Saturday, September 5, 2015

Grandfather Danforth

I have been referring to this person as “Grandfather Danforth” since 1982, even though we are not related.  His name is William Henry Danforth and he has become one of my heroes.

One of the first side jobs I had in St. Louis was “animal wrangler.”  That calls for adventurous “helpers” to catch, and maybe groom, diverse creatures.  It can be silly fun and is a good fit for someone like me, who is terrific with small children and creatures.

We were at “Ralston Purina,”  also referred to as “Checkerboard Square” and, since I’m too curious for words, I looked around and saw a display of little books created by “Grandfather Danforth” intended to encourage everyone he met.  Inside the pages of these books were simple truths that a lot of us overlook.  Some of these writings have been forgotten over time, but one,  “I Dare You,” is still being printed and sold to people looking for encouragement.

Considering good stuff here in Saint Louis, “Grandfather Danforth” is top of my list.  I began to research to share with you, and now for me, he has become a Hero and person worth remembering.


He was born in Mississippi County, Missouri in 1870 and learned to help his dad run the family store in Charleston, Missouri.  He talked his parents into sending him off to school, where he met an educator, who noticed promise in the boy, but also constant health issues.  The teacher gave William a “Dare” to become the healthiest Boy in the school, which set this young son of a business owner on a path to Great Personal Achievement.  His own family seems to be carrying the Danforth Tradition in splendid manner.

In 1892 he graduated from Washington University and by 1894 he’d found a great idea.  Realizing that animals need to eat he became a business pioneer in the formula feed business.  There was new science to reduce the risk of disorders in livestock through good nutrition.  Disorders like “bloat” could be reduced, health could be improved, making farming more productive.  Danforth worked in the plant and traveled to area farms to sell the feed. As the product became successful, Mr. Danforth began to travel in larger circles around the region.  During those early years he continued to return home and mix feed in the plant.

Mr. Danforth said he enjoyed new things, but when he found something Good, he stuck with it.  It is true he became quite an innovator and adventurer, BUT, he met and married Adda Bush in 1894 and they enjoyed a happy and meaningful life of many years together.

The original company was incorporated as Robinson-Danforth Commission Company.  It took only two years for Danforth to buy out his partners.  Two days later a terrible tornado flattened the facility.  This proved to be one of those good news, bad news situations.  Somehow, it seems Mr. Danforth could find the path to success, and share every bit of good he found with as many people as possible.  Has it ever seemed that some people find Good hidden inside of every “difficult” situation?

  The Company, grew into one of the top 100 corporations in America and Danforth became its first president.  In 1898 he introduced a cracked-wheat cereal into the company and named after a famous health celebrity of the 1890’s called “Dr. Ralston.”  The name of the company was changed to “Ralston-Purina” and, by 1902 the checkerboard logo was added.

 So many of our young people were sent to Europe during the First World War, Mr. Danforth was offered an opportunity to pull together Soldier Social groups through the YMCA.  The need was great and when it seemed overwhelming, Mr. Danforth coached the young soldiers to create their own groups.  Even if it was a gathering for book discussions, he would encourage young people to get together and create positive moments to share.  He wrote memos, letters and stories to be read to his “Purina Family” every Monday, in order to keep them unified at home, while he personally did what he could to bring hope and comfort to the soldiers abroad.

Mr. Danforth believed in the Youth of America.  In 1924, with many of his friends, he helped to establish the American Youth Foundation. 

In 1927 he and his wife created the “Danforth Foundation,” one of the largest private foundations in the region which enabled many young people, male and female to get a quality education.

From 1932 through the end of his life, Mr. Danforth served as “Chairman of Ralston Purina Co.”

It’s hard to imagine one person could accomplish as much as William H. Danforth.  He loved Christmas and started a Christmas Carol Society,  he was active in his church, there are stories that he boosted Sunday School Attendance by giving a live alligator to any young person who brought a friend to church.  (Really, can you imagine?)
“I Dare You” by William H. Danforth
 He traveled much of the known world, and continued to write letters to his “Purina Family."

Many of these letters were saved and bound.  Our library has many of them in the rare book collection, and a few still available to be checked out, if your request them, you’ll see they are a bit fragile but, really worth reading.

 He invested in chapels to stand in the middle of University campuses, so students would have beautiful places to reflect and center.

Adda, his beautiful bride, after so many adventures, had a stroke and remained at home.  William H. Danforth invited company over to make sure Adda was included in as much as possible.  On Christmas Eve, 1955 he left us, not long afterwards Adda joined him.  Their ashes are in one of their chapels, in a youth camp they visited together every summer.

I believe Mr. Danforth even made a way for me to have a future because, when he was supporting the Youth of America, he gave generously to 4-H programs.  I may never have met him, but a special program was created within the 4-H movement that enabled me to train puppies in basic obedience for Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California.

I think this man, one of my heroes, lifted the face of our nation for several generations.

Perhaps, if you have a pet, the New Version of Purina, owned by Nestle, is looking after your family, even now.

I Dare You! Stand Tall, Think Tall, Smile Tall, Live Tall”
 – William H. Danforth

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Water Tower

The Water Tower on Grand Avenue is so well know, businesses are named after it, directions are given using the Water Tower as a reference, it is on the National Historic Registry and, even though it sits in a neighborhood called “College Hill,”  most people refer to it as “The Water Tower District.”


 My initial visits to the Water Tower District was to meet and help a remarkable gentleman, Otis Woodard.  He served the community, the poorest of the poor, the people who had been cast out, thrown away by society.  Otis had a cupboard open to anyone, on the side of his home and he had a sound system set up so he could hear anyone outside crying.  If he heard someone in need, or distress, day or night, he would go outside to help and comfort them.  He provided transportation for those with jobs, so they could get safely to work and home again and he found ways to help new, or expecting mothers, even offering lessons on cooking, raising and nurturing a family.

 You can understand that Water Tower means way more than meets the eye.  It was the easy way to find Otis.   To me, that Water Tower speaks of Hope and a Future.

 Otis has since left us, but he leaves behind a legacy, showed us a way, provided us with “Peace Park.”  at anytime we can choose to follow his example.  (Here is a little more of Otis, just because.)

 If you choose to listen to Otis, you might hear a little about how this area holds infinite treasures of the heart (did you notice the water tower in the background?).  I’ll continue to share a little about the Water Tower ItSelf.  I read some stories about how water pressure was a life changer in the 1800’s.  It’s something I did not consider, things like being able to get water to fight a fire, or be amazed when you could soak your entire body in a bathtub.

George Barnett, once considered the “Dean of St. Louis Architecture,” built the Water Tower in 1871.  It served to regulate water pressure until 1912.  For a while a light was placed on top of the tower to direct air craft.  Eventually the community decided it was important to restore the tower, it was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Somehow this tower means more, in the hearts of humans, than first glance would tell us.

 Were you going to ask?  It is 154 feet tall.  It is pretty, but maybe the beauty comes from . . . well, you can tell me.  Okay?

 Water Tower, intersection of Grand Avenue and 20th Street, College Hill neighborhood, 
St. Louis, Missouri

Friday, August 7, 2015

Subterranean Books

Subterranean Books, an independent, woman owned book store 
AND 
 my Tuesday Morning Hang Out.
we don’t mind the temporary mess in the street – we are all excited about the New Trolley – 
 It is in the Delmar Loop area, 
one of the best walking-around-and-be-delighted neighborhoods you’ll find.
walking on Delmar, this is “The Place” to visit, Subterranean Books.
Absolute rockin’ best children’s section
 
In the corner, by the stairs, you’ll find the absolute BEST books for children . . 
look to the left, Middle Readers and Young Adult books are waiting to be discovered . .
 this place ROCKS!

 We “test drive” Picture Books on Tuesday Mornings at 10:30 AM.  We have Story Time for tiny people and their guardians.

You Always want to venture upstairs – art on the walls, special sections of books to discover, events to attend, including story time 
 We read three books from the shelves, sing songs, laugh, snort and enjoy silly fun together.
Here’s our “story corner” – a quilt on the floor, happy people gather for a half hour of fun.
If you arrive early, you can look through the windows and dream about your next reading adventure.

 They host countless events, you might make new friends, learn stuff, have fun, AND, if you want, you can purchase a nifty t-shirt to wear, with graphics reminding you of a favorite read.

 It’s the people that truly make it special.  I’m a little prejudiced, i suppose, BUT, “Book People” seem to have a lot to offer.  They tend to be open minded, well read, can “conversate” with ease on most subjects.

You MIGHT want to take time to learn about the people who work here – they are genuine, interesting and a JOY to be around.

I have been told people prefer Reviews from outside sources, so I’m going to include a few quotes for you here:

“Every time i come to this wonderful place I never fail to leave satisfied. They have a great selection of books, of every genre. The workers are so helpful and nice as well and always have great recommendations. Their prices are like every other book store, not lower or higher. Great location too!”  (7/28/2015 – a reader from St. Peters, MO)

Great book store on the Delmar loop!  
This is the type of book store I love, a nice eclectic selection, not huge, and a very nice staff member who would order anything you need that you could not find in the store!  Super clean, and very in order!
They even sell RAYGUN t-shirts as a Des Moines boy I dug that!  (from Des Moines, IA)

 My husband and I wandered into this shop while we were in town for a wedding and I fell completely in love.  Very cute and very well curated. There were tons of books that I wanted to buy right then and there.  It was hard for both of us to leave.  Hope to get back someday. (from Silver Lake, CA)

 Some may not realize, supporting independent stores, especially book stores, is one way to keep our culture vibrant.  Here is a story that makes me happy.

 Did you know James Patterson also writes for kids?  Just sayin’.


Subterranean Books, 6275 Delmar, University City, St. Louis, MO 63130  

 You’re Invited

 

 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Missouri History Museum

Missouri History Museum provided me with a lot of memorable afternoons when I first arrived in Saint Louis.  They offered learning luncheons that helped me understand why this place was so different from the Western part of our nation, and also introduced me to a lot of really nice people.  I remember one event all about picnics.  You might not think that picnics could be so important, but here in Saint Louis, picnics were major events.  There was even a display of the special clothing designed for ladies to protect their modesty while enjoying the great outdoor celebrations.  These are things I never considered until moving here.


The History Museum has two “front entrances.”  One side is the original entrance to the 1904 World’s Fair and later became the original “Jefferson Memorial.”  There are beautiful columns, and lights inside, along with a statue of our third president.  On one side of the ornate entry is a permanent exhibit about the 1904 World’s Fair.  The exhibition hall on the opposite side offers different stories.  The day I took these photos there was a “clubhouse” exhibit that looked like a lot of fun.

Construction of the Jefferson Memorial, celebrating the Louisiana Purchase, was officially opened to the public in an unveiling party, April 1913.

 
The second “front” of the building came from the addition of the “Emerson Center.”


   The Museum now has a shop, auditorium, classrooms, a hallway with a mosaic river, meeting places a restaurant, and lots more exhibit spaces.  I visited “A Walk in 1875 St. Louis.”  It was fun, interesting and gave a bit of hope because things certainly have improved between then and now. 
 


 It was the 1980’s, when I first attended lunch and learn events that delighted my need to constantly learn.  Now, there are plays, movies, discussion groups, genealogy clubs, children classes, adult opportunities, travel groups, concerts, in fact, it seems the opportunities to engage, learn and meet people are limitless at the Missouri History Museum.

Some things are free, Some things have ticket prices, Most people will find plenty to enjoy.

 Missouri History Museum, 5700 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO, 63112


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hope Plaza

Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza is one of the jewels in my everyday life.  I pass this enchanting place several times a year on the way to medical appointments.  I am always grateful to find this pond.  Doesn’t matter what the weather is like, this place always offers comfort, hope and peace to the people passing by.  It is part of BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  Studies, Students, Medical Miracles and Advances are found inside the surrounding buildings. – When the new expansion was planned, this bit of art and natural wonder was created and placed right where all of us would discover it and be lifted in spirit.
 The summer resident ducks aren’t here today, but a sense of calm and people with smiles are always close.  In winter, the Pond is covered with a thick layer of ice and the walk way will have packed snow.  In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter what time of year, there is always stunning beauty in this place.
 Hope Plaza is dedicated to Ellen S. Clark, a well loved and respected woman who encouraged others to be their very best.  She inherited a rare condition that took her life.  She worked tirelessly to offer education and understanding about stem cell research.  Even after she’d left this life, her family made sure her work continued.

Ellen S. Clark and her husband worked with designers to offer this gorgeous memorial.  Two of the most recognized artists are Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Andrew Gutterman of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. of Boston.  There is an eighty foot diameter Infinity Pool, with water flowers in season, ice in its proper time, ducks when they decide to attend, trees and . . Hope.

 
“It’s designed to be a calm place of refuge in the midst of a bustling medical center,” said Hank S. Webber, an executive vice chancellor at Washington University.

 Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza, 320 S, Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110

 You don’t need to have an appointment to visit.  Get off metrolink at the Central West End, walk up the flight of stairs on the west end of the platform and turn right.  You’ll be satisfied with the side trip.

 Be Well

Friday, July 3, 2015

World Chess Hall of Fame

Chess is so much more than game at the World Chess Hall of Fame.


 I found this poster on a community bulletin board before I even arrived.  
It was a Sign of Great Things to come.
 Walking into the building I was greeted by the nicest people and learned there were two exhibits open for viewing on the first and second floors. On the third floor an event was being prepared for opening that evening.  The new exhibit is the one advertised on the poster.  It will be available for a few months.  We’ll definitely return to see it.

 The second floor was filled with amazing chess sets, some from the 1700’s.  There is also plenty of information about the Ivory used to create these masterpieces, and why we do not use Ivory any longer.  The exhibit is called ENCORE! Ivory Chess Treasures from the Jon Crumiller Collection”  We are allowed to photograph, but I sincerely doubt I could have done it any justice, so I encourage you to go look for yourself.  There are people to answer questions, everyone is Really Nice, the exhibit is free (although you can donate.)  If you aren’t able to visit in person, you can follow the link – HERE it is again.

   The World Chess Hall of Fame was moved from Miami to compliment the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

 You DO want to walk into the “Q Boutique,”  which is the niftiest gift shop I’ve seen in a long time.  I found the kid section AND a container of eraser chess pieces.  I adopted my favorite piece and went to the counter.  There was a gentleman with a clear, honest smile who gave me the gift of story about my first ever chess piece . . . YES, it is an eraser, yes it only cost a dollar . . . (Really, One Dollar, no tax, because the store is non-profit . . this organization serves our community and beyond, just sayin’)

Queen
 Turns out she is a Queen, the most powerful player in the game
she travels where she wants.

 The gentleman is Brian Flowers.  Trust me, you would like to meet him.  
If you can’t visit in person, you can still visit his shop.

World’s Largest Chess Piece – 14 ft high, 6ft wide at the base, Created by The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Taller than a Giraffe. If it was on a chess board – one square would be 9ft X 9ft. wow
  Directly across the street is the Chess Club and Scholastic Center.  There are three floors. Downstairs there is a production room.  During my visit a tournament was taking place in Norway.  Members of this club were participating and the event was being broadcast live.

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center has an outreach program in hundreds of area schools,  summer camps, scouting programs and plenty more, (including classes, lectures, field trips . . )  There’s plenty of evidence Chess improves lives.

Upstairs is a room filled with photos of Chess Masters.  
It’s  place for Tournaments as well as classes.

upstairs  
That’s not the half of it!

 They have a Toddler Tuesday from 9 AM to10:30 AM all summer.
  (Color me over the moon about this.) 

 4657 Maryland Avenue, Saint Louis, MO. 63108

What’s YOUR Chess Story gonna be?


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Piccione!

Phenomenal Pastries, Friendly People, is just the Beginning when treat yourself (and your friends) at Piccione!

Inside Piccione you’ll see Huge Glass cases filled with fresh
Italian Pastries with a 21st Century Attitude.
 
“Their chefs create recipes from scratch, in small batches,
using the best possible ingredients, you can really taste the difference.”

 Creations are light, and variations are offered
vegan, sugar free, gluten free
are some of the possibilities
every option tastes great.

 Okay, don’t take my word for all this,
here’s what other folk say:

 “How would you describe Piccione’s creations?
 Easy – Simply sublime sweets preped to perfection.” 
Richa T. (Yelp!)

  “I love the fact that Piccione offers an ala carte small plate option that won’t break the bank or your waistline (unless you order all of the menu…). I’m wary of making this post, because the crowds were minimal last Sunday when I went which meant for no line and a quiet, peaceful atmosphere to enjoy breakfast. But good is good, and I thought Piccione did a great job with their offerings and everyone should know about it.”
CaloriesSTL

“Hit the spot!. Waiting for a show at the pagent and spotted Piccione, owners mothers maiden name.
Let me see, I’ll take a cannoli, Baci, coconut macaroni and pecan butter and a coffee.
like it we’ll enough, I’ll take a pound of cookies to go!
STLFoodsnob

TripAdvisor Ranking #30 of 2609 restaurants in Saint Louis
Most Recent Traveler Reviews
Jun 23, 2015: “Phenomenal!!!!”

They ALSO offer soup, paninni (sandwiches,) Frittata (wonderful egg dishes)
and even home made chips.

Piccione is on the corner of Delmar and Skinker in University City.
You’ll easily spot the bright red awning with little bird tracks.
Get close enough and you’ll see through the windows
cannoli, cakes and cookies that seem to be inviting you inside.

It’s a locally owned shop named after Grace (“Nonna”) Viviano Piccione.

 Her last name, Piccione, means pigeon, pronounced Pa-CHO-nee.
The little pigeon logo you’ll see is in her memory.

 You may have heard that Delmar Blvd. is a little congested because preparations are being made to install the new trolley project.

That’s true, but don’t let that keep you from visiting.
There is parking in the area,
or you can ride public transit from any direction and reach Piccione.

 The Delmar Station for the “Red Train,” two and a half blocks east,
The Skinker Station for the “Blue Line” five blocks south,
and if that walk is uncomfortable, you can get off the train,
walk to the curb and catch #16 or #2 bus,
Both take you directly to Piccione.

There is also # 97 bus that tours the entire length of Delmar Blvd.
So, transportation is covered.

 On special days, like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter,
they have fantastic Brunches, served community style.
Everyone sits at long tables where neighbor meets neighbor.
People try to smile and chew politely
trying to converse, nod their heads and request seconds at the same time.

If you arrive on a Thursday morning, you’ll see tables with paperwork spread out, colorful people working on laptops and calling out to one another. The Regional Arts Commission has discovered this place. Artistic meetings and interviews take place around muffins, coffee, or a special Piccione breakfast dish. The place is alive and with the up-and-comers in our region.

 When school is in session, there are half off specials and any given evening the place will be packed with the college crowd, purchasing bakery boxes of goodies to enhance study time.

Every weekend the pastry chef creates new flavors for cannoli.
These creations are available during weekend hours only.

 This summer Piccione is dedicating ten percent of bakery sales to a different charity each week.
They call the program
 Pastries with a Purpose.

Lately Piccione has started offering Tuesday Specials,
like half off cannoli from 7 to 9 PM.


 Piccione
6197 Delmar Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63112
(314) 932- 1355