Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Towns: 7.11.18

the hill | You could call it ‘the square beyond compare.’* Piazza Imo, an Italian inspired plaza to be installed in front of St. Ambrose Church on The Hill, will be approximately 11,000 square feet when completed this fall. Thanks to a major donation by Marge and Ed Imo of Imo’s Pizza, the planning committee sought and received a 501(c)(3) designation, which allowed them to purchase two vacant lots directly across from St. Ambrose. Some planned features include: a marble fountain and granite walkways imported from Italy; ornamental gates; and gathering places and spaces, including granite benches, an Italian-inspired grotto, several prayer gardens, and landscaping in and around the piazza. Along with the zoo and the Arch, hometowners typically take visitors up to the The Hill for lunch or dinner (there’s Chris’ Pancake & Dining for breakfast, too), arguably home to the best Italian food in the Midwest give or take a family establishment here and there around the metro. Here’s a little more local Italian patois for anyone who’s just passing through The Lou: *A favored pizza here is Imo’s, famously topped with provel cheese and cut into bite-sized squares, thus the trademarked catch phrase above. (Metro folks scoff at deep-dish Chicago pies as a poor facsimile for ‘pizza.’) Anyhow, anyone whose Italian is limited to proper nouns like Imo’s, Kim Tucci’s Pasta House, Favazza’s or Cunetto’s might not suss out that ‘piazza’ translates into ‘square.’ So, let’s eat … and by fall, please take a seat ‘for granite.’

u. city
Through a journalism project at U. City High School, seniors connected with seniors to chronicle the lives of older adults. The inter-generational collaboration resulted in ‘Engage at Every Age,’ a display of the resulting biographical stories and photos at U. City Public Library in May. As part of the process, the students interviewed senior citizens and conducted school tours. Following the library event, a participating professor posted the story a student wrote about him on his Facebook page, and he received more than 100 comments. We surmise that senior citizens don’t count ‘likes’ as much as students would. Further, we posit that they don’t follow social media on their cellphones. These devices are chiefly for conversations … you know, making and receiving calls. Texting? Fuhgeddaboudit.

The Fountain on Locust, self-proclaimed as the ‘Most Photographed Restaurant in St. Louis,’ is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a contest that could win you an ice cream martini party for 10. To me, that’s about as tempting as a pineapple-pumpkin chocolate stout from one of the innumerable craft breweries in the metro. But then, I’m a vanilla kind of guy. Say you have a mouthwatering or jaw-dropping ice cream story? Are there pictures to prove it? We see plenty of ice cream drama play out on the Interwebs: There’s a whole passel of videos of dogs eating ice cream, from snatching the scoop off of a baby’s cone to slobbering it all over themselves. If your story is selected, it will be featured online and on the menu, and you’ll get a free ice cream martini or ice cream sundae. Plus, you’ll be entered into a drawing for the ice cream martini party. (Entry deadline: Sept. 30.) The Fountain, between Grand and Jefferson in Midtown at 3037 Locust St., is stunning inside, with Art Deco-inspired wall art and fixtures. Built in 1916, the building was once a Stutz dealership. And you don’t have to be tipsy to enjoy the ambience. Take it from me: It’s a charming place to take a date after a concert at The Fabulous Fox by a band she’d never heard of—and loathed enough to make us leave early.

st. louis county
Today there are only as many municipalities in the county as there are keys on a piano … 88. Only, you exclaim?! If your eyebrows just popped straight up to the middle of your forehead because that number still seems astronomical … where’d they find the room? … it’s actually 10 fewer than there were in 1959. MacKenzie Village, all 12 acres and some 134 souls, has dissolved; the paperwork to make it official was supposed to have been completed by June 25. We’ll give you a moment to shed a tear and sniffle a little. The village has been absorbed into the unincorporated county at large. Near the erstwhile village but not within it, MacKenzie Pointe Plaza on Watson Road honors its memory, or something like that. Not to worry, village lovers. Just a little farther west on Watson is the Village of Marlborough. Now, if you still think the county has just too dang many local government entities, it’s nothing compared to our sworn enemies to the northeast. That dastardly major-league baseball team that must not be called by name plays in Cook County, Illinois, home to Chicago … and 134 other municipalities. I’m sure that up there, as well as down here, some municipalities are just plain grifters. But to our credit, we’ve had fewer incarcerated governors in the Show-Me State. Anybody get pulled over in North County on I-170 along the 50 yards in Charlack? Maybe it’s more like 55 yards, but if you blink, you miss it. There used to be such a place in South County called St. George, which I actually visited once and left without a speeding ticket. Not surprisingly, there are two other saints in the county (not to be confused with the city itself and its own intricate network of neighborhoods): St. Ann and St. John. The municipality with the largest population is Chesterfield, with nearly 47,000 residents. Wildwood has the largest area: 66 square miles. The smallest settlement is in North County, with 12 residents and three-tenths of a square mile in area. Its name? Champ.

notable neighbor: lake st. louis
When she was 22, Mairead ‘Ivy’ Iverson gave her dad a gift that’s kept on giving … for more than 14 years: a healthy kidney. The living kidney donor and her dad, Don Iverson, 61, have a special bond to celebrate every Father’s Day, every other holiday, and just any plain old ordinary day. Don’s polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic condition typically passed from parent to child, ultimately would have led to kidney failure caused by uncontrollable cyst growth. He would have had to go on dialysis were it not for the pre-emptive transplant, which is the best path to long-term health, if possible, Ivy says. (She’s become quite an expert herself, which we’ll get to in a minute.) Ivy doesn’t have PKD, and neither do her two kids: son Nolan, 11, and daughter Rogue, 5. “Hopefully they’ll consider becoming donors later in life,” says Ivy, now 36. One way or the other, each and every member of the Iverson clan has to cope with PKD. “We’re either donors or recipients,” Ivy says. “My grandfather died on dialysis. One of my aunts has had two living-donor transplants but was on dialysis for a time between the two.” Neither Ivy nor her two siblings inherited PKD, despite the 50 percent chance of a parent passing it on. But who knows how many others in the family will? It’s been luck of the draw. Ivy never will forget how overwhelmed she was to see her dad not too long after he got her kidney: Don was absolutely aglow. The dramatic improvement in his health stoked her passion about the donor and transplant process. And she went all in: Today, she’s an RN and the abdominal transplant coordinator at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Her husband, Ryan, who works in the radiology department at St. Luke’s Hospital, is just as invested in the future as his bride. After all, one or both of his children may one day have to make the decision to become a donor. Ivy says it’s a dream job to share her experience, strength and hope with anyone affected by PKD. She’s a volunteer and speaks at local PKD Foundation chapter meetings to promote better awareness and understanding of the disease. Meanwhile, on April 24, the FDA approved Jynarque (jin-AR-kew), aka tolvaptan, as the first U.S. treatment for adult patients with rapidly progressing autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Although the drug is not a cure, strides toward better controlling PKD are being made. The drug and others to come may make a difference for future generations of Iversons. Ivy, for her part, is very happy things turned out the way they have. “I’m so thankful and especially blessed that my kids have a grandfather in their lives.”