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The Streets of Saint Paul

by Matt Reicher

Matt Reicher is a former resident and college student of our "Saintly City". Over the years he has written a number of vignettes about the city of Saint Paul and/or its residents. These short descriptive literary sketches can be found on his website at www.streetsofsaintpaul.com. I am providing a sampling of his stories (below), followed by a list of titles that I am sure that you may be interested in. Simply go to his website and spend a lazy afternoon being entertained by the events that took place in your borough's past.

Want to read about how 25 year old bartender William Lucas drove over the side of the High Bridge and lived to tell about it – after a two hour stay at Ancker Hospital, or about Nina Clifford and her brothel – and the tunnel that ran from the brothel to the Minnesota Club? You'll find it all here. But I warn you, you'll want to go back again and again, for Reicher continues to write and post.

And lastly, please note that the included vignettes are the postings of Matt Reicher, himself, and not the composition of the Saint Paul Police Historical Society nor any of its members.

Edward J. "Ed" Steenberg
Saint Paul Police Historical Society

Rules to Dance by: Don't Shake the Shimmy

(Image via Photobucket)

The 1920s were a time of great change in the United States. Young people throughout the country began to move away from the social norms of their parents and embrace the freedom of modern culture – complete with automobiles, "talkies", and the provocative rhythms of jazz music. It was a nationwide party hosted by the young people of America, one that the old guard had trouble getting on board with.

In late October of 1919, in response to concerns submitted to him by local police women investigating dance halls throughout the Saint Paul area, Police Chief John O'Connor instituted a set of four rules concerning what he called the "shimmy", saying that "[i]f they shake the shimmy the way I hear they do I wonder that the safety pins and buttons hold." Feeling that "conditions as reported must be altered", the 65 year old O'Connor ruled that [these are his rules as reported]:

O'Connor felt that dancing cheek to cheek "may be alright" on its own if the dancers would stop there, but understood "that it is only necessary to turn the head a little and the lips meet."

He believed that those types of conditions should not exist, especially on a dance floor.

While the "Big Fella" was used to getting his way, there was no stopping the change that was taking place. O'Connor retired in 1920 (unrelated to this of course – he was just old) and the twenties went on to become "roaring".

October 24, 1919 Little Falls Transcript Newspaper
Posted October 4, 2013 by Matt Reicher

Selected Titles

[To view story — click on title]

A Capitol Question, a Combining of Twin Cities, and No Use for a Name
A Short History of Swede Hollow
The Ambush of Officer James Sackett
The Attempted Assassination of Sitting Bull
The Bombing of Dayton's Department Store
The Bucket of Blood
The Capture and Trial of Alvin Karpis
The Census Wars of 1890
Close the Breweries Poster 1914-1918
The Early History of Smith Park (Mears Park) 1849-1890
The Edward Bremer Kidnapping
The First Car to Ever Grace the Streets of Saint Paul
The First Catholic Church and a Name Change for a City
Gus Barfuss: The Man that Helped Clean Up a Police Force
The Hollyhocks Club
Howard Kahn and the Saint Paul Daily News ["The Crusading Editor"]
How to Murder Your Husband and Not Get Away With It
Joe Rolette and How St. Peter was Nearly a Capital City
John O'Connor and the O'Connor Layover System: The Beginnings of a Gangster Era
Joseph Forepaugh and Molly the Maid
The Kidnapping of William Hamm
The Life and Death of "Dapper" Dan Hogan
Lower Landing – 1936 [Photo]
Lucas and the (Old) High Bridge
The Night a Cyclone Came Through Saint Paul
Nina Clifford and Her Brothel
The Peace Officers Memorial
Photo of Saint Paul 1866-1867 [Photo]
Prohibition and Leon Gleckman
Rules to Dance by: Don't Shake the Shimmy
Saint Paul – a Stop on the Underground Railroad
Saint Paul Skyline from Harriet Island 1921 [Photo]
The Proposal to Make Minneapolis a Capitol City
Rice Park: A Downtown Destination Since 1849
The Selby-Dale Riots of 1968
The Selby Tunnel
The Shooting of Roy McCord
The Shootout at the Lincoln Court Apartments
Some Saint Paul Firsts (In Case You Were Wondering)
The Story of the First Person Killed by Automobile in Saint Paul
The Story of "Pig's Eye" Parrant
The Strange Story of the Start of Daylight Savings Time
The Trial of Evelyn "Billie" Frechette
The Trial of Jacob Schmidt
They Paved Paradise and Put Up I-94 [Rondo Neighborhood]
William Lucas and the (Old) High Bridge