The Secret Places
On New Year’s Eve I noticed a well-dressed line of party people standing under a nondescript nearby awning. Naturally curious, I strolled over to see what was going on. I discovered my first secret St. Pete surprise.
I’m living next door to a speakeasy.
To get into The Saint, patrons need to recite the secret sin of the week and confess. I asked my landlord if he knew what the secret sin password was. He texted me, “My partner doesn’t know I’m going into 2022 single.” I assumed Alan had sent me the wrong personal text message until it dawned on me that the phrase he sent was the password.
Yes, I know. I shouldn’t be allowed out alone.
The Saint reminds me of John Wick’s Continental Hotel only it doesn’t allow smoking (cigarettes or vape), guns, phone calls, laptops, pets (unless certified service) or rowdiness. As hard as I looked I didn’t see Ian McShane sitting in a booth anywhere either. Click the link to see what The Saint looks like inside: https://thesaintspeakeasy.com/
The second surprise was a follow-up to my earlier walkabout when I noticed a “Tunnel to Tropicana Field” sign at Ferg’s Sports Bar on Central Avenue.
Pittsburghers are natural tunnel rats and I’m no exception. I followed the downward curving tunnel and popped out into a Tropicana Field parking lot. That’s when I realized the tunnel followed a creek bed that the city of St. Pete had paved over, pretty much like what I’ve seen before at the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza, and Pittsburgh’s Negley Run Road.
Booker Creek still runs beneath St. Pete’s streets. Pulling up Google maps, I started searching for it.
Leaning dangerously over a crumbling Central Avenue viaduct, I found a remnant of Booker Creek next to a graveled city lot. It was way down there. The creek was overgrown but still magical, a cool burbling oasis in the center of St. Pete’s mega-story commercial urban condo sprawl.
Looking closer, I realized that it got even better: someone had transformed the hidden section of Booker Creek into a secret garden.
I vowed as Vaga Bond that I would stay footloose and property free. That vow has lasted roughly thirty days because the energy I felt in this overgrown secret garden was so magical that I want to own it, to protect it, to make it better, to fix it up the way kids want to fix up a tree fort their parents don't know about. Of course, being at ground zero in St. Pete’s Grand Central/The Edge districts, the property carries a million-plus price tag but heck, I’m an optimist. I bought a Powerball ticket to test the intent of the benevolent universe, just in case.