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Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Watson in the City"

I grew up in what is probably the geographic center of "south St. Louis".

I can't truly speak for others, but my family mostly did its shopping to the south and southwest of our home. That included Southtown, Hampton Village, South County, and Crestwood. Even after graduating high school, I could literally count on two hands the number of times I'd gone east of Grand or north of I-64/40, excepting Forest Park. Heck, even Tower Grove South off of Morgan Ford Road itself was foreign to me.

In retrospect, my world was infinetismal then--I didn't drive until I was nearly 19 and rarely took the bus either. I hung out around Bevo mainly; anything past St. Louis Hills was a road trip as far as I was concerned in the passenger seat. My mother did make semi-frequent trips out to Crestwood (was this the edge of the world?), but instead of complaining about the distance I liked to watch the transition of urban development down Chippewa.

First Shop N Save and Famous Barr (sigh), then some brown-brick apartment buildings with porches that all lined up; there's the 7-11. Soon came the gingerbread houses, then a mess of cars fighting for a space in Hampton Village or adjacent Target. More gingerbreads and apartments. A couple medical towers. Donut stand. TED DREWES. Blockbuster. Blocky apartment buildings. River Des Peres--ewww. Overpass. That strange little business that manufactures headstones for cemeteries. More shopping centers. Then that St. Louis gray marker near the sign with the population count I was always fascinated by. I know for a fact that it read "ST. LOUIS, Pop. 396,685 (1990)" well past the 2000 census. I knew the population had fallen and didn't want to see the sign ever replaced. It was, eventually.

Right at that gray pylon, after entering St. Louis County--BAM--Chippewa Street magically became Watson Road. Why? Wasn't there one of those back in the city? Even as a child, the divide between city-and-county seemed so pronounced (the road pavement in each even clashed).

I knew of "Watson in the City" because my aunt used to live off of City Watson on Pernod in the Lindenwood neighborhood. I always enjoyed the concept of the competing Watsons, without ever understanding why. I was proud that I lived in the city and "we" had a Watson, too.

I felt compelled to spill this ramble after reading the Lindenwood Neighbor newsletter (September 2009). They used the term "Watson in the City" describing their second annual "What's on Watson" a.k.a. WOWFest!, which is coming up this weekend.

Since I have something of an obsession with neighborhood festivals, I thought I'd just post the information for the WOWFest this Saturday, but took a little detour getting there. Memory Lane may be officially located in Wildwood; but that doesn't stop me from going there.

To be WOWed:

Saturday, October 17, 2009 - 11:00 am-4:00 pm
Watson Business District's
Second Annual WOWFest

2009 will celebrate the great businesses on "Watson in the City." Look
for the crowd under the big tent at Southwest Baptist Church (across the street
from the Machacek Library).
Enjoy Live Music, Good Food & Cold Drinks.
Visit Informational and Crafter's Booths with great items for sale. 50-50 Raffle
and other Raffle items. Children's Activities and Crafts provided by
Neighborhood Churches and the Library.

Several of Watson’s great restaurants will sell delicious dishes at
reasonable prices including:

Chris' Pancake
LoRusso's Cucina
Stellina Pasta Cafe
Trattoria Marcella
possibly others ...

For more information call Nancy Doerhoff @ the

By the way, it's worth going for Stellina Pasta alone--one of my favorite restaurants in the city!

EDIT: The festival also takes place adjacent to everyone's favorite bomb-shelter-library-combo. Ah, Machacek.


Brian said...

I don't have anything to add except that I enjoyed this post. I can picture everything you described.

Mark Groth said...

Remember the mini-golf place next to the cemetery head stone place? Wasn't there a hole with a Big Boy styled statue?

Matt M. said...

Haha! Yes! ^

And thanks, Brian!

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