ArtThe NorthSider

Memories of shooting are part of Growing Up St. Louis

(One in a series about the more than 100 people area author Jim Merkel interviewed about growing up in St. Louis for his newly released book, “Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades.”)

Those who think “Growing Up St. Louis” is a book of nostalgia are only partly right. The happy ones are. But kids don’t just have happy memories. They have sad ones as well.

One of those sad childhood memories belongs to Ramelle “Ray” Wallace. Wallace, who is a St. Louis city police officer, has a painful memory of a fight between two men when he was in the fifth grade and lived with his family in an apartment at the corner of Clay Avenue and Penrose Street in north St. Louis, in the 1980s. 

Here’s some of what he said:

I remember the conversation getting louder and louder and I heard someone scream, and then POW! I looked down the street, and I could see that he had a shotgun, and there was a struggle over it. The gun went off, and the younger man got shot in the face.

It was like a movie. He fell back first and smashed into the street while everybody started screaming. I remember seeing the blood and everything flying in the air. I still don’t know if he lived. He got up, and a couple of his buddies kind of trotted away with him, and my mother was grabbing us and throwing us in the house.

“Growing Up St. Louis,” by Jim Merkel
Growing Up St. Louis” is available through


Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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