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The St. Louis I never knew

Hey, I never said anything about not posting new content here, right? Friday night, Gatermann and I went out to the east side to do some shooting. It was overcast, so we didn’t snap many pictures–I think three between the two of us. We passed some half-demolished buildings with for sale signs in front of them. We passed an apartment complex that advertised cheap rent, and from the looks of the buildings, windows must have cost extra because the buildings sure didn’t have very many. The frightening thing was, there were signs of life in the complex.
We picked up our friend Jeanne (after heading back to south St. Louis–she doesn’t hang out much on the east side, as far as we can tell) and headed north to St. Louis Avenue, home of the Crown Candy Kitchen. Not every St. Louisan knows about the place, which is a shame. Their sandwiches are fabulous, but the real reason people go there is for an excuse to get a milkshake or something else made of ice cream.

Citysearch gave it a one-star review, but they’re smoking crack. The people who’ve actually been there gave it four out of four (and unanimously, I think). Crown was founded by two Greek immigrants in 1913, and they made all the candy and ice cream themselves. The place has stayed in the family ever since, and they continue to make their own candy and ice cream. Those huge multinational conglomerates ain’t got nothing on these guys. Comparing Crown to the ice cream you get in a grocery store or another restaurant is like comparing Schlitz beer to Boulevard.

Crown is across the street from what used to be a bustling commercial district, but there’s not much left in there now besides a hair salon and some social workers’ offices. Two or three of the buildings are condemned. Many of the others obviously were beautiful in their day, and it wouldn’t take much to make them beautiful again. Looking at it made me sad. It hurts to see wasted potential.

If your travels take you through St. Louis, Crown is absolutely worth a stop. It’s just a mile or two west of I-70.

I know the first words my dad will say to me after I die: “David, how come none of your lame St. Louis friends told you about that ice cream joint until eight years after I was gone?”

And he’ll have a point. Living in St. Louis for five years and never hearing about the place is a real shame. It’s 100 times worse than living in St. Louis for five years and never hearing about the Cardinals.

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5 thoughts on “The St. Louis I never knew”

  1. It really is a shame that I, along with Tim and Jeanne, never took you there sooner. We have failed…

  2. I’ve been in the large clothing store that was once across from Crown Candy. It was the late 80’s and it was like an old-fashioned department store–before they were outrageously big. Most of the other stores in the mall strip were closed down, but I recall the view of the Arch and of the downtown area from between the buildings. It apparently was once a cool location. I had the fortune to carpool with my wife going past there daily. At least Crown Candy is still there, although I should provide some support to it. I hear the old famous St. Louis DJ Johnny Rabbit still talking about it as well.

  3. Theirs also an old fashion hardware store up there. It’s about two three blocks south of Crown Candy and is called Marx Hardware. The guy that runs it is a train nut and knows my father and I.

  4. Murel, that store you’re talking about must have been Park’s. I did a little digging on the ‘net, and it sounds like N. 14th Street (I think that’s the one) used to go through it, but they made it a pedestrian mall in the late ’70s, hoping that would reinvigorate the district. That didn’t work.

    Hopefully the next attempt won’t fail. I think somebody (somebody else!) ought to put a used computer store in what used to be Park’s. Leave the sign there, get it fixed if it doesn’t work, and call it “Park’s Used Computers.” It should specialize in Pentium and Pentium II-level computers running Linux preinstalled, of course. Sign you up for an ISP right there in the store and set up dialup for the customer before they haul it out to the car. Old-fashioned computers and old-fashioned service.

    Yeah, that’d be cool.

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