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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.


SEMO’s Double Standard

SEMO Student Handbook 2 380x600 SEMOs Double StandardYou don’t hear the phrase “in loco parentis” much these days. It’s Latin for “in the place of a parent” and refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. It allowed for institutions such as colleges and schools to act in the “best interests” of the students as they saw fit.

I didn’t realize just how loco the parentis Southeast Missouri State College was until I ran across my old SEMO Student Handbook that I must have been given when I was a freshman. Women going to school in this century won’t believe the double standard restrictions women had placed on them until the 1970s and beyond.

Campus run like Bootheel high school

SEMO campus 1966 59 500x326 SEMOs Double StandardPresident Mark Scully ruled the college campus just like a Bootheel high school. [In fairness to Dr. Scully, his obit in The Missourian had nice things to say about him when he died in 2002.]

Prof Meghan Johnston w student SEMO 3 11 67 8 191x300 SEMOs Double StandardDress Code for Men: Dress for men is slacks and sport shirt or sweater. Shorts may be worn in warmer weather to classes. Shirt tails should never be worn out, and because of sanitation reasons, socks should always be worn with shoes. Thongs are not considered appropriate for any occasion other than dorm wear. For concerts, plays and the like, a suit and/or sports coat is called for. [I’m pretty sure the word “thong” had a different meaning in 1966. Dr. Scully would go out of his way to enforce the shirttail rule personally.]

Dress Code for Women: Skirts and blouses and/or dresses are the appropriate dress for class wear. Girls may dress informally for trips into the Cape Girardeau community and on campus after 4:00 p.m. Informal wear (slacks or shorts) may not be worn in any instructional building or Kent Library. Dress in the residence halls depends on each hall’s rules. Also, teas and concerts and plays call for a suit or party dress with heels and hose.

[Notice that men can wear shorts to class, but women may not wear slacks or shorts in any instructional BUILDING. Guys DID have to wear socks for “sanitation reasons.”]

Association of Women Students

Lila Perry Steinhoff in Sagamore office SEMO 3 11 67 3 448x600 SEMOs Double StandardWomen students DID get one perk male students didn’t. They were all automatically members of the Association of Women Students.

Membership of the A.W.S. includes every woman student enrolled at SEMO State. Each year this organization carries our several projects designed to aid the women of the campus, and among these projects are a fashion skit during the Orientation which advises the freshman coed on the various types of clothes to wear to college activities, a fall tea for all women students, and a Twirp Week. [The fall tea, Wife Lila informed me, was NOT optional.]

Twirp Week: The Woman Is Required to Pay. Every year, under the sponsorship of the Association of Women Students, one week is designated as Twirp Week. The woman has the opportunity to ask the man of her choice for dates, and assumes the responsibility for providing money and transportation. She must also perform common courtesies such as opening doors, and helping her date with his coat.

Life as a co-ed

1967 02 22 Sagamore Staff 4 500x332 SEMOs Double StandardI would occasionally need to go into female housing on assignment. It was kind of exciting to be in the inner sanctum with an escort hollering “MAN ON THE FLOOR!” as you walked along. You envisioned meaningful glances from your subjects.

Women’s Hours

  • 11:00 Sunday and the first night back after a college holiday (night before the first day of classes)
  • 10:30 Monday through Thursday
  • 1:00 Friday and Saturday1967 02 22 Sagamore Staff 3 500x317 SEMOs Double Standard

Unfortunately, this was a more typical reaction.

Late Emergencies

If a co-ed returning to her residence is delayed until after hours, she should notify the houseparent or head resident by phone, i.e., babysitting or travel delays. If a phone is not available, come in and ring the doorbell late. Also, if it is necessary for a co-ed to leave her residence before the time it is regularly opened, she should make the necessary arrangements with the person in charge.

Special Permissions

Miss Cape 05 06 1967  500x321 SEMOs Double Standard1:30 closing hours for Homecoming and Sagamore Ball. On these special late nights there will be no overnight permissions granted. All co-eds will have 15 minutes after the close of the following events to return to their living units: Plays, concerts, lectures, college sponsored movies, and similar special events that last beyond closing hours. Arrangements should be made in advance with the houseparent or head resident for any college sponsored group activities such as band trips, debates, and conventions which require extra privileges.

Sign Outs

Overnights in Cape Girardeau and surrounding towns require the use of special sign out forms in the residence halls. Students who plan to stay overnight should request the form only after the Head Resident has contacted the student’s hostess and learned that the guest is welcome. (Maximum number of times per semester, 4 on-campus and 4 off-campus) Any signouts in excess of the stated maximum will be given only at the discretion of the person in charge…Students on restricted permission from their parents must have a letter from them for each separate absence.

[Women could stay out overnight only if the Head Resident called to make sure is was OK with the student’s “hostess.” I would guess that a “host” would not be appropriate. Parents could have an even tighter lock-down: if the student’s parents had put her on “restricted permission,” the parents had to provide a letter approving each request.]

General Conduct

SEMO campus 1966 41 500x334 SEMOs Double StandardA student at SEMO State is expected to conduct herself in an appropriate manner in her living unit and to conform to standards of propriety at all times. This implies a thoughtful consideration of the welfare and reputation of the school, the individual student, and the community.

[Note the word “herself.” Apparently, except for keeping their shirttails tucked in, men didn’t have any restrictions.]

No panty raids

SEMO campus 1966 7 500x281 SEMOs Double StandardCollege Property and Buildings – …Any student found guilty of inciting to action or willingly participating in action resulting in destruction of property or in unauthorized group activities, i.e., raids on women’s’ residences, that may or may not be destructive, will be subject to dismissal from the college. [It doesn’t explicitly spell it out, but this is the No Panty Raid rule.]

Residence Hall rules

SEMO campus 1966 55 500x303 SEMOs Double StandardLiquor in the hall – State law and College policy forbid the use or possession of alcoholic beverages on State College property. This includes parking lots and other campus areas, including residence halls. Bottles that have contained or appear to have contained alcoholic beverages are not to be used as room decorations.

Gambling – Gambling in every form is prohibited in the residence halls. Mere absence of money from sight does provide loopholes to permit gambling.

Weapons – Possession of any kind of firearms, including war souvenirs that constitute a hazard, is prohibited in residence halls for safety reasons. Hunting equipment should be checked in with the Head Resident.

Pets – For health reasons, dogs, cats, and other pets are not permitted in the residence halls. Goldfish and tropical fish are accepted.

Television – TV’s are not permitted in residence Hall rooms.

[Just for the record, I make enough typos on my own that I usually don’t play grammar policeman. I have to point out the the information in italics came from the student handbook. I’m not responsible for the spelling, consistency in style, or punctuation. An inside page credits Robert Northcutt with the cover design.]

18 comments to SEMO’s Double Standard

  • Sherry Swanson

    Were we in the dark ages or what? I was at SEMO from ’61 through ’63 before transferring to Kentucky. I’m sure my granddaughters in college now can’t imagine those rules being enacted today. I do remember being a rebel and wearing shorts to my art classes UNDER my trench coat. I can say that things were much more liberal in MSU in Kentucky. And think what was yet to become in the late 60s.

  • Russell Cook

    I remember walking across campus from the music building down the hill to the Grauel Building for English class. I was cutting across the grass next to the history building and a car was headed down the hill (Academic Drive?) going the wrong way on a one-way street. Dr. Scully got out of the car and told me the grass was not made for walking on; that’s what sidewalks were for. And he’s driving the wrong way on a one-way street!

  • Sally Bierbaum Dirks

    In December of 1969, the weather was so cold the women had chapped knees. Our wardrobe was short skirts and knee socks. I don’t remember how well organized our unauthorized change in the dress code was, but we put on slacks, went to class, and never looked back. As I recall, President Scully did not offer a comment on the change in our attire.

  • So sad–no mention or photo of my old dorm, Leming Hall, where our dorm “mother,” Nell Bell, ruled with an iron hand… Week night curfew was 10 p.m., and I think I remember a midnight weekend curfew (could that be wrong?? It seems much too lenient.)
    One minute late, and we had to ring the doorbell and listen for the thump, thump, thump of Mrs. Bell’s heavy tread. She always wore little pumps with 1 inch heels. Surprising what a thump she could achieve with them.
    The other girls LOVED to hang over the upstairs banister railing to stare at the miscreant who had come in late.
    I don’t remember the guys being allowed to wear shorts to class, and, believe me–I would have noticed… As for the girls–yes, slacks only after 4 p.m.
    I talked to an adorable little lady who ran a jewelry shop on Main Street when I was in college. She delighted in telling us that the girls had to wear gloves to dinner, when she was at Semo.
    I remember the “Man on the Floor!” alert–It was a far cry from 2000, when my daughter roomed at Dearmont. I was horrified to learn that her “all-girls” floor had boys taking showers on that floor and staying in the girls’ rooms! My, my–how times change!

  • Carolyn Hutteger Bening

    Spring of 1961 caught me student teaching English at the SEMO lab high school. I recall being so excited to teach “Catcher in the Rye,” which the senior students took to like ducks to water–we even met at the lake in Capaha Park (correct name of lake on campus?) to discuss in depth the famous inquiry “Where do the ducks go in winter?”
    That is, until President Scully himself showed up at my classroom to announce that “Catcher” was not appropriate for SEMO high school! He followed the line “Life is a game that one plays according to the rules!” Students had already devoured the novel the first few days I handed it out, so his censorship attempt was fruitless since we worked in Rye commentary to the semester end.
    I still revel in how we SEMO grads felt that we could do anything with our lives–to hell with their rules–and that “we could actually catch them all before they fell off the cliffs.”

    • I’ve been debating whether or not to share some of my Dr. Scully encounters like your Catcher in the Rye story.

      Like I mentioned, his obit pointed out that he had done a lot for the college (now university) during a time of rapid transition. He also recognized that he had to deal with a very conservative community.

      Your experience brings to mind some of the lyrics in Phil Ochs’ song, I’m Going to Say It Now:

      Oh I am just a student, sir
      and only want to learn
      But it’s hard to read through the risin’ smoke
      of the books that you like to burn…
      * * *

      I wish that you’d make up your mind
      I wish that you’d decide
      That I should live as freely
      as those who live outside
      Cause we also are entitled
      to the rights to be endowed…
      * * *

      Ooh, you’d like to be my father
      you’d like to be my Dad
      And give me kisses when I’m good
      and spank me when I’m bad
      But since I’ve left my parents
      I’ve forgotten how to bow
      So when I’ve got something to say, sir
      I’m gonna say it now.

  • Phyllis Hansen

    Those “dorm rules” were also to be enforced for females living in community homes! My folks had college students staying in our upstairs for years. There was a kitchen, bath and room for 5 girls. It was always exciting and most of them were very nice. Ther were a few who broke every rule and caused havoc, but they didn’t last long in college and were soon gone from the house. At one time the college folks even inspected the homes to see that you had a desk for each student complete with lamp and a book shelf. Every year you received a list of rules that had to be posted. The rules applied to ALL students, even if they were relatives. Thanks goodness the rules didn’t apply to children living at home and going to college!

    As a Home Economics major I lived in the Home Management House one quarter (the other half of the semester you did your student teaching). One of my housemates had a terrible cold and sore throat and her family’s remedy was a shot of liquor. She bought a bottle and then realized she couldn’t keep it in the house or in her car, so we took it to my parents and then went down there for her to take her “meds”. My parents were fine with it because it was my mother’s cure as well – the only time she ever drank the stuff. (German families from Perry County preferred beer!) Also, the last night in the House we all went out to eat with the superviser for an elegant meal. The 6 of us were going across the river afterwards, but we had to take the superviser home first. She wanted to go along, but her job would have come to a halt immediately!!
    … Yes, those were the days “when girls were gilrs and men were men”!

  • Anne Perretta

    I still have PTSD from my experiences at SEMO. It was the worse place I ever went to school. I remember the two women whose pictures appeared on the front page of the school paper, I think it was called the Capaha Arrow. They were wearing slacks after a snow storm and were walking back to campus with groceries BEFORE 4PM. Scully suspended them for improper attire! They were not permitted to return to school until their parents confronted Scully personally. I was called up to Academic Hall by Dean Forest for a little chat on more than one occasion. He accused me of belonging to the SDS. When I finally convinced him I wasn’t a member, but only living in the basement of the house where they met, he asked me to spy on them and prepare reports for him! He threatened to expel me if I didn’t comply with his wishes. And Alton Bray…he was by far the worst Registrar that was ever created. There’s not enough space to outline his atrocious behavior. Glad I finally got out of that place. I have attended other higher education institutions since then, and have enjoyed all my experiences. But, I still have nightmares about SEMO.

  • Bob Ravenstein

    Well I don’t know if things are better now or back then. I think the answer is: they were different times. I wonder if men (I actually wrote boy) students will ever know the fun of a “panty raid” and having talked to the girls afterward, they had just as much fun. The trill of having off campus parties that were “naughty” because we wanted to live “on the wild side” if only for a night. I am sure students are having fun now but I don’t think i could handle showering and mingling with girls in same area. I think my blood would rush from my head elsewhere. different times I guess…

    • Bob, I’m going to leave you hanging out there on this one.

      Women, would you like to go back to the days when you were locked in a dorm where you had to be back within 15 minutes after a “special event” ended? Or be told that you couldn’t wear slacks on a zero-degree day?

      I know how the female former SEMO student who lives at MY address feels about it. She was so mad she could spit when I reminded her of the Good Ole Days.

  • Ken Roussel

    What a batch of memories this is, and it caused me to dig out my old copies of the “Gadfly”, for those of you who remember it!!! I wrote a screed/diatribe on the conditions of serfdom suffered by the ladies at SEMO, circa 1966-67, which got hoots and kudos alike. Seems the loyal administration on “the Hill” even saw fit to inform my high school of my shenanigans!! I lived in Myers, and I had close friends at Dearmont, Leming, and North Towers, ( I had a key to North’s back door for those “emergency situations”), but her brothers lived on Sprigg so it wasn’t a big deal!!! Damn times have changed, I’ve got a daughter that would have burned a head resident with spells and castings for presuming to afront her liberty such as was committed by the powers of that time!! Be Well, SEMO, Be Well.

  • Laura Davis

    Doors to the women’s dorms were locked at 11pm sharp. If you arrived after that, you were given ‘late minutes’. Accumulate 15 late minutes during any given semester, and you were ‘campused’. This meant you had to spend an entire weekend inside the dorm.

    • As I recall, that caused women students to have to calculate whether it was better to take the minutes or just to stay out all night and hope there wasn’t a bed check.

      I have no idea which gave you the better odds.

  • Russell W.

    Wow. I don’t think Bob Jones University or Liberty U. are that strict!! About the only thing missing at ’60s SEMO is mandatory chapel and Bible study. :-)

    Seriously, I’m aware that colleges were a bit persnickety and took that “in loco parentis” doctrine to varying degrees, but how was SEMO in comparison to other schools in that era?

    Next question – when did things finally loosen up?? I see from SEMO’s entry in Wikipedia that Dr. Scully stepped down in 1975. Certainly things got better before then. Right?

    I lived in Cape from 1978-82, attending CJHS and CHS along the way, and compared to places I’ve lived (mostly in the Deep South), Cape Girardeau was the least uptight … Central had its rules, of course, but it struck me as being very trusting of its students.

    Would love to read more insight about this.

  • Laura Davis

    My experience was school year ’72-’73. Right in the thick of the so-called Women’s Lib Movement. There were all kinds of school-sponsored seminars, discussions, guest speakers etc. designed to enlighten us women. But we had to boogie on back to the dorm by 11 or there’d be hell to pay!

  • Karen

    I went to SEMO 1976-1980. I lived in Cheney Hall when it was strictly an all girls dorm. I remember the calls of “man on the floor” which you had to announce when bringing a male onto the floor, just in case a resident girl was walking about in her underwear. There were designated hours only on the weekends when you could have a male friend in your room, but the door had to be wide open and there was the “all feet on the floor” rule to discourage couples from being too affectionate. The PA’s on duty would patrol the dorm at those times to make sure the rules were being adhered to. The dorm was locked in the evenings, but we could come and go as we pleased, as everyone had a key. There was no dress code imposed by SEMO at that time, so I never wore a dress. I hate them to this day. We did have some really lame SEMO physical education shorts and tops that we had to wear to all PE classes. Makes me wonder what the uniform is today or do they even require students to take PE classes anymore?! Only a few girls in the dorm had a TV. Television wasn’t outlawed by that time in the dorm, but it just wasn’t common for most to have a TV. You went to the lobby to watch TV. We were required to attend floor meetings in which the PA’s (personnel assistants) discussed such things as upcoming events, any problems that had arisen, or the schedule of when you were supposed to be out the dorm for holidays. Alcohol was strictly forbidden in the dorm, although there were a few girls that got caught with liquor, but I don’t remember what the punishment was.
    After 8pm, on the week nights, there were quiet hours, where you were only allowed to whisper. They called those study hours. Sometimes the PA wouldn’t tolerate whispering either. I recall my freshman year in 1976 when one of the local fraternities, during rush week showed up outside Cheney Hall and began singing “Buffalo girl, won’t you come out tonight” and at the end of the song, showed their bottoms. We were quite shocked, but thought it was hysterical. Just a few years earlier, the young men probably all would have been expelled for that. I remember one of the girls in the room across the hall from me snuck in her boyfriend to spend the night. I was quite appalled that she would break the rules, let alone share a bed with her boyfriend.

  • Barbara

    This is “the way things were” everywhere – certainly not just at Cape State. Most changes are fantastic – there are some however that seem to carry negatives. Not sure “change for change sake” is always the best course of action. Spending much time on a college campus now & remembering how it was, kind of glad I am an “oldster” & lived thru those times that now seem so outrageous. Really wasn’t all that bad!!!
    A 50s “girl”…..

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