Cultural Explorations


10-March-2021

Three Flags Day has come and gone again, without much fanfare. March 10th is the birthday of Saint Louis, which is possibly the most fascinating city on the planet. Three Flags Day is the day three flags flew over Saint Louis, in succession, as the Louisiana Purchase passed to America from France. Saint Louis was under Spanish jurisdiction at the time. On March 10, 1804, first the Spanish, then the French, then the American flag were hoisted in succession over Saint Louis.

Remember Aaron Burr, who shot Alexander Hamilton? Shortly after that dastardly deed, Aaron Burr hatched a conspiracy with the Saint Louis governor to take Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mexico, AND the Louisiana Purchase, to create a new empire, installing the brilliant Theodosia as empress. As often happens, the seditionists lost their nerve, the conspiracy fell apart and Aaron Burr ran off into Indian territory, never to be heard from again.

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Speaking of little known stories, check out this movie about Toussaint Louverture. Known as the “Black Napolean” from Haiti, Louverture single-handedly stopped the french Napolean from sailing ships straight up the Mississippi River to set up camp in Saint Louis. We owe our very democracy to this brave fellow, and more people need to know about him and Three Flags Day in Saint Louis.

These two stories are little gems, and can be found in this 1960s book of Saint Louis history written by Ernest Kirschten, an editorial writer for the Saint Louis Post Dispatch. See why it’s important to read books? There’s treasure hidden inside the books!

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Here’s the opening quote in the above book:

“We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us.” – Bergen Evans.

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Saint Louis has long been a battleground,

and somehow the battle ultimately tilts towards the light.

If history is written by the victors,

then let’s go looking for Three Flag Day adventures,

and keep historic victories alive.

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If you know of a “Three Flags Day” adventure,

please post below!

2021-March-06

Mark your calendars on March 6th for a Harriet & Dred Scott adventure hunt; the Old Courthouse in downtown Saint Louis is a good starting point. March 6th is the anniversary of the preposterous Supreme Court decision in 1857 that decided “Any person descended from Africans, whether enslaved or free, is not a citizen of the United States.”

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For every action there is a reaction — the Supreme Court got it wrong and reaction to that judgement helped spark the Civil War. Your destination is the Harriet & Dred Scott sculpture that faces the Arch and the Mississippi River. It’s sitting on a slave auction site.

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The Old Courthouse in Saint Louis is a very majestic building and stands a living temple to the Rule of Law. It’s modeled after the Vatican and was built at the same time as the US Capitol in Washington. It’s free to visit and important for children to do so. Enter through front doors and explore the exhibits; kids especially like the underground railroad and finding the secret staircases that lead up to the top of the cupola. Here’s a previous adventure guide with clues on how best to do that:

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The Old Courthouse is incredibly grand and worthy of many repeat visits. Don’t forget to say hello to Harriet Scott, Lucy Delaney and Frankie Freedom on your way into the building, as women are often behind many successful struggles for freedom.

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Not far from the Old Courthouse is the home of Dred Scott’s lawyer, who was Eugene Field’s father, Roswell Field. Eugene Field was a poet who became famous for his children’s poems, notably Wynken, Blinken and Nod. Eugene Field loved toys, so the Field House also houses a toy collection and interesting toy exhibits.

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The Field Museum is located near the Old Courthouse but too far to walk; it’s fun to visit during the holidays to enjoy the home in full seasonal splendor, and maybe to pick up an old-fashioned wind-up toy to add to your collection.

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The tour of the home is quite interesting, but more suited for older children as are the changing exhibits, including the exhibits on Dred Scott and Saint Louis history. It’s sort of dear to know that Saint Louis children collected pennies to help save this historic home for posterity.

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Your third destination on the Harriet and Dred Scott adventure hunt is Calvary Cemetery, where Dred Scott and Harriet Scott are buried. Their grave-sites were hard to find in the past, and can still be hard to find, which makes it a worthy adventure hunt. Dred Scott’s new gravestone makes the hunt a little easier. See section 19 on the Calvary Map:

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Many people bring pennies to leave as an offering; place them Abe Lincoln side up!

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March 6th is a great day to go on a Harriet and Dred Scott adventure hunt, or any day for that matter. They say Saint Louis is the most fascinating city in America, it’s also an important city, a historic city, a legendary city. Be sure to bring your pennies with you and then share the wealth with others.

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Speaking of pennies, there’s a penny drive to help pay off the balance of the Harriet and Dred Scott statue recently installed near the Old Courthouse. There are 22 more sites you can visit on your Harriet & Dred Scott adventure hunt!

Dred Scott Heritage Foundation

2019-Dec-10

Field House 2019-02-11 WEB Draft

The Field House Museum is a small and important touchstone in American culture. Come for the history and leave with a wind-up toy or book of poetry for your home collection.

2018-12-01 Field House Calico Cat

This is the childhood home of Eugene Field.  Ultimately remembered for his children’s poetry, Eugene Field was first a journalist who wrote about music; then he pretty much invented the personal opinion column.  Eugene’s father, Roswell Field, was the lawyer who developed the legal strategy to free Harriet and Dred Scott from slavery. This attempt was denied by the Supreme Court, precipitating the Civil War and projecting Abraham Lincoln into the White House.  During the Great Depression, the children of Saint Louis saved the Field House from disrepair by collecting over $2000 in pennies, dimes and nickels.

2018-12-01 Field House Dred Scott

Check the internet for hours and admission fees; as a special tip, the holidays are a particularly nice time to go, because the house is decorated with goose-feather Christmas trees.  It’s also fun to pick up a new wind-up toy for the holidays.  Expect the visit to last about one hour. Warn the kids that this is a “do not touch” museum but the gift shop will let you play with the wind-up toys as you choose one to buy at the end of your field trip.

2018-12-01 Field House Goosefeathers

Begin your journey in the free parking lot behind the museum. If the Cardinals are playing, expect the museum to be busy.  Enter the museum, pay the admission fee and inquire about a guided tour. There will be a fee.

2018-12-01 Field House ballpark

The guides are attentive and very knowledgeable and the tour is short and interesting. Visit the smoking parlor, the ladies tea room and the upstairs bedrooms. Delight in the personal items, the house appointments and the toy collection.  See if you can find the teddy bear with real bear fur.

2018-12-01 Field House Highchair

After the tour, explore the changing exhibit in the new wing of the museum, designed by an expert in green building. Eugene Field loved to collect toys, so expect toys to be a focus in many of the changing exhibits.

2018-12-01 Field House toy shop

Finish up your field trip in the gift shop by playing with the wind-up toys.  Inspect the books for sale which include famous poems by Eugene Field such as “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” “Little Boy Blue,” and “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat.”  The books with Maxfield Parrish illustrations are particularly nice.  Return home and read a new poem from old Saint Louis before bedtime.

2018-12-01 Field House-WBN

Here’s the link to the Field House Museum: Field House Museum & Toy Collection

Trip Date: 2017-02-27
Trip #50
GPS: Address: 5025 Pattison; 63110 (at Kingshighway and I-44)
Search Words:  Chocolate Factory Tours

2017-02-01 Chocolate morsel

Surprisingly, Saint Louis has a high concentration of award winning chocolate makers; probably due to our immigrant roots. There are many chocolate destinations worth visiting in Saint Louis, but the Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Company has the “best” chocolate tour in Saint Louis for kids, only because it’s the shortest and the sweetest, and thus the easiest for busy families to visit.  This is a 20 minute “tour” with a piece of chocolate waiting at the end.  The tour is free.  Over 50,000 people come from all over the world visit this chocolate factory every year.

2017-02-01 Chocolate Sig

Drive to the GPS address at Pattison Avenue listed above, and wind around to the front lobby, which is right up against the highway.  Inside awaits an oasis of delights.

2017-02-01 Parking Lot

Tours launch every 30 minutes from the spacious ‘Chocolate Shoppe’, and everyone is required to wear a “hairnet,” which doubles as a rather cool souvenir.  Guests get a little giddy as they gather, and then enter through the doors marked “Chocolate Heaven”.

2017-02-01 Chocolate Heaven

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate is a third generation family business started by the Abel family in 1981, near the famous Ted Drewes ice cream stand on Route 66. They moved to the current location in 2012 in order to accommodate their expanding business. This is a Greek family who got their start with help from another Greek family, and are thus now continuing the American Dream.

2017-02-01 Factory Floor

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate uses the term “clean chocolate” to describe their products. Listen carefully when they list their ingredients:  chocolate is sourced from the Ivory Coast, vanilla comes from Madagascar, sugar from Belize.  Anything worth doing, like making chocolate, is worth doing well, and making fine chocolate is harder than it looks.

Doing Well

Take special note of the solar panels on the roof, the LED lights throughout the factory floor, and the Goodwill employees to packaging the finished chocolates.  Ask about the creation of jobs, as local jobs increase the multiplier effect of money — basically meaning that money circulates throughout the local economy instead of whooshing away and into the pockets of people who are already rich. Handcrafted local chocolate is an example of “Slow Food”;  every chocolate you buy brings you closer to a “Less but Better” world.

Worker

Keep an eye out for Oompa Loompas on the factory floor.

2017-02-24 Oomp Loompas

Back inside the “Chocolate Shoppe”, be sure to ask about specialties and sample any award winning chocolates. Also ask which holiday drives the most sales.  Don’t miss the “Oops Shelf” which is full of perfectly imperfect chocolates.

2017-02-01 Oops


The science of happiness is a relatively new field, but it’s really, really true that some things make you happy.  It’s not the weather, or your salary, or your kids that make you happy, but rather flowers, dinner with friends and adventures to new places that bring happiness. Take your friends and family on a tour of a chocolate factory, and follow Green Spiral Tours in enjoying all the goodness that Saint Louis has to offer.

Happiness

Trip Date: 2018-Jan-06 * Scouting Mission: 2017-Jan-07 & 2016-Jan-08

 

Old Courthouse WEB 2018-01-02*

The Old Courthouse, located in downtown Saint Louis, is a magnificent building, and an important touchstone in the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.  You can tell what a society values by looking at their buildings — once inside, the Old Courthouse feels like a temple to the Rule of Law.  The arc of justice is long.

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A wonderful time for locals to visit is on January 6th, which is Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas.  On this day, the Old Courthouse comes alive with music and dancing from 1768, as period actors in military dress throw a party for the public, complete with music, dancing and a ceremony involving the “King’s Cake”.

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The event is called the “Twelfth Afternoon Ball“,  and it comes with ladies in long dresses serving pralines, little cookies and hot cider to visitors.  The public is invited to join in the dancing, which is fun and easy to learn. The whole thing is free.

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Street parking is easy in winter, and you get two hours at the meter.  The Metro stops at 8th & Pine, a brisk four block walk to the Old Courthouse.  As you approach, look for the International Fur Exchange building on your right, (now a Drury Hotel), which stands as a tangible reminder of the enormous wealth generated by beaver pelts, and the french fur traders who procured them.  Take a moment to admire the dome, which was modeled after the Capitol Dome in Washington D.C., as well as the Vatican.

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Long Shot 2 2018*

Once inside, stand next to the warm radiators to shake off the cold, and look left at the underground railroad map, then take a moment to explore the Dred Scott exhibit. Watch the short history channel movie as you wish. Use the restrooms as necessary.

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The music and dancing will beckon to you from the center hall, and fancy ladies in long gowns will serve you cider and cookies.  Enjoy the music from your seats while the more courageous members of your party join in the fun and easy dancing.

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Because of the Dred Scott decision, the Old Courthouse is a National Park, and like Yellowstone Park or Yosemite — where most people don’t go more than one mile from the road — most people don’t think to climb up into the rotunda of the Old Courthouse.  This is your adventure.

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National Park

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When you’re ready to climb, explore the side halls until you find the cast iron stairs, which are beautifully crafted and highly unusual.  As you climb each flight, hunt around for the next flight of stairs, until you’ve climbed as high as you can go.

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2017-01-06-staircase

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On your way up, peek inside the historic courthouse rooms, preserved in all their classical revival splendor, and if no other visitors are around, say something, like “hello”,  to experience the amazing acoustics. Maybe you could shout something like “Let Freedom Ring!”, “Once free, always free!” or, “From the Darkness Cometh the Light!”. Imagine the enormous expense, and admire the incredible craftsmanship, and know such a building would not likely be built today.

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Make note of the Greek columns which ascend in architectural order from Doric to Ionic to Corinthian, as you ascend each level.  Some of the columns are load bearing, (made of cast iron), and some are decorative, (made from wood). Knock on the columns to see if you can tell which are made from iron, and which are made of wood.

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2017-01-06 Longshot

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The rotunda was designed to carry voices to as many people as possible without amplification, so your climbing adventure will be accompanied by the merry sounds of music and dancing below.  It’s fun to peer down on the tiny dancers, while ascending the upper balconies above. You’re standing inside an old fashioned amplifier!

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2017-0106-dome

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When you get to the top, you will be standing beneath the skylight, known as the “eye”, which brings sunlight down from on high.  The very top structure is called a “cupola”, which means “upside-down cup” in Italian.  There are two ways up to the third balcony, which is as high as you are allowed to go;  visitors are not allowed on the fourth balcony.

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See if you can identify the four allegorical paintings by Wimar, representing the British-Indian attack, the discovery of the Mississippi Rive by deSoto, the founding of Saint Louis, and the transcontinental railroad through the Rocky Mountains.  Also see if you can identify the allegorical figures on four walls representing law, liberty, justice and commerce.

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Flag & Dome 2018

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Make your way back downstairs and out onto the East Steps, overlooking the Arch and facing the Mississippi River.  It is here that slaves were auctioned off, as well as the Eads Bridge (to your left) and the St. Louis Post Dispatch (to Hungarian immigrant Joseph Pulitzer).  This is a great spot for a family photo.

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The Dred and Harriet Scott sculpture is to your right. Dred Scott finally achieved his freedom a year before he died. Visit the gift shop on the way out, and check out the children’s books on Lewis and Clark, as well as the excellent selection of children’s books on African American History.  Buy or bring your National Parks Passport, so it can be stamped.

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2015-dred-harriet-scott-sculpture

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Use the Restrooms before leaving, and look for the turtle motif on the wrought iron fence facing west, an homage to a quirky custodian who once kept a real turtle in the Courthouse fountain, and complained that the turtle was the only thing in the courthouse that didn’t cause the tax papers money.

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Turtle Fence 2

 

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Epiphany at the Old Courthouse in Saint Louis is an excellent adventure for families of all ages; toddlers will get lots of exercise on the stairs, kids will love scampering about the balconies, and teens will enjoy the magnificent building and authentic military weaponry.  It’s a refreshing, short and sweet adventure for the whole family, with a little bit of exercise.

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Finding the event on your computer can be a challenge.  Start with Gateway Arch events; and if all else fails, search Facebook for the  Twelfth Afternoon Ball. The event is hosted on the Saturday nearest Epiphany.  If you miss Epiphany, similar events are held throughout the year, including the President’s Ball on President’s Day.  If you can’t make one of the re-enactment dates, go on MLK Day in January, which hosts the second largest annual civil rights gathering in the nation.

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Here’s your GPS location: 11 N. 4th Street; Saint Louis; 63102. Watch for this information to be uploaded into a collection of adventure maps for sale on Amazon, soon.

 

Dome 3

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Friday 13 July 2012 – 

We returned to Lafayette Park and french

cafe “Rue Lafayette” for the third year in

a row, in keeping with the Green Spiral method.

(If you can’t make a field trip this year, it

is very likely to spiral around again next year.)

Meanwhile, we know lots of people track our adventures,

and venture out on their own, with friends.

Around Bastille Day every year, we like to celebrate

our rich french heritage with a visit to

“Rue Lafayette,” a french cafe serving

famous desserts and chocolate croissants

imported from Paris.

Rue Lafayette Cafe – across from Lafayette Park

2026 Lafayette Avenue; 63104

http://ruelafayette.us/

The nature connection

begins on the outdoor patio (dogs welcome!)

and continues at the pond across the street.

At Rue Lafayette, you can rent fancy little

sailboats (we got them for free) to sail on

the pond at Lafayette Park.

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The swans and geese are beautiful,

but teach kids to respect these birds,

as swans and geese can be surprisingly mean.

Since storytelling is the language of nature,

a cautionary tale about a mean old goose snapping

at a wagging finger can really drive the point home.

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Part of the fun of spiraling back

to the same great places

is watching the places evolve.

Like many parks, Lafayette

Park is “naturalizing” an area,

by planting in a less formal,

and more natural design, using

some native plants. Naturalizing

our parks is a fairly new trend

and one worth watching and

celebrating. This year, the park

is dry, and not so pretty, so no photo.

In March 2012, we toured “The Hill,”

with professional tour guide,

Joe DeGregorio.  Joe was fun and

informative, hire him if you have a group:

Joe DeGregorio

Here’s a cute 2 minute video that

describes our adventure best:

We watched handmade ravioli

being made, we played Bocce Ball

at a private club, and toured

Herbaria, makers of fine natural

soaps.  The more you learn about

soap, the more you want to go natural.

Love Herbaria!

Herbaria.com

Every year on Veteran’s Day,

we host a metro journey to

see the secret “Whispering Arch”

at Union Station.

Union Station is looking less than vibrant

these days, but the fudge shop still sings

and there are magic goldfish to still feed.

We will keep the faith and continue to

use our metro to visit.  The metro in

Saint Louis is clean, beautiful and runs

on time.  It is second to none in the world.

Plus, kids love a good train ride.

Hey look! When you get on the metro

at the Clayton Station, there is a sculpture

by Carol Fleming!  She’s the artist who

created “The Egg” at the Sensory Garden

at Shaw Park when we visited the

Adventure Playground in April 2011.

It’s important for kids to meet real

working artists.

The Citygarden visit actually happened in

September of 2010 in between tornado storms,

but I’m posting it here while I recreate

historical data after Apple discontinued

supporting it’s web-site, and while I’m

creating a blog site starting at the beginning

of Green Spiral Tours.

Citygarden leads the way in creating naturescapes

for children, and their families, while demonstrating

the viability of economic rejuvenation.  If you build

outdoor places for families to connect with nature,

families will come, and bring their dollars for drinks,

trinkets and more major purchases.  There is pent-up

demand for friendly nature places that is not yet fully met.

You can bring your dog to the Citygarden

and the security officer will give them treats.

Citygarden is quite safe, and parking is easy.

We shall return in the summer to play

in the fountains and water.  Citygarden

is progressive and responsive for

hiring lifeguards and allowing children

to play in the water features.  So often,

beautiful parks are built, and then

children are forbidden from touching.

We applaud all involved with Citygarden

and families thank them deeply for

their wisdom and foresight.

Water is life, and every great garden must incorporate

water.  If you build a water feature, children will come,

and climb right into it.  You can plan on it.

Just after Bastille Day, we explored our French Heritage

at “Rue Lafayette” a french cafe on Lafayette Square

that serves chocolate croissants flown in from Paris.

You can bring your dog to the cafe!

(This is me, Jessie Hoagland, along

with my boy Mack and puppy Lucy)

Rent little sailboats at Rue Lafayette, and sail them

on the pond across the street in Lafayette Square.

Many stories were told about the geese and swans

that call the pond their home..

One family happened to be travelling to Europe later

that summer, and was inspired to sail boats as was

the original inspiration for the Rue Lafayette sailboats!

Here’s the link for Rue Lafayette, great destination

for croissants, cafe au lait, quiche and dog lovers.

Tell them Green Spiral sent you.

http://ruelafayette.us/

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