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  • Little Things Mean A Lot

    Posted on October 20th, 2009 Toby Weiss 3 comments
    Pass It Around

    al-clare-meadows-01

    Morgan Ford at Poepping Street
    South St. Louis City, MO

    Subdivision entrance monuments, like the one shown above,  are always interesting to observe.  They are often the first thing to go up when a new subdivision is developed, and the design and materials chosen either reflect the aesthetic of the subdivision or wind up at great odds with what resulted.  But mainly, entrance monuments are about place-marking, a means of declaring to passers-by (and in the early days of development, potential buyers) that “we are a proud and unique community.”

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    One morning at the end of July, I pass by the entrance to Al-Clare Meadows and see one of the signs down and scattered.  I’m assuming it was a car because of the extent of the destruction, and how suddenly it occurred:   Tuesday it was standing, Wednesday it was splattered in the neighbor’s yard.

    Based on current costs of masonry repair and labor, I naturally assumed this entry marker was eternal toast, that the pieces would be carted off, the homeowners lawn repaired, and Al-Clare would continue unperturbed with a lopsided entry.

    I made this assumption because of where it’s located and its age.  The small-to-modest size tract homes of Al-Clare Meadows (the name came from combining Alberta and Clarence Dalton, the subdivision developers) are a bit south of the River Des Peres, and a scootch away from the St. Louis City/County line.  So it’s in that nebulous part of town that’s not quite city, not quite county; not quite old, not quite new; not really distinct but certainly unoffensive.  Honestly, people tend to overlook this unassuming part of town unless they – or someone they know – live there.

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    It took a couple of months of waiting, but there it is, rebuilt!

    (SIDE BAR How odd that the pile of rubble remained undisturbed that entire time… I assumed outsiders would just help themselves to some masonry because that’s what tends to happen in some of the older city neighborhoods.  Hell, they even purposely yank down walls to get at it… but that’s another story, right?)

    When considering everything that had to transpire for that marker to be rebuilt (patience, funding, protection, masonry craft, etc.), my heart swelled with gratitude for this neighborhood’s pride of place that made it possible.  And I was embarrassed by my rash assumptions about the neighborhood and the fate of the sign because it was snobbism, plain and simple.  I am humbled by what I don’t know, and I’m thankful that – within the big picture – something so comparatively small really did matter to the people it represented.

    So every time City Hall pulls another WTF? out of their trick bag, I think about the resurrected Al-Clare entry monument, because it is things like this that truly reflect and represent what makes St. Louis City so special – the people and their love of place.

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    3 Responses to “Little Things Mean A Lot”

    1. Toby, I love your eye for the overlooked.

    2. But do you know who rebuilt it? Was it one person on the block who really cared a lot? Was it in fact a car that hit it? On one hand you make assumptions about what happened and what was going to happen and then once it’s rebuilt to make assumptions about how that happened. It is great that it was rebuilt, but there surely is more to the story. You should knock on the door of that house sometime and get more information.

    3. very interesting. i live in a neighborhood in north st louis co. we have to entrance and monuments on each side. about two years ago one of out was destroyed in a similar way. The rubble sat there for almost a year before it was removed… conveniently two days before the annual neighborhood association meeting the rubble was removed and the week after the meeting the monument began to be rebuilt. granted that it actually took an additional 6 months we finally got out monument back. it was reconstructed almost exactly was the original. the only exception the plaque that had the neighborhoods name was once a wood painted carving with two bugle horns. now the placard is just a metal one with the same lettering and bugles printed on it. not quite as attractive as the original.

      As far as our other monument at our other entrance its been the victim of vandalism over the recent months. a few of the the wrought iron letters have been stole and it got to the point where i guess someone realized it looked better with nothing that trying to play wheel of fortune. since then the bricks on the corner of the momentum have been coming up missing. I have seen a couple gentlemen the last few weekends working on it and have added a fresh coat of white paint. i keep meaning to stop and ask if she is a resident or hired, but every time i see him i am in a hurry somewhere. but, I assume that he is a resident given the times that he works on it.