‘Cause I’m feelin’ so darn happy

One of the great things about music is that a particular song can remind you of a specific time in your life, sometimes down to the day. One song that does that for me is “Creep” by Stone Temple Pilots.

The backstory

Our story begins in July 1993, in between your protagonist’s graduation from high school and his entry into college. Those days consisted of mainly hanging with the homies, driving around and undertaking various slightly illegal activities.

This particular night involved heading out to rural central Illinois in hopes of taking advantage of rumored meteor showers. After waiting for a couple of hours on an enormous rock pile outside of Rochester, Ill., we get bored and impulsively decide we are going to drive to St. Louis.

Understand that this was during the Great Flood of 1993, when much of the middle Mississippi River basin was angry. We roll into St. Louis at about 2 in the morning to check out the scope of the flooding.

And being 18 years old, we can’t possibly grasp the scope of it all. So we (meaning your hero, at least) get our thrills via public urination: I always like to tell the story of the time I urinated into the Mississippi River from Laclede’s Landing. Powerful stream, and all that.

So after emptying our bladders and a period of milling about, we figure it’s time to get back to Springfield. But we weren’t going to leave without souvenirs. So we got the big idea to gaffle actual, authentic sandbags off the wall that was protecting the city of St. Louis from inundation.

We each loaded our ill-gotten booty into the trunk of our friend’s Mazda 626, the back end of which was scraping the surface of Interstate 55 as we drove back home, listening to 105.7 The Point for much of the way. One of the songs we heard was the above-linked video.

We ended up getting back into town around 7 a.m. and then getting grounded basically until we left for college a month later.

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3 Responses to ‘Cause I’m feelin’ so darn happy

  1. jeannetteeatsspaghetti says:

    I haven’t thought about the flood in a long while and am apparently feeling talkative because I meant to leave a comment and ended up writing a blog post in your comment box. You might as well listen to Led Zeppelin’s When The Levee Breaks while reading this post. Hearing it always brings back vivid memories of rocking out in my very-empty bedroom to this song during the summer of 1993. I was 15.

    I grew up in East Carondelet, IL, which is about ten miles south of downtown St. Louis, in the Mississippi River floodplain. Our village turned into a ghost town during the Flood of 93 and at one point we were the only occupied house on our block. Like every other kid, I had blisters on my pinkies from tying sandbags at the post office. The national guard was stationed down the street, in my old grade school. And you had to have a resident’s pass to get into town.

    I’m not going to lie, it was weird. And scary. The flood affected every aspect of our lives, for months. We even lived differently, moving everything that was important to us upstairs. My room was the only bedroom on the first floor and even it became empty.

    Most every spring the Mississippi River rises enough to touch the base of the levee two blocks from my parent’s house – though it normally flows a half to one mile from where they live. In 1993, the river came up to just a few feet shy of the top of the levee and stayed that way for months. The sheer volume of water was unbelievable. And because we made friends with the National Guardsmen, we could walk to the top of the levee and stand on this little mound of dirt holding back a massive, fast-moving and unforgiving river. Unfortunately, back then I didn’t document every event with photos the way I do now, however, I have a photo from 2008 that shows what it looked like in the earlier stages of the Flood of 93.

    Valmeyer is to the south of East Carondelet, but contained within a different levee system. I cannot tell you how intense it was, watching the footage of the levee breaking and blowing apart that lone farm house (I could not find the video). I knew how vulnerable we were, too. (On a side note, the town of Valmeyer has since moved up onto the bluffs, but some people stayed in the old town… hence New Valmeyer and Old Valmeyer. Weird byproduct of a flood, I think.)

    Driving around on The Bottoms has always been a favorite past time of mine. I’ve spent a lot of time exploring that area both before and after the flood. The evidence is less and less as time goes on, but if you are driving along the levee and look at the line of trees along its western side, you should notice many of them are broken off at a height that is a few feet lower than the levee.

  2. Occula says:

    Unlike Jeannette, what I gots is mostly that we went to Lollapalooza at Riverport that year and saw a lot of destruction and water and flotsam and probably some jetsam too, from the car on the way. Also, second worst sunburn ever.

  3. flavius217 says:

    The problem with snotty, detached irony is that there’s people dealing with actual hardship. I hope I didn’t come across as glorifying stupid teenage behavior.

    This is one of the several incidents in my life that I look back on with a certain amount of disgust; like, “how could you be so stupid?”

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