Transactions on Washington

Posted: August 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

Last Thursday (Aug. 1), while sitting at a sidewalk table in front of Gelateria Tavolini I watched Mid State Produce make a delivery to Flannery’s Pub. Washington St. was waking up to another morning with the temperature in the low 70s. The Downtown Clean Team guy was busy picking up cigarette butts and such detritus from the Thursday night’s sidewalk patrons that, that if left unattended to, would equate St. Louis with cities around the country — having a trashy downtown

About then, a couple of acquaintances of mine with a friend, whom I hadn’t met, passed by headed to a B&B in Herman for the weekend. This is their first time to visit the quaint, bucolic town renowned for its vineyards and fine wine. They should have fun knowing how much they enjoy good wine.

They had no sooner left than Business Suit (that’s my name for him because he’s always wearing a suit) just walked up and entered the gelateria, right on time. I’m on the sidewalk but I know what’s going on inside without actually seeing it, I’ve observed it often enough. As he walked in, Jonathan, proprietor of Gelateria Tavolini called out, “coffee as usual?” while Business Suit went to his usual table in the back corner, took off his suit jacket and hung it on the back of a chair. He went to the counter, presented his “plastic” for Jonathan to swipe. Jonathan turned the iPad “cash register” around for Business Suit to enter his tip, sign with his finger on the screen, and indicate whether or not he wanted a receipt or desired it to be sent to his e-mail account. Business Suit then returned to his seat and shortly Jonathan took his coffee to him.

This morning, walking back from the River, I passed Washington Avenue Post, a coffee shop and kind of general store for loft residents, and stopped at the gelateria for a breakfast sandwich with my morning coffee. I was sitting at a table in front of the gelateria watching the drama unfold a few shops away in front of Washington Ave. Post. A man of Asian heritage is playing chess with a man confined to a wheelchair. Since he can’t reach and maneuver the pieces, he’ll call out “Pawn to alpha-four” and his opponent will move the piece for him. You can find these guys and others there most any day rotating in and out of the chairs at the chess board.

A young man and his wife who live in the neighborhood and frequent the shops along Washington, his arms and legs well tattooed, passed me and entered the gelateria. His wife came out with her drink and continued walking east on Washington. A few minutes later the young man came out and with his drink and walked east stopping at the Wash. Ave. Post sidewalk tables watching the chess game. In a little while he went to the back of the wheelchair and retrieved a cigarette lighter from a backpack hanging on the handles. He put a cigarette in Steve’s mouth and lit it for him returning the lighter to the backpack. After a few draws on the cigarette, the young man held a cup and positioned the straw so Steve could sip.

I returned my focus to news on the iPad. Looking up a few minutes later, I saw Tattoo with his morning drink headed west on Washington, back to his condo I presume. At a nearby table, the proprietor of one of the Washington Ave shops has been in an animated conversation with someone else — city politics was the topic when I had passed by them a few minutes earlier.

The Downtown Clean Team guy just passed sweeping up cigarette butts and trash as he does all day long. Workers unloaded bricks, coils of rope and wire, and other stuff for a construction project at Grace Lofts, the building that houses “Flannery’s: Your Neighborhood Pub for Sports and Spirits” on the first floor.

These are the kinds of transactions between people that create the design of the thirteen-hundred block of Washington Street, a pattern that provides a certain meaning, and even comfort, and security for some of these people.

  1. I love these descriptions of my own neighborhood. You are present here in a way that not many are! Thanks for your reflections.

  2. hdockins2013 says:

    Thanks for reminding me of downtown St. Louis. I enjoyed the walks I have had there and appreciated the comments made by Jennifer.