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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.


Kent Library circa 1966

I’m publishing these two grossly underexposed, dust-spotted and scratched frames of Kent Library because they may be the only two shots I have of the inside of the place.

Don’t get me wrong. I love libraries. I spent hours in the Cape Library as a kid. Pat Sommers, my debate partner, worked there, so we could get in after closing time to do research.

I took an elderly next door neighbor to the West Palm Beach libraries every Saturday. We’d leave with armloads of books that we would trade off until our next run. Wife Lila even worked in a middle school library for years (except it was called a media center in modern-speak).

Kent Library never felt like home

For some reason, I never developed any kind of connection with Kent Library. It didn’t have the right feel for me.

On one of my trips to Cape last year, I strolled through the place. It’s a lot bigger and brighter than I remembered it.

I happened to pass by a room that mentioned something about special collections or something like that.  I stuck my head in, introduced myself to someone, described the photos I have of the era and asked if there was a chance the University might be interested in them when I go to that final Big Darkroom.

The person I talked with took my business card and said someone would get back in touch with me. Nobody ever did.

I guess it’s no great loss. I didn’t hang around there when I was alive; whatever spirit of mine that clings to my old negs probably wouldn’t feel comfortable there after I’m gone.

17 comments to Kent Library circa 1966

  • Oh, oh, I have wished for years that I had taken pics of Kent Library as it looked when I was there! This photo is the closest I’ve seen–though it’s more cluttered and I don’t remember those rows of lights. I seem to remember lamps (perhaps with green shades?) affixed to the long tables. I graduated in 1964, so the lights must have been added later.
    You didn’t, perchance get any shots of the stacks, did you? Fascinating places! I particularly remember the top ones, which had metal grates for floors.
    There’s a Disney movie from the 70’s that has an old library with metal floors like I remember. “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
    Old libraries are soooo cool! I even love the smell of the books! I know the new ones are efficient, but the old ones have so much atmosphere! You can almost feel the ghosts, wandering the halls.
    I think that room you looked into is the old Little Theater, where we had classes. The original marble entry stairs are in that hall.

    • Sorry, Madeline. My memory may be failing me, but those are the only two shots I’ve found of the interior of Kent Library. I didn’t even remember shooting those.

      I’ve been gradually accumulating SEMO photos for a future posting. You’ll see the outside of the building in it.

  • My husband was working on his Masters about 1968 when we had a pretty strong earthquake. We were in the library at SEMO and those books shelves started swaying and we got down those stairs real fast. Does anyone remember the date of that earthquake?

  • I don’t remember the ’68 quake, but I do remember the one on March 3, 1963. That was our wedding day.

  • bob pollack

    Ken check with Dr. nickels at the SEMO regional history center at SEMO.he would have a definite interest in you photos and negitives. this is a visual history of our era. though you were a few years ahead of me, i remember some of that stuff.

  • Dr. Snider patrolling the halls and making sure nothing was going on…and I mean NOTHING. I guess that was why I never hung out there too much…

    But I did find a cannon ball behind Kent Library when I was n the fifth grade, and it is still stored at my dad’s house in Cape…so I have some good memories of the place.

  • Audrey Reynolds

    I graduated in 1965, and I think the library still had lamps on the tables then. So the ceiling lights must have been added later.

  • Thanks for the confirmation, Audrey–I wasn’t even sure if my memory wss accurate about the lamps.
    Remarkably, nothing “went on” anywhere! It was as if a giant hall monitor was watching over us so closely that we dared not breathe! No talking, no whispering–nothing that I remember!
    Such a switch from today–when the students have comfy sofas to sit on and bright, casual surroundings.
    Actually, Ken, (you rascal!) I don’t remember the ’63 earthquake: My relatives have told me about it. I was a little preoccupied!

  • Sheila Hopkins Phillips

    Kent Library was overwhelming to me as a freshman, but I came to love it!

  • Judi Coleman

    I remember the 63 & 68 earth mover. My son & I were laying in bed playing in 63 down by the cement plant. The bed moved all the way across the floor to the wall. I just thought they were blasting at the plant. In 68 I was in the bathtub & when the water started splashing out in the floor I jumped out of the tub and would have ran out in my birthday suit if my husband hadn’t grabbed me. Can’t remember the exact dates but the years I do remember very clearly.

  • Joy Hargraves Dunn

    Ken:
    I am from the Central’s class of ’72. I love photography and try to go take photos as often as I can…..but, your dedication to photographing your life around Cape is fantastic. Margi Whitright is my first cousin and I have been receiving the Tiger email for a long time. I LOVE all the photo links and cant wait to see what is going to be next. I love getting the emails now with Cape links. Keep it up. You make my day everyday in photos. My mother and Margi’s mother lived in the huge brick home at 14 Morgan Oak….right next to the old bridge on the cliff. I have some pictures of that house but wondered if you have any as over the years many of the old family pics have been lost….
    Keep the pics coming……………

  • Keith Robinson

    Kent Library has always been a cool place for me. Especially recently when doing research on railway history for construction of my model railroad based on the Cape area. The materials from the Louis Houck estate are fascinating.

    Re:Earthquakes
    I remember both mentioned above. The Sunday, March 3, 1963 quake happened while our family was eating lunch. It was my first quake and my dad explained what it was that happened. The Saturday, March 9, 1968 quake happened in the middle of confirmation class with Pastor O.A. Gerken at Trinity Lutheran School. One of the other students had just gotten admonished by Pastor Gerken for not paying attention in class and then the quake hit. It was very noticeable and many eyes in the class were very wide!

  • Sally Bierbam Dirks

    As a library science minor, I spent many hours in Kent Library. The staff got to know all of us, and we were able to see them from a different perspective, too. Dr. Snider had a lighter side that most students never saw. In the new building, the stained glass book plates are my favorite area.

    In 1970-71 I was the 1/2 time Campus School librarian and 1/2 time in the cataloging dept. One of my responsibilities was to catalog the MO Publications. At that time Jake Wells was creating the wonderful mural at the entrance, and my MO Pub. room was his studio. One day as I was shelving some materials, his voice came from behind the stacks asking if I was wearing pants! Well, I was a little taken aback, so I went to where he was working and stood where he could see me. What he needed was a model for a sketch he was making of a section of the mural. Unfortunately I was wearing my mandatory dress or skirt and missed my 15 min. of fame. Now, the grandchildren will not have to be dragged to Kent Library to see the part of the mural for which I was a model.

  • Mary A Seyer

    Ken, I felt the same way you did. I was overwhelmed and felt out of place in Kent Library. It was too big for me. Give me a small town library any day and I can sit there a read til it closes.

  • Nora Reynolds Zimmer

    I attended Campus School and College High, and used the library often during those years. When I attended college (67-71), I was very comfortable it was my second home between classes. I loved the library and spent many many hours there. I remember the green lampshades. I also remember the Little Theater within the library. Does anyone remember that? My grade school and high school had many programs and assemblies there. The library was being remodeled during my college years. I was there a few years ago to visit the archive/special collections for some family research. I still love the smell of the library! The archive contains some McLain (my mother’s family) family records, and many other local records. Also believe that they have Mr. Lueders photo collection. I am sure they would love to have your Photographic collection.

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