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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.


Capaha Pool Reduced to Memories

When I was in Cape last month, I took a bunch of photos of the Capaha Park Pool, including an aerial, because I knew something was going to happen to it. When I opened up Facebook this morning. Mary Bolen had posted this photo of heavy equipment knocking down the pool house. She was kind enough to let me reproduce it.

We’re going to run photos of the pool for the next two days. Today we’ll showcase photos taken during the 1960s, along with memories of three lifeguards who worked there. I’m going to pretty much stand back and let them do all the talking. The next day, I’ll publish photos of what the pool looked like more recently.

Lila Perry Steinhoff’s story


Lila Perry Steinhoff’s love affair with the water:

I have to admit that I felt a quiet tear or two when I saw the picture of the heavy equipment tearing down Capaha Pool. Capaha Pool was where I first realized that I loved the water… a love that has never left me. I walked into Capaha Pool for swimming lessons when I was 10 years old and didn’t leave until I was 20. I learned to swim there, and later, taught swimming, coached a water ballet team and met a life-long friend there.

Last swim was last summer

I last swam in Capaha pool on June 28 and 29, 2010. I did a mile both days. I still loved the place. It never occurred to me that it would be my last time.

The time I spent at Capaha Pool is time I have never forgotten. I can’t remember working anywhere else in the past 45 years that I have loved and remembered more than my time there.  Concrete may not last forever, but good memories do.

Lila’s one serious rescue

Other than having to shove tired swimmers toward the side on occasion, I can remember having to actually rescue only one little girl in the 10 years I was there. She was in one of my swimming classes.

One skill required of each student was to swim across the pool. She was half way across when her long, loose, wet hair covered her face and she couldn’t breathe. I went in and took her to the side. She was shaken and so was her mother. I asked her mother to please braid her hair or get her a cap. The next day, that child had the tightest braids I had ever seen. Plastic surgeons couldn’t have pulled her face any tighter.

Those of us who worked at Capaha were close, and we knew what was going on with everyone else.

“You’re getting married in two hours”

The day I got married, I taught swimming lessons until 1 PM, then went home to await the 7 PM start time. When I got home, my mother was having multiple meltdowns. I knew if I stayed there, I’d be a basket case, too, so I went back to the place where I felt most at home… the guard chair at Capaha.

Periodically, during the afternoon, fellow guards would walk by and suggest that maybe it was time to go home. I just didn’t want to, and I stayed. Finally, around 4:30, someone… I don’t remember who… got up in my face and, emphatically, said, “Go home. You’re getting married in 2 hours.” I left and was dressed and at the church door by 7… with a red nose. Forgot to use the zinc that day.

Terry Hopkins’ story

Strange, the Capaha pool would be opening this next weekend, Memorial Day weekend, and right now all of us would be working like dogs trying to open the pool. Track season would be over and Bill Jackson, Dave and Dan Ranson and I would be up to our necks in cleaning the pool with muriatic acid and shoveling all the leaves that had collected in the deep end diving well out. After that was done, we painted the bottom and touched up the lines on the bottom of the pool.

Ranson Twins laid out the lines

The first year we added the lines on the bottom of the pool, Dan and Dave Ranson designed it, and with sticks and string, laid it out and painted between the lines to make the eight lanes we used for swim meets…this was a great advance at the time. This took us forever, and I remember we were not paid. We were sweating and hoping the paint had enough time to dry before we had to start to fill the pool with water. We waited until the last minute for the paint to dry and then filled it…the paint held!

There is probably STILL some of that paint we laid on the pool after all these years.

It is funny, I knew every kid in town during those years from 1958 until I left town in 1970.

EVERYBODY went swimming

In those days EVERYBODY went swimming: the kids in afternoon and lessons or swim team in the mornings, the adults had Wednesday morning for “Ladies Day”. The Jaycees’ of several towns rented the pool at night and college groups at times too…

This was about the center of the kid universe in Cape at the time. Kids would play minor league or Babe Ruth baseball in the park and then come swimming to cool off. When you had to mow the  lawn, you went swimming to cool off. During the really hot days of summer you just went for a swim to cool off. If you were a kid you were at the Capaha Park Pool sometime during the summer.

I loved the place. I can remember all the lifeguards when I was growing up and they were GODS to me.   Even Norval Jones, the school record holder in the half mile, was a guard. I remember the guys said he had legs like trees.

Original pool rat

I was one of the original pool rats and swam every day. The pool opened when I was 10 or so, and I was old enough by then to ride my bike from 1414 Mississippi Street to the pool and swim until dinner time. I rode my bike home, ate and then waited until it was time to go the next day when it opened at 1:30 PM. That was my life and at the time it was great!

THEY can swim across the pool!

At the pool, my friends were Bill Jackson and Bob Young, and we all had season passes. We swam every day; at the time we were the only ones who were swimmers among the kids of that age or older. I can remember the lifeguards telling people, “look, these guys are only 10 years old and they can swim across the pool!”

Bill, Bob and I would swim in swimming lessons. When the swim team started, we were among the first to sign up and be there! Mr. (Dick) Flentge and Mr. Schneider were the first of the swim coaches. All of us took and passed the senior lifesaving course and became full-fledged, card-carrying life guards. Later, all of us became WSI or Water Safety Instructors and taught others the skills we learned and taught others to be life guards!

God of The Pool

Now back to becoming and attaining the HOLY GRAIL of really being a paid life guard and sitting on the chair at the Capaha Pool. You could take and pass your life guard test at 15-1/2 years, so in the summer of 1964, before I could drive, I climbed the chair for the first time as a GOD of the pool.

So this is how it happened. In August, the life guards were all shot and wanting time off, and the pool managers couldn’t get anyone to work. Ray Schurbusch was on the chair and wanted to see his  girlfriend before going back to school, but he had to work at the pool. Presto, I was a PAID life guard ( Mr. Cracraft approved me to work) and there I was a GOD of the pool at 15-1/2. I went home and my mom sewed the Lifeguard patch on my swimming suit that night so I could be a real LIFEGUARD.

Worked 60 hours a week for six summers

I worked at the pool 60 or so hours a week for next six summers as a pool guard, head guard and pool manager and swim team coach. Bill and I were the swim coaches at the pool and had a great working relationship. Bill worked with the big kids and produced several great swimmers and helped many kids to have better lives. I worked with the little kids and developed kids so they could become better and swim with the big kids and Bill.

Mrs. Jack Rickard (or MAW Rickard as we called her) ran the swimming lessons. I think back to that time as one the best times of my life, I did not know it then, but it was. We all had a great impact on kids’ lives and hopefully gave them some good values, a safe place to be and hang out and maybe had a little healthy fun too!

Scatter my ashes above the pool

At one time, I wanted my ashes scattered on the hill above the pool just so I could be close and watch people having fun at a place I loved.

Not a single time that I have returned to Cape have I missed seeing the Capaha Park Pool, and I will visit her again next week.  I will miss the Capaha Park Pool and all the life that ran thru it and all the memories it created over its life time.

Farewell my 12-foot deep, 8-lane, L-shaped fun factory and memory maker, farewell.

[Editor’s note: When I sent Terry an email thanking him for the good job he had done, he replied, “I had tears in my eyes at the end.”]

Jacqie (Bill) Jackson

Jacqie (Bill) Jackson, Class of 1966:  We started going to the pool as soon as our parents would let us go down here. I remember the pool being built in the late 50s. When we were little, we would go down and splash in the little pool. When we got to be about 10 or so, our parents turned us loose and would let us walk down there. The lifeguards essentially became our babysitters for the day.

I got involved with all the swimming lessons and activities with Helen Shamboo. We went through the whole program with Richard Flentge.

I was faster than the guards

I was on the swim team from 10 years old on. By the time I was 15, I could swim faster than all the lifeguards at the pool. When I got old enough, I did lifesaving and got lifeguard training. When I was 16, I got hired. That was the summer of ’65.  I was the only 16-year-old; everybody else was in college.

There was a great big guy named Martin and Irvin Beard and Allen Nenninger and Gary Kinder and David Langston: a whole bunch of basically fraternity guys and me.

Brothers were guards, too

I coached swimming, taught lessons and did life guarding. My brothers – both Bob and Tom -were lifeguards and coaches there after I was. There were the Ranson twins – Dave and Dan – and Terry Hopkins was coaching.   Bob Young, Emmett Jones’ son, was involved heavily through the years.

It set my life for 30  years. I continued to coach in different places, teach lessons, do lifeguard training. I kept my finger in aquatics right up until 2000. Lila and all of us were involved with the whole program for several years, then we were down at the Natatorium with Dan Beatty.

My last swim was sometime in the early to mid-80s after we came back from Alaska. We’d take the kids down to splash around. I probably got in to do a few laps or try to swim the length of the pool underwater like we used to do. It was a big deal to swim 50 yards underwater. Then we got good enough to push off the wall and make it back to the end of the deep water.

We were always in the water pushing some poor little kid to the side or dragging somebody four feet. Almost everybody who needed help was generally within about five feet from the edge, so  you’d get in behind them, go underwater, gave ’em a push on the butt, boost them to the side and let ’em grab hold.

Serious injuries came from diving boards

The serious injuries were on the diving boards.  There was always someone cutting the top of their  head open on those old aluminum boards. One kid was clowning around on the high dive one day. He walked out to the end, then decided he was going to walk back. He slipped, fell off the board half-way back, caught the rail, the concrete, the upper concrete level, and the lower concrete level and rolled in the water. I’ve never seen anyone bounce off so much concrete in my life.

Head off to the hospital

I had an old ’57 Plymouth. It was the designated car about half the time. We’d get a kid, slap a dirty towel on the top of his head and drive him up the hill to the emergency room at Southeast Hospital, drop him off and then call his parents, who would thank us for taking the kid to the hospital. To think about doing anything like that these days would be horrifying.

The pool began to show its age, even back in the 70s. We used straight-up chlorine in a tiny little concrete room down there. We also used caustic soda, 50 per cent sodium hydroxide in 55 gallon barrels. We adjusted chlorine and pH levels basically straight out of  tanks. We’d always get a dose of chlorine if we didn’t get the washers hooked up right. It was a seat-of-the-pants, old-time, dangerous operation.

It guided my life

As far as the demise, it’s been so long, you know. I drive by there and the front of it looks sad and sort of like no color to it, stains down the brickwork… it wasn’t like it was in the old days. All I can have is memories. It was my life. It guided my life for a good long time.

[Editor’s note: After we hung up, he sent a text message: “Toward the end of the interview, it hit me and I started remembering a lot of stuff.”]

Other pool photos

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for more recent photos.

Gallery of Capaha Pool Photos

Because there are so many kids pictured, I’m putting up the whole section. You just might see yourself or a sibling there. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

 

 

43 comments to Capaha Pool Reduced to Memories

  • Tim Busche

    Wow! I can’t believe it’s being torn down. I have so many memories there. I practically lived at that pool every summer in the early to mid ’70s.

  • Andy Pemberton

    And Gods they were! At least until kids my age (Terry, Bill and Bob) became lifeguards. Then the image dulled a bit. But, just a bit :-). During those summers I worked hot, dirty, sweaty construction. I remember visitng Terry at the pool one evening after my work. He complained about working 60 hours a week. I told him: “What you call work I call recreation.”

  • Mary Jean Rodgers Harmon

    I loved the pool. We lived on New Madrid Street nearby so we walked down there very often. In high school, I worked on a Girl Scout badge assisting with the swimming lessons. I also “played at” being on the swim team and swam in one meet. I think it was more hard work than I had envisioned. It was more fun to go to the meets and watch them than to swim in them for me. At SEMO, I was a guard for a semester. That was fun.

    On my last trip home, Mom told me that the pool was in really bad shape and the mechanics were so bad that they were beyond repair. Somehow, I didn’t think they would really tear it down. Do you know if they are going to replace it?

  • Laurie Everett

    Great job Lila,
    This one created an emotional reaction and really made me think about these special times in my own life. How quickly it will fly by with Fletcher and how important it is to do what you love and cherish every moment!

  • Great job on this one, it looks like a lot of people had great experiences with the old lady in the park. Your story tellers have only scratched the surface. I remembered ten more things and stories last night…Thanks!
    We set the first 50 mile relay record with ten swimmers, took us a day and a half! John David Finch (one of your golfers!) interviewed us on Channel 12 for this event, Bill and were in this one! We used to get a little gold plastic star on your locker when you pulled out (saved) someone. I pulled out a set of sisters from ILLMO that weighted 300 lbs. plus each. The next day someone painted a GIANT BIG star on my locker to commemorate the event. The big star stayed on the locker until well into the 1980’s.
    My last swim was also last year, 2010 in July. I was visiting my dad, I got hot in the yard picking up leaves and said “hey I want to go swimming?” I drove to the park alone, paid my money and went in. She was looking a little down and under repaired at the time, but I figured why spend money on something you are going to close at the end of the swimming season. I enjoyed myself by swimming the Butterfly across the deep end north to south. I talked with a guard, who was not impressed that some old man once sat on his chair and did the same thing and knew more about the pool than he did. I was my last swim, but I really did not think about until seeing the pictures. I should have taken one for me.
    Thanks for sharing and reminding me of another time when 10 year olds we free to ride their bikes alone to a public area, be safe, well cared for plus have fun.

  • Sally Bierbam Dirks

    I, too, had a season pass. Terry is correct about it being another time when kids were safe. I walked to the park and swam many afternoons while my parents worked. There was never a question as to whether I would be safe in the pool or on the streets.

  • Susan Fee Means

    “The pool.”

    Wow, what memories – my sister Lynne and I, along with the two older Stamp kids (Burl Jr. and Ann) were always at the pool in the summer. Our moms went together and bought the summer passes – remember those little pieces of cloth that had to be sewn onto your swimsuit? I always thought it was so cool to walk up to the front desk, point to my suit and walk in like I owned the place.

    It was great living close enough so we could walk…by ourselves, too!…but after a long day in the sun, swimming and clowning around, hiking back up Highland Drive seemed like the Bataan Death March. 😉

  • Sheri Eakins-Mott

    I learned how to swim in this pool, and spent every day there while I was growing up. I have a lot of memories at the pool, especially our Family Reunions that are held at Capaha Park. I will miss this pool, it is sad it is never to re-open. It truly breaks my heart. I took swimming lessons here, and made many friends, I will never forget.

  • susan smith

    Great story…..great memories. I was also a swimmer and later a swimming teacher at the pool. I began my teaching as an assistant to the instructors the summer after I completed 8th grade with the Kiwanis Learn To Swim Program. Later I completed junior and senior life saving. My most vivid memory is having to “rescue” Richard Flentge in the senior life saving course. Thought he was going to drown me. Next I took the water safety course at SEMO under Billie O’Neal so I would be certified to teach. Also took synchronized swimming under Billie. I worked several summers as a certified swimming instructor at Capaha – so many memories……THANKS for another great one Ken…..

  • Jane Neumeyer

    I took lessons at the pool from the time I was little and also remember that later many a high school romance was nurtured in and around the Capaha Pool area. It was a place that most parents allowed their younger teenage kids to go in the early evening. CHS kids could meet up with Notre Dame HS kids, etc.

  • Sheesh… Midwestern kids.

    Born and raised in Florida, every other house had a pool so it was no big deal.

    What did it cost to go swimming back in the day?

    Cheers,
    Matt

  • Stacy Busch-Heisserer

    Wow! This was so moving! I am practically crying. I, too, worked at Capaha for many years…11 years to be exact. I worked at Central in the winter and waited with anticipation for Capaha to open each and every summer. I happily went to Capaha as soon as it opened each summer. In the fall, I mourned the inevitable closing for winter. Every year…never fail.
    I began at the pool as a cashier, and eventually became the head swimming instructor for the city of Cape. I also helped out with Kiwanis lessons in the mornings. Some days I was there 11+ hours. I never tired of the hours because I was working at the pool, outside in the summer, with my “bestest” of best friends, and with the kids.
    My first memories of Capaha, however, are those of student. The Turner sisters taught me how to swim…which was awesome since my folks didn’t know how and wanted me to be able to. I couldn’t have learned from anyone any better. Lois Unfer was a staple back then…and still was when I came on board as an instuctor!
    Those days of spending an entire day in a swimsuit are gone for me (and have been for quite some time), but I will never forget the lasting friendships I made, the physical skills I learned, or the emotional skills I also learned. I learned how to be a leader, how to speak in public, and most of all, how to have fun and actually LOVE your job. That is so rare these days.
    I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Capaha Pool. I hate it that my now 8-month old son will never get to experience what it’s like to swim there. He would have loved it.

    • I’m gonna have to admit that my introduction to the Cape pool was less than enjoyable.

      My folks thought it was appropriate that I learn to swim about the time I turned eight or 10, so they trundled me off to the pool as soon as the ice had been chipped off it.

      When I stepped off into the water, parts shriveled that I’m not sure EVER thawed out. When you’re that age, in that era, you have about a negative 6% body fat, so you have NO protection from the cold. I must have shivered enough to make the folks with the seismographs think the New Madrid Earthquake was gonna pop off again.

      I didn’t learn to swim for a couple of more years, until I got to Boy Scout camp where we swam in the river instead of a pool.

      Once I figured out that you shouldn’t get in the water until about August, I was like every other kid in town and practically lived at the pool, eating those taffy-things that came between waxed paper and trying to figure out what that chemical was that we had to splash through before getting in the water.

      I wonder what happened to all those numbered safety pins they gave us when we rented a locker basket? It would be cool to have one of those as a reminder of the good times.

  • Carol Schrader Emery

    The pool was such a big part of the Schrader kid’s (Joe, Judy, Carol, Jayne)lives. Wonderful memories. Thank you for the posting.

  • Jerry Lincoln

    I learned how to swim at that pool and was my summer hang out while in school. Cape is changing. My old school is gone, my summer hang outs is gone, movie theaters ,pool hall ,my places of work, most of my old neighborhood where I was raised is going to be a casino.I did work at Brown shoe Fit on main street in the early 60s. It is still there.YEAH.O well, Cape is still the place we go when we want to get away a few days.I Like Cape.

    • Paul Taylor

      I know how you feel Jerry. My first and second houses, grade school, Jr high, three movie theaters, two Pizza places, Playmor pool hall and many eating establishments are all gone. Where do you live now? I’m back here in Cape.

  • Nancy Strauser

    Like most here I spent my summers at the pool from about age 10 on up. Dr. Fred taught me to swim by tossing me off the diving board of his home pool and I loved the water from that day forward. I’d ride my bike to the park (from Bertling) at AGE 10!! What was my Mom thinking? I swam with the swim team, Bill and Bob were tough coaches. You didn’t want to get caught with your feet on the floor of the pool or you would get extra laps! 500 yard warm-ups, ugh! I was never able to beat the Mageletta sisters, Chris & Kathy. Susie Beaver was always at the counter. My best friend introduced me to my future husband there. I remember the taffy like stuff in wax paper too and frozen zero candy bars. I love that old park. I only hope that whatever it becomes gives those that use it memories as wonderful as all of ours!

  • Gerry Schlue Hartel

    Ater my time, but I too, remember good times taking a bunch of family kids to the pool! My brother John will probably have fond memories to share.

  • Ginny Wrape Johnston

    I am going to try and write this between the tears. I was about 6 when I joined the Cape Swim Team. Stayed with it until around 16, thought I was too cool then. By far some of the best memories of my life. I had the good fortune to have both Terry Hopkins and Bill Jackson as coaches. I was also on the diving team so needless to say, I was there a lot! Then I would go back in the afternoon to hang out with friends. I got to beat Mary Magaletta once in the freestyle. She was not happy and it never happened again. I think in 5 years we only lost maybe 2 relay races. It was Mary Magaletta, Julie Gilbert, myself and the 4th person would vary. I live near Boulder, CO now and Sheryl Crow was performing there last Sunday night. I wanted to go try and talk to her, she swam for the Kennet swim team, is my same age, and her specialty was also the breaststroke. I had to have swam against her many times. Unfortunately I didn’t make it. Nancy, I had completely forgotten about the taffy in wax paper, almost makes me want to start crying again. I was home last August and one evening right after sunset drove over to the pool and walked around. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and I guess it was since I am now 50. To everyone that touched my life back then I think I am a better person because of it. Thanks

  • Joe Paraoh

    A little known escapade at the Capaha pool involved a misguided attempt to turn the baby pool into the world’s largest Jell-o bowl. The mid-60’s prank unfolded when a boosted case of the desert, or is it salad, fell into bored hands. The plan was simple. Scale the fence after the late night police patrol through the park, dump the pre-opened contents into the pool and stir in a few blocks of Pure ice.

    The result was an abject failure, the participants, who had yet to take CHS chemistry, knowing nothing of the water volume or filter capacities in the pool’s circulatory cleaning system. Hopefully it did not contribute to the referenced pumping problems that contributed to this week’s destruction.

    • I didn’t witness the event, but I was told my compatriots at The Jackson Pioneer – a Republican-leaning paper – put food coloring into the fountain at the Jackson Courthouse the night that Barry Goldwater was nominated, turning the water gold.

      That’s a lot easier than the Jell-o trick.

  • Missourian photographer Fred Lynch, who does a blog similar to this, except with Frony photos, sent me this collection of Capaha Pool links to old photos. My spam filter must have grabbed it, so I’m posting it for him:

    First Municipal Pool at Capaha Park

    High slide at Capaha Park oval pool

    More fun at the oval pool

    New Pool at Capaha Park opens 1957

    Former oval pool is formal garden 1961

    Fred and I complement and compliment each other, so if you like my stuff, you’ll like his and vice versa.

  • another great ride down memory lane. thanks, Ken.
    I, too, spent a great many hours at the pool. I was on the diving team, and my two younger brothers, Steve and Randy, were on the swim team. Steve went on to work as a life guard for a few summers. I used to love the frozen candy bars in the snack bar. I recall one day in particular. The pool was closing for the night but the lifeguards were going to have a party. They cleared the pool, only lifeguards and other employees were allowed. But…they were going to have a live band! And that was something I never missed. I am still a performer and music fan. So I waited outside the fence, fascinated as I watched the band set up all their equipment. Did I mention that I had a bad case of swimmer’s ear that day and it hurt real bad. But I was not going to leave until I saw and heard the band. Which I did. But eventually the pain in my ear forced me to go on home. But I’ll never forget that night. Might even have been one of the first times I ever saw a live band!

  • Jean Turner-Waters

    When we moved to Cape in the 70’s, my first introduction to Capaha was as an 8-and-under on the swim team under Daryl Jackson. We practiced in the diving well as the older kids swam the 50 yards. I’ll never forget the time I ‘moved up’ to join the ‘big kids’…practice began at 7am, running around the park and sprints around the lagoon, then into the pool from 8-10. In spite of the cold, I didn’t mind the water so much…but that running! ugh! Larry McGinnis, when he started coaching with Dave would ride his bike while we ran so we couldn’t cheat….not ME of course, but some people might have. At 15 I took Advanced Lifesaving and soon thereafter Kim hired me to guard. I spent from 7 in the morning till 8 at night at that pool, and would have spent longer if I could have. I went through the Red Cross changes from ALS to Lifeguard Training, I taught countless lessons, rotated many chairs, checked many baskets, and cleaned many dressing rooms. I left the pools in 1990. I made good friends there, and have treasured memories that I will always remember with a smile. I mastered swimming, learned about winning and losing, developed a sense of responsibility, and honed my sense of humor there. What a big part of my life Capaha pool was. I will miss it.

  • Doug Baltz

    It’s funny how much I remember about swimming and working there and how much I had forgotten until I read the comments. The summer pass sewn on your suit, the frozen candy bars, the ‘safety checks’ that seemed to last forever, finally being a lifeguard and getting to jump in for ten minutes during the safety check, the announcement over the loudspeaker “out of the water and up on the deck, it’s time for another safety check”. Working 10 or 12 hours a day and never complaining about it. By far the best place I ever worked. I worked with some great people.

  • Jim Hardy

    After graduation in May, 1958, I spent about 8 weeks working on the Waterfront of the Boy Scout Camp. When I returned to Cape, got to work as a life guard at the pool for a couple weeks as a fill-in. That fall as a PE course at SEMO, I got my Red Cross Life Saving certificate and then worked the summers of 1959 and 1960 as a regular life guard at the pool. It was a great time and hard to see that pool go. But, as many have written, a lot of Cape Girardeau that those of us born around 1940 knew so well are now gone. I guess you can’t go home.

  • Barbara Rose Rust

    In the 1960′-70’s the Jaycee Wives sponsored a swimming program for kids 4 thru 7 years old. Edna Ruth Fischer and I taught that swimming class on Wed. morning for 10 years. We taught in the “wading” pool. At the end of 6 weeks almost all were swiming with their faces in the water and quite a few could swim on their backs as well. Teaching kids that young was something new back then and I have often wondered how many 4 year olds we taught to swim were saved because they learned swim thru that program.

  • We have a photo gallery at semissourian.com with a picture of Barbara Rust and other swimming instructors at the wading pool in Capaha Park. It’s a Frony photo that was first published in the Southeast Missourian Aug. 6, 1958.

    Here is the caption:

    The approach to swimming. Wives of members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce have pooled their efforts to teach the younger children, from 4 to 7 years, the basic fundamentals of learning to swim. This class is one of the three taking the summer course. Youngsters, from the left, are Mark and Michael Bodine, Barbara Unterreiner, Janice Hill, Wayne Unterreiner, Paul and Margaret Tlapek, Tara and Dana Kaiser, Christy Hill, William and Taylor Bahn, Mary K. Hill, Johnny Flynn and Terri Taylor. Standing, some of the mothers whose children are in the class are Mrs. Hartford E. Hill, Mrs. Larry Bahn, Mrs. G.L. Kaiser, instructor, Mrs. Harry Rust, Mrs. Gerald Flynn and Mrs. Beryl Taylor.

    Here is the gallery link:

    http://www.semissourian.com/gallery/6830

  • Curt Rosenthal

    I was on the swim team from roughly 67 – 75 and too spent lot’s of time in the Capaha pool. My brothers Mark and Brad also were on the team. I remember when Mark was part of the 50 mile swim Terry mentioned ealier. I had to watch and stayed at the pool most of the night. I seem to remember flipping the lap counter at the end of the pool. I just had to be involved. Lot’s of great memories seeing the guy’s every year from the teams we always swam against and always thinking – we are taking both relays (and at the Cape relays they were all ours – we had the best 4 at each stroke! Dave Parsons, Andy Rickard, Kerry Holloway and myslelf seldom lost a relay. Even in St. Louis we would take names!! I lived close to the park and Terry Hopkins lived down the street. He treated me, and my bothers so good. I remember working out with the stretch bands at his house. Darrel Jackson coached several years and I remember helping him get chairs and tables from the Arena Park bldg for meets. WOW – Several swim team members, team parents, guards and coaches made a huge impact on my youth. I had a pass every year and the pool/lifeguards were way cheaper than a baby sister while mom worked! Thanks to all.

  • I have so many memories…I don’t even know where to begin. When the pool opened in 1957…my parents said that I was in the baby pool, and a reporter asked me where I learned to swim? They said I responded that “I am self taught”. My parents and I laugh about that comment to this day. Like many of you that have already commented…I was a “pool rat”. I swam on the swim team from 7am-9am. Went home and cooked up as much Esicar’s bacon as I could eat (that was really good for me..and we also took salt tablets back then…awesome)…and then couldn’t wait until the pool opened at 1:10pm. I would stay there until close. Early on I joined the swim team! I was always the first one at the pool…waiting for the coaches to arrive…Joan Weber made it a contest…sometimes we would get there at 6am. It was such an exciting time. I had most of the coaches at one time or another…Terry Hopkins, Bill Jackson, Dan and Dave Ranson. My close buddy was Mark Bodine…he was primarily a diver…and I was a swimmer. But in those days, we did both to score points for the team! I was a terrible diver…but Mark dared me to do something crazy when I was diving in a meet. I said that I would do a back 2 and a half…off the high dive. To our knowledge…it had never been attempted. They thought I wouldn’t even try it. It was the worst dive in the history of diving…but I did do it! I remember all the guards working so hard…to prepare the pool. For a team that only swam in the Summer…we were the big dog. One time we were at a swim meet in St. Genevieve and we were doing flip turns…they had never seen flip turns and disqualified us every time we did them. Finally, our head coach said…we are out of here. Dwayne Mercer…a great butterfly swimmer…said as we were leaving “wait until next year”. He quit the swim team after that Summer. I am amazed at our coaches actually building starting blocks out of wood and painting them green! I distinctly remember that even though we were an All-American City and our pool was massive in thoughs days (not many 50 yard pools around) we kept hearing about the St. Louis teams. It made me sick. We began to expand our meet schedule and made some trips up there…they distroyed us. Finally, Skip Wrap…an awesome breast stroker..said,”I am not going to lose…I don’t care how fast they are”. It was so awesome when he won his race! That prompted us to come up with something…oh yes…the 50 mile relay! The first time we did it it took 24 hours. We had nine boys and one girl. We swam 1 mile exactly…since a mile is 1760 yards we had to swim 35 lengths and an extra 10 yards before the next swimmer would enter the water. We started at 6pm…it was so cool…the pool lights on all night…reporters there. The next year…Terry Hopkins (being the bright coach that he was) said lets swim 1000 yard splits until we total 50 miles…that way we can knock off alot of time…we beat our previous time by 2 hours! The original article is in the August 1970 Missourian. “Shooting for record” “A year ago the Cape Community swimming team established a 50-mile state relay record with a 24-hour marathon. The time was actually 24 hours, 40.5 seconds. We’re shooting for 23 hours this year, said Coach Terry Hopkins, as he watched his first relay team member dip into the Capaha Park pool this morning. We’re swimming shorter lengths this season, and hope to knock more than an hour off last year’s record. A year ago ten swimmers, covering distances of a mile each, established the record. This year, swimmers will go in 1,000 yard jaunts. Our swimmers will range in age from 12 and up, noted Hopkins. The ten members are: George Magaletta, Paul Dirnberger, Bruce Nunnelly, Paul Nunnelly (12) Mark Rosenthal, Brian Weber, Terry Mikaliza, Ralph Murphy, Jack Rickard and Joan Weber. An alternate team member is Mark Bodine.” I am not sure if this is true…but we heard St. Louis teams attempted the 50 mile relay…and didn’t finish. It was a made up State record…since it wasn’t an official event…but we didn’t care. When I was 15…I became a basket person! $1.15 an hour! That winter I took W.S.I. (Water Safety Instruction) and worked as a guard at the Marquette Cement Natatorium. My first Summer as a guard was so cool…some of the guards and staff had moved on when I was a “pool rat”…like Mr. Cracraft and “Jolly”…but there were plenty of characters still around. We had so much fun, playing rag tag (a game that we did everything we tell swimmers not to do)…running on deck…hitting each other with a wet wadded up towel (hence the name rag tag). One of the earlier comments, from Bill Jackson, talked about the dangers of the diving boards. Well, here is a story…Bill…being a very good diver…came up with and awesome dive. I would lay on my back on the high dive (at the end of the board)and he would dive through my legs (pulling me over the board-which made me do a back flip) and he finished with a one (1) & a half forward (pike) position!!! It actually worked!!! Speaking of dives…my friend, Mark Bodine was the greatest at completing a “dunbar”…I guess you had to be there…but it would always get the lifeguard wet…and of course he would have to sit out 15 minutes as a result. We had some really good swimmers…considering we didn’t practice in the winter…and there were no school teams then. I remember one meet, Bill Jackson said our relay couldn’t do a certain time…but if we did…he would cook us all steak dinners. You guessed it, the team of Jim Stevens, Bruce Nunnelly, Tom Jackson and Tuck Boston…all got steak dinners!!!! Cooked by Bill of course. In the late 60’s and early 70’s you could earn a Presidential Certificate for completing 50 miles. I completed it two times…the first time was a dog fight to finish the 50 miles before Joan Weber completed it…one day I remember swimming from 7am until 9pm…I did 12 miles. Back then…that was alot..obviously all this talk stirs up alot of emotion in all that were apart of the glorious Summers at Cape Pool. You know…the things I remember most are sitting on the steps in the morning…looking at the metal sign that showed the pool opened in 1957. But I also remember sitting in my back yard…and I could hear…”everyone out for a ten minute safety check”!!! I only had to rescue one person in the big pool…Susan Beaver pulled them out…and I had to perform mouth to mouth. But Bill Jackson used to warn us about the baby pool…and he was right…we would sometimes pull out 3 or 4 in a 15 minute guard time. Hey Bill, I will never forget what you said to me…one day in practice…after swimming a 500…”hey Bruce, I’ve got something for you”…thanks Bill…that was an inspiration to this day!!!! And Bob Jackson…your supply room really looks bad now!!!! ps…Tom Jackson was the most natural…gifted swimmer on the team. Hey Tuck Boston…you were a great swimmer for being such a gigatic football player!!!! Hey George Magaletta…we know that you really let me win the back stroke at the Perryville meet…so I could finally win a high point…thank you! The last funny story…at the Kennett Meet…we would stick our stomachs out at the start…on the blocks…in the above ground…round pool…all the other teams would be laughing at us…then we swam really fast and helped all the swimmers out of the water. Like many of you…every time I go back to Cape…I make my way…at some point to swing by the Pool. I would either sit on the outside benches or just gaze through the fence…remembering all that happened there in years past…knowing that not a soul now…swimming today…even knew me. It makes me smile and sad at the same time. I love the Cape Pool…rest in Peace old friend.

  • Barbara Nunnelly Adler

    Glad I forwarded the link to Brother Bruce. I took Lila’s water ballet and was sure we looked just like Esther Williams!! I remember taking youngest brother Paul (8 years my junior) to the pool to teach him to swim. My most vivid memory is attempting a dive off the high board in the two-piece bathing suit my Dad made for me. It had buttons on the top, which both popped as I dove off!! LOL!! That pool was a brilliant piece of community good for so many of us who grew up in Cape in the 50’s and 60’s.

  • I was going to tell the story about my sister’s top coming off…but I didn’t think it was appropriate…but since she told you…it was really funny! Oh, like alot of you…I remembered some other things…like telling you that Gary Kinder was the “Coolest” lifeguard. Also, Marty Corcoran was the fastest runner! Wanted to say hello to the Profers (Mark and Susan)…both really great swimmers. Hello to the Rickards (Mrs. Rickard and her entire family were a huge part of that time). The Magaletta’s…the Holloway’s…Brian Weber…The Mercer’s…the Bodine’s…Tuck Boston…Tommy “tube” Jackson…the Stevens (Mike and Jim)…the Ranson twins…I’m sorry if I missed some!!! One last true story…as a basket person…you took the basket of clothes and gave them a pin with a number on it. A man and his son came around to give me their basket…and the man had no clothes on…I really didn’t no what to say…when he discovered he had forgotten to put his suit on…well…his face was in complete shock!!! Thank you Ken for having this web-site! Cape Pool will never die…it is always in our hearts!

  • Marjorie Henry

    Is this the Bruce Nunnelly who plays the saxophone and was with the Spurrlows?

  • Victoria Holt Courvoisier

    Wow! This thread is better than class reunions for those of us who were on the Cape Swim Team. I remember ALL of those names and looked up to most of them. We were GOOD and won an awful lot of ribbons and medals for being a “summer” team.

    At one of the Cape “All American” swim meets,one of the swimmers got hurt and couldn’t swim the butterfly in my age group. Terry Hopkins came to me 10 minutes before the race and said, “Can you swim the fly? I mean, do you know how?” My strokes were back, and free….I replied, “I dunno. I can try…” Well, I was swimming the best that I could and was looking to the sides (as any swimmer will tell you) to see where the competition was. NO ONE was near me….which I assumed they had left me behind. Turns out I was so far ahead of them that I would have set a record that day, except I was disqualified for not touching with both hands EXACTLY at the same time. No one had told me that little tidbit of info. I thought Bill Jackson was going to come unglued!! If nothing else, he was a VERY competitive coach!
    Never made that mistake again, and Fly became my stroke after that.

    Terry, Bill and Dan were great coaches during some very formative years. They seem to have just the right amount of competitiveness, rules, and fun built in, that we never seemed to get into too much trouble.
    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for giving your time and talents to so many of us. You shaped our lives for the better!!

    • Terry Hopkins

      Vicky, I remember that day, and you did become good butterfly swimmer too! I always knew relays counted double points and CAPE never gave up on a relay team, so if people were hurt, sick or dead I always made sure we had someone to swim…not always did the kids know the stroke well enough, but always they tried and that was the lesson, always try and never leave double points on the table!

  • […] Of course, that diver’s granddaughter won’t be able to duplicate that dive because Capaha Park Pool is nothing but a memory now. (Click on the photo to make it […]

  • Michelle Griggs

    Great, great memories. I was one of those kids. Who knows? Maybe you taught me to swim. My mom was there buying my season pass as soon as it opened, and I was waiting in line every summer day for the 1:30 opening. Get your basket, get your pin with the basket # on it, and spend all day swimming and playing. Mom always gave my some spending money, which I often spent on a frozen Zero bar To this day, the smell of Coppertone sun lotion makes me think of the Capaha pool. It broke my heart when they tore it down/filled it in, even though I hadn’t been there in decades. Those were the best days of my childhood. When I was very young, girls were required to wear a swimming cap, and once every hour for ten minutes there was a “safety check.” I never figured why it took them 10 minutes to see if there were any bodies on the bottom of the pool. My mom also often took me to the Wednesday morning ladies’ swim. Those were great times.

    Great memories.

  • […] Alien Roundup    Capaha Pool Reduced to Memories […]

  • Mark Bodine

    Cape pool were some of the best summers of my life. I lived just across Capaha Park on Park View Drive. Right by the rose garden. Capaha Park and the Cape Pool were my 2nd home in the summers. I learned to swim and dive at the pool before I could walk. Went on to work in the basked room and later as a life guard for many summers. Was on the swimming and diving team, then later as a coach of the team. I was at the pool each summer every day with my brothers Stephen and Michael and sister Martha. The post by Bruce Nunnelly, My best friend then sums it all up reminding me of all the friends and good times I had at the pool. Rest in peace old friend, you will never be forgotten.

  • Mark Bodine

    Another memory of the Cape Swimming pool was being on the swimming team each summer. Would get up for swim practice very morning at 7:00 a.m. Attend numerous swim meets from Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky. One summer, I believe back in the late 60’s, during the presidents physical fitness test, the swimming team did the 50 mile swimming relay. President challenged people to walk, run or swim 50 miles for physical fitness. To the best of my recollection, relay members were Mark Bodine, Bruce Nunnelly, Bill and Tom Jackson, Terry Hopkins, Mike Stevenson and others I cannot remember over the years. There were 10 of us each taking turns swimming 1 mile at a time. Each did 5 miles totaling the 50 mile relay. We started in the afternoon, swam all night and finished the 50 mile relay the next day. I believe were the first in the country to do the 50 mils swimming relay. We got on the KFVS TV news. If anyone else can remember the 50 mile relay, please update and remind me who else was on the team.

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