Back in Business – Reedy Press and Me

New books
Back in Business – Real Soon

It’s been lonely since a fire last November destroyed all the books in the Reedy Press warehouse, including my own. Suddenly, I had nothing to sell and nothing to do. Without any books, I stayed at home, bored. Thankfully, though, the folks at Reedy Press didn’t like that idea. They helped me come up with a fantastic second edition of one of the books destroyed in the fire, The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch.

Now they’re getting ready to reprint my other three books: Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis’ South Side;  Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis’ South Side; and The Colorful Characters of St. Louis. I’ll let you know when it happens and post links to buy them.  When that happen, I’ll be completely back in business.



Signing Books in a Favorite Place

Arch window 3
The view from inide the window of the new Gateway Arch westward looking entrance.

I’ve been to all kinds of places promoting the second edition of The Making of an Icon since it came out about a month ago. I’ve been on radio and television, have spoken at a Rotary meeting and a senior living apartments center and signed books at a gift shop. It’s all been fun, but I had a special thrill on Sunday, when I signed books at The Arch Store in the Visitor Center of the Gateway Arch.

I’ve been too busy to go down there since it opened just before Independence Day. Sorry for repeating a cliche, but it’s amazing. The entrance is spectacular, and the new museum does a much better job of telling the story of the westward expansion and the Gateway Arch than before. I’ll write about it more some time. A mockup of the middle of the observation deck gives a good sense of what it’s like to be at the top of the Arch, down to the view from cameras at the top.

What I liked the best on Sunday, of course, was talking to visitors from everywhere, including one guy from Australia. I talked to a lot of people from Indiana, for some reason, and explained when St. Louisans mean when they say “Hoosiers.” More than anything, I liked signing books and telling people why the Arch is the best thing St. Louis has.

I liked almost all of it, except for the wait to get in. I came at a really busy time. It took more than an hour standing in line before I passed through security. They have three metal detectors, but only used one. Fortunately, lines are inside where it’s cool rather than outside where it’s hot, as it was with the old entrances. Maybe they should run all three metal detectors when crowds are heavy.

Meanwhile, we can come when there aren’t many people. Regardless, everyone should see the new visitor center and museum, and everyone should buy The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition. If you want to support a struggling freelance writer and get an autographed copy, click here.

Too Busy

Slow down, world.

A writer’s life is never slow, but it really zooms after a book comes out. That’s what I’m going through with The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition. 

Between now and Sunday, I’m doing two interviews, two presentations and two signings. It would be nice to stretch it out. But it’s worth it if I can talk up my favorites subject.

Wednesday at 10, I’ll be at the studios of STL TV on Oakland Avenue for a taping of Steve Potter’s City Corner, a current events program of the city’s informational cable TV station. Then at noon, I’ll give a presentation to a Rotary Club in the county. Thursday afternoon, I’ll do another presentation at a senior living facility in Webster Groves.

This morning, Jim Doyle sent an e-mail asking me to come on his program “Friday Morning With The Arts,” at 9 a.m. Friday on the Radio Arts Foundation. I can’t turn him down, no matter how busy I am.  You can listen to him at , at 107.3, at KNOU, 96.3 HD2, or on line. 

From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, you’ll see me signing my books at Circa STL Restaurant and Tavern at 1090 Old Des Peres Road in Des Peres. Come in, have an STL BBQ Pork Steak Dinner and a beverage and have me autograph a book. What could be better?

What could be better is four hours outside the Arch Store at the Gateway Arch Visitor Center. That’s where I’ll be signing books from 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Come see me and then see the museum and go to the top. 

I’ll be busy in the next few days, but I’ll love it. I hope to see you some time from now to Sunday. If you’re too busy to see or hear me in the next few days, press here to buy a book.




Fun Facts About the Arch

Let’s Celebrate!

As we celebrate the opening of the reconfigured Gateway Arch grounds, museum and visitor center, it’s a good time to think about some of the odd, weird and fun facts about our town’s treasure. Here’s a few of them, along with the pages where you’ll find out more in The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition.

51) Eero Saarinen's Amazing Weather Machine-GS
Eero Saarinen’s Amazing Weather Machine 
  • An enduring urban legend holds that bad storms veer away from St. Louis because of an “Arch Effect.” Supposedly, an iconic pulse in the icon’s legs, originally developed for a doomsday weather weapon against the Nazis, nudges the storms away. (Pages 176-177)
  • The Missouri Secretary of State’s online database of corporate names lists more than 4,600 corporations, past and present, whose name includes the name “Arch”  or “Gateway.” There is no list of businesses with different names that include a figure of the Arch in their logo, but there surely are many of them. (Page 170-172.)
  • When a small plane flew through the legs of the Arch less than nine months after it was topped out, the Federal Aviation Administration promised it would punish the offending pilot most severely after they caught him. It never did. Then in 2016, Donna Dorris of Madison, Il. went to the Post-Dispatch and said her late father Earl Bolin made the fly-through on June 22, 1966. That was the first of 11 confirmed fly-throughs from 1966 to 1984. (Pages 165-167)
  • The company that sent a team of building climbers down the Arch to check out unsightly stains and smudges on the surface offered a list of low-tech products to clean the icon. They include Zud Heavy Duty Cleanser, Avesta Cleaner 401, Barkeeper’s Friend and Scotchbrite Lite Duty Cleaning Pad. (Pages 202-207)
    How to Clean the Arch (Top and middle pictures by Bryan Werner)

    To find the whole story of the Arch, you can buy The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hat Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition here.  

A Great Day on Great Day St. Louis

great day interview
Kent Ehrhardt interviews me on Great Day St. Louis.

The KMOV studios were a great place to be this morning as I talked about The Making of an Icon, 2nd Edition, with Kent Ehrhardt of Great Day St. Louis.  We had fun on the Channel 4 morning program talking about how the Arch came to be. We also talked about a most important part of the project: the way-high-up outhouses on derricks on both legs.

After I left the KMOV studios, I swung by KMOX AM 1120 for an interview with Brian Kelly. I showed him one of the special projects experts said could clean the Arch: Bar Keepers Friend. I also showed off two chains meant to demonstrate the difference between a catenary curve and a weighted catenary curve. The Arch is a weighted catenary curve. That’ll be on either 8:20 or 8:50 Sunday.  You also can see a picture of my demonstration on Facebook. I’ll post a link.

If that’s not enough, my friend Steve Potter will broadcast an interview of me at 9 a.m. Friday on Alton station WBGZ 1570 AM and 94.3 FM. You also can hear it on podcast. .Hear all of them and then read the book


You’re Out of Time, So Get Going

There’s no better place to have a book launch party than the Royale.

For days, I’ve been telling you to start getting ready for the launch party for my new book, The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition. Since you’re like me, you didn’t. It’s time to get out of that chair, grab that wallet, those key and your phone and head to your car.  Drive it to Steven Fitzpatrick Smith’s awesome Royale eatery and drinkery at 3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd. You’ll find my launch party in the courtyard from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday, June 24.

When you get there, you may want to buy a copy of the book and have me personally inscribe it. If you wish, you also can pick up a copy of my last book, The Colorful Characters of St. Louis. We thought all the copies burned up in that Reedy Press warehouse fire last year. Fortunately, Reedy found some copies of that book.

After that, you’ll probably be hungry and thirsty. Fortunately, the Royale has a solution in a great menu. You’ll find good company among the lovers of the Gateway Arch in attendance. I understand there will be some fun authors there, for Reedy and other publishers. At 3:30 p.m. you can compete for a free copy of one of my books in a trivia contest. Our sources say there is a 90 percent chance that the trivia master will be fellow Reedy Press author Amanda Doyle. She’s penned a slew of tomes about this town, including a children’s book, To the Top! A Gateway Arch Story.  She also was one of the characters in The Colorful Characters of St. Louis.

Make sure you stick around and test your knowledge of the Arch. But also just make sure you come. The book contains some amazing history about an amazing St. Louis treasure. It’s time to make some history of your own and show up at the launch party for The Making of an Icon, 2nd Edition.

On Sunday afternoon, lovers of books about the Gateway Arch will fill the courtyard of the Royale, in the launch party for The Making of an Icon, 2nd Edition.



4 Days to Go! Time to Get Ready

Big Icon

There’s just four days to go until the launch party for my book, The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition. I’m getting ready, as you can see above.  No, it’s not a really big print edition of my book about the Arch. It’s the sign you’ll see at my table at the  party. You’ll go there to buy a book. I’ll sign it for you, and then the fun will begin.

To review, it’s from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. that day at Steven Fitzpatrick Smith’s fantastic Royale, at 3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd., just south of Arsenal Street. Then you’ll have conversation with fellow lovers of the city’s greatest treasure, a chance to try your knowledge of the Arch in a killer trivia contest and some of the greatest food and drink on the South Side.

With everything going on at that great St. Louis icon, the great Gateway Arch, you know you want to read a great book about it, don’t you? The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition is it! It’s even better than the first edition, which made the Post-Dispatch list of the 50 best books of 2014. Besides all the great history and stuff from the first edition, you’ll read about the $380 million redo of the Arch grounds and museum, what’s up with those stains on the Arch, the new name for the park and so much more. You’ll peruse more than 60 new pictures.

Get ready now. There are only four days to go. Then look for me at the big sign.



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