Days 3 and 4 of our trip were spent exploring St. Louis, where my mom grew up and where we lived from just after my first birthday (1986) to the summer I turned 8 and Matt was 1 and a half (1993). This was the first time Mom, Dad or Matt had been back in 20 years. My last visit was in 1997 to see my friend London.
Click the photos to view larger with captions.
The night we got to the St. Louis area, it was pouring rain, so we went out for pizza at a “St. Louis Style Pizza” restaurant — not something I remembered from our time living there, but still a neat experience. St. Louis style pizza, it turns out, has thin crust and provolone cheese — ironically, something I associate with Maryland because of Ledo’s; In St. Louis, we normally got Domino’s.
We also went to a Schnucks — our favorite St. Louis grocery store chain — our first night.
We had a great campsite at Babler State Park west of St. Louis for our three nights in the St. Louis area.
Delicious camp breakfast complete with coffee.
This is Fielding Road, the street where we lived most of our time in St. Louis (technically Ladue, which I learned is a separate city from St. Louis, one of the dozens of municipalities that make up St. Louis County). The sign is the same one that was there in my childhood.
This is the site where Mom’s old house stood. Her old house was torn down after we sold it and this million dollar mansion built in its place.
This is what the old house looked like (the house faced the back yard and you took the driveway down a hill and around back to get to this side). The house was built in 1948. My mom’s parents hired their friend and neighbor Hari VanHoefen — an architect who, like many in that era, was inspired by the minimalist, modern style of Frank Lloyd Wright — to design the house. Mom still has a clipping of the newspaper article that was written about the house when it was built.
We think the tree behind me is the little pin oak sapling my mom planted in the back yard when I was little that I called “baby tree.” Not so little any more!
This is the Old Bonhomme Village apartment building where we lived for our last year in St. Louis. I was the luckiest kid in the world: Not long after we moved in, my best friend London moved into the same complex. There was a pool and a little creek that ran through the complex and a gazebo and other kids to play with.
Here is London with Matt in 1993 shortly before we moved out to move to South Carolina.
Matt and me in front of the same door 20 years later.
Dad says Matt used to play “soccer ball” in this grassy field behind our building. Matt would wait at the wall and Dad would walk around to lift him down.
Pretty flowers at the apartment complex.
This is Conway Elementary, where Mom went for kindergarten through 7th grade (a bonus year because of construction at the junior high) and where I went for kindergarten, first and second. We had the same kindergarten classroom!
The side door to the recess area.
I played many a game of kickball on this blacktop. I also remember water fun days when we got to “paint” the sidewalk with water.
When Mom was a baby, she and her parents lived in an apartment in the upstairs of this building — then a drug store and now a Starbucks.
At the top of the St. Louis Arch!
Matt in the arch
The view of Busch Stadium from the arch
It was raining ridiculously hard when we went to the Arch. We walked there from our car in ponchos as my phone blared alerts about flood warnings, and from the top, we could see the Mississippi about the rise over this street. Then, on our way out, my GPS wanted to take us onto that street (eek!)
The doors to the tram cars that took you up and down the arch were decorated with images from the plans for the arch.
At the new Busch Stadium, there is a brick dedicated to my mom’s brother Roger, who died in 2005. Uncle Roger, a professor at Bethany College in Kansas, was such a Cardinals fan that legend has it he gave extra credit points to students who could answer bonus questions about the team on tests.
Me and Matt with Uncle Roger’s brick.
We went to Cardinals games both nights we were in St. Louis. The Cardinals played the Cubs both nights, which was fun because it is a local rivalry and a lot of Cubs fans go to the Cardinals games. We saw lots of couples attending with one person in Cardinals gear and the other in Cubs. The cardinals won the first night and lost the second, but not before an exciting ninth-inning rally that got everyone on their feet screaming.
“Best fans in baseball”
This morning, we packed up for the 13-hour drive to Denver, making one last stop before we left to find out why “Saint Louis Bread Co.” looks so much like Panara. Sure enough, it turns out Panera originated in St. Louis. It was a great experience — I ordered a cinnamon crunch bagel, then decided I ought to eat something more healthy and changed my order. When it was ready, the cashier brought our bags over for us and said “and here’s an extra surprise for you.” Inside was the cinnamon crunch bagel. 🙂
On the up side, the rain stopped today in time for our Cardinals game to go forward and they played a great game and won 5-2. On the down side, we got back to the campsite to find all of our gear soaked, including my sleeping bag, the inside of Matt’s tent, and the backup hammock. So now the little Prius that could is sleeping quarters for three. Ah, camping.