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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.


St. Francis Hospital “Nun Circus”

Brad Elfrink in his workshop

Cape is a place that overlaps and interlocks. My friend and former co-worker, Jan Norris, asked me if I’d meet up with Brad Elfrink while I was in Cape. He does beautiful “whimsical hand crafted collectibles” that she wanted photographed for her button site.

Brad and his wife live on Sprigg St., just down from William, which is why I photographed that corner for a recent page.

He and I talked about local landmarks that have quietly disappeared. I told him I had been looking in vain for a unique house in the neighborhood that I photographed in the 60s. He broke the news that it had been torn down, but that he had some of the decorative bricks from it in his back yard. (More about Brad and that on that another day.)

I prowled St. Francis Hospital

I mentioned that I sort of “found a way” into the nearby boarded-up St. Francis Hospital just before it was torn down. I wanted photos of the interior (and to make off with the room number tag off  the room my mother was assigned after I was born).

“Do you recognize these rocks?”

“Do you recognize these rocks?” he asked me.

I took a wild stab and said, “Did they come out of the grotto in the gardens behind the hospital? I always thought that was neat.”

St. Francis Hospital Grotto

Yep, Brad saw it being torn down and scavenged a few rocks for future use.

Nun Circus

The photo above of the grotto was in a film sleeve slugged Nun Circus, with no date or other info. From a technical standpoint, the frames were overexposed and overdeveloped, which caused the whites to block up to the point they were almost unprintable.

I’m going to put up a photo gallery of the “Nun Circus” and some of Brad’s recovered Grotto rocks. I apologize for the quality of the black and whites. I rationalize that their historical value may outweigh their poor quality.

St. Francis Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left of right side of the image to move through the gallery.

Typical Cape serendipity

Friend in Florida with no connection to Cape puts me in contact with an artist who just happens to have salvaged pieces of two buildings I had photographed in the 1960s. Things related to Cape don’t have Six Degrees of Separation. You can make the connections in no more than two or three.

9 comments to St. Francis Hospital “Nun Circus”

  • margi Whitright

    Loved this, Ken. St. Francis was always a fascinating building to me. I wasn’t there often: at birth, for x-rays when I was around five and sprained my ankle, when Mother had gallbladder surgery, and when my first nephew was born in 1957. I loved walking and riding by the hospital and I was always in awe of the nuns. I was raised in First Baptist Church on Broadway and the nuns were a bit scary. The rocks are wonderful. I’m sorry I was never in the grotto.

  • Where can we see Brad Elfrink’s work?

  • stephen cotner

    i was born at st.francis.worked for them briefly in the mid 70’s,at the time they moved off of good hope and moved to their present site. i remember the grotto.i didn’t know what that word meant or why it was there.it was on the back of the place over to the left? is the name of the street that ran behind st.francis morgan oak? i thought it was a tragic when it was torn down.it would have made a nice senoir citizen housing. st.louis has a old hat factory in soulard that was coverted to senior housing. it is still in business.there were discussions about the old shoe factory downtown to be converted..but like everything else in cape…a choice few had the say in how things were going to be…

  • Ken, in frame four is Jeanette Seyer.Lila’s first cousin with a Lappe girl next to her.I think they were cousins also.

  • Jerrette Davis Hobson

    Ken,the pictures of St. Francis brought many memories to mind. Grandmaw Campbell took us to the hospital many times to run errands for te nuns.We were always treated very special. AT Halloween We were given special treats made by the nuns, popcorn balls special cookies sometimes a candy apple. We were always told how great our costumes were, evenif they were awful.As I got older I volunteered many asa candy striper. I think the Missourin ran a small piec with a picturh.
    The grotto stones should have many little rolled up papers asking for help with one thing ooranother.
    Thanks again
    Jerrette

  • Hi my friend! I wish to say that this article is amazing, nice written and come with almost all vital infos. I would like to see more posts like this .

  • My future husband, Dale DeJournett, was taken to the emergency room at the old St. Francis in 1964 or 65, when he cut off his finger in a power saw at Southeast Lumber Company, which was close by. He spent several days there, while the doctors tried unsuccessfully to re-attach the finger. He & three other guys with hand injuries played cards together, with a foot injuring patient shuffling the cards. When the foot patient was released, they had to have one of the nuns shuffle the cards.
    The nurses told them to hide their cigarettes, because the nuns would confiscate them. Can you believe they allowed smoking in the hospital in those days?? That smoking contributed to Dale’s death of pancreatic cancer 48 years later…

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