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Dec 2001 / the ordinary eye :: email this story to a friend

Extraordinary in the Ordinary
By Scott J. Androff

First, a little about me: to answer everybody's favorite St. Louis question, I graduated in 1973 from Lindbergh High School. I lived in Crestwood, and at that time couldn't wait to move into the city. From Benton Park in '73 - '74, to the Shaw neighborhood '74 - '76, to south of Tower Grove Park '76 - '83, to marriage and buying a house in Dogtown — I've always loved living in the city. I only wish things were a little better...

A couple of years ago I made a New Year's resolution that I was going to more actively support Soulard Farmer's Market. I never imagined I would become one of the vendors, selling my photographs. My experience selling my St. Louis urban landscape photos at Soulard has been grand. I've sold a fair amount, but more importantly I've opened many people's eyes to the beauty St. Louis has to offer.

[Click on a thumbnail image below to enlarge it.]

My daughter Victoria and I were traipsing around the incredibly powerful downtown post office one fine August morning. When we noticed these elaborately painted construction walls, I got a picture of Victoria hanging on for dear life before the art swept her away. One of my faves.
Tower Grove Park has always been a special place for me. Every Sunday I take my dog, Jazz, to the park and after chasing squirrels and getting some water we conduct our weekly bench patrol. My brother Terry has a memorial bench across from the Palm House. The bench reads GO EASY, STEP LIGHTLY, STAY FREE >< TERRY LEE THAYER. When I went to SLU, the free bus would drop me off at 39th & Magnolia, and I never minded that walk across the park to my flat on the other side.
I haven't seen this mammoth balloon since the 1989 Forest Park Balloon Race. That is such a great event in St. Louis, and has gotten huge. The Balloon Glow, held the night before the race, is actually our highlight of that weekend. Someday I'll photograph the city from inside a balloon.
It's hard to imagine what St. Louis would be like if it were not for Henry Shaw's genius and generosity. The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the finest in the world, and Tower Grove Park has every known tree growing. The Garden grows more and more beautiful every year.
The 105-year-old Compton Heights Water Tower is an architectural marvel. It's one of five remaining, old-fashioned water towers in the United States; we have three of them right here in our fair city. My dad used to live on Theresa Street and remembers playing as a kid. In those days, if it got too hot, kids would go sleep out in the park.
What can you say about Coral Courts Hotel? Beautifully designed. Seedy reputation. Route 66 location. Like many people in St. Louis, I miss the old NO TELL MOTEL, but am glad to've gotten many shots while it was still open. Never stayed there until after I was married, but was it a blast...all night or four hours.
It's always nice to see things how other people don't see them. Reflections are usually dramatic, and this Louis IX Art Museum statue peeking in the window sure works for me.
In SLU's church when I rested my camera on the pew in front of me and set the shutter for 1/2 second I expected the color to be hot, but not on fire. MASS HYSTERIA has grabbed a lot of people's attention and is hanging in our living room.
I can remember walking past this place in the mid '70s with workers tossing the piecrusts up in the air. Pizza A-Go-Go has moved off South Grand to Ivanhoe Street. They may have a new location, but the pizza is still great!
One of the nice things about serving as a state or federal juror is you get really long lunch breaks. So when Iíve been reading all morning and the bell rings, Iím always ready to grab a quick sandwich and take some shots of downtown. Always willing to serve, I never get picked.
One of these days I'm going to make a wrestling match (or is that rassling?) at the South Broadway Athletic Club. This quirky blue-shirted man sure matches the color of the marquee nicely. Good old South Broadway.
The flood of 1993 was certainly a memorable event in St. Louis and surely a huge photo op. When there's a picture that conjures up sadness, you sometimes wonder about capturing the shot. I'm better taking sad inanimate shots.
Last year we had a contest with all the kids in the extended family to determine how many gazebos there are in Tower Grove Park. I think the answer is 13, but I do know they rotate the maintenance of these English walking park wonderland oases every year. The Henry Shaw Memorial Bandstand is where the Compton Heights Band sets up and plays on Monday nights during the summer months. It's a charm to see the neighborhood aglow with generations of South St. Louisans enjoying a free concert. Ted Drewes, puppies, and Rhapsody in Blue.
Victoria used to crack Susan and me up when she said she didn't like statues of naked people. The amazing thing about this statue is the entire weight is supported by dad's big toe. I love grabbing shots in the garden after a heavy snow. Last year, the day after Christmas, it was Victoria, me, my Nikon, and eight inches of snow. WONDERFUL!
Fourth of July is always a joy because you can get as close to the mayhem as you chose. If crowds bother you, setting up and shooting from Kiener Plaza is the way to go. It's almost like a private little party going on back there. See you this year.
Every time we hit the Garden, I mention how I'm going to get the UOMO UNIVERSALE shot as Leonardo da Vinci envisioned. Well, we did it, and I became the uomo universale. Oh, life is such a joy with Susan, Victoria, Jazz, and everyone else we know and love.

Scott Androff can be found selling his St. Louis images from his stall in Soulard Market. You already know where he went to high school.

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