When Mike Stein wanted to sell more furniture, he went on TV and yelled like a hyena about credit. When civil rights crusader Percy Green wanted to draw attention to the lack of jobs for African-Americans in the construction of the Gateway Arch, he and another activist climbed a ladder 125 feet up the side of the partially-built monument. In the 1880s and 1890s, the heavily-German accented owner of the local ball team brought in customers with a scantily-clad all-girl band, horse racing, a shoot-the-shoot, a beer garden, and a Wild West Show with cowboys, cowgirls, and Indians. In The Colorful Characters of St. Louis, local author Jim Merkel tells the stories of dozens of such characters who worked overtime to ensure that St. Louis never would be boring. Herein are the stories of the dancing traffic cop and the Irish-as-they-come St. Louis County mayor who raised the ire of veterans by painting a World War II era tank a bright kelly green. The tales are enough to convince anybody that St. Louis has a higher CCPC (colorful characters per capita) count than anywhere else in the country.
About the Author
Jim Merkel is a longtime St. Louis journalist and the author of three books about St. Louis: Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: German-Americans in St. Louis; and The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch. He and his wife Lorraine live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of South St. Louis.