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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.


Tower Rock Persimmons

Mother’s not going to be happy with me for writing about this.She considers this her personal secret stash of persimmons.

When I got my van back from LeGrand Bros Transmission, I wanted to give it a good workout before heading to Florida. The road from Cape Girardeau through Perry County to the washed-away community of Wittenberg was the right mixture of hills and curves to see if it had any kinks. The final test was to take it on the hilly gravel road that leads to one of my favorite places, Tower Rock on the Mississippi River.

We always make it a point to go up there during Mother’s Birthday Season because there are some of the best persimmon trees we’ve ever seen at the overlook parking area. [Click on the photos to make them larger.]

Most persimmons don’t ripen before frost

Almost every persimmon I’ve seen isn’t ripe until after the first frost. I don’t know if the frost provides something to make them sweet or if the timing is just right when the frost arrives.

Most persimmons will turn your mouth inside out if they are the least bit green. If it’s ever happened to you, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t had it happen, come here. I have something I’d like for you to taste.

This tree doesn’t need a frost

What’s unusual about the fruit on this tree is that it ripens without a frost.

When I visited Tower Rock earlier in the spring, I thought this might be a light year. The rain and windstorms had knocked a lot of the fruit to the ground.

When we showed up today, the tree was loaded. Mother picked around on the ground until she found a couple that had fallen off the tree and had that rich, golden brown look. She wanted to taste persimmon a lot more than I was willing to risk, but she pronounced them good. If it had been Brother Mark, I wouldn’t have trusted him, but your mother won’t lie to you.

So, now I’ve let the secret out of the bag. I bet Brothers David and Mark just moved up a notch in the will.

19 comments to Tower Rock Persimmons

  • LOL! From my experience with persimmons, they are not easy to work with if you want to make persimmon pudding, for instance. And I have had the bad experience of trying to eat one that was not ripe when I was a little girl. I kept bugging my dad to let me eat one so he finally let me taste one…that was a memorable experience! It will never happen a second time I can assure you.
    That tower is at Grand Tower, isn’t it? That is where my grandfather grew up.

  • marsha marshall gutshall

    persimmons are best when they are dipped in chocolate.

  • Persimmons, My mom used to tell me stories about Persimmons and there wonderfull taste. Like you I have tasted them when they were not ripe and WOW…there is nothing that will discribe that taste!
    Most people think you are kidding when you tell there really are such things!

  • mw givens

    Persimmons.
    my grand mother took the seed out and open it to see
    what can of winter we will have, inside the seed if there was a spoon shape inside we would have lots of snow, try it.
    mitch

  • I had heard the word “persimmons” before, but wouldn’t have been able to distinguish them from unicorns until I saw saw your photo.

  • Ken Roussel

    Land ‘o Goshen y’all, a persimmon stash!!! I’ve got three good ones, one south of Dexter, one in the middle of an old gravel pit west of Malden, and the last one is on 103rd St in Overland Park, KS!!! None of these trees will be fit to taste until two or three good, hard frosts!!! The two down home are competed for by the possums and other critters, the one up here in OP hangs over a back fence onto the sidewalk!!!!Easy pickin’s!!! Glad your Mom has an early “riper”, enjoy!! Great blog from home as usual, regards to Florida, kkr

  • Margi Whitright

    Ah yes, the dreaded persimmon pucker! Waiting for the first frosts does produce some luscious fruit, though. We were talking about them the other day. I wonder if there are any around here? I’ll have to check that out.

  • larry points

    I encourage anyone who likes persimmons to get an oriental variety from Stark Bros. Fruit Trees in Missouri. They grow quickly and, in some years, produce mightily. The baseball-size fruits have no seeds and are ready to eat by Thanksgiving (sometimes not until early December). They make great jams, as the main ingredient in “pumpkin bread” recipes, or as a delicious topping on vanilla ice cream. When ripe, freeze them whole or as pulp for year-round consumption. Colorful leaves fall off before the fruits, prompting one young lad who saw them to inquire if “that is a pumpkin tree”.

  • mary (lewis) schaefer

    my mom lives with us – she’ll be 102 in October. last week our granddaughter started school and mom was telling us her memories of starting school. she said that one of her earliest memories was that of walking the country road to the Lutheran school in Gordonville and passing a persimmon tree. she said she was familiar with my that “persimmon pucker” but that if you ate one that wasn’t ripe you had to quick find one that was so you could get the taste of the first one out of your mouth.

    • There was a persimmon tree about half-way between that church and Jackson on the west side of Highway 25 that we’d check out in years past. I don’t know if it’s still there. We had a huge one in the vacant lot next to our house, but it was cut down when a house was built on the corner. That’s where I learned how to determine which ones were ripe and which one you gave to your buddies.

  • David Lawley

    As always I enjoy reading Ken’s stories, but can say I have ever had a persimmon. Guess I’m missing out. But I got a really good chuckle out of “Mother’s Birthday Season”

    How long does that last, Ken?

    • David: my wife, Sarah (Price), brought the concept of Birthday Season to the Steinhoffs.

      The concept is simple enough: your birthday season is begins on the first day of the month in which your birthday falls and continues until your birthday.

      If your birthday falls at the end of the month, you really score. If you have a birthday early in the month, your parents planned poorly. My birthday falls on the 27th so I make out like a bandit. Sarah’s is the 18th. Gran’s is the 17th. Anything over half a month is a real score.

      Some say those with birthdays early in the month should somehow be compensated for their short birthday season. As a 27er, I simply laugh in their face and, when possible, steal their cake.

      Cheers,
      Matt

    • Son Matt supplied you with the rules he learned from his wife. Mother’s Birthday Season lasts for however long she can stretch it.

  • David Lawley

    Well I don’t feel to bad Ken, Matt. Around here its all month, irregardless of what day you were born on. I just never heard “season” being attached to it, but it makes perfect sense.

  • Jill

    Persimmon picking for the annual Thanksgiving persimmon pudding always fell to me and my sister. Luckily we had a neighbor that had several trees. I was the tree climber and my sister was the catcher. The neighbors hated the trees because of the mess they made and sadly, after that neighbor died the new home owners removed the trees. Thanks for sharing the location…I promise to only take what I need! 🙂

  • Was never fond of the fruit myself and hated stepping on them bare footed when I was a kid. (I rarely wore shoes:-) Haven’t seen a persimmon tree since I was about 10 years old.

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