In 1979, the LSRC turned ten years old. In April of that year, a resident wit and frequent contributor to the Marquis turned her attention to commemorating that anniversary. Linda Underwood lived for years on Whittemore Place. With her husband Gary, she was an early and frequent advocate for the neighborhood, involved in the day to day restoration of Lafayette Square. This she did with what looked like unfailing humor and the ability to take it all in stride.
Here’s a lightly edited and photo enhanced excerpt from her article, “You Think Lafayette Square Is Weird Today…Read On”
“As the Square rumbles its way toward its tenth anniversary, I pause to consider some things lost in the shuffle of our success. Things like:
Long ago, when the Square of today was a fantasy, we used to waylay passing cars. We dragged out the occupants (if they were sober and unarmed) and took them on impromptu tours of our homes. We filled their ears with the hallelujahs of restoration and city living. We sent them away with housing lists and promises of salvation by plaster and lathe. Most of that revival-meeting spirit has pooped out. Now we look at passing cars and mutter, “Tourists”.
Information used to be telegraphed across the Square lip-wise, faster than you could say “slanderandlibel”. Now you can hardly get a good tidbit rolling. It takes the fun out when you try to share the latest rumor and the person you pass it to doesn’t even know the rumorees.
In the early days, we had to swerve our cars to avoid running over the inert and inebriated bodies in the streets. We would come home, call the police, and watch out the window till the victims were carried off. The procedure today is to first closely examine the face of the inert inebriated bodies to make sure they’re not neighbors.
Virtually extinct today. The premise was “I bet I can make you throw up before you can make me throw up”. Usually played at parties and involved relating all the gaggy things we found in our houses when we first moved in. The amassed bodies of dead bugs and residues from every conceivable bodily function were discussed over hors d’oeuvres. The first to turn green and veer toward the bathroom lost.
The passing of these customs is the price of progress. There are, of course. some that will always be with us; like dust, pigeons, the disdain of St Louis County, and folks who love to reminisce about the BAD old days. “
I had the good fortune to talk with Linda recently, and she’s still very much the observational humorist. I asked her about what caused a couple who grew up in the suburbs to see the opportunity, rather than the obstacles, and buy a brick shell with a burnt back end for $1000 in 1972.
We discussed the old joke about the optimistic boy who is surprised when he enters a room with horse manure piled up to the ceiling. He enthusiastically starts digging, confident that there must be a pony in there somewhere.
Linda laughed and said “yeah, but the pony was the house, and the pony was the people. She related to me that on the day they bought the house, Tom and Lynne Keay showed up with a chili dinner. After their first day working on the house, filthy and tired, they were directed to Dick and Libby Midlam’s house, where a hot shower awaited. They knew right there that this was a special place and they were now part of it.
The Archives recommends you take a look at Linda Underwood’s blog, “Almost The Truth”. You can access it here: https://lindalanger6.wordpress.com