Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The Mississippi River

The Eads Bridge spans the Mississippi River. It goes from downtown St. Louis in Missouri to East St. Louis, Illinois. When we were children, we knew that the bridge was very historic, and that its designer was a great engineer.

We drove across the bridge when we went to visit my father's Aunt Goldie and Uncle Sam. They lived above their dry-goods store in downtown East St. Louis, which was full of run-down houses and apartment buildings. Uncle Sam and Aunt Goldie's store sold all kinds of items: handkerchiefs, lockets, shirts, trousers, tablecloths, and many other kinds of things.

The first picture is an old postcard of the Eads Bridge looking back from East St. Louis at the city of St. Louis.

We took the second picture in 2002, from the top of the St. Louis Arch, a monument which was built long after we were children. The picture shows how the old downtown area of East St.Louis has been cleared and turned into a park -- but you can still see the river. The whole riverfront is now a park, and very different from the way it used to be.

As children we sometimes drove with our father down to the Mississippi waterfront in St.Louis, especially when the river flooded and came up higher and higher on the cobblestone banks. The waterfront sloped steeply down to the river from an old neighborhood of brick warehouses. I found this old picture that shows how the riverfront looked from the deck of the Admiral excursion boat:
You could drive or park on the sloping cobblestone surface, and get out to look around. You could look up at the railroad bridge and at the Eads Bridge. You could watch big barges going up or down the river with piles of stuff like coal or stones. You could see a few old boats, especially the excursion boat called The Admiral, which I will write about soon.

Also in the riverfont neighborhood was the Old Courthouse. We took the next picture -- showing the courthouse -- looking the other direction from the top of the arch.

The Old Courthouse was even more famous and older than the Eads Bridge. Once I heard a very famous man named Martin Luther King speak on the steps of this courthouse. He talked about a very bad time long ago, when people were sold as slaves on the steps of this courthouse, and celebrated that there had not been any people mistreated like that for a long time.

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