Our Year in Review

2018 Thanksgiving pic
In the picture are (top left) John and Lois Schmitt and Charles Merkel, bottom left, Lorraine, and Jim

Once again, we’re sharing our Christmas Letter on Facebook. Here it is.

Merry Christmas 2018 to one and all.

This year, we got a little older, but stayed busy in our work and relationships with family, friends and members of our church. We ventured out of town twice this year. Lorraine and Jim and Jim’s brother Chuck traveled to western Kentucky to meet Jim’s sister and brother-in-law John and Lois Schmitt from Atlanta for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a time for good food and sharing lives. In June, we went to mid-Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks for the annual Celebration Midwest Conference of Confluence Churches, the national group of our church. We were blessed to receive an invitation to a leadership conference for our group of churches in September. After nearly 20 years, we still lead a service on the second Sunday of each month at a nursing home. We just started hosting a small Wednesday morning prayer group at our house.  

Jim updated his book, The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, and promoted it the last half of the year.  He’s writing a new book, Growing Up St. Louis, about the lives of kids here from 1900 on through the eyes of more than 100 people he interviewed. He leads a project to provide markers on St. Louis streets whose German names were changed during the anti-German period of World War I. St. Louis has put up five signs and is about to approve another. It’s a way to show how groups are targeted in times of hysteria. At church, he runs the ministry that cleans the parking lot before Sunday services.

This was a good year for Lorraine, both spiritually and physically. Her report: “The September leadership conference increased my faith to use my gifts to advance the kingdom of God. At our November women’s conference, I received prayer, and God broke lifelong spiritual habits.” After her heart attack in 2015, her cardiac checkups have all been good. Lorraine also continued to bless seniors as a home health aide. Besides doing light housekeeping and other chores, she makes close friends with all of them and shares the good news of Jesus with every one. “It’s always a joy and privilege to help seniors live in their homes.”

And, at the end of 2018, it’s a joy and privilege to know you. May you have the best of years in 2019, and may you come to know the comfort of the Babe in the manger.

 

Love at Christmas,

 

Jim and Lorraine

 

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The Season Ends on a Merry Note

 
halfpricebooks st. charles 2
Here I am on Christmas Eve at Half Price Books in St. Charles with happy customer David Scully Jr.

I finished the season on a high note on Christmas Eve signing books at Half Price Books in St. Charles. It wasn’t the kind of monster day I’ve had lately, but it was decent. I loved talking up the Gateway Arch with buyers of my Arch book The Making of an Icon, 2nd Edition like David Scully Jr. I hope those who didn’t buy still got a little more excited about our local treasure. Then there was Donna C. Wood of Ballwin, who sent her son to pick up two copies of Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans as last-minute gifts. Yeah, Donna!

All told, I had a great December signing at nine places. God blessed, and we’ll be able to pay a few end-of-the-year bills.  I’ll keep signing next year, including when Growing Up St. Louis comes out next fall. I hope to see you at one of them.

A Very Merry End of the Season

 

halfpricebooks st. charles 2
Here I am on Christmas Eve at Half Price Books in St. Charles with happy customer David Scully Jr.

I finished the season on a high note on Christmas Eve signing books at Half Price Books in St. Charles. It wasn’t the kind of monster day I’ve had lately, but it was decent. I loved talking up the Gateway Arch with buyers of my Arch book The Making of an Icon, 2nd Edition like David Scully Jr. I hope those who didn’t buy still got a little more excited about our local treasure. Then there was Donna C. Wood of Ballwin, who sent her son to pick up two copies of Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans as last-minute gifts. Yeah, Donna!

All told, I had a great December signing at nine places. God blessed, and we’ll be able to pay a few end-of-the-year bills.  I’ll keep signing next year, including when Growing Up St. Louis comes out next fall. I hope to see you at one of them.

The Shutdown Won’t Shut Us Down!

sky monument arch saint louis
Photo by Brittany Moore on Pexels.com

It’s odd to imagine, but one place where you won’t be able to buy a signed copy of my book about the Gateway Arch this weekend is the Gateway Arch. The government shutdown shut down the Arch, where I was set for a book signing on Sunday. But you do have three other opportunities by a copy of the second edition of The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch Christmas.

Today, Saturday, I’m scheduled to sign from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Half Price Books, 1664 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield, and from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in the West County Center. Then from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, you’ll see me at Half Price Books, 2107 Zumbehl Road in St. Charles.

At both Half Price Books locations, you can also buy my other books, Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, The Colorful Characters of St. Louis, and my self-published novel, The Devils Island Lighthouse. I have lots of ways to make sure your Christmas book shopping isn’t shut down!

Will I Ever Stop?

jimbusy
Here comes another signing.

Am I crazy? I must be, because I’m doing three book signings this weekend. But that’s good for you and any other Christmas shopper who’s going crazy trying to find the perfect gift for that certain St. Louis history lover. Today, Saturday, I’ll sign from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at STL-Style/Stylehouse, 3159 Cherokee Street and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Half Price Books, 630 McKnight Road in University City. Then on Sunday you’ll find me from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Tower Grove Farmers Market’s outdoor Boulevard Holiday Market, 1 The Boulevard, Richmond Heights, off Galleria Parkway across Brentwood Boulevard from The Galleria. If you think that’s crazy, I have four signings next weekend.

Two Down. Two to Go

PragerSaturday’s dedication events for two honorary German street signs increased our conviction of the importance of pointing out how patriotic German Americans were the victims of a farcical patriotic orgy during World War I.

Those words, “a farcical patriotic orgy,” aren’t mine. They’re from a fine book about the 1918 lynching of Robert Prager, Patriotic Murder: A World War I Hate Crime for Uncle Sam. The book by Peter Stehman talks about how the hanging was the result of a patriotic frenzy during the war. During the dedication service for the the honorary sign for Robert Prager Way at Bates Street and Morganford Road, Stehman talked about how the danger of a similar frenzy is just as great now as it was back then.

Bismarck

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen recently voted to grant the honorary designation to Bates Street from Morgan Ford Road to Gravois Avenue. Prager is buried in St. Matthew Cemetery next to Bates at that point. Among those who attended the event were 13th Ward Alderwoman Beth Murphy, who sponsored the bill making the designation, James Martin, president of the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis (GAHS); Gwendolyn Murray of the Better Bevo Now neighborhood organization; Kevin Sterett and others from the cemetery; and residents of the street.

The honorary sign for Bismarck Street at Lami and Seventh Street in the Soulard neighborhood also was dedicated on Saturday.  The name of Bismarck Street was changed to Fourth Street in 1918. That street no longer exists, so the honorary street for Bismarck was located from Barton Street to Lami Street on Seventh Street. Seventh Ward Alderman Jack Coatar sponsored the bill approving the designation.

The day finished at a reception sponsored by the German American Heritage Society of Saint Louis at the Schlafly Tap Room downtown.  I’ve been working on this project for the last five years with the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis.  They’ve been an essential part of this work. More than that, I could have done anything. I love working with James Martin, Lansing Hecker and the whole group.

There’s still work ahead. The city has approved five streets. We have two streets to go. We’ll keep going until we reach our goal.  Meanwhile, my deepest gratitude for all who offered their help and encouragement.

Beth Murphy 1
When a rope meant to pull the covering from the sign pulled loose, Alderwoman Beth Murphy climbed a ladder to remove it.
Prager crowd
This group turned out for the dedication of Robert Prager Way

Closer to Our Goal

PragerSaturday’s dedication events for two honorary German street signs increased our conviction of the importance of pointing out how patriotic German Americans were the victims of a farcical patriotic orgy during World War I.

Those words, “a farcical patriotic orgy,” aren’t mine. They’re from a fine book about the 1918 lynching of Robert Prager, Patriotic Murder: A World War I Hate Crime for Uncle Sam. The book by Peter Stehman talks about how the hanging was the result of a patriotic frenzy during the war. During the dedication service for the the honorary sign for Robert Prager Way at Bates Street and Morganford Road, Stehman talked about how the danger of a similar frenzy is just as great now as it was back then.

Bismarck

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen recently voted to grant the honorary designation to Bates Street from Morgan Ford Road to Gravois Avenue. Prager is buried in St. Matthew Cemetery next to Bates at that point. Among those who attended the event were 13th Ward Alderwoman Beth Murphy, who sponsored the bill making the designation, James Martin, president of the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis (GAHS); Gwendolyn Murray of the Better Bevo Now neighborhood organization; Kevin Sterett and others from the cemetery; and residents of the street.

The honorary sign for Bismarck Street at Lami and Seventh Street in the Soulard neighborhood also was dedicated on Saturday.  The name of Bismarck Street was changed to Fourth Street in 1918. That street no longer exists, so the honorary street for Bismarck was located from Barton Street to Lami Street on Seventh Street. Seventh Ward Alderman Jack Coatar sponsored the bill approving the designation.

The day finished at a reception sponsored by the German American Heritage Society of Saint Louis at the Schlafly Tap Room downtown.  I’ve been working on this project for the last five years with the German American Heritage Society of St. Louis.  They’ve been an essential part of this work. More than that, I could have done anything. I love working with James Martin, Lansing Hecker and the whole group.

There’s still work ahead. The city has approved five streets. We have two streets to go. We’ll keep going until we reach our goal.  Meanwhile, my deepest gratitude for all who offered their help and encouragement.

Prager crowd
This group turned out for the dedication of Robert Prager Way
Kaiser
This street going west on Kingshighway Boulevard just north of Gravois Avenue was originally Kaiser Street. Renamed Gresham Street during World War II, it now has its original name in honorary form.