I take few things as seriously as I take french toast, naps, and the nagging feeling I get when I’m made to feel that County life ain’t no life at all. So today, we’re going to skip across the city line, and find a good story about Webster Groves. You in?
Prologue: Webster is one old-ass suburb*.
Damn, now that’s a nice drainage ditch, right? It’s got all the elements…mega-cracked concrete, a nice trickle of something liquidy, and a few strategically draped Straub’s plastic bags (we ARE in Webster, after all). But, it was not always so perfectly awful…in fact, it was a focal point to a vibrant African American community that surrounded it. Get ready, y’all this is gonna blow your mind.
North Webster, after the Civil War, was home to a tight-knit community of working-class African Americans that supported the households and businesses in what we now know as Webster Groves. The community also included churches, physicians, academics, and the first public high school for blacks in St. Louis County, and it remained so until legal segregation in the 1950s.**
Back to the drainage ditch: This ditch is actually home to what is known as Shady Creek, which at the turn of the 20th Century was a beautiful creek with lots of fishing, recreation, etc. When not picturesque, it was flooding and giving kids typhoid, so it was rerouted. Crazy, right?
Next thing you know, I’m gonna tell you the River des Peres flows UNDER the River des Peres. WHAT. ARE. YOU. TALKING. ABOUT.
*Sorry mom, for the cursing.
**Like, seriously, lots of cray cray history up in here. The library has a grillion books on the subject, one of my favs is: “Webster: A Pictorial History” by Rehkopf, Wainwright, Zegel, & Lester. 1991
***Also, so, so much history…but really only one great book: “North Webster: A photographic History of a Black Community” by Morris. 1993