All but seven of the stories in Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades came from interviews. The seven that didn’t were from written accounts of the first two decades of the 20th Century. We did that because we wanted to include kids right after 1900, and nobody’s around anymore who remembers that period. They fit perfectly in Growing Up.
One of those stories came from Emily Hahn, an author and journalist who was born in St. Louis in 1905. It’s a great description of summer in St. Louis. It’s not the heat. Well, maybe it is the heat.
Late in May, it would begin to heat up. Then we were permitted to go barefoot, outside of school hours—a privilege I did not appreciate, for the sidewalks burned my feet and the asphalt in the streets melted to a mushy consistency, streaking my legs with tar.
Wherever potholes in a street were being mended, there was a little heap of soft tar nearby, and I remember— though I hate to think about it—that we filched little pieces of the tar and chewed it. The parched grass of Fountain Park was easier than asphalt on the feet, but if one simply had to stay outside, the backyard was best. There we could turn on the garden hose and wallow. When the classroom thermometer at our school rose to about ninety, we were sent home.
Want to read more? You’ll have to wait until April, When Growing Up St. Louis comes out. You can buy it in a bookstore or online. To get a signed copy and have a great time, mark your calendar for the launch event, at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 11 at the Central Library, 1301 Olive St. Or else, go to this website’s menu and then to the “Upcoming Events” section. When April comes closer, you’ll be able to buy a signed copy through this website. Any author will tell you that’s the best way, because he or she gets the most money that way.
As Emily Hahn would say, get it while it’s hot.