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30 Years in St. Louis

August 28, 2020 Featured, Steve Patterson No Comments
Me pre-stroke in the December 2006 issue of St. Louis Magazine, this was near my heaviest weight of 275-300lbs. Photo by Dillip Vishwanat

It was three decades ago that I officially moved to St. Louis, from Oklahoma City. I’d planned to move to Washington DC, but instantly fell in love with St. Louis on the way.

The building stock and street grid called for me to stay. Many buildings needed renovation but even pre-renovation the proportions, massing, details, and spectacular brickwork were unlike anything I’d seen before. The potential of the city was enormous. 

The renovated Union Station and St. Louis Centre each were only 5 years old. Vincent Schoemehl was in his 3rd/last term as mayor of St. Louis. The Circuit Attorney was George Peach, but his hypocritical behavior would catch up to him just over a year later.

I missed being counted in the 1990 census by six months. The total that year was 396,685, more than a 12% drop from the 1980 census. I have been counted as a St. Louis resident in three census (2000, 2010,2020). Next year we’ll learn the results of the 2020 census, St. Louis’ population will likely drop below 300k. Thus, in my time here roughly 100,000 people have left.

Seems too few saw the potential I did 30 years ago. Or they recognized it but were also unable to reverse negative reality & perceptions about the city. My first weeks in my new apartment the manager advised me to not venture north of Delmar. You can’t change what so many willingly continue to perpetuate.

The point where I spent half of my life in St. Louis came 7 years ago, in 2013. I’ve now been blogging for more than half of my years in St. Louis, this Halloween will be the 16th anniversary of this blog.  The last third of my time here has been on disability, unable to work. When I came out in 1983 the idea of same-sex marriage wasn’t even on my radar, but I’ve been married twenty percent of my years in St. Louis. I’m on my 7th address, my 5th zip code.

With Stage IV Kidney cancer I know I won’t make it to a 4th census in St. Louis, a fact I’ve come to accept.  The treatment is keeping my tumors “stable”, but there will be a point when treatments will no longer be effective. 

I now weigh 165 lbs, about what I did in 1990.

Days before my 2008 stroke I looked into getting a burial plot at Bellefontaine Cemetary, but after I arranged with Washington University School of Medicine to donate my body for research. The point when treatment no longer works I’ll likely have a party to celebrate my life while I’m still here.

In the meantime I’m going to continue exploring, writing, suggesting, etc.

— Steve Patterson

 

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