Posts Tagged ‘Woody Herman’
Happiness is just a thing called Joe, according to the old Woody Herman record. Happiness, said Charles Schulz, is a warm puppy (it is also a warm bun on your hot dog at Busch Stadium). Other happiness. Hearing a Texan say, “Boy, this city is even better than I’d heard.” Finding a parking meter with 40 minutes remaining while picking up your tickets at the ballpark. Finding Soulard on a map. A Pakistani protesting millionaires. Jim Vangle of Charlie Gitt’os noodle nook on Sixth Street preparing and delivering to the Rangers’ locker room at Game One: stuffed mushrooms, salad, chicken marsala, linguini montamara, meatballs and penne pasta with broccoli. A better breakfast at the Goody Goody compared to a Texas breakfast of mustard greens and biscuits and gravy. Greaseless fried chicken from Dierbergs is unrivaled especially by that at Bob’s Chop and Steakhouse in Dallas. How about the chauffeur snugly asleep behind the wheel of a limo outside Busch, while his employer sleeps comfortably inside a luxury suite? The Cards fan in that suite catching cold and getting the first Kleenex out of the box without tearing it. The Cardinals winning tonight’s game. That’s happiness!
St. Louis, the gorgeous mess – wooden yesterdays mocking steel tomorrows, or is it the other way around? I felt like a character in an Antonioni film, waking across yards, through endless passageways trying to recall the City as I knew it during my childhood. After all, nostalgia has become a household word. We used to carry garbage outdoors to a pit and nowadays we put it in bags in waste receptacles bearing the labels of Saks, Neiman-Marcus or Sam Cavato. Shoe outlets such as Red Goose, Buster Brown and Thom McAnn proliferated shopping areas, that became the shame of the city with too many pasts. There were specialty shops for men and women like Boyd’s, Bertie’s Hats, Sally Ann, National Shirt Shops, Werner-Hilton and the Emporium. Kresge’s, Ben Franklin, McCrory and F.W. Woolworth were among our favorite five-and-dimes. More than 50 neighborhood movie houses dotted the city and some of those were air domes (outdoor theaters) including the Armo, Arcade and the Fairy. “Dish night” was usually held on Tuesdays, when patrons were gifted with plastic dinner plates. We listened raptly to the next radio installments of “Tom Mix”, “The Lone Ranger”, “Captain Midnight”, “The Shadow”, “Lux Radio Theater”, “The Land We Live In”, “Superman” and “The Green Hornet” Our families shopped at Moll’s, Piggly Wiggly, Food Center, Tom Boy and Kroger’s grocery stores. There were confectioneries that sold such goodies as Double Bubble Gum, liquid filled wax figures, Snaps, licorice cut-outs, Grab Bags, Dumbells, Eskimo Fudge Pies and jaw breakers. Tune Town on Olive Street just east of Grand Boulevard was where we gathered to hear old Woody Herman, who was on the bandstand with 25 musicians wailing “Cal’donia, Cal’donia, What makes yo big head so hard?” There were shrieks from the kids who heard a big band for the first time. Somehow, we survived with parents who took aspirin or phenobarbital, ate fudge, whipped-cream cakes, barbecued spareribs, blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn’t get tested for diabetes. We had no child-proof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps, not helmets on our heads. We had no booster seats, seat belts, air bags, bald tires and occasionally no brakes. We drank water from the garden hose. We ate donuts, cupcakes, Kook-Aid made with real white sugar and weren’t overweight.We didn’t have Nintendos, X boxes, cable channels or DVD’s. Some beer-drinking parents imbibed only on beer that carried the labels of Alpen Brau, Falstaff, Griesedieck Bros. or Hyde Park. We had courageous media like the Star-Times and Globe-Democrat whose editorials scrutinized politics and justice minutely. There were editorials on KMOX Radio, written by Alice Koch English and read on the air by Robert Hyland. There would always be shocked silence when the subject of the Bobby Greenlease kidnapping and murder, which scandalized Missouri and the nation, came up. And finally, the execution in the Missouri gas chamber of Carl Hall and Bonnie Heady. Those of us who were born between 1925-1970 had freedom, failure, success and responsibility and we learned well how to deal with all of them. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”