The Arch Becomes a Whole ‘nother Story

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Kevin Killeen at work

I’ve known Kevin Killeen for close to 20 years. From 2002 to 2009, we both covered St. Louis City Hall. I wrote for the old Suburban Journals, while Kevin was a news guy for KMOX Radio. He always had the oddball question guaranteed to peeve politicians. He still does.

I left the City Hall beat in 2009, but Kevin remained. He keeps busy reporting for KMOX, more so because he also does oddball features several times at week for a brief show called a Whole ‘nother Story. He’s interviewed me about my books several times since my first volume, Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis’ South Side came out in 2010.  His interviews for a Whole ‘Nother Story are always fun because he employes the same kind of unexpected queries in them that he poses to politicians. He also shows his talent for showing the funny side of life by writing the annual KMOX Holiday Show and four novels about growing up Catholic in the 70s.

On Friday, Kevin interviewed me for that show about my latest book, The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, the Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition. It was sweltering when we met me outside at Fourth and Market Streets, in the shadow of the Gateway Arch. His questions were just as hot, about topics like “Could they build it today?” and “How long will it last?” I explain why the Arch is and isn’t a catenary curve. To learn how, you’ll have to listen to the program, or, better yet, buy the book and read my full explanation.

Kevin went back to the KMOX office, cleaned up my ramblings and scheduled the program to air at 5:45 a.m. Monday. It’s early, but definitely worth getting up to hear at 5:45 a.m. at 1120 am. Out of town, you can listen to it on kmox.radio.com. I’ll post it later. Listen, and then come to my launch party from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 24, at the Royale, 3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis. We can talk about it while I’m signing your book.

 

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Help My Birthday Cause, Please

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Can you help this poor man? Donate on my birthday. Better yet, buy a book.

Next Tuesday, June 19, is my birthday. I’ve decided to take Facebook’s advice and have all my friends donate to a needy cause. I’ve studied this carefully and decided the poor person pictured with this post has the greatest need. So I’m asking all of you to send the biggest bills possible to the Jim Merkel Benovolence and Improvement Association, LLC.

To make it easy on yourself, come to 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 on Sunday, June 24 and buy a book. It’s from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Steven Fitzpatrick Smith’s fantastic bar and restaurant, The Royale, 3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd.

Remember: a birthday is a terrible thing to waste.

The 2nd “Icon” Hits the Streets

me with Icon 2This morning, I finally took a gander at the The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats, 2nd Edition, at the new Reedy Press warehouse.  It looks better than I thought was possible, much better than the first edition published in 2014. It’s slick, bright white, with some great color pictures that show the drama the Arch builders experienced  as they assembled Eero Saarinen’s dream. It frames beautifully the stories I told in the old book, along with new chapters about the $380 million renovation of the Arch grounds, visitor center and museum, the Gateway Arch National Park and how the Arch got its name.

Now it’s your turn. You can buy a copy at a book store, or – better yet – you can get one at my launch party, from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, June 24 at the Royale, 3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd. After I sign the book, you can relax with some of the best food, drink, and Gateway Arch lovers around. After you’ve read the book, you’ll be really to visit the upgraded Arch with a full appreciation of what it’s all about.

It is Our Image, It is Our Identity

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Photo by Bryan Werner

 The Gateway Arch has held (Former Mayor Francis Slay) in awe since his father, popular St. Louis restaurateur and political figure Francis R. Slay, regularly brought him and other family members to the icon during its construction. It’s easy for him to remember the day it was topped off: October 28, 1965. That was his father’s birthday. “That’s why I always remember when it happened,” said Slay, who served until 2017…..

If there was no Gateway Arch, Slay said, the city would be nondescript. “There wouldn’t be a whole lot to set it apart from other cities in terms of skyline,” he said. “When you say St. Louis, people think of the Arch. When you say the Arch, people think of St. Louis. Wherever you are in the United States and pretty much wherever you are in the world, it is our image, it is our identity.”

  • Page 216 and 220, The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition, by Jim Merkel.

Come buy one of the first copies of the second edition of The Making of an Icon and have Jim Merkel sign it at at the book’s launch party from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, July 24 at The Royale St. Louis Bar and Grill, Tavern and Restaurant, 3132 South Kingshighway Blvd, St. Louis. Then experience the reopening of the renovated Gateway Arch museum and visitor center on July 3.

OK. So Laugh Already!

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The Arch Coming From My Head

Go ahead. Ask what kind of a goofball would put a picture like this on his website. Maybe somebody who’s written so much about it that the Arch comes out of his head? That would make for some kind of book, one that you ought to buy and have me sign.

You’ll get your first chance to do that at the launch party for my book, The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch from 2-5 p.m. Sunday,  June 24, at the Royale, 3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd. Be careful, though. After you read it, you may know so much about the Gateway Arch that it’ll come out of your head.

On to the Printer!

 

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The view to the west from the top of the Gateway Arch, including the new entrance and the Park Over the Highway

This week, we finally finished the proofreading of my new Gateway Arch book and sent it off to the printers. I’m told copies of The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition should be in the new warehouse no later than June 18. That’s more than enough time to have plenty of books on hand for the launch party from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, June 24, at The Royale St. Louis Bar and Grill, Tavern and Restaurant. Come have fun, buy a book and have me autograph it.

The book contains much of what I wrote about in the volume that appeared in 2014 and a lot more. There’s more than 60 new pictures. I offer some fascinating details about how the Arch got its shape. Just what is a weighted catenary curve, and why did Eero Saarinen care?  I’ve come up with some answers you wouldn’t expect. I wrote about the daredevils who rappelled down the Arch to check on the strange stains on the monument and devote space to problems that might come from cleaning it. Of course, I couldn’t leave out details about the $380 million re-do of the Arch grounds and museum.

I think it’s much better than the first book, which I always thought was my best book.  Now that you know, how could you not buy it?

An Impressive First Look

A new picture of Eero Saariinen for the second edition.

I’m sitting here at my dining room table taking a first look at the first proofs of The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition. Yes, I’ve found some boo-boos, but that’s all right. That’s why you look at proofs, so you can catch the mistakes. But what I see so far is that this edition is much better than the one that came out in 2014.

Almost everything is there from the first book. But there are plenty of new details to make this stand out, in chapters about the $380 million makeover of the Arch grounds and museum and how modern “building climbers” rappelled down the Arch to check on dirty spots that showed up in the monument. I wrote about the meaning of the new Gateway Arch National Park designation and offered something on that amazing shape of the Gateway Arch. There’s more to it than just an Arch.  There are dozens of new pictures, plus 16 color pages provided by Getty Images.

It’ll be a book for every lover of the Gateway Arch, which should mean every St. Louisan. That’s why everybody in St. Louis should plan now to attend the book launch party for The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition. You can buy one of the first copies available anywhere, get my autograph and have fun at the event from 2-5 p.m. Sunday June 24 at the Royale, 3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to my proofreading.

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The cover for the 2nd Edition