The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
Come on baby, light my fire.
Come on baby, light my fire.
Try to set the night on fire.
Alert readers (ARs) who are also baby boomers will undoubtedly recognize this chorus from “Light My Fire” by the Doors, which was released as a single in May of 1967. While the words were originally understood metaphorically, they took on an eerily literal meaning later that summer as American cities burst into flames. First there was Newark, where six days of rioting left 26 people dead and hundreds injured. The following week Detroit experienced a five-day riot in which 43 people died and over a thousand more were injured. On July 24th an activist named H. Rap Brown told a crowd in Cambridge, Maryland, “If Cambridge doesn’t come around, Cambridge got to be burned down.” The crowd responded by burning 20 buildings to the ground. Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew responded with a tough law-and-order approach that earned the respect of Richard Nixon, who chose him as his running mate in 1968.
Baby boomer ARs will recall that the summer of 1967 was and still is known as The Summer of Love. Seriously.
Nineteen sixty-seven was also the summer of The Impossible Dream for the Boston Red Sox. The team, which had finished in ninth place (out of ten) in the American League the previous summer, drew only 8,324 fans for Opening Day. Over the course of the next four months the Red Sox confounded the pundits by winning the AL pennant and taking the St. Louis Cardinals to seven games in the World Series. Happily for Cardinals’ fans (of which I was one, surrounded by rabid Red Sox fans on an eastern campus) the Impossible Dream came to an end on October 12, 1967, when the Cardinals defeated the Red Sox 7-2 at Fenway Park.
The previous night had marked another important milestone for sports in St. Louis. The St. Louis Blue played the Minnesota North Stars at the St. Louis Arena. This first game in the franchise’s history ended in a 2-2 tie. Forty-nine years later the Blues are celebrating their 50th season in a number of ways. One is by hosting the NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium on January 2, 2017.
For the benefit of ARs who may not follow hockey all that closely (as I myself didn’t in October of 1967), The Winter Classic is played outdoors annually and is televised internationally. In addition to the game between the Blues and their archrivals the Chicago Blackhawks on January 2nd, there’s the Alumni Game on New Year’s Eve in which distinguished former Blues will take the ice, possibly including Brett Hull, Al McInnis, Bernie Federko and maybe even Chris Pronger.
While the Winter Classic will put the spotlight on St. Louis for three days, there’s another exciting development involving the Blues that will have benefits that will endure for at least another 50 years… or longer. I’m referring to the partnership between the team and the St. Louis Public Library.
As some ARs may know, I’ve been on the board of the Public Library even longer than I’ve been in the beer business. I was first appointed by Mayor Vince Schoemehl during President Ronald Reagan’s first term in office. I have subsequently been reappointed by Schoemehl’s three successors: Freeman Bosley, Jr., Clarence Harmon and Francis Slay. In this context my formal involvement with the Blues (beyond being a season ticket holder) is comparatively recent. I became part of the Blues ownership group in 2012. Coincidentally, these three institutions that are now so important to me—the Brewery, the Library and the Blues—are all in the same zip code…63103.
In any case, the partnership to which I’m referring means that the St. Louis Public Library has now become the official archival home of the St. Louis Blues. The partnership is being inaugurated with an exhibit titled “50 Years of Blood, Sweat and Cheers—A Tribute to the St. Louis Blues and their Fans.” The exhibit will be on display at Central Library (1301 Olive Street, a short walk from Scottrade Center) from December 5, 2016 until March 4, 2017. After the exhibit closes, the Blues archives will be available by appointment for viewing by members of the public.
As exciting as this news is, there’s a lot more happening in St. Louis that’s worth noting. I was honored to be invited to write about it in a publication called Innovations, which is published by MIT Press. For the benefit of ARs who are not already familiar with this journal, as I wasn’t, other authors published in Innovations have included current and former heads of state (including two U.S. presidents), Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows etc. My article, which appears in Volume 11, Issue 1-2, Winter-Spring 2016, Thriving Cities, is titled Schlafly Beer and the Renaissance in St. Louis, and is available through this link here.
The conclusion is obvious. The Public Library, The Blues and The Schlafly Tap Room are all kindling a fire in Downtown St. Louis. Metaphorically, of course.