Monday, June 25, 2007

Car Walk

Saturday morning about 7:15 I drove our '96 Plymouth minivan to Don Brown Dodge on South Kingshighway for its annual safety inspection. The weather was pleasant, so I decided to make the three mile walk home from the dealership.

South Kingshighway is auto dealer row, so for the first few blocks, I was able to stroll through dealership lots, checking out lots of new car models. On the Dodge lot there were sporty new models, the Toyota lot had some of those boxy Scions, and looking into the windows of one of my favorite places, Charles Schmitt, there were rows of classic cars.

I crossed Kingsighway about a block north of Chippewa to get a closer look at the Holy Ghost church. Holy Ghost sits behind the row of 1930s vintage commercial buildings fronting Kingsighway. You can see its steeple from Chippewa, many blocks to the east.

The alley on the south side of Holy Ghost backs up to some of the four-families off of Chippewa. Conditions vary on the backs of the buildings and the garages, some showing new rehab, others showing their years. One garage had no doors and the interior was filled with cast off junk.

I walked through one of those easement paths between buildings towards Chippewa, and on the other side, there was a police lady writing up a parked car for some ordinance violation. I approached her and asked the officer about open garages with loads of junk visible from the alley. She informed me that police have no jurisdiction in such cases.

You can't legislate common sense, so we're free to keep our garage doors open, and filled with junk and visible to the street if we want. This sounds like one of those delicate situations where some friendly neighbor to neighbor contact, perhaps through an NSO, might help convince the property owner to take better care of the property. Let's hope no one hears that tired "I can't control my tenants" line.

Around 7:45, crossing Chippewa, I bumped into an old friend pulling weeds in her bath robe. We talked about ten minutes, and she told me it was about another two miles from her place to ours. She said that her area had some problem tenants in recent years, but lately things have been good. The homes were being well maintained, and she said most of the 2-family properties had owner occupants.

The rest of the way was good, with the walked well-shaded by abundant street trees. Its nice walking past all the brick homes on their 25-30 foot lots. It's fascinating to see the little details in people's landscapes and years' of home improvement from block to block.

In our gridded-street neighborhood layout, there were thousands of alternate routes of commercial and residential blocks, streets and alleys, for that three mile walk home. Just guessing here, but I've heard that our city has some three or four thousand total miles of streets and alleys. And believe it or not, there are St. Louisans in the middle of quests to walk every block of it during their lifetime.

1 comment:

stlmark said...

One of the best things about a long walk in the city are the conversations you get with strangers and aquaintences. It's quite nice really. You don't get that interaction in the car.
I recently purchased a scooter, and people are even inclined to ask questions about the scooter from the sidewalk. Again, lots of interactions when you get out of the car.