Jim Merkel, a Suburban Journals reporter and author, will talk about his book, “The Colorful Characters of St. Louis” at the Pacific library Thursday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m.
Merkel, who has written other books about St. Louis, including “The Making of an Icon, (the Gateway Arch)” and “Beer, Brats and Baseball,” said moving to “Colorful Characters” was a natural.
An avowed library buff, he did much of the research for the book at the St. Louis Central Library downtown.
Jazz age dancer Josephine Baker, baseball legend Yogi Berra and TV comedians Phyllis Diller and Redd Foxx made the cover. But 76 more colorful individuals whose lives captured Merkel’s imagination are featured in the book.
Some of his colorful characters are dead, but many still continue to live their colorful lives. He personally knew, or came to know, most of the living individuals he chose to write about.
Easily recognizable names include jazz luminary Miles Davis, baseball legend Dizzy Dean and comedian health advocate Dick Gregory.
But folks who helped give St. Louis its down home Midwest image didn’t have to be famous to make it into the book.
Merkel related in a TV interview that his favorite colorful character was known by only a handful of people. He adds color to his neighborhood by waving at cars, trucks and passersby on an Interstate 44 overpass in Webster Groves.
Local journalists have described Merkel himself as a colorful personality who writes fun-to-read books about St. Louis.
His appearance in Pacific is part of the “Meet the Author” series hosted by Barb Schweissguth, Pacific Library adult programmer.
Although a library flier noted that Merkel would have copies of his book on hand for sale which he would sign, that turned out to be wishful thinking, Schweissguth said.
“He will not have books for sale. He lost all his inventory in the warehouse fire in St. Louis several weeks ago,” Schweissguth said. “But he will talk about how he wrote the book and answer questions.”
There is no charge for the presentation, but due to limited space, reservations are suggested. Anyone wanting to attend should call 636-257-2712, stop by the branch or register online.