|It rained the entire two and a half hour trip to St. Louis. I drove directly to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis to give thanks for my safe journey. Mass was in progress and the choir, first Sunday back after summer vacation, was magnificent ( that is when the organist didn't think it was all about him!). The fantastic acoustics in the building made the voices sound like they were coming from heaven. I took it all in wondering when I would hear such beautiful sounds again. The Basilica was build in 1914 and contains the largest collection in the world of mosaics under one roof. I am so disappointed that my pictures aren't a more accurate representation of the beauty of the interior of the building.
Completely recharged, I looked at my list of things to do and chose one from the "inside" activity list. The Missouri History Museum is free - as is the zoo and a ton of other things in St. Louis. I spent so much time there that everything else was closed by the time I left. As I entered the Jefferson Memorial Building I saw a statue of Thomas Jefferson and the sister plane to the Spirit of St. Louis. This building - just one portion of the museum - was built entirely with proceeds from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and is built on the site of the fair's main entrance( Anyone hearing Judy Garland and Meet Me In St. Louie?) Interestingly, this was the first monument to Jefferson and preceded the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. by 25 years.
The Spirit of St. Louis Sister Plane was built in 1928. It was purchased from the manufacturer in 1957 to be used in the film Spirit of St. Louis starring Jimmy Stewart. Friends of the Missouri Historical Society bought the plane in 1962 and it went on display at the 1964 New York World's Fair. It's been in the museum since 2000.
There were many galleries to explore but my favorite two exhibits were Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty and I Was A Soldier.
Even though Jefferson drafted the the Declaration of Independence ( all men are created equal) and called slavery an "abominable crime", he was a lifelong slaveholder. He struggled with the institution of slavery all his life and finally decided that it was a problem that another generation would have to solve. In 1820 he is quoted as saying ," We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale and self preservation in the other." When Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, he was $107,000 in debt - over a million dollars in today's money. Six months later his executors were forced to sell his land, house and it's contents, and 130 men, women and children. In his will he only freed seven people. Family's that had served him for 60 years were auctioned off . In 1993, Monticello historians started an oral history program called Getting Word. They interviewed as many descendants of Monticello enslaved families hoping that an oral history had been passed down through the generations. This program has been very successful and there are now volumes of information on the subject.
I Was A Soldier - is an exhibit by St. Louis photographer Jerry Tovo who has traveled the country documenting the lives of homeless veterans. His pictures and the stories that accompany them are very powerful.
Unfortunately for me, the weather forecast for the next two days is 99 degrees temp. I will be up and out early to try and do things on my "outdoor" list.