Anne and I bicycled over to the Hill to view today’s bike races. It was a much more pleasant day than Friday night was for bicycling. We bumped into Gary and his friends and ended up palling around with them all afternoon. They were a hoot and a half. In between partying, we watched the bicycling races. The photo that I posted last night, of Friday night’s rather soggy bike races is extremely popular. So popular that I’ve been commissioned to print a copy of it on metal. I’ve never done this before and have reached out to my brother Chris, who has lots of experience in doing this. We had a lot of fun today and stayed until the end of the races. Then we had to pedal our bums home again.
The Friday of Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of the Gateway Cup bicycle races. This end of summer ritual is high season for cycling, what with the Bike MS ride occurring the following weekend. Last year, like many previous years, we had a dinner date with our friends Don and DJ. Last Sunday, having returned to town after a summer long exodus, I had a thought that I should ask them, if they wanted to meet us again this year. I was still planning on acting on this thought, when on Monday, I received word that Don had died on Sunday night. I was shocked. We had had lunched with him in May, just before we left town. I could tell that he had lost some cognitive capabilities, but he was still fully ambulatory and could converse. I learned later that very shortly after that lunch, his health began to rapidly deteriorate. He was 78.
I met Don in 1980, when I moved to Saint Louis. We both worked for Control Data and he was lead analyst at McDonnell Douglas, where we also both worked. Then, he would deliver my paycheck. We worked together off and on over the next ten years. Most closely as part of a sales team that was calling on the University of Illinois. I eventually left CDC, which by then had earned the nickname constantly diminishing corporation and we lost touch for a while.
Don reached out to me later, when he got into bicycling. I was going great guns with the sport then, but with his natural athletic abilities, he soon eclipsed me. Around Don, formed a cadre of former CDC employees and new friends that teenage Dave took to calling the Ons: “Dave, did anyone call for me?” “Yea.” “Who?” “I don’t know, one of the Ons (Don, John, Ron).”
We rode together almost every weekend. Mostly doing organized rides. On one of these rides, I was present when Don and DJ met. Another ride was the MS-150. We all joined the TWA charity bike team and when the company TWA folded, Don took the lead and reformed its members as Team Kaldi’s. His years in sales and his way with people made him a natural leader in this field. His first year out, the jersey that he commissioned won first prize for its design. He and DJ grew the team to the point that it was the largest team here in Saint Louis, both in number of people and in funds raised. It was the first team in Saint Louis to top a million dollars in funds raised, out raising all the area’s corporate titans. I was at the DeMun Kaldi’s when I first heard the news of Don’s passing.
We had dinner last night with DJ, at Polite Society. As you can tell from the photo, it was a dark and stormy night. As we walked back to the car, the only people still out were the racers, who were riding in the rain, and their immediate circle. All the fair weather fans had fled. Don always did right by me. He was a good man. He touched a lot of lives. He will be missed.
Anne had her full day cut to a half day, which was alright by her and me. We took the opportunity of a morning off to both sleep in and get in a bike ride. This combination left her pressed for time near the end of our ride, which fueled her riding to faster than normal speeds. I rode by myself yesterday and it was so much more enjoyable having her company along on this ride.
In the afternoon, I drove over to the art museum to see their signature exhibit of the summer, Paul Gauguin: The Art of Invention, before it ends next month. This show features works from the Danish museum, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek of Copenhagen. As such, my favorite Gauguin work, By the Sea was not there, because it is at the National Gallery. The pictured painting, Reclining Tahitian Women or The Amusement of the Evil Spirit has been singled out to represent this exhibition, because it is similar to and representative of Gauguin’s most famous artwork, like By the Sea. This show though encompassed the breath of his career and contained examples of the many other art forms besides painting that he worked. These other mediums include, sculpture, pottery, wood carving and printing. It was interesting to see his many varied means of expression.
About a hundred miles north of San Francisco is Point Arena and its lighthouse. The current lighthouse was built after the previous one was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. Point Arena is along the same San Andreas fault as San Francisco. A keeper was on duty at the time of the quake and he reported that the lighthouse first swung twelve feet one-way and then twelve feet back the other way. The keeper survived the quake with only minor scrapes.
The reason for his survival was the steel spiral staircase that bended, but did not break during the quake. The original lighthouse had to be rebuilt, but the stairs were reusable. We toured the lighthouse and its top is now an empty room. At the time there was huge Fresnel up there that is now on display in the museum. The lens turned, because it rode on a table that was floating in a vat of mercury. All that weight at the top makes the lightkeepers survival even more amazing.
I bicycled in the park today. I was hardly quicksilver fast. I think that I was passed by about half-a-dozen other cyclists. Still, I was out there on the bike.
It was a dark and stormy night, followed by an even stormier morning. I was a little slow in getting out of bed and when I did, I discovered that Anne was gone and so was the car. I was stranded, at least for a while. The rain let up and rather than subject my bicycle to the duress of Skinker’s Swamp amid flash flooding, I decided to walk. I got as far as Kaldi’s on DeMun, when I got a text. It was bad news. A friend had passed last night. Anne and I had lunched with this friend just before we left town for the summer and I had thought of reaching out to this friend just yesterday. Bike races are featured this coming weekend and I thought that getting together for dinner would be a good idea. Like we did last year. You always think that you have more time than you really do. As the mutual friend who relayed this sad news always says, never buy green bananas.
With a lot on my mind, I continued on to the zoo, which I also hadn’t seen all summer. School and the morning’s rain had tamped down the crowds, which always seems to make the animals more responsive to the few people that are there. I got a few good shots. I liked this one the best. I was trying to recreate one of my all time favorites, which is only doable at this time of year, after a full summer of bird poop and heat allows the algae to turn the water a brilliant lime green. There wasn’t enough sun today to rival the sparkle of the previous shot, but the reflections of other flamingos in the background add some interesting character. I’m not sure what the zoo plans on doing with the flamingos come winter. In the past, they got warehoused in the old sea lion show exhibit, but that has been torn down and will be replaced with an outdoor enclosure for small prehensile mammals, called Primate Canopy Trails.
We pretty much took this summer off from cycling, but we’re back on the bikes. With two weeks to go until this year’s Bike MS ride, Anne and I are trying to whip our butts into shape. Based upon today’s modest ride around the park that might be a rather poor choice of words. Still, we’re out there and we’re trying.
In addition to riding, we also lunched at 1764 Public House. Named for the year Saint Louis was founded. Located in the CWE. It is at the corner of Euclid and Pine. This area of town has been undergoing renovation for years now and it has finally begun to come together. Kitty-corner is a new Whole Foods and high-rise condos abound. I doubt that there are any buildings older than ten years left near this intersection. 1764 has street, inside and upstairs seating. We selected a fourth option that was both inside and out. We had a roof over our heads, but all of the garage door sized windows had been hydraulically opened, giving us the inside-outside vibe. Students from both Wash U and SLU are returning to town and with the CWE situated halfway between these two schools, they give the area an international cosmopolitan feel.
After lunch, we rode up Euclid to Left Bank Books and Anne ordered this month’s selection by the Birch Point Book Club, Summer at Firefly Beach, by Jenny Hale. It is billed as the perfect feel good summer romance. Anne won’t be able to participate in this month’s meeting, but she can still live vicariously and maybe extend summer a bit longer by reading it.