Sharing headquarters in the Memorial Arts Building with the Junior Citizens were the Boy Scouts of St. Louis … a group which was probably of more interest to Clarence Howard than the band headed by Hy Giessenbier.
During this period, and actually well up into the 1920’s, Howard visualized the Junior Citizens and the subsequent Junior Chamber, as a direct follow-up body of the Boy Scouts. As howard saw it, the Scouting movement would serve boys 12-18. The, the Junior Chamber would provide an outlet for young men 18-35. Next would be the Chamber of Commerce itself.
Actually, the Junior Citizen and Junior Chamber members did serve as Scout leaders, and lived harmoniously with the younger boys while housed in both the museum and the huge David R. Francis home, to be the next headquarters. No official alliance between the organizations ever materialized, however, the Junior Chamber’s age minimum for decades of 21 would prevent scouts from entering directly into the young men’s civic group.
After moving to its new home, and adopting the name Junior Citizens, the primary developments were program expansion and the founding of the organization’s magazine PUSH.
The first editor of PUSH was Charles L. Clauss and the monthly magazine was an attractive and newsy publication from the first issue. After the organizing of the National Junior Chamber in 1920, PUSH was to effectively serve at the St. Louis chapter for many years.
It is interesting to note that the first PUSH cover design was the work of Charles Groffman, one of the first Junior Citizens to die in World War I. His clever design also graces the monumental 1923 Historical Edition which serves as one of the basic sources of Jaycees history.
The fall of 1916 saw a number of program innovations, including civic tours for the members and study groups in business subjects.
Promotional materials for events conducted by the Junior Citizens.
The Junior Citizens showed their support for America’s efforts in WWI with Patriotic rallies
and even formed their own Junior Citizens’ company of Volunteers.
An examination of Junior Citizens’ functions at this state shows a strong emphasis on education. The study groups
in salesmanship, banking, accounting and public speaking
all attracted real interest from a membership now approximating 1,000. Leading men in the various fields volunteered their services as guest speakers and
Of equal educational value were tours to the leading industrial firms, these usually coming on Sunday afternoons. Attendance was good, with 200 being a typical number to take the excursions. Among the other places visited were the city sanitarium, city jail, St. Louis University and other spots of interest to civic minded young men.
Active work was not sidelined and one of the key projects was in the new field office for traffic safety. The members became keen observers of driving and reported over 500 violators to the police. Probably more than one JC was cursed in the way that modern traffic police are today!
Fall of 1916 also saw elections to commemorate the first birthday of the movement. Hy Giessenbier was re-elected president in virtue of his keen leadership. His choice was by acclamation. The vice president was selected to serve for 1917 was Louis Reidel and Any Mungenast was again named secretary. The treasurer at the time was John Armbruster.
Of these officers, three of four still rate as all-time greats. Henry “Hy” Giessenbier, Jr. was our founder; Andy Mungenast perhaps saved the movement several times in the next seven years by his diligent work and John Armbruster was active until his death in 1977 as editor of the Log of the S. S. Fellowship, a mythical organization of former officers known as the Crew of the S.S. Fellowship. Part of Armbruster’s work was to put out a monthly news bulletin … a giant task which he did out of good will beginning in 1931 and until his death in February of 1978. The last words that appeared on his last issue of the Log: “P.S. I have much more news but no space. I’ll hold till next Log.” The Crew and the Log continues today.
The year 1917 was successfully initiated with the second annual banquet, this again held at the American Annex. Speakers included Howard, Mayor Kiel, Colonel Morgan and other local leaders.
By this time, the threat of war was becoming greater and military training was added to the program. Through the cooperation of the Voluntary Military Training Committee, arrangements were made for drilling under the supervision of experienced men. At first, these sessions were held nights but then switched to Sunday afternoons at Forest Park. A preparedness parade was also held.
Drills became more intense when war was declared on April 6, 1917 and members began to leave for military service.
Only 18 months old as the war began, the Junior Citizens had established a solid organization in that short period. It was one that was to survive until peace came again.
The Junior Citizens operation, still so young, was essentially a model of an awards winning Junior Chamber of Commerce.
COMPANY L AND THOSE LEFT BEHIND
World war I liberated a great wave of enthusiasm in the United States, for the nation had been at piece since the Spanish-American War and the last serious battling was the Civil War which had ended 52 years previously. Consequently, the youth of the country were anxious to join the military ranks and combat the Kaiser and his cohorts in Europe.
The Junior Citizens were no exception and soon began to stroll into recruiting stations. One of the first JC’s to go off to war was Andy Mungenast. He joined the Navy and served on cargo duty for the duration.
Most of the members were able to serve in a body, however, forming their own “Junior Citizens” company of the Missouri Fifth Infantry. Officially it was tabbed as Company L.
Secured as commander of this group was Dwight Filley Davis, later to become Secretary of War and famed donor of the Davis Cup Tennis Trophy which has resulted in such heated competition between the U.S. and Australia. Davis retained his interest in the Junior Chamber through his cabinet years.
August 5, 1917 saw the JC unit depart for mobilization camp and with Giessenbier gone, Louis Reidel took over as president. He and John Armbruster, assigned to duty in the St. Louis naval recruiting station, were instrumental in holding the Junior Citizens together during the war. Also playing important roles were J. Parker Bailey and Cline B. Finnell.
Although a vast number of members were in the service, the overall membership was maintained at a fair level by intense campaigning. This, of course, meant that many younger boys became members, but such was the case even during World war II when constitutional provisions were overlooked. These younger members worked extremely hard to preserve the organization and their efforts paid off.
The record of Company L was a fine one and the outfit participated in battles of Wesserling Sector, Geraubmer Sector, St. Michael Offensive and reserve, Argonne Meuse Offensive and Somidieu Sector.
On the home font, the chief developments were the election of Reidel as the president in 1918, the appearance of Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary … discoverer of the North Pole … at a noonday luncheon meeting and the raising of dues to $6.00 a year, after a temporary reduction of $2.00 proved unworkable.
Of most importance, however, was affiliation with the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce on April 11, 1918. A big step had been realized while Giessenbier was away in France.
Several Meetings were required to effect this affiliation. The primary contention between the Junior Citizens and the Chamber of Commerce was the new name the younger men were to take. The Chamber favored a title like “Junior Division of the Chamber of Commerce” but the JC’s insisted upon Junior Chamber of Commerce as their designation and won out in the end.
The agreement between the organizations called for freedom for the Junior Chamber, but its policies were not to run against the grain of those set up by the senior group.
Of real importance at this point was the establishment of an office in the Chamber of Commerce headquarters in the downtown area. The elected secretary, Cline B. Finnell, left for service and J. Parker Bailey was hired as the first full-time paid secretary of the Junior Chamber.
The parent St. Louis group thus had a full time employee in 1918 while the national organization was not to have such a helper on a permanent basis until 1927.
One of the key activities during 1918 was the Smileage campaign, in which donation books were sold with the benefits going to entertain soldiers. The St. Louis drive seemed to be a failure until the JCs took over and with the help of the Boy Scouts and the War Board of Religious Organizations the total went over the top of $37,000.
Membership procurement during 1918 was amazing, for the organization actually gained in size although men were departing for the armed forces at the rate of 3 per day.
The beginning of 1919 saw Clione B. Feinnell, just back form the service elected president. Early in his regime there were a number of innovations, including the formation of canoe, mandolin and dramatic clubs, as well as the establishment of a modest “country club” for members to use on weekends. This cabin, at Fern Glen, Missouri was replaced in 1921 by a more elaborate set up at Boyd, Missouri. Unfortunately, this latter club burned in the fall of 1921 and terminated the JC’s country club activities.
By far the most important movement of 1919 was the return of servicemen to St. louis. In addition to war souvenirs, they were bringing with them a larger perspective. One man in particular … Henry Giessenbier, Jr. … new the Junior Chamber was not destined to remain a local organization in St. Louis.