MHM Missouri History Museum (and more Forest Park free stuff)

We had a family outing to St. Louis’ Forest Park. The park itself is well worth book-length history lessons and many fabulous stories have come from its years! What I’ll say here is that Missourians vote to pay higher taxes so that our public (and any visitors) can luxuriate in culture…for free. It’s one of the reasons families tour St. Louis. -get here but your day trips can be at no additional charge — of course, there are many things that cost money but the cultural stuff? Free. Even The Muny* offers free seats.

Yesterday, we went to the Missouri History Museum (amongst other things).

• A Walk in 1875 St. Louis (site and ‘trailer’)

State of Deception (pdf to download & read)

• The 1904 World’s Fair: Looking Back at Looking Forward (site and ‘trailer’)

 

* The Muny is a for-real theatre; however, it’s basically the greatest hits of theatre and very often musicals. Hey, they sell. If you cannot afford tickets, don’t pay anything. Jeez. What does it take to make you happy, free seats? If you want to go crazy and get the most expensive tickets, they’re $581 for the entire season. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

These are Forest Park highlights, which is by no means the full listing. There are too many to put on one calendar, so you’ll have to go to individual specialties. For example, they didn’t even list the Shakespeare Festival (again, free), which we have yearly during summer. It’s called In The Park.

What was your first CD? And…Shirley Temple’s dead

You could break this down to the various methods of listening but in particular, CD?

Of my age group, virtually every answer is, ‘…but it was a gift.’ They were new to us and as a young adult (teen but I moved out at age 15) trying to make ends meet, I didn’t own a CD player for several years. I held onto that CD gift, though! They cost about 40USD for your ‘LP’ (not box set) CD in my area. That’s WHEN THEY FIRST CAME OUT. I don’t know how to cypher the inflation on that to see what it would be in today’s USD but holy crap!

EDIT: I found this calculator for adjustment. It says $99.16. That’s what I mean when I say ‘most my age received as gifts.’ 

Mine was Duran Duran. I felt like a rock star to own a CD, even that I couldn’t listen to yet!

record player boxI got a hand-me-down electric record player that folded up and looked a bit like a hat box. Even the youngsters probably have seen what I mean in old movies. I had a book with 45 record about Henny Penny (a gift) and one that had ‘The Good Ship Lollipop’ * on one side, can’t recall the other (also a gift). My first purchased 45 was Queen. I did a lot of 45s because that’s all the money I could get together. I scavenged others and finally started scavenging LPs. I cannot recall my first but I know that I only had like FIVE forever: ELO, Jimi Hendrix, CSNY, The Beatles and Gordon Lightfoot. I also had access to 8 Tracks but only when people were gone, as I didn’t have a player. I got my first CD player in the 1990s. I still have a record player — a much nicer one that was part of a component system but gave away my vinyl back in the 80s when I had to move out. I’ve done a blog post about the ones nobody would take — still have those gnarly things in the barn, of all places.

* Oh, and Shirley Temple is dead. We weren’t close but I did have that record.

29 lives, 38 years later: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

For complete details, read Boatnerd.com’s account.

In memoriam, Gordon Lightfoot released the tragedy of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It received wide-attention and loads of airplay.

As a child, this tragedy struck me deeply. These men knew what was coming. They hoped to return to their families. It was dark. It was cold. They went down* and never came up from Lake Superior. Perhaps because my mother was raised in the UP and regularly criss-crossed the border with Canada, the story may have hit me harder than most other kids in the Ozarks. It happened, basically, where she grew up.

The Great Lakes.

Lake Superior:

Surface Area:  31,700 mi2 / 82,100 km2 

Volume:  2,934 mi3 / 12,230 km3

Length:  350 mi / 563 km

Depth:  489 ft / 149 m average; 1,335 ft / 407 m maximum

Shoreline Length:  2,726 miles / 4,385 km (including islands)

Elevation:  600 ft / 183 m

Outlet:  St. Marys River to Lake Huron

Retention/Replacement Time:  191 years

All hands were lost:

Captain Ernest M. McSorley Michael E. Armagost Fred J. Beetcher Thomas D. Bentsen
Edward F. Bindon Thomas D. Borgeson Oliver J. Champeau Nolan S. Church
Ransom E. Cundy Thomas E. Edwards Russell G. Haskell George J. Holl
Bruce L. Hudson Allen G. Kalmon Gorden Maclellan Joseph Mazes
John H. McCarthy Eugene O’Brien Karl A. Peckol John J. Poviach
James A. Pratt Robert C. Rafferty Paul M. Rippa John D. Simmons
William J. Spengler Mark A. Thomas Ralph G. Walton David E. Weiss
Blaine H. Wilhelm

-from Boatnerd

* Maritime radio traffic from the captain of the ARTHUR M. ANDERSON, which had left port with the EDMUND FITZGERALD.

We’re all American

While I mostly talk about my Irish family (immigrated to the Ozarks), mum’s family came to the States earlier. They were Russian Jews and I had little to do with them, in large, except being raised by my maternal grandmother! They moved to The Bootheel.

They got here Just In Time for the Civil War!

You stepped off the boat, into this land of milk and honey…

Then stopped at the dock.

‘Kiss your wife and babies goodbye. Here’s a uniform, now you’re in X Company.’

They needed cannon fodder; men went straight from the boat to the battlefield so their loved ones became Americans.

-see below for one of many folk songs that tell how many of us came to be American

My maternal Great-Great Uncle’s cavalry sword hung above his sister’s mantle (my great-grandmother, or Gram’s mum). These big families (Gram was one of 19 children) extended over quite a bit of timeline. I didn’t get to know Great-Great Uncle but of course I’m old enough to know my Great Uncles!

I didn’t spend a lot of time in the Bootheel, in spite of being raised by Gram. I can’t say that I feel comfortable there. Why did our family branch choose to live there? A swamp that didn’t let them in town after dark?

She never explained that well enough. Great-grandfather’s brother moved to Chicago and he was known to have ‘made it big.’ When you use paper from other’s garbage in your shoes to keep dirt out of the holes in the soles? Somebody with new shoes once a year may seem rich. ‘Ooo! He’s got a straw hat!’

Where was I?

I’m assuming most people have studied Jim Crow laws in History, Social Studies or seen it in Driving Miss Daisy.

‘Statutes and ordinances established between 1874 and 1975 to separate the white and black races in the American South.’

You may not have been around during that time but I was. Jim Crow applied to wee Lily visiting Grandma and cousins! I lived that shite.

“But…you’re so white!”

Depends on your definition.

In the town where my family settled…correction: outside the town where my family settled, it applied to Jews. It’s not the most commonly-heard term but Jews were considered ‘people of color.’ There’s no logic as to why one group of people are ‘better’ than another. Perhaps, like the Stock Market, it was based upon sentiment. The people in power of that area felt like it.

This defined where they could live and when they could come into town. My family had a shack next to the railroad tracks. Across the road and beside were black families. We were ‘the colored section of town.’

It affected how you associated with others:

My great aunt married an Indian (“Native American,” as we were taught in school). They were forced out of town; we were colored and he was colored, apparently different kinds of coloreds weren’t allowed to mix, either.

Aunt Bessie and her husband moved to the Res where she died about a year later. When you’re sick and poor, you don’t have money for medicine or doctors. You pray. Of my great-grandmother’s 19 children, she was one of seven who died in their twenties or younger.

My great-grandmother and grandmother did laundry for the white people. They went to the back door to get it, brought it home (weren’t welcome in the backyard) to wash, dry, fold and then returned it to the back door.

Blacks and My Family weren’t allowed to buy alcohol but it was widely-known that my great-grandfather enjoyed it. He was popular amongst the whites, who’d stop by after dark to visit (since we couldn’t come into town). And bring a bottle.

I still don’t like going to or through that area. While I can ‘pass’ with my pale skin, light eyes and strawberry blonde hair, it’s hard to forgive or forget what I witnessed and the stories I grew up hearing.

postcard: CCC constructed cabin

The CCC & WPA were created by the US government to employ out of work Americans (during The Great Depression til we entered WWII). Gram’s brothers and cousins worked in them to build and improve Anerica’s infrastructure. We were taught to be proud of our family’s hands-on part of building modern America and to be proud of a government that helped us save ourselves when there was no legal options where we lived — and we were too poor to move. Think ‘Grapes of Wrath.’

The CCC & WPA works are probably best known in National Parks but they also built bridges, highways, dams and much more (like commissioning fine artists; Woody Guthrie collected & archived folk music for posterity!).

This is a cabin they constructed in Devil’s Den, Arkansas. Big thanks to Nicholas for another super share!

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My prattle is based upon memory from grade school History class–and family. Any contributions are welcome!