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Cape Central High Photos

Ken Steinhoff, Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1965, was a photographer for The Tiger and The Girardot, and was on the staff of The Capaha Arrow and The Sagamore at Southeast Missouri State University. He worked as a photographer / reporter (among other things) at The Jackson Pioneer and The Southeast Missourian.

Come here to see photos and read stories (mostly true) about coming of age in Southeast Missouri in the 1960s.

Please comment on the articles when you see I have left out a bit of history, forgotten a name or when your memory of a circumstance conflicts with mine. (My mother says her stories have improved now that more and more of the folks who could contradict her have died off.) Your information helps to make this a wonderful archive and may end up in book form.


My Blood Ran Cold

It was a balmy day on March 15, 2015. It was warm enough that my shirt was damp from exertion. Then, unexpectedly, my blood ran cold. I was frozen in place, transported through time and space to 50 years earlier. I was on the verge of a panic attack, something that has never happened when covering the most horrific scenes as a news photographer.

Let’s back up a bit.

Wife Lila is a quilter, so we made a side trip to Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective in 2008. I felt a sense of deja vu when we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge leading over the Alabama River into Selma. I retraced that route with Road Warriorette Shari as a traveling companion in 2015.

About midway between Montgomery and Selma, we spotted a building with a bunch of tents pitched around it. It was the Lowndes Interpretive Center, which was hosting marchers re-enacting the Selma to Montgomery trek half a century earlier. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Bloody Sunday

Until 1965, only 2% of the black voters in Selma’s Dallas county were able to vote. In Lowndes county, the percentage was zero.

On March 7, shortly after a civil rights protestor had died after being shot, 600 non-violent protestors planned to march 54 miles from Brown A.M.E. Chapel in Selma to Montgomery to honor the martyr and to draw attention to voters’ rights.

Attacked by “lawmen”

Shortly after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were stopped by a line of state troopers, local lawmen and local volunteers. After being given less than two minutes to return to the church, the marchers were attacked with nightsticks and teargas. At least 50 protestors required hospital treatment.

John Lewis: “I thought I saw Death”

One of the protesters beaten on Bloody Sunday was Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, then a 25-year-old organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. “I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick. I had a concussion at the bridge,” Lewis said. “My legs went out from under me. I felt like I was going to die. I thought I saw Death.”

The interpretive center had a profoundly moving video that gave the background of racial discrimination in the area and accounts of the three marches – or attempted marches – from Selma.

I was moved to tears by a woman who must have been very young on Bloody Sunday. She was speaking to a number of students and decrying the poor voting turnout in the country. She handed each student a pebble while saying, “I walked on these very rocks on that day. Now, I’m handing them on for you to carry.”

We found the march

Not far from the center, we ran into the marchers stopped at a convenience store. I managed to get in behind them and drove up the shoulder of the road until I ran into this trooper. He gave me a questioning look, but became friendly when I stepped out with my camera gear. “I thought you might have had some kind of emergency and needed to get by,” he said.

When I looked back at him protecting the marchers, I wondered if his father or grandfather had been in the group at the bottom of the bridge on Bloody Sunday.

A mixed group

The group was made up of a mixture of ages and races, ranging from a babe in arms to folks who were probably in their 70s. Sometimes singing would break out, other times the walkers were just plugging away.

“What mean these stones?

After we left the group (see more photos in the gallery), we stopped at the Bloody Sunday monument at the foot of the bridge going into Selma. I was surprised at the number of people who were there.

Inscribed on the rock are words from Joshua 4:21-22. “When your children shall ask you in time to come saying, ‘What mean these stones?’ then you shall tell them how you made it over.”

The words of the woman with the pebbles came flooding back to me.

A fairly steep climb

The bridge has a pretty steep grade to it. You can’t actually see it from the bottom on either side.

Picturesque, but run-down

When you approach the top, you get a pretty view of a picturesque, but somewhat battered town.

Business as usual

As I got to the top of the span, I was the normal detached photographer, thinking only of composition and exposure.

Then, something happened

I walked about halfway down the bridge, then turned back to head to the car. I hadn’t gone far, when suddenly I felt myself transported back half a century. I could hear the crowd behind me singing, talking, laughing. Spirits were high. They were marching for their freedom.

That’s when I took this frame and realized that here is where you would first see the line of lawmen waiting. I’ve covered my share of riots and protests, but there was generally some kind of restraint on both sides. Those men waiting down below weren’t there to enforce the law: they were there to mete out punishment.

I could feel the pressure of the crowds behind me. They hadn’t yet seen what I was seeing, and they were pushing me from behind. I couldn’t retreat, and I certainly didn’t want to go forward. I don’t know how long I was paralyzed there. If the spirits of the place could invoke that much terror, I can only imagine what it must have been like to live it.

We’re going to have to change the title

As soon as I regained my composure, I called Curator Jessica in Athens. In a choked voice, I told her we were going to have to change the title of an exhibit we were doing on the protest era at Ohio University. The working title was “The Sky Has Fallen.”

“A university closing is nowhere near what the freedom marchers in Alabama faced. We need to avoid hyperbole,” I argued.

Ms. Jessica explained the origin of the term: after a night of rioting two weeks after Kent State, the decision was made to close the university. The student newspaper, The OU Post, was on a hard deadline to get the story in print. Just before it hit the presses, someone said, “We don’t have a weather report for tomorrow.”

Editor Andy Alexander, a darned good journalist then and now, said, “Just write, ‘The sky has fallen.'”

I accepted that.

Gallery from Selma

Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.

 

 

Boys ‘n’ Toys

dashcam-atlanta-traffic-12-22-2016I figured I’d better get this posted before another Christmas rolls around. (It was supposed to go up before 2016 went to sleep, but the software didn’t want to upload the pix). I normally take two to 2-1/2 days to make it from Cape to West Palm Beach, a distance of 1,110 miles, no matter which route I take. I had the traffic day from hell going through Chattanooga and Nashville. I spent almost all day making less than 200 miles. Even Atlanta, caught at rush hour in the dashcam photo above, only took an hour to clear.

That put me at Son Matt’s house just in time to chow down on Christmas Eve with Sarah, Malcolm and Wife Lila. I was too tired and too busy eating to take pictures of the festivities there.

Christmas at Kid II

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016Christmas Day found us out at Son Adam and Carly’s watching Grandsons Graham, Elliot and Finn playing with Santa’s leavings. Wife Lila had made each of the boys a unique Christmas ornament out of palm fronds from the yard, and she wanted to get a shot of the three of them holding them.

Since she had that angle covered, I shot what it was like to herd mischievous cats.

Boys can make blasters

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016This goes to prove that boys can make blasters out of anything, not exactly the Christmas spirit image Gran had in mind.

True confession time

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016I make a tiny percentage when you shop on Amazon after pressing the Big Red Button at the top of the page. I try to shop locally, but I find myself hitting the Red Button on a regular basis. Since I rely on reviews to make purchasing decisions, I feel it only fair to review stuff I’ve bought.

Have you ever read a review where somebody confesses that they received the item for free or at a discount? Well, I must have written enough reviews that vendors are starting to send me discount and free offers to review their stuff. One of the items was a set of Maggift 30 Pcs Magnetic building blocks.

That sounded like a great stocking stuffer, particularly for free. The older boys were too into their battery-powered toys to be excited by this, and Finn was initially more interested in destroying things his mother made with the blocks than making things himself.

Hey, these things go together

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016It didn’t take him long to discover the magnets made it easy to stack the pieces together by shape. The box says ages 3+ but Finn, who is half that, found them fascinating. They look too big to be a choking hazard, and the magnets are affixed well enough that I don’t think they would break off.

A quiet moment

Christmas at Adam Steinhoff's 12-25-2016Any toy that will keep an active toddler occupied and quiet is a good toy. I’ll end up filing a 4 out of 5 star rating for it. A four because the product arrived on time and was as described. Something has to really knock my socks off to get five stars, something I point out to vendors before I agree to review it.

Y’all have a happy and prosperous 2017.