You got to time to breath; you got time for music

I was talking to an old friend from church the other day about Allison Krauss and bluegrass music. I asked her if she remembered The Darlings from the Andy Griffith Show. I was explaining to her how Bluegrass bands are always so serious or expressionless while they play. The Darlings (The Dillards in real life) made a joke of it in the show. I don’t claim to understand it; but I could listen to Bluegrass all day.

First the Darling Family:

And then a very young Allison singing Heaven’s Bright Shore:

This Week in South Side History

St. Louis annexed Carondelet in 1870

from the South Side Journal Tues. April 1, 2008

written by Jim Merkel

Two visitors came to Carondelet on April 7, 1870 ready to make official the biggest change ever in the community’s century-old history.

They were the St. Louis city register and the marshal, appearing at the office of the City of Carondelet with an order to turn all city documents over to them. They came after the state legislature passed a law annexing the community to St. Louis.

The visit marked the end of the City of Carondelet, which traced itself to a village established three years after the founding of St. Louis.The community began in 1767, when a Frenchman named Clement DeLore Treget crossed the Mississippi to Spanish land on the west side. He started a community called Louisbourg, or “Vide Poche” (empty pocket). Later he changed the name to Carondelet, in honor of the Spanish governor general.

The village grew steadily and was incorporated as a city in 1851. Industry and railroads came to the area, including James Eads’ boat works, where the ironclads were produced that helped the Union take control of the Mississippi during the Civil War.

Despite the city’s industrious residents, the monster to the north grew faster and finally absorbed Carondelet in 1870.

“There clearly is some evidence to suggest that some people in Carondelet were unhappy about being annexed by the city of St. Louis,” said NiNi Harris, a Carondelet resident and author of numerous books on St. Louis historical topics.

But Harris said the community benefitted greatly from becoming the city’s southernmost neighborhood. The annexation brought professional police and fire departments, the immediate construction of two new schools and the opening of Carondelet Park in 1876.

“Though the community lost this sense of independence and to a little bit lost its sense of being distinct, the advantages were many,” she said.

We the pee…

barneyfife.jpgWe the pee…pul; We the pee-pul! That’s what I think about when I think about Don Knotts. There are so many, of course. But, that episode where Barney goes through the entire Preamble without remembering a single word; well, it just doesn’t get any better. Don Knotts died yesterday at age 81. That same day I received a birthday card from Jennifer. A Barney Fife birthday card, that is. Barney on the envelope and on the card. It was special.

Yes, my birthday is Monday, the 27th. Tonight, we spent a quiet evening at Becky’s with just Mom, Russ and Becky & Steve. It was very nice. This morning, at his request, I picked up my Dad for church. Methodist Church, that is. He usually attends with Judy at her Catholic service, but she was out of town so he wanted to come with us.

No special plans for tomorrow. I have three lessons in the evening; that pretty much fills the whole night. In fact, everyday this week is booked already. Wed. is Ash Wed. already! I can’t believe it. Spring and baseball are not far behind.

Thanks to all who sent well wishes for my birthday. I’m sorry for not writing more. Here’s a couple of old blog entries when I referenced Barney or Mayberry:

Spring is Here from March 19, 2004

First Real Front Porch of the Year from April 16, 2005.

First real Front-Porch of the year

Yes, the trees on Dover Place are turning green and the evening air is just warm enough that you can sit out without a jacket. After a evening of socializing and getting home with just enough time to walk up the steps before Emily called to get a ride home from work, I had the pleasure of sitting out with a neighbor for an hour or so. In case you missed it from an earlier blog entry, this is pretty much what I view as the meaning of life: sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening, chatting with the folks from the south-side. From the great philosopher Barney Fife:
“Yeah, I think I’ll go home…take a nap…go over to Thelma Lou’s and watch a little TV.” Greater thoughts have never been thunk.

Well, this neighbor and I, we got to talking about our childhood homes. And, instead of boring him with all the little details, I’m going to bore you with them: I spent the first 9 years of my life on the north side…of the south side; in what we now would call “Tower Grove East.” The little apartment at 3878 Wyoming Street had just 2 bedrooms. The “dining room” was my parents bedroom. My two older sisters had the room in the back of the house and I had the little room on the side. When Jennifer was born, she initially slept in Mom’s room, but soon enough moved into my little room. That’s the way it stayed until I was 9 and Jennifer was 5.

Then, we moved down to Carondelet. The real south side. Only slowly did it dawn on me what was happening down here. “Let’s see,” I reasoned, “my grandmother’s house is right there, and that’s where my dad grew up; Church is right there, where we all attended, my Aunt Mickey lives right there…hmmm. This must be our neighborhood,” I finally concluded. I was right.

When we moved into the house on Dover Place, well, it was simple luxury compared to what we were used to. But…Mom, Dad, 4 kids…and 4 bedrooms. Mom and Dad get the big bedroom first, that was clear. Becky and Lisa, both adolescent girls, wanted and needed their own bedrooms. I was actually a bit afraid with the thought of having my own room, so I volunteered to room with Jennifer. I didn’t regret it. With just a few remaining years of childhood, a young boy could enjoy being roommates with his little sister. It was OK. Anyway, soon enough Becky was off to college and everyone got their own room. Two years later, Lisa left for college and all of sudden that upstairs was awful quiet. In my last years at that house, I picture empty bedrooms with no residents.

Now, my own daughter’s little room is about to be vacated. Life moves forward.

Spring is here

I love the onset of warmer weather. For me it means just one thing. Spending evenings sitting out front on the neighbor’s porch doing nothing. Talking about anything and everything. And I don’t feel bad about it at all. I cherish it, in fact. I paid my dues working twenty years in the freezing cold or hellishly hot kitchens around town. Working every evening and every weekend and every holiday. No more. I’m going to sit back with a cool Perrier, the sounds of cicadas chirping through the Sycamore trees and enjoy life.

I’m reminded of the Andy Griffith Show episode called “Man in a Hurry”, where Barney and Andy are sitting on the porch. Andy’s strumming his guitar softly, and Barny says, “Yeah, I think I’ll go home…take a nap…go over to Thelma Lou’s and watch some TV… ” Andy nods. Then he says it again. Andy says, “hmm.” Then Barney says it again. The man who’s in a hurry can’t take it of course and yells, “Just do it!” That whole scene is so good. They all sing a little song in this scene too. The song is “The Little Brown Church in the Vale.” It’s really nice.

I like my little part of town. It’s like Mayberry to me. I live on the same block I grew up on. I go to the same church I was born and baptized in. All the folks there have known me my whole life. And now I know some the young ones their whole life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. No job, no amount of money or luxury could take me away from it. It’s my home plain and simple.