What’s your number?

August 21, 2018

IMG_4042 (1)“What’s your phone number?”
“I’ll just enter it on my phone keypad and call you, then you’ll have my number and you can then create a new contact on your phone.”

“What’s your friend’s number?”  “I’ll go to my contacts, choose ‘share contact’ and message it to you.”

Sound familiar?  Can you recite any of the phone numbers of your friends and relatives without looking at your phone?  Where is your phone?  Is it in your pocket? Backpack?  Did you leave it behind?  Twenty first century situations!

Can you remember when your phone number started with a word, not a number?  Mine was Victor.  VICTOR three – four – one – four – six. Rolls off my tongue like it was yesterday.  I was talking to my friend Steve recently about this and he rattled off his childhood phone number. Steve grew up in Massachusetts. It also started VICTOR – three…!!! What is the deal with the word? Can you sing the lyrics to the Chuck Berry song “Promised Land?”  That one line… “Los Angeles, give me Norfolk, Virginia TIDEWATER four – ten – O – nine.” That’s a phone number!  To write it would look like this: TI 4 – 1009.

Why was there a word as a part of the phone number?  The words were assigned to geographic areas.  In the St. Louis area, where I grew up, Victor was in South County.  When someone told you their phone number, you could guess the area they lived in. Remember, we are talking about only landlines.  Some of my friends’ numbers were Woodlawn. Woodlawn was Kirkwood/Webster.  Central was the Clayton area.  Parkview was Clayton/Ladue.  When I met Steve Frye, he told me his phone number started with Temple.  Whoa!  That meant that he was from far away north county! My dad’s work number started with MO for Mohawk.  Mohawk 4 – 3566. My grandparents lived in Perryville, MO.  Their phone number started with the word Liberty.

So how did you dial a number with a word?  You entered the first two letters of the word.  In dialing Victor, you can find the letter V on the number 8 button and the letter I on the number 4 button.  Therefore, my childhood number would translate to 843-4146.  There were area codes, the eastern part of Missouri had been assigned 314 back in 1947.  So, the number was actually a 10-digit number.  But long distance was expensive, so I didn’t bother reciting the prefix of my friend’s and family’s phone numbers since everyone I knew in my childhood had the same area code anyway. With a demand for so many numbers, additional area codes were eventually added.  In Missouri today, there is also 417, 573 (added in 1996), 636, 660 as well as the original 816 for the western part of the state and I’m still talking about only landlines.

Yep.  Landline phones.  They were attached to the wall.  You never had to look for it because it could not move!  It cost more to have multiple extensions in other parts of the house, so the singular phone of my childhood was on the wall in a central hallway.  And when it rang, you had to go answer it even though you had no idea who was calling.  No caller ID!

To dial someone’s number literally meant that you traced your fingers around the dial.  Put your finger in the hole by the number and move the dial clockwise to the end and let go, allowing it to return.  Then dial the next number and keep repeating.  If you were calling someone whose number had a lot of 9’s or zeros, it took longer to dial!

If you ever moved, you probably had to get a new number.  This is one reason I’m so tickled with the old-style phone at Eggers & Co.  with the number on it.  The area code is listed as 314, so it must be between 1947 and 1996.  The number is TA 4 – 5271. I have wondered for a long time, what did the TA stand for?  Thanks to neighbor, Ruby Steffens, who has lived in Farrar with her landline for her whole life, I finally found out.  The TA is the first two letters of the word TALBOT.  Thank you, Ruby for solving the mystery!  Talbot 4 – 5 – 2 – 7 – 1. It’s still the phone number for Eggers & Co.  Well, OK, to call today, unless you have an 824 prefix, you’ll need to dial ten: 573-824-5271

In Farrar today, there are no cell towers nearby, so when at Eggers, our smart phones will display ‘No Signal.” Even though we enjoy celebrating the mid 1900’s at Eggers when you come to visit, we decided to offer a bit of late 20th century convenience such as portable extensions, not the old phone attached to the wall with a cord.  Also, when you call, you can leave a message on the voice recorder. If it rings, answer it.  The incoming call may be for you! You can put your smart phone away.  In your bag so you won’t have to look for it when you leave.

100th Wedding Anniversary

March 17, 2015

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April 15, 1915
This year marks one hundred years since the wedding of ‘Tom’ and Ella Eggers.
Tom and Ella wanted to be married, but the custom was that no weddings would take place during Lent. They would have to wait until after Easter. It was also the custom to have wedding celebrations on Sunday when the members of the congregation were already in town attending church in their Sunday best. So, the wedding date was planned for the Sunday, April 11. After regular worship services, there would be a meal and then all would go back to the church for the wedding ceremony. Since the pastor had already written one sermon for Sunday services, he didn’t bother to write another for the wedding homily, he merely recycled the message he had delivered earlier that morning.
The sermon text for the Sunday after Easter was the biblical account of Jesus appearing to his disciples along the road to Emmaus: The two men were walking along when he appeared and began to walk with them. They were talking amongst themselves about the great mystery of his death and were still pondering the puzzling things he had been telling them during the days leading up to his crucifixion. There had also been rumors of his appearance and apparent resurrection. And suddenly, there he was walking with them! The message the pastor told young Tom and Ella was this…instead of thinking of the two of his disciples as men, think of them as two married people. As this couple walks along the road of life, they should always know that Jesus was walking amidst them. Tom clung onto this comforting message and had a framed picture of this Bible story above his desk for many years.

“Osterhase, Come and Lay”

April 20, 2014

Hunting for Easter Eggs outside and the legendary roll of the Easter Bunny laying those eggs in the yard is an old German tradition. Tom and Ella Eggers’ children celebrated a fun twist on the tradition. In advance of Easter they would fashion a nest on the ground to entice the Osterhase to come to their yard. First they would dig out a small depression in the soil and line it with moss gathered from the woods. Next, they would decorate the nest with blooms of wild flowers. Vera reported that her sister Ruby always made the prettiest nest. (It intrigues me to think that she would become the wife of a wholesale florist years later). To encourage the Easter Bunny to come to their yard, they would sing, “Osterhase, Come and Lay.” On Easter morning, when it was time to check the nest to see if the Osterhase had visited, they would take up their baskets. Father Tom would chose a great big basket and go outside with the children. He would search and search, but not ever find a single egg, while his children skipped around gathering up the eggs.

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Happy Easter!

Fall Gatherings 2013

November 30, 2013

The General Store space can accommodate up to 35 for seated dinners and 50 for stand up receptions. When the weather provides, even more can spill out onto the back lawn.

Indiana Cousins reunion
Eggers kin from Indiana made the trip back to Farrar and gathered in some of the local Eggers for a chili supper.
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Festive fall tables were decorated in burlap and leaf print place mats and chicken wire planters were filled with fall pansies
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Kid Crafternoon — Pumpkin Carving 2013
Local children came to pick their pumpkin and carving design. The pumpkins get carved, the mess stays behind. We enjoy hot dogs, popcorn and apple cider and then list to a not-so-scary story teller, Sharon Taylor.
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Bridal shower
Festive decorations adorn the room for a appetizer type affair.
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Wedding anniversary celebration
The store counter makes a handy buffet line for cold and hot entrees. The old doors are a good place to hang mementoes and photos.
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Play Ball!

May 30, 2013

There’s an exhibit about the history of local baseball at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg this summer called, ” Play Ball: Baseball and Softball in East Perry County Missouri.” The museum is open 10-4 daily and admission is free.
Throughout the early part of the 20th century, baseball was a big deal to the communities in East Perry County. Each town had their own team and the game was taken seriously. I have heard that when television became widely available in the 1950’s, interest in playing the sport waned as more and more people were able to watch the major league teams on TV instead of playing/watching the local teams.

1910 Farrar Reds
Grandpa Tom is pictured here as first basemen (far left) with the Farrar Reds team of 1910. He was 16 years old in the picture. The Farrar Reds were one of the first uniformed teams in the county. In the photo, it’s notable that Tom’s younger brother Walt was only 11 years old and was serving as the scorekeeper. This photo was published decades later in the newspaper and the caption under the photo then said that Walt Eggers was the first person to introduce official scorekeeping in Perry County. Ten years later, Walt became the manager of the Farrar team, a position that he held for over 20 years.
Walt’s son, Fred told me that the name of the team was changed to the Ramblers because the members of the Communist Party movement at that time became known as Reds and the folks from Farrar wanted to distance themselves from that connotation.
The Farrar Ramblers was a good team.

1930 Farrar Ramblers
In this picture from 1930, Walt is standing on the far right. Third from the right in the back row is Alfred Kaempfe, my Grandma Ella’s youngest brother. We also have an original jersey that belonged to my great Uncle Alfred that we have loaned to the museum for this summer.
Alfred was the youngest son of Anna and William Kaempfe. He lived on the family farm several miles from town. When it came time for him to attend school in the fall of 1915 at age 7, it was too far for him to walk alone the miles through the fields and woods everyday to school, so it was decided that he would live with his older sister and her new husband. In order for him to feel welcome and to chase away homesickness on his first night at Tom and Ella’s home, Tom had a surprise for him. When Alfred was called to dinner, his plate was turned upside down at the table. When he turned it up, there was a baseball under it. Perhaps this was the spark for Alfred’s love of the sport. He grew up to learn it and was a great player for the Ramblers.
Playing baseball was serious, but it was not a livelihood. Alfred was a farmer as well as a Farrar Rambler. We have a newspaper clipping from 1932 that relates:
” Alfred Kaempfe, first baseman on the Farrar baseball team, got his left leg broken between the ankle and knee last Sunday in a game with Uniontown. The game was played at Farrar and the accident happened in the eighth inning when Kaempfe attempted to steal third and was blocked by the Uniontown third baseman. Dr. L. L. Feltz of Perryville set the break.”
Another clipping relates: “The Farrar Ramblers gained their fourth straight victory Sunday when they defeated the Uniontown nine in a closely contested game, the final score being 4 to 3. …Kaempfe attempted to steal third but was blocked by the baseman, fell, and fractured both bones of his left leg. …The loss of Kaempfe will be keenly felt by the Ramblers. He has been a regular for eight years, taking part in nearly every contest. He formerly played outfield but this year was shifted to first base, where he played a very creditable game.”
The rest of the story was not published in the paper, but my mom and her siblings remembered and related it to me. Uncle Alfred’s leg was treated by placing it in a wooden box with sandbags around it to set the bones. It was not casted nor was it surgically repaired. With his leg set this way, he was bedfast during the time his bones were healing. It became depressing for him to look out of his window at the crops ripening in the field. The 24 year old farmer was the responsible for the income on the family farm that supported him and his 60 year old mother, Anna; a task that had fallen on his shoulders at the age of 14. The tight-knit community of Farrar rallied for him. His crops were harvested by other farmers. He was moved to the Eggers home to convalesce. A bed was set up for him in the parlor, which is the room that now serves as the dining room. The door between the house and the store was left open so that customers of Eggers and Co. could wander over and visit with him. The broken leg ended his career as a player. Later, he gave his jersey to his nephew, Homer, Tom and Ella’s son. Homer was a player on the junior Ramblers team. He wore his uncle’s jersey with pride.

Tornado!

May 23, 2013

The tornado this week in Moore, Oklahoma was heart-breakingly devastating. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks in Oklahoma as they begin to pick up the pieces of their lives. The monetary cost of the damage may top out as the highest in history. Fortunately, it is not the most costly in lives lost.
On March 18, 1925 the Tri-State Tornado still holds that record. The events of the Tri-State tornado are well documented. 695 lives were lost as this monster of a storm made its way from Ellington, Missouri across southern Illinois to Princeton, Indiana. The path of the storm was up to a mile wide and was 219 miles long with wind speeds up to 300 mph. There was not a Fujita scale for measuring storms in those days, but those who look back over the records estimate that today a storm of this magnitude may be rated as an EF 5.
Stories of lives lost are also documented, but here I’d like to tell of a life that began that day. Ella and Tom Eggers were expecting their fifth child. They had three girls and their only son, Lester had died in infancy. They were hoping for a boy.
The girls were sent to stay at a neighbors home while word was sent out for the doctor. In those days, babies were born at home. Due to the storm, the doctor’s car was blown off the road and he was injured in the accident. Delivery of the baby was now in the hands of a local midwife, Maddie Klaus. Tom and Ella became the parents of Homer Edward that day amidst the terrible storm that passed over. Ella’s cousin, Martha Kaempfe was killed in the nearby town of Frohna. When 6 year old Vera, her 10 year old sister Mildred and 4 year sister Ruby were brought back home, they were excited to find that they had a new baby brother. They could not understand why the adults were weeping.

23rd annual Mississippi River Valley Scenic Drive

March 29, 2013

Saturday and Sunday, April 27 and 28 will be the kick off weekend of our annual spring plant sale. Local grower, Steve Frye will give a presentation, “Contain Yourself,” on container gardening followed by an optional workshop at 1:00 on Saturday. Reservations requested – $5.00.
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Store Hours for the Plant Sale are Saturday and Sunday from 10-3.

Eggers and Company’s annual plant sale will continue for several weekends into the month of May.

“Make Our Store Your Store”

March 1, 2013

One of the tag lines that Eggers and Company used over the years was “Make our Store Your Store.” The store was a social hub as well as a place to purchase everything needed for the home and farm. This little store was not always Eggers and Company though. It was built in 1896 as the Bueckman store. Then sold to the Klaus family in 1903 and it was known as Klaus & Sons. Henry and Herman Klaus operated it until my grandpa and his brother, Walt, bought it along with other Eggers family members in 1920. It was Eggers & Co. until it was sold to the four employees who were running it at the time: Hubie Lorenz, John B. Muench, Earl Lorenz and Arnold “Pat” Luehrs. They called the place Farrar General Market.

I often like to tell stories about ‘my grandpa’s store,’ but there are actually quite a number of other people who can claim the same relation to the place.

Recently, we hosted out of town relatives for John Muench’s funeral. These nephews of John Muench were grandsons of John B. Meunch and had memories of the place much like mine. They were eager to investigate the nooks and crannies of the building that they so fondly remembered as children. We all remember the candy counter and like to compare which was our favorite kind, rootbeer barrels? lemon drops? Sen-Sens? Chicklets?

I often wonder how many people there are, grandchildren of former owners, that can also call this place, “my Grandpa’s store?”

John Melvin Muench

February 23, 2013

On this past Tuesday, Salem Lutheran Church congregation and the village of Farrar lost a dear member. John Muench passed away suddenly at his home. John and his wife Mary Lou were some of the first folks to welcome Steve and I back to Farrar when we opened the new Eggers and Company in 2009. He brought us crosses that he had made, each from a different type of wood and one for each room. They are walnut, red oak, sycamore and poplar. After thanking him, I asked him if he would like to sell them in the general store as we were looking for local handmade items to sell on consignment. “No,” he said. He never sells them, he only gives them away. He was a giver.

John’s father, John B. Muench was an employee of Eggers and Company when John was growing up. The senior John was one of the four men whom my Grandfather and his brother sold the general store to in 1966. The younger John will be missed by this close community. We are proud to have the crosses he gave us. Look for them when you come to visit. They serve to remind us of the people of this town and of their faith.

The Kaempfe Cradle

January 2, 2013

Our first grandchild got to visit us over the holidays and we couldn’t have been more excited to have them. A special treat was to have him take his nap in the Kaempfe cradle. Of course, baby equipment has been made increasingly safe over the last decades, so this 100 plus year old cradle would not pass any safety inspections by today’s standards. So, we watched him as he slept peacefully in the cradle. The cradle belonged to Anna and William Kaempfe who were Ella’s (my grandmother’s) parents. Ella slept in it and when she became a mother, the cradle was passed to her. My mom, Vera slept in it as did her siblings. The cradle was passed to Aunt Ruby when she became a mother, so my cousins slept in it. Aunt Ruby passed it to me when our daughter was born in 1981. She and then later our son also slept in the cradle which we pulled up next to our bed at night. The cradle had rockers at one time, but these have been removed. When we were expecting our twins, I realized that the cradle would not really serve for them, so I passed it back to my cousin (Ruby’s youngest) who was expecting her first child. When we opened Eggers and Company, she passed it back, so the cradle would come back to Farrar. What a sweet joy to watch our grandson sleep peacefully in that same cradle! I can honestly say that five generations have slept in it.
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