Springfield St. James Trade School

Springfield St. James Trade School

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Photo Courtesy of Phil Shadid

St. James Auto Repair Learning Building

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Courtesy of Brother Anthony Joseph

The History of Springfield St. James High School

Springfield (population 111,454) is located in south central Illinois and is home to the State Capital. Springfield is also the county seat of Sangamon County, having been founded around 1821, became the county seat in 1823, and received its city charter in 1840. It was made the capital of Illinois in 1837, and the Legislature convened here for the first time in 1839 after moving from Vandalia. Interstates 55 & 72 are the major thoroughfares thru Springfield, as are US 36, Illinois 4, 29, 54, and 97. Also, the “Mother Road,” US Route 66 ran thru town while it was in service, and still serves Springfield as the Dirksen Parkway in honor of former US Senator Everett Dirksen.

According to a source, the community was founded when Zachariah PeterWilliam Drennan, and Rivers Cormack drove a stake in the ground at a place described when the transaction was recorded as “a point in the prairie near John Kelly’s field on the water of Spring Creek.” By 1837, due in large part to the political maneuverings of a young politician named Abraham Lincoln, Springfield became the State Capital. From that point the City’s history, and indeed its future, has been and will always be inexorably tied to this famous American.

The history of the St. James Trade School for boys in Springfield was provided to us by our great fan and avid fan of high school history in Springfield, Phil Shadid.  The following is a “word for word” copy of Phil’s research into St. James High School’s history:

Springfield St. James Trade School “Tradesmen”

St. James Trade School for boys, 2500 St. James Road, Springfield IL 62707, was operated by the Catholic Church’s Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross from 1928 until 1972. The buildings are now the site of the Brother James Court for mentally disabled men over the age of21, and St. James Monastery. The Franciscans were a group of German immigrants who came to the United States in 1924.

The Franciscans mission, as stated by their founder Brother James in 1862, was to help orphan boys and boys from poor families gain a foothold in life by educating them in the Trades. To carry on this mission the Brothers arrived near Springfield in 1928 and took over a farm and dairy operated by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. The Brothers constructed a building on the premises using materials salvaged from houses they tore down in Springfield to make way for a playground for Cathedral Grade School.

The “new” building would be used for the first group of boys admitted in 1930. The first “apprentices” (as they were called) came from an orphanage in Alton IL, and were provided schooling, meals, clothing and shelter at the school. The young men could be educated as: Crop or Dairy Farmer, Auto Mechanic, Baker, Bricklayer/Mason, Carpenter, Electrician, Machinist, Meat Processor/Butcher, Painter, Shoemaker, Tailor or Welder.

When a boy entered St. James during the period from 1930 into the 1950’s, he was there four full years if he wanted to be a certified apprentice. For example, ifhe arrived immediately after graduating from the 8th grade (a requirement to enter the school) in May of 1930, he would stay until May of 1934 (no summer breaks). Arrive in July of 1939, graduate July 1943, etc. The school year eventually changed to begin in September and boys would graduate in May, 44 months later. In addition to apprentice certificates issued yearly from 1934 to 1972, a high school course began to be offered in 1944. Diplomas were awarded annually from 1948 to 1972.

St. James boarded students from 1930 until 1963. From 1963 to 1972 it was a day school. There were never more than 80 boys at the school, with the last graduating class in 1972 consisting of 16. The largest graduating class in school history was 29 in 1969. St.James closed due to ever increasing costs, small enrollments and because it had always provided schooling for boys who could not pay the tuition.

Students were required to stay at the school during the week, but could go home on weekends if they had families in Springfield or nearby towns. Other boys who came from longer distances could go home once a month.

In addition to learning a trade, boys could participate in music (choir or band) and sports.

Dairy Barn of St. James High School

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Courtesy of Brother Anthony Joseph

The Bakery of St. James Trade School

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Courtesy of Brother Anthony Joseph

Adminstrative Leaders of St. James Trade School

Brother Superiors of St. James Trade School were members of the order of the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross.  The names of these Brothers are listed In order below:

1928-1934,  Brother Placidus

1934-1938,  Brother Egbertus

1938-1949,  Brother Fabian

1949-1952,  Brother Nicodemus

1952-1956,  Brother Fabian

1956-1958,  Brother Cosmas

1958-1972,  Brother Michael Groesch

School Closed in 1972

**From Frank Schweska:

“My father, Otto Fank Schweska, died Dec 14, 2014. I was very happy to see his picture on 1942 baseball team on your site. Terrific. He lived independently and fully until his two weeks hospice in December and death at age 90. Dying in faith and trust with the faith he found in the Brothers passed on to him as a boy. The family tale is that dad designed the new monastery, boys home and gymnasium, etc at age 16. Mom said his blueprints and design were in a Chicago museum due to his age. A letter from Brother Agedius writing on opposite page of dad’s dwawings and calling dad the reader and “Master O.S.”  seems to confirm. Dad went in to WWII, Navy and later Merchant Marine, architect of bridges and roads, buildings, …electrician, carpenter, contracting company owner   Always humble, gentle, mannered, faith filled. Married mom 1945. Pics of letter from Bro Ageddius and drawings.”

Otto Schweska with son Frank

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Submitted by Frank Schweska 

Otto Schweska with Wife 1945

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Submitted by Frank Schweska 

Springfield St. James Architectural Drawings

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Created by Otto Schweska / Submitted by Frank Schweska 

Springfield St. James High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                            1930

Year closed:                              1972

St. James HS team nickname:   the “Tradesmen”

St. James HS team colors:        Blue & Gold

St. James HS fight song:           “Cheer For Good Old St. James”

                                                   University of Notre Dame Fight Song Tune

                                                   Submitted by PHIL SHADID                    

                                        Come on and cheer for good old St. James,

                                        The boys of the Trade School playing their games,

                                        Fighting hard and winning too,

                                        Blocking and passing and running through.

                                        They are the boys with will to win,

                                        They will stick through thick and thin,

                                        So they’ll fight life’s battles long,

                                        With courage and bravery.


The Tradesmen may not have had great numbers as far as enrollment, but the student body there supported its athletic program and faired quite well.  Football, basketball, and baseball were all once regular sports scheduled against schools from the surrounding area..  It is noted that as with many small-enrollment high schools, the coach of St. James High each year coached every sport offered that year..

Our good friend Phil Shadid has researched and provided the following information on Springfield St. James athletics:

St. James Football Team of 1937

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Submitted by Phil Shadid


The Tradesmen knew it “wasn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the size of the fight in the dog”.  The Tradesmen had one particular season where this proved quite true.  As Phil Shadid writes:

“St. James’ major success came in football in 1937 under coach Frank (Red) Hartman.  His squad of 19 had a record of 6 wins, 1 loss, 1 tie.  Coach Hartman had to wander the halls of the school and recruit more students so that the team could scrimmage with 11 per side during practice sessions. Eventually, 31 took part in practices from time to time.

In the photo of the team to the above – right, the players are shown, in order:

Front Row (sitting, left to right)): Bill McCroy, Paul Moore, George Evanich, Lou Petschauer, Gene Caruso, Bernie Tapocik, Paul Britz, John Filipik (manager)

Middle Row (kneeling): Silver DiGiacomo, Bob Mayfield, Jerome Medic, Jim Sears, Joe Cooney, Mike Lascody, Babe Aiello, Joe Bartolomucci, Clarence Yuhas, Bill Moore

Top Row: Steve Morovec, Frank Tapocik, Joe Wilson (captain), Louie Betz, Frank Mertz, Jake Harbauer, Al Schwabe, Mickey Wysocki, Bill Guinan, Cleo Deerwester, Jim Buhnerkemper, Bob Denny, coach Frank “Red” Hartman.

Not in picture: Gene Emory

In 1937 the football team defeated Divernon High School, 21 – 19;  won over city arch-rival Springfield Cathedral (6 times as big), 12 – 6;  played Decatur St. Theresa to an 0 – 0 tie; beat Illiopolis High, 7 – 0;  beat Girard High, 32 – 12;  beat Quincy Academy, 30 – 0;  and defeated Kincaid (South Fork), 25 – 0.

“The Tradesmen were declared co-champions of the Illinois Catholic Schools Conference downstate division and closed out their season against Chicago powerhouse Mount Carmel High School, which had finished third in the Chicago division behind city champion Leo and runnerup St.George.  (Catholic schools were not admitted to the IHSA until 1941, St. James couldn’t join until it offered a high school course, which it did in 1944.)”

The game took place in Springfield on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1937, with Mt. Carmel winning 12 – 0. The Springfield Illinois State Journal reported that tickets sold for 50 cents and produced a crowd of over 1500 at Lanphier baseball park.  The interest generated for this Catholic school contest convinced radio station WCBS (now WFMB) to broadcast the game live.  The State Journal Newspaper mentioned several times in its pre-game stories that St. James overall weight averaged 152 pounds per man while Mt. Carmel’s boys averaged 169 pounds per man.

It should be noted that St. James played very well for a squad of 16 (50 students enrolled in the entire school) going up against Mt. Carmel’s 33-member team (enrollment of more than 1000 boys in the school).  Mt. Carmel’s normal squad comprised of more than 50 members, but they only brought the best 33!

At the post-season banquet December 2, 1937, special guest speakers were Grover Cleveland Alexander, former major league pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs; Wilbur Shaw, 1937 Indy-500 race winner; and Paul Tangora, All-American football great from Northwestern University. The main speaker was Sangamon County treasurer Harry Eielson, former college football star (played in the 1919 Rose Bowl for Great Lakes) and future mayor of Springfield.

St. James Tradesmen 1937 Football Team Inducted Into Springfield Sports Hall of Fame in 2011


Phil Shadid

In a touching and feel-good ceremony, the St. James Trade School 1937 football team was inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame on April 12, 2011.  The Tradesmen were just the 21st Springfield team to be enshrined and only the 4th football team to be honored.

Several family members of the team were on hand, along with football coach Frank “Red” Hartman’s daughter who came from Wisconsin for the ceremony.  Gold medallions were presented to the relatives by the Hall of Fame committee.  Sadly, the last of the football player’s from 1937 passed away in 2008.  But the exploits of this remarkable team were told by the Master of Ceremony.

The team was composed of young men of various backgrounds, including orphaned boys from children’s homes in Alton and Quincy, boys from Sangamon County and elsewhere, and boys from poor families.  They were all brought together to form a great team that won 6 games, tied 1, and lost 1, and were co-champions of the downstate Illinois Catholic High School Conference.  Red Hartman, besides coaching football, baseball and boxing, taught academic subjects, such as Civics, English and History.

The boys were taught various trades by the founders of the school, the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross.  Coach Hartman and most of the team served in the military during World War II, some received battlefield commissions.  And one of the boys from the practice squad never came back.  He was killed in action in North Africa in 1943.

April 12 was a great night with nearly 800 in attendance, many of them St. James alumni.  Three representatives of the Franciscan Brothers and Brother James Court, which is located on the site of the former Trade School, were on hand.  Six athletes and two “friends of sport” were also inducted.

Silver DiGiacomo

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Submitted by Phil Shadid

St. James’ 1946 team featured star running back Paul Powers, who scored four touchdowns in a 26-6 win over Illiopolis.  St. James only scored five touchdowns the entire 1946 season, and Powers scored them all. His record of four touchdowns in one game tied the record set by backfield star Silver DiGiacomo of St. James’ great 1937 team.

*Silver DiGiacomo, star football player from 1935 – 1938:

Silver ran for 4 touchdowns and drop-kicked 2 extra points in a 32-12 win over Girard High in 1937.  DiGiacomo scored 11 touchdowns and 4 extra-points in 1937, and was named to the All-City Team (along with teammate Al Schwabe).  Silver had 17 touchdowns and 11 extra-points for 113 total points in his 4-year career.  Silver DiGiacomo also earned All-City honors in 1938, joined there by teammates Mickey Wysocki, Jim Buhnerkemper, and Jake Harbauer.

Silver DiGiacomo completed the 4-year apprenticeship at St. James as a Meat Processor/Butcher in 1939, and went to work at a local meat market.  He was in the military during World War II, came home and resumed his trade until 1960.  After that, he moved from Springfield and lived on the west coast for several years.  Silver also went by the name of Salvatore or Sylvester.  He was the son of immigrant Italian parents, who wanted him to learn a trade instead of working in the coal mines as his father did. Silver died in 1981 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the age of 61, and is buried in Calvary Cemetary in Springfield, apparently leaving no immediate family behind.

The 1937 St. James Tradesmen Football Team (by Phil Shadid):

Frank “Red” Hartman’s first year as football coach at St. James saw the team fashion a record of 6-1-1.  The leading scorer for the Tradesmen was the above mentioned Silver DiGiacomo, who smashed his way to 11 touchdowns and drop-kicked 4 extra-points. His total of 70 for the 1937 season placed him second in the city behind Springfield High School’s running back John Maher.  Mickey Wysocki’s 24 points was good enough to place Mickey 5th in city scoring.  DiGiacomo and Al Schwabe (right tackle) were named to the All-City Team in 1937.

Silver not only ran for four touchdowns in a 32-12 win over Girard High, but he played linebacker or safety as well.  During that game Silver also intercepted a pass at St. James’ four yard line and ran it back 96 yards down the sideline for his fourth touchdown of the game.

DiGiacomo had a 4-year career mark of 17 touchdowns, 11 extra-points, a total of 113 points.  In the days of drop-kicking for points-after-touchdowns, Silver was unsurpassed.  His teammate, Mickey Wysocki, was very capable as well, amassing 37points in three years.  Mickey and Silver were on the 1938 All-City Team.

Ferocious tackles by the Tradesmen, goal line stands, and pass interceptions were the norm for this team. Leading the way was Joe Wilson, rugged left tackle.  Joe was a tough guy who was chosen by Hartman to be the team captain.

Hartman’s limited number of squad members necessitated that players not only play offense and defense, but also be able to play different positions. Consequently, DiGiacomo, Wysocki, Bill Guinan, and Babe Aiello all learned how to quarterback the team, pitch to running backs, throw passes, or run through the line themselves.

Hartman had come from the “old school” of “hit ’em hard and never give up.” He was the starting quarterback for DePaul University in 1930 when the Blue Deamons compiled a record of 6-2.  Their big victory in 1930 wasa 6-0 win over arch-rival Loyola University.  Frank was hired by the Franciscan Brothers to coach St. James sports during the summer of 1937.

The 1937 Tradesmen earned much honor and respect in the community with one sports writer declaring, “Those St. James gridmen are making quite a name for themselves.”

Read this quote from Mickey Wysocki (remembering the 1937 game against Chicago powerhouse Mount Carmel) as reported in “The St. James Story, 1928-1972” by John and Donald McCaffrey:

“During the football game with rival Mt. Carmel, I used my head to stop their quarterback from scoring a touchdown.  The head-on tackle resulted in my seeing stars, but I did what I had set out to do.  He was stopped!  The Mt. Carmel managers had to carry their dazed quarterback off the field.  I don’t remember if we won the game or not, but I sure remember the stars!”

Special Mention:

Michael Lascody, a 1939 graduate of St. James, and a member of the championship 1937 football team, gained accolades and admiration for his gift of 16 acres of land to Camp Butler National Cemetery in Springfield many years ago.  Mike, a World War II Marine veteran, died in 2009 at age 88, apparently the last of the 1937 football players. The 16 acres was part of a farm he owned next to the cemetery.  Camp Butler is the site of a Civil War military training site and then became a prison for captured Confederate soldiers.  Eventually, it became a military cemetery, and is operated by the U. S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Frank Mertz – St. James Football Great

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Submitted by Phil Shadid

FRANK MERTZ, Football team 1937-38, #35 in the photograph to the right

Frank Mertz, born in Springfield IL, graduated from St. James in 1939, having completed his apprenticeship as a Baker. But music was his first love. His first job after St. James was at the St. Nicholas Hotel in Springfield, and later he would work at the Blue Ribbon Bakery.

Baking required getting up in the pre-dawn hours to get the work done and Frank began looking for something else. World War II took care of the next few years, when he enlisted in the U.S.Army Air Force. After discharge from the Army he went to work for Sangamo Electric Company, a large electric meter manufacturer who employed hundreds in Springfield. When the plant moved out of state, he finished his working career with the State of Illinois.

Frank was in the Charlie Rogers orchestra for many years, playing the clarinet and the saxophone. Rogers’ musical group was the top-notch band in central Illinois for decades. Frank said he got tired of playing a song which the public requested over and over again: Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood.” But anything by George Gershwin was always a pleasure to play. Such as “I Got Rhythm, ‘S Wonderful, But Not For Me, Rhapsody In Blue,” etc.

He and his wife Evelyn (Ramey) celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 2007. They have 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

Mr. Mertz remembers fondly his years at St. James and recalls that the Brothers of the Holy Cross were very kind and were very good instructors. He commented that the dormitories and dining room were always kept spotless.

When the name Silver DiGiacomo of the 1937-38 football team was mentioned, a smile came to his face: “He was the best! An easy going fellow, nothing ever bothered him. He was a character, too. And what a great football player!” As far as playing for coach Frank “Red” Hartman: “He treated us very well. I enjoyed my time on the football team.”

Frank Mertz played football in the 1937-38 seasons, the greatest back-to-back years in the history of St. James Trade School. The Tradesmen won 6, lost 1, tied 1 in 1937 and won 4, lost 2 in 1938. He played four different positions during his time on the team: center, end, guard, tackle.

(The Glory Days staff wishes to thank Frank Mertz for his cooperation and recollections of his time at St. James.) –June 14,2007

On a sad note, from our good friend Phil Shadid:

Frank Mertz of the 1937 St.James Trade School football team passed away on Oct. 17th, 2008.  Frank was 88, and was very helpful to me when I was writing the story of St. James.  I’m sorry I couldn’t visit with him more often.  He may have been the last survivor of that team; at least I haven’t been able to find anyone else yet. Frank Mertz, 1920-2008.”

St. James football, 1937, WHAT A TEAM!

The 1938 St. James Tradesmen Football Team (by Phil Shadid):

The 1938 season for St. James showed a record of 4-2, including 3-1 in the downstate Illinois Catholic High School Association league.  But 1938 was filled with injuries, eligibility problems, and lack of scoring.  Whereas the 1937 team outscored its opponents127-49, the 1938 team barely outscored its rivals 51-49.

Silver DiGiacomo played at full strength in only three games, sat out two games because of eligibility questions (more on this later) and was hobbled with a knee injury in one other game.  Mickey Wysocki missed the final two games because of injuries.

DiGiacomo still managed to score three touchdowns and a point-after, and was matched in scoring by Al Schwabe.  Wysocki and Jim Buhnerkemper scored the other two touchdowns.  DiGiacomo, Wysocki, Buhnerkemper, and Jake Harbauer all were named to the 1938 All-City Team.

But St. James’ 4-2 mark along with 1937’s 6-1-1 mark still constituted the best two consecutive years for the Tradesmen.

The big story in 1938 were complaints turned in by Decatur St. Theresa and Kincaid High School about St. James using DiGiacomo in the games. Silver was a 4-year starter, having played in the 1935, ’36, ’37, and ’38 seasons. But their protest was over the fact that he had played on the freshmen (9th grade) team at Springfield Converse High in 1934.  He was in the 8th grade at Converse and was used sparingly during freshmen games.  Freshmen teams in 1934 played their games only against city schools which had freshmen squads (Converse, Feitshans, Central).  The protestors said he was actually playing a ninth semester in 1938, when only eight semesters of eligibility were allowed.

Rulings by the president of the Illinois Catholic HS Association first declared him ineligible, so he sat out St. James’ game versus St. Theresa on October 3.  A day later, president Reverend James T. Sees, principal of Springfield Cathedral, reversed his ruling and said DiGiacomo would be okay to play again.  However, before the Kincaid game on October 22, the manager of the Illinois High School Athletic Association, Charles Whitten, said that according to IHSAA standards, Silver was a 5-year player and could not compete against a state (public) high school member.  DiGiacomo remained on the bench for the Kincaid game.

Reverend Sees, in this give and take battle, telegraphed Hartman in Quincy on October 31, just before the team was about to take on Academy school, that “you can use DiGiacomo if desired.”  Sees took this action because of the seeming inability of Mr. Whitten’s office to make a final decision, which had been requested for some time.

As reported in the Illinois State Register, November 6, 1938:

“Silver DiGiacomo has been finally declared as eligible.  It seems that the state high school association has finally quit playing checkers with this lad and decided his participation with a two-year high school (Converse) did not count against his record.” He went out and scored two touchdowns, rushed for an extra-point, handled the punting, blocked and tackled viciously, and in a few words, “stole the show, running like a super-charged skyrocket.”  St. James beat Bloomington Trinity, 13-6, to close out the season.

The following are some of the records from other years in football:

1934  1 – 3 – 1                                                                Coach John Taggart

1935  2 – 4 – 1                                                                Coach John Taggart

1936  2 – 5 – 1                                                                Coach John Taggart

1937  6 – 1 – 1                                                                Coach Frank Hartman

1938  4 – 2                                                                     Coach Frank Hartman

1939  2 – 5                                                                     Coach Frank Hartman

1940  1 – 6                                                                     Coach Frank Hartman

1941  1 – 7                                                                     Coach Al Lewis

1942  4 – 3                                                                     Coach Al Lewis

                  (Coach Lewis left after this year to serve in the Navy – WWII)

1943  0 – 6                                                                     Coach James O’Hara

1944  2 – 3                                                                     Coach James O’Hara

1945  2 – 4                                                                     Coach James O’Hara

1946  2 – 4                                                                     Coach James O’Hara

1947  3 – 3                                                                     Coach James O’Hara

1948  3 – 3 – 1                                                                Coach James O’Hara

1949  3 – 3 – 1                                                                Coach Nonny Sellinger

1950  4 – 5                                                                     Coach Nonny Sellinger

1951  3 – 4                                                                     Coach Nonny Sellinger

1952  3 – 5                                                                     Coach Nonny Sellinger

1953  4 – 4                                                                     Coach Nonny Sellinger

1954  1 – 7                                                                     Coach Nonny Sellinger

1955  0 – 7                                                                     Coach Nonny Sellinger

1956  0 – 7    (last football season)                                   Coach R. J. “Larry” Larison

St. James’ arch-rival in football was Springfield Cathedral Boys High, from 1934 through 1946 (played twice in 1934).  St.James won 4, lost 10.

St. James last fielded a varsity football team in 1956.

Football Recap (Compiled by Phil Shadid):

The Tradesmen football program spanned 23 seasons.  Seven differrent coaches led the charge.  The overall record was 53 wins, 101 losses, 6 ties.  Not bad for a school of as few as 20 and never more than 80 boys in grades 9-12 each year.

St. James was a member of the Illinois Catholic High School Conference (ICHSC) from 1934-1946.  Their best finish was a tie for the conference championship with Peru St. Bede and Peoria Spalding in 1937.  The ICHSC began to lose teams when the Illinois HIgh School Association allowed catholic schools to join the association beginning in 1941.  The Catholic Conference (downstate division) went from 12 schools in 1937 to only six schools by 1942.  St. James played its last game against a catholic high school in 1949, losing to Decatur St. Teresa 27 – 0.

The Tradesmen joined the Morgan-Sangamon-Macoupin (MSM) Conference from 1947 through 1956.  They never won or tied for an MSM championship.

First game played, and won;  September 22, 1934, St. James 6, Springfield Cathedral 0.

Nick Todich scored the first touchdown in the history of the school on a 4 yard run.

Last game won;  October 1, 1954, St. James 28, Nokomis 12.

Scoring:  Bob Doan, 2 touchdowns; 25 yeard run, 5 yard run, 2 point-after runs.  Bill Meny, 15 yard run for TD. David Brimmer, 6 yard run for TD.  Point after runs by Pat Capranica and Ed Capranica.

Last game played; November 9, 1956, St. James 13, Palmyra Northwestern 32.

Scoring:  Tom Guyon, 2 touchdowns; 65 yard run, 6 yard run.  Point-after run by Joe Herman (the very last point recorded for the football team).

St. James Basketball District Champs of 1959

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Courtesy of Phil Shadid


(compiled by Phil Shadid)

The St. James Tradesmen began high school varsity basketball in November 1941 and had their most successful season in 1958-59 under coach Larry Larrison. This team had a record of 18-7, finished third in the MSM (Morgan-Sangamon-Macoupin) Conference and won the only District championship in the history of the school.

The team is pictured in the photo (left to right). Front row: Jim Vespa, Tom Benedict, Barry DeNardo, Gary Benedict, John Termine, Don Koss. Back row: head coach Larry Larrison, Denver Hoelscher, Bill Gansbauer, Larry Motley, Paul Hughes, Bob Heeley, Ed Kulavic. Not in the photo: assistant coach AI Purgatorio, Bob Johann, Tom Stevens.

St. James advanced to the Springfield Regional tournament (in the days of one-class basketball) after defeating Farmersville (for the third time that season) 68-50 for the Palmyra District championship. Motley’s 35 points led the way, DeNardo had 15.

The team featured a front line of 6-6 Motley, 6-0 DeNardo and 6-2 Gansbauer. The guards were Tom Benedict and Termine. Koss and Hughes were the usual substitutes.

St. James lost to Springfield Feitshans, 67-55, in the Regional first round, March 4, 1959.

Larry Motley #24 & Barry DeNardo #22

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Courtesy of Phil Shadid

That 1958-59 team featured the greatest 1-2 scoring punch in the history of the school: Larry Motley and Barry DeNardo combined for 1035 points, averaging 41.4 points per game. The rest of the team scored about 21.1 points per game.

Motley’s three year record was 1158 points in 64 games (I8.! ppg). DeNardo, who played just two years, contributed 953 points in 48 games (19.8 ppg). This dynamic duo scored 56 of the team’s 69 points in a double overtime win over Middletown in a 1958 consolation championship game in the Ashland tournament. In those days the second overtime was a sudden death, meaning the first team that scored was the winner. Larry Motley’s basket in the first few seconds of the sudden death was the deciding goal in the 69-67 victory. Motley scored 32 and DeNardo 24 in the game.

In the 48 games that Motley and DeNardo played in the 1957-58 and 1958-59 seasons, there was only ONE game in which one or the other was not the leading scorer. In the first game of the 1957-58 season, Tom Benedict had 12 points in a 43-33 loss to Morrisonville. DeNardo scored 9 points, Motley 7.

St. James’ basketball fortunes suffered through some very lean years before and after the 1958-59 season. In fact, in 1956, coach Nonny Selinger’s squad withdrew before its first game in the postseason Farmersville District tournament after a regular season mark of 1-16. The team lost games during the 1955-56 season when some opponents scored more than 100 points, and others were in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

That team, like so many others, suffered from lack of height and a sparse bench. (For example, the 1943-44 squad had a record of 1-19, and lost games by scores of 52-9,56-11,44-9 and 62-20.) But what the teams throughout the years didn’t lack was incentive and pride to play their best and never give up.

The 1957-58 season had the Tradesmen finishing with a 10-13 record. Motley and DeNardo averaged 38.8 ppg out of the 55.4 ppg for the team.

But the 1958-59 team was something special. Don Drysdale, Sports Editor of the lllinois State Journal wrote: “For Springfield fans this year finds them with a special stake in a preliminary (District) series. St. James Trade School, the little school located east of the city, is not like the usual public or parochial school. Its enrollment is limited. Nevertheless it always has presented a fine athletic program, directed by capable coaches, although theirs is a part time job. Part time it may be, but the job done by the current coach, R. J. “Larry” Larison, is distinctly topflight. His charges are sure to give a good account of themselves.  It has a fine one-two punch in Larry Motley and Barry DeNardo and a team spirit that few can match.”

Larry Motley (#24) graduated from St. James in 1959, certified as a Meat Processor/Butcher. He worked in his trade for a few years but had to give it up because the constant time spent in cold meat lockers affected his health. Even though he had to quit his trade he did teach one year at St. James in the Meat Processing department. He retired in 2005 after many years at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. Larry is married to Norma (Wright); they will be celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary in 2007. The couple have 5 children, 14 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren.

He graduated from Sts. Peter & Paul’s Grade School in Springfield where he polished his athletic skills. He also played baseball on the St. James team and after graduating from the school played basketball for over 10 years for Lincoln Cab, a local AAU team that regularly scored a 100 or more points per game. (Footnote: this writer and Larry lived next door to each other in the 1940’s and Motley also pitched on my brother Woody Shadid’s little league baseball team in the 1950’s.)

Barry DeNardo (#22), born in Bloomington IL, also graduated in 1959, earning a certificate as a Bricklayer/Mason. He worked in his trade a few years before starting his own carpeting business. He would later move to Wheaton IL, working as a construction supervisor. Barry died at a much too young age 45 in 1987, survived by his wife and three children.

Basketball recap (compiled by Phil Shadid)

First game played…Nov. 25, 1941: St. James 22, Waggoner 29. St.James scoring: Tony Caruso 8, Evaldo Baliva 6, Joe Esela 4, John Bartolomucci 2, John Kohlrus 2.

First game won…Dec. 22, 1941: St. James 37, Stonington 25. S1. James scoring: Tony Caruso 14, John Bartolomucci 10, John Kohlrus 10, Evaldo Baliva 2, Joe Esela 1.

Last game won…Feb. 10, 1970: S1. James 67, Girard 63. St. James scoring: Shane Cloyd 21, Steve Antonacci 15, Gerard Baulos 3, Mike Venturini 12, Jim Cour 11, Bill Tucker 2.

Last game played…Feb. 23, 1971: St. James 57, Divernon 85 (District tournament game at Waverly HS). St. James scoring: Bill Tucker 19, Jim Cour 10, Mike Valenti 4, Terry Rapps 5, Harold Morrow 12, Bruce Carlile 7.

St. James participated in an unusual double-header basketball game on Nov. 17, 1944, when they traveled four miles into Springfield and lost at Lanphier High 55-25 in an early evening contest. Lanphier then played Riverton High in a second game and won 36-34.

The Tradesmen did not join the Illinois High School Association to participate in postseason play until the 1951-1952 season. On Feb. 26, 1952, they lost their first ever District game in the Glenarm (Ball Township) tournament to Pawnee, 80-56. However, after the loss in the tournament they played TWO more games in the regular season: a loss to Morrisonville on Feb. 27 and a loss to Pleasant Plains on Feb. 29 (both of those teams qualified for Regional play without having to compete in a District). Makes you wonder what would have happened if St. James had WON their first District game and had to play the next night in the tournament!

The record for most points by an individual basketball player is 41 accomplished by two players: 6-4 center Joe Wolf in a 79-45 win over Tallula on Jan. 23, 1952; and by Bob Frederick a 6-3 center/forward on Feb. 2, 1962, in a 61-45 victory over Palmyra Northwestern. Frederick has the school record for most points scored in one season (1961-1962): 624 points. He actually scored 51 percent of the points the team made in the 61-62 season! Frederick graduated in May 1962 as a Meat Processor/Butcher. Wolf’s game was the last he ever played for St. James because he completed his apprenticeship training as a Carpenter on Jan. 27, 1952.


Year         won-lost             Coach

1941-42      3-15                 AI Lewis

1942-43      5-18                 first 18 games – James Woulfe (4-14 record); last 5 – Larry Larison (1-4)

1943-44       1-19                James O’Hara

1944-45       6-17                O’Hara

1945-46      12-16               O’Hara

1946-47        4-18               O’Hara

1947-48        4-17               O’Hara

1948-49        1-21               O’Hara

1949-50        3-19               Nonny Selinger

1950-51       12-9                Selinger

1951-52        8-13               Selinger

1952-53        3-16               Selinger

1953-54        5-14               Selinger (Art Evans, 19.5 points per game)

1954-55        1-15               Selinger

1955-56        1-16               Selinger

1956-57        2-14               R. J. “Larry” Larison

1957-58      10-13               R. J. “Larry” Larison (Barry DeNardo, 19.9 ppg; L.Motley, 18.9)

1958-59      18-7                 R. J. “Larry” Larison (Larry Motley, 21.6 ppg; B.DeNardo, 19.8)

1959-60        2-16               R. J. “Larry” Larison

1960-61        5-19               R. J. “Larry” Larison

1961-62        9-14               R. J. “Larry” Larison (Bob Frederick, 27.1 ppg; school record)

1962-63        4-19               R. J. “Larry” Larison

1963-64        7-15               R. J. “Larry” Larison

1964-65        3-16               Al Purgatorio

1965-66        1-18               Purgatorio

1966-67        3-21               Purgatorio

1967-68        7-15               Purgatorio (Tony Trello, 17.1 ppg)

1968-69        1-22               Purgatorio

1969-70        3-20               Purgatorio

1970-71        0-23               Purgatorio (last basketball season)

Totals: 144-495 (30 years)


St. James played baseball as a “club” team from 1930 to 1941, sometimes playing other high schools and often times fielding teams in the Springfield summer leagues.  The baseball program began scheduled varsity competition against other high schools in 1942 and ended in 1971.  The Tradesmen took part in the annual Springfield city series playing the other four schools twice each in 1942.  Even though they finished last in the series they won the team batting average championship that year.  St. James had a final record of 6-7 in 1942, including 4-0 in the Catholic High School Conference.  There were a few other good teams at St. James, one of which was the 1959 squad.  Star pitcher Larry Motley once pitched both ends of a double-header, beating Pawnee High School 4-3 and 1-0 on May 21, 1959.

Springfield St. James Tradesmen of 1941-42

A group of people posing for a photo

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Submitted by Phil Shadid

In the photograph of the team above (which represented more than half of the student body in 1942), they are:

left to right, front row: Otto Schweska, Al Zimmerman, John Kohlrus, Jim Ross, Russell Esela, M. L. Bockenfeld, Bob Lyons, Gil Capranica, Bob Power, Wilburn Snyders.

back row: Mickey Rock, Pat Bryan, Joe Esela, John Coleman, Gene Szerletich, Carl Knous, coach Al Lewis, Bill Atteberry, Tony Caruso, Paul Tapocik, Evaldo Baliva, John Bartolomucci, Jim Wise, Jerry Banning, Charles Smith.

1968-69         MSM Conference Champions           Coach Al Purgatorio

From member of the 1968-69 baseball team Robert Miller:

“In 1969 coach Al Purgatorio decided not to coach the baseball team that spring.  3 or 4 of us seniors met with him in his office to try and convince him into changing his mind.  We told him, if he would coach us, we would win the MSM conference for him.  He coached that spring and we did win the conference for him. One notable achievement for that team; One of the St James HS pitchers tossed a perfect game that spring. “


Track & field was offered as an intra-mural sport at St. James.

Frank “Red” Hartman – St. James Coach 1937-41

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Submitted by Phil Shadid


*Frank “Red” Hartman – Frank Hartman was born in Chicago, Il. in 1909, growing up in a tough neighborhood.  He always went by the nickname “Red” because of the prominent color of his hair.  Years later, after coaching sports at St. James, some kidded him that “Red” was no longer a viable name.

But growing up in Chicago, the nickname stuck.  Except whenever his mother would call him home.  Then it was, “Sonny, come home.”  The neighbor kids would begin their razzing and pretty soon a fight would ensue.  He would always say, “My name is Red!”

He attended DeLaSalle High School, a member of the rugged Chicago Catholic League.  Red played fullback on the 1926 football team. He scored two touchdowns during the team’s 4-3-1 season.

Hartman entered DePaul University and played football as a quarterback.  His best year was 1930, when he led the team to a record of 6 wins and 2 losses. The big victory was a 6 – 0 win over city arch-rival Loyola, in a game played before 25,000 fans at Soldier Field in Chicago.

In 1937, he was hired by the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross to coach all sports at St. James, beginning with football.  Two very successful seasons were 1937 and 1938, when the teams went a combined 10 – 3 – 1.  He continued to coach until joining the Army after December 07, 1941.

After discharge from the Army, he went on to work as a probation officer for the state of Illinois, retiring in 1974.  He was married and raised a family.  The Hartman’s moved to Fort Atkinson, WI., in 1975, where “Red” passed away at age 67 in 1976.

During his time in Springfield, even after leaving the employment of St. James, Frank was always available to help at the school and participate in fund raising.


From Sandy Laurin:

I was the cook’s helper at St. James from 1960 to 1962.  I went by the nickname, “Cindy“, but my real name is Sandy.  The cook at that time was Mrs. Beckett.  I live in AZ and my married name is Sandy Laurin.  Attached (below) are some pictures I took while I worked at St. James.  One is of the class of 1962, which is the same year I graduated high school.  The other picture of myself with some of the boys was taken about 1961-62.  I don’t know who these boys are, but maybe someone will look at the picture and know who they are. I had some good memories of working there. ”

Springfield St. james Boys of 1961

A group of men sitting on a bench

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Photo by Sandy Laurin

St. James Boys with Sandy Laurin (Cook – 1961)

A group of people standing together

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**From Glenn Peddicord:

“My father graduated from St James in 1955 and I have some memorabilia from his time at the school. My father became a steel worker in Baltimore. He continued to use many of the skills (tailoring and making things) he learned at St. James throughout his life. He was also a Cubscout Master. My father died in 1985.”

Below is a photo of the class of 1954 that includes Glenn’s father,

Springfield St. James Class of 1954

A group of men posing for a photo

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Submitted by Glenn Peddicord

People viewed in the photo above:

Back row, left to right: John Steiner, Richard Hodos, Ted Bryant, Art Evans, James McKinney.

Front row, left to right: Michael Romain, Donald Reiser, Edward Yeaman, John Kiefer



The Glory Days staff offers a sincere thank you to Phil Shadid for the research he conducted on St. James High School allowing us to add this page to the site.  Phil advises that some of his research came from a  book titled “The St. James Story, 1928-1972” by John F. McCaffrey (Historian), a 1939 graduate of St. James, and Donald McCaffrey (Editor) also a 1939 graduate of St. James.  The book was found in the Sangamon Valley Collection of Springfield’s Lincoln Library.  Additionally, microfilm records of the Illinois State Journal-Register were viewed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library through the great cooperation of staff employees Jan Perone and Debbie Ross.

Sincere gratitude also goes out to Brother Anthony Joseph of the St. James Monastery. Brother Joseph was responsible for most of the photos on this page. Brother Joseph generously made the archives of the school available for viewing.  He also took our good friend Phil Shadid on a tour of the facilities, showing the buildings previously used by the Trade School.

The wrought iron railings on the grounds were crafted by the students oand the chapel is adourned with stain glass windows created by the skill of the boys of St. James.  What a remarkable tradition of excellence by the Brothers and students of this school.  They are justifiably proud of the achievements in the 44 year history of St. James Trade School.

If You Have Information to Share…

…regarding the many successes and accomplishments of Springfield St. James High School please write to us at the address provided.  We are especially anxious to share photos of the old high school building and great teams, coaches, and other accomplishments of St. James HS.  Photos and information can be e-mailed to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.  You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago,  Il.    60631

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