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Places Visited:

Illinois: St. Louis, Goody-Goody, Forrest Park, The Jewel Box, Collinsville, Cahokia Mounds

2003 Travelogue# 13 Grafton, IL

Mileage: 41052, Traveled: 0 miles
Pere Marquette State Park, Route 100, Grafton, IL 62037 618-786-3323
Electric Hookup, 50-amps, no water/ sewer, gravel pads, $11

Monday, September 29, 2003

It's the start of a new week and new adventures. We are going to St. Louis today to see Forest Park, the Jewel Box and the "Goody Goody Diner" for lunch. This breakfast/luncheon restaurant has been an institution since 1948.

While working our way into the heart of St. Louis Peggy said, "I wonder if we can find the house we lived in when I was born?" This became the main quest of the day. It was Roots all over again but… only after lunch.

We found the restaurant in exactly the same location as its debut in 1931, as the first walk-up "A&W" root beer stand in St. Louis. During the 40's, "Drive Ins" became the "hang outs" of choice; carhops shuffled food, and curb service transformed how Americans ate. In 1948, this little "A&W" root beer stand became a bustling "Drive In", serving hungry folks breakfast, lunch, and dinner, 7 days a week on "window trays" and Cecil Thompson started making history with the "Goody Goody Drive In". In 1954, Herb and Viola Connelly picked up the mantra and, with carhops moving the trays to all the "cruisers", Goody Goody became the place of choice. In the late 60's, Richard Connelly purchased the Diner from his parents and made a recommitment to the Diner and the community.

It was our good fortune to meet Richard at his Diner. He came to our booth, pulled up a chair, ordered a frosty root beer and told us his history. Richard, Peggy, and I are of the same vintage and he seemed as interested in our lifestyle as we were in his. The restaurant's specialties, since 1948, have been hamburgers, Chili Mac (spaghetti covered with chili and shredded Cheddar cheese) and Breakfast Plates (served until they close at 2 pm). We enjoyed the wonderful cold, frosty root beers, Chili Mac Burgers, and French fries, while visiting with this delightful man.

Before leaving, we took several pictures in front of Goody Goody with Richard and he clarified the mystery of some missing landmarks, in our search for Peggy's home. We knew we were close, but with some of the structures torn down, we were not sure. Due to Richard's help, we left the Diner and drove straight to the little 2-bedroom bungalow on one-block-long York Court, in huge St. Louis, where little Margaret Ann Bednar entered this world. Had a couple of "Kodak moments" and were on our way.

Richard also recommended we drive through a stately residential area of the City, not too far from our Forest Park destination. Following his directions, we found Portland & Westmoreland Place. These two premier private streets were established in 1888 and, of the original 89 houses built, 77 still exist. Most of the homes sit on one to two acres of land, all are brick, marble, or granite; two to three stories high with basements, and garage and servant quarters that are two stories…huge! Each home was different, and as we drove down the wide boulevard, with enormous old trees forming a canopy, we marveled at the opulence and grandeur of these structures.

These two streets were placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1971 and quoting from the plaque," …on the 100th Anniversary…these houses proudly stand as a tribute to the owners and to the inspired architects and skilled artisans who created them".

On to the Jewel Box, a floral conservatory in St. Louis's Forest Park, and one of Peggy's most favorite beautiful memories as a child.

The original plans for the greenhouse were developed in 1870, but it wasn't until 1916 that the Park's head gardener turned a section of the greenhouses into a floral display, which changed monthly. The Conservatory was given the name of Jewel Box because visitors had commented that the floral patterns arranged in the glass green house resembled a jewel box. In 1936, with a Federal grant and money from the City, the Conservatory was redesigned into an Art-Deco structure with the capability of admitting the greatest amount of light while reducing the possibility of hail damage. The new design looked even more like a giant jewel box, with walls of glass edged by horizontal metal surfaces, and filled with numerous varieties of tropical plants. Today, when looking at the structure from a distance, it is easy to see why it is called The Jewel Box, the Pride of Forrest Park.

Upon entering the grounds, a stone path leads past rectangular pools with small fountains and varieties of water lilies, to the Jewel Box with its Art-Deco front doors and four levels of stair-step glass walls. Entering the display area the eyes travel up 50 ft to the glass ceiling then down the long 144 ft by 55 ft wide display area to giant hanging baskets (at least 5 ft. in diameter) with crimson and pink bougainvilleas. There is a large but very shallow fountain- pool in the middle with chairs scattered around the edge amidst tropical plants. We sat to soak up the beauty, watching the mirrored reflection of the flowers, plants, and even the clouds through the glass roof…all this for a $1 entrance fee.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Today was a misty, cold day; a good time for catching up on a few things. We both needed to reshuffle our closets; pack away summers clothes and restock with warmer ware. Then, we drove to a Laundromat in Jerseyville, made a pass through "Wally World" and were soon back to the MH for a relaxing afternoon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

"You are looking through an opening to the past" was the quote on several exhibit boards as we visited the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site today. The City of the Sun was the center of Mississippian Indian culture for 300 years between 900 A.D. and 1200 A.D. While London was a small village, Cahokia was a city of over 20,000 and considered to be the most sophisticated prehistoric Indian civilization north of Mexico. This Site is a 2200- acre tract that archaeologists think was inhabited between 700 A.D. and 1400 A.D. and at its peak from 1100 A. D. to 1200 A.D. The city covered over 6 square miles. In today's world, Cahokia is located east of St. Louis near the town of Collinsville, IL.

At one time, there were over 120 mounds but today only 109 have been documented and 69 are in this Historic Site. Upon entering the Park, we saw a large expanse of green grass, scattered trees and several Indian mounds with a gigantic mound, called Monks Mound, at the northern end. It is the largest Indian mound north of Mexico. The base covers 14 acres, it rises in four terraces to a height of over a 100 feet. It reminds me of the Aztec mounds seen in Mexico. At the summit was a building 105 feet long, 48 feet wide, and about 50 feet high, where the Ruler lived, conducted ceremonies, and governed the city.

This was the largest earthen structure in the prehistoric New World. Mind you, these people didn't have modern earth-moving equipment. It is estimated that in took over 100 years to build Monks Mound with the Indians carrying woven baskets, climbing up ladders, and dumping dirt. This was just one mound and it is believed they built more, based upon the depressions left, called borrows pits, which can still be seen. It has been estimated that the Indians, for mound construction, moved 50 million cubic feet of earth.

Their Interpretive Center is the best we have ever seen. The entrance is through giant bronze doors weighing over 800 lbs, depicting ravens in flight over Monk's Mound. We walked into a large semi-circle foyer with floor to ceiling plate glass windows opening outward to view the mounds. They have a theatre showing the film, The City of the Sun; which gave a quick overview of the period and the archaeological activity. At the end of the film, the screen raised to view a life-size diorama of Cahokia as it was around the year A.D. 1200. Reflective mirrors added depth throughout the village. Walking around the diorama, we were intrigued with the models, because they were so life-like. We asked a docent and he said," that actual Indians posed for the latex faces, and that one came back a few months ago to see himself". The inside of their homes were extensively detailed even showing social structure i.e., the grandmother taking care of an infant and in another scene, a coon getting into the raised food shelter. These were not individual picture windows of figures; but a small segment of the village viewed in the round.

The Center had many other exhibits, and beautiful murals on the walls. Wandering throughout the Center viewing the artifacts, we realized this was a very sophisticated culture for its time, even to the point of developing a calendar similar to Stonehenge. They had a circular sun calendar consisting of large, evenly spaced log posts. The circles of poles were aligned with a center pole making it possible to track the sun against the horizon and the seasonal changes. Archaeologists have called it Woodhenge because of its function similar to Stonehenge in England.

To walk the grounds of this scared place was mystical. The experience was like they said, "…looking through an opening to the past".

Thursday, October 03, 2003

Today we just hung around the motor home, did a few chores, walked in the Park, and visited with neighbors. Needed a rest from being tourist, will have to crank it up again tomorrow. <g>

Bob & Peggy Woodall


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