Monday, February 27, 2017

Desecrating A Cemetery - Not Funny

By Elizabeth Alexander
This past weekend, a group of unknown individuals entered the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery and knocked over roughly 200 headstones. This beautiful cemetery, located at the corner of Hanley and Olive, has been around since the late 1890's.While the police are not yet calling this a hate crime, I have a hard time believing it is the act of a bunch of bored punks. I've heard of kids pulling this kind of thing on a few headstones, but not this many. The Jewish community is outraged. We should all be outraged.

Within hours of the breaking news, the local Muslim community reached out to their Jewish neighbors and offered help. In a span of three hours, the Muslim community raised over $25,000 to help with repair and clean up costs. Local volunteers of all faiths gathered at the cemetery today to offer help with the clean up.

Now, I hope everyone is listening to this:


My co-worker and friend, Mrs. H, told me she has family buried in that cemetery. She doesn't yet know if their stones are damaged. Up until today, no one but cemetery employees were allowed in the cemetery to review the damage. Local rabbis are notifying families as soon as they know anything.

Neighbors helping one another through kindness and sharing. Why are we so engulfed in mistrust and vitriol? Bury the hate and come together as a community. This is not a difficult concept.

Mrs. H and I discussed this heinous act at length today. She wondered out loud if she should continue to wear her religious medals in public. I was stunned that she felt fearful for her safety. I told her to continue to wear them - they help define who she is. She is proud of her Jewish heritage and I believe it's disgraceful that some ignorant &*$%* would make her consider hiding the very thing that makes her who she is. So, in solidarity with my Jewish brothers and sisters, I have put on my crucifix and St. Gabriel medal. I haven't worn them lately because the chain broke. However, I found another chain (it doesn't match the pendants) and I'm wearing my own religious medals proudly.

I hope the police catch the people responsible for this and I truly hope the punishment fits the crime. Clean up the mess without mechanical help. What? You can't lift a 1,000 pound headstone? Too bad that didn't occur to you when you knocked it over!

The President's tepid and delayed response was and is inexcusable. It was nice that the Vice President stopped by since he was in town for something else anyway. He and our Governor rolled up their sleeves, put on gloves and helped with some of the clean up.

However, it will eventually be up to all of us to send the strong message that hate crimes will not be tolerated by anyone. Here or anywhere.

May God Bless us all.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Saving Face When the Rams Exit is Job One for St. Louis

Editorial Comment by Steve Erdelen

When the Rams move to Los Angeles and there is no doubt in my mind that they will, St. Louis fans have NOTHING to be ashamed of.  We’ve supported what has been the worst team in the league for the past 10 years, with solid attendance, high television and radio ratings and good team merchandise sales.  This city has been loyal to that team, but that team has absolutely no loyalty to this city.  For several years now, Stan Kroenke has made it abundantly clear that he wants to move the Rams to Los Angeles and has been totally uninterested in working out any kind of compromise with the city to stay here.  With the help of the city and private interests, Dave Peacock and his team have created a plan for an impressive new $1 billion stadium on the riverfront and have also worked out details for financing the project.  Stan’s reaction?  Total silence.  Telephone calls unanswered, no sense of cooperation and not one gesture of personal appreciation for the Rams’ extensive fan base.  Staying in St. Louis is obviously not even on his radar.  Folks, he’s just not interested in staying here and it’s time for us to let him go. 
After all, this is the Show Me State and what has Stan showed us?  What has he shown us, besides bad football, minimal loyalty and zero appreciation for our efforts to design, build and finance a brand new stadium for his team?  He has shown that his deafening silence is contempt for us and his objectives in Los Angeles are nothing more than the further enrichment of himself and the further inflation of his already enormous ego.  All of this at the expense of his team’s most rabid supporters.  You know… those little guys who have been shelling out big bucks on the Rams for years.

Stan will leave us and in doing so, he will create the impression that St. Louis cannot support an NFL franchise, when nothing can be further from the truth.  Across the country, St. Louis and Rams fans will be blamed for not supporting the team.  The same city and fans who have showed up at the stadium and have continued to tune-in and watch the worst team in football for the past 10 years.  The same city and fans who have laid a beautiful stadium at the billionaire owner’s feet.

That, my friends, is the story that needs to be told.  The truthful story.  Perception is everything in this world and communicating the real story behind this betrayal is the only thing that we can control.  All we have to do is fight back with the honest-to-God truth about what really happened to our team and we have to do it on a scale just as big as our efforts to keep the team here.  When the moving trucks pull-up, we better be armed with press releases and video for every media outlet in the country, so that they can hear the real story, the true story of the blatant kidnapping of St. Louis’ NFL Franchise.    

Monday, March 16, 2015

32 Landmark St. Louis Intersections in 1875

By Steve Erdelen

"He's got a little coffee shop near Grand & Gravois and he's going to open up a new one near 9th and Soulard.  His wife works at a law firm by Lindell & Taylor and they live in a loft near Washington & 10th Street." 

When a long time St. Louisan hears such a conversation, his mind immediately sees each intersection and the local landmarks around it.  In the space of a couple sentences, he may have visualized over a hundred images during his mind travel around St. Louis.  Following those words, he saw the White Castle, the old bank building and the Phillips 66 station at Grand & Gravois and remembered that it's really a crooked intersection.  Then he recalled Llywelyn's Pub & the Soulard Soap Laundromat at 9th & Soulard and knew that they were real close to Trinity Lutheran Church.  Next he envisioned the beautiful Cathedral Basilica and it's galaxy of mosaics at Lindell & Taylor and realized that he wasn't a big fan of the Optimist Building across the street.  On to 10th and Washington, he thought about the garment district where his grandpa worked and saw clear images of pretty girls walking into boutiques, restaurants and night clubs while he imagined his friends sharing a bottle of red wine in their loft nearby.  Okay, the guy may not have pictured any of that stuff, but hey, work with me here, I'm trying to set-up a pictorial feature.

In St. Louis, it seems that nobody ever gives anyone an address or tells them the block number of a street.  In this town, they'll say "Meet us at that one Irish joint at Market and 20th, before the game.  They've got good burgers."  Let's call that method "Directions by intersections."  I'm pretty sure that it's a long tradition here, because when I asked my Dad where Sportsman's Park was in 1962, he didn't miss a beat and said "Grand and Dodier."  As if a 7 year old kid from Florissant, knew where the hell that was.  About 5 or 6 years later, I heard my first St. Louis intersection joke and it goes like this:  "Did you hear that Popeye got lost in St. Louis?  He got on Olive and thought it was Grand." 

On that note, it's time to get serious and show you what some very familiar St. Louis intersections looked like 140 years ago.  All of the images are segments of larger plates that made up an incredible topographical survey of St. Louis, drawn in perspective, by Camille N. Dry in 1875 and published by Compton & Company, in 1876.  Mr. Dry spent a considerable amount of time in a hot air balloon to capture the whole of St. Louis in over 100 distinct plates.  All images are in the public domain and displayed through the courtesy of The Library of Congress.  Click on photos for larger images.
Full Plate Detail Example

8th & Olive 
 14th & Spruce
 7th & Park
 Carondelet & Arsenal
Magnolia & Tower Grove 
Cherokee & Gravois 
 5th & Chouteau
Broadway & Bates 
Easton (MLK Blvd.) & Ewing 
California & Lafayette 
Goodfellow & Bircher 
Grand & Arsenal 
Grand & Gravois 
 Grand & Natural Bridge (St. Louis Fairgrounds)
Clayton & Manchester 
Jefferson & Chouteau 
 Kingshighway & Virginia
 Kingshighway & Clayton
 Lindell & Taylor
 Washington & 12th (Tucker)
 Lafayette & Carondelet
 Manchester & Compton
 Market & Jefferson
 Kingshighway & Manchester
 Mississippi & Park (Lafayette Park)
 Russell & Menard
 St. Charles Rock Road & Easton (Now MLK Blvd.)
 Pestalozzi & Carondelet
 St. Charles Rock Road & Kingshighway
St. Charles Rock Road (MLK) & Taylor 
 Tower Grove at Shaw's Park
Washington & Ewing
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found us okay.  We're not that far away from The Rock Road & Lindbergh if you'd like to meet for a beer some day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

St. Louis. It's all in the details.

Over the past few years, our country has been given one of the biggest treasure troves of great photography that anyone   has ever contributed. The renowned photographer Carol M. Highsmith, has toured the world and the United States, and has captured stunning images of our people, our places, our art and our architecture. Her recent donation of her entire collection of photographs to The Library of Congress, is mind boggling in it's generosity. Her collection of over 30,000 photographs is now in the public domain, which means that reproduction and publication of her photographs are now unrestricted.

In appreciation of Carol's art, I will always attribute her name to any of her photographs that I reproduce and that's what I'll do right now: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.   Carol made a visit to St. Louis in 2009 and took a number of architectural detail shots and some unique images of The Gateway Arch. In fact, I believe her photo of the full Arch, in all its' glory, is the best I've seen.  Let's take a walk with Carol through St. Louis and stop every once in a while to admire some of our City's most impressive architectural details.  Be sure to click on the photos for larger images.

Keil Opera House details:


National Archives Building detail:

Rooftop detail
Door detail
One fancy mailbox
National Archives Building close-up
Building detail

Soldier's Memorial details:


St. Louis Gateway Arch detail:

^ I believe that's the best photo of the Arch I've seen
 Thanks to Carol M. Highsmith for her incredible gift to our country.
Steve Erdelen