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This morning I loaded up the car and headed north to St. Louis for a family celebration. My cousin’s son turned 30 this month and it is cause for celebration. I got in late this afternoon and my sister is flying in tomorrow. The big party is tomorrow, so I am here to help my cousin get things ready. She is organized, so it should be easy. It is a Cardinal baseball and Blues hockey themed event. I can’t wait.

On my way up the farmers all through eastern Arkansas were working their fields plowing and in some cases burning them.

Spring is here! It was a pleasant drive.

I knew I was getting close to St. Louis when I saw my first White Castle hamburger restaurant.

I had to stop. Growing up in St. Louis some of my fondest memories were eating White Castle hamburgers with my grandparents. They had season tickets to the Muny Opera (St. Louis Municipal Opera Theater, now called The Muny). The Muny is America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater located in Forest Park. We saw some great musicals there over the years, but as kids we got to go once in the summer when it was the children’s musical. We always took bags of bread to feed the ducks beforehand and afterwards we stopped in at White Castles and got burgers to eat at their house before going to bed. I adore White Castle hamburgers and always have to get my fix when I come to St. Louis. When I was a child, I think all they sold were the traditional tiny slider square hamburgers which came packaged two boxes together. I don’t remember having an option for cheese on them. Today when I stopped in, I was amazed at the huge menu. Not only do they serve a variety of burgers, some with bacon, cheese and added toppings, but they also sell crab cake burgers, shrimp burgers, chicken, clam strips and even breakfast.

I was a purist and got the original burger with no cheese.

They were delicious! It is surprising I love them so much, since I don’t like onions and they are covered in them, but they are cooked onions and there is something unique about them, plus they bring back such good memories—and a little heartburn.

I got settled in, visited with my cousin and family over a nice meal and am having an early evening. St. Louis is where both of my parents grew up and where my sister and I were born. We moved in and out of here several times as children, moving for my dad’s job. I left for good when I was in the 10th grade and we moved to Little Rock. But it will always hold a special place in my heart—it is where the majority of our family stayed—grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. While we don’t have a huge family, the family gatherings were special times, and tomorrow will be another day for making memories.

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