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The Myth of the Buried Foot 

(Broadway Oyster Bar, South of Downtown)

The stretch of South Broadway between Busch Stadium and Chouteau Avenue is rich with the velvety texture of local mythology; old stories passed around without any solid evidence. Street legend, one person called it. Not to say that this evidence isn't out there, but the question is, finally: Do you really want to know the truth about these myths, or is it better to leave them as they are?

Example: Someone told me that a foot had once been found under the floorboards of the Broadway Oyster Bar. Not a foot, exactly, but the bones of a foot, still encased in an old leather boot. The foot, according to this person, was supposed to have belonged to a young girl. That was the speculation, anyway.

The story was related to me by a former Oyster Bar bartender. It's made the rounds enough to make it more than a passing lie; the material of someone's imagination meant to dupe me.

Now, ordering coffee, I ask the bartender (a different bartender) if she has heard the story. She hasn't, but her inquisitive expression suggests she's curious about it, too. Another person — the manager, I think — is summoned. He hasn't heard the foot story, but there are several accounts of the place being haunted.

By whom, no one knows. But the bartender points to a framed portrait that hangs on the wall (just another element of the well-orchestrated disarray that is the Oyster Bar's interior), a reproduction of an old oil painting: "We think it's him."

Who's that?

"It's Rembrandt," a customer, overhearing our conversation, says, adding timidly, "I think." More a question than a statement.

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