A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Update: New names discovered in 1940s Council House photo mystery

We have an update to report regarding our efforts to identify the children in this photo taken in the late 1940s outside the Council House on Wells Avenue.

The photo was sent to the Jewish Light by long-time reader and former St. Louisan Dr. Irvin Pretsky. It shows Pretsky and 16 other children and one adult outside the Council House on Wells Avenue.

“I am in the back row on the right, wearing a Marine cap sent to me by older brother Max Pretsky, USMC, from the Iwo Jima, Pacific Campaign,” wrote Pretsky.

Pretsky has identified three additional kids in the picture and now a reader has added two more names.

Marc Wallis wrote in an email, “I spoke to my mom about this photo this morning. Her name is Aileen Wallis f/k/a Spritz. She is the girl to the far right with braids. Right next to her is Rosalie Rotenberg f/k/a Cohen.”

Here’s what we know:

  • The young man sitting on the banister rail is Lee Platke.
  • The young man sitting in the top row, left side and next to the banister is Jackie Becker.
  • The young man in the first row, furthest to the right with his dukes up is Sigfried Adler.
  • Paula Chervitz is sitting with her arms crossed, to the left of Adler.
  • Sonia Lasky is sitting to the left of Chervitz.
  • The young ladies in the second row from top, to the right of the bannister are Bernadine Sher, Aileen Spritz Wallis and Rosalie Cohen Rotenberg.
  • The young man in the second row, second from left is Sheldon Enger.

So, who are the rest of the children in the photo? That’s what Pretsky has asked us to help him find out. If you have any ideas, please email Jordan Palmer at [email protected].

Learn more about the Council House

In 1934, the National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis (NCJWSTL) bought a three-story house known as Council House at 4500 Page Blvd. in St. Louis, next door to Shaare Zedek Synagogue. Council House served as a gathering place for social, athletic, and educational activities. The original Council House closed, and NCJWSTL opened a new Council House at Clara and Wells Avenues to accommodate a shifting Jewish population.

Council House became a neighborhood recreation center popular among children and older adults. In 1957, NCJWSTL introduced another program called Council Lounge to encourage older adults to stay active and socialize. It quickly became popular among older adults in the neighborhood.

In a January 1964 proposal to NCJWSTL, Geri Schiller, one of the architects of the project, referred to Council Lounge as the “miracle on Enright” that touched the lives of hundreds of people. She and other council leaders studied the program extensively and found that older adults desired independence combined with a safe environment.

In a September 14, 1967, presentation to the Washington University School of Law and Continuing Education, Schiller explained, “It was so successful that the vitality and general well-being of the neighborhood noticeably improved.”

The success of Council Lounge was one of the factors leading to the concept of a facility geared toward the recreational needs of older adults, including subsidized housing.




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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.