Winter in St. Louis
An update on our snowfall—and photos from around town
In my most recent post here on Story Cauldron, I described my love affair with snow and how I desperately hoped St. Louis would get a nice accumulation from an incoming snowstorm. In this one, I’ll share an update as well as some interesting sites around town and stories behind them.
But first… I just published a new piece on my companion Substack, Unseen St. Louis. It’s an article about Pruitt Igoe, why it was built, why it failed, and what's there now. If you’re not a subscriber, I’d love for you to take a look.
Well, I’m happy to say that we did indeed get all the snow I could have asked for. I never saw an official total for my area but based on my ruler measurement, I believe about 9 inches or so fell at my house!
On Tuesday we still had snow on the ground (it’s all melted now) and Opal and I went out exploring (she loves going in the car and doesn’t care if we seem to be driving around in circles, which sometimes we are!)
One of our stops was Forest Park, where we got out to view the ice at the fountains of the Grand Basin, a large pond/fountain at the base of Art Hill (the building in the back is the St. Louis Art Museum, and the hill is a favorite for sledders).
This specific location is also what I think of as “the scene of the crime,” a reference to something that happened to me many years ago.
Back when I was in grade school, my dad and I went to the park on a big snow day. The snow was deep and covered the ice of the Basin. As you may be able to tell, there are no walls or railings between the area I was standing and the water below. (Cue dramatic music…)
He was taking photos and I was a kid playing in the snow. I was happily going along, pushing snow off the wall, until… I wasn’t. I hadn’t realized that there was an edge and drop-off because the snow obscured it.
And so I went right off the edge, through the snow and ice, right into the freezing water below.
My dad did great. He didn’t panic (much), at least not as much as some fathers might when their kid falls into a frozen pond. He immediately reached down to pull me out. I was so surprised by what had happened that I couldn’t really process it, other than to note that the water wasn’t really that deep. When I saw him reach down, my first thought was that I didn’t want to get his camera wet, but he told me not to worry about that. And with a little effort, he was able to pull me out right away.
We got back to the car right away and he turned the heater on full blast, though as I recall, it didn’t seem necessary at the time—it took a few minutes for the cold to set in. Luckily my mom worked in the ER at Jewish Hospital, which was barely 5 minutes away (the hospital overlooked the park), so we headed straight there. When we got there I had to take off my wet clothes and put on a hospital gown, and they put me in an ER bay and wrapped me in blankets. Of course, they were hospital blankets and were lightweight cotton, and it took forever to get warm.
All in all, it was an exciting winter occurrence that oddly didn’t traumatize me at all. I have no desire to fall into an ice-covered pond ever again, but I still love winter!
In addition to Forest Park, I drove around north St. Louis, looking for a few details that had come up while I was researching my Pruitt-Igoe piece. On the journey, I drove past this old house that is literally crumbling:
When I looked it up on Google Street View, this is how it looked in 2019:
Needless to say, there’s been a lot of further deterioration over the past couple of years. I don’t know the history of this building or its owner, but it could be one of the many homes Paul McKee has purchased and allowed to literally fall apart (which, again, I addressed in the Pruitt-Igoe article). If I can find out more, I’ll be sure to share it over on Unseen St. Louis, so be sure to subscribe to that Substack for updates.
And finally, another photo of my favorite little bridge. Long-time readers of Story Cauldron may be familiar with my obsession with the Sulphur Ave. bridge. Here’s a shot in the winter, with water running in the River Des Peres (snow runoff).
Thanks as always for your support of Story Cauldron. I’ll be in touch again soon!