Bellefontaine Neighbors, MO – A well-known bit of American yesteryear is vanishing this fall as retired IBEW Local 1 electrician, 88-year-old Al Roth, harvests his last crop.
For more than 120 years, the Roth family has operated a truck farm here – so called because the family “trucked” vegetables to Produce Row in Soulard.
The Roth family stopped trucking produce 52 years ago when Al’s father Fred collapsed and died of a heart attack while harvesting vegetables.
Since then, Al Roth has continued the tradition with a well-known roadside vegetable stand.
The farm traces its roots back to the 1890s, when Henry Landwehr’s family emigrated from Germany.
In fact, the address – 1011 Landwehr Lane – bears the legacy of the family. Al’s father Fred Roth was born in 1907 and married Matilda Landwehr after World War I.
Al was born in 1929 and learned how to drive at age 14 by driving a vegetable truck to Soulard during World War II.
At age 26, he became an IBEW Local 1 electrician. (His claim to fame: he performed all the electrical upgrades to the old Burger Chef restaurants when they were converted into Hardee’s). Years later, his sons Dale and Dave would follow him into the trade.
But Al, the third generation to run the farm, also remained in the family business. He retired as an electrician at age 62, but continued to farm for the next 24 years.
Now at age 88, the family farm started by his grandmother’s family in the 1890s and well known to north county residents for more than 100 years, is seeing its final harvest of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other fall crops.