Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Macarthur Bridge

When my brother and I were still living at home in Soulard the drinking age in Illinois was 18. Naturally we drove over there when we were 16 to buy booze. We used to go across the Macarthur Bridge to get to the East Side.

Right across the bridge was a place called Leon’s Astro Lounge. You’d knock on the door and someone would slide open a little window to check you out. There was a famous incident in the East St. Louis stock yards where a bar sized up their clients this way. When they slid the window open a gun came through that showered everyone with bullets. My brother and I have both had guns pulled on us over there.

The bridge was built pre WWII. They were supposed to charge a toll until it was paid off. Just as it was becoming solvent the war happened and they decided they still needed the revenue. Needless to say the war ended but the toll didn’t.

My brother always made going to the East Side more of an adventure than it needed to be. He once scaled all three of the bridge arches.

On another occasion he and Danny were coming back when they got the bright idea Danny should surf the roof of the car. They had both of my brother’s dogs in the car too.

I guess they were already drunk because my brother lost control of the car. It flipped and came to rest sticking out over the Mississippi. It landed on top of Danny. I don’t know how close to death he was but when he got back from the hospital he had the most grizzly scars that he has to this day.

The dogs were Cello and Topaz. Topaz was never found. We spent the next few days canvassing East St. Louis. He had been seen everywhere. He was seen under porches, along the railroad tracks, in people’s imaginations and God knows where else.

Tony and I used to say Topaz knew where all the money was hidden. We decided he was helping people less fortunate than us and finally abandoned the search.

Besides the Macarthur the other photo is Mark and Ali with the dogs in front of our Soulard apartment. Topaz is the yellow one. Ali is the older sister of the twins I wrote about earlier. She was a very close friend I miss a lot. I’ll be writing about her soon.


dominic said...


great to see them, and Ali again!

tonypatti said...

I had hours of bullshit to spew about Topaz, the dog I loved so much. He was never born, and never died. He was the platonic ideal of a dog incarnate.

But Cello was the dog Pat and I wrote the song about. You'll get to hear me sing it one last time if you come to my birthday party.

Is that the best you can do with that picture? Topaz is only like six pixels wide, for crying out loud! I have noticed how you seem to struggle with them before, but this time I had to protest!

Doggie said...

That's the best pic I have. in the others he's scratching like he's got fleas and you can't see his face at all. I think he was Pam's dog at first. I think she even named him. He was only visiting.

Anonymous said...

I named Topaz!

He showed uo at the Coach and Four Pub in Laclede Town one night when I was working. We fed him beef jerky and I decided we (Patrick) should keep him since no one knew where he belonged/

Your Mom

Anonymous said...

we all used to roof-surf over the macarthur, it was the thing to do after work when we'd be tripping after work. usually we went at a resonable rate of speed, but one guy, i dont remember who used to do like 60 and try to buck us off.pat's story to me was that the bug landed on top of danny and some guy coming from the other direction and he were so freaked and adrenalized they lifted it off of him; who knows? geo

Anonymous said...

This happened early in the morning. Patrick called asking to borrow my car because he'd been to a party and left his violin, said he was afraid it would be stolen. Od course I said O.K.


They wanted to go to Illinois for booze! About 20 minutes after they left I got a phone call from the police. Turns out someone on a barge on the river saw the accident and called the police. The bridge entrance jogged left then right to cross the river. Patrick missed the right turn and ran into a large support pillar, preventing a hundred foot plunge that would certainly have killed them both.

My little turquoise Beetle became a little turquoise accordian, completelt totalled, but Patrick, in his anxiety, tried to drive it away.

Topaz ran to the east side and Cello apparently ran back to the Missouri side. Patrick later told me Topaz was afraid of bridges.

We did make quite a few trips to the east side, driving up and down the little neighborhood streete looking for Topaz.

Patrick's and David's Mom

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