A Long Way from St. Louie

Delighted to step right into a car with no wait this cold drizzly morning. I recognize car and driver from an earlier ride this week. This is an older Lexus, very comfy and warm. Dad is driving and his little boy is sleeping in the back seat. Similar situation as another ride this week, with a dad driving to work and taking his son to school in San Francisco. Like the other dad, they are somewhat new to the area and to the Casual Carpool. “I might switch him to a Vallejo school after we get to know the area better”. We chat about the weather, carpooling and then discover we have both lived in St. Louis. He was born there and lived there until 1999, when he moved – first to Las Vegas, before coming to San Francisco.

I lived in St. Louis for only 5 years, arriving a few days before the Kennedy assassination and leaving for California in 1967, the year the St. Louis arch was completed. We have a great time talking about the grand old city on the Mississippi River. “First in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American League” was the old reference to St. Louis when the St. Louis Browns baseball team was there, apparently not doing very well, when Anheuser Bush and over 50 other breweries were brewing the beer, and when George Warren Brown started what became a huge shoe manufacturing industry (remember Buster Brown shoes?) in St. Louis. “The breweries are pretty well gone”, he says. I imagine most of the shoe factories are, too. It’s hard to find a pair of shoes made in the U.S. today. And the St. Louis Cardinals have redeemed the the city’s baseball reputation by winning the World Series – 10 times! In 1926, 1932, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964 (when I lived there), 1967, 1982, and just a few years ago in 2006.

He misses St. Louis. “I liked Las Vegas – it was a lot of fun, but I’ve never really felt at home in California. St. Louis is my town.” Turns out he’s a singer, part of a group who sang with the Temptations in Las Vegas. “That’s why I left St. Louis, for the job in Vegas. It was a great time.”

He was at rehearsal last night, getting ready to audition on the new Simon Cowell talent show this fall – The X Factor, the British show that spawned American Idol. How’s that for a Casual Carpool ride!