Growing Up in St. Louis


By: Beth von Behren on October 3, 2014 Print This Post

I belong to a Facebook group called “You Know You’re From St. Louis When…”   It’s fun to read what other people remember about their youth in this beautiful city.  I also belong to a similar group, called “You Know You’re from Normandy When…”  I love it when I recognize somebody else’s post as a memory we share.  So far, I have only managed to provide one item of interest and only to the Normandy group:  “You know you’re from Normandy when every time you eat a tamale, you think of the tamale guy who used to hawk his good stuff in front of the Katz drugstore on Natural Bridge.”   I got a ton of responses to that post, including from someone who knew who the tamale guy was.  His name was Porky Ryan (true story), and his day job was as a firefighter in Pine Lawn.  There’s a history I didn’t know, even though I have clear memories of begging my mother for his tamales every time we Katz Kittywent to Katz.

Starting that tamale guy thread resulted in some interesting stories about Katz, which had several locations in the region.  Here’s one:  “Katz was the place where I bought my Mad magazines, Kingston Trio albums, and first Beatles album, “Meet the Beatles.”  AND:  “The last thing I bought at Katz was Grand Funk Railroad’s second album.”  ALSO:  “We used to get all of our photos developed at Katz. I have a whole box full of little photo books with the Katz kitty face on the covers.”  AND:  “We went to the Katz store all the time. My main memory there is looking at parakeets and tiny turtles. Love these memories.”

In my original post, I also asked: “Didn’t the Katz cat wave?”  So the final reply on my thread was this:  “And yes, the Katz sizn did wave.”  Thank you, Charles.  Another young memory confirmed!

I mention all this because Kirkwood Public Library is hosting a great discussion group on October 11 focused on childhood memories of St. Louis in the 1950s and 1960s.  If you are interested and would like to share in the discussion, please check out the story below from KPL’s Lisa Henry, Director of Operations.


Kirkwood Public Library Event:  Roundtable Memories, Part Two

What are your childhood memories of St. Louis in the 1950s and 1960s? Join us on Saturday, October 11th at 10 am at the Kirkwood Public Library for another discussion focusing on families, neighborhoods, school life, movies, shopping, food, places to go, how we celebrated holidays and what made living in St. Louis special. We will also be chatting about how the effects of the postwar world and the climate of social changes impacted St. Louis and our lives. Participants and listeners are invited. This program is free and open to the public. Please call Information Services for more details at 314-821-5770 ext 1012.

Lisa Henry is the Director of Operations at Kirkwood Public Library and is currently reading Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman.  Visit your Kirkwood Public Library at 140 E. Jefferson Avenue, or call us at 821-5770.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter



Written by Beth

Beth von Behren is the Public Information Officer for the City of Kirkwood. She manages the City Website ( and writes/edits both the monthly "Eye on Kirkwood" (published on the last Friday of the month inside the "Webster-Kirkwood Times") and the every-other-weekly e-newsletter "Kirkwood Happenings." To sign up for the e-newsletter, send an email to