Pleasant Court was a post-war housing project intended to help relieve the housing crisis following the end of World War II. This photo was taken by Otis Howell of the Hannibal Courier-Post in 1962, before the barrack-style apartments were razed in preparation for the construction of Hannibal’s municipal swimming pool. STEVE CHOU COLLECTION.
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Pleasant Court. Young families in Hannibal, Mo., called the barrack-style apartments - located near the intersection of Grand and Pleasant streets - home during the post-war years of the 1950s, when building materials were in short supply and the demand for housing great.
The generation of children raised therein were members of the “Baby Boom,” generation, and its members are now approaching or engaged in their retirement years.
Original stipulations for the housing development were that once the housing crisis was over, the buildings – financed with federal dollars - could be removed. In the mid 1960s, these structures were demolished, making way for construction of Hannibal’s municipal swimming pool.
Nick Long, a Hannibal-area barber, lived in this housing development with his parents Francis and Mary Long, from 1956-59, and retains vivid memories of the neighborhood and its residents.
His family moved from this neighborhood after his father built a little terrace house at 719 Olive. His grandmother’s house was located nearby.
Nick remembers that there were three apartments to each building, one on each end and a third in the center. Each had two bedrooms and a shower, but no bath.
“You entered the housing complex from 18th Avenue, and then you’d swing a wide corner east and drive to the bottom of the hill, then back up.
“Back in that day, around suppertime, I’d walk up and down that driveway, riding on my stick horse. I could smell different people’s flavors of cooking: one Italian, maybe someone steaming vegetables, or a cake baking. Nobody had a barbecue grill. I can still recall those odors. Your smell will bring back more memories than anything else. At suppertime people were cooking dinner instead of going out to eat. There was no air conditioning, but you don’t miss what you don’t have, so air conditioning wasn’t a big deal. They had window fans, always sucking air out instead of blowing it in.
“In the middle of afternoon, I’d be sitting on the front porch, and a Sunbeam bread truck would pull up. The bread boy would get out, carrying a frame of cupcakes and bread. He’d walk up and down the lines, and neighbors would hale him in and he’d sell his wares that way. I asked my Mom how come we didn’t get cupcakes, and she said we couldn’t afford to do that. Back then, getting a soda was a real treat.”
His neighbors included:
Bill Fuller, whose mother’s name was Nancy. They had a boxer dog named Duke.
Billy Jack Hoover, son of James and Joann Hoover.
Ray and Alma Maddox.
Shirley Jobe and her husband Thomas.
Lester and Shirley Witt, and their daughter, Sheila.
Nona and Margaret Givens, and their daughters Judy, Martha and Mary.
May Bell Cramblett, who had three sons, Clifford, Jack and Gary.
There was also:
Don and Mildred Petrie, and their daughter, Marty;
Don and Mable (Snooks) Fishback and their daughter Madeline.
Bud and Betty Johnson, and their three sons, Everet, Eric and Bruce, who later moved to Paris Avenue.
In the last building on the end lived:
Jean and Roy Collins, and their son, Gary.
Charley Howes lived in the neighborhood, and broke his leg when he was 8-9 or 10, Nick remembers. Charley later walked with a limp.
“Red Bowen and his wife Johnna lived next door to us at one time, and their two kids, Rusty and Kelly, were just little infants then. Old man Bill Schneider Sr., was the super, and he’d come fix” what ever was broken. “He wore a tool belt on his britches,” Nick said.
P.O. Paul was one of the garbage men who collected in the neighborhood. “He’d just mumble, he’d growl at the dogs barking at him. He was one of the village characters.” Frankie Fogle was the other garbage man. “My mom knew him, so he always called me Nicky.
“Fred Swan and his parents lived in the neighborhood, too. Straight across the street on Pleasant was Bob Christian; and next door to the entrance to the neighborhood was Mr. Herman LeFever.”
Living nearby, on 18th Street, was Donny Huffman, his parents, Faye and Don, and brother Gray. “They had the finest sandbox in the world, and 10,000 action figures. It was 18x25 feet. It was a whopper. I spent many hours playing there. After my parents met them, they spent a lot of hours playing canasta and drinking beer together.
One of the memorable times for Nick was when, “They were tearing up Mark Twain Avenue (to build U.S. 36), and they had great boulders of concrete” piled nearby. “We’d play cowboys and Indians on that lot, with stick horses.”
Chucky Clifton’s parents lived nearby by on Pleasant Street, and they had a black and white dog named Corkey. The dog got the mange and they put purple medicine on him. Nick remembers playing with Chucky, and wearing a Mighty Mouse T-shirt with a cape sewn in, and running down the hill, cape flying. “Mrs. Clifton would bring out Fizzies and a pitcher of water,” for the boys to drink.
Nick’s mother drove him to Blessed Sacrament School. Others in his Catholic grade school classes were: Connie Niemeyer, Mary Beth Mudd, Jimmy Patterson, Johnny Welch, Karen Howell, Ronnie Thompson, Mike Tompkins, Dan Meyer, (he moved away); Mike Utterback, Bev Orscheln, Sandy Luiperspeck, Liz Zimmerman, Terry Coons, Tom Walsh (he came in about third grade) and one child of color named Gabriel, who attended in the first grade.
The entrance to Pleasant Court was located to the west of the division, off of 18th Street.
“You’d make an immediate 90 degree right turn then park your car. In front of the whole line of buildings was a big, wide empty piece of ground, where the older kids played football. Dennis Studer, Donny and Gray Huffman, Charley Howes - he was a pretty cool guy. Terry Brown (later Dr. Terry Brown) was one of the ball players who came over there, and Larry Dryden.
They had enough guys for players on each team, and we’d sit and watch them play. They had pads and helmets, those were some fine times.”
Those games weren’t the only ones going on in the neighborhood.
“Bruce Smith lived on Driftway Drive (across Mark Twain Avenue), and we went over there and played football a lot. Tommy Smith - the first person (from Hannibal) killed in Vietnam – lived in that direction, and Dave McIntyre (the contractor) and his family lived there. Mr. McIntyre had a son named Johnny McIntyre – he was the toughest little snot I’d ever seen.”
Nick has a special fondness for the neighborhood dogs, because he wasn’t allowed to own one. “I got a kick out of playing with the other animals,” he said.