Elliot Visits St. Louis

Kid Adam took his oldest son, Graham, on a business trip to Washington, D.C., recently. He thought he owed middle son Elliot a trip, so they hopped on a jet for a weekend in St. Louis. Graham, is 7; Elliot is 5, and Kid 3, Finn, is 3.

Being a born and bred Florida boy, he wasn’t quite sure if he liked cold Missouri weather. (You can click on the photos to make them larger. Once clicked, you can use your arrow keys to step through them)

First stop: City Museum

I don’t have many photos from the City Museum because Elliot could go through places the fire department would have to cut me out of. Even his skinny dad contorted his body into shapes I didn’t think possible.

There’s a saying that there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots. I was perfectly content to let Elliot be bold while I played old.

When we got to the gift shop, I told him to pick something out. He found a stack of shiny stones that WERE quite attractive. When he went to check out, the cashier said, “Four dollars.” She must have seen my face, because she quickly said that the four bucks would buy a tiny pouch that he could fill with as many stones as would fit.

He managed to cram four stones in it, and he played with it the whole time he was in town. Money well spent. His Uncle Mark (actually, I guess he’s his GREAT-uncle) kept scheming to try to entice the rocks from him for some sundry good or service, but he resisted.

Earlier visits to City Museum

The rooftop was closed for the winter when Adam and Elliot were there, but I DID manage to convince Curator Jessica to ride the Ferris wheel in 2014. (Despite hearing her mutter, “You’re standing on a banana peel on the steps to eternity, but I’ve got a lot of life left, and I don’t intend to die on a Ferris wheel in St. Louis.”)

Son Matt and crew were the first Florida Steinhoff contingent to visit the museum. Malcolm, like Elliot, explored all there was to be explored.

Licking the Arch

Elliot was afraid his tongue would stick to the stainless steel arch since it was a cold day, so I told him that he only had to stick it out for the photo.

I’ve had various results convincing first-timers that it’s customary to lick the arch. See the results.

The scale of the Arch was lost on a 5-year-old who was getting cold and tired.

He thought the tram ride to the top was kind of interesting, but it didn’t take long before he said, “I’m bored.”

Pulitzer Arts Museum

Our first stop the second day was the Pulitzer Arts Museum. He and I weren’t all that impressed by the “art” that was displayed inside.

We liked “Joe” a lot better. Here’s the official description of it. It reminds me of why I often wish I was wearing high boots in art museums.

Commissioned by Emily Rauh Pulitzer as a permanent feature of the courtyard, Richard Serra’s Joe articulates a space that reframes perceptions of scale and movement through its subtle, shifting contours. As a counterpoint to Tadao Ando’s angular forms and immutable concrete, Joe conveys an evolving sense of the organic; the walls of the sculpture’s spiral path expand and contract, conveying you to its center—a vast expanse of sky, framed by a ribbon of weathering steel. Named in homage to the late Joseph Pulitzer Jr., who commissioned the artist’s first site-specific sculpture in 1970, Richard Serra’s Joe stands as a testament to the forces of life that influence and shape us.

At the top of the stairs in the museum was a phonographic turntable with some vinyl records. Elliot, a child of the digital age, was fascinated. He suggested that we chill and listen to some music.

Before long, he and his dad were dancing.

National Memorial Family Church of God in Christ

While we were driving around looking for a place to eat, we ran across the ruins of the National Memorial Family Church of God in Christ. The remaining walls of the church had been reinforced, so it was safe to walk in.

Elliot found a small piece of stone inside, and wanted to take it with him to remember the visit. I felt a strong generational bond. I have bricks from Athens, Cape, my grandfather’s liquor store in Advance, and a “convict brick” made by Ohio prisoners and used to build a school. We weren’t sure the TSA would be happy with it in his carry-on, so I mailed it to him later.

St. Louis Science Center

Uncle Mark, who lives in St. Louis, knows all the tricks, so we saved $10 by parking for free at the McDonnell Planetarium, which is connected to the Oakland Building by a walkable Skybridge over Interstate 64/Highway 40. The skybridge is neat because it has holes where you can look down on the traffic below. It also has radar guns and speed displays. In the days when radar detectors were more common in cars, it was fun to watch drivers lock down when their warnings lit up.

He got to check out dinosaurs and see how he’d fit in one of their footprints.

He got to feel wild winds, build a an arch out of foam blocks, and learn all about electricity.

One of the coolest things was a board where you placed elements to show the flow of electricity from the power plant to the substations to transformers to neighborhoods of houses.

He was playing with the blocks when a boy of 8 or 10 walked up and patiently explained the whole concept to him. They played for quite a while, learning how eliminating one house wouldn’t make the rest go dark, but losing a substation or a transformer could.

After the old boy wandered off, Elliot stuck around trying different sets of blocks. A little girl about his age showed up, and Elliot took on the role of tutor, passing on what the older boy had told him. Girls, apparently aren’t much interested in electricity, so she didn’t hang around long.

Finally, it was time to rehydrate  and head back to Uncle Mark’s house for another treat.

Lime-S Electric Scooter

It seemed like bright lime-green electric scooters were buzzing around all over town. Mark explained how they were rented, and Adam located an unused one about two blocks away.

You can learn how the concept works by going to the Lime website.

He scored it by putting some money in a smartphone app, then he and Elliot went cruising up and down Flora Place. Mark loaned him a helmet and tried to charge his nephew four rocks for it, but the transaction didn’t happen.

I only have the one shot showing him rating the ride two-thumbs-up because I concentrated on video.

Next up will be night shots of the Missouri Botanical Gardens Glow Garden.

Lillian Fiehler – 11/16/1929 – 11/2/2018

Lillian Fiehler 11-17-2010

Tiny Altenburg said goodbye to one of its best-known members on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. Lillian (Schilling) Fiehler was a long-time resident of the town of 352, a member of the Bucket Brigade, and one of The Last Generation to speak German as a primary language growing up.

I feel like I have to tell a little about Lillian’s town before I dive into her life. (You can click on the photos to make them larger, then use your arrow keys to step through them.)

When I showed up at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum on Nov. 17, 2010, with an armload of photos of Wittenberg, it never dawned on my how it would change the way I look at my pictures. The diminutive Lillian introduced me to museum director Carla Jordan, who handed me off  to Wilmar Degenhardt, who was astounded to find that I had taken aerial photos of the house he was born in.

Decorating Christmas trees

Lillian Fiehler working on Altenburg Museum Christmas Tree exhibit 11-17-2011

It wasn’t long before I found myself making regular 66-mile round trips to the museum where I would watch volunteers like Lillian working on things like the annual Christmas tree exhibit (which they are decorating right now, by the way).

Insular, but friendly

Mother, Jessica Cyders with MO folks 10-29-2013

The amazing thing about Altenburg, one of eight German-Saxon communities founded in the 1830s, was how it could be both insular and extraordinarily welcoming.,

One day when I complimented Wilmar on how well homes were maintained, and how the yards were well-kept, he leaned over conspiratorially and all but whispered, “Yeah, but the ENGLISH are coming.” That he shared that with me made me feel like I was accepted.

When I took Mother and Curator Jessica to the Mississippi Mud (now Grayson’s Bar & Grill), It wasn’t long before Lillian’s son, Gerard pulled up a chair. Soon chairs were scraping across the floor to be be occupied by Schmidts, Deganhardts and others with Deutch-sounding names.

You’ll never find yourself eating alone at Grayson’s.

Gerard and his dad

I’ve spent many hours sitting with Gerard at Tower Rock, watching logs drifting to New Orleans, and waiting for the whirlpool the natives called The Demon That Devours Travelers to spin up.

In 2014, I did a video of Gerard talking about his dad, Bob, who was drafted at age 19 to go fight in the Battle of the Bulge as a tank driver. It’s worth watching.

I worry a little about Gerard. At the end of the video, he says, “One of my sisters said that “You didn’t just lose your dad. You lost your best friend.” Many of the stories that his dad told him ended with the tagline, “Don’t tell your mom.” Now, unfortunately, he won’t have that option.

Lillian’s obituary

Lillian Fiehler 07-16-2013

Lillian Marie (Schilling) Fiehler, 88, of Altenburg, was taken home to be with the Lord, Friday, November 2, 2018.

    She was born November 16, 1929, in Altenburg, daughter of  Rudy and Clara (Loebs) Schilling.  She was baptized and confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church where she worshiped her entire life. 

    Lillian married Robert (Bob) Fiehler on June 18, 1950.  Their marriage was blessed with five children:  Gerard Fiehler, Altenburg; Susan Fiehler, St Louis; Carla (Kent) Grebing, Altenburg; Ellen (John) Linxwiler, St. Louis; and Timothy Fiehler, St Louis.  She is also survived by five grandchildren:  Jacob (Sarah) Fiehler, Alison (Brian) Funke, Barrett (Chrysta) Grebing, Nick (Sarah) Fiehler, and Ben Linxwiler.  Also, seven great-grandchildren; Jack, Faith, and Blythe Funke, Ella and Vivian Fiehler, Theo Grebing, and Aubrey Fiehler.

Lillian Fiehler 07-16-2013

       Survivors also include two brothers and two sisters, Myrtle Kuehnert, Melvin (Mary) Schilling, Lorene (Leonard) Haertling, and Harold (Deb) Schilling and one sister-in-law, Lois Kersten, and numerous other family and friends. 

    Lillian was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, brothers, Raymond Schilling, Leonard Schilling, and a grandson, Wade Fiehler

    Lillian spent many enjoyable years serving numerous families as part of the “East Perry County Bucket Brigade.”  Many of these families became part of her extended “family.”  She also enjoyed her many carpool friends.  

    Throughout Lillian’s life, she participated in a variety of church activities including singing in the Trinity Choir, LWML, and serving as a docent at the Lutheran Heritage Center

Lillian Fiehler 07-16-2013

    Lillian’s greatest passion in life was caring for her son, Tim, who has Down Syndrome.  She exercised great zeal for Tim to know the Lord and be active in church and the community.  The family is grateful for the care that Tim receives at the Emmaus Group Home. 

    Lillian will always be remembered for her beautiful yard, love of cooking, baking, sewing and hosting people in her home. 

    Lillian enjoyed living at Independence Care and her family will always be grateful for the care that she received in her years there as a resident. 

Holiday Crisis Averted

I walked up to the young man stocking the soda shelves and said, “Kid, the fate of the Fourth of July is on your shoulders.”

I don’t know if Walmart employees are issued a panic button to push if confronted with “odd” customers, but the look in his eye made me believe he wished he had such a device.

“Here’s the deal. It’s not the Fourth of July unless I can pour strawberry soda over vanilla ice cream. I’d hate to have to tell all those folks who are waiting for fireworks to go off that you’re responsible for it not happening.”

He and a second stocker scoured the aisles and came back with the sad news: the Jackson Walmart had no strawberry soda in any brand.

(By the way, you can click on the images if you want to make them big enough to see the bubbles.)

Schnucks Saved the Day

Hoping to salvage the holiday, I went to Schnucks.

They, fortunately, had at least four brands of red soda on the shelves.

Cue up the firework displays. (For the record, this was taken in Middleport, Ohio, in 2015, while escorted by Curator Jessica, who is still young enough to get excited about things like this.)

After it was over, she asked how I liked it.

My answer was to play Peggy Lee singing Is That All There Is? 

More Fourth of July posts

Castor River Shut-Ins

Wife Lila and Grandson Malcolm came up for a visit. When Malcolm was here last year, we went to Johnson’s Shut-Ins and Elephant Rocks. He liked them well enough he told us he wanted to do the same when he came back in 2018.

“I LOVE this place,” he commented. It’s good to see him infected with the Midwest. There may be hope for him.

Anyway, just as we were getting ready to pull out of the driveway, I saw Neighbor Bill across the street and told him where we were going. He asked, “Have you ever been to Castor River Shut-Ins.

I allowed as how I hadn’t, but since it was about half the distance to our original destination, we decided to check it out. (You can click on the photos to make them larger, by the way.)

Their new favorite place

My visitors said they liked it better than Johnson’s Shut-Ins. It has all the rock climbing of Elephant Rocks, with the water fun. I agree that all the pink granite is pretty, but Johnson’s has more cool water flumes to shoot down.

Traded bold for old

My bold days have been traded for old days, so I was conservative about where I stepped and climbed. Wife Lila was a bit more aggressive because she wanted to keep an eye on Malcolm so she could write the “Dear Matt and Sarah, Guess what we did to your kid” letter.

A gasp and a splash

It wasn’t long before Malcolm was playing mountain goat and heading up a near vertical wall.

I heard Lila gasp, followed by a splash. Showing that she really is a photographer at heart, she complained that there was a branch in the way that kept her from getting a good shot when he slipped and bounced on his backside into the river.

He sat in the cool water for a few minutes regrouping before frolicking some more. About the only thing injured was his pride.

Beautiful scenery

The place is pretty, offers plenty of room to spread out, and wasn’t overrun by people, even though it was a hot day.

Google says that the Castor River Shut-Ins are 45.7 miles (1 hour, 9 minutes) from Cape via MO-72. Johnson’s Shut-Ins are 88.6 miles (1 hour, 53 minutes), also on MO-72.

Earlier visits to Johnson’s Shut-Ins and Elephant Rocks

Road Warriorette Shari and Curator Jessica also made it to the parks in 2017, but they didn’t do anything outrageous enough to publish.