701 N 15th St, St Louis, Missouri 314-231-2489
In Glass Menagerie:
Tom: Listen! You think I’m crazy about the warehouse? [He bends fiercely toward her slight figure.] You think I’m in love with the Continental Shoemakers? You think I want to spend fifty-five years down there in that — celotex interior! with — fluorescent — tubes! Look! I’d rather somebody picked up a crowbar and battered out my brains — than go back mornings! I go! Every time you come.”
In Real Life:
Well, Tom Wingfield may not have been in love with Continental Shoe Company – but this stop is pay dirt for literary travelers like me. First of all – the shoe company does actually exist and that’s kind of cool. However – it’s really – and always has been called the International Shoe Company. In fact – in real life, the shoe company is the reason Tennessee Williams moved with his family to St. Louis. Tennessee’s father, Cornelius Williams, got a job there, first as a traveling salesman and later as a manager. In 1931 Cornelius got Tennessee a summer job at the company. Then, Tennessee worked there again from 1934 to 1935 when the family didn’t have enough money for him to continue in college. The Glass Menagerie is a memory play and the memory Williams is conjuring up happened during the time he was working at the International Shoe Company. I drove up to the building to check it out. Now, neither Tom nor Tennessee liked it there – so I was predisposed to feel the same way and I did. I have to say – if I had to drop out of college to work at a monolithic looking blonde brick building – I might have hated it too. However, inside, something new and exciting has happened. The city opened up a little thing called City Museum which seems wildly popular.