Archive for December 13th, 2010

First, I present, The Crows and Pawns of Expansion, created in 2008.   Those who remember the Carrollton Club may immediately see a familiar image jump from the background.   I found the sign in 2007 after it was cracked in half and laying on the sidewalk.  Seeing that it was beyond repair, I decided to give it new life through art.  The work is oil and acrylic on the found sign.

Second, I present a piece I created for the Holga Polka exhibition at the Regional Arts Commission in January 2009.  The piece titled, In the Light, is oil on canvas painted from an accidential image found on a roll of Holga film.  Holga cameras are plastic toy cameras which often distort the image and if not rolled correctly within the case will sometimes overlap images on the film.  In the image for this painting, two separate images of a house on Chartley are imposed in the middle.   A fun experiment for a painter.  If you are interested in learning more about the Holga camera, I recommend my friend Mark Fisher’s webpage.  See my list of links.

If you are interested in seeing more of my paintings which have layers of planes infused into the primary imagry, feel free to look around my flickr page.

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A witty and wonderful remberence from Dan:

Thank you for the effort you are putting into this site. I am sure it is consuming much more time than you had initially thought or want to put into it at this point. I’ts probably like a funeral that seems to never end. Just when you think visitation is finally over, another dear or distant friend walks through the door and sits next to you and begins to recall their memories of the departed and you learn something you never knew or affirm something in question.

Now it is my turn to come through the door. You can’t leave just yet. I used to live on the corner at 14819 Pont Drive where it joined Selwyn. The house on the other corner was on Selwyn proper. I lived there from 7th through 10th grades and went to Holman and old Pattonville High in St. Ann. That was 1960-1964. It was a great place to live back then.

I will probably die from melanoma contracted by the persistent annual sunburns at the pool. It’s where we were from open to close almost every summer day and our parents didn’t worry about our safety there or walking to or from. When I wasn’t there, I would be at the Ben Franklin or the drugstore at the shopping center. Sometimes, I told my parents I was going there and went to the Carrollton Lanes to play pinball and eat at the snackbar. It was definitely not parent approved. If melanoma doesn’t get me, it will be the second-hand smoke from that bowling alley that eventually does me in.

When it was really hot or rainy, we would sneak into the model sales homes. (more…)

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I had the opportunity to travel through Carrollton on Thanksgiving weekend.   Not much has changed to my favorite valley of crackling strips of concrete and grassy hills dotted with once-ornamental trees.   The Carrollton Center Swimming complex, with its graffiti and trash-strewn algae pools and condemnable building still exists for reasons unknown.  No other building except the subdivision’s namesake exists.   Nature is easily pushing through worn out patches in the avenues and lanes, created through years of Bridgeton’s understandably haphazard repair.  Why permanently fix those roads when, in an indeterminate date in the future, those roads would be empty?  Brumley Drive already resembles Chartley Lane; one of the first streets to go and sealed off for decades.

Yet, the grass is still being maintained and mowed in a considerable fashion, streetlights, if standing and survived being shot at randomly still illuminate, and some roads for public travel are being maintained.   I photographed a curb repair job which, though well done, is rather confusing that it was done at all.  The road which the curb rounds towards is gated off and I can’t imagine a scenario in Carrollton where so much traffic flowing in opposite directions make having a broken curb problematic.   Alas, see the photo.

A few more observations.  First, I fly out of Lambert frequently, especially in recent days.   The use of the Runway 11-29 (the W-1W expansion runway’s official name) is still extremely limited.  Rare as it is, I did have the opportunity to land on the new runway a few days ago and saw from the low descent all the places I have trounced over recent years.   Through the passing dormant trees, I saw thick brown veins running through jagged concrete streets in the places where I have been forever banned from visiting again on foot.   Fellow travelers watching out their little oval windows gasped and commented on their thoughts of the desolate land below.  I caught one audible quip, “So this is St. Louis, the most dangerous city in America.  Sure looks like it!”    From an outsider’s perspective it would be difficult to imagine just how normal of a community once existed in this aerial tour of  post-apocalypse damage.

Another quip, “Why would someone ever build homes so close to an airport?”

That is a question I wanted to ask of Fischer & Frichtel, the builders of Carrollton in the 1960s.

I went into the F&F headquarters in May of this year, on a whim to find out if I could get some background information on Carrollton.  The secretary was extremely pleasant and did her best to contact anyone whom I may interview.    The company has been passed down in the family as the father had passed on.   The son now outsources much of his architectural needs on current projects and much of the Carrollton/Bridgeton home designs have been transferred to the City of Bridgeton for their historical archives.   Many of the original architects have passed on.

It may be time for me to visit City Hall once again.   If I am lucky, I will get to see the mid-century architectural plans for myself.   If I am extremely lucky, I may get to interview Conrad Bowers, the decades-long Bridgeton mayor and loud antagonist to the Lambert Runway Expansion plans.    I am admittedly nervous about interviewing people.   Yet my desire for answers to so many questions about the history of a place being slowly erased in my youth just might outweigh my interviewing inexperience.

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I have so many rich stories about Carrollton saved throughout the comments section of the blog as well as  received through email.   From time to time, I will share or re-post these tales of the good life while we wait and see what happens to the land.

From Marsha:

My brother was visiting this Thanksgiving and we started talking about Carrollton. He asked me if I ever drove through there and I told him not recently because it makes me profoundly sad. My parents, Bill and Doris Davis had a home built at 4106 Celburne Lane and we moved in in 1959. We were there before 270 was built and behind our house was rolling hills where rabbits and many other wildlife lived. There was no Carrollton Elelmentary when we moved there. We rode the bus over to Pattonville Elementary where I attended the 2nd grade and part of the 3rd while Carrollton Elementary was being built. While in 3rd grade they were completing the second phase of the school. I lived one house away from the Community Center and Carrollton Club and the swimming pool. It was a great place to grow up for a kid. We built forts and sledded down the hill there. In the summertime we always were in the pool the day it opened and the day it closed. Often we went swmming twice a day. I spent countless hours on the ballfields there choosing sides and playing games with the other neighbor kids. There was alway someone to play with and something to do. I took tap lessons in the basement of the Carrollton Club. Went to Cardinal games with the counselors at the Community Center. It was the best place in the world for a kid to grow up. Although we moved to St. Peters in 1967, I will forever cherish the memories of my childhood growing up in Carrolton and Bridgeton. I always felt safe. Parents didn’t worry about our safety. It hustled and bustled with families and life. That is why I have such a hard time returning there. It is so quiet. No signs of the lives that grew and flouished there except for the trees that are left standing. Thanks to Mrs. Caswell, Mrs. Mayfield and Mr. Mayfield for being such wonderful teachers. I am so greatful for our wonderful neighbors, Randy, Rhonda, Rene and Rodney Shockley and their parents, Glenn and Virginia. The Wagners and the Koellers and Sloans and Hambys. The Williams who lived up the street whos daughter Wendy was an olympic diver. Chic was an icon at the Carrollton Pool. Coach Ink who ran the pool for as long as I remember. What a time. What a place. Thank you for documenting this special place and it’s careless demise. Marsha

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