The Budweiser Clyesdales Along Grant’s Trail in St. Louis County

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I’m spending my holiday in St. Louis with N. and her family, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sneak in a bike ride with Brompty, who got her own spot in the trunk for the long drive here from Baltimore. Monday started at Family House #2 and on our way to Family House #3, N. pointed out Grant’s Trail, a rail-trail that went from right there to I-didn’t-know-where, and after bundling up and unfolding the bike, I traced the drive backward and then happily pedaled my way along the trail, stopping to learn about one of the first African American public cemeteries in St. Louis (Father Dickson’s), admire a gen-u-ine St. Louis cardinal, and to ogle these clyesdales, who all looked up at my click-click and came over to say hi. And then there was a National Park–Grant’s Farm–and I folded up the bike, stashed her behind the ranger’s desk, and got a private tour about the private life of Ulysses Grant and his wife, Julia Dent, and the Dent family farm where Grant hoped to retire before he got suckered into that whole presidency thing. Oh, and he was totally against slavery on moral terms, except that most he thought it was economically inefficient–why not just hire temporary seasonal labor and cut them loose the rest of the year? The interpretive film, though, argued that Grant *had* to use enslaved laborers, even though he kind of thought slavery was wrong. In the house tour, we saw a video reenactment of a dinner where Julia tried to change the subject from the dinnertime arguments between Grant and Daddy Dent as an enslaved woman served the meal. Yep, it’s hard to tell a heroic narrative in the midst of such ugly history, but we’re going to keep trying, it seems. And then I headed back before it got too dark, and oh, it was cold, and then there was a light snow and I got lost and it got dark and I didn’t have lights on my bike and I had to call N. for the rescue. Good thing the bike slides right into the trunk, and good thing I brought her–I really needed the ride.

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