Swifty's – one of the many restaurants that seem to be springing up daily – provided a sustaining hamburger and drink, and we then converged on Kiener Plaza to resume the tour. By now field-trip-fatigue had settled in on the majority of the participants. Glazed eyes, bored looks, occasional squabbles – inevitable, especially on a hot and steamy day. …
Still, with the determined enthusiasm of a seasoned school trip guide, our hostess gathered us together to consider the Old Courthouse, the site of the infamous and pivotal Dred Scott decision led to the hastening the separation of the Northern and Southern States and the resulting Civil War.Not all us – me included – had lost interest, even as we took a circuitous route down to the Old Couthouse passing by the famous Wainwright Building, designed by Louis Sullivan.
This building is one of the very first steel frame skyscrapers that, for better or worse, have come to dominate cities worldwide. Certainly this building, diminutive compared with its many offspring, has a beauty and charm that is all its own.On we went, passing under some sky walks and pausing for another interesting observation.Then into the Old Courthouse,with its beautiful domed atrium.
Our final destination of the day was the one St. Louis landmark that everyone knows, the Gateway Arch. But events conspired against us. A swiftly generated May thunderstorm blew up, and rumbled menacingly as we regarded the site of Indian chief Pontiac's burial.
. This plaque is the marker, for the grave itself lies under the corner of one Louis Sullivan's skyscraper children – as sure an indicator as any of the destruction of old America as it was before the Westward Expansion..
The thunder cracked – making not a few of us jump – as if Pontiac himself had conjured the elements to register his displeasure, and we all walked as fast as we could towards an age-old and universal refuge, a Catholic church, the Old Cathedral. This is St. Louis oldest church, indeed the oldest standing building in the city, and as the rain cascaded on the roof, I lit a candle for Pontiac and his spirit, feeling sure (as I always do) that the souls of all people are united whatever name they apply to their belief.
Then along came the re-routed school bus, and back we went as the clouds passed over and the sun shone down.