All Roads Lead to Saint Louis

Chief Pontiac on the Hood of a 1940 Deluxe

I heard it on NPR that the nation’s champion chess team is moving to Saint Louis. Last year, I reported that the World Chess Hall of Fame moved to Saint Louis. This week, I learned that the entire Texas Tech chess team followed its ‘Queen’ to Webster University. The Texas chess program had grown rapidly, but Texas Tech wasn’t ready to grow with the program, is the story in the news. Coach Susan Polgar said, “Saint Louis today is the center of chess in America. It just seemed like a perfect fit.” Apparently so, because her entire team followed her.

Chief Pontiac’s father was a Odowa and his mother a Ojibwa. He grew up in 18th century Detroit. He lived peacefully there with the French, but then the French lost the Seven Years War and ceded the Northwest Territories to the British. British and Indian relations soon went from bad to worse, and culminated in Pontiac’s Rebellion. Pontiac unsuccessfully besieged Fort Detroit, but the rebellion did succeed in capturing eight other British forts, from Ohio to Indiana to Northern Michigan. After the war, Pontiac retreated to Illinois. He was murdered in Cahokia, some say assassinated. There was a £200 price on his head. He is buried somewhere in Saint Louis.

OK, so I have provided only two roads to Saint Louis, and one ended badly. There are many more, but these two I learned of this week. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that both Anne and Dan are alumni of Webster. As an aside, last month Webster announced an expansive building plan. Planned in multiple phases over multiple years, it is scheduled to eventually replace the art building. Dan won’t recognize his alma mater.

Saint Louis is enamoured with its former Saint Louis residents. So much so, it almost takes on the George Washington slept here caricature. It is also academic if its prodigal sons ever return. If you don’t really have a hometown, then you adopt one. I’ve lived in many towns over the years. By the time that I graduated from college, my dorm address was my longest residency. Now, after over thirty years, it is Saint Louis. Who says that a rolling stone cannot gather some moss? Maybe a truer title should be, all roads lead through Saint Louis. We do claim to be the gateway to the west, and Kansas City, our neighbor to the west claims that Saint Louis is really the gateway to the east. I guess that makes us the crossroads of America.

This One is for the Girls

Saturday morning Anne and I drove to the Park. We didn’t leave home in time to get our usual Muny parking spot and we didn’t get to the Muny in time to sit in our usual seats. We ended up sitting back in Terrace B instead. Dan joined us shortly and I got to sit between two Webster grads, Anne (class of 2003) and Dan (class of 2008). The sun was shining and even though it was cool it wasn’t uncomfortable sitting back in the cheap seats.

We were at the Muny on Saturday morning to attend Annie’s graduation. The commencement speaker was an army colonel who had lost both his legs in Iraq. He explained that this brought on some changes. He got a laugh when he explained he could no longer use one of his favorite phrase, “I’ve been busier than a one-legged man at an ass kicking contest.” The themes of his speech were about duty and service. After the main festivities the different schools held their own ceremonies.

The arts school held theirs in the Muny’s rehearsal area, on the west side of the theater. Where as in the main theater we were shielded from the wind and sitting in the sun, in the rehearsal area neither of these things were true. It was cold. Anne says it felt like Cabin weather. Dan didn’t dress for the weather, so I lent him my vest.

We saw Annie there and her mom, Sue, grandmother, May and brother, Tom. We all got to see Annie walk; then it got too cold for May, so Sue took her home. I went looking for coffee shortly afterwards, which helped. The dean of the school of arts had said at the beginning of the ceremony that last year it had been ninety-five degrees. I suspect that next weekend’s commencement in upstate New York will be more like this Saturday’s, that is cold.

In the fall both Dan and Annie are going to two relatively closely located, about fifty miles apart, but different art schools in the greater LA area. Neither of them has ever gone away to school before. Webster is only about five miles from our house and it is less than a mile from Annie’s. It should be a great and exciting adventure for the both of them.

In the afternoon I returned to the Park, but this time by my usual mode of transportation, by bike. Because of the morning’s chilliness I ended up over dressing for the ride and actually got too hot. I got lots of good pictures, including the pictures of the ducklings. I also got 18 miles.  Saturday night we went to a reception for Annie’s graduation, at her folk’s house.

Today is Mothers Day. I would like to give a shout out to all the mothers in my life, but in particular to the three closest to me. First, I would like to honor my mother, Jackie, who I will see again next month. Second, I would like to honor my mother-in-law, Gene, who I will see next week. Finally, I would like to honor the mother my children, Anne, who can I see now. Peek-a-Boo!