Rolling Down Memory Lane

Within a few days of each other, I ran into two different vehicles that overwhelmed my memory, creating a rush of intense appreciation for them. Which was a strange, new sensation, as vehicles of any kind usually mean nothing to me.

Almost cried when I was alongside this St. Louis County Public Library book mobile tooling down North Lindbergh. it’s been years since I’ve seen one, and decades since being inside one.

As a grade schooler, my Mother used the library as a free babysitter. She’d drop me off at least once a week and come back an hour later to pick me up. During that time, she shopped and ran errands in peace and productivity while I scoured the shelves and checked out stacks of books.

Once every 3 or 4 weeks, the Book Mobile would come to the apartment complex where we lived in Black Jack, MO. The Book Gods shined down upon me, as the Mobile parked directly in front of our building for 2 hours. This was the equivalent of a junkie getting a free hit or two; I could return and get more books autonomously! There were even a few times where I’d check out a book, run upstairs to the apartment to read it, and have it finished in time to run back down to the Mobile to return it and get another book to replace it.

Why am I shocked that there are still Book Mobiles? Why do they seem so old fashioned, all of a sudden? There’s an obvious old age joke to be made here, but is it more than that? Do they seem old fashioned to any of you?

Idling in a grocery store parking lot was this vintage Trailways bus.  My first thought upon spotting it was a record I checked out from the library filled with TV and radio bloopers. One of my favorites blunders was a live radio ad for Trailways, wherein the announcer jubilantly says, “This New Year’s Eve, take Trailways, and leave the drinking to us!”

Aren’t the lines of this thing gorgeous? Now I understand why they made metal toy versions of them, and why the grade school boys were always snapping over who got to play with it next. It just looks cool.

And in that parking lot, I saw 4 different men leave their cars to walk up to the bus and stare admiringly at it while chatting with the bus driver, who was just as jazzed as they were. It was like watching their inner 8-year olds peeking out for a minute or two, and it was a great thing to see.

An MCM Light Bulb Moment


5230 Hampton Avenue, South St. Louis City, MO

While yet again photographing the former Buder branch of the St. Louis Public Library, I had a literal “light bulb went off over my head” cartoon moment of realization.  All of the original pole light fixtures of this 1961 building (which still work, courtesy of the great up-keep from the Record Exchange), look like the ones that are now missing from…


…this 1959 church in Black Jack which I covered here, previously.  Checking my photo archives verified that, yes, it is the exact same light fixtures.  Vandals killed off the light poles in the church parking lot, so it’s a relief to have some representation of them still in existence.

I love how the same light fixture was used on two different ultra-modern mid-century buildings, and how diverse the two locations are.  One is South St. Louis City and the other is deep North St. Louis County.  And I wonder if the Buder Building architect (still unknown to me) may have seen the light poles at the Independent Congregational Church and did a direct copycat?  Or was this just a popular lighting choice for MCM architects during this 3-year period, thanks to the hustle of some lighting vendor?

Cycling & Religion

At the southern-most start of the Riverfront bike trail stand these majestic piles of…what? Not sand…the white pile looks like finely ground rock. But the blue pile? I just don’t yet know what they are. Anyway, the sheer height and weight of the white mountain against a gorgeous azure and fluffy white sky was a spiritual moment, and reminded me of this:

Church roof at Old Halls Ferry & Redman Road
Black Jack, MO
The church has changed names and denominations many times over the years, so forgive me for not keeping track of proper names. This roof is a North County landmark, especially at Christmas time, when spotlights alternate green and red across the spires. To those of us who grew up in North County, we took this futuristic sight for granted. It was simply a natural part of the topography, much like the big white pile on the bike trail. Biking and religion made a connection in my heart, now a convert.

In that vein, the Urban Review has a fine series of what I call “The Bike Rack Rants.” I’ve assembled the results; it’s an entertaining must-read for urban bikers.