Sunday, October 18, 2015

St. Stanislaus

St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Catholic Parish has one of the richest, colorful and amazing stories.

When it comes to faith, freedom and community outreach, this parish certainly has my respect and gives me hope for a future.

In 1878 there was a large enough Polish presence for a church to be established in St. Louis City.  By 1880, construction had begun on St. Stanislaus and by 1882, staffed by Franciscan fathers, people were being welcomed to services.

Parishioners embraced their community and, in 1891, formed a religious, charitable, not-for-profit corporation under Missouri state law called “Polish Roman Catholic St. Stanislaus Parish.”  Title to the property was signed over to the Parish Corporation by St. Louis Archbishop Kenrick and the parish has been self-sustaining ever since.  They have taken care of renovations after disasters, upgraded the property as needed, added land when possible, and built a beautiful 

  There was a time when churches were being closed, properties were being sold, people were expected to fit themselves into new configurations.  This was a time when St. Stanislaus seemed to catch hold of the spirit behind the story of their patron, St. Stanislaus Kostka, Patron Saint of Holy Disobedience, because, when they were requested to hand their parish to local church authorities, the Parish Corporation stood firm, they strongly preferred to continue worship, community service, celebration and cultural education where they were.

 At St. Stanislaus they say, “When guests arrive, God arrives!”  If you have a chance to visit, you will notice their lovely sanctuary, their welcoming smiles, their inclusive gathering . . . as if they actually read “The Book” and decided to “go for it.”  If you need someone to talk with, they are there, if you are sick, they will pray with you, they will come visit you if traveling to them is a hardship. They provide for others in the community, teaching, by example, everyone matters.

If you’d like to learn Polish, you’re invited.  You can visit from a distance by viewing Homilies on YouTube, you could attend events.  You might want to talk with someone with an open heart about your own faith walk, or find someone to stand with you through your journey, It’s possible  you have found your new safe place, maybe even your new spiritual home at St. Stanislaus.

  “Where Doors And Minds Are Open”

 St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Catholic Parish
1413 North 20th Street
Saint Louis, MO 63106

 Pastor, Fr. Marek Bozek

Friday, September 25, 2015

Levine Hat Company

Take your time, stroll into Levine Hat Company and you’ll know what people mean when they say, “Be Somebody, Wear a Hat!”

 Levine Hat Company has been helping our “style appeal” for more than a century.  Anytime you see a stylish gentleman, or well dressed band, chances are they are regulars at Levine Hat Company.  I don’t suppose it’s my place to name drop, but I assure you, plenty of stars and high-profile people got those stylish hats right here, on Washington Ave.
 The place is HUGE.  They have three floors of hats on display.  It seems they carry any brand worth wearing.  I’ve been told they are the largest retail Hat store in the world.  Large or small It wouldn’t matter to me, though – because they have that “cool” thing going on.  They have everything you need.
 “If You Can’t Find it at Levine’s You Don’t Even Need a Hat!”

  The Company was established by Benjamin Levine in 1903, and I hear the fourth generation has just begun to work in the store.  Such a great place simply has to last a really long time.
 Here we are in the 21st Century, it would be sad if you couldn’t visit in person, but, you can can still shop on-line, YES!  they’ll ship your hat and accessories to you, you can stay in touch by reading their blog, you can ask questions, you can even learn Proper Hat Etiquette, something we would all be better knowing.

 AND, they can customize your hat – we all know you are one of a kind – your hat can be, too!
 Levine Hat Company
1416 Washington Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63103

(a georgy recommend)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Thursday Morning – along the way

Plans and schedules needed to be tossed this summer.  i have found, keeping an open heart can lead to excellent adventures so. I am sharing a little of my Thursday with you.
 It wasn’t until the Grand Avenue Bus Station
 I thought to pull out my “point & shoot.” 
 I’m standing with a colorful group of people, on the north bound side of a bridge, rather high up, with traffic zipping about.  We are waiting for the #70 bus.  It goes past some truly fabulous places.  We have “Grand Center,”  where Powell Symphony Hall and the Fox Theater live . . we pass Saint Louis University and the Veterans Hospital, then the scenery changes, and we come to part of the city that delights and fascinates me, although, many of my peers pretend it is not there.  
I am enrolled in a class in the “College Hill” neighborhood for the next couple of months. 
 We’ll see what manages to find the way into my camera, okay?

 I arrive super early, and yesterday the weather was splendid, so I decided to walk a couple of blocks to “Peace Park.”
 Across the street stands this lovely church house.  I don’t know enough about the neighborhood, yet.  I wonder if the church is used?  A cute young lady ran in front of the building shouting “take my picture!”  I enjoyed her dancing.  There are matching angels on the front of this place.  Just around the corner i should see the park.
Morning Light across the park gives it the feel of Hope.  There are a few people using  facilities on the property.  Their eyes have trust, I will not use my little camera, so they feel safe.  The place was designed with an open air kind of shelter, and there’s an enormous “feasting table” so community members can share in a way that offers dignity and respect to everyone.
   You can barely see it, in the left part of this photo, I captured part of the “feasting table.”
 It’s time for me to cut across towards my class and sign in.  I’ll be there a few hours, then head back home.
 Here’s where I’ll get off the bus, then head downstairs to catch a train.

i wonder what we’ll find next time?

Thank you for visiting.

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 
 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