Happy birthday, dear Arch (Oct. 25)

October 24, 2008

Happy Take Back Your Time Day (Oct. 24)! I had planned to do a little of that myself today, but it turned out I had to spend a couple of hours reworking a piece for an editor. Then there was the laundry, and the dishes still in the sink from this morning, … and as of now I have two hours remaining to “take back” before picking the boys up. The upside is that the boys and I always spend at least an hour just hanging out after school, which I have to admit is often more relaxing for them than for me, and we always do a family mealtime, two of the organization’s many ideas for Taking Back Your Time. The TBYT homepage points out that modern Americans spend more time working than did medieval peasants, and I can certainly see how that’s true. They pretty much had to start at dawn and stop at dusk, and we have no such natural boundaries to our daily tasks.

But all of that is a digression from today’s blog topic, the anniversary of the Gateway Arch, celebrated tomorrow (Oct. 25). Each year on the Saturday before Oct. 28, the Arch staff throws it a birthday party, complete with free cake (at the Levee Mercantile, until it’s gone) and visits from some of the men who helped to build it. As a side note — can’t help it, digressing again already! — if you have never seen the fascinating movie about the building of the Arch, this would be a great weekend to do so. At the Arch’s birthday party, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. there will also be construction projects for kids and an information area about recycling sponsored by the city’s refuse division.

Be sure to take time to speak with some of the workers about their experiences 43 years ago, when the Arch was completed. Some who may be there include Woody Vensell, safety coordinator; Vito Comporato, radio operator (who helped put in the last section); Peter Carmi, primary sewer contractor; and Ralph Hall, phone operator. I’ve personally very much enjoyed speaking with Eldon Arteaga, the son of construction photographer Robert F. Arteaga. When we struck up a conversation one afternoon several years ago, Eldon Arteaga carried around copies of the booklet “The Building of the Arch” in his car to give (free) to those who’re interested in chatting with him about the project. Our conversation took place on a day when I should have been doing yard work, but it was so enjoyable to talk to him that I forgot all about weeding … and I guess that’s the whole point of Take Back Your Time day. Here’s wishing you a weekend fun of meandering conversations that may lead to a richer life in the long run than if you’d kept at your chores!

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