Everybody Loves The Arch

Costco 1
At the Manchester Costco signing on Sunday, Aug. 26, I take a selfie with Denise Coleman, whose dad scoffed when the Arch went up. Notice the one-of-a-kind cover.

Whenever I’m out signing books, doing a presentation, or speaking on the radio, I always enjoy talking to people about my writing. It’s been especially so with the first and second editions of The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch. I’ve found that just about everybody around here is passionate about the Arch, for all kinds of reasons.

I saw that when I did a couple of signings this past weekend at the annual Celebrate Wildwood fair and at the Costco in Manchester. Everybody had a story about it, Denise Coleman, who was 8 when the Icon went up, remembered hearing her dad scoff, “Why are they spending all that money on a piece of metal that means nothing?” Lots of baby boomers who were there at the time shared stories about watching it go up.

I’m always amazed at how many people say their father or some other relative worked on it. I don’t have any reason to doubt any of them. On the other hand, if all those people helped build the Gateway Arch, then 50,000 must have assisted in the project. Hmm. I also often hear a wild story about that Arch that can’t be true. I heard one this weekend. It’s like what you read on Facebook. Just because somebody says it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Celebrate Wildwood1
At my book signing at the Celebrate Wildwood event on Saturday, Aug. 25, I stand with Linda T. Crothers, an engineer who’s originally from Houston.

Then there are the math types and engineers who love to talk about the equations and numbers that went into the shape of the Arch. One of them was Linda T. Crothers, an engineer originally from Houston and a  consulting project manager with Glotel USA supporting Verizon’s 1Fiber (ODN) Optical Distribution Network in St. Louis Mo. I ran into her at my signing table at Celebrate Wildwood. It was wild talking with her about the math behind the Arch. She understood all of it. I understood none. But it was still fun.

This weekend, I talked to a guy from China who said the first thing he does when a friend comes from his native land is to take him to the Arch. The same thing for locals. Everybody has a story about the Icon. It’s the best thing we have.

costco 4
Jay and Niki Chi, who came to St. Louis from Taiwan, show off “The Making of an Icon” at a signing I did Sunday, Aug. 26 at the Costco in Manchester.

Published by Jim Merkel

Reedy Press published four of my books, Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2010; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, 2012; The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch; and the Second Edition of Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2014. They're available in bookstores and online. For an autographed copy, send a check for $21.50 made out to Jim Merkel, to Jim Merkel, 4216 Osceola St., St. Louis, MO 63116.

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