That Guy on the Overpass

Raynard 7
Raynard Nebbitt and his sister on his bridge over Interstate 44

For years, motorists on Interstate 44 passing through Webster Groves honked at that guy who always stood on the Rock Hill Road overpass. So did engineers on trains on nearby tracks. Everything went fine for Raynard Nebbitt until a nearby resident who worked at night complained all the honking kept her up. Then Nebbitt’s defenders asked the Webster Groves City Council to come to his defense. The council did more than that. It named the overpass after him. Raynard Nebbitt is one of eighty people of note in my book The Colorful Characters of St. Louis.

Now here’s an update: since the beginning of the day, Monday, Oct. 17, people have been viewing this post again and again. Here’s an update. As of today, Sunday, Oct. 23, there were just under 35,000.

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31 thoughts on “That Guy on the Overpass

  1. thetimman October 17, 2016 / 11:37 am

    Awesome. I’m glad the Webster folks did that for him. We always call him my daughter’s friend bc we pass him quite often to and from dance class. Always peps up her day to see him.

    Like

    • Jim Merkel October 17, 2016 / 11:43 am

      He’s absolutely worth it, thetimman. I’ve had an amazing response. Just today, for whatever reason, 1,650 people have viewed my piece about him. It’s stunning, but wonderful.
      Just curious, thetimman. Where did you hear about it?
      Jim

      Like

      • Winnie Bahr October 17, 2016 / 2:04 pm

        Responses probably came from it being posted on the Webster Community Connect page on FB. That’s how I saw it and there are 4400 members.

        Like

    • Jen October 17, 2016 / 7:18 pm

      He is such a beloved member of our community! I frequently see him at Schnucks and Bread Co. He loves snacks and Sodas;-)

      Like

    • Joani cook October 18, 2016 / 9:00 am

      I have watched this small boy grow into a young man for 25 years now. I love seeing him up on that overpass. I find it one of the sweetest and most hopeful things about life. Life’s simple pleasures. I don’t know how much actual joy that has brought him overseeing us travelers below but I like to think it brought and brings him great joy because I know it does I. I will miss the day he is gone.

      Like

  2. Lisa October 17, 2016 / 12:40 pm

    I’ve bought him lunch several times!
    He’s always hungry! Hint hint!
    Probably from riding!!
    Nice man few words!!

    Like

    • Jim Merkel October 17, 2016 / 12:47 pm

      He’s such a nice guy. He was so happy when he was at my book release party on Oct. 2.

      Like

  3. Mark Hight October 17, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    Your story is short? Or is it my iPad clinched? Ha! Do you know how long he’s been doing that? I think saw him there early 90’s but not sure then move to Ballwin took I-40 to work for 10 years then moved to Union mo and use I-44 to work and saw him again still there!!! That’s around 2001!!! Is he austism? I always mention to my wife about seeing him there once in a while.
    I work in Dwntown St Louis main post office 27 years now.
    Mark

    Like

    • Jim Merkel October 17, 2016 / 1:03 pm

      He was out there in the early 1990s. He’s mentally challenged and works at a sheltered workshop. I tell his full story in “The Colorful Characters of St. Louis.” I’ll be talking about him during presentations at 7 tonight (Monday) at the Kirkwood Public Library and at 7 Thursday night at the Buder Branch of the St. Louis Public Library.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Hight October 17, 2016 / 6:52 pm

        Oh my gosh!!! When I first saw him on overpass, I got nervous thinking he was gonna jump or throw something off haha!!! The more I see him and realized he’s kind of like autism because of his body language movements like my wife daughter who is autism. Wow!!! Glad you got stories on him!!! He was such a young man in 1990’s!!!

        Like

      • Frank October 18, 2016 / 8:41 am

        I used to mow grass in Webster and would stop to say hello and sometimes give him a couple of bucks to buy some ice cream when the truck was in the neighborhood. Sweet Kid

        Like

      • Chris Cloud October 17, 2017 / 8:17 am

        I grew up in Webster Groves. He used to have a replica of the train crossing lights and guards ( I am sure there is a name for it).
        When the trains would come he would ride his bike with his homemade train crossing light replica up to the crossing at on Gore by where Two Nice Guys used to be.
        He would lower the guard rails in sync with the real ones.
        I can remember him doing this in the 80’s.
        On his bike he had a bunch of cool things he had built for his admiration of that train crossing.
        Thank you Webster for protecting the genuine awesomeness of this man.
        He is reminiscent of Joe Parente’ of WGHS or Hogeboom’s Sno Cones…..I could go on and on…

        Like

  4. Cori October 17, 2016 / 3:38 pm

    Love this. Is this the man with the “map” of some sort on his bicycle?

    Like

      • Jim Merkel October 17, 2016 / 5:44 pm

        I have a whole book full of good guy stories. Hope you can buy it. Maybe we’ll meet at one of my programs or signings. You can find a list on my web site.

        Like

  5. laura svendsen October 17, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    Reynard is a wonderful kind man, not only does he greet all who drive under his so aptly named overpass he rides his bike all over Webster carrying a self-made model of his overpass that is incredibly detailed for a model comprised of things found in your average ” junk drawer”. In a world where the bad guys seem to get all the press , glad to hear somebody is still trying to tell the good guys stories!

    Like

  6. P Geimer October 17, 2016 / 7:56 pm

    Lately he is very sad. He told me that they moved…

    Like

  7. Jennifer Heissinger October 17, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    My husband pointed him out to me several years ago. Funny, I never noticed him before then. I always look forward to seeing him, when I drive down 44. When he’s not there, I get kinda worried. I had no idea he was that famous!! So glad I saw this post! I wish I could attend the Buder Branch seminar, I’d love to hear more about the interesting folks in STL:) I’ll show this post to my husband, he’ll be excited:) So glad he had the overpass named after him!!

    Like

    • Jim Merkel October 17, 2016 / 8:24 pm

      If you can’t make my program at the Buder Branch, at 6 p.m. Thursday, watch my schedule in my website, Jim Merkel the Writer. You’ll have other chances.

      Like

  8. Toby Newman October 18, 2016 / 6:29 am

    How did I live in St. Louis (not too far from Webster Groves) 49 years, and never see this guy? That was never my regular route to drive, but I would think I would have never seen him a few times. Now that I live in Florida, I read about this sweet man. The world needs more like him! Thanks for sharing his story!

    Like

  9. Patty Baez October 18, 2016 / 6:58 am

    I see him every other week on Rockhill road by the railroad track before Bigbend road , I wave and look forward to seeing him. Thank you for sharing this is him such a nice man.😀

    Like

  10. Not publishing my name because people are mean. October 18, 2016 / 8:53 am

    The nurse that was villanized in the article nearly 10 years ago had to sell her house. She was badgered and really made to be a nasty person when all she wanted was a few hours of sleep after a 12 hour shift. Her home was egged and people would drive by and honk and scream at her. She never was mean or rude to him. She asked nicely then was made out to be this shrew. It was really unfair how she was treated. Raynard is an icon in the Webster/Kirkwood area, she treated him respectfully. However the community did not give her the same respect when all she wanted was a few hours of sleep.

    Like

    • Jim Merkel October 18, 2016 / 10:02 am

      I’ve thought about that and can’t disagree. Thanks for making that comment.

      Like

  11. Aaron T. October 18, 2016 / 9:19 am

    I drive that stretch of I44 almost every day during my commute. I’ve noticed Raynard hundreds of times but didn’t know his story. Thanks for sharing Jim and I look forward to your book. Also, kudos to Webster Groves for the wonderful gesture.

    Like

  12. lawcombs October 18, 2016 / 2:40 pm

    This guy makes my heart sing💜

    Like

  13. Lindsay October 18, 2016 / 6:03 pm

    You should include Brother Lewis in your collection of people. Every morning he stands at the corner of Tower Grove Ave. and Vista Ave. in the city and waves to cars passing by. He is a neighborhood icon and the best part of some people’s days.

    Like

  14. Patrick O'Donnell October 20, 2016 / 7:28 pm

    I am a proud 17 year resident of Webster Groves, I have raised and continue to raise my family in this community that celebrates family values and diversity. I see Raynard often, when I am on 44 and he is on the bridge, moving his arm up and down at passing semi trucks to get them to honk ( I always honk even though I drive a regular boring car), or when he is riding his bike with his bridge model on the back. It brings joy to my day that this man can find happiness in the simple things, something that seems to get lost in this modern world of distracted drivers and cell phones. When I see Raynard it brings a smile to my face and sets my mood for the rest of the day. He exudes a simple kindness which is infectious, and it saddens me to read that some WG residents have actually complained about the honking. Well, I honk so complain to me, don’t affect this living WG legend’s simple pleasure, and look within yourself to find happiness in the simple things. After all, if you live in WG you are very fortunate to be part of a wonderful vibrant community that people aim to be a part of. I am so happy that he (Raynard) is going to be documented, and I look forward to reading the final print. Celebrate life, celebrate diversity and celebrate Raynard. Thank YOU Raynard for bringing a smile to passing motorists and residents alike. You are a treasure and I am proud that you are a part of our community.

    Like

  15. Joanne October 21, 2016 / 11:25 am

    Does he ride his bike with that huge piece of wood on his handle bars. I don’t know how he rided and keeps that with him. He has amazing balance. My kids always referred to him as Big Bend Benny. Would love to know where I can drop off a sandwich to him.

    Like

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