Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Towns: 6.1.22

the metro | With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good. That is, unless it’s one of the J.M. Smucker Co.’s most popular products: Jif peanut butter. If you can’t find the popular brand of creamy or crunchy foodstuff at your grocery, it’s because the company has recalled millions of containers that are potentially tainted by Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. There are roughly four dozen varieties in the Jif recall. Consumers who have questions or need to report adverse reactions should visit jif.com/contact-us or call 800.828.9980 during business hours. The peanut-butter shortage is a minor inconvenience compared to the critical shortage of baby formula. Contamination at an Abbott Labs plant in Michigan led to a recall of Similac formula, which has created a host of problems beyond supply-chain issues. The FDA says the idled plant may soon resume operation. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act requiring manufacturers to produce formula on an emergency basis, and cargo planes have begun shipments from overseas. And now, a misinformation alert from the Associated Press: Rumor—Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates created the shortage by investing in a company that makes artificial breast milk. Fact—The investment by Gates’ firm, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, has nothing to do with any baby formula shortage.

downtown
They’ll show you the money … lots and lots of it. But they aren’t crooks, and nobody’s trying to drag off an ATM; there’s nothing at all untoward going on down here. The curious will see plenty of cash at the Economy Museum in the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank downtown; the museum reopened recently after closing due the pandemic in March 2020. Visitors also will be able to fondle—OK, handle—an actual gold bar. It’s firmly attached and isn’t going anywhere. The StL is renowned for its free museums, but this one is special: Rather than paying to get in, you leave with a bag full of cash. A small bag, indeed, with an indeterminate amount of the coveted green paper, which is shredded. And it isn’t even paper. That would fall apart from handling much sooner than expected. Our bills are made of cotton and linen, which take six years or so to deteriorate. After that, your cash ain’t nothin’ but trash, to quote a 1973 song by the Steve Miller Band. That’s one of the major purposes of the Fed: All 12 branches are tasked with destroying our money once it’s lived up to expectations. The shredded bills that aren’t packaged as souvenirs or used in museum displays will be composted eventually. It’s like Humpty Dumpty: Not even a whiz kid who can solve a Rubik’s cube puzzle, blindfolded and behind their back, could ever put George, Thomas, Abe, Alexander, Andrew, Ulysses or Benjamin back together again. (Thomas? Jefferson is on the $2 bill.) Then there’s all this blah blah blah about economics, a full understanding of which would go a long way toward explaining the global financial mess we’re in. But most of what many of us would have any interest in at the Economy Museum is touching, smelling and learning about money. It may not grow on trees, but it does on plants. Sort of. Anyway, you can visit Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Broadway and Locust. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination status required.

rock hill
Bandana’s is what some may call comfort food. The barbecue restaurant’s location at Manchester and Rock Hill Road—the well-heeled from the fine suburbs to the north might call the north-to-south artery McKnight Road—was my go-to when the kids were younger. My daughter Livvy loved it. She’d order a potato stuffed with pulled pork and who knows what else, eat three bites, then take the rest home to languish in the fridge for a few months until she opened the door, discovered it, said “ewww” and discarded the noxious mess. Anyhow, Bandana’s was one of my gustatory destinations for nearly 15 years. It made it through the pandemic just fine, but then the local store converted to an eatery without wait staff (you ordered at the bar), and… *mic drop*… it closed. Fortunately for junk-food junkies, there’s easy, greasy food to be found most anywhere. Whenever I had Livvy for a few days, we’d drive through the neighborhood Jack in the Box so she could load up on cholesterol before I dropped her off at school. (I was a ‘fun’ dad. Responsible? Don’t ask her mother.) Now, as a fan of Waffle House, Livvy would have loved Courtesy Diner, too, but it wasn’t in our ZIP code. Hate to break it to greasy-spoon lovers in our coverage area who may have stopped there at 2 a.m. on their way home from an urban night out, but the Kingshighway location is ‘temporarily’ closed because, apparently, you just can’t get good help anymore. “Happy Days” are over: Courtesy has, or had, a drive-in feature. Don’t know whether servers wore roller skates to go back and forth from the cars parked under the awnings. Well, there’s always Sonic. Don’t tell me the one on Manchester a click or two due east of Rock Hill is closed. Whaaat?!? Truffles? Ruth’s Chris? Fleming’s? Hmm… probably need reservations. But we don’t want to sit down or anything. We’re. Hungry. Now.

notable neighbors
town and country
Kristin and Stuart Montaldo adopted their daughter when she was 4 months old from Mykolayiv, Ukraine, a decade after the former Soviet state had become its own country following the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. Doctors thought that Anna Montaldo, who has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, would never be able to talk. Now 21, she communicates verbally but is an absolute whiz at texting. And all forms of social media are her stock-in-trade, if you will. In fact, she recorded our interview with her smartphone on a tripod, edited it and loaded it to her YouTube channel seemingly before I’d even pulled away from the Montaldo home in Town and Country. Her domain is a spacious area in the back, set up as her apartment and office. A 2020 graduate of Parkway Central, thanks to the pandemic the first year in perhaps forever that graduation ceremonies weren’t a sure thing, she was anything but disappointed. “I was very glad we didn’t have a graduation ceremony,” says Montaldo, who uses a special walker to help her get around. She made the most of high school, despite so many of her classmates having no idea how to approach or communicate with her. “They have preconceived notions,” she points out. She got along better with the boys than the girls, perhaps for two reasons. One: she has two older brothers, Max and Mitch, both thirtyish, with whom she takes great pleasure in hanging out. Two: mean girls. It’s a thing—they even made a movie about it. Many people conflate physical disability and a speech impediment with an intellectual deficit. Um, no. Upon realizing the powers-that-be at school weren’t exactly sure what to do with her, Montaldo started working with her guidance counselor on a special curriculum. Well, she developed it pretty much on her own, starting as a sophomore, with the vision of creating a unique brand. She took courses in marketing, branding, photography and visual design. Her brand, which marks its fifth anniversary June 4, is The CP Life. (On the web: gocplife.com.) Did we mention that this woman is a whiz on social media? Her growing presence is well represented on Instagram and Facebook, and Montaldo has, at this writing, 969 subscribers to her YouTube channel. Greater disability awareness is the goal; it’s not so much a matter of confronting obstacles as it is overcoming misperceptions, eliminating discrimination and finding others, when need be, to help with the challenges that particular disabilities present. Well, Montaldo isn’t nearly so wordy: “The Mission of CP Life is to use social media platforms in a positive way to help break down common disability stereotypes for all people.” That’s on the lower half of the home page, where you’ll also find links to the YouTube, Facebook and Instagram profiles for The CP Life. On the top half of the page, you can get a feel for the enthusiasm Montaldo has for her enterprise: “Paving the way to a more inclusive world for all!”

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