PATHWAY OF PRESIDENTS
A lineal presentation of lifesize statues of all our presidents from Washington to Trump
I was born in Overland Missouri in 1934. My first introduction to education was when I started
first grade and was not good as my mother said I cried all the way as we walked to school.
There were no buses and walking to school was the norm until I got my first car in my sophomore
year at Ritenour High School. As a marginal student with near-failing grades, mainly due to a
lack of interest, attending college was not in the cards. Fortunately, my shop teacher, Mr. Todd,
rescued me from becoming a drop-out and who knows what. I liked drawing since I could hold a
pencil and shown a talent for drafting in his class. He suggested I participate in a program for
kids like me called Diversified Occupations. We spent the morning in class and the afternoons
working. Mr. Todd got me a job at Sterling Engineering Company as a draftsman which paid
75 cents an hour. Much to my mother's relief, I graduated from High School an achievement
neither of my parents obtained.
After graduation, I began working full time at Sterling and finally realized that education mattered and began taking engineering class at University College, the night school of Washington University. I received no encouragement from my employer or parents to attending college, so I became an autodidact, a pursuit of self-education that has continued to this day.
Sterling offered me a full-time job after graduation in 1953. The firm's clients were developers of residential and commercial real estate. My drafting work consisted of various surveying documents and engineering drawings of site infrastructure. In time I also designed various items such as roads and sewers for approval by government agencies. I was also the photographer in the firms Aerial Mapping endeavors and logged many hours in the right seat snapping photos.
In 1957 I enlisted in the Army for six-months active duty and six years in the active reserves. Upon return from active duty I served in the Headquarters Company of the 802nd Ordinance Battalion of the 102nd Infantry Division located in St. Louis as finance clerk.
In 1961, I took the 8 hour Engineering- in-Training test given by the Missouri State Board of Registration for Architects and Engineers and passed. I continued to work under the supervision of an engineer which after the required time would enable me to take the final 8-hour test to become a Registered Professional Engineer. However, my employers at the time were indifferent or had no interest in making me a higher paid employee and saw no particular advantage as it was not necessary for my job, so I waited.
That same year, I had an opportunity to work for a developer as his personal assistant for management of several properties as well as the construction superintendent for a 700 unit apartment complex under construction. This opportunity gave me a full range of experience and skills in real estate development that I would put to use when I started a construction company of my own to developed a small subdivision and within three years built 11 homes. Unstable economic conditions led me to conclude that I was adverse to financial risk and I decided to return to the engineering world
Two friends and I formed TBM. Inc an engineering and surveying company. We offered a range of common services. Most of the business was surveying for various clients and design services with a few developers. A lack of adequate capital and some bad clients spelled the end of the experience but was invaluable in my determination to pursue the engineering profession as an employee rather than an entrepreneur.
In 1970 I joined Booker Associates an Architectural, Engineering, and Planning firm offering services to corporate and local, state and federal governmental agencies. I started as a designer/drafter for an Air Force housing project and participated in the drafting of plans for numerous small projects In 1972 I obtained Registration as a Professional Engineer in the State of Missouri and shortly later became registered in the State of Illinois. After registration, I became a project engineer for infrastructure improvements for a series of Corps of Engineers contracts relating to upgrades a several Army Ammunition Plants, a small low-water dam and a major flood protection project involving a large storm water pumping station.
With the implantation of the Federal Flood Insurance Program, I realized the potential of substantial opportunity and promoted the firm's response to the Commerce Business Daily's solicitations. To enhance our credentials, I attended several specialty classes given by The Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), is an organization within the Institute for Water Resources that is the designated Center of Expertise for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the technical areas of Water Resources. As a result of my efforts, we were awarded contracts to prepare Flood Insurance Rate Maps for 55 counties in Missouri including the City of St. Louis. I was promoted to Section Chief of the Water Resources Section and supervised the hydrological and hydraulic calculations to develop 100 and 500-year flood zones for each designated stream within the contract area.
A second but smaller opportunity came along with the Mine Reclamation Program under which we were awarded contracts on reclamation projects in Missouri. As Project Manager these projects acquainted me with the adverse effects of unregulated surface mining and a new sense of our fragile environment.
During the Reagan Administration, the firm was awarded contracts by the European Division of the Corps of Engineers. The first major contract was for the preparation of Master Plans for Army Installations throughout southern Germany. Working with our German partner, I was responsible for the evaluation of the existing infrastructure and recommended improvements for the Master Plan. I was the Project Manager for another contract to design a new Family Housing Complex in southern Germany. All of the German projects I worked on constituted a learning experience for me as well as my team. The first challenge was to think and design in metrics. The second involved the Status of Forces Agreement with Germany that required all plans must adhere to the stricter of the Corps of Engineers standards or the German Deutsche Industrial Norme (DIN) standards. I found that this requirement was an excellent opportunity to learn about the structure of German standards and how nations differ on what they believe to be important to them as reflected in their standards.
Having risen from draftsman to the Manger of the Civil Engineering Department, I found that I had finally reached my life's goal. Moreover, now what? The position was very stressful and was beginning to affect my health so in 1987, I realized that I needed a change. In 1998, Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) a century-old engineering and program management firm acquired Booker Associates, Inc..
The City of Maryland Heights was one of my clients for a Storm Water project and found the staff and City Council to be a very pleasant client. My primary contact was the City Engineer who soon resigned leaving his position open so when the city advertised the position I applied for the job. I was hired in 1987 and assumed the position as Director of Streets and Engineering. My responsibilities included overseeing the Street Department's operations and budget as well as the Engineering Section and City Hall maintenance staff, attending Council meetings and serving on the Public Improvements Committee, the Storm Water Committee and as Traffic Commissioner, I chaired the Traffic Safety Committee. A reorganization renamed my position to Director of Public Works. However, my duties were mainly unchanged.
When Casino Gaming became available in Missouri, Maryland Heights was in an excellent position to obtain a Casino. The voters approved the measure, and Gaming Companies were soon submitting various proposals to the City. As part of the City's review team, I visited various gaming venues and learned the important site considerations that I would need to require from the developers. After a thorough examination of the final proposal, the City approved the Casio Complex, and with the additional revenue, the City was able to fund various programs for the benefit of its residents. After the Casino had become operational, I proposed the City of Maryland Heights to uses a portion of the gaming revenues to construct the extension of the Earthcity Expressway to the Page Ave Extension. While facing many obstacles, the City obtained all the necessary approvals for the design and construction of the project that with the State's completion of the last link enabled motorist freeway like access from the City of Arnold and Earth City in St. Louis County.
I retired on my birthday in 1999 and enjoyed retirement ever since. My hobbies include working on my model railroad layout and the computer. What a new world computers have brought? I use mine for everyday things like e-mail, googling stuff, YouTube how to fix it videos and games. Some of my favorites are Sid Meyers Civilization, Call of Duty and one of the best, Minecraft. As an engineer, I find the creative mode an endless construction project. Games are fun but do not fill a need to do something meaningful so what can I to do next that will make a difference,
The answer to what to do next is my proposal for the Pathway of Presidents that is an enormous undertaking with many hurdles to clear. Why start this now so late in life? Well, if not now, when? This idea began with Millard Fillmore . About twenty years ago while I was with the City, a co-worker thought that Millard Fillmore was the worst president that ever lived. I was not familiar with that president but became his champion during the lunchtime banter. At one point, I proposed erecting a statue of President Fillmore along the main through fare of the City. As time evolved, my vision grew grander. Why not have statues of all the presidents along the road at which time I named my idea the Avenue of Presidents. My friends reacted rationally and dismissed the notion out of hand which was appropriate considering the setting. Unfortunately, my dear friend and antagonist passed away, and without his presence, I had no further motivation for the project.
Over the years it remained one of many such ideas in my brain. A couple of years ago I had lunch with some old friends, and as part of our remembrances, I began thinking about Presidents and how my idea had merit particularly at this time of such division in our country. Here was a project that would represent everyone no matter of what political party they represented. So now I could see how this project would require a grander setting than a busy through fare, and the only logical location would be in Washington D.C. When I read about the National Mall Coalition's proposals for a 3rd Century Mall expansion, I realized that the Pathway of Presidents would make excellent addition.
So now my goal is to make the public aware of the project and enlist their support.
My goal is to create a memorial to all of our Presidents in a unique and educational way. For those who have had the opportunity to visit our nation's capitol, there are many statues and monuments to our past presidents for their contributions to our mighty nation. Massive structures and figures that reflect on the magnitude of their accomplishments. These great larger than life representations are impressive.
When my Great Granddaughter stands before the huge statue of President Lincoln in his memorial, she is appropriately impressed by this great leader, but it 's hard for her to relate to him as a real man. "Was he as tall as you Opa?", She asks. The same applies to almost all of our memorials and statues. The creators of these monuments wanted to impress us with their larger than life works befitting their subjects. However, childer are far better relating to them as fellow human beings if the statues are life-size and approachable.
Imagine a line of Presidential life-size statues stretching from George Washington to our incoming President. Forty-five figures, each in its unique way separated by a representation of their time in office. For example, each year could be represented by five steps. Therefore, a four-year term by 20 steps. In this manner, one could judge the retaliative length of each President's term. Exceptions would stand out and provoke questions. Specifically for those Presidents whose time was cut short by tragic circumstances. The educational value of seeing our Presidents in such a setting would be well worth the effort.
Combining the visual simplicity with well-placed audio devices and brochures would add different prisms through which to examine our nation's Presidential history. Such a pathway need not be in single long straight line. Circular or spiral forms could also be used depending on the locational restrictions. Each year would be inscribed in a chiseled stone insert in the pathway to remind visitors that each step represents time.
A second educational element would be the placement of all of our national flags at their appropriate location at their time of adoption. Once again a visual relationship between a President and historical events.
In spite of the present controversy over Civil War memorials, I believe that we can not just ignore our historical facts. To this end, my proposal would be to divide the pathway at the beginning of the Civil War and continue the separated path until the end of the war. On the northern side would be President Lincoln and on the southern side would be a statue of President Davis. Between the divided paths would be a simple split rail fence with a union grave marker on the north side and a Confederate grave marker on the other. The Confederate Flag, not the Battle Flag, would fly at the appropriate location.
While this is intended to be a national memorial and would be a major tourist attraction, I believe that commercial aspects should be in a separate area. A project of this magnitude must be a collaborative effort of all parties involved and should proceed along similar lines as other significant memorials including a design competition for the final memorial.
A tribute to all the Presidents that shaped our nation.
Civil engineer with wide range of experience in the design of civil and military infrastructure projects throughout the United States and Germany. Specialized experience in Water Resources.