Sunday, 20 October 2013 21:08


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Driving through Maplewood on Manchester a few days ago, Joy pointed out the sign you see here that we had not noticed before.  Communities throughout  the St. Louis area love to welcome visitors with similar signs.  Most say nebulous things like “Where Community and Spirit Meet.”  You’ll find that one in Kirkwood.  That wouldn’t have been my first choice to attract people to Kirkwood.  I would have said, “We have the Magic House and you don’t.”  Community and Spirit can meet just about anywhere.  But there’s only one Magic House.

But the Maplewood sign, “SHOP, DINE, BOWL, READ” got a double-take from us.  Read?  Really?  Until the new Book House opens just a few doors down from that sign - probably in 2014 - Maplewood has two stores that claim to sell books: Mystic Valley and The Fantasy Shop.   I always thought Mystic Valley was more of a gift shop.  Their website says, “Books, Gifts, Coffee and Curios.”  And The Fantasy Shop is a comic books and video games store.  Great places, both, but they don’t make you associate Maplewood with books.  Maybe the sign is referring to the Maplewood Public Library on Lohmeyer.  But, come on.  Maplewood has Schlafly’s Bottle Works less than a block from that sign, along with several great bars like The Crow’s Nest, The Post, and the “almost Maplewood” Faloni’s and Michael’s Bar & Grill.  Shouldn’t it be “SHOP, DINE, BOWL, DRINK?”

And let’s talk about that “BOWL.”  Saratoga Lanes on Sutton is definitely one of the coolest bowling places, sure, but it’s got 8 lanes.  How did a town with one bowling alley with only 8 lanes decide that it should somehow define their community?  How about “SHOP, DINE, RECORD, DRINK” since Maplewood is the home of SmithLee Productions, the recording studio at 7420 Manchester.

The “SHOP, DINE, BOWL, READ” sign is a steel structure designed by metal artist Mark Coughlin, who was commissioned by the City of Maplewood Special Business District.  It’s actually much nicer than any photo can reveal and it’s functional as well.  It serves as a newspaper stand adjacent to the small public park on the Southeast corner of Manchester and Marshall.  But we certainly can’t blame the artist for the choice of words chosen to define the lovable community of Maplewood.

Not to be outdone by Kirkwood, Maplewood also has one of those rather nebulous slogans on signs that say “We’re On The Way.”   I’m not sure what it means.  We’re on our way... out?  ... up?  Or maybe they mean we’re on our way to Wal-Mart, which is true if you live in the city.

Probably the most popular “Welcome Sign” for a community is the one adopted by Overland in the county.  They say “A Great Place To Live.”  I lived there from age 10 to 18; I have many fond memories of growing up in Overland and I’m sure it’s still a great place to live.  Where else can you stake claim to a giant golf ball (on Ashby Road) that makes your AM car radio hum loudly when you drive by?  When you’re a kid, that’s really something cool.
In the more upscale community of Creve Coeur, they claim to be “The Heart of Community & Commerce.”  If you want to be technical, they’re “The Heartbreak of Community & Commerce.”  But that probably won’t attract a lot of commerce.

My favorite is Hazelwood in North County.  They’re officially the “City at the Crossroads,” but on their website they have the intriguing motto: “much more than you imagine.”  They didn’t even think enough of it to use caps.  Personally, I imagined better.

I can’t say the city of St. Louis has done much better with signs and slogans.   I’ve lost track, but I think we’re currently “all within reach.”  Wikipedia says we’re “The Gateway To The West.”  We are also, proudly I assume, “More than meets the Arch.”

Really, we only need one big ol’ sign as you come across the bridge into St. Louis that says, “Cardinal Nation - No Mickey Mouse.”