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A Three Hour Tour

For the holidays we like to give the kids experiences. Today we used my daughter’s gift, a three hour food tour. It was freezing so I didn’t take too many pictures. Here are a few things we learned along the way.

The building on the right was the first bank in the area, everyone called it The Bank. One of the main reasons for the bank was to house the valuables of the clay mine workers. Most came from Italy and they needed a place to keep valuable items they brought from home. Many lived in rooming houses which left no private or secure areas.

The bank is now a coffee shop but they kept many of the 100 year old items. The terrazzo floor pretty much looks the same as it did when they installed it, I kinda think I want that in my next hour.

One of the best parts was the bank vault, still intact with all the small safe deposit boxes locked tight. I’m pretty sure they are all empty, now it houses a few chairs for the quiet coffee drinker.

The building on the right has a super interesting story. When they first opened they needed something to stand out and bring in customers as the story was like many in the area. What he did was start to give away a bottle of bleach with every grocery purchase. In those days men mostly wore white button up shirts and the napkins people in the area used were white. Both of these require bleach.

The man bought industrial bleach and diluted it in his bathtub. Cheap for him and it built his business. Facinating!

Shotgun houses. Our guide told us some of these were built with timbers from the St. Louis 1904 Fair. Once the event was over someone was knocking down all the structures and burning the wood. A bunch of the clay miners saved the wood and used it to build these homes. Many didn’t have hallways and closets to reduce the tax. Interesting how what we tax changes over the years, always pivoting to tax us as much as they can.

If you zoom in to the house you can see some odd colors on the second story. It is chalk, plaster and concrete. The neighborhood used to be filled with these colors but now just two remain. It is said the owners did years ago as most houses were just plain brick, it was a way to make everything stand out.

This is so against code now but years ago people would buy a lot and build two homes on it. Rent own to help pay off the other. The second home was usually much smaller and pushed way to the back of the lot.

The building on the left has some very interesting brick you can see around the neighborhood. I saw brown, green and white examples. I’m not sure what it was called but it had a very shiny glaze on it. Fragile which has resulted in most of it is now gone.

A better shot of the green.

We ended back at the old bank. The white package is ten pounds of pasta. Pretty excited to try it out.

While it was freezing we had a great time. One thing stands out to me while this was a food tour I mostly took pictures of the buildings! Not sure why but that was facinating to me.

One other thing stood out, the number of people out has dramatically dropped this week. I worry some of these places we went today might not survive until the down turn in business.

Our plan is to buy a few gift cards to the small places we like to go. While it might not make a huge difference it is better than doing nothing.

Out of gas.

I think we are all in the same car at this point and we are out of gas.

Yesterday the conversations were fast and intense. A lot of speculation.

Today it was intense.

Then the president spoke, national emergency.

The governor spoke, state of emergency.

We are not closing schools at this time. The governor said he would not close. While that is a relief it does nothing to reduce the exhaustive tension.

I drove from building to building today with the gas light on. I knew I should fill up but there wasn’t time.

Went to lunch spot, which as oddly empty, and didn’t fill up.

Drove home and finally stopped to fill up.

As I pumped I wondered how many of us are running just like that, pushing until it is nearly too late.

We don’t stop to care for ourselves as we are constantly taking care of others.

I fear soon we will close and then a number of us, if we are not careful, will be working and on call 24/7. I feel it is the unspoken expectation.

Do I dare to take email off my phone? Do I dare set do not disturb up so I do not even get notifications from the emails, texts, and various messages from constantly buzzing and dinging?

They say to practice self care but I am not sure how at this point.

While I dream of doing just that, I know I won’t.

Now only half.

I am shocked at how such intense things fade over time. While you are knee deep in it, there is nothing else you can think of. You can’t see beyond the end of the day or even into the next minute, intensely in the now. Even the years following things are fresh, like it just happened yesterday.

Fading memories and a few trinkets are now all that is left. Sometimes they flash hot like the sun after a summer movie. Some days it is like something just out of grasp like that word you search for but never find. Memories are tricky.

For some reason we were put in the same four man room but it was just the two of us. That was exceptionally rare, two boots in their own room.

I think in the first weekend I heard more country music in those hours than I had in the previous eighteen years. It drove me nuts. Chasing neon rainbows to friends in low places. It wasn’t until Japan that I would yell across the barracks with requests. Mostly Cowboy Bill, we would sing from our bunks. I would trade anything for one more verse.

I also never knew anyone who chewed. There were no less than two one liter bottles of capped spit within your reach at all times. Your lip was always puffed out.

You had this love Andrew Dice Clay. I think he must have told me he would call me in an hour back, get it? Over and over. I didn’t get it. I kinda still don’t but you cracked yourself up.

Then there were a number of concussions with Cpt. French was attempting to teach us boxing and martial arts. That only turned into barracks fights between us. I’m pretty sure you are the reason I wear glasses today, you nearly tore my eyes out every chance you got. I also learned it only takes 7 or 8 pounds of pressure to remove a human ear.

I remember you bitching about 1st Sgt Hill, you and some others had to drag old squad tent to the top and back down again. This hill was about half a mile away and steep. It was so steep you had to crawl up on all fours, so steep you feared going down. Everyone was supposed to crest the hill and descend as fast as possible. Once everyone completed the task leave would begin. Crow and I were somewhere else when it started but your rat bastard ass dimed us out. Little did you know we never really climbed it, we just ran a bit and jumped into the brush. Nothing better than skating.

I remember how you would describe home, I always thought Mason was the center of everything. I know it was the center of everything you were.

It is funny how close you become to someone so quickly and how quickly that changes once you leave. The memories fade a bit like an old picture. You can still make it out but you need to concentrate as the years slip by.

These are some memories that have suddenly been reduced to half, the other half is gone. My half is slowly fading.

Mic I have regrets. I should have traveled to see you after your first stroke. And your second. I should have sat with you during dialysis. I can’t forgive myself for not doing it.

Until we meet on the other side.

A tiny bit of my secret.

AEIOU! You have to learn these! You will never be able to do anything in life you don’t learn these!

I can remember this Nun screaming at me day after day. Some days she would slam her palm on the table to accent each letter.

It never made sense to me.

The following year there was writing incentives that had me super excited. All I needed to do was write a very simple story and I would earn a book! While I couldn’t read it was still something I desperately wanted.

Like all good things, there was a catch.

The story had to be perfect. Capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. It took me years to spell my own name, there was no way I was ever going to earn a book.

I tried. Story was rejected over and over.

She told me to look up how to spell the words in the dictionary, like the other kids, but some of the words I didn’t even know how they started. I would sometimes just start looking at random pages hoping it would jump out which it never did.

I remember friends digging through the book box and complaining that they already had all the titles while I dreamed of just one.

I did get a book but it was never earned. I took it but felt ashamed, it was a pity book. It stings even today. It was that book with the little girl, the bear and some berries.

This pattern continued for years.

One day I decided enough was enough and I left never looking back.

My biggest regret was not sharing this story with my own class of second graders years ago. I wish I could go back and tell them these stories and so many more.

I was ashamed. I know that some will, and might do, see me as a lesser person because of it. That used to bug me but not anymore.

This quote made me think of something, don’t hide your struggles. There are so many that could benefit.

I have no idea how this happened.

I usually write these posts as a stream, I usually don’t reread or edit.

There is this restaurant that we like a lot, Fitz’s, in St. Louis. There are a few reasons, one is the bottomless mug of root beer. You can literally drink a million and they will bring you refill one million one. If that isn’t enough the mugs are so cold that the root beer will start to freeze.

A second reason is their veggie burgers are the best I have ever had. They are so good that I sent it back the first time thinking it was actual beef. Why no meat? I think I sliced about it before but maybe I will revisit it in the near future.

A few months ago they opened a second location much closer to home and right down the street from the high school. This is awesome as they will have a buy one get one float specials on Fridays from time to time. That is one excellent happy hour.

A few days ago we went but missed the sweet spot and had to wait for about thirty minutes before they had our table ready. If we would of hit the restaurant slightly earlier there would have been no wait.

It was slightly loud which makes it really hard for me to hear. Before I was a teacher I had a job that was rather loud causing some hearing loss. While most of the family chatted I was researching some new ideas to try with Canvas.

I happened to glance up and saw my son and father in law by the patio door. Both deep into their own books.

I have some ideas why Aidan loves to read but I’m not always sure.

He absolutely loved his first grade teacher, he still talks about her all these years later. Having a solid relationship makes such a difference.

Before Aidan was born we moved my little brother from another city into our house. He moved out but only a few streets down. I think the minute Aidan was born they bonded. Years later Brennan bought him a few Tiny Titan’s books. Comics from Brennan were a prized possession.

My wife is also a teacher so in the summer she created Mama School. Each year they create a theme, read books around it and then we take field trips on Fridays. While not every field trip is super exciting for them I think somewhere it is planting seeds.

We visit the public library and check out stacks of books and magazines.

I’m thankful for this.

Looking back it is most likely not one thing, it is like tiny seeds. We never know sometimes who planted them but they grow. So many times we don’t get to see them grow but we hope with everything we are that we are doing the right thing.

I wonder what seeds I left today and how they might grow.

Like a palm pilot but better

I know I have apps to organize everything but I usually revert back to something I have been doing forever.

There are many days I spend driving from building to building. During these trip things come to me at random intervals. I know if I don’t write it down right away it will be lost forever.

I think these ideas come to me because it is my only quiet time during the day. The office has a billion distraction. Classrooms and school buildings are full of distractions. My car is quiet and gives me time to think.

I know I could use my phone to take notes and document ideas but for some reason it never works for me.

There are days when I am tempted to start writing above my watch. I always joke when that happens I am just going to go home for the day.

One tiny issue with is that I write cryptically due to the small spot I have to work with. There are times when I just stare unsure of what the heck I was writing.

A Slice Update

A few slices ago I was writing about how much I wait for my kids. I remember writing when I was sitting in my cold car for my daughter in her music lessons. I write as I sat waiting for my son in drum lessons. I did, and still do, a ton of waiting for them.

I mentioned I had always wanted to play an instrument when I was a kid. It didn’t occur to me to take some dang lessons at the same time as my kids until a fellow slicer gave me a little nudge.

For the past few months I have been talking guitar lessons on Saturday mornings. I am pretty awful but I am doing it!

My only regret is the color of my guitar. I didn’t know they came in many different colors until I saw another student putting hers away, it was a sweet pink.

My goal is to play something and sing at the same time. I tried and my brain can only do one of the two.

It is never too late to start something, anything, new.

Small Batch

I have a new passion, small batch ice cream.

I came across this Facebook post talking about a local family who was looking to open a new ice cream shop nearby. While they were not open yet they started selling out of their home.

We bought a few pints and now I am hooked.

This week was something totally new and I should hate it.

This week the base is made from buttered popcorn. I hate popcorn. Absolutely hate popcorn.

The oddest thing is that I really like it.

Stoop

There are songs that transport me back in time, Freebird is one of them.

It must have been 1991 when Fagly and I sat on a stoop on one of those little narrow streets in Kin.

The sun was just right, beaming down on us in the chilly air. Normall it wasn’t cold on the rock but I remember it as cold that day.

We drank some cold vending machine beer, you could buy most anything from one of those back in the day.

Somewhere down the road Freebird was pumping out of a bar.

If half the stories he told were true, he had the saddest youth of anyone I have ever met.

I sometimes think that is what drove him to an early grave.

Where ever you are Fag I hope you found peace.

Thanksgiving – Tiny Story

(November – Novel Month Tiny Story)

We momentarily froze as we entered the chall hall, power outage? This pause was only a microsecond long, we just resumed our conversation.

Walking through the line we received our chow, potatoes and turkey. This was nothing special, heck even our MREs had turkey. I always assumed it was a cheap meat they could serve the masses.

Sitting at the table we stopped midchew, what was up with all the candles and decorations? While the dim lights made the whole place look nicer, the state of everything was odd.

I can’t say how long it took but it dawned on us, it was Thanksgiving.

It still shocks me today, how the heck did a massive holiday come upon us so fast without any knowledge of it?

I tried to describe this to some kids the other day, a day in the life of someone serving gives up much. Missed holidays and many of us suffer from for a lifetime from injuries and damage to our bodies.

Most would do it all over again.

(this was poorly written in one shot – better to have a crappy story out then a fantastic on stuck inside your head.)