ST. LOUIS – Who wouldn’t love wading in a river, fishing, on a sunny day? Some city employees get to do that twice a week. In the process they also need to cope with sodden trash, slimy leaves and cold feet, but at the end, there’s a solid paycheck.
One city worker who gave his name as Jeffrey explained his task on a recent weekday as he scooped debris out of the iconic Meeting of the Waters fountain across Market Street from Union Station.
“We clean this fountain a couple times a week, maybe three,” he said. He gestured with a long-handled net, showing his catch of brown leaves and a bright yellow plastic snack wrapper.
“You wouldn’t believe what we find in here,” he said.
More people are traveling, dining out and otherwise going about in public as COVID-19 vaccines offer protection from the coronavirus. Hotels and restaurants have customers again. And some of those customers – and some residents and visitors – aren’t too conscientious about where they drop their trash.
Of course, the wind may be blamed for some of the items that inevitably get strewn along streets and park areas. But Jeffrey shook his head.
“People throw in all kinds of trash,” he asserted.
A few coins glistened at the bottom of the pool, but Jeffrey concentrated on the objects swirling in the clear, cold water. He walked slowly in his waders, moving casually among the sculpted figures representing the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
The fountain, in the 1800 block of Market in Aloe Plaza, was designed by Carl Milles and completed in 1939. Ever since, tourists and residents alike have enjoyed the fountain’s distinctive bronze figures and arching sprays. It became an official city landmark in 1971.
Jeffrey is a member of the St. Louis Parks Department. As he worked in the fountain, a colleague who gave his name as McConnell was picking up fallen branches and other debris from the grass of the surrounding park.
With the coming of autumn, Parks workers have more tasks ahead.
Jeffrey and McConnell could use help. The city is actively recruiting; for more information on jobs, go to the city’s website.