by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Ray Frantz (February, 1885 – March, 1977) moved his family from Benton County, Iowa to Kansas City, Kansas in the 1920s. He took a job as a brakeman for the railroad. According to the 1930 U. S. Census, he was living in Grain Valley with his wife, Ella Mildred (Kiff) Frantz (October, 1888 – August, 1963). Their two sons, Harold (June, 1913 – August, 1994)) and Roland (February, 1915 – September, 1994) are graduates of Grain Valley High School.
The 1930 U. S. Census lists Frantz as an Oil Company owner. The exact details are unclear, however, at some point the family lived in a two-story home on the southwest corner of Main Street and Yennie. (The house was torn down a few years ago.) His Oil Company and Motor Service was housed in the old Royal Playhouse at the northwest corner of Main and Walnut Street. The photo does not include the gas pumps which were on the corner near the intersection.
During this time, Ray “Pop” Frantz owned and drove a school bus for Grain Valley. This photograph (or a similar one) appeared in the 1938 yearbook. At that time, he owned and drove the only bus used by the school. Wouldn’t you like to know his route? In a September 1942 Broadcaster (school newspaper), there was an article that included a second bus, one with a route north of town and one with a route south of town.
At some point, after World War II, the old Royal Playhouse was sold to Robert’s Salvage Company, who turned it into a salvage yard for planes, tanks and jeeps used by the armed services during the war. Mr. Frantz moved his service station 3 blocks south to the northeast corner of Main and Harris street. Their home was on the north side of the station. It still stands today, although not as a home. The station was torn down and has been replaced by a muffler shop.
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