Message from Lonnie Shalton to the Grandchildren of Joe Shalton (Grandpa Joe)

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joe Shalton.  He was born on October 17, 1914, seven years after his parents Ralph and Mary arrived in the United States from Lithuania.

His brothers were Eddie and John and his sisters were Katie and Nell.

He was an inventor, steelworker, fisherman, singer, musician, union man, boxing and baseball fan, bowler, gadget maker, son, brother, dad, grandpa and lover of his “Kitty” (Grandma Katie).

He was a child of the Depression and never went to high school.  As a teenager, in an attempt to raise money for food for the family, he was caught stealing and sent to McCune Home, a juvenile detention center – where he claimed he finally had regular meals of good food.

Following in his dad’s footsteps, he became a machine operator at Sheffield Steel, later to be Armco, and retired with a pension at his first opportunity (age 57).  He never liked his shift work – one week 8 to 4, next week 4 to midnight and next week midnight to 8. He persevered because he felt it was the best way to provide for his family of Katie, Lonnie and Gary (or Moke as toddler Lonnie called him and it caught on). It enabled him to buy the home at 1210 Cedar in 1941, two months after I was born, and it remained in the family until mom died in 2006.  The price was $2,200, and they took out a mortgage for $2,000, payable at $23/month. After retirement, he filled in his non-family time with TV, fishing and tinkering.

Except for one time to the Ozarks, every family vacation was to Osceola to fish on the river.

During the year 1914:

April 23:  Wrigley Field opened in Chicago

July 11:  Babe Ruth’s first major league game, as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox

July 28:  Start of World War One

August 15:  Panama Canal opened

October 17:  Joe Shalton born

October 30:  Kansas City Union Station opened

Some others born that year:  Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Wolcott, Harry Caray, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Clayton Moore and Joe DiMaggio

Some connections on this:

Wrigley Field would play a big role in the lives of Joe and Katie over 50 years later as they became big Cubs fans via afternoon cable TV.  Harry Caray was the announcer for many years.

Dad loved listening to boxing on the radio (which would have included heavyweight champions Louis and Wolcott) and later was an avid follower of the Gillette Friday night fights on TV.

Franklin Roosevelt became president when dad was 18 years old and died when dad was 30. He told me that when he heard of FDR’s death on the car radio, he pulled over to the side of the road and cried.

At home, the radio brought us The Fat Man, Baby Snooks, Gangbusters, Burns & Allen, Jack Benny, The Lone Ranger and many more.  When TV came along, Clayton Moore took over the role of the Lone Ranger.

Ruth and DiMaggio played for the Yankees and dad was a Yankee fan like most in KC because their top farm club was the Kansas City Blues. He took me to Monarchs and Blues games.  The Blues left in 1955 when the A’s came to town – he went to his first major league game that year and the A’s lost 29 to 6 to the Chicago White Sox. With that, he saw no reason to return to the stadium and baseball became solely a TV pleasure. But not Katie – she became a huge Royals fan and a regular at the stadium in her later years. In 1985, she had one of the happiest moments of her life attending the 6th game of the Royals/Cardinals World Series – the one with the great comeback that led to the final victory in the 7th game.

Joe and Katie would be very happy about the state of the Royals today.  As would Joe’s sister Katie, also an avid baseball fan and mom’s regular Sunday companion at the riverboat casino. So, as we have this break between the ALCS and the World Series, I urge you to take some time to reminisce about your Grandpa Joe’s 100th anniversary and then join Grandma Katie and Aunt Katie in cheering on the Royals.

Dad/Uncle Lonnie