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The first sermon I ever gave before a live congregation was titled, “Eldorado, The Lost City of Gold.” Since that was the name of the town in which the congregation resided, I thought I was being very clever to include a bit of local color into my message. Immediately, from the back row, I heard a shout, “It’s Eldoraydo not Eldorado.” That was my first student pulpit while I was in the seminary: Eldorado, Arkansas. I remember that it took three different airlines to get me close to Eldorado. The best they could do was Monroe, Louisiana. Upon my arrival in town I was overwhelmed by an odor that nearly took my breath away.
“What is that stench?” I exclaimed.
“Son. that is the smell of money.”
The year was 1968. Murphy Oil Company was the source of the Au du petroleum. In that year, the other fact that put Eldorado on the map was its place in baseball history. Lew Brock was born and raised in Eldorado and was playing for the most popular team in the south, the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, Eldorado will be famous for something else. Murphy oil and other corporate sponsors are guaranteeing every child that attends public school in Eldorado a college education.
Housing values are up. Business growth is up. And school enrollment is up.
Why not St. Louis City and County and Metro East? With all of our corporations joining together, we could make the same guarantee. Imagine, people moving to St. Louis to get an education - what a concept! Let’s do Eldorado one step better. Let’s have each school sponsored by a corporation. Employees of these companies would take pride in their adopted school. They would serve as long term tutors and mentors. They could supply the schools with computers, science lab equipment, musical instruments and the like. Perhaps this is the project that the Regional Commerce and Growth Association has been waiting for. Come on guys — you can do it!
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Mark Shook is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Israel.