Monday, June 14, 2010

No man is an island

Ever since I learned last week of the closing of Globe Drugs on Cherokee Street, I have had the hardest time formulating words to go with my thoughts. My feelings about this are so visceral that I really don't have any coherent words for them.

But since the timing of my show at Urban Eats of photos from Globe Drugs happens to coincide so terribly with the closing of the store, I feel like I should say something. The elephant in the room and all that. 

Earlier this spring when I was planning out my rotation at Urban Eats I had no idea what was in store for Globe. I've loved that place for ages, and was really excited when Sandy Cohen, whose family has owned and operated Globe Drugs in St. Louis since the 1930s, invited me to come take photos in the store.

I have taken numerous photos of the outside of the store over the years, so getting a chance to get in and document some of the eye candy inside was just too good to pass up. One day in March I took Sandy up on his invitation and snapped photos for hours.* The folks working there could not have been more gracious and helpful. I bought some adorable little Easter purses for my nieces (and perhaps a bottle of wine or two). This did not feel like a last hurrah.

But things got busy over these last few months of actually getting my Urban Eats shows together and I haven't made it back to the store since.

At the beginning of June I hung up the Globe Drugs show at Urban Eats, and as it's the biggest single project I've done thus far, I was** pretty nervous about it. I really wanted it to be good. Not really for me, exactly, but because Globe has been such an important part of the community for so long that I wanted to be sure that what I was presenting was an adequate tribute to it.

I just love that place.

So when I read last week of the closing of the Cherokee Street store, I felt like I'd been socked in the gut. I have this thing about buildings—they are frequently interesting to look at and often beautifully crafted; more important, they generally have had many people pass through them, been shelter to so many people's histories and dreams.

Even more than homes, buildings that housed institutions—schools, hospitals, houses of worship, stores—are especially fascinating to me. So many people have passed through them, so many people have memories—good and bad, happy and sad—associated with them. They are like repositories of the ghosts of our collective histories. There is something even more poignant and gut wrenching to me when these institutions are lost.

John Donne said "any man's death diminishes me." For me this is in some ways felt a hundred fold for the demise of places like Globe on Cherokee. It will be so so missed.***

I never in a million years would have dreamed this show would be a goodbye to the store, and can't say how sad I am that it is.

Toby Weiss has a very beautiful post memorializing Globe here. I encourage you to go take a peek. 

*including some of the storage/warehouse/office space above and below the store, hence my cumbersome title for the show, "Upstairs, Downstairs, Inside and Out: A Visit to Globe Drugs".
**okay, am nervous.  Present tense.
***the last remaining Globe Drugs is on Broadway in south St. Louis, near Soulard.  This was my go-to place for affordable whatnots when I used to work in Soulard.  I plan to visit as soon as I can.  I hope you will too.

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