A nice evening at the Stork Inn

First, thanks to Loretta and Rob for adding their phone names. But also, Marty, I know you weren’t trying for an exhaustive list when you were writing these down. Let it be known that you could have come up with all of them had you tried. It was just fun reminiscing about the old phone names. Especially having conversations in front of young people (under 40) who looked at us like we were crazy.

Tonight we (Annette, me, two other couples and Emily and two girlfriends) all went over to the Stork Inn for some ice cream. This is a place that was a tavern when I was growing up. Here’s a write-up from the Landmark Assoc. of St. Louis:

“Constructed in 1910, the Stork Inn at 4527 Virginia Avenue was the first of three delightfully picturesque establishments designed by Klipstein & Rathmann for August Busch who hoped to counter the growing prohibition movement by creating wholesome images of Old World charm on sites with maximum visibility. The Stork Inn occupies a wedge formed by Taft, Idaho and Virginia; the Feasting Fox sits at an important corner of South Grand at Meramec; the Bevo Mill boasts a location that now identifies an entire neighborhood. Survival of the Bevo has never been in doubt, but we almost lost the Feasting Fox and the Stork Inn. In both cases a brave, determined family came to the rescue.

Dale and Gwyn Preston and their eight children live only a few blocks away from the recently vacant, formerly pigeon-infested Stork Inn. With $15,000 to purchase the derelict property and the hope that $50,000 could transform it, the Prestons embarked on what quickly became a community effort. Finished after more like $120,000 in mid-May, the former Stork Inn (complete with a rental apartment on the top two floors and an ice cream parlor) is now home to the Preston Art Glass Studio.”

They have some benches out front and we just sat around telling funny stories about each other’s kids. The weather was good, the company was nice; it was just another great night on the South Side. You should’ve been there. And definitely, if you’re a St. Louisan, please come down to try their creamy sno-cones. If Maria is working that night, tell her you know Emily Hudson.

And Ken, here’s the answer to your Magnetic North question. Follow this link and scroll down to the picture if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing.

What was your old phone number?

If you were born before 1963 or so, and you lived in the St Louis area, you probably had a phone number that started with one of these words.

Which one was yours? And what part of town did you live in?

PROSPECT (3800 block of Wyoming off S. Grand)
STERLING (Dogtown)

Can you think of any that I didn’t get? (Thanks to Marty who remembered all of these)

Old Testament Correction

My fingers got a little ahead of my brain last night. Thanks to Rob for catching it. An eye for an eye is indeed an Old Testament reading. Jesus references it in his Sermon on the Mount where he says, “You have heard it said….” meaning “The Old Testament says…” So, in effect he is saying, “The Old Testament says, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ but I tell you not to resist. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other cheek.” He then continues, “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat too. If someone compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”

The interpretation of this within the Christian community is varied with most of the discussion centering on pacifism. Main stream folks would say He’s not talking about what our culture likes to call “self-defense.” With uses of the words “slap” and “sue” and “compel”, He seems to be referring to non-violent events. The idea being that if relatively minor or non-violent altercations could be dealt with in this way by each of us, they would no doubt never escalate into fights and wars.

Though this is all very fascinating, my point was simply that some people have no trouble judging what they like and don’t like from the Bible. I’m simply wondering what they use for their straight line to judge a crooked line.

Life continued…

I’ve re-written last night’s entry. Though it looks the same at a glance, it’s not. Hopefully it will be easier to follow this time, so if you’ve already read it, consider reading it again.

Anyway, the whole point of it was that in 1989 this was a real eye-opener for me. After reading Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God series I was convinced there was a mythic side of existence. When I got to the part about “my religion”, for the first time I put some value in it. My religion is as good as the next guy’s, right? That got me started reading Christian philosophy and theology. That’s a subject for another time.

I was reading some athiest’s blogs tonight and there was a discussion going on about the good parts of the Bible and the bad parts of the Bible. One guy said, “yeah, Jesus said some pretty cool things.” I was struck with the question, how does someone determine the good parts from the bad? At first glance it seems to be just what an individual feels. One person may say that Jesus’ “eye for an eye” is good and fair and someone else may think that it’s wrong. Who’s right? Can they both be right?

For the record: The Bible is speaking out against violent retribution with those words. There was a tendancy in some cultures to go overboard and seek over-sized revenge. For example, if someone stole something from you, you would go kill him. Here the suggestion is that a more tempered reaction might be in order. Like getting something of equal value back from the thief.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” Where did our idea of a straight line come from? Our parents? Grand-parents? Where did the first straight line come from?

The Virgin Birth of Life

As I promised in an earlier entry, here is a follow-up on how the Mythic reading of the Virgin Birth of Jesus helped me come to grips with what I now call Biblical Truth.

The Virgin Birth of Jesus is a reflection of the first birth of life from non-life.

Whether you take the story of Creation as told in Genesis completely metaphorically, or even reject it outright, you must know that there was a time when there was no life on earth. Science (today) puts this time about 3.5 billion years ago. So, one moment there is nothing that we would define as “life.” Then, the next moment there is. Life has sprung from non-life. This is the virgin birth of life that is mythologized both in Genesis and in the Virgin Birth story.

Of course, this early life was hardly anything to speak of. A certain arrangement of a certain type of molecule that all of us smart people now think probably gave rise to something even more special. But as a secularist, this was the first time I’d considered that the Virgin Birth of Jesus meant anything at all. It’s also the first time that I learned that something could be both metaphorical and true. In other words, the Virgin Birth of Jesus is both factually true, and representative of the first birth of the first man.

Most people don’t have trouble imagining that some creative force was present when this life arose from non-life. Possibly a “life force” or something inherent in the rocks and stones themselves. Regardless, this is compatible with Genesis in that Adam was made from the stuff that was already there. Some people, however, insist that no kind of force or anything else was involved. Random, chaotic chance over lots and lots of time is all that it took. I’ll come back to this at a later time. Tonight, I only want to point out the difference between the two opposite philosophies.

One camp feels there is purpose and meaning derived from some creative force that lies outside of existence and time. The other says that there is no purpose or meaning save what we ourselves give to ourselves. Existence is its own meaning. We might say that the thing itself and the meaning of the thing itself are the same.

Though I may profess a Christian faith, this fundamental difference that I’ve outlined is not necessarily a reflection of that faith. Many people worldwide who are not Christians profess a belief in some kind of creative spirit or prime mover. Here I simply contrast that with a purely secular belief where no such thing exists at all.

To be continued…

Comments back up

As I suspected, the Comments server is back up now. Just in time for my sister to get the trivia question right. Gilligan’s first name was Willy. Jonas Grumby was the Skipper’s name, and how about the Professor’s name? It was Roy Hinkley. By the way, the Gilligan-first-name-question is only meant for us trivia addicts; it was never mentioned in the series.

I told Annette today that I didn’t know what to write about anymore. She said, batting her eyes, “write about me!” It just so happens that I was singing some of my old songs today. This second verse is all her and written shortly after we met.
I met a lady, just as fine as she could be
Proud as a lion she roared that she was in love with me

I had no choice but to heed her will
I followed her around all the way until

We had to stop and make a deal
That she would be nice if I would be real
And before too long we both began to feel
That the love we had found was damned close to ideal

Our meeting is the stuff of myth now, no one really knows how it happened. For me, the story starts in 1980 when I was spending the night in the hospital due to a partially collapsed lung. It was nothing serious, they just wanted to keep an eye on it overnight. But that night, as it grew late I was very lonely. I had just broken up with my girlfriend, so I couldn’t call her. There was a picture of Jesus on the wall, a print that I had grown up with at church. I prayed to Jesus to be with me. Then I stood up to gaze out the window and a very positive thought overcame me. That thought was this: someday, I’ll be happily married; and the girl I will marry is out there tonight. I just haven’t met her yet. But she’s alive and happy and probably doing something fun right now and someday she’ll be my wife. Or, as the Hollies sang, “Some day my name and hers are going to be the same.”

A couple of years later, I was playing in a Rock Band and we practiced in the basement of St. Johns Episcopal on Arsenal. A friend of ours’ Dad was the Pastor there. This friend had a girl-friend who had a close friend named Annette Pingel. One night they all came down to hear us practice. I think that was the first time we met.

A couple of months later, a whole group of us were meeting up at the Ritz Theatre to see a movie. I didn’t know she would be there, nor she me. We got to talking though and discovered that we were both enrolled at the Conservatory and School for the Arts (CASA) out in University City. She was studying Piano and I Classical Guitar. After the movie everyone went over to my apartment for more fun and merriment. It was that night that made up my mind to ask her out. Of course, I didn’t.

At my next Guitar lesson at CASA, I told my instructor, “There’s this girl I want to get together with and she’s a piano student here. Can you help me out? Like with a duet or something that we ‘have’ to work on?” He thought it was great and said that actually, it’s required to work on a duet. Well…I mean, if it’s required! Then by all means, a duet it will be.

We started working on it every Friday night at school. Soon, we were going out afterwards. By the time the recital rolled around, we were engaged to be married. Total time “going out” together before we were married was six months.

One more instance that always sticks in my mind is one day we were at her apartment to practice. We were paging through some Pop-Rock fake books and having a great time. I mentioned that we had better get down to work on the recital material and then excused myself to use the restroom. While I was in her bathroom I heard her start “paging through” a J.S. Bach book. She was paging through it as easily as she had paged through the Pop-Rock book. I smiled. I thought to myself, “I gotta keep her.”

The Comment line is down

Hey, where’d my comments go?! Do not panic, they’ll be back; though I don’t know exactly when. Hopefully by the time you read this. The comments are hosted by a company called HaloScan and their server is down tonight. Sorry.

Here’s a quick trivia question for you: What was Gilligan’s first name?

Chilly, overcast skies in St. Louis

For the past couple of days, it’s been rather chilly here on the South Side. And this after a spell of very warm weather just last week. We actually had our air-conditioner on last week and tonight the heat is on. It must be spring in St. Louis.

For some reason walking to the alley to take the trash out is a memory-provoking experience for me. It always has been. It’s a job my mother gave to me at a very early age, so memories of actual trash-taking-out are included in with miscellaneous reflections of my life.

These overcast skies and chilly spring air for some reason reminded me of mornings on camping trips when I was growing up. For a time, Dad, Mom three sisters and I would pack up and camp for a week every summer. It was always with at least one other family, usually the Bighams. Kim (John) Bigham and his wife Carol and their two girls and one boy were fixtures in my early life. My dad and Kim were best friends from childhood. There was rarely a Friday night when our two families weren’t together. So each and every summer we would all go down to the Huzzah Wildlife Area off the Courtois River to camp. These memories I have are the smell of the air early in the morning as I walked to and from the campsite. I don’t know what I might have been doing, possibly walking to the out-house; maybe taking the trash “out.”

I still see Kim and Carol Bigham every Sunday morning at Church. They’re my God-parents too. (A short, cute story: When they heard that I had lost my job a few years back they sent me $25.00 in the mail.) Sometimes we’d go with other families; the Tanners or the Hemmerlas. Then, like now, my family’s social life was centered on Kingshighway Methodist Church.

Whether I’m taking out the trash or just walking to the car, every morning I thank God for giving the gift of life. He didn’t have to do it, He just wanted to.


I came across this blog from Iraq today. (See the link in the right column.) There’s a lot there, but I think everyone should read it. It’s written by three brothers who, between them, give an insightful glimpse into what’s going on over there. If you get time, start at the bottom and read up which will bring you chronologically to the present. There also you will find exerpts from a diary written during the war itself. If you care, think you care, or just think you should care about the war in Iraq, you need to read this blog. Also, read this USAToday article about the blogging Iraqis.