A Minute in the City 3/17/2020 – Keeping the Spirit of St. Louis Alive

I don’t need to tell anyone that these are unsettling times. Each day comes with a new case of jitters as the Coronavirus story grows. To combat the news, I am taking walks, playing music, watching movies, and throwing myself into my work.

My new calendar went to the printer today, about two months earlier than it had in past years. It may be my favorite calendar yet, if only for the quiet and calm it brought me when I needed it most. There is solace in creativity and hard work.

And that’s a good thing. Because, beyond the obvious health scares created by COVID-19 are the impending economic problems. It’s a nerve-wracking time for small business, and I am responding by writing a big check to the printer. Sometimes it’s important to invest in hope.

This month’s blog wasn’t supposed to be about Coronavirus. It was supposed to be about The Spirit of St. Louis, the single-engine plane that made the first solo flight across the Atlantic almost 100 years ago. I knew the story, because I’d seen the Jimmy Stewart movie. And I knew the plane, because I’d seen a replica at the airport and later, at the Missouri History Museum.

I visited the history museum in 2017 to study The Spirit of St. Louis for my first Year in the City calendar, but on my first walk-through, I couldn’t find it. When I asked the museum guard where it was, he smirked and pointed directly over my head. There it was, all 2100 pounds of it. I just needed to look up.

A full two years later, I learned that Charles Lindbergh, who piloted that plane, was a controversial figure. This rattled me, because I had always thought of him as a national hero. So I watched the movie again, trying to square my new findings about this man with the larger-than-life character portrayed by Jimmy Stewart. In the end, I decided to hold onto the parts of Lindbergh’s story that could teach me something. And this is what I learned: First, that it’s wise to travel light, because the things you carry can only weigh you down. Second, even if you can’t see where you’re going – and Lindbergh, having neither windshield nor radar, could not – you can still get to where you need to be. And finally, you can always start a new journey, even if conditions are less than optimal.

It is not a bad flight plan for the times we’re living in. We can rise above the fear, divisiveness, and anxiety of this moment. We just have to keep looking up.

Stay well, everyone.


The Spirit of St. Louis appeared on the May page of A Year in the City calendar in 2018. Prints are available for purchase, either as individually packaged calendar sheets or as framed, archival 16 x 20 giclees. Please visit ayearinthecity.com for more information.