And so….”moving on” by looking backwards to a good experience Son and I had on our Christmas journey. It’s the experience of the St. Louis Gateway Arch which made me think of all of us with younger children in our families.
The St. Louis Arch was going to be our last tourist stop as our three-week journey ended. The Arch dominates certain parts of St. Louis, Missouri.
You may have been there already. Both Son and I had been there before. I had been there several times.
Son and I walked up the long paved trail through the park, to get to the Arch. It was a walk filled with memories of last summer when I was there with Hubbie, and when he wasn’t really enjoying being there. So many memories….And our Son wanted to hear them all.
And then I gave him back some of his own memories:
I love these steps. They are at the edge of the Arch park and they lead down to the Mississippi River. People run up and down them. A long time ago when our two children were little, they ran up and down them too. Son didn’t remember that, but he was able to imagine himself as a very little boy, playing on these steps.
That’s a bridge over the Mississippi River. It was fun to recount for Son why Samuel Clemens took the pen name of Mark Twain, because of this very river.
Then it was time to go into the Arch, starting with the huge museum down below.
That’s what it looks like underneath the Arch. There are many more things to see, and we especially enjoyed a pioneer store with food and objects that you could buy that the pioneers would have been familiar with.
Before and after our trip to the top of the Arch we explored the Museum of Westward Expansion. This is the absolutely best place to take children of all ages – all ages! – to show them the highlights of American history. They have a huge timeline around the walls which puts everything into perspective as you walk around, reading the major events that formed our nation.
There were many scenes and displays from our history. Son and I had just driven through much of the historic territory out West, and St. Louis, of course, is the Gateway to the West.
Time to go UP! They had this display so people could get used to the idea of the method of transportation. I put Son in it for a picture:
Probably a good idea, psychologically speaking. Five people sit inside one of those “capsules” as you’re transported to the top. You need to think about things like claustrophobia.
Five of us tourists packed ourselves in for the ride. I was fascinated with watching the inside of the Arch as we whizzed by:
If you take your kids there when they’re very young, it’s worth taking them back again when they’re older. I didn’t remember that the capsule had a window in its door and I was amused to discover that Son did remember….but what he remembered seeing was “garbage bags” or “garbage containers.” Why? Why would a little boy remember that, of all things? We both needed our memory updated!
(By the way, he was delighted to see some garbage bags along the way up. It was like a vindication of his childhood memory.)
When you get to the top, you see very strange window “sills,” wide and carpeted:
And this is why they’re built that way…
We were there on a school day and in the middle of winter so you don’t see any kids on vacataion, but it’s a perfectly safe place to take little children. I remember my own little ones lying on their stomachs on those window sills, fascinated with the view.
There’s the Mississippi again, from the top of the Arch, with the shadow of the Arch lying on the river.
If you turn the other way, you see westward across the city:
I took many photos, of course, but I show this one because at the center is an old court house building. It’s a museum now, holding for us that very location and moment in time where the Dred Scot decision was made. Learning about this monumental decision will challenge your ability to distinguish between history as it happened versus accepting only the politically correct interpretation. Not that we would have to make the same decision today….but it’s a serious issue. There are those who are eager to tell you how you should think about things.
Okay, remember those steps at the bottom of the Arch? Here they are, looking down on them:
It’s all in the perspective.
So I thought of my children, my grandchild, and all of our children and grandchildren, and our duty to show them the heavens like we saw at the Lowell Observatory, to teach them to look out to the world, and to know our own history.
How fun it is to teach…and to learn! We learn and relearn and learn more again. I felt the delight of learning as my own mind grew and revised its memories. Even better, I was delighted to remember my own children’s experience at the Arch and to see my own Son’s deepening experience as we visited a place that we had already visited.
I wanted to share this with you all. We’re never too young for a place like this; and we’re never too old.