Details, St. Louis
I set out to find out one December weekend, heading first to Forest Park to check out the Steinberg Skating Rink. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to relive that year when I was 15 — it was unseasonably warm, and there wasn’t any snow on the ground — but I figured that I could at least pretend that it was the depths of winter while gliding around on the ice.
After paying the $6 rink admission and renting some skates, my friend Karah and I laced up and took off — trying to steer clear of the large puddles that had formed in the balmy weather. Weekend afternoons draw lots of families and small visitors, and I found myself dodging several mini-skaters trailing behind a black-booted Santa. But still, the large oval — open to skaters from mid-November through February — was far less crowded than I ever found the one at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington to be. There was room to soar, like Michelle Kwan. Well, okay. Not exactly like Michelle Kwan.
When our leg muscles started aching, we headed into the center, a retro space (it dates from the 1950s) done up in aquamarine decor and filled with arcade games. After all these years, I still couldn’t beat Pac-Man, darn it all.
Frustrated, I said goodbye to Karah and made my way to Cherokee Street, a South St. Louis neighborhood that hosts numerous seasonal festivals and block-party-like events and is home to the local treasure known as the St. Louis Curio Shoppe. I called ahead to make sure that the store was still open, as it was getting close to closing time. Not only hadn’t they shut their doors yet, but there also was a live music performance taking place on the back patio. Par for the course for Cherokee Street, where closing time doesn’t necessarily mean that anybody’s actually closing.
The merchandise at the Curio Shoppe cleverly walks the line between “vintage” and “grandma’s attic.” I found a little bit of every type of history there — old high school yearbooks and city guides written by locals are housed next to racks of postcards, framed maps and antique jewelry. The store has even been known to carry memorabilia from the 1904 World’s Fair. But there’s new merchandise, too, including handmade jewelry, scented candles, lip balms, books from local authors, tote bags, men’s grooming products — and even green cleaning products from the St. Louis-based company Better Life. The store’s motto, in fact, is “shop truly local,” and a staffer told me that all its merchandise comes from suppliers who operate within 50 miles of the city.