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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.


Walther's Becomes Discovery Playhouse

Volunteers were busy converting the old Walther’s Furniture Store and Funeral Home at 502 Broadway into the Discovery Playhouse when I was home earlier this spring. It opened April 22.

It looks like it’s going to be a great place for kids to cool off during Cape’s hot and humid summer.

Playhouse starting on the ground floor

The Playhouse is a two-story building, with an attached section that rises to three floors. All of the work is concentrating on the first floor at this time, with the other floors to be developed as funds become available.

Landmark sign to stay

I was told that the landmark Walther’s sign will remain, although it will be changed somewhat. I don’t know what those changes are.

The old parts of the building and the views from the windows fascinated me more than the playhouse in progress.

1916 was a big year

A Missourian roundup on Dec. 31, 1916, said that “1916 is prominent for the number of fine business houses erected, among them being the new home of the Buckner-Ragsdale, ‘Quality Corner Store,’ a handsome structure, the upper floor of which is occupied by the Cape Girardeau Business College; Walther Brothers Furniture Store, one of the largest in Missouri outside the three largest cities; the I. Ben Miller ice cream and candy factory, declared by State Dairy Commissioner Bennett to be the finest in the State of Missouri; the Meyer-Suedekum Hardware Company’s building and others.”

That’s a lot of landmark businesses in year. Meyer-Suedekum (now Meyer Supply) is the only one that has survived.

501-503 Broadway

Looking to the south from the second floor of the building, you can see 501 and 503 Broadway across the street. Hinchey-Greer Merchantile company occupied 501 Broadway around 1906. Alvin Cotner modified the building in 1919 or 1920 to house the Auto Parts Company, which was there until 1957. Cape Paint and Glass occupied the property from 1958 through 1991. An interior connection between the two buildings was made somewhere between 1908 and 1915.

Mural sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church

A mural, sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church is on the west wall of 503 Broadway. It reads, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” That’s probably fitting to be across from the Discovery Playhouse.

It’s easy to get lost in old newspaper stories

While researching the Walther’s history, I got sidetracked with stories of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic and accounts of local boys going “over there” to fight the “huns.”  One thing that surprised me on the front page of the May 13, 1921 Missourian, was a pair of obituaries.

The first was three paragraphs giving an account of the funeral of Allbright Walther, retired furniture dealer of Cape Girardeau. It contained very little personal information.

Directly under it, was one headlined, Sam Randol, Ice Dealer Is Dead; Long Illness Fatal to Colored Man.” It went on to say that “Sam Randol, well-known colored ice dealer, died at his home…following a long illness with dropsy. It listed his relatives and the organizations he belonged to and some funeral arrangements.

It concluded by saying that “Randol was among the better colored citizens of Cape Girardeau and stood high both among the people of his race as well as among the white citizens. He had been in the ice business here since a young man and was known by most every family in the city.”

I would never have expected the second obit to have been given such prominence in that era. He must have really been an exceptional person.

Walther’s was the city’s oldest retail store

A business column announcing the closing of the furniture store in 1984 said it had been open continuously for 120 years, making it the oldest retail business in town.

Gallery of photos from Walther’s Furniture / Discovery Playhouse

Here is a selection of photos taken of the Discovery Playhouse renovation and views of the neighborhood. As always, click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the photo to move through the gallery.


15 comments to Walther’s Becomes Discovery Playhouse

  • larry points

    Ken – A treat to see the narrow alley in one photo where I gingerly drove my Dad’s delivery truck. He owned the “Parisian” drycleaners on Broadway, immediately to the left of Walthers, until he moved it to Independence St. I got many a youthful haircut from ‘Wiseman’s Barber Shop’ across the street. I was told “Parisian” was the name given by the founder way back in the early 1900s. He maintained that ‘drycleaning’ originated in France. Anyway, I remember the Missourian once running a circa 1910 photo of a truck with the fancy “Parisian” lettering on the side. The caption said the truck was the first such west of the Mississippi River (hard to believe). We have lost the photo…any way I could determine if it can be retrieved from the paper’s archives? Still have a small Walthers magazine rack / table my parents got sometime in the 40s. They don’t make ’em like that any more.

  • Toni Eftink

    Ken, You’re welcome to use any of the photos from our Discovery Playhouse album on Old Town Cape’s facebook page to show kids playing the first day! The quality isn’t near as good as yours…but you can use them if you like! Great article! This place is a wonderful addition to downtown!!! – Toni

    • Toni,

      Thanks. Since I wasn’t there for the opening, I thought I’d concentrate on the Before rather than the After.

      For Facebook folks who want updates, do a search for Old Town Cape and Discovery Playhouse. The Missourian had a gallery of photos from the opening day, too.

      We used to always keep an eye out for children’s museums when we were traveling with our boys. Discovery Playhouse is going to make many a harried parent happy.

  • Jerrette Davis Hobson

    Ken,
    While your at home for the reunion I,d like to take you and your wife out for lunch. Can’t think of any other way to repay you for all the wonderful memmories you have given to so many of your classmates. Started to say old, but most of the time I find it hard to believe I,m this old.
    When I was six my parents bought a childs rocker at Walthers. I still have it. I rocked many miles in it. I rocked my boys in it and my grandchildren. I don,t think I fit in it any more.Thanks again for the memmories.
    jerrette

  • Laurie Everett

    This is our new favorite place. Of course, we bought a year long membership. It is so wonderful to have an amazing new addition to our downtown. WE LOVE IT!!!

  • Libby Koch

    Ken,
    If Sam Randol is the ice man I remember from my childhood on North Main, I totally understand the obit & his position in the community.

    I attended 1st grade at Washington School, before we moved away from Cape. All the neighborhood kids walked to & from school ofcourse…& I remember our treks home on warm Spring days. Evidently some homes along the hill still had ice boxes and residents would place ICE signs in the window. Many times we were fortunate enough to be happening by when a jolly & kind Black man would be making a delivery. He never failed to chip each & everyone of us a generous piece of ice to quench us from dry mouth & heat. The reason I remember his delivery van first drawing our attention is that it was horse drawn…(at this point in my story of the Ice Man, my husband always remarks}, just how old are you anyway?)
    Our icemaker is on the blink & our family was discussing how much better beverages are with bought ice, memories of the ice plant on Ellis Street (still in operation as far as I know), family picnics that always meant a trip to watch the big block of ice slide down the shoot, ice tongs, the horse drawn van & the kind, smiling, ice man that took time out to gift us with refreshing ice on very warm after-school treks down the hill. His memory comes back with each bag of bought ice & sip of good flavor from a pure ice cooled drink…his love for his work, life, & for people was as pure and cystal clear as the ice he peddled.

    • Libby, I’m with your husband: just how old ARE you?

      Sometimes those old stories have a way of being true. Dad used to always tell tales about pulling a wagon with sheet music for the woman who played the piano during the silent movies. We always thought he was pulling our collective legs.

      Then, darn it, I read the obit for the woman who played the piano in the silent movies. The little boy with the wagon wasn’t mentioned in the obit, but I could see Dad smiling.

      The ice plant across from what used to be St. Francis hospital is still in operation. I’ve taken photos of the outside, but I ran out of time before I could get permission to shoot the inside.

      When I’d go to work with Dad on his construction jobs, the ice plant was the first place he’d stop. He’d load up water coolers with blocks of ice, add a dozen or so lemons to them “to cut the thirst” and off we’d go in his pickup.

  • Libby Koch

    Ken,
    How ironic, my paternal Grandmother Marie Varner Parker Terry, played the piano for silent films…I’ve been told! I’m NOT that old! I believe she might have played some at the Old Opera House also …The New Orleans Bistro building, which is presently up for sale. I remember visiting the upstairs of the building before it was renovated in my Very early teens & looking down through an opening to the dark room & stage…I remember when William Street was a gravel road & the Town Plaza was Dr. Hathaways farm…that either makes me Old or Young with an amazing memory from infancy!

  • Libby Koch

    By the way Ken…its on my fb wall…my birthdate…for God & all to see…I was born November 4, 1948 at that Old St. Francis Hospital…Which, look out, reminds me of another story! My Mom became alarmed the closer November 7th came & her 7th child had not came yet! This was the one year anniversary of the loss of her 7 yr. old son, on Bloomfield Road. Howard Lee was hit by a car & killed in front of that store, now a Pet Grooming Business. The Stop sign at that intersection was put up afterwards. Its a long story but that deceased brother, saved my life & named me post mortem! I’m old because of an intuitive Mom & loving little angel brother… I so enjoy your stories…hope you don’t mind me sharing mine…thanks

    • Libby,

      Your 1948 must be earlier than my 1947, because I don’t remember a horse-drawn ice wagon.

      I’m sorry to hear about your brother.

      Don’t hesitate to share your stories. I just looked at the stats for the last 30 days. I posted 28 times, writing 23,933 words. The 28 posts generated 167 comments (some, admittedly my replies), with a total of 12,963 words. Many times the comments were better than the original post.

      Keep ’em coming.

  • JOHN M BAKER

    MANY MEMORIES HERE LEANED TO DRIVE A NO SYNCHROMESH (LATE 40;S FORD) BOX VAN TRUCK HERE AND PUT IT AWAY EVERY NIGHT WITHOUT HITTING THE BUILDING *VERY NATRROW DOOR)
    AIWAYS 200 DEGREES UP STAIRS AND ALL THOSE BEAUTIFUL FLOORS. I MUST HAVE PUT A HUNDRED POUNDS OF GREASY SAW DUST ON THESE TO KEEP DUST DOWN.
    ELDER DIVER DID NOT LIKE TO DRIVE SO A BLOCK AWAY WE WOULS SWITCH PLACES AND I WOULD DRIVE. LEARNED TO DOUBLE CLUTCH HERE.
    I REMEMBER JANET WELCHS DAD CAUGHT HIS SWITCHING AND TURNED ME IN TO MR WATHER . HE DIDN’T CARE I WAS BETTER DRIVER AND DID NOT HIT THE DOOR.
    LATER HE LET ME USE THE STORE’S WINDOW WASHING
    GEAR TO WASH OTHER MERCHANTS UP AND DOWN BROAD TO MAKE EXTRA MONEY.(50 CENTS A WINDOW)
    WE ALL LEARNED ALOT BACK THEN. WONDER IF KIDS TODAY HAVE AS MUCH AS WE DID.

  • […] The blue-sided building with the iconic mural at the top center of the aerial and the ones next to it were torn down at the end of 2011. Walther’s Furniture, across the street, has turned into Discovery Playhouse. […]

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