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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.


Main Street and Doors

This single frame was on a roll with the flood photos I ran the other day. I didn’t see anything in the paper, so it must have been a routine medical call that didn’t warrant additional photos. News photographers always shoot first and ask questions later. I used to tell reporters that my machine didn’t come with a backspace or an eraser. If I didn’t capture it right then, it wasn’t possible to redo it or get it over the phone. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

There are some interesting things visible in the photo. The tall, skinny guy on the left under the restaurant sign might be my old debate partner, Pat Sommers. Looks like the person is wearing shades like Pat was prone to do (even in a movie theater). The temperature was a warm 78 degrees. The St. Charles Hotel has been torn down recently enough that Tom Sawyer’s Fence still hides the Sterling store construction.

There is no Downtown Clock in the middle of the Themis – Main Street intersection.

Zickfield’s door

When I was looking for photos that might show the street in modern times, I scrolled through some pictures of Zickfield’s Jewelers, one of only about two businesses left on Main Street from this era. The door caught my eye. Not the door so much, as the lock on the top of the right-hand door. How many thousands of times has a key been turned in that lock to wear away the finish that much?

Unnerstall’s door

That door triggered the memory of another door I had photographed in April of this year – Unnerstall’s Drug Store on Good Hope. I’m sure that the people who PULL on this door today don’t have any idea who or what an Unnerstall was.

38 comments to Main Street and Doors

  • One of these days I’ll have to go downtown and start shooting at the streets and buildings. Then I’ll have it printed, put it in an album and store it somewhere. 30 or so years from now I’ll dig it up and look at how things looked like back then. I’ve been meaning to do this for the longest time but always forget. This post is a reminder to me.

    • Don’t put it off. Just do it. You can walk Main Street in less than an hour. I knocked off Broadway in two chunks of about two hours each.

      Walk slow and look for details. If something catches your eye, shoot it right then, THEN walk around it looking for better or more interesting angles. There must have been a reason that it grabbed your attention. Shoot it right then before the magic leaks out.

      Go at different times of day. The light is going to be different. Don’t be afraid to go out at night with a tripod. Some of my favorite pix are taken after the sun goes down.

      I’m kicking myself for not shooting more long shots of downtown on my last trip. It would have been nice to have shown a picture taken recently that would mirror the old photo.

      Don’t throw any photos away. I’m finding that the pictures I’m finding most interesting today are the ones that were unimportant when I shot them.

  • Ken Lipps CHS '58

    Ambulance seems to be making a “pick up” in front of the restaurant. Possible cullnary connection? 😉

    • What struck me is how it’s not attracting any attention. That’s what makes me think it was a routine medical transport rather than an accident or something of a more dramatic nature.

      It’s also interesting how deserted Main Street is. Downtown was still a vibrant shopping area in 1967. It’s an overcast day, so there aren’t any shadows to give a clue what time it was taken.

  • My high school friends & I spent many Saturdays on Main Street. I had no money so never bought anything but I enjoyed watching my best friend buy clothes from Libsons? I think that was the name of the women’s clothing store. Another thing I remember, which is a sign of the times we lived in, most of us girls went shopping on Main Street with rollers in our hair, getting ready for Saturday night Teen Town dances or dates. If anybody did that now they would look mighty strange, but it was a common sight in the 60’s.

  • Keith Robinson

    There was a number of unique doorways along Main Street; ones that were not the typical storefront or one that had been clad with steel or aluminum. The entry to Hecht’s was one that sticks out in my mind. It was more grand than most. The entry to Kassel’s Studio was another; dark brick front with a small, arched window next to an arched doorway.

    Can anyone think of others?

  • Keith Robinson

    GADS! Ken, help me! After hitting Post Comment, I noticed that I committed one own pet peeves; a spelling error involving one of the most frequently misused word groups, their, there, they’re. If possible please correct it for me.

  • stephen cotner

    the one to ask about zickfield’s door is kent zickfield..or his mom…i have a old ring box..it says zickfield and seabaugh jewelry store. i asked kent who was seabaugh? i had only known it as zickfields..he told his dad had been in business with his brother in law for a short time..i asked when was that? mid 20’s..LOL…. WOW and they still had ring boxes from that time period

    • I think families tended to go to the same jeweler, whether it be Zickfield’s, Langs (still on Main Street, BTW), Hales or Margraf.

      We were pretty much a Zickfield family. There’s where we bought our wedding and engagement rings.

  • Wendy Willhoite-Franklin CHS '78

    Main St. was the only place I could find shoes to fit my feet(Brown’s) and clothes came from Howard’s or JCP. My family moved to Cape in ’71 when I was going into the 6th grade. I still remember shopping with my mom at Buckner Ragsdale and her trying to get into a girdle before trying trying on dresses! Now the place is a restaurant!

  • stephen cotner

    the restraurant is the town pump? aka cowboys? i remember when the st. charles hotel burnt..if i am not mistaken zickfields was in the main lobby

  • Vickie (Kelley)Kasten

    Darla, I have the same memories of Diane Fisher and me being on Main Street on Sat. AM with rollers.

  • stephen cotner

    i miss buckner’s that was one of the coolest places to shop. it one of the more interesting places..besides hecht’s.buckner’s had a central register that was on the second floor..and tubes? baskets? would shuttle money around to the salespeople. when i went to work for southeast hospital as a orderly is what they called us then. southeast sent us to buckner’s and we got three white shirts and three pairs white pants..the brand was tough nuts! that made me laugh years later..i think the work clothes are dickies..which is just as big of a laugh..any the was 1973..i kept those pants,wore in nursing school. finally gave them to a washington university intern. back then they had to wear white pants.he told me he wore them until finally the zippers went out.those were some well made work clothes. if they got stains on them..bleach them..they came out white as snow..no one except the OR staff wore scrubs..

    • JTL

      Southeast’s connection with Buckner’s goes back to the Depression. At that time the new hospital’s survival was questionable. To help it through, REL Lamkin of Buckner’s guaranteed to provide all supplies and Louis Hecht guaranteed the payroll. RELs son, Jack, was a hospital board member for many years.

      That’s what we used to call self-reliance.

    • Keith Robinson

      Stephen, the device you remember at Buckner’s for transporting the sales tickets and cash to the upstairs register consisted of a series of cables running from the central upstairs location to various locations on the sales floor. There were wheeled trollies that rode on the cables. The trollies had tubes into which the sales tickets and collected cash could be placed. The salesperson would deposit the sales ticket and cash in the tube. At the sales station, a cord was attached to a lever that would propel the trolley up the incline to the upstairs register when the cord was yanked downward. Once the person at the register upstairs collected the sales ticket and cash, that person would place a sales receipt and the change in the trolley tube and release the trolley down the cable to the sales station.
      The reason that I have such a vivid memory of the system is due to my fascination with just about anything mechanical and especially anything that rides on rails or cables.

      • JTL

        Actually, the initial system involved a basket catapult in which not only the money but the clothes were sent to the mezzanine. There the clothes were wrapped and sent back to the sales floor to prevent them from becoming soiled on the trip home.

        Buckner’s never had a cash register.

  • I remember shopping for jeans at Buckners. They gave me a free pocket knife with the purchase. I thought that was pretty cool. I guess now a store would be brought up on charges for giving a kid a knife. Great memories, Ken.

  • Don Wareing

    You nailed it. I had a collection of them prior to shipping overseas in the Army. They all sort of “disappeared” during my two years away.

  • Julia Unnerstall

    I can’t tell you how many times I pulled on that Unnerstall’s Drug Store door growing up! I grew up in that store, just as my dad did and heard many a story! Thanks for including the picture to give me a smile today and remember those fond years. My dad, Sam, and grandpa Frank Unnerstall owned Unnerstall Drug Store. There was a lot of fun to be had within that little family owned drug store over the span of 70 years from 1927-1997. Thanks for including, Ken!

  • Kathy Roberts (Floyd) Alderman

    Julia, I worked for your dad and grandpa at Unnerstall’s from 1970-1972. You were a young girl then and your brother was born while I was working there. You have a very nice family!

  • Julia Unnerstall

    Kathy, I do remember you and we have some great pictures of you, Joe Helig, Jimmy Berryman, Don Bernhardt, my dad and others inside the drug store after a remodel completion. I believe they were professionally done, by whom, I don’t know. You were always so nice to me and I looked up to you. Good memories, for sure! Dad is doing great and sends his best to you!

    Ken, I work at Alma Schrader and met you when you attended and covered Schrader’s 50th anniversary in 2010.

  • Julia Unnerstall

    I wonder if anyone remembers my other grandfather, my mom’s dad, Dave Graves. He was manager at Montgomery Wards for many years, approximately 1950-1969. He certainly was a tried and true downtown man!

  • Julia Unnerstall

    Kathy, I most certainly remember you! I think we have some great pictures of you inside the store also. I always thought you were so pretty and nice to me. Great memories! Dad is doing great and sends his best to you!

    Ken, I work at Alma Schrader and had the pleasure of meeting you when you covered Schrader’s 50th anniversary in 2010.

  • Nancy Birk

    I remember buying my Girl Scout uniforms at Buckners as well as my first bra! Also Children’s Bazarre for clothes and the sound of their creaky wooden floors.

  • Butch

    Ken, do you have any pictures of the Choo, Choo, grill on Good Hope. I remember going there as a child with my father. They delivered your food on a train.

  • stephen cotner

    buckners had a driver that if you called the store and told what you wanted. they would deliver the items to your home for you to try and then he would sit in this was a green car? waiting for you to make your selection.i was baby sitting for someone the wife a black evening dress. so here come tha tguy with several in her size.she picked out the one she liked and he took the rest of them back.this was 1971 or 72

    • That’s when Vandeven’s would send delivery boys to a customer’s house to cash their Social Security checks for them. Or, if the customer wasn’t home to accept the delivery, they’d go into the house and put the perishables in the fridge.

      You don’t get that level of service today.

    • JTL

      I’ll save the stories for another thread, but for those who have forgotten or those who never knew, old time American retailing often included: free delivery (twice a day at Buckners), free alterations, no interest credit, and, most importantly, plenty of courteous and knowledgeable sales people.

      Query whether the benefits of modern retailing are worth the price.

  • Doug Lee

    I just bought a 1926 Singer sewing machine at a garage sale,in one of the drawers was a paper pill box from unnerstall’s drug store, Cape , same address and dated 4-21-44 to Mrs.A.M.Bass from Dr. Fuerth No.00137. Looking it up brought me to this web site. thought that was pretty neat.

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