Bleeding Red, White and Blue

Bleeding Blue

Author Jane Smiley wrote a love letter to Saint Louis, her hometown that was published in today’s New York Times. A former Saint Louis resident, she returned to town for her 50th high school reunion. Like all true loves, Smiley’s article describes both her likes and dislikes about Saint Louis, offering a frank assessment of the town’s greatest problem, race. At times, her article often reads like a travel log, where she enumerates all of the attractions that she visited. What results is a good overview for visitors. 

I biked in the park today. The fountain in front of the history museum is dyed blue in honor of last season’s Stanley Cup win by the Saint Louis Blues hockey team. Their new season just got under way. It could have been dyed red instead, in honor of the Saint Louis Cardinal’s playoff bid. Although, it is much safer to celebrate a championship already won, than one that may never come. After the first two games of their NLCS, this seems like a wise decision, but tonight the Redbirds have a chance to staunch their bleeding and hopefully score some runs.

All of this is preamble to our soon to be hosting of house guests. This is the best time to visit Saint Louis. When its weather is the most agreeable. Saint Louis is a town twice cursed by the weather gods, with a Southern summer and Northern winter, but in-between, especially in the Fall, the weather gods give us a break.

Pulitzer Prize Photographs

It was a busy day today. I ran errands all day long. I won’t bore you though with any recitations. At the end of the day I found myself cruising by Forest Park and decided to duck in, to see what was new at the history museum. One of the two main halls is closed as they stage the next new show, but the other one was open, with actually two new exhibits. The first photographic show is entitled Pulitzer Prize Photographs and was produced by the Newseum, of Washington, DC. The other is locally produced and called, In Focus: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Photographs. The Post was the flagship of the Pulitzer newspaper empire.

I’ve sampled two photos from each show, which I feel is fair use. I don’t usually photograph photos. I think that doing so is too meta, but this is an exceptional collection of pictures. There are eighty pictures on display, out of a portfolio that numbers over a thousand. Many of the photographs are iconic: Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, Ruby Shoots Oswald, Babe Ruth’s Final Farewell, to name a few.

Many of the displayed pictures are disturbing. There are ample warning signs at the exhibit’s entrance. Don’t worry though, because I decided to choose only photos of a lighthearted or uplifting subject matter. The following paragraphs  gives a synopsis of the exhibits description for each of the above photos:

  1. It was a hot and muggy day. The photographer heard a women scream and looked up to see a lineman dangling lifelessly above him. A second line- man climbed up to him and gave the first mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After a while, the second lineman called down to the gathered crowd that the first was breathing again. He suffered extensive burns, but survived.
  2. Kosovo was Europe’s worse refugee crisis since World War II. This picture was shot outside a refugee camp in Albania. The infant is being passed back-and-forth between relatives who are already in the camp and newly arrived relatives, who are waiting to get into the camp.
  3. Whitey Kurowski, Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion and Stan Musial helped the Cardinals to their sixth World Championship in 1946.
  4. “All I really need to accomplish are two lanes for my car”, said Richard Burst of Webster Groves. I remember seeing this photo in the paper, but of course that was only last winter.

 

Meet Me In St. Louis

We attended the Muny last night. Meet Me in St. Louis was playing. We’ve seen this show many times before. It is almost a perennial hit around here. We went to the show primarily because it was the last show of the season and this being the Muny’s centennial season and all. Tonight is the season finale, but we went last night, just incase a rain check would be needed. The motto for this season is a line borrowed from this musical, “Right here in Saint Louis.”

For those of you not familiar with this show, it is set in the year leading up to the 1904 Saint Louis World’s Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to NYC. Part of the reason that Meet Me is always a favorite is its strong repertoire of musical numbers. There is the title song of course, but there is also the Trolley Song. Saint Louis is about to get its first real trolley in decades, Clang, clang, clang went the trolley. The story climaxes to the heart string twanging tune of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. By this point in the musical the actors are performing in turn-of-the-century winter garb, outdoors in Saint Louis’s sweltering heat, but the show must go on. Actually, it was pretty nice last night.

Meet Me is full of reprises. In addition to the explicit reprises of Meet Me, Have Yourself, The Boy Next Door and Boys and Girls Like You and Me, there was a de facto reprise added to this production. The first act has, Under the Bamboo Tree. This is followed in the second act with Under the Anheuser Bush.

Today, during our bicycle ride, we swung by the History Museum, which has an exhibit celebrating the Muny’s hundred years. Most of this exhibit is dedicated to the Wizard of Oz, which by looking at the catalog of performances in the back of the program is one of the most popular and frequently performed musicals. I think that nowadays they do this show as the annual children’s show, so that all the flying monkeys can scare the bejesus out of the little tikes.

We’ve been going to the Muny now, for a third of its run. When we first moved to Saint Louis, we snickered at the blue haired old ladies who probably had been coming to the Muny since its inception. Honest, the light from the theater’s spots made their hair glow blue. We had season tickets for years. For part of that run, we dragged the boys to the shows. Dave’s first show was South Pacific. After the show Anne asked him what was his favorite part. “When the airplanes flew over”, he answered. That would have been during the Star Spangled Banner, which precedes every performance. When Anne started teaching, we started to spend less time in Saint Louis, at least during the summer. Now that I’m retired, we’re hardly here at all, but it was good to celebrate the Muny. 

Barbie and Ken

Ken and Barbie

Barbie: You have been lazing around the house for too long. I get up at five every morning and go to work. You need to get out of the house and find a job too.
Ken: I do have a job. I’m a blogger. I mean, I’m a news person. I report the news. I’m a member of the fourth estate. Just because the President doesn’t respect the media is no reason for you to pile on.
Barbie: Ken, I’m saying, you need to be doing more with your life than blogging.
Ken: Barbie, I could do more, if you were there by my side. We could model?

Barbie: In your dream house, Ken. I already have a successful modeling career. Ken: I’ve seen the help wanted emails that have popped up. Is that you?
Barbie: I didn’t send those emails.
Ken: Are you saying then that it was Russian trolls?
Barbie: Whatever.
Ken: I could be your UPS man, a man in brown and deliver you my package.
Barbie: Ken, you don’t have a package to deliver.
Ken: That was a low blow.
Barbie: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be hurtful.
Ken: Sometimes you act like you have a pole up your ass.
Barbie: And you a stick up yours!
Ken: Honey, let’s not fight… I love you.
Barbie: I love you, too.
Ken: I’ll try harder. I’ll right longer, more insightful posts, like this one.
Barbie: Keep trying, Babe and you mean to say write not right.
Ken: Do you want me to get our owner’s little brother to pose us on her bed?
Barbie: That would be grand!

Kudus to Her

Lesser Kudu

Anne wrapped up her long-term substitute transition period yesterday, with a 3rd-grade field trip to the Missouri History Museum. The students went to see, “#1 in Civil Rights: The African-American Freedom Struggle in Saint Louis”. Anne and I had already visited this exhibit. A docent met them at the curb, when the buses pulled up. This large group was split, half viewed the exhibit first and half had a classroom activity. Anne’s group started in the exhibit, where curators emphasized three aspects of the show: the 19th-century struggle against slavery, the sixties civil rights movement and the Ferguson demonstrations. Classroom activity involved making demonstration signs. I can hear the eye-rolling out there, but the kids were really engaged and not all of the signs were race related.

#1 in Civil Rights

#1 in Civil Rights

A September 22, 1964 headline in The St. Louis American proclaimed St. Louis as the “Number One City in Civil Rights.” In the article, Judge Nathan Young argued that St. Louis—more than any other city in the U.S.—was preeminent in the country’s struggle for civil rights based on the number of Supreme Court cases [four] that originated in St. Louis and the city’s long history of protest that led to significant change.

The claim that Saint Louis is the most important city in U.S. civil rights history may seem surprising, but that’s because so much our city’s activist past has been forgotten. America’s civil rights history has too often been dominated by stories about a limited number of places, during a limited time period. Until Ferguson, Saint Louis had been largely left out of civil rights history. #1 in Civil Rights attempts to reclaim the role that Saint Louis had in U.S. civil rights history. 

The Missouri History Museum’s, #1 in Civil Rights: The African-American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis examines the local civil rights movement and the city’s role in advancing the cause of racial justice. From activism to high court rulings, Saint Louis has been contesting racial inequities. #1 in Civil Rights uncovers a history that’s compelling and complex, but that all too often has been overlooked in the telling of the larger national narrative. That narrative includes four precedent-setting Supreme Court civil rights cases that originated in Saint Louis—possibly the most to ever reach the High Court from one source. It also includes events and battles that had significant impacts.