Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Shooting Good Times!

Missouri Botanical Garden
With the return of warmer temperatures, I have been able to get out and shoot some photographs. My forehead finally healed enough to let my bangs hang down and cover up my icky looking surgical sites. My first couple of trips were to the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is my all-time favorite place in St. Louis. This time of year things change so rapidly that I try to get there once a week.

On my first trip I went by myself as it was during the week. When I am out photographing, I really don't mind being by myself. It is nice to be able to take my time and not worry that I am holding someone else up. My second trip was with Jim, as we hurried to the garden to try to capture the snow that fell on a recent Sunday. Unfortunately the garden barely got any snow, so we mostly ended up with raindrop shots. Those can be pretty, too.

Missouri Botanical Garden
Last Friday my photographer friend Caren Libby invited me to go to the Missouri Mines State Historic Site in Park Hills, Missouri. A photography meet-up group had scheduled a visit there, and she took me as her guest. I had no idea that this place existed. The Missouri Mines State Historic Site was until 1972 an active lead mine. Missouri's lead belt once produced 80% of the nation's mined lead. The 8,244-acre tract of land was donated to the State of Missouri in 1975. The mine's former powerhouse has been turned into a museum that interprets the area's lead mining history. The decaying buildings are fascinating to photograph. I just wish the day had not been so gray as I think the photos would have been better with a more interesting sky. By the time we reached Kimmswick for a late lunch at the Blue Owl Restaurant, it was 10 degrees warmer with bright blue skies.

Missouri Mines State Park
On Saturday I was the volunteer photographer for Bunnies on the Loose, a 5K race put on by the Webster Groves/Shrewsbury/Rock Hill Chamber of Commerce. This was my first time at this event, and I had a blast. My niece was one of the runners, so I got to spend some time with her as well.
Bunnies on the Loose
Soon after I got home from the run Jim and I hopped in the car to make our way to Kampsville, IL, final resting place of the once-grand Goldenrod Showboat. We stopped for lunch in Grafton, which was a good thing as Kampsville is north of Hardin, IL. And in fact the boat is a few miles north of Kampsville. It was quite a trek!

circa 1946
Built in 1909 for $75,000, the Goldenrod was moved to the St. Louis riverfront in 1937. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1967, and became a dinner theater in 1975. The City of St. Charles purchased the boat in 1989, and in 1991 it was moved to the St. Charles riverfront. Ten years later the city decided to sell the boat, and found no takers so the Goldenrod was moved to Kampsville. It has been deteriorating ever since. A non-profit group was formed to try to raise money for restoration, but they are finally throwing in the towel. On April 1, the boat will be sold for scrap.

Goldenrod Showboat
The main reason I was interested in seeing the Goldenrod one last time is because back in 1979 or 1980 my family went to the dinner theater. We had purchased tickets for my mom and dad as a Christmas present, and since their anniversary was in January it seemed like a good way to celebrate. My brother Joe was in town for the holiday in addition to my folks, and my sister and brother-in-law had moved to St. Louis by this time. So the seven of us piled into my dad's Cadillac and drove downtown. The Goldenrod was moored on the St. Louis levy at that time, and it was icy and freezing cold that night. The boiler had gone out in the boat, so it wasn't much warmer inside. The area on the second floor where we ate wasn't too bad, but in the theater it was cold! We sat near the front in seats on the main floor, and you could feel the cold through your shoes. My sister remembers soaking her feet in a tub of warm water when she got home. We all kept our coats on during the performance.

Before the show began, there was music and the band director joked around with the audience. We had told them it was mom and dad's anniversary, so they put the spotlight on my mom and started singing, "The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be..." My mom had a wonderful sense of humor (fortunately), and she got the biggest kick out of that. I don't recall the name of the play, but it was one of the old melodramas where the audience was encouraged to boo and hiss at the villain and cheer on the hero and heroine. At one point in the performance one of the cute actresses came down the steps from the stage and got my brother to take him backstage. Now, you would have to know my brother, but he was extremely shy back then. We were all so shocked when he actually went with her and had a small part in the play! After the show we slip-slided our way back to the car, which was parked on the levy. After we all got in the car, the windows immediately fogged up, aggravating my dad who shouted at all of us to, "Stop breathing!" We knew better than to laugh, but really???

At any rate, seeing the Goldenrod took me back to a time when my family was able to get together and share some laughter. Now, like my parents, the Goldenrod will be put to rest and remain just a memory in the minds of those who loved it.

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