the delmar loop | You’d think it was Times Square all around the Loop. Complementing the jazzy Peacock Diner installation, an animated neon sign graces the exterior of the soon-to-open Magic Mini Golf. That sign has received a first place award for 2023 in the juried Sign of the Times magazine contest, which ran for more than 40 years. Designed by Hope Edwards and her father Joe Edwards, owner of the miniature-golf attraction and other Loop businesses, the 26-foot-tall sign features a retro-style man and woman putting a golf ball on either side. “I wanted the colors to be wild and bright, like a carnival,” says Hope. Since the space has a magical theme, she dressed the pair in period clothing, top hats and red capes. The 18-hole course will open late this month and will also feature shuffleboard courts, a five-car Ferris wheel, pinball and arcade games—plus food, a full bar and a stage for live performances. The space will be decorated with magic- and golf-themed memorabilia in Joe’s signature display cases. At 6160 Delmar Blvd., the course is across from the Moonrise Hotel.
The limestone, concrete and brick water tower standing tall in Compton Hill Reservoir Park at Grand and I-44 is as iconic to some St. Louisans as the Gateway Arch. For one thing, the Arch is a comparative whippersnapper, too young to be included within the parentheses that contain the Baby Boom years. OK, Boomer: The Arch has been the StL’s architectural focus only since 1965. And, like the national monument, the most important feature of the 125-year-old water tower is its astonishing beauty. The Arch has offered rides to the top since its completion. And you could ascend the water tower in an interior spiral staircase until 2019, when the tower was closed as a safety hazard because chunks of ornamental stone and concrete have been tumbling to the ground. Although the view of the Lou, the river and into Illinois from the top of the Arch is impressive, the view of St. Louis neighborhoods and beyond from the south city landmark is no less dramatic. My daughter, her boyfriend and I climbed to the top one beautiful fall day and marveled at the sights in all directions, enjoying temperate breezes through the open windows. The tower’s original purpose, to help moderate pressure throughout the city water system along with two North City towers, has long passed. The structure is from a forgotten era when architectural elegance was as important as simple functionality. Form follows function isn’t the case here. But the city is in a quandary, because restoring the tower will be expensive, and no one knows what serious structural problems may be discovered. Bids for restoration are due Sept. 15. Meanwhile, dedicated neighbors and concerned citizens have been raising funds for the project. Visit watertowerfoundation.org.
In mid-November 1998, my daughter Livvy, now 24, had been resisting her own birth so adamantly that Dr. Kline was going to induce labor on Nov. 18. But my former wife was ready to give birth after more than nine months of pregnancy. Margaret was assistant manager of the Brooks Bros. store in the Galleria and was mostly on her feet at work. The day before the doctor planned to induce her, she decided to have a very, very spicy meal at the mall’s Mexican restaurant upstairs, Casa Gallardo Grill. As it soon became obvious to her she was going into labor, she picked up her mother and drove lickety-split to Missouri Baptist Medical Center. Olivia arrived the evening of Nov. 17. Using spicy food as a labor ‘accelerator’ has apparently been a thing for some time. Many couples know that Frank Papa’s Ristorante in Brentwood prepares a dish called the ‘eviction notice,’ a.k.a. ‘the inducer.’ It’s a $22 pasta entree that’s hot as Vesuvius. Penne amatriciana— quill-shaped pasta, Italian sausage, pancetta bacon and onions in a spicy marinara with a touch of garlic—has become somewhat of a suburban legend: If a woman who’s nine months pregnant orders it, she will deliver soon enough. The restaurant, at 2241 S. Brentwood Blvd., opens at 5 p.m. Peruse the menu at frankpapas.com.
As do so many of us, Meredith Knopp remembers exactly where she was on the bright blue morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when she first learned that a commercial airliner had struck the World Trade Center. A U.S. Army captain, she was conducting a briefing at Fort Leonard Wood when someone burst into the room with news that couldn’t wait. She suspended the briefing and gathered with her colleagues in front of a television screen to witness the second hijacked jet burst into flames as it crashed into the second tower, the first one already an inferno. “We knew in an instant that our lives would never be the same,” she recalls. To say the rest of the day was intense would be an understatement, she says—everyone realized that the installation was also a target. After checking in with her father, who was traveling and in Chicago that day, she focused on doing the next right thing. And the next day, Sept. 12, was remarkable in an altogether different way. People would look each other in the eye as they passed one another and most of them smiled. “The onus is on those of us who were around on that day. We’ve tried to capture its spirit and ethos.” On 9/11 Day, which is Monday, “millions of volunteers will turn that day of tragedy into a day of service,” says Knopp, CEO of the St. Louis Area Foodbank. As many as 1,100 volunteers will gather at Enterprise Center to pack 400,000 meals to distribute among 600 food pantries in 26 counties throughout the metro area, in both Missouri and Illinois. Members of the Blues will join in, as well as at least one woman who’s had to use the nonprofit’s services. “I just got food from you last week,” the volunteer told Knopp, who looks away for a moment. “We’re all one life event away from being food insecure.” Knopp says the importance of serving others was ingrained in her while growing up in Detroit, and she’s grateful since leaving the military that a series of service-related management positions, from Home Depot to Best Buy, have allowed her to think of others before herself. “That’s why we’re all here,” she emphasizes. “It fills my bucket on every day that ends in ‘Y’.” Her husband Ken and daughter Abigail, 11, always keep it topped off. In fact, Knopp credits her daughter for the decision a few years ago to leave the corporate sphere for the nonprofit world. Abigail had asked, “Can’t you tell your boss that I need you more?” Though other couples may sign off on phone conversations the same way the Knopps do, it’s especially significant for these two, who are particularly aware that every day is a gift and that leaving for work doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make it home. They end calls, during the workday and otherwise, with “Love you more, bye.” Shouldn’t we all consider saying this to our loved ones? To give back, visit stlfoodbank.org and 911day.org.