St. Louis nostalgia reigns supreme in new edition of ‘Lost Treasures’
Earlier this year, Cameron Collins drove more than 600 miles throughout the St. Louis region — in one day. He was on a mission: to visit and photograph 35 Catholic parishes set to close under a reorganization plan the St. Louis Archdiocese announced in May.
“I had no idea how big the St. Louis Archdiocese is,” Collins explained on St. Louis on the Air. “And I found myself traveling down to Ste. Genevieve County, Jefferson County, north St. Louis County, and when I finally arrived back at my house it was later than 11 o'clock at night.”
Collins, who lives in south St. Louis, completed the task the next day, and the results of the recent road trip are just part of what’s new in the second edition of “Lost Treasures of St. Louis,” a book co-authored by Dennis Dillon.
Collins and St. Louis on the Air listeners shared their memories of St. Louis’ gone-but-not-forgotten past. One of the more popular entries is on the Admiral, an excursion steamboat that operated on the Mississippi River and later housed the President Casino.
The Admiral is also the subject of a new dedication. While Collins was writing the second edition, his mother died. As he was going through her old scrapbooks and memorabilia for the funeral, he discovered a postcard with a vintage photo of the Admiral that her father had sent her as he was traveling through St. Louis in 1958. “The big boat goes up and down the Mississippi and they have regular shows on it just like olden times. Maybe someday you’ll play a part on its stage,” he wrote.
“It just gives me shivers to think 60 years later, [my mom] would come to St. Louis and live here,” Collins said.
That story resonated with Deborah, a listener from St. Louis who called into the show.
“I love the story of your mother receiving the postcard from her father and he hoped that someday she would get to dance on the Admiral,” Deborah said. “Well, as it would happen when I was a young child in the 1950s, my dance class was one of the many dance classes that got to go over and dance on the Admiral. So I just had to share that with you that I actually did get to dance on the Admiral.”
Jane, another caller from St. Louis, talked about spending time on the boat when she was a baby in the 1950s. “We also had our dance recitals there, and I have pictures of the ladies powder room, because that's where our moms took our picture in our costumes before we went out to dance.
“I remember the big lounge chairs and the penny arcade and the calliope. … It was just the most magical, magical place,” she said.
The book is full of more than 400 other nostalgic memories. The St. Louis Arena, Goody Goody Diner, Casa Gallardo and the Floating McDonald’s are just a few.
To take a trip down memory lane with author Cameron Collins of “Lost Treasures of St. Louis,” listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Google Podcast, or by clicking the play button below.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production intern. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.