We agree. Let’s go see.
First, lunch. The Hardee’s drive-thru near our office. Charbroiled chicken sandwiches. Neal’s driving so I get to eat mine first. Neal wanted to try the jalapeno something-somethings, which look something like batter dipped french fries. I try one. Neal munches while he heads the car onto westbound I-64.
People, some people, around here still insist on saying “Forty” when referring to I-64. US 40. It is. But after a year in St Louis I know it’s the old-timers. Some of those old-timers really aren’t old. It’s more a frame of mind. US 40. It hints back to a day before the federal interstate system. Pre-Eisenhower. I guess that when I was a kid someone was starting to build these interstate roads.
When I was a kid. That would have been the days of Kennedy, Nixon. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
North on I-170. East on I-270. Exit and then south on Florissant Ave. We turn left into the drive for a community center where Salvation Army and a few other agencies set up last Saturday, will again tomorrow, to serve people of Ferguson MO. Park. Go in. Talk to a couple of the staff. Who commiserate with us about the troubles. Back in the car. I drive so Neal can eat his now cold sandwich.
We continue south on Florissant. It is a suburb that looks like a suburb. Businesses, not close together. Just enough space to give them the look of eyes a little too far apart. We are seeing police cars everywhere. St Louis County cruisers. At about every corner. It looks like the President could come through. Not today.
We also see homes. Neat, definitely not ostentatious. Tidy neighborhoods. Closer together than Florissant Ave. businesses. Humble homes huddling together, still. It’s early afternoon and they look very quiet.
Now, lots of police. Cars, but now standing, small groups walking. I notice the older policeman who seems to be represented in each group of county brown. How they are described, they look, in their uniforms. Yes, mostly white.
We have joined dense slowly moving traffic.
Somehow it reminds me of the tourists who visit Paris to see Notre Dame at Sunday vespers. Worshipers sit. Around them slowly circulate the tourists there to see the cathedral, hear the organ. Not engaged, not worshiping. Just came to see the thing.
On the left. The burnt-out Quik Trip which is a landmark for these times of trouble in Ferguson. Dramatic, how the burnt front and center is skeleton like, structural metal bare, swooping upward. Now it reminds me of Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millennium Park. I have an overactive associating mind.
On the right, the McDonald’s which is not burnt but has seen its share of troubles. Lots of people and dozens of police. Later in the day we hear it’s because Jesse Jackson was in there.
We see the Schnucks and Target stores and the ominous dark law enforcement vehicles in their lots. I think Neal said ‘FBI’ and I think I saw SWAT on one. Here and there, traffic lanes and drives blocked off. Some shoppers. All who we see, police and non-police, are in slow motion, not unpleasant. Even the few protesters with signs seem to have that certain je ne sais quoi.
I’m driving and Neal’s trying to take photos. When he holds the iPhone up some give us looks. Not real hard looks, just that squinty ‘hey, what …’ look.
We drive around the Schnucks/Target lots, back to Florissant Ave. North to I-270. The yellow then red traffic signal abruptly catches me and we joke about getting pulled over by the police. We both give little nervous laughs. We are out of here.