When someone told me it was due to appeals of St. Louis women that Street Commissioner James Trevilla is causing those nice, smooth wooden blocks to replace the hard, cruel granite paving stones of our downtown streets (and which we MUST hobble over), I thought:
“Who was the woman who took the initiative? She is a modern Jeanne d’Arc, saving — if not us, her countrywomen — at least some of their downtrodden French heels.”
So I went to Mr. Trevilla to ask who it was.
But no! It was not a woman. It was Mr. Trevilla himself.
“No woman has approached me on the subject,” said Mr. Trevilla, when I asked him if he really were making this improvement for our benefit.
“The downtown street crossings, where women sprain their ankles and lose their patent-leather pumps, are indeed object lessons, displaying just some of the evils of the granite cobblestones.
“I appreciate the discomfort and sympathize with the women who must walk upon them with difficulty, but I must confess that wood blocks, not French heels, are my hobby.
“I’ll tell you why — ”
With this, he brought out many rough, unhewn pieces of wood, in various stages of greasiness, and a pamphlet containing a government report on wood investigations and experiments in their preservation.
If I did not absorb all the valuable information he so carefully imparted to me, it was not that I did not appreciate his attention but because I was studying his very strong profile and wondering how, in my sketch, I was to avoid making him seem too severe.
His spectacles and very earnest expression give him a direfulness which is sure to be emphasized in a plain black-and-white drawing, whereas in reality he has the soul of kindness when he looks at you.
There were many statistics in his Washington report to prove that wooden blocks will endure as long as granite, from ten to thirty years, withstanding the heaviest traffic, and that the cost of each block is only about a nickel each.
“I now have some extra money, and at the request of many merchants for noiseless, safe, and sanitary pavements I’ve decided to put my theories into practice, at least at the corner crossings.
“It remains only to decide which wood to use. Here we have samples of gumwood, red and blue, from the South, and tamarac and yellow pine from the North. All have seen long, hard service, and all are in excellent preservation.”
Picks the Prettiest
I volunteered my thought that the blue gumwood was the best-looking, and I think that is really all we women will have to say about it.
We can only profit by the improvement and thank Mr. Travilla heartily for his preference to wooden blocks. • • • Then Martyn went back to her office and completed her sketch with a photograph of James Travilla being offered bouquets by kneeling women.
The article, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 24, 1908,has been edited.