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Archive for April, 2008

MantecaDriving down 370- “Hey, what’s up with the smoke… it looks like its coming from Carrollton.”

I hadn’t finished the history behind the last house fire from this weekend when I was alerted to a fire in the old neighborhood. When we got there, it wasn’t just one, but two homes on fire. They were 4217 Manteca, a giant, white two-story with red front doors and a huge favorite of mine, and 4050 Chartley, the lonesome white house on the corner lot of Chartley and Bondurant. The Chartley house is largely still intact, but the Manteca house, like its neighbor just up the street, is completely down to the concrete basement foundation.

When will Lambert learn? Again, I hope the fire district slaps the airport with enormous fines for allowing these houses to be put in this condition in the first place. If they needed them so badly, then they should take them down as soon as the owners move… not sitting vacant and useless for years. Its sad to see them destroyed via wrecker, but its even more sickening to watch them get vandalized and victimized to the point of arson. I hope the airport will now have the dignity to take out the rest of the homes soon before more families watch their homes burn away for nothing. The embarrassing news from last week’s post is bad enough for the residents. Hopefully, this rash of arson will make the news and give Lambert a slap on the other cheek.

4217 Manteca was completely destroyed on April 29th, 2008 by fire. It is the house from the night shot in this post. This house was in the top ten favorites for photographing, mainly because it had good light in the main rooms coming through the holes in the wall, and was fairly interesting overall. It was charming and definitely well-cared for until the very end. I’d even venture to guess that these people had pride in their house as it was updated with good carpet and contemporary kitchen styles. The clashing juxtaposition of an updated and cared for home with the vandalism made for a great subject. I’m not entirely sure when the occupants moved out, but it sat vacant for some time. (more…)

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This house at 4232 Manteca burned to the ground in the early hours of April 20th. You would think that, since two houses burned in two weekends, that some airport official will figure out the pattern and make some attempt at security. Well, they haven’t and now for the third weekend in a row, we have yet another house fire. This time, the house burned down to its foundation. I surely hope that the Pattonville fire department is charging Lambert heavily for their lack of protecting their own property. By the time I got there Sunday morning, the house was still smoldering. I took some haunting yet beautiful photos at this house, but I do miss this place already. Once again, you can never rely on taking pictures tomorrow. In Carrollton, there may be no tomorrow.

I always felt comfortable in this place. I had no qualms about entering here alone. Others, I have found, have not. One of my friends, just from viewing it from the exterior outright refused to go in. My husband swears this place is haunted… he said it gave him the most eerie vibes he’s ever experienced (and he’s grown up in 100+ year old houses). He said the living room especially felt haunted by something dark. Although I didn’t take this paranoia seriously, I will admit, he’s never been before the superstitious type, and in many ways much more braver than I. Knowing how much I liked this house, he went with me a couple times before, but refused to enter, so I went it alone. Its weird, but I found the exact opposite reaction to the living room. I found this parlor’s warm-hued window drapes to be almost enchanting as they billowed through the broken window’s breezes. The sitting room off to the left of the parlor had a brick fireplace and bright-red carpeting that clashed brilliantly against the view of the emerald-green through the busted up sliding glass back door. I wanted to explore the basement of this house, but never got the opportunity, until it was covered with the ashes of the floor above.

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Sometime Sunday night, April 13-14th, Allenhurst Allenhurst had caught fire. Just as Lonsdale, only one half of Allenhurst stands, charred and wet.

Backing up to the former Bridgeton Nursing Home, this house was the only house in the Gist-area portion of Northern Carrollton. This area was beginning to clear out while I was in high school, and was emptied well before our final section. Yet, one white bungalow with its bright red door remained rooted to the scene. You could see this home just off Brampton, a major vein through Carrollton. I remember seeing the owners outside quite often as I’d drive past. They spent much time outside, and although I didn’t know them, they seemed, maybe just by the sheer fact that they were still there, rather defiant. There was something firm and stubborn about them- they didn’t seem to move until they were forced out. Their home was occupied well after the grass grew over their neighbors’ land.

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The article today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts Lambert International, and with it the fate of Carrollton, into startling perspective.

It is true, and now there is even more evidence- the destruction of our homes was, officially, for no reason. According to the article, the airport has been classified as simply a ‘mid-sized’ airport since 2003. In 2003, the new runway was barely started and many houses on the south still remained. Aside from hardship cases, my mom’s side of Carrollton was not approached for buy-out in 2003. She was not approached until 2006. Nearly all of my friend’s houses were still standing in 2003. All of the destruction could have been stopped when the officials realized that Lambert will NEVER fill the numbers of flights they had in the 1990s. Even those flights were executed without the shiny new runway that now sits uselessly in Bridgeton.

Its a brutal shock to me that they could take everything away, without doing their homework, without doing the research or checking their facts, but take it all for landlust and false pretenses. All that had existed from my childhood has been bulldozed down to dirt and busted roads, all for absolutely nothing.

If this doesn’t make someone question the validity of ’eminent domain,’ nothing will.

You can read the article here.

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Nothing has been destroyed since the recent Lonsdale demos and the fire. This past week’s violent winds and rain has caused major damage to the last house on Woodford Way and another home on Bittick. The roof of both homes has been nearly blown off to the point that the airport has added caution tape around Woodford, which didn’t exactly hold me back from getting close enough to take a few shots.

Tuesday evening, I found three teenage kids stranded with a flat tire. I drove past them once just before dark, wondering what a bunch of kids were doing in the middle of the street. I drove by them some time later and they were still there… they were stranded. Who knows what they were doing. Maybe they were mudding through the empty plots of land, or maybe they were just cruising too fast down the street. Whatever they did, their the rim was bent up badly and the tire was dead flat. Nevertheless, they’re kids doing no more than I did when I was 16, so I stopped and asked if they needed help. Turns out that they didn’t have a phone and were scared shitless; it was just after dark by this time. They were highly thankful for the use of my phone.

“Yo, Greg? Dude, you gotta help us! We busted up a tire in Ghost Town! Get here now! We’re borrowing some chick’s phone…. Hey- where we anyway? What are these streets called?”

“Chartley and Celburne,” I replied. I turned to the speaker’s brother. “Ghost Town? Is that what you call this area?” He gave me a guilty grin.

“Ghost Town. Yup, Its creepy as hell here! How do you know about this place?”

“I used to live here. Its not that creepy to me.”

“Man, I’m scared as hell. About five other cars drove past us and nobody would stop, so we’re stuck here in the dark! Where are the cops when you actually need them?”

Just as on cue, as if it was some kind of lame fiction novel or crappy sitcom, a cop car pulls up, and turns the flashers on. The kids start cheering the second the cop gets out of the car.  The cop opens his mouth, and starts booming. (more…)

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