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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.


Jim Stone and Main Street Neon

Jim Stone, Shari Stiver and I had our own mini-reunion October 2010 after the big official one. We promised to do it again. Jim had something come up that kept him from coming Octoberish, but I was lucky enough to still be in town the first part of December, when he could make it. We thought we’d give it another shot.

Right before we were to get together, though, Shari said she was suffering from a bout of bronchitis and wouldn’t be able to make it. We tried all kinds of entreaties.

  • Brother Mark and his friends had just finished baking hundreds of cookies; he’d send a sample of those down with her.
  • Jim offered to pick her up and drive her to Cape.
  • I offered to go half on a bottle of oxygen to keep her alive.

Finally, on Friday, it looked like she might make it, but, alas, she cancelled on us at the last minute.

“Jim, do you think this is the 2011 version of when she used to tell me, “I’d love to go out with you, but Friday night is the night I wash my hair?”

He was kind enough not to answer me, because I think I already knew the answer.

So, anyway, we spent the afternoon roaming around. Late in the afternoon, I spotted that the back door at Central High School was open. He hadn’t been back in the place in decades, so I said, “Let’s go.”

(I subscribe to the Roger Miller King of the Road Theory: “I know…every lock that ain’t locked when no one’s around” when it comes to this kind of thing.

Wandering the hallways naked

“I’m from Florida. You’re from Boston. We’re old and confused. We’ll just tell anybody that asks that we’re late for our math final and we can’t find our lockers and that’s why we’re roaming the hallways naked.” (Recurring dream / nightmare.)

Jim was properly impressed with the quality of upkeep. (We did note some peeling paint in the stairwell leading up to the auditorium stage.) I tried to convince Jim that we should go up to the third floor to his old haunts in the science department. He was reluctant to explore too far. He’s done some work for the State Department, so he might know more about rendition flights and whether they apply to people snooping around in old high school buildings than I do. We wiped our fingerprints off and exited the building, speaking to a number of people on our way out who didn’t give us a second look.

Jim wanted to cruise downtown to see if there was any life after dark, so we ended up at Port Cape Girardeau for dinner. I had some fancy-named nachos that were excellent – way better than the taco chips drenched in Velveeta cheese that you usually get.

Neon at Broussard’s

Instead of heading back to the car, I started strolling along Main Street. The neon lights and people on the street in front of Broussard’s Cajun Cuisine caught my eye.

Wow, more neon

I looked behind me and saw more neon.

You’re from Boston?

I was just lining up a third shot when I noticed that Jim was huddled in a doorway to get out of the slight breeze that was blowing down the street. “Stone, you’re from BOSTON. How can you be cold?”

“If I was in Boston, I’d have warmer clothes. I didn’t remember that Cape could be this cold.”

In fairness, a street thermometer showed the temperature to be about 27 degrees. One weather forecast said that we might experience record low temps for this date, although I don’t remember what the old record was.

So, instead of being able to bring you a nice collection of neon photos from Main Street, I had to put Stone in my van and crank the temperature up to Melt. You know how it is when folks get old. They can’t stand the cold like they once could.

Other Jim Stone stories

7 comments to Jim Stone and Main Street Neon

  • Rodney Preston

    One of the buildings the Downtown Merchants demolished north of Broadway between Main and Water for the parking lot was the old Town Pump. It had a great neon sign featuring a hand pump water spigot. The Pump moved to what is now Broussard’s and the sign hung there, but did not work, for several years. Rumor has it in the second floor of the building.

    If the Olde Town is looking for a new prominent fixture, I’ll nominate that.

  • Keith Robinson

    The Town Pump neon sign was one of my two local favorites well before I knew that the sign was associated with a bar. It was definitely a classic. My other favorite Cape Girardeau neon landmark was the neon moon above Moon Distributing Company at the intersection of Kingshighway and Independence. That big quarter moon was very impressive.

    On another note, you surely didn’t walk into and back out of the old Central High building without snapping photos, or am I spoiling the surprise?

  • Dan Will

    You guys talk about the Old Town Pump Tavern. I’m doing a research project on the building Broussard’s and the Town Pump Tavern were in. Do you guys have any info or pictures? It would be greatly appreciated.

    • Keith Robinson

      Dan, you should contact my uncle James Haman (1739 Bessie St). In the early 60’s he bought Kassel’s Studio which used to be in that block on the east side of the street. He may have photos of the buildings on that block of Main. He might also be able to share knowledge of the buildings as well.

  • I’d like permission to use your night-neon photo of Broussard’s in an article for our SEMO TIMES review of Broussard’s restuarant. Would you allow that? Photo credit will be given, just send me the text you would prefer (url allowed as well).

  • […] Broussards on Main Street at night (photo by Ken Steinhoff. © Ken Steinhoff. All Rights Reserved.) See: Jim Stone and Main Street Neon […]

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