central west end
When does the Missouri History Museum not only look fabulous, but sound fabulous? During the Twilight Tuesdays concert series on the north lawn, of course. Speaking of history, you remember disco, don’t you? Some might say it never died. KSHE rockers and maybe a few others wonder when the hell it ever will. Love it or not, disco will be the main fare served up at 6 p.m. Aug. 30 during the first of six rockin’, poppin’, soul-stirring evenings of music as summer wanes into fall. First up: the Melvin Turnage Band plays a tribute to the disco era, turning the CWE into Funkytown! The sunsets in Forest Park will come earlier and earlier until the last set on the first Tuesday in October. Did we mention the performances are free? No, we haven’t yet, but yes! They are. Follow-up acts are …

Sept. 6: Starlifter-The U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America
Sept. 13: First Call Band featuring Courtney Loveless
Sept. 20: Gerald Warren’s Soul Steppers Revue
Sept. 27: Queens Blvd.
Oct. 4: Fabulous Motown Revue

First-come, first-served. But don’t wander in late to seek a spot on the grass for your fanny, as it’s discourteous. (You wouldn’t want to get grass stains on your white Travolta-style suit.) So mark your calendar and come early. And why not? Early early birds can get their faces painted, or their kids can, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Visitors to the recently reopened (July 27) branch of the St. Louis County Library just won’t recognize the place. The new, improved, $3-million-and-change Samuel L. Sachs Branch in Chesterfield (pictured above) is perfect for flights of the imagination, which is what reading is supposed to be all about anyway, right? Updates include a complete overhaul of the interior space. New shelving, furniture and carpeting have been installed throughout, as well as a bright, new color palette. An oversized canopy leads into the new children’s area—which can be seen from any point in the branch. The enhanced children’s area also features browsing bins that allow kids to select their own books, as well as special, oversized furniture for families to read and do activities together. Teens have a designated space, with computers and fun, funky furniture. (We’re not aware whether there are smart-phone chargers, but we sure hope not.) Three private study rooms have been added, as well as a new computer lab, quiet reading room, laptop bar, business center with fax, copy and scanning machines, and a vending area. A revamped community meeting room with a projector, sound system and white board is available. The branch is airy and welcoming and, dare we say, a more fulfilling place to hang out than (insert the name of your favorite coffee shop or café here).

The Clayton Fire Department is one of 53 agencies statewide that have become STARS for kids with special needs. For children with atypical health conditions, an everyday situation could turn into an emergency. Even worse, first responders may not know how best to approach caring for them when an emergency arises. What about a child on the autism spectrum? The department has implemented SSM Cardinal Glennon’s ‘Special needs Tracking & Awareness Response System’ (STARS), which was started by paramedics, is based at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, and serves dozens of children and their families in the metro by providing crucial information to EMS workers prior to an emergency. Children who most benefit from STARS may have a cardiac history, cerebral shunts, significant developmental delay, metabolic syndromes or seizure disorders, among other diseases or syndromes with which EMS workers may not be well-acquainted. These kids may be living at home with the help of specialized equipment. It’s not uncommon for EMS to be dispatched to the home of a child who has a ventilator, tracheotomy, or a rare diagnosis that even some emergency room physicians are unfamiliar with, says STARS program coordinator Patricia Casey. She notes that the program does more than simply provide a sheaf of papers for EMTs to study. It’s training-intensive. STARS personnel provide specialized education to first responders—in some cases, children and their families participate.

creve coeur
Weddings are not my usual beat, but we’re all suckers for a love story, right? And this one is LOVE IN ALL CAPS! When pediatric flight nurse India Blevins and optometrist Eric Johnson got engaged, like most couples these days, they went online to register for wedding gifts. But the altruistic pair went beyond Bed, Bath and … to register with CrowdRise, a site where anyone with a cause can direct friends, family and good-karma seekers to donate to a charity of choice. Through the Creve Coeur office of World Pediatric Project, a nonprofit with a mission to save critically ill children, India and Eric will help support Genesis, a baby girl from Honduras with a rare heart condition. She will be transported to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital soon for life-saving surgery, just a week or so after the couple’s Aug. 9 wedding. Why did Genesis’ plight touch them so deeply? Two years before Eric was born, his baby sister Kerri lived less than a week with the same life-threatening heart condition as Genesis, who is now 19 months old. The Maryville, Illinois, couple considered it a sign that this was their gift to both give and get. Friends and family raised $5,000 (and still can donate) so Genesis and her mother could come for a procedure unavailable in many parts of the world. WPP helps kids who are ‘poor’ with so many things we take for granted. Besides heroic surgeries, WPP helps provide clean drinking water, sanitary living conditions and access to basic medical care. To add perspective, Genesis’ father makes $1,500 a year cleaning trucks. Check out the WPP online, and you also may get a kick out of the tagline at CrowdRise: “If you don’t give back, no one will like you.” Let’s raise a glass of clean water to India and Eric … and their little charge, Genesis!

Hold the phone! But … which vintage? Pink princess touch-tone? Stand-up dial in basic black, with the ‘cup’ earpiece on a hook? Pick your fave at the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum, a self-guided facility with many hands-on, how-things-work displays designed to stimulate an interest in engineering and history—and to inspire awe. Besides its extensive collection of telephones manufactured from the late 1880s through 2000s, the museum also features:

  • Operator switchboards from the 1920s and 1960s
  • Military telephones from WWI through the Vietnam War A telephone pole, complete with climbing equipment
  • Hundreds of pieces of telephone-related memorabilia
  • A variety of novelty telephones A sculpture of Alexander Graham Bell and …

a delightful history of the invention of the telephone as in, ‘Come here, Watson. I need you.’ The museum building itself is a treat, an 1896 structure on the National Register of Historic Places within the 426-acre JB park, a mere 15-minute drive south of downtown St. Louis. The Telecom Pioneers, a nonprofit telephone company employee service organization, along with their families and friends, have spent upward of 66,500 hours (!) repairing and renovating the building. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for most patrons. Tours are available for groups of 10 or more. Now, we may never know who invented the irksome musical ‘hold’ feature, but we think you’ll agree there’s more to love than dislike about the telephone, which has been a game-changer for a century and more.