I have spent a lot of time in Ferguson, but I live in Hazelwood. Hazelwood and Ferguson are part of what locals call NoCo or North County. North County is where lots of people moved from to get away from people who did not look like them, it is a diverse area in St. Louis.
I like it here, at least I used to.
I don’t like it as much as I used to because part of the area is not safe to go to now, and I am not happy about that. I don’t want to re-hash the Mike Brown shooting, or even the looting. I’ve had enough of looters and shooters to last a lifetime. I’m going to leave that to others, I just want to show you a side of Ferguson the media has missed. I am an auctioneer and I have many auctioneer friends from all over the world, many of them have encouraged me to move. They only know the Ferguson they see on TV, they don’t understand my Ferguson or my North St. Louis County. The Ferguson they see is a war zone, a hell hole full of fury.
I’d like to tell you about Ferguson. My Ferguson may not be what your Ferguson is like. If you search Google for the word Ferguson what you see now are pictures of riots, and burning things, and people with their hands up, and teargas, lots of teargas. It wasn’t always the case.
There was a time when if you searched for Ferguson, this was what you saw.
This is the Corner Coffee House, I have spent many a hour here. They have great coffee, yummy banana bread and some of the best BLT’s I have every had the pleasure of eating. This used to be a repair shop. It is a good looking place, and has a meeting room that they let community members use. They have a board on the wall where they display photos of people wearing Corner Coffee House T-Shirts in pictures they have taken of themselves all over the world. One day I was looking at the board when I say a picture of a soldier in Afghanistan with a machine gun in his hands and a Corner Coffee House T-Shirt on his back. I looked closer and noticed that this was picture of someone I knew, years ago I was his Sunday School Teacher.
If you go down South Florissant road from the Corner Coffee House you will run into the Cork Wine Bar.
It is right on the road, easy to get to and it used to show up in a Google Search of Ferguson.
You can get a great glass of wine and some food there.
Perhaps my favorite place in Ferguson is the Ferguson Brewhouse. I had a heart attack about a year ago and now I really appreciate a good dish of Salmon. The Ferguson Brewhouse has the best Salmon in St. Louis, hands down, nothing is even close. I eat more Salmon than a Grizzly Bear now, I know. The Ferguson Brewhouse also has great micro-brews, you will have to trust me on that one too. It is a beautiful place with great food and drinks. I used to go there all the time.
I have spent time at these place with my neighbors, neighbors who looked like me, and neighbors who are darker than me, I never felt threatened. I have been back since the shooting of Mike Brown, and eaten inside the Brewhouse and outside on their patio. Ferguson has had it’s share of trouble lately but it has had trouble before.
For some reason Ferguson seems to be a tornado magnet. Over the years several tornadoes have hit Ferguson. In April of 2011 the worst tornado to hit the St. Louis, MO. area in 43 years hit Ferguson. When any of this tornadoes strike the area the people of Ferguson work together to clear the streets and fix the damage. The police control access to the area, the fireman and police help search for injured people, and the utility crews clear downed limbs and restore the power.
Our first home was in Burke City a tiny little city right in between Ferguson and the city I live in now, Hazelwood, MO. For years we used to take our kids to Ferguson to go Trick or Treating. We spent many a night walking the streets of Ferguson. During the Summer our kids would walk to Paul’s Market to buy some candy or other treats.
Some of my best memories of when my son was small are of Scouting For Food. Scouting For Food started as an Eagle Scout Project in St. Louis. It is the largest one day food drive in America. Our troop was located in North County Christian School (which at the time was located in Ferguson). For several years we collected food door to door for local food pantries in Ferguson and St. Louis. We picked up the food and then helped sort the food and pack it on to a truck at the Ferguson fire station. Back then the fire station was located in the same building as city hall. Over the years we filled up many a semi-tractor trailer at that fire station.
This video shows a time lapse of Scouting For Food at the St. Louis Food Bank, this is where the tractor trailers we filled up in Ferguson went after we filled them up.
The Ferguson I know, the North County I know, is a place full of people who care for each other. It is a place where people of all shades of skin color walk for mile after mile collecting food for complete strangers. A place where they go back to the firehouse and sort that food. A place where, when a malevolent storm strikes the neighbors roll up their sleeves and help each other put their lives back together. They care about each other and don’t think twice about helping each other.
If you are watching TV from somewhere else and think you know Ferguson, get ready to be surprised. Missouri is the Show Me state, give us a bit of time and we will show you what Ferguson and St. Louis are like. This is a good place to live, it is a good place to be from. Watch and see.