Is Under Construction

Some days when your job is to FIX the bridge, unexpected things happen. I’m not sure exactly what happened here that caused Steinhoff, Kirkwood & Joiner’s truck and dragline to end up in the creek, but I suspect that it had something to do with a 100-lb load trying to cross a 10-lb-rated bridge.

You wonder exactly how many men it takes to look at a heavy piece of equipment in a hole before something productive happens. I’m going to guess action started about the time Dad put down the camera and said, “OK, enough standing around. Let’s get to work.”

You may have noticed some changes

We’ve changed the template that controls the look and feel of I mentioned before that I thought this was going to be a photo site, which would have looked really good in the template Son Matt recommended. When it changed to one with a lot of writing and comments, we thought this one would look better.

Let’s hope it doesn’t end up with a bunch of guys standing around looking at a broken bridge.

It’s going to take some tweaking

The old format used smaller headline and subhead typefaces. That’s why these suddenly look HUGE (and feel like I’m HOLLERING). I’ll find a way to fix that. Some things are in a slightly different places. We’ll try to get things back to about where they were so you don’t bump your shin on the coffee table on the way to the kitchen in the middle of the night.

Geek Talk

For any tech-types out there, this is the Atahualpa theme. I saw that Bob Rogers, a photographer I worked with in Athens, OH, was using it for his blog and I liked the way it looked. (Our original theme was Photocrati Lightbox 1.0.)

If you are interested in travel, cycling, RVing, eating, good photography and fascinating stories, give the newbohemians a read.

Meet the New Bohemians

Claire and Robert Rogers (Bob), married 19 years, bookends to the baby boomer generation, are dedicated to getting the most from this adventure of life. To that end, we seek our own fulfillment through adventure travel, creative pursuits, and living as simply as is reasonable.

Our web pages introduce several of our adventures: North America, Canada and Australia, 39,000 miles, carrying all the worldly possessions we would need for up to a year at a time, sleeping in a small tent, spending 24 hours a day together. We crewed on a sailboat in the South Pacific; four months of white-knuckle sailing and lazy days and nights with the mellow islanders of Melanesia, and most recently pedaling across the center of muddy, frozen and beautiful, Iceland.

Valentine’s Day Cards from Trinity Lutheran School

Valentine’s Day card from Cheri Huckstep

Preparing for my Presidential Libary

There was a time when I thought I had a career in politics. Because I was positive my Presidential Library would find the trappings of my early life important, I made sure to save everything.

My political aspirations hit an iceberg when I picked Bill Hopkins to pilot my Student Body Presidential campaign. Let’s just say that the 163 folks who voted for me were nowhere near a majority and certainly didn’t warrant calling in lawyers to oversee a recount. Jimmy Feldmeier was the clear winner.

Reading the will of the people very clearly, I abandoned my plan to run for POTUS in 1984, the first year I would be Constitutionally eligible and decided that I was more suited for journalism and sniping from the sidelines.

My Mother’s attic is a time capsule

I may have never made it into a Presidential Library, but I have the next best thing. On my last trip home, I ventured up into the time capsule of my Mother’s attic.

If you dig deep enough, you can probably find every school paper I ever brought home; all of my workbooks going back to kindergarten; hundreds of stickers that say, “Don’t be a sucker, Vote for Kenny (I’d have gotten more votes if Jim Stone hadn’t eaten most of the suckers instead of handing them out to potential voters); report cards; a Bucker-Ragsdale receipt for my Cub Scout uniform and this huge stack of Valentine’s Day cards from Trinity Lutheran School days.

There’s also a box of vintage early 1950s comic books that my destructive younger brothers shredded after I went off to college. I’d be able to afford a better brand of cat food in my retirement years if they were in the same condition as when I left. They saved the fragments just to drive me crazy.

1961 Eighth Grade Class at Trinity Lutheran School

We were together for nine years at Trinity Lutheran School

Most of us were in the same class from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Even though the yearbook didn’t have names with the pictures, I can probably still place names with all but about three or four pictures (they may not be the RIGHT names, but…). No, I’m not going to tell you which one was me.

Valentine’s Day ranked way up there in the Grand Scheme of Holidays. It wasn’t quite Christmas, the Fourth of July or Halloween, but it came pretty close to your Birthday.

The only hassle was having to fill out a card for every member of your class. Then, there was the agony of picking out which card went to which kid. You didn’t want to send one that was too mushy to a girl in the sixth grade.

Now that I look back at these cards from sixth and seventh grade level, I wonder about some of the cards I got from the boys in my class.

Was there a message I missed?

Judy Schrader’s card saying that she wished I’d fall for her line caused my heart to pitter patter. I mean, we actually skated together at the Hanover Skating Rink on Friday nights. That was a big deal. (At least to me, it was.)

Getting that same card from Don Sander seems a little strange these days. I mean, I shared a tent with him on Scout camping trips. I never realized he felt that way.

These were simpler times

The card below didn’t come for Valentine’s Day. My dad built roads all over Southeast Missouri and we lived in a house trailer he’d pull from small town to small town. When I was about three years old, we must have gotten to know a family in Mountain View well enough that I was invited to a birthday party.

Look at how the envelope was addressed:

Kenny Steinhoff


It didn’t have a street address, a city, state or Zip Code. It wasn’t even addressed to my parents. It’s addressed to a three-year-old living in a house trailer. And it cost just a penny to be delivered.

You can’t beat that with a stick.

Gallery of cards

These represent a couple of years, because several classmates appear more than once. I guessed at last names, but I think I’m close to right. Click on any card to make it larger, click on the left or right side to move through the images.

Valentine Season Aside

Forty-five years ago this month, I was lucky enough to meet Lila Perry, who was working as a cashier at the Rialto Theater. We were married in 1969 and she’s tolerated me every since. I wrote up the whole story last year.

What Are These People Thinking?

[Non-Cape News alert. From time to time, I may toss in some stuff that isn’t exactly from or about Cape directly. This is a story about a week where I experienced the best and the worst that the newspaper business has to offer.]

I’ve mentioned that I spent most of my life in the ink-slinging business. C.J. and Dean, two of the best photographers and nicest guys I ever worked with  joined me for lunch the other day while Dean’s wife was visiting relatives in the area. We spent almost two hours reliving stories we had covered, folks we had worked with and sharing a few sober moments thinking about ones who are no longer with us.

Dean died on the job one day

Died literally. Not figuratively. Literally.

He was covering a sporting event when a wild pitch going about 70 mph clocked him right in the temple, fracturing his skull in several places.

“I dropped like a rock. I stayed awake long enough to hand the the sports writer my car keys and to ask him to secure my equipment. I recall them loading me into the ambulance and I started fading away. The last thing I remember is telling the paramedic, “We have to get going.”

They lost him at least once on the way to the hospital and had to pull off to the side of the freeway to bring him back. A buddy who saw him shortly after he arrived at the hospital said he was sprawled on a table with no one around, with tubes coming out of him. He thought he was dead and offered up a prayer, he told Dean later.

The original prognosis wasn’t good. Even if – and that wasn’t a given – he started to come back, the doctors predicted it would be two years or more before he could do practically anything. Four months later, Dean was back shooting pictures.

Somebody PAID us to have this much fun

When we got up to leave, I said,  “You know, there aren’t a whole lot of folks who weren’t in our business who could tell stories like ours. And the neat thing is that someone PAID us to have those experiences.”

Someone asked me later if I had taken pictures of Dean and C.J.. I confessed that the thought crossed my mind, but some days you take pictures home; some days you take memories home. That was a memory day, not a picture day.

That was the highlight of the week

It didn’t take long to hit the low of the week.

Last night I went to my old paper’s web photo gallery to see if any local staffers had gone over to cover the earthquake in Haiti. I only saw one local picture, but there were some excellent photos in the collection. Hard to look at, but excellent news photos.

The advertisements next to these horrific pictures was appalling

There’s a Jet Blue ad that says, “THIS DAY JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER” next to a father who has found his 10-month-old daughter in a pile of corpses.

A Palm Beach Post house ad has the headline “SURVIVING THE SQUEEZE” next to a photo of a pair of feet sticking out from under a collapsed hotel.

Another house ad headlined, “LOSING YOUR HOME?” runs next to a photo of the rubble of Haiti’s Presidential Palace.

The photos are graphic and not the kind of thing that I want to put here. I have screen captures of the photos and ads on this journalism site, if you want to see something embarassing.

In fairness, the photo gallery was probably put together by a third party and the ads are stuffed in at random, so it’s not a case where it’s being done deliberately. In many ways, I don’t consider that an acceptable excuse. I’m glad I got out of the business while folks who worked in newspapers actually read what we produced and were held accountable for it.

See Your Toes, Win a Third Eye on Your Forehead

Fluoroscope in the National Museum of Nuclear Science

There’s been some talk lately about the machines at Buckner Ragsdale and the other downtown shoe stores that would let you see your toes inside your shoes.

[Chuck Blitstein jogged my memory about Gaylor’s in an earlier comment. That’s where we always went for my Buster Brown shoes.]

As I remembered them, you’d stand up on a platform, stick your feet through a couple of slots, push a button and look through a viewfinder at your toes while your gonads were exposed to massive jolts of X-ray radiation. That explains why Baby Boomers are sterile or why their kids have a third eyes in the middle of their foreheads.

Mother would never let me play on the Fluoroscope

Much to my disappointment, my mother would never let me play on the machine. My boys are equally disappointed that they don’t have that third eye, like all of their friends.

When Wife Lila and I took a mini-vacation to New Mexico to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, we stopped in at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque. There, just before you exited, was one of the see-your-toes machines.

And, no, it wasn’t turned on, darn it. My mother wasn’t around and this was my chance.