As we were photographing the houses seen yesterday on Leffingwell, a man came out to his car, and greeted us. His name was Dan, and he and his family have lived at the corner of Madison and Leffingwell for several generations.
We talked about what it’s like to live in this forgotten corner of the city, and the daily challenges, but also the pride he has for holding on to his family’s house.
I realized that in all of this academic discussion that is currently going on in St. Louis about Paul McKee’s plans, the city’s powerbrokers and its critics have seldom just simply walked around the Near North Side, just talking to people, not in a position of power and weakness, but just two people standing in the street.
Dan in particular voiced his displeasure at the corn and bean fields planted a couple blocks away in St. Louis Place. He found it insulting, and in particular the image it projected that the he and his neighbors had no opinion, or didn’t care about what happened around them. Dan was the complete opposite: intelligent, well-spoken and passionate. He was not the stereotype that both sides of the political aisle in St. Louis view as the stereotype of a North St. Louis resident. For the record, no one consulted anyone in the neighborhood about the corn and bean experiment.
Was Dan going to stick around there forever? Maybe not; it’s hard being the only occupied house in two hundred feet. And when no one bothers to care about him or his neighbors, it’s easy to see why.
Update: Dan’s house seems to be vacant and graffiti covered as of the spring of 2016.