Brother David was a clown as far back as March 1962. This looks like kindergarten or first grade at Trinity Lutheran School. He’s in green, fourth from the left in the front row. Click on the photos to make them larger.
I know what part I’d get
I don’t have access to a playbill, so I don’t know anyone except David. I’m pretty sure I’d have been cast as the south end of the horse the little girl is climbing on.
I don’t have many pleasant memories of school plays.
I TOLD my kindergarten teacher that I REALLY had to go to the bathroom before I went on stage, but she said I’d have to wait. Well, there are some things that won’t wait, even if you are going on stage. It was lucky I was wearing dark blue pants.
Friend CT, who who was an editorial writer for an east coast paper messaged me not long ago, “It was you, wasn’t it, who told me 40 years ago that writing editorials is like wetting yourself in a blue serge suit: it gives you a nice warm feeling and nobody seems to notice?”
I swiped that line from someone else, but I’m sure my traumatic moment on stage seared that old saying in my mind.
High school plays
By the time you got to high school, being accepted by acting clubs like Red Dagger or Silver Spear raised the odds that the actors would have a modicum of talent as opposed to elementary school performances where everybody had to play a part. Here are some high school and college plays.
I don’t have any more information about the play, so it is up to you to ID the players. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.
When I did the piece last week on Trinity Hall, formerly the George Alt House, I said I knew there were photos somewhere of the actual demolition. Well, here they are. The wrecking ball on a Superior Concretors crane hit the building on December 23, 1967. By Christmas Day, all that was left was rubble. The photos reveal details of the attic that I always wanted to see, but never did.
In order to spot out dust specks and other flaws, I have to blow up the images much larger than you see them here. My eye was drawn to what looks like a row of white specks on the wall of the brick school building on the right behind the crane. They are to the left of and below the white downspout. The white specks are a row of four drinking fountains mounted in a trough-like affair. I can recall slurping hot water out of those during many a recess. Funny how little things will catch your eye and bring back memories.
Photo gallery of the death of Trinity Hall
I pretty much said what there was to say in the last story, so here are the demolition photos. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.
I have fond memories of Trinity Hall, previously know as the Alt House. I know I attended kindergarten, first and second grades there. There’s a slim chance that third grade was held there, too, but I might be wrong about that.
Mrs. Bohnsack was the kindergarten teacher; Mrs. Kelpe was the perfect first grade teacher who made every child feel loved; Miss Gade controlled her second grade pupils. I remember her as a rather severe woman who wore old-fashioned black high-topped shoes. You did not want to get on the wrong side of Miss Gade. Her sister, another Miss Gade, also taught at Trinity Lutheran School. Mrs. Froemsdorf taught third grade. She combined the nicer qualities of Mrs. Kelpe with mixture of Miss Gade’s sternness.
Aerial view of Trinity Lutheran School neighborhood
This aerial from around 1966 shows Trinity Lutheran School in the middle of the photo. If you look to the left side of the frame, there are a number of changes at the Broadway / Pacific intersection. The First Chance / Last Chance Saloon is gone. Just about everything west of the Esquire Theater has been turned into a parking lot. Howards has moved into the old Vandeven’s Merchantile. The Broadway Theater is at the top center of the photo.
Closeup of Trinity School
The building with the peaked roofs nestled in behind the other buildings is Trinity Hall, originally the George Alt House, built in 1903 by Capt. George E. Alt.. Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders’ From the Morgue blog has a photo of the building taken before the land was sold for the Lutheran School.
Sharon quotes historic preservation consultant Terri Foley describing the building as a two-story house influenced by the Shingle style. It may have had two stories, but it also had a sizable attic that I always wanted to explore as a kid, but there was a gate blocking off the stairway. I either didn’t have the nerve to push past it or I never found it unlatched, I don’t remember.
Fred Lynch ran a Frony picture of the kindergarten’s wooden jungle gym from 1947. The view out the window looks like the kindergarten was on the second floor, which seems right. Mrs. Kelpe’s first grade was on the first floor on the south side of the building.
Capt. Alt killed in World War I
Sharon’s story said that Capt. Alt was born in Japan in 1870, while his father was working there. The elder Alt bought 20,000 acres of land in the Cape Girardeau area in 1875. Capt. Alt came here when he was 21 to manage his father’s real estate holdings. His family held grand balls and parties in the Alt House until they left the area in 1913. The following year, he returned to England to fight the Germans in World War I. He was killed in the second Battle of Ypres on April 15, 1915, becoming what some have said was the first Cape Girardeau casualty of the war.
I’m not sure where we heard the story, but someone told us kids that “the Englishman” who lived in the house was determined that he would never sleep off English soil, so the legs of his bed were placed in cans containing soil from his native land. I’ve never seen any written account of that, but it was a cool story, nonetheless.
The Lutheran congregation bought the property for $10,000 the summer of Capt. Alt’s death. After my generation attended class there, the school was converted to a youth center in 1959. By 1967, it was beginning to look pretty shabby inside.
The smell of wet wool on radiators
Looking at the radiator on the left side of the photo brings back the memories of wet wool drying on hot radiators on cold, snowy days.
Destruction vs deconstruction
Somebody asked me the other day what the difference was between “destruction” and “deconstuction.” My first response was to say that the latter was some new high-falutin’ made-up word. Then, when I looked at this photos, the difference became clear.
THIS is destruction. No pains were taken to salvage any of the beautiful details of the structure. Everything was to be ground into small pieces and hauled off.
Historical pile of rubble
Yet one more piece of Cape Girardeau’s past was reduced to splinters. Deconstruction would have involved a slower, more precise disassembly with the goal of saving as many features as possible for reuse.
I’ve been looking for the photos I shot of the wrecking ball crashing into the building, but they’re proving elusive. They’ll show up some day.
2010 aerial of Trinity Lutheran School
This aerial of the neighborhood looking to the east was taken November 6, 2010.
I was going to classify this photo in the mystery category, but after taking a closer look at it, I’m pretty sure it was my Trinity Lutheran School first grade class on a field trip to an unknown farm. Click the photo to make it larger.
The woman in the back row, left, looks like long-time first grade teacher Mrs. Walter (Lulu) Kelpe. The woman to the right might be Mother.
Jerry O’Connell put a potato on his nose
The boy in the second row, left, might be Jerry O’Connell. My folks set up a first grade diary / scrapbook for me. (I should explain to you younger folks that a scrapbook is kind of like a blog without electricity.)
There’s an entry for Sept. 15, 1953, that says, “I ate at school again. I like it and really eat more than I do at home. It is so loud that you almost have to yell to talk. Jerry O’Connell always tries to be funny. You know what he did today? He put a potato on his nose to make us laugh. I didn’t laugh. I didn’t think that was so nice.” I was a tough audience all the way back in the first grade.
The boy in the striped shirt next to him looks like David Hahs.
Sally Wright Owen wrote in an August 25, 1980, Missourian story, “At Trinity Lutheran School here, first day business was a little unusual in Mrs. Walter Kelpe’s first grade classroom. When Brandon Hahs, 6, son of Mr. and Mrs. David L. Hahs, 3237 Lakewood, took his seat, he became the third generation to have Mrs. Kelpe as a teacher. Brandon’s father was a pupil in Mrs. Kelpe’s class, as was Brandon’s grandmother, Mrs. M. Luther Hahs, 2526 Allendale.”
The girl second from the left in the front row looks like Della Dee Heise, who has been featured here as a Central High School majorette. The boy next to her, leaning forward, may be Ronald Dost. I’m pretty sure the kid in the flannel shirt in the middle of the bottom row is me. Here was a picture of our kindergarten class taken in Trinity Hall in 1953.
I guess I’m going to have to scan my scrapbook. Jerry O’Connell wasn’t the only first grader who did wild and crazy things.