Snow Comes to Cape

The weather folks have been teasing us all week telling us that a big snow storm (they call it an “event”) is coming. We had a little God Dandruff scatter for a few minutes earlier in the week, but Wednesday was supposed to be the biggie.

I had to go to the Jackson Walmart to have some prints made. As I backed out of the driveway, some fairly sizable flakes were getting organized, but I wasn’t worried. Just as I closed the car door, I noticed how the flag was nicely backlit, and some of the flakes were popping out. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Rose bush looks like cotton field

Since I was already almost to Jackson, and because I had some time to kill, I decided to have a combo, slaw, fries and a Mr. Pibb at Wibb’s.

By the time I finished, there was serious snow on the road. I got behind a slow driver going up the steep hill next to the city park, and I kept thinking, “If this guy don’t dial some giddy-up, we’re going to spin out here.”

There wasn’t a bread and milk freak-out going on at Walmart when I picked up my prints, but a lot of baskets were filled with snow melt.

Hwy 61 between Jackson and Cape was covered. I got in behind a snow plow (at a safe distance), but parts of the road were still slick. Even going up Kingsway Drive kept my traction control popping on and off.

I looked at the rose bush in the front yard, and was glad I had a nice, warm house to hide away in.

Memories of snow and smack

I’m pretty cautious about driving on snow and ice because I learned at an early age that just because you can go doesn’t mean you can stop. Jim Stone, Carol Klarsfeld and I were checking out the sights on a steep hill near Bertling when we came around a curve and saw a car on our side of the road.

I put on the brakes, but gravity was not on our side. We slowly crashed into the other car with my tank of a 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon. My car suffered so little damage I didn’t bother to take a photo of it. The other guy was less lucky.

OK, I’ll go take a look

After pacing around in the kitchen for a few minutes, temptation overcame good sense and I grabbed for a jacket and headed out.

I learned as a Missourian photographer, that there are a few places in Cape that are like shooting fish in a barrel when it’s time to come up with some weather or wild art.

Capaha Park and the train is one of them.

A heavy, wet snow

This may be one of those great snows that turns out to be very pretty, but probably won’t stick around long. Roads that were pretty treacherous when I set out were already plowed or in the process of being plowed by the time I headed back.

This was taken near the new pavilion in Capaha Park that overlooks where the pool used to be.

Next stop: SEMO

It took two passes to shoot this picture of Academic Hall. When I got right in front of the building, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a bus coming up behind me. I figured I’d better keep going to give him room.

Then, I saw him turn off.

When I made my second pass, I managed to get off a few frames before a car showed up in the mirror again. What are those fools doing out on a night like this?

A swing and a miss

I felt like I had to shoot something along Broadway. These trees and utility pole caught my eye, but I’m not overjoyed with the result.

Oh, well, you can strike out 7 of 10 times at bat, and still make a million bucks a year.

Main Street decorations

Some other folks had posted pictures of Main Street’s decorations on Facebook before the snow, so I actually got out of the car to shoot this.

Lady Liberty and Freedom Corner

This situation looked better than it photographed. I’m including it because it was the second time I got out of the car.

As I stepped off the curb, I thought, “Please don’t let this slush be deep enough to fill my shoe.”

It wasn’t.

I was acutely aware of the possibility, because the night before I was pricing a pair of old-fashioned galoshes that I could slip over my shoes when confronted with mud, slush or snow. When I saw the price, I decided my toes could get pretty chilly before I’d spring for overshoes.

I decided that I had cheated death enough, so I hung it up and headed home. My meanderings didn’t produce any great art, but it felt good to check snow off the year’s bucket list.

 

 

Roy Thomas and His Fireworks Stand

Roy Thomas visited Jackson’s Cape Girardeau County History Center for a reception that also spotlighted Michael Archer’s exhibit, “When History and Comics Collide.”

Roy, who created or co-created more than 70 action comicbook characters and succeeded the legendary Stan Lee at Marvel Comics, attracted young folks, mostly fans of his work, and older folks, who remembered him from “back then.”

He described a woman as one of his first girlfriends. They were serious enough that they hatched up a plan to run away together. Their scheme was thwarted, however, when their tricycles got to the end of the block, and they realized they weren’t allowed to cross the street by themselves.

A stickler for detail

No detail escapes his eye. When asked to autograph a book, he said that it contained a typo. He turned to the page and corrected it before he signed his name.

Docent Bridget Bingham appears enthralled

Bridget Bingham, a docent at the History Center, and a teacher of graphic design, chatted at length with Roy.

He’ll be back in Jackson

Museum director Carla Jordan said that Roy will be back in Jackson February 23, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. All of downtown Jackson will be celebrating his career as a writer, editor and creator with both Marvel and DC Comics.

He will probably be at the museum around 5 p.m., she said.

Roy and the fireworks stand

 

After almost everybody had left, Roy’s wife, Dann, prompted him to tell the story of his brief period as an operator of a fireworks stand located down by Wib’s BBQ. It’s best if you hear it in his own words in this video.

Gary Friedrich

When I heard that Roy was coming into town, I made a couple of prints of Gary Friedrich for her to give to him because I knew they ran around together. Gary was one of my editors at The Jackson Pioneer.

Much to my surprise, I found the photo displayed in the museum when I walked in. It turned out that Gary went on to become a well-known member of the “Marvel Bullpen” in the ’60s.

Roy laughed at the big stack of Pepsi crates in the background.

“I love this picture of Gary,” he said. “All those Pepsis stacked there in the back are probably Gary’s. They were probably all for him. He would drink a whole mess of Pepsis every day. By the time he was in his 30s or 40s, i think every tooth in his mouth was false. Like other people smoked cigarettes, he drank Pepsis. He looks so young here. I would have been about 23 at that time (1964ish), so he was only about 20 or 21.” [Note, I struggled to find how to spell the plural of Pepsi. This was the most common, even if it looks strange.]

“Whatever happened to Gary?” I asked.

“Sadly, he just died recently.”

A very nice obituary for Gary ran in The Missourian on September 4, 2018. My first thought was, gosh, he sure died young. That’s when I realized that he was four years older than me.

Gary’s Fair expose attempt

Gary had an idea that we should do a big expose on gambling at the Southeast Missouri District Fair. Here’s how it turned out. That’s Gary on the left, trying to win a piece of plush, by the way.

Roy Thomas gallery

Here’s a gallery of photos from the reception. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

Capaha Park Pool Rats

A bunch of the Class of ’66 folks who came to Cape for their 70th Birthday Party reunion (because lots of them turned 70 in 2018), were hardcore Capaha Park Pool Rats (a description coined by Terry Hopkins).

They thought they’d take advantage of being in town to congregate at Jack Rickard’s house at the base of what used to be the Mississippi River traffic bridge.

Pool Rat Memories

Just about the time the pool was razed, I asked some of the former lifeguards and swim instructors to tell me what they remembered of their swimming days in the middle and late 1960s.

Wife Lila, Bill Jackson and Terry Hopkins shared some touching memories you can read at this link.

Photos on exhibit

Many of the pictures in this gallery will be on exhibit at the Cape Girardeau County History Center across from the courthouse in Jackson. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 to 4. The exhibit will be up until around the end of October.

Some of the prints are available for purchase there.

Click on any of the photos to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

Castle House’s Last Day

A friend sent me a message that I should take a look at the “Castle House” at 2404 Kingsway Drive, just south of St. Andrews Lutheran Church. It looked like it was about to be torn down.

She was right. Don Watkins, who was doing salvage work inside the house Monday, is removing the house number for Paula Pletcher, whose family lived there once.

Looking for memories

On the day before it was due to be razed, there were very few items left for former residents to take as souvenirs. Narvol Randol removed a couple of cabinet doors from a closet in the room he grew up in.

Narvol had already left when I looked down close to the floor vent in his room where the cover had been removed. Behind it was a collection of pencils and other small objects that kids must have stuck through the grate over the years.

Beautiful tile

I told Paula that the one thing left in the house that really impressed me was the beautiful tropic-themed tile in an upstairs bathroom, “but you’d better come back with a hammer and a chisel if you want to get any. Tomorrow it’s going to be dust.”

As it turned out, we ran into Dan downstairs holding a prybar. I mentioned that Paula would REALLY like some of that tile.

“I can do you one better. Follow me to the garage. There’s some spare tile on a shelf out there.” True to his word, Paula went home with several large pieces of tile and a handful of the decorative horizontal pieces.

Artifacts discovered

Dan discovered these artifacts from bygone days. They include red and green sales tax mills, a Wheat Penny, and an American Junior Red Cross pin.

By the way, you can click on the photos to make them larger. You’ll have to go down to the gallery to see them all.

St. Andrews wanted a parking lot

Ostensibly, the reason the house is being razed is that pipes burst in the basement, and the combination of moisture and no HVAC system caused black mold to grow. Fixing that and dealing with asbestos was going to cost more than the house was worth.

In my humble opinion, the real reason for the house’s demise was that the church had been eying that spot for a parking lot for many years.

I didn’t go into the basement, but I had a good look behind the walls where the plaster had been torn away, and saw that the bones of the building were solid. The shingles on the roof looked relatively new and in good shape.

Knob and Tube Wiring

If your house was built between 1880 and through the ’50s (even up to the ’70s in some places), then you might find this kind of wiring hiding in the walls. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but there are drawbacks today.

A squishy memory

When I was in kindergarten and the first grade, we lived in a trailer on top of a hill that has long been leveled just south of the Colonial Tavern. I had a dog, Cookie, a a black and white mixed-breed terrier.

Cookie got away one day, breaking my young heart. My squishy memory is that Cookie ended up at the Castle House, maybe back when the Windisch family lived there.

Cookie was returned to me, and I have a squishier even memory that we might have given the family one of her pups at one time. This is one of those many time I wish Mother was still around to unsquish my memory.

Unique design

This, like the Boat House, was one of the iconic buildings in Cape. A Facebook friend posted a video this morning of the classic turret on the right side of the house being crunched by heavy equipment.

This just goes to prove that the two most dangerous places for a landmark building to live are next to the university or a church.

Gallery of Castle House photos

Click on any image to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.