“I’m saying a prayer for the whole world, George.”

Maud Kelly

Maud Kelly is a poet and essayist who feels pretty certain it's all going to be okay in the end. In the meantime, she's writing a book.

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43 Responses

  1. Beth says:

    Engaging. Sad. Funny. Brilliant. Nice work, Maud!Report

  2. Chip Daniels says:

    Seconded. This is the sort of piece that needs a bit of reflection, to really do justice.
    Thanks for this.Report

  3. Toby Boyd says:

    Moving. I grew up in Nebraska in the same hazy era, not far from US Strategic Air Command HQ, wracked with guilt about our having dropped The Bomb (not once but twice, as if the point hadn’t been made clearly the first time). And loving Japanese pop culture, as it trickled across the Pacific to us (I had a Godzilla almost as large as I was at age 7). So sad that you are living with the echoes of that war (karma being a wheel just like a monster truck’s), like the Navaho who helped mine that uranium. The whole world needs a prayer, George, but the monsters aren’t big and green. Thank you for reminding us.Report

  4. Glyph says:

    Very well done. Thanks.Report

  5. Kazzy says:

    I don’t know who this Maud is but, goddamnit, do we really need ANOTHER writer here who is so much better at this than me?Report

  6. Oscar Gordon says:

    Growing up in WI, I remember the Radon scares, that radioactive gas seeping up into basements from the decaying uranium ever present in the soil in that part of the country. The only reason it was an issue was because we dug basements, so we’d have a place to shelter from a tornado. At least it was something that could be managed, if you knew it was there.Report

  7. North says:

    My God(ess?) what a piece of writing! I am so sorry for your suffering, I am so grateful for you sharing.Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    This reminds me of the story in the Times magazine about how DuPont poisoned drinking water for decades with a substance that they knew was toxic and harmful.Report

  9. Burt Likko says:

    Here’s hoping for an enduring remission, @maud-kelly. And thank you for sharing this gorgeous piece of writing with us.Report

  10. Jaybird says:

    Absolutely awesome. Thank you.

    (I’ve told this story before, and now I have opportunity to tell it again. I was in 3rd or 4th grade when The Day After came out. I remember that my teacher told the class that we didn’t have to worry about this because it wouldn’t happen until *AFTER* the Rapture. We all felt a lot better, as I recall.)Report

  11. aaron david says:

    Excellent piece of writting and good to have some new voices around.Report

  12. Mark Friedman says:

    As always, Maud, a stunning piece of writing. Hugs.Report

  13. Deana Manwaring Millard says:

    Maud Burke- my brilliant, brave, funny childhood best friend… How I loved all of the time we spent growing up in Florissant with you, all of the memories we made along that creek, in those micro-woods. I can’t put into words as eloquently as yours how proud of you I am. You continue to be my hero. Excellent work on this article. I pray for your continued health and wellness. God Bless.Report

  14. SuziQ says:

    Hi Maud. Amazingly, I too playing in the same creek, and many more areas around Florissant: St. Ferdinand Park, Knights of Columbus Park, softball and soccer fields at the park near McDonnell Douglas where barrels were stored (I hated that park because there was no grass that would grow, and I would always choke on the blowing dirt [long before anyone knew WHY grass wouldn’t grow there!]), and many other areas along the Coldwater Creek Watershed. Interestingly, the area you mention, between the McDonalds and the Storage Center, was just a field when I was growing up. The creek was in a more natural state back then; there were no concreted creeks back then. The creeks were more fun to play in, and even more lethal! Back then, everyone played outside. Now, several in my family have various cancers, auto-immune diseases, etc. I’m still here ….Report

  15. Jake says:

    I believe this is an amalgamation of time periods. The storage facility was built much later, well into the late 90’s. The story refers to the wooded area between the 7/11 at the Shackelford intersection of Lindsay Lane, and the McDonalds–just before one gets to the Schunck’s at Shackelford and Mullanphy. This area backs up to the “explorers” neighborhood where all the streets are named Estes,Cortez, Ensenada, Francisca etc. The “woods” are barely there any longer.


    • Maud Kelly in reply to Jake says:

      Yes, Jake. That’s right. I thought about specifying that it was a field at that time and is now a storage facility, but I am a slave to momentum, wordwise. Thanks for time/space mapping it.Report

  16. DensityDuck says:

    Everyone imagines that World War II didn’t have any casualties in the American homeland.Report

  17. Noco Shawn says:

    Although I now live within a stones throw of cold-water creek I grew up in the 80s and 90s playing in maline creek. They both start off at the airport and run through north county just on opposite sides of hwy 270. I’m just wondering why one is getting exposure and the other is being ignored.
    I grew up in bellefontaine and the creek ran right behind my house. We almost got swallowed up by the floods of 93. My generation had video games but nothing like the systems they have today. We spent most of our time outdoors playing in the woods and also in the creek. People would tell us that it was nothing but a big sewer but we didn’t listen heck my generation didn’t have hand sanitizer or flu shots all we had was asprin and nyquil. Now that I’m older and wiser I would not let our kids play in either creek.
    I really appreciate this post and enjoyed it. North county is still a very nice place to live but I feel like we need to be educate more about all the toxic waste and chemicals that may be harmful to us and our children. We need to educate ourselves and others and come up with a solution to a problem the government and these municipalitys don’t want us to know aboutReport

  18. John Nash says:

    I too grew up in Florissant. I remember playing in that concrete creek… My Mother, Father and older Brother all died of cancer and I remember wondering after they died that there must be something behind this high rate of cancer in our family. Now I know…Report

  19. Aunt Peg says:


    What a beautiful piece of writing on an ugly subject. I love your feathered hair-Farah Fawcett had nothing on you.Report

  20. Sandra Zak says:

    Thank you for making the story personal and thought provoking. Grew up by Maline Creek and even in the late 70’s, city governments were taking about the problems. (worked for Jennings right out of college). And it is still a major problem. Sort of reminds me of the water in Flint, a very serious problem, but no action. So happy to be reading your work. Friend of Chris and Mike.Report

  21. Maureen Jones says:

    Thank you for such a well written, enlightening article. I pray your health will improve dramatically. We lived on Lindsay Lane in Florissant for 30 years. My husband died 18 years ago from an astrocytoma brain tumor. I was diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor 5 years ago. 93% of the tumor was removed and I was blessed that it was diagnosed benign. We have 2 grown children and 5 grandchildren and pray they will be spared any health issues from this tragic reality!Report

  22. Mer says:

    I played on the banks of the creek in spots where it was still naturally meandering in Hazelwood, but was always afraid to get my feet in the water. Played in the concrete Coldwater Creek behind my babysitters house, where the boys would catch crawdads after the rain with coffee cans. That couldn’t have been good.Report

  23. Byron Clemens says:

    Maud, Thank you so much for sharing. i am in Massachusetts right now (but spent some time growing up on the banks of Coldwater) as you know we are still trying to get U.S. to clean up Manhattan Project U-235, Radium, Radon, Thorium, U-238 and decay products. When a group of Japanese Buddhist monks (including my friend Nepashi, who I met in the Southwest) came to St. Louis I brought them to the fence line of one of the waste sites where we held a prayer vigil . . . . we then walked to Clayton, MO and held a vigil at what was then the Hq. of General Dynamics maker of the Trident Sub.

    I really like your style . . . my two colleagues (Ray and Kat) and I have a radio show in St. Louis on Sunday evenings at 6 PM Central Time . . . . on WGNU 920am if you feel like sharing (reading some of your work on the air) we would love to have you 314-880-0808

  24. Ronda Engle says:

    I dont live in NC StL anymore and recently stumbled upon this information about Coldwater creek. Loved your story, took me right back to Catholic picnics and terry cloth shorts…except you forgot the Boonesfarm 🙂Report