Category Archives: Memories
THE BUSTER BROWN BUTTERFLY
Today’s butterfly was inspired by childhood memories. When I was a kid my mother and father would walk down Saint Louis Avenue to 14th Street. Back in the post war 40’s 14th Street was a bustling shopping area in North Saint Louis. The hadn’t invented shopping centers back then. So, if you were shopping, you either went downtown where the department stores were or you went to 14th Street or Grand Avenue on the Near North Side. They also had shopping areas on the south side of the city … but to shop there required a long streetcar ride. So 14th Street was closest for us. And the shoes of choice for any kid who listen to the radio and Smiling Ed McConnell, Midnight the Cat, Groggy Gremlin and Squeaky the Mouse were Buster Brown shoes.
Who could forget the famous Buster Brown tag line … THAT’S MY DOG TIGE. HE LIVES IN A SHOE. I’M BUSTER BROWN, LOOK FOR ME IN THERE, TOO! Little did I realize that when I got my first job in advertising, it would be working for a shoe company owned by Brown Shoe Company … the company that made Buster Brown.Shoes. Thankfully, I never had any desire to name Mlle. Renee TIGE! But I did name today’s origami butterfly after Buster Brown. There is a sad tale about Tige though, he was an American Bull Terrier with a toothy grin.
In the late 20th century the Bull Terrier became known as a PIT BULL, a dog trained to fight other dogs viciously. And mother’s became excited about the kids being frightened by poor Tige. So the ad mavens had poor Tige redrawn into a happy faced lap dog…And my childhood dog and shoe idol was gone forever. Maybe I should have named my butterfly TIGE. Butterflies don’t have teeth.
The Man Of La Mancha is one of my favorite Broadway musicals. In my opinion it was the perfect musical. When it opened in 1965, it was playing in a very small theater off-Broadway and the critics panned it. But for some reason, people kept coming to see it. Fueled by word of mouth it eventually moved to Broadway, and I saw the National Company in St. Louis in the early seventies. In 1977 it was revived on Broadway with Richard Kiley the original star, and I was able to see it again. It was at the Palace Theatre and my seat was so high in the balcony that I had to wear a seatbelt. But I loved it and his performance.
Sadly, Mitch Leigh, the man who wrote the music for the musical, passed away today. Here is his QUEST, better known at the Impossible Dream and sung by Kiley from the original cast recording. It is still the best recording of the song ever.
Everybody has to have a QUEST in his or her life. And to dream, too.
In 1840s immigrants from Germany began settling in the near north Saint Louis areas. The neighborhoods where they settled became known as Bremen and Baden from the areas where they had lived in Germany. Except for a few, most lived in rented row houses that filled the north of city.
So the first buildings that these new arrivals constructed were Catholic Churches. Holy Trinity was the first in 1849. It was followed by Saint Liborius in 1856. Seven years later Holy Cross Parish was founded to the northwest in the Baden neighborhood. And in 1873, Perpetual Help was founded. And just one year later, Saint Augustine Church was founded. The pastor was the Rev. Henry Jaegering and the founders of the church included my great-grandfather Franz (Frank), my grandfather Adolph and his eight brothers and sisters. Actually, it took them about 24 years to complete building their church.
In 1897 this classic gothic church was built at the corner of Lismore and Hebert Streets. Soon, a large grade school was constructed across the street facing the church. Both my father and I attended and graduated from that school about 27 years apart.
The Old Saint Augustine Catholic Church Today
Back in the 1970s the church was closed, deconsecrated and sold by the Archdiocese of Saint Louis to a Baptist congregation. It was passed down to other non-denominational churches over the years.
And in just about the same time that it took to build the church in the first photo, you see the church as it stands today.
By comparing the two photos you can see where the church has been vandalized. The stained glass rose window has been partially destroyed and most of the windows have been boarded up. The school building actually caught fire and was demolished. Where it stood is now a vacant lot.
Why is today’s society so determined to destroy the culture our ancestors struggled so hard to build?
My father would have been 99 this Father’s Day. Unfortunately, he didn’t even get half way to that point. We lost him much to soon to a sudden brain aneurism about six years before medical science and treatment would reach the point of successful and recovery. We all miss him, but he missed the opportunity to know, love and spoil all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loved kids, and he loved him.
Bill, Me on the goat and Dad – 1940
I didn’t get the chance to really know him,
But he really knew me.
This is a painting that hangs on my wall. It was painted by a co-worker and long-time friend. I tell people that it’s a painting of me. But in truth, it was painted from a snapshot he took of me standing on the curb outside a hotel in down town Saint Louis on an early November afternoon about 40-years ago. I was standing there waiting for him to park his car and come back to help me carry the pile of A/V equipment that was standing next to me into the hotel for a company business meeting. Artistically, he downsized the pile of equipment to a single case.
After we moved the equipment into the hotel and set it up for the meeting that would be held the next morning, we headed uptown for the old St. Louis Arena for a concert by The Moody Blues. Hey, they were big back then! Anyway, we were running late and we got there as the SRO crown packing the arena was booing the opening act off of the stage and stomping their feet demanding the main attraction. We didn’t even hear the opening act perform. It was some pianist/singer named Billy Joel and apparently he didn’t make a very big impression on the half or more stoned crowd. Hey, who knew the piano-man would become famous. Apparently, he did, because he always mentions his debut appearance in all of his return engagements.
So, that is the story behind the painting on the wall. My friend actually painted it from the photograph several years after the incident. And it was several years after that before he gave me the painting. He didn’t fare well as he grew older. He was in ill health and we only got together on an occasional basis. He passed away suddenly about five years ago. Now the painting has become a source for memories of both the good times, and the bad times that followed.