This is a post about meeting in St. Louis. But I just couldn’t name the post “Meet Me In St. Louis.” Magpies cannot stoop to such banality. Yet I did meet. And it was very sweet. So that’s it! Sweet St. Louis.
This past weekend my husband and I drove to St. Louis to spend the day with our darling daughter and precious son in law who were visiting his lovely parents a couple of hours away. See how sweet this is going to be? My daughter and son in law were due to fly out of St. Louis on Sunday, and plans worked out so that his parents brought the child- oops, young married couple into town and graciously spent part of the day with us. Of the six of us, none had spent much time in St. Louis since the children were very young. That really had us scratching our heads. Why hadn’t we spent more time in St. Louis when it has so much to offer?
I don’t know about any of the other travelers, but I have to admit I hadn’t considered St. Louis much of a destination in recent years, As a fairly new member of the empty nester club, I have sought out more exotic locales. Whenever I thought of St. Louis I could only picture of all those free things you take the children to, such as the Science Museum and the Zoo. And the things that are NOT free such as Six Flags and the Arch. And sticky Ted Drewe’s cups in every cup holder of our van. Somehow these associations didn’t match my new idea of myself as a cosmopolitan jet setter. But, lured by the best of bribes, an opportunity to see the above mentioned couple, and his parents , I decided to give St. Louis another try.
Our first stop was The Loop on Delmar Street, an entertainment and shopping district, so named because trolleys used to “loop” around there in the 1800s. The area has undergone a revitalization, and has been named one of America’s 10 Best Streets. The trolley line is to be revived in the near future. I particularly enjoyed the Walk of Fame, which provides information on famous people with a connection to St. Louis. Whenever I return I’m going to walk the street once just to be able to concentrate on the star plaques.
Second stop: the Central West End, an upscale neighborhood adjacent to Forest Park. The residential sections we saw were full of handsome architecture, manicured lawns, and private drives. The Cathedral Basilica St. Louis is in the area. I found all of that, plus just the cuteness of the area very appropriate. After all, shouldn’t all independent bookstores be surrounded by lovely walkable neighborhoods?
Aaaah, and The Left Bank Bookstore! I could have spent all day in this little gem. My town is so starved for independent bookstores. The store seemed to exude an aura of love for books, offering a thoughtful selection of new works, and a sweet ( there I go again) little used section downstairs. While downstairs I bumped into the store cat who was no doubt checking the inventory. My other downstairs find was a STACK of Barbara Pym novels. I may already have them, but that is no matter. When one sees Barbara Pym in paperback, one must, pardon me cat, pounce.
After all these meanderings there was nothing to do but refresh ourselves with custard from Ted Drewe’s in Dutchtown. This area, once the hub of German culture in St. Louis, has definitely seen better days. A little bit of police action was happening across the street while we were there, but everyone was very friendly and the custard line was short. Reading the menu was just no help at all. After staring at it for a few moments I decided to go with my old favorite: pistachio. As I swirled my plastic spoon through the heavenly green confection I reassured myself that I would never be able to eat all of this. I was wrong.
It was by now after 4:00 P.M. By our reckoning there was still time to explore the Soulard Farmer’s market which was open until 5:00 P.M.
In a few minutes we were at the market, but unfortunately many vendors had already left. We of course poked our heads in a few shops which were open, and made a note to ourselves to come earlier next time.
Close by Soulard was the Lafayette Square neighborhood, a historic area of French style homes anchored by Lafayette Park. The park provided us with some serene moments as the afternoon waned.
Please tell me that by now your feet would be aching! Because mine certainly were. Imagine my relief when I learned that not one of my fellow travelers wanted to see ONE MORE NEIGHBORHOOD that day! I do love harmony.
Suddenly the time was right to repair to our hotel to enjoy a cold preprandial beverage and share our impressions of the day. And prop up our throbbing toes on crisp white hotel pillows.We had no more concrete plans. Would we want dinner after all that custard? Would I be able to put on shoes again that day in order to have dinner? We did, and I did.
All too quickly it was Sunday morning, and time to bid our reluctant adieus. My daughter and son in law were soon borne thousands of miles away, while my husband and I motored the several hours home. As we left St. Louis my husband asked me if I felt sad. I thought a moment and realized I was not. Instead I just felt so grateful to have had the chance to spend this short time with people I love so much and make new memories I will savor for a long time. And that’s pretty sweet!