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One Of My Favorite Old Buildings

BrowneBlgThe BROWNE BUILDING on Manchester in Maplewood

Don’t know much about the building, but it always catches my eye when I’m in Maplewood. With Christmas decorations and a bit of moon visit.



And wouldn’t you know what I fixed for my dinner tonight?Friday13th





(Hopefully, I also have sundry flavored TUMS if needed!)

And who says you won’t learn anything by reading The SMILING BAGEL?


TUMS® antacid has a long history in the fight against heartburn. Created right here in Saint Louis back in 1928 by pharmacist James Howe to treat his wife’s indigestion, TUMS® brand was introduced to the public in 1930 and quickly became an American icon.

The main production facility for TUMS® brand can still be found in downtown St. Louis where it was originally built more than 80 years ago.


Everyday hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people visit the Art Museum in Saint Museum. By a wonder how many of them actually look up at the sculpture directly over the main entrance door. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, but if you asked me to describe it … I’d draw a blank. I know that it hasseveral figures in it. But I have no idea what they’re doing. Well, here’s that sculpture.Culture

It is the work of Hermon A. MacNeil who created it for renowned Beaux Arts architect, Cass Gilbert’s Palace of Fine Arts at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, more commonly known as THE SAINT LOUIS WORLD’S FAIR. Today it is just the Saint Louis Art Museum. MacNeil had a very successful career as a sculptor and his works can be seen all across the US.

In case you’re wondering, ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM is Latin that translates “The Art Of All Arts.”

Is it just me, or does it look like the sculpture was cut in half and reassemble when it was attached to the front of the building.  By the way, the Palace of Fine Arts was the only permanent stone structure built for the fair. Also an exact duplicate of the building only made of wood and plaster and horse hair stood across from this building. It was for the exhibiting of paintings.


Now I guess I’ll have to go back and photograph the other two panels of the work.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Yes, Saint Louis is celebrating a birthday today … 249th at that. On February 15, 1764, a couple of French fur traders, Pierre Laclede and his stepson Auguste Chouteau established a small fur trading settlement on the west bank of the Mississippi River … just a little south of where the Missouri River joined the Mississippi. They called it Saint Louis after the Sainted King of France, Louis IX. They weren’t the first people to build a settlement there. Back in the tenth century the native Mississippian people had settled there and built giant mounds, temples and burial grounds, but we have no idea what they called it.

So for a long time it was part of the French colony of Louisiana.

And then after a war Spain won it …

Stlouis1780  But they thought it was in Illinois.

And then France got it back …

But Napoleon needed some fast cash so he sold it to Tom Jefferson as part of the Louisiana Territory.

And suddenly the US of A was twice as large as it had been.


And thanks to the river, it became the starting point for all the settlers who were heading west. Actually, it got the nickname  Gateway To The West sometime around about that time … and it just seemed to stick.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When my great-grandfather Franz arrived in 1865 from Alsenborn, Germany, it was the fourth largest city in the United States. Thanks to a bunch of politicians who didn’t want to pay for maintaining roads outside of core of the early city and drew a boundary line at the then limits of the city, the city soon lost its fourth largest status.

But it’s still my city, and I’m kind of partial to it.DSC05531



Growing up with my family I got the impression that carpe diem was the family motto. The only thing was … none of them knew any Latin other than what they heard or mimicked at Mass on Sunday. But for some reason no one would ever talk about the family history. Occasionally my paternal grandmother would comment about growing up in the 1880s, only to be told by my old maid Aunt Edna, “Oh, shut up, that’s all dead and buried!”  My father, who was the youngest of eight siblings, must have received the same response when he was growing up, because he didn’t know anything about his family heritage either. I knew we weren’t just a three-generation family, so I started digging up the family tree several years ago. And ut all started shortly after my mother’s death when I was sorting out her possessions and I discovered her old prayer-book from the mid-30s.

It was a real heirloom … with ribbon page markers weighted with medallions of saintly images.

More important, the book was filled with a multitude of funeral prayer cards …

The backs of which were filled with historic information.

With the information from the back of the cards I was able to go on-line and really begin my search for a family tree.

And what have I discovered … I’ve tracked my father’s family back to Alsenborn, Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany in 1658.

I’ve discovered that my ancestors were responsible for making the country what it is today. Both of my father’s grandfathers worked in the brickyard that made the red bricks that made Saint Louis and several other mid-west towns the Red Brick Cities they are today. Also my father’s mother and father met because their fathers worked together in the brickyard. My mother’s grandfather  played a part in the western expansion of the country. Being fluent in Polish, German, French and English he worked as  a government land agent helping newly arrived immigrants to settle  in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska. Her other grandfather went from stable boy to a successful businessman owning first a livery stable and then a funeral home. I’ve discovered ancestors who were noble born, as well as those who were murderers and gangsters. And I discovered it all because of a prayerbook. Oh, yeah, there were a few other things in that prayer-book …

They were  a number of old photographs that apparently meant a lot to her, since she cut them out and carried them with her … her baby sister, twin brothers, husband and youngest son,  youngest brother and the one with the dorky cap and Easter basket is her first-born son … me.

And that’s some of the things you can discover other than historic artifacts when you begin paging through history.