The Bakery Born in a Kitchen Oven – Freund Baking Company

Story provided by Gladis Barker

Back in the 1850’s when Mrs. Moritz Freund baked Bohemian rye bread for her South St. Louis neighbors, she had no inkling she was starting an institution that was to become a lasting part of St. Louis tradition. Freund Olde Tyme Rye Bread – baked according to Mrs. Freund’s Old World recipe – has been part of the social history of St. Louis. One interesting fact was that Mrs. Freund oven was heated by cordwood supplied by a bearded, struggling farmer who was later to become President of the United States – Ulysses S. Grant!

Her bread was welcomed by the Union Army soldiers at Jefferson Barracks during the Civil War, and by succeeding generations of soldiers until the post was closed after World War II.

The famous Freund rye bread was present at a wide range of important social events and establishments. When the Veiled Prophet made its first visit to St. Louis in 1878, Freund bread had an honored place on the menu of the first queen. It showed up at the fabulous St. Louis World’s Fair where visitors praised the Freund bread and rolls served in every pavilion and booth. In the 1880’s and ‘90’s at the famous outdoor beer gardens, patrons feasted on hearty sandwiches made with Freund rye bread.

A familiar sight was seeing the Freund horse-drawn wagons rolling from the bakery adjoining the family home at 913 Soulard Street to deliver bread and rolls to St. Louis restaurants. The bakery remained at the Soulard location for six generations.  In 1921 the bakery was moved to a larger facility at Taylor and Chouteau and the wagons were replaced by a fleet of modern trucks which distributed the wealth of Freund ovens – bread, rolls, cakes, pies and sweet goods – to customers throughout Greater St. Louis and a nine-state area in the Midwest.

The bakery remained in the Freund family for four generations, run by sons and grandsons. In 1972, the bakery was finally taken over by an outside corporate baking organization and the bakery lost its family identity. But even though the Freund bakery name was lost, it has left an important mark on St. Louis history.

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Harry Sabol

The story of Harry Sabol, as told by his son Allen

Harry was born in Russia and came to the United States in 1904 after escaping from the Czar’s army. A tailor by trade, Harry set up shop in St. Louis at 321 North Jefferson Ave. with a sign, “Who Does Your Tailoring? Try Harry Sable.”

He even established his own baseball team. According to his son, Allen, the team never won a game so Harry finally disbanded them. Later, he set up shop in Granite City, IL. He ran that shop for 21 more years and closed it in 1962, at the mere age of 84.

During World War II, Harry began selling United States savings bonds. He sold bonds on the streets, in drug stores and any place he could find people to buy them. He was easy to spot in the crowd. He would wear a red, white and blue spangle cloak and a stovepipe hat! But he ran into a little problem. One day the FBI appeared at his house. They wanted to know how he sold the bonds. Harry said he would like to sell them some. But they told him they didn’t have the money since the government took a bond a month from their paychecks. After selling more than $1.5 milllion of War Bonds, he was awarded a medal in 1943 by Earl Shackelford of the St. Louis U.S. Savings Bond office. Later in 1972, after Harry had lost the medal, it was presented to him again in a special ceremony by J. Owen Zurhellen, Jr., U.S. Mission official. Mr. Zurhellen remarked that the United States Government and people owed a debt of gratitude to Mr. Sabol for his wartime activities. He truly was a super-salesman for Uncle Sam!

At the age of 92, most men would have felt entitled to take it easy and curtail some of their activities. But Harry chose a new life in Israel and continued to renew things he liked most: tailoring, the Torah and the Talmud. In Israel, Harry chose to provide tailoring services to residents of the Chassidic village of Kiryat Bobov on the beaches of Mediterranean, just south of Tel Aviv. In exchange, he would ask that each mending job require the customer to study a set amount of pages of the Talmud in his honor. A large tailoring job required a larger number of pages and each job required being paid for in this type of currency. Most of the customers were students at the famed Bobov Yeshiva and Rabbinical seminary where young scholars are engrossed daily in the Torah and Talmud study. He was quite strict in collecting his bills!

Harry Sabol died six months before his 100th birthday.