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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.

Phillip Sheridan Statue

Phil Sheridan statue 04-18-2015_6780  I drove 590.1 miles from Athens, Ohio, to Cape Girardeau on Sunday. While on the road, I listened to an audio book about World War II submarine warfare.

That was an appropriate topic because, except for about the first 20 miles and the last 75 miles, it felt like I was IN a submarine. The rain varied between light to “Holy Cow! I can’t see.” Then, somewhere around Louisville, the Holy Cow rain mixed in with road spray and fog.

So, what does that have to do with the statue of Civil War General Phillip H. Sheridan’s statue in the Somerset, Ohio, town square?

Did Sheridan die in battle?

Phil Sheridan statue 04-18-2015_6794To be honest, my brain is fried and I either had to skip a day or post something that didn’t take much research.

Sheridan was a local Somerset boy, and his statue is near where his house was. I asked Curator Jessica if she could remember the “horse code” that says the number of legs in the air indicate the way the rider died. I don’t recall her exact answer, but Snopes set me straight. If the leg count equals death status, it’s more likely to be coincidence than plan.

For example, Somerset’s statue of Sheridan has both front legs off the ground. According to the urban legend, that would indicate that he died in battle. A statue of him on Sheridan Circle in Washington, D.C., has a horse with all four hooves on the ground, which is supposed to signify that he died of other causes. In Sheridan’s case, the Washington statue would be correct. He died of heart failure.

Waiting for the bird to fly

Photography is all about capturing the moment. By the time we finished dinner, it was getting pretty dark, but Jessica wanted to walk up to see the statue up close.

I stood there patiently waiting for two things:

  1. A puff of wind to come along to bring the flag to life
  2. The bird to fly off the horse’s head so I could capture it in midair.

The flag finally moved, but, after several minutes of waiting, I discovered that the “bird” was the horse’s ear, and it wasn’t EVER going to fly away.

A Cemetery Mystery

Rendville Cemtery 04-18-2015I have to head back to Cape on Sunday morning, so Curator Jessica wanted to do one last ramble around SE Ohio on Saturday. We found some neat stuff I’ll share later, but this tale shows the value of knocking on doors.

We wanted to see if anything was left of a street scene I had shot in the late 1960s in Rendville, Ohio. It was a small town that was predominately black and produced the first black mayor in Ohio, and one of the first black union organizers.

At the top of a hill overlooking the town was a cemetery. What struck us right off was that a wide path had been mowed to a circle in the middle of the graveyard. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

It gets even more curious

Rendville Cemtery 04-18-2015In the top of the circle was a small black fence surrounding a freshly-planted tree. A tree so freshly-planted that the ground was still wet where it had been watered.

Next to the fence was a metal post with an upside-down bottle on it. Glued or somehow affixed to it was a small bowl, and in it was a glass with water in it and some fresh flowers. On the ground was a lei made of orchids. Miz Jessica pointed out that they wilt quickly, so they had to have been left recently.

Knock on a door

I said, “There’s a house across the street. Why don’t you go over, knock on the door and ask if they know what this is all about?”

She demurred, so I said I’d do it with her in tow.

Steve, the man who answered the door, said he didn’t live there. He just borrows the house for two weeks a year to go turkey hunting, and he didn’t know what was going on, but we had made him curious.

Scratching our collective heads

We all went back to the circle, walked around a bit tossing out theories, and admitted we were stumped.

“I know the mayor,” Steve said. “I’ll give him a call. If you give me your phone number, I’ll ask him, then let you know.”

I never expected to hear from Steve again, but we were half-way back to Athens after a great dinner in Somerset (just down from a big statue of Civil War General Phillip Sheridan) when my phone rang from an unknown number.

Mother of the town clerk

It was Steve. He said the mother of the town clerk had died and they held the ceremony in the circle and planted the tree in her honor. She must have been cremated because there was very little earth disturbed. So little, in fact, that I thought it might have been excess from when they dug the hole for the tree.

A minute or two after we hung up, my phone rang with Steve’s number showing. I heard him telling the story of the funeral to someone in the background. Evidently he had butt-dialed me.

“We all win”

“We all win,” I told Miz Jessica. “We got our question answered, and he can dine out for a week telling his buddies about this crazy couple who banged on his door with something that sounded like it was out of the Twilight Zone.”

History is all about HIS story and HER story, and I love knocking on doors to capture snippets of history.