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St. Patrick’s Day Myths; Early St. Louis Irish History

March 20, 2019 Car Sharing, Featured, History/Preservation, Popular Culture Comments Off on St. Patrick’s Day Myths; Early St. Louis Irish History

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya. I knew the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was going to have a low response, the more controversial the subject, the more responses.

Q: Agree or disagree: Irishman Saint Patrick is celebrated today for bringing Christianity to Ireland, driving out snakes.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [6.67%]
  • Agree: 3 [20%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [6.67%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 2 [13.33%]
  • Strongly disagree: 6 [40%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 2 [13.33%]

Most correctly disagreed. I say correct because everything stated in the poll question was false:

  • Patrick wasn’t Irish
  • Christianity was already in Ireland before Patrick
  • Ireland, an island, didn’t have an literal snakes

This reminds me of grade school in the early 70s, cutting shamrocks out of green construction paper, etc. We were taught myths that just aren’t accurate — including the color green!

The following is from the history.com article titled: “St. Patrick’s Day Myths Debunked“:

  • Myth: St. Patrick was Irish.
    Though one of Ireland’s patron saints, Patrick was born in what is now England, Scotland or Wales—interpretations vary widely—to a Christian deacon and his wife, probably around the year 390. According to the traditional narrative, at 16 he was enslaved by Irish raiders who attacked his home; they transported him to Ireland and held him captive there for six years. Patrick later fled to England, where he received religious instruction before returning to Ireland to serve as a missionary.
  • Myth: St. Patrick was British.
  • Myth: St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland.
  • Myth: St. Patrick banished snakes from the Emerald Isle.
  • Myth: Green has historically been associated with St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Myth: Popular St. Patrick’s Day festivities have their roots in Ireland.
  • Myth: Corned beef is a classic St. Patrick’s Day dish.

You can click the link above to read the debunking of each myth.

Irish-American immigrants celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a show of their pride — despite lots of anti-Irish discrimination:

The refugees seeking haven in America were poor and disease-ridden. They threatened to take jobs away from Americans and strain welfare budgets. They practiced an alien religion and pledged allegiance to a foreign leader. They were bringing with them crime. They were accused of being rapists. And, worst of all, these undesirables were Irish. (history.com)

Sounds similar today’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

The money to build the Mullaphy Emigrant Home on N 13th was left by Bryan Mullanphy, the son of Irish immigrant John Mullanphy. Bryan Mullanphy was mayor in the 1840s.

Bryan’s  sister Anne Mullanphy  married Thomas Biddle. After his death she donated the land for St. Joseph’s church in what’s now known as the Columbus Square neighborhood.  Most Irish immigrants were poor living in tenements & flats stretching west to Jefferson, including what became known as the former [Kerry] Patch neighborhood:

The neighborhood’s boundaries shifted over time—Irish families moved farther west, as German, Polish, and Eastern European immigrants settled around them after the Civil War. But during its heyday, the Patch was generally described as being between N. 15th Street and Hogan Street, Division Street and Cass Avenue. The heart of the neighborhood was squeezed into the tight rectangle between 16th and 18th streets, Cass Avenue and O’Fallon Street—a few blocks east of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in near north St. Louis.

In the early 19th century, emigrants left Ireland to escape English political oppression. By 1847, during the height of An Gorta Mór, The Great Hunger, they flooded out of the country to escape starvation and death. As Diamond notes, the immigrants’ sheer numbers, as well as their religious affiliation—Catholic—did not endear them to second- and third-generation American Protestants, specifically the nativist Know Nothing movement, founded in 1845, the year the potato famine began. The level of disdain and outright hostility toward Irish immigrants in major American cities, including St. Louis, was reflected in ads for housekeepers, which indicated “NO IRISH NEED APPLY.” Earlier Irish immigrants who had blended into St. Louis society also castigated the new arrivals for not working hard enough to assimilate, Diamond adds. Patchers responded by banding together. (St. Louis Magazine)

Once Irish neighborhoods were razed for public housing projects: Cochran Gardens, Carr Square, and Pruitt-Igoe.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: The Taxicab Commission has been fighting with Uber ride sharing service. Which side do you support?

The battle between the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, which regulates taxicabs in both St. Louis City & St. Louis County, and Uber, the ride sharing app got lots of attention last week:

One day before Uber was slated to begin giving free rides through the holiday weekend, it withdrew the offer. The ride-hailing service said it reversed course after the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission ordered its drivers to get temporary permits.

The move came as a surprise to many, because the Uber drivers would not have charged passengers. (Post-Dispatch)

Here’s more specifics:

On Monday, Uber offered to give free rides over the long Fourth of July weekend. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission said it was considering the proposal. On Wednesday, the MTC laid out a series of conditions for UberX drivers, like fingerprint background checks and cheek swab drug tests. Thursday, Uber cancelled its plans.

Uber called those requirements “onerous” and said it’s already checked the backgrounds of its drivers. It also accused the MTC of a “charade” to help taxi companies keep out competition. (KMOX)

There is a lot of passion on both sides of this issue, making it a perfect topic for today’s Sunday Poll.

The poll closes at 8pm. Note: This post was updated by moving the poll from the sidebar to within the post, this permits mobile users to vote without having to switch to the desktop layout on their mobile browser.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Prefer Public Transit Over Car Sharing & Taxicabs

Ford Transit Connect Taxi
Ford Transit Connect Taxi at the 2011 St. Louis Auto Show

In the poll last week I was trying to see if there was a preference among readers for an app-based service (CARmil, Lyft, Uber, etc) vs local taxicab. Just before posting the poll I changed the options, adding public transit to the mix. I very quickly regretted the change but it was too late.

Q: Next time you need to get from A to B (not in your own car), which type of service would you use?

  1. Public transit 42 [56%]
  2. App-based service (CARmil, Lyft, Uber, etc) 12 [16%]
  3. Unsure/no answer 12 [16%]
  4. Local taxicab company 9 [12%]

The app-based services did come out slightly ahead of taxicabs, but based on the totals I don’t think we can draw any conclusions.  I do have some thoughts on the topic though. While a few taxicab  companies have their own apps or are part of Taxi Magic, they’re boring by comparison. The local apps don’t simplify the payment process at your destination, one taxicab company we took last year handed us a credit card receipt to sign after swiping our card on their reader up front. Really? The other we took last year had credit card machines in the back and no paper receipt to sign, but we still had to get our card out. I used Taxi Magic once last year, which only required me to use the app on mu phone, but the driver made a big deal out of it.

In fact many drivers don’t like credit cards at all; companies take a bigger cut, are slow to pay, or something. Sorry, I’m the customer and I rarely carry more than $5 in cash.  I know a few former & current taxicab drivers, I support them in earning a living. But industries that don’t adapt to change will die off.

With the app startups I do worry about issues of riding with an unknown person using their personal vehicle.  I wonder how a whimsical taxicab company would do in St. Louis, shake up the establishment or struggle among the big players?

— Steve Patterson


Poll: Next Time You Need To Get From ‘A’ To ‘B’ (not in your own car), Which Type of Service Would You Use?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

The poll this week is about car sharing for hire services like traditional taxicabs and new app-based services like Uber, CARmil, Lyft, etc.  I have some personal thoughts but I’ll hold those for later, I don’t want to persuade anyone before the poll.  The question this week is: “Next time you need to get from A to B (not in your own car), which type service would you use?” The list includes the three apps listed above, local taxicab, and unsure.

The poll, as always, is at the top of the right sidebar.  Mobile users need to switch to the desktop layout to see the sidebar.

— Steve Patterson


WeCar Car Sharing In Downtown St. Louis

September 13, 2012 Car Sharing, Featured 9 Comments

Whenever I pass by the designated WeCar (car sharing) parking spaces downtown (usually 10th @ Washington) I look to see if the WeCar is there or out being used. I don’t know the usage, but often the space is empty so the car is being used by a WeCar member.

ABOVE: A couple unloaded their purchases made shopping using a WeCar

Then last month I was almost home when I  stopped and snaped a picture of a couple unloading a WeCar from a shopping trip. I chatted with them briefly, they really enjoy having access to a car without having to own and pay for one 24/7/365. He was going to take up their purchases while she returned the car and walked back the 4/10th of a mile — six city blocks from 10th to 16th Street. They’d like to have a WeCar further west.

Per the WeCar downtown St. Louis page, six WeCars  are located near the following intersections:

  • 6th and Olive
  • 10th and Olive
  • Olive and Broadway
  • 9th and Olive
  • 10th and Washington
  • 7th and Olive

The farthest west are 10th & Olive and 10th & Washington. Along Olive there are five WeCars from Broadway (5th) to 10th — one per block. I’d think at least one between Tucker (12th) and 18th would do well. Perhaps WeCar looked at their membership and realized most live east of 10th, or those living west of Tucker don’t join because the WeCars are too far away?

A WeCar representative indicated via email they have adjusted car locations over the last four years based on customer feedback. Having one car per block along Olive works well, he said, but they’ll look again further west.

I’ve offered to help  find a suitable location west of Tucker. Since parking meters are tied to parking garage bonds it might get complicated but I know of space where metered parking can be added to make up for one WeCar space.

— Steve Patterson