With no easy answers or distinct signs of progress, this story unfolding in the heart of Missouri is an unmitigated catastrophe: A no-nonsense grandma has started hanging her laundry off the St. Louis Arch and everyone’s too scared to tell her to stop.
God, how terrible for St. Louis. This grandmother and her laundry don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
The problem came to light when the St. Louis police department received numerous calls about a clothesline covered in bedsheets and large white blouses strung up across St. Louis’ Gateway Arch. Upon arriving at the scene, two officers encountered St. Louis resident Estelle DeLillo, a woman of about 75 with curlers in her hair knitting a sweater in a rocking chair next to the monument. Estelle began shaking a rolled-up newspaper above her head and barking, “Don’t touch!” as soon as the officers approached her, giving both policemen no choice but to back away from the stern grandmother.
Although St. Louis’ mayor attempted to personally intervene after Estelle added a second clothesline full of hand-knit afghans to the arch, he was unable to get far before she boxed his ears for “sticking his nose in other people’s business.” Thousands of St. Louis residents eventually came together to sign an online petition asking Estelle to move her laundry elsewhere—a last-ditch effort that ultimately proved to be as fruitless as every other attempt to reason with the stubborn elderly woman. The community’s plea was met with a dismissive response, as Estelle simply waved them off by saying, “I can’t see that, I don’t have email,” and turned back to the extremely loud, staticky TV set on which she had been watching The Bold And The Beautiful.
By all appearances, this situation is only continuing to get worse. There’s just no getting through to her.
Last week, Estelle made an official statement on the issue to a local newspaper, saying, “If you think I’m going to pay 75 cents to those crooks at the laundromat to dry my clothes, you’re crazy. I’m using this arch—get your own.” Several visitors to the city have since been scared away from taking pictures under the arch after Estelle shooed them with a broom, which may portend dire consequences for the St. Louis tourism industry.
Unfortunately, Estelle’s stance does not seem to be changing anytime soon. The authorities need to figure out a plan B, because trying to reason with her is simply way too intimidating. Hang in there, St. Louis. Our thoughts are with you.