Fuchs Family Papers and Photographs
0.5 linear feet (1 boxes)
Mary and Louis Fuchs facilitated correspondence between local servicemen and area residents through their businesses in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh during World War II. This collection contains the letters and postcards sent and received from servicemen stationed at basic training camps throughout the United States from 1942-1944. Furthermore, the collection contains photographs of cadets from the now demolished St. Joseph’s Junior Military School which the Fuchs children attended, and several snapshots of the family.
The material in this collection is in English.
Senator John Heinz History Center
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
April 15, 2011
The guide to this collection was written by
Alex J. Toner
Encoded by Alex J. Toner on May 10, 2011 from an existing finding aid.
History and Biographical Note
During the 1930’s through 1942, Mary and Louis Fuchs owned and operated Frick Park Confectionary and the adjacent tea/beer room at 7113 Reynolds St., located in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The confectionary was open seven days of the week; the tea room, six. The tea room began as the living room of the Fuchs own residence, with the family living above and jointly sharing the kitchen space. The Fuchs obtained an alcohol license and began selling beer in their establishment, which expanded into adjoining residential space. The tea room was colloquially known by several names including Mary’s Tea Garden, Mary’s Tea Room and Social Club, and Fuchs Emporium. In 1942 the Fuchs sold their businesses to begin a new one, the Frick Park Market, located at its still present location of 7103 Reynolds St. The Frick Park Market was later owned and operated by their two surviving sons, Robert and Ronald, who sold their shares in 2000. Mary Fuchs is described as “one of Point Breeze’s most beloved figures.” The family businesses were gathering locations for many in the neighborhood.
Many young Pittsburgh men volunteered or were drafted into service when the United States entered World War II in 1941. Because residents of the neighborhood congregated at the tea and beer rooms, the Fuchs started the practice of distributing pencils, postcards, and stationary every Thursday evening so friends and family could write to local servicemen. They also forwarded letters from soldiers who did not know where their friends were stationed.
The Fuchs had three sons: Louis ‘Dickie’ Fuchs, born December 1932; Robert Rudolf Fuchs, born July 1933; and Ronald Gilbert Fuchs, born March 1936. The three boys were students at St. Joseph’s Junior Military School at 1725 Lincoln Avenue in the Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The school no longer exists and the buildings have since been razed. St. Joseph’s was a Catholic boarding school, grades 1st-8th, directed by the Divine Province nuns. The military components were administered by Marine Corps Sergeants. There were roughly 100 cadets enrolled every school year, from Pittsburgh, the surrounding area, and as far away as Ohio. The Fuchs boys attended the school beginning in 1941 and throughout the decade. The oldest, Dickie Fuchs, died at the age of 12 on February 6, 1944, as a result of leukemia.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The papers and photos of the Fuchs family have been arranged topically, with the bulk of the material containing documents related to the Fuchs children’s attendance at St. Joseph’s Junior Military School and World War II correspondence.
The first folder contains three Fuchs family snapshots, as well as photocopies of a memoriam article for Mary Fuchs and park bench dedication from Ronald and Robert Fuchs. The following folder contains a handwritten list of, presumably, local servicemen to which people could write.
A group of three folders contain materials related to the Fuchs children’s attendance at boarding school. The first folder contains loose paper materials from Louis ‘Dickie’ Fuchs’ scrapbook, which was not taken in with this collection, including a picture of him and his mother. Another houses Ronald Fuchs’ ‘Certificate of Proficiency’ from St. Joseph’s Junior Military School. The final folder is comprised entirely of uniformed group photographs of St. Joseph’s cadets, with Ronald and Robert identified in several photographs. Of note in this folder are two photos of the three brothers alone, as well as a copy of an image of President Truman congratulating a Pittsburgh soldier with musical cadets from St. Joseph’s School arranged with their instruments in the surrounding. Ronald Fuchs is pictured on the left.
The remaining folders in the collection contain correspondence between various patrons of “Mary’s Tea Room,” and Pittsburgh servicemen during WWII. Most of the letters were sent from basic training camps around the United States, prior to deployment overseas. The majority of correspondents were ranked private, or private first class. The letters are informal, and personal in nature, as many men were surprised and glad to receive messages from home. The soldiers addressed their letters to “Mary & Lou,” the “Tea Room Ramblers,” and “The Gang”. Often they recount daily activities, and asked about friends and family. A common thread is the men’s desire for a “decent” beer from the Fuchs beer room.
The folders are arranged alphabetically according to the last name of the individual writing. Of the approximately seventy-eight names listed on these documents in folder two, thirty five correspondence are included. Eighteen soldiers returning mail are not listed. Most of these are legible and in good condition. Some of the letters contain missing pieces, because of censorship. Of note are pictures in an envelope sent by Charles Reber, which have many holes cut out by the military, censoring geographic location. A transcription of the correspondence is included.
Alex Toner conducted an interview with Ronald and Robert Fuchs on April 6th, 2011, in the reading room of the Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center, to identify persons in the photographs, and gain further historical context of the materials.
Controlled Access Terms
- St. Joseph's Junior Military School (Pittsburgh, Pa)
- World War, 1939-1945
- School Children--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh
- Point Breeze (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Access and Use
The papers and photographs of the Fuchs Family were received in a single accession in February 2010 as a gift of Mr. Ronald G. Fuchs. Ronald is one of three sons of Mary and Louis Fuchs. 2010, 02.
Fuchs Family Papers and Photographs, 1933-1951, MSS 580, Library and Archives Division, Senator John Heinz History Center
This collection was processed by Alex J. Toner in October 15, 2010.
Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.
Accompanying the finding aid is a list of the specific names of those servicemen who wrote. Names of soldiers who wrote:
John L. Adams,
Ken C. Bookwater,
James Evans Brown,
Richard S. Drass,
James L. English,
John V. English,
Ray F. Eversman,
Jack C. Goettman,
Wesley W. Haines Jr.,
William C. Herold,
Harold N. Lan,
Don E. Roberts,
Phil J. Sweeny Jr.,
Joseph R. Tomaino,
K.S. Von Sender Jr.,
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a perspectives piece on the Fuchs family collection, entitled “War letters home – Before the shooting started”, by Patricia Lowry on May, 24, 2009.
||Fuchs, Mary and Family Snapshots 1933-c2005
||Neighborhood Servicemen, List 1942-1944
||Louis “Dickie”--Scrapbook pieces 1933-1943
||Fuchs, Ron--Certificate of Proficiency 1948