St. Louis has a rich history. I can feel it, I'm trying to be in tune with it. The strings are loose, but the tension is starting to tighten up and converge with notes. Eventually chords. I'm connecting with it, it's becoming a song. I'm trying to be part of it. Rich history. Rich like good chocolate that she brings home from expensive places, rich like Midwestern glaciated soil deposits. Black from native minerals and decomposed organic materials. Black from coal smoke and soot. Black from factories. Black from making steel and tires and brake pads and belts that spun wheels for every reason under the industrialized sun. Dirty, black and rich. Not always clean, not always proud, but history nonetheless. It's all around you.
You don't have to dig too far to discover the back story or previous use of the land you live on, or the neighborhood you call home. You just need to polish the surface to see what they used to do. How they lived. And if you scratch a little...dig a little, things become unearthed. Sometimes a history that's not well recorded becomes a mystery. An intriguing find. Sometimes it takes the naivety of a kid to find stuff in places we don't normally look.
The park in front of my house looks innocent enough. A bike trail, trees some native, some not. But oh, to be a kid. To find a hand spade hanging on the peg board and become curious. You dig with that, dad? How far could
dig with that. I want that spade. I will dig with that today. I will dig and find stuff. I will dig as long as they'll let me. I'll dig 'til it gets dark.
And when the weather breaks and the sun warms, so does the curiosity. The soil in March is moist and arable. These are digging days.
I will make an unconfirmed statement that the park in front of my house was once a landfill or was mined for coal and clay and filled with dirty spent soil from the turn of the 19th century. I don't know.
But, I have evidence. The kids keep bringing this proof to me, like a tom cat with a fresh kill. They bring it to me and wonder. They collect it, they admire it. They think about it.
Depression glass? Snuff can? Tonic jar? Pestle? Tea cup? All this stuff makes it's way past the threshold.
Here's today find:
We discover our history in many ways. Sometimes it takes the innocence and desire of a kid to just dig a little to bring the past up to the surface. Ask and inquire. Don't hesitate to do some digging in this city, you'll find some mysterious stuff and start new conversations.