’s history.
Capt Clarke “Doc” Hawley ends his introduction to this history with:
“In this enjoyable and informative book Tom Dunn traces the history of the Strekfus Line in general and the S.S. Admiral in particular with all of the intrigue associated with the closely managed and famously secretive ownership and the sad demise of the largest and foremost excursion boat ever.”
Congratulations to Tom on the production of this wonderful treat! Copies of his book can be obtained by writing:
P.O. Box 8811
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Checks should be made payable to Admiral History in the amount of $29.95, plus $3.00 for S&H.
PS – For an explanation of our blog’s title, you’ll have to refer to page 40 of this history…
*LC acknowledges links to the author which though unseemly are inescapable. He has thus far been unsuccessful in efforts to share in the profits of this venture.