Rex Andrew Sinquefield has been called an “index-fund pioneer” for creating the first passively managed index fund open to the general public Sinquefield was also a co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors. I may have seen his name mentioned before. In Missouri state politics he is considered somewhat of a king maker. Missouri is heavily Republican, and so most of the millions he has donated in political campaign contributions have gone to Republicans, though not exclusively. I suspect his story is more complicated than our divided partisan politics might indicate. The political cartoon alludes to the fact that because he is a chess enthusiast, he was instrumental in relocating the World Chess Hall of Fame to St Louis, making the city the nation’s chess capital.
I became interested in this man when I learned he was raised in a St Louis-area orphanage, the St Vincent Home for Children. He has also donated to them through his Sinquefield Charitable Foundation. When I was growing up, because I had learned that both of my parents were adoptees, I thought they were orphans. I had no idea of the truth that there were people out there I was genetically related to living out their lives more or less ignorant of our own existence. I guess this is why the idea of orphans always gets my attention.
LINK> St Vincent Home for Children was founded in 1850 following a cholera epidemic and a fire, both of which occurred the previous year and which left many St Louis children orphaned. The fire, begun aboard a steamboat at the levee, caused hundreds to be homeless and ravaged a 15-block area. Meanwhile, cholera transmitted by arriving immigrants had killed more than 4,000 of the city’s 64,000 residents. Diocesan orphanages at the time were already very crowded and many of the victims of the cholera outbreak were poor. An appeal to the German Catholic community brought the construction of the new orphanage in 1850 by the German Saint Vincent Orphan Association.
In 1914, a 20-acre plot in Normandy Park was purchased for $18,000. The Cornerstone for the new Home was set on June 15, 1916 and the children moved into their new home in Normandy on August 8, 1917. St Vincent Home sustained itself through the Civil War, the Great Depression, two World Wars and other conflicts, all of which brought their share of orphans to the Home’s doors. Over the years, the St Vincent Home has transitioned to meet the changing needs of children in the area. It is no longer an orphanage but a residential treatment center for at-risk youth very much like the Porter-Leath orphanage in Memphis TN where my mom spent time as my maternal grandmother struggled to find a way to support them both.
St Vincent is now know as The Core Collective. The image above is titled “Bed in the Attic” and was photographed by 16-year-old Shardae for the LINK>”Photography Project: St. Vincent Home for Children” exhibit. The featured pictures taken by teenagers, educators, support staff and volunteers of the north St. Louis County-based St Vincent Home for Children. Participants were taught photography through the University of Missouri at St Louis, known as UMSL.
One never knows what they might run into googling around. I’ve not seen this version of Dicken’s Christmas story but I am intrigued by some of what I read about it here LINK>An American Christmas Carol. The Bookshop Owner of Christmas Past whisks Slade back to his childhood at the orphanage, where local businessman Mr Brewster shows up looking for an apprentice to help him at his furniture factory. Instead of choosing one of the good kids, Brewster instead chooses Slade, a known troublemaker (“he likes to FIGHT!” warns the old maid running the orphanage), and teaches him how to whittle. No, really. He gave the kid a knife, and a stick of wood. And they whittle. And whittle. And whittle some more. So Slade becomes Brewster’s apprentice, and moves in with him. In other words, he’s basically been adopted.
And shades of Sinquefield, the real trouble starts when Brewster doesn’t change, and his business starts going down the tubes. This leads to Slade leaving Brewster and starting an investment firm with Latham. So the investment firm of Slade and Latham has a choice: they can either fund Brewster’s failing furniture business, or they can put their money into Slade’s new idea, which is basically to let people rent appliances and charge them a weekly fee. You know those rent-to-own places where you go and get an Xbox 360 for $30 a week, which you wind up paying $1,700 for before you actually own it? All Slade’s idea.
I don’t know – although it is probably awful, I might just have to watch that version of a Christmas Carol. Art has a funny way of imitating life.