Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Brick from 5135 Kensington Avenue, Roll of Tickets from Ozark Theatre Evoke Simpler Times

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Brick from 5135 Kensington Avenue, Roll of Tickets from Ozark Theatre Evoke Simpler Times

Article excerpt

In a corner of her living room, on a little stand that sits on her entertainment center, Marilyn Wolfe of Edwardsville owns a relic that evokes another era of cozy home life: a brick from 5135 Kensington Avenue, the St. Louis address made famous in the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis."

Wolfe, 72, bought bricks for herself and a girlfriend at a gift shop shortly after the then-vacant and dilapidated home was torn down in 1994.

"I love the movie," she said. "I watch it every Christmas because it's originally set at Christmas time." She also loves history and lore about the 1904 World's Fair, and the movie depicts the Smith family during the year leading up to the fair.

Why is the address so familiar? In the movie, Judy Garland's character, Esther, sings the song, "The Boy Next Door," with the line, "But he doesn't know I exist/No matter how I may persist/So it's clear to see there's no hope for me/Though I live at fifty-one-thirty-five Kensington Avenue/And he lives at fifty-one-thirty-three."

The movie is based on the writings of Sally Smith Benson, who grew up at 5135 Kensington Avenue and wrote a series of stories for the New Yorker. The character of Tootie, played by Margaret O'Brien, is based on Benson as a child. Wolfe has a few copies of the book, including a 1958 version with a price of 35 cents marked on the cover.

The movie was filmed on an MGM lot, known as "St. Louis Street," that was torn down in 1970. Benson's home on Kensington Avenue was made of brick and not nearly as elaborate as the mansion depicted in the movie. It's now an empty lot owned by the city.

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Eddie Roth, 58, has fond memories walking to the Ozark Theatre as a boy growing up in Webster Groves. That's the main reason a roll of paper tickets from the theater rests on a bookcase among other trinkets in the "man cave" of his home in St. Louis' Shaw neighborhood.

The theater, at 103 East Lockwood Avenue, was only a 15-minute walk from his home on West Jackson Road, where he lived from first through seventh grade. …

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