Hooligans Deface Train

I miss The Southeast Missourian. I never got to write headlines like that at any other paper I worked for. Some low-lifes, probably from out of town, maybe as far away as Jackson, defaced Rosie, the Capaha Park play train.

Class of 70:  “Cape Hurts.”

If you look closely to the rear of the train, you can see a pair of legs. I suspect those belonged to the cop reporter bein’ as how this was probably the crime story of the day – if not the week – and warranted a photographer AND a reporter. As far as I know, the miscreants were never apprehended.

I’m SURE this photo didn’t run

The Missourian was big on decorum. There were advice to the lovelorn columns that didn’t run because they were “too racy.”

When I ran a story about the Capaha Park and Arena Park trains back in November, I noted that the trains look different today than they did in the 60s when these photos were taken.

Trains have been modified

Reader and model railroader Keith Robinson cleared up the confusion: both locomotives were known as tank locomotives, meaning there was a water tank saddling the boiler. In the black and white photos, the protuberances above the tank from the front of the locomotive rearward are in order; smoke stack, forward sand dome, steam dome, and the rear sand dome. The sand domes sat atop the tank while the steam dome is part of the boiler; the high point from whence steam is drawn. When the tanks were removed in the 80s because of the asbestos insulation that was underneath them, the sand domes were removed with the tanks. The bells never sat directly on the boiler in either case but were mounted atop the tank in front of the smoke stacks.


Fort D in 1966

I’m pretty sure the photo with the tire ran in The Missourian, but a quick Google Archives search for 1966 didn’t pop up the story.

The stories that DID show up that year included one where some out-of-town tourists wondered why Fort D didn’t have any historical markers telling its story.

How long has that thing been missing?

“Darn!” said the City Fathers. “There used to be one up there. Wonder how long it’s been gone?”

The city had a caretaker living in the Fort for awhile, but when he moved out, all of the windows were broken out. (In a story that may or may not have been related, a caretaker was arrested for drunken driving and may have had other housing assigned to him.)

Weeds and trash

Weeds and trash were allowed to grow up around the landmark.

Fort D tourist-worthy in 2008

When Brother Mark and I rode up to Fort D on our bikes in October 2008, the grounds were well-kept and there were plenty of interesting historical markers to make the trip worthwhile.

The building is missing its roof, unfortunately.

I wrote about the history of the Fort on my bike blog. in 2008. Follow the link to read more about the fort and to see more contemporary photos.

I was disappointed to find that this isn’t the original fort. The American Legion bought the site to save it from development in 1936, and the WPA built the building in 1937.

Fort D Photo Gallery

Here are more photos from 1966. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the photo to move through the gallery.

Capaha Park Pool Party

I got an email this morning from The City of Cape Girardeau promising that the new Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center will be opening on May 20. (Whoever came up with that name must have been paid by the word. I bet everybody ends up calling it The Water Park.)

I showed some photos of it under construction last month (and discussed Jackson’s Lickitysplit Water Slide).

Capaha Pool Dance

Let’s don’t dwell on the future, let’s wallow in the past. This appears to be a dance on the deck of the Capaha Park Pool. I don’t have a clue what the event was, when it was held or why.

It had a band

It was a big enough deal that a real band was playing and there were lots of spectators outside the fence. Despite all of the electrical cords stretched across the pool deck, apparently nobody got electrocuted. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered that.

I DO remember covering a swimming event there one night with a borrowed electronic flash. The way old-time strobes worked was that batteries would charge up a capacitor so there was lots of juice just waiting around to arch across a tube, producing a blast of light that was thousandths of a second in duration.

I was walking across the pool deck when my wet finger touched the place where the charging cord would normally plug in. There SHOULD have been a cover over those contacts, but there wasn’t.

As soon as my finger completed the electrical circuit, all of the voltage stored in the capacitor tried to light me up like a xenon tube. Failing that, it dropped me to my knees like I’d been poleaxed.

It wasn’t life-threatening, but it WAS unpleasant.

Looking for non-fried memories

This wasn’t the only time I had something like that happen. I was walking across a wet football field one night when I was knocked flat. I assumed that I had stepped in front of a play accidentally, but there was nobody around me.

I got up, took a few more steps and it happened again. Turned out that I had a short in the 510-volt battery pack that powered the electronic flash. The massive charge was looking for a path to the wet ground, and I happened to provide it.

Maybe one of you who hasn’t had his or her short / long-term memory fried by high voltages will be able to tell us who these folks are and what they are doing.

Cherry Hill Easter Egg Hunt

It was a Good Friday,  the religious holiday, and it was a Good Friday for Midwesterners looking for nice day after a long winter.

Trees and flowers were blooming and green was popping out all over. Lawn mowers were puttering away in neighborhood yards.

A perfect day for SEMO baseball

A healthy crowd, many in shorts and T-shirts, turned out to watch a double header between SEMO and Western Kentucky. (SEMO won the first game 17-9 and the second 7-4, if anyone cares). I love the sound of baseball games, but I still haven’t gotten used to the “CLINK” of aluminum bats. There’s something wrong about it.

Bell & Howell 8mm movies

Late in 1959, Dad brought home a Bell & Howell 8mm movie camera outfit. In the days before Super-8, 8mm cameras actually used 16mm film. You’d shoot the first half of the roll, open up the camera, flip the film over and shoot the rest of your movie on the other half of the film. The processor would develop it, split it down the middle and splice the two 25-foot lengths into one 50-footer.

This wasn’t an ideal setup. First off, it was easy to fog the film when you were doing the open-the-camera, rethread-the-film operation. Then, when you went to project it, only one side of the film had sprockets to pull it through the projector. That made it easy for the film to slip off. If you didn’t get to it in time, the heat from the projector bulb would burn a hole right through the film.

Brother Mark took on the task of converting the 8mm film to VHS tapes ab0ut 15 years ago. It wasn’t a high tech solution. I think he mostly took a picture of a moving picture. I didn’t complain. At least, I didn’t have to do it.

With VHS going the way of 8mm, I got a good deal on a VCR that outputs to a computer USB port. Considering that the original film quality wasn’t great to begin with, and that Mark’s copy didn’t improve things, the digital result is acceptable if you don’t mind fuzzy, blow-out images.

I say that to lower expectations.

Here’s an Easter Egg Hunt on Cherry Hill

Bro Mark appears in these pictures along with his Trinity Lutheran School kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Tickel, so  Mother and I are guessing that this video was taken around 1961. Mark is the cute kid who can’t seem to keep his shoes on. The Capaha Park Band Shell is in a few frames.

Spring makes you forget winter

Since we normally come home in October to celebrate my mother’s Birthday Season, we get to see the fall colors. I had forgotten how much I loved seeing the countryside come to life in the spring. It almost makes you forget those gray, gloomy days.

Almost.