November 2020

The recent death of former Missouri State Senator Wayne Goode was a reminder of something  we’ve lost as a society: a spirit of bipartisanship in public life.   While Wayne is perhaps best remembered for having sponsored the legislation that led to the establishment of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, it’s important for all alert readers (ARs) of this column to realize that he was also one of the bipartisan co-sponsors of legislation of vital importance to Schlafly and other craft breweries in Missouri.

Older ARs will recall  that prior to 1993 Schlafly was not allowed to sell beer to other bars and restaurants because we operated a brewpub in Missouri.  Breweries that owned brewpubs in other states were selling beer to bars, restaurants, super markets and convenience stores in Missouri, but state law forbade us to sell our beer to these same retail outlets.  ARs might ask what the rationale for such legislation might possibly have been. One need look no further than One Busch Place.

In  January of 1993 Senator Goode, a Democrat, joined Senator John Schneider, another Democrat, and Senator Franc Flotron, a Republican, in co-sponsoring a bill that I drafted that would allow us to sell beer to licensed wholesalers, who could in turn sell to licensed retailers, including bars, restaurants, super markets etc.  In doing so, they faced stiff opposition from some other Democrats, including Senator John Scott, who was known for backing legislation favored on Busch Place.  In the course of our strategy meetings, Senator Schneider brought up one of the reasons he was disinclined to take direction from Pestalozzi or Busch Place. On Halloween night in 1949  his future wife, who was twelve years old at the time,  had been shot with a pellet gun while she was trick-or-treating with another twelve-year-old girl at the Busch house on Lindell.   Schneider was convinced it was August III who had shot his wife.  For the record, August, who  was also twelve, admitted standing at a second floor window while holding a gun, but denied having shot anyone, claiming the gun was missing some key parts.  He explained that the two girls, who had been treated for pellet wounds on their legs and stomachs, must have been shot by someone else.  The police apparently accepted this explanation.

The bill co-sponsored by the bipartisan team of Goode, Schneider and Flotron was passed into law in May of 1993, along  with some amendments dictated on Pestalozzi and dutifully added by Senator Scott.

While many lament the partisan bickering that dominates the American political scene today, it’s worth recalling that we as a nation have been through periods of worse discord before, most notably from 1861 to 1865, during the Civil War.  Even today, 155 years after the formal end of the war, some commentators contend that the wounds still haven’t fully healed.  Consider Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that was made into a movie that won ten Academy Awards.  More than eight decades after the film’s release, it’s still highly controversial, as exemplified by HBO’s decisions earlier this year to show it; then not to show it; and finally to show it with explanations about context.

Never having read the novel, with my curiosity piqued by the controversy, I  took advantage of COVID isolation to read it in its entirety, all 1037 pages.  I can now report that the key to understanding Gone With The Wind  can be found in the name of a bar featured in the story:  The Girl of the Period.  ARs who have read the book may recall that this was a saloon in Atlanta where all kinds of characters gathered, including Union officers, ex-Confederates, Carpetbaggers, Scalawags and members of the Ku Klux Klan.  After some diligent research I discovered that there really was a saloon with this name at 16 Marietta Street. It closed its doors following the financial panic of 1873 and a temperance crusade.

More important, I learned that “Girl of the Period” was an expression often used during the Gilded Age as both a derogatory and a complimentary description.  In other words, Scarlett O’Hara, the protagonist of Gone With The Wind,  was a  Girl of the Period.  The portrait Mitchell paints of Scarlett is both flattering and harshly critical.  She was a woman who was  charming, pretty, skilled at business and admirably independent.  She was also selfish, obnoxiously bigoted and utterly without scruple.

While some fictional  Union officers were hanging out with ex-Confederates at The Girl of the Period, two actual ex-officers were building iconic bridges.  In addition to Gone With The Wind, my COVID reading has included The Great Bridge,  David McCullough’s 636 page account of the building of The Brooklyn Bridge.  The chief engineer on this bridge project was Washington Roebling, a former Union officer who had fought at the Battle of Gettysburg.  While his Brooklyn Bridge was being built across the East River in New York, another former Union officer, James Eads, was overseeing the construction of the bridge across the Mississippi at St. Louis that now bears his name.

When the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 it was the largest suspension bridge in the world. It connected the two cities of Brooklyn and New York and led to their municipal unification 15 years later, in 1898.  When Eads Bridge opened in 1874, its main arch of 520 feet was the longest rigid span in the world.  While the Brooklyn Bridge connected two important cities, Eads Bridge helped connect the entire United States by railroad.

Eads Bridge was closed to automobile traffic from 1991 to 2003.  Metrolink service began over the bridge in 1993.  Five years later, in 1998, Trailnet leased the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (which had been closed since 1970) and opened it exclusively for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.  I was on the board of Trailnet at the time and completed an historic circuit by bicycle.   I parked my car on the Missouri side of the Mississippi about two miles south of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge and rode my bike north to the bridge, where I met up with Ted Curtis, the Executive Director of Trailnet.  Ted and I then rode across the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge and then south on the Illinois side of the river to Eads Bridge.  Because the deck of Eads Bridge was closed, we took Metrolink  from East St. Louis to St. Louis and then rode our bikes north to where I had parked.  Because I had started two miles south of where I met Ted on the bridge, strictly speaking, I completed my circuit before he finished his.  As far as we knew or know, no one had previously done this circuit involving Eads Bridge and the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge by bicycle, given that neither bridge had been open to traffic of any kind and bike paths had not yet been built.

One of my fellow Trailnet board members was Wayne Goode, who later served as our president.  In bicycling and in the General Assembly he was good at opening and maintaining bridges, both figurative and real.

 

Tom Schlafly
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery