Ron and John Dyess at 6918 Alabama

Adele Dyess, Easter 1950 6918 Alabama

Four family flat 6918 Alabama Ave

















This memory is about my family’s weekend visits to My Grandmother Kestler’s apartment at 6918 Alabama. It was usually my mother,brother Ron and myself. My father was a radio engineer for WTMV and usually worked on the weekends. I wish I had more photos from this era of my life. The photos of buildings on this post were taken in the 1990’s. Today everyone has a camera with them at all times. I believe that soon every square inch of the planet will be photographed. I emailed my brother Ron about our visits and what he remembered. He is five years older than me and remembers more than me. I am including our conversation via email. The following is a bit of family and St. Louis history.


I found the attached death notice of Grandma Dyess this week . Can you send Grandmother Kestler’s Alabama address. Also do you remember the name of the corner store we went to near Grandma’s apartment. We used to buy comics there when we would visit grandma.


I do not remember the name of the corner store, it was just “the corner store”.  I made many a trip to that store.  They sold model airplane kits, (among other things}, that I would drool over.  You could buy a balsa wood model for 5 or 10 cents.  It had a wing span of about 12″.  After cutting my fingers a couple of times with dads old double edge razors, I could finish it in less than a day.  I would bring it back to Grandmaws the next weekend (if it wasn’t broken by then) and fly it from the steps at the playground of the YMCA.  Of course, they use that area for parking now.

Two other trips I was delegated to do was to the local bar down the alley across the street.  On the corner of the next block was a bar that Gilbert and Grandmothers second husband (name?) would hang out at.  I was given a small bucket that held a couple of glasses of beer, a quarter or so, and sent down the alley to fetch beer.  I was maybe 8 or 9.  Can you see that happening now?

I was also sent to a bakery, on the corner of Alabama probably four or five blocks north,up the street to buy stolens (sp) or whatever.  I enjoyed the walk.  I would like to do it again.

I often remember my taking you, Donna and Sonny to the Michigan show on Sundays (when I wasn’t busy buying beer).  That was how they got us out of the house to have a little peace and quiet.  I think I got 25 cents for each of us.  For that you got two see two B movies, usually westerns, a cartoon, news of the day, and previews of coming attractions.  Oh, I forgot the main thing.  The serial!!  About 15 minutes long, and the hero was always about to die at the end of the episode, only to some how manage to escapt the next week and continue to fight the bad guys, outlaws, Japs or Germans, or all three. Also, we all got a box of candy or bag of popcorn for that price.  It was so noisey in the theater that I don’t know how we even heard the movie.  It seemed to me it was all kids, I don’t remember seeing adults.  Kind of like the Mall’s now where the parents dump the kids off.

Ron ,

I would like to use some of your email comments about our visits to Grandma Kestler’s Apartment on Alabama. I think they have good historical info,especially for our children. Let me know if this is ok with you. I can copy and paste them from the emails you sent or you can make a comment on my blog.We went to the Michigan theater with Sonny and Delores not Donna . Donna is Emil’s daughter. I have attached some photo’s I took in the 1990’s when Christy and I went on a ancestor search. I also have a few photos of RT when he was in Korea. I will send them to you soon.


John,  feel free to use any of what I wrote.  I know it was Delores (DoDo), slip of the fingers.

The steps, railings, doors and windows are all new at the apartment building.  There were brick railings on the porch and stairway, and the steps where also brick or clay tile as I remember.


The apartment looks pretty good.  Someone spent some money fixing it up.


Pictures bring back a lot of memories.  For some reason I remember when Big Virginia caught sonny smoking a cigarette when he was little and made him smoke a whole cigar.  We were on the front steps and I remember him turning green and being sick as a dog.  I don’t remember if DoDo was also smoking and was punished also.


Do you remember Barney, Grandmaws big brown dog.  He was spoiled and would lay on all of the furniture.  Grandmother also had some fake dog poop, looked real, that she whould set on the chair or floor around the apartment when some of her lady friends would come over.  Caused some excitement when they would almost set on it when it was in the chair.


I also remember the stories about her second husband.  What was his name?  I know he was a drunk.


Grandmaw had wooden curtain streatchers.  She would starch the lace curtains and stretch them on the frame to dry.  The stretchers were probably 10’x8′ and had sharp nails every few inches around the perimeter.  She whould set it up in the middle room.  Ah ha, I just remembered  his name was Walter.  Walter came in drunk, in the dark and stumbled into the curtain stretchers.  They said he slept in the mess and was tangled up in the curtains and full of scratches and blood.


The other story was that he came home drunk one night and went into the kitchen and turned on the gas stove oven to get warm.  The stories goes that he was sitting in a chair with his feet on the open oven door when he leaned back and lit up a cigarette.  Only one problem, he forgot to light the oven so when he lit the cigarette the gas exploded.  It’s a good thing he didn’t wait too long or he would have blown up the apartment and himself.


I think they were divorced.


Do you remember that Grandmaw worked at a coat factory making leather suade coats?  She made one for me when I was 15 or 16 as I remember.


She had a Singer Sewing machine that was operated with a tredal (sp) that moved the needle.  She would set me on her knee when she would sew, which seemed like every time we were there, and sing to me something like “Little robin red breast, sitting in a tree”….thats all I remember.  I also remember her sewing her fingers, it seemed like hundreds of times.


What else?  I was always fascinated by the stained glass window in the front room, up high.  You can see it in the photo.  She had a wooden clock up there that had to be wound.  I got to do that.  The clock eventually quit working.  I have the clock now.


I always remember the 8″x10” flag in the front window that all familys were given when their son’s went into the military.  It was white with a red stripe around the edge and a red star in the center.  If you had two or more there were two or three stars.  If more, a number was placed in the lower corner.


If the son was killed, a gold star flag was presented and replaced the red one.  I don’ know what happened if more than one was killed.


Funny what  goes through your mind when something triggers memories.




Corner store Loughborough and Alabama

Michigan Theater

It’s been about 15 years since I took the photos of the apartment, corner store and the Michigan Theater. The theater is probably gone now. This was all things that I saw. My memories are, I am sure, different than the reality of what happened. My brother remembers things from a different viewpoint. Thanks for stopping by. Things I have seen.








  1. Debby Dyess says:

    I, too, have scattered memories of the house on Alabama and “the corner store”. I believe we watched “Lassie” in the living room; I think that my bed was in the living room, too. David’s crib was in the hallway in a part that was a little wider. I took an epsom salt bath in the tub. The kitchen tile was black and white; I think we also had a white enamel table with black edges. The backyard had a little “kiddie” pool. I’ll have to sketch the floor plan and show it to Dad (Ron) to see if my memory is accurate. Regarding the “corner store”, I remember buying little wax candy “soda” bottles that were filled with liquid sugar. I also liked the candy dots attached to white wax paper, candy necklaces and Slow Pokes. Thank you so much for sharing the photos – even though they look completely different than what I remember, I am thrilled to see them.

  2. johndyess says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Christy and I did a drive by photo shoot in the early 1990’s to record these buildings. I was glad they were still there.

  3. Scott Dyess says:

    Hey Dad, Thanks for sharing. I enjoy reading and hearing these stories and look forward to more. John, I am still amazed in your artwork, Thank You for this space where the family can visit and remember days gone by. I remember seeing the photo of Grandma but it has been a long time since I last saw it. I like it a lot. Merry Christmas to all!

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