The last exit on I-255 in Missouri before the Illinois border is Koch Road. Turn right on Koch Road, in a community now known as Oakville, and you run into the curiously named Robert Koch Hospital Road, which runs through a residential area. But where’s the hospital? It turns out Robert Koch Hospital was demolished in 1989.
The sad story of Robert Rayford, the first documented victim of HIV/AIDS in the United States, shows that if timing had been a little bit different, the AIDS epidemic could have happened a decade earlier than it did, and its epicenter could have been St. Louis instead of New York. His story raises some uncomfortable questions. How did HIV end up in St. Louis, of all places? And why did it stay local to St. Louis rather than becoming an epidemic?
His story made me uncomfortable, and sometimes that’s how I know it’s time to dig in a bit more.
The Aero Monorail was a futuristic monorail train first offered in 1932. Manufactured in St. Louis by the eponymously named Aero Monorail Company, it was designed to suspend over Lionel standard gauge track and run faster than the standard gauge train.
The stands came in two varieties: a pair of free standing towers, and a series of towers that slipped under Standard gauge track and used the same 42-inch diameter. The motor looked like an Erector motor and was intended to run on 6-8 volts, either DC or AC.
Over the Independence Day weekend, I took my family to the Bonne Terre Mine, about 50 miles south of St. Louis on Highway 67. It was once one of the world’s largest active lead mines, and the area around Bonne Terre is still known as the Lead Belt. Mining is still the major industry in southeast Missouri, and the area is dotted with big piles of mining waste, which the locals refer to as “chat.”
Mining in the area started way back in 1720 by French settlers; Bonne Terre Mine opened in 1860. It closed in 1962.
I don’t think any of this will be in the newspapers, but I hope I’m wrong. Probably the most unusual man I will ever meet died over the weekend. His name was Otis Woodard. He ran a women’s shelter and food pantry in north St. Louis for decades. In many ways, it seems to me he represented everything that was right in the midst of all the things that are so wrong.
Growing up in Missouri, a lot of my Christmas gifts when I was young came from a catalog showroom called Dolgin’s. One of my earliest memories is going to Dolgin’s with my mom and aunt, who showed me some Tonka trucks and asked me which ones I liked best.
I know a lot of people remember going through Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs, but I remember Dolgin’s catalogs the best. Continue reading Remembering Dolgin’s
A Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man, on August 9, 2014. The night after, riots broke out.
Ferguson is an inner-ring suburb in north St. Louis County. As such, Ferguson is now approximately 67% African-American, although the power structure remains mostly white.
I am a native of Kansas City who has lived in suburban St. Louis for a little more than 20 years. As a quasi-outsider, St. Louis has some quirks that I recognize and understand. It helps to understand that St. Louis is very divided, both along the lines of race but also along the lines of class. One of the first questions many St. Louisans will ask you is what high school you went to. This conveniently tells people how much money you grew up with. If you went to a private school, you’re good. If you went to a public school in an affluent area, you’re good. If you went to a public school in a poor area, I hope you’re living in a more affluent area now because there are people who will look down on you.
Sometimes the lines are fuzzy but sometimes they’re very stark. In north St. Louis, there’s an east-west street called Delmar. On the south side of the street are expensive houses. I won’t say they’re all millionaires on that side of the street, but many undoubtedly are. On the north side of the street, the houses that aren’t vacant are occupied by people who have minimum-wage jobs. The haves and have-nots can stare at each other from their windows, separated by five lanes of traffic. This oddity has even caught the attention of the BBC.
Ferguson is a step up from the wrong side of Delmar, but many St. Louisans would have jumped to conclusions about Michael Brown and his Normandy High School diploma for the rest of his life, regardless of how long that might have been. Continue reading The Ferguson race riots: An outsider’s perspective from not far outside
If all (or even a slim majority of) Lutheran churches were like Bethlehem Lutheran Church, I would still be Lutheran. Since they aren’t, I’m not.
But I’ve gotten ahead of myself, and made this way too much about me.
Late last week, there was a big boom at the corner of Salisbury and North Florissant in the north St. Louis neighborhood of Hyde Park. It sounded like a truck wreck, but it turned out to be the wall and roof of a 120-year-old sanctuary crashing to the ground. Continue reading Bethlehem Lutheran Church sacrificed its sanctuary for a greater good
Last week on Jan. 16, KSDK-TV caused Kirkwood High School to go on lockdown as part of a news story.
As a security professional, a journalist, a St. Louisan, and a parent, I have more than one stake in this. And an opinion. KSDK has no leg to stand on. Continue reading KSDK-TV was wrong to test Kirkwood High School’s security
My first semester of college, one of the copy editors for the student newspaper either minored in linguistics or just enjoyed the subject. He could peg where all of us were from–except me.
The New York Times‘ interactive dialect map struggled with me too. I’ve taken the test five times, and it managed to give me a map just once. Continue reading The New York Times’ dialect map can’t figure me out