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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.


A Smell of Varnish

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016David Hente:  “I started here in 1956. Fall. I’ll never forget the first day I walked through that door. This place was immaculate. There was a smell of varnish. The gym was only two years old at that time anyway, and every summer they came in here and redid the floors.

“When I worked at the paper, I was out here a lot for various functions, and, just for the fun of it, I always make sure to go down to the gym, walk in and just take a whiff. As soon as you’d walk in that door… and if they were still using it, you could get over by the dressing room and get that smell of water and whatever….”

More pictures later

I promised you pictures of the public’s last glimpse of the old gym, but I need more time to edit the photos and go through my notes. I’ll give you this quote from David Hente about walking through the door behind him on his first day as a freshman as a placeholder. I’ll post the rest later.

By the way, you can click on David to make the photo larger.

5 comments to A Smell of Varnish

  • Keith Robinson

    It was great connecting with Dave during my stop by the gym. We discovered we shared a lot of commonality; we were both members of Trinity Lutheran Church and miss the old Sanctuary, his younger brother and I worked together at Cape Toyota, we both had Coach Jack Russell, we both are history buffs with a very sound understanding of the significance of historic events, we both know and revere Dr. Frank Nickell and we both will miss this structure when it’s gone.

  • Virginia Kerr West

    Always sad to see a place demolished ! But a lot of memories still remain !

  • Marise Compass

    I graduated from Cape Central in 1979, and participated in PE classes (sporting a different yet equally horrid gym suit from the photo posted in a previous blog) and be a spectator in that old gym as well as the new one. My step-grandfather, J.W. Gerhardt, not only built the high school in 1953, but was the general contractor for this gymnasium. I took the tour yesterday morning (alas, I did not get to meet either of you–Mr. Robinson nor Mr. Steinhoff) and spoke with Coach Kitchen, who is going to do what he can to see if there is a plaque or cornerstone that refers to JW and save it for me before the old gym is gone. I also walked around the perimeter this morning to see if there was a plaque outdoors (nope), but did see a couple of perhaps vintage light fixtures above what I am assuming are the exit doors from the boys locker room to the field. I hope the school is going to salvage some things like this (Coach Kitchen is trying to get some pieces of the floor and bleachers for those interested); there are bound to be other folks besides me who like rusty old fixtures–especially streamline modern ones that are of the era of when this school and gymnasium were built. Anyway, thank you, Mr. Robinson, for expressing your admiration for the integrity of this doomed structure in your comments, and thank you, Mr. Steinhoff, for devoting several of you blogs to the fond memories many of us have of it. If you are interested, my mother went to Central as the school and gym were being built and has the old yearbooks from 1952 though 1956 (one is missing…); they have a few somewhat fuzzy pictures of when the school and additions were being constructed. I also have a print from a photo of the construction of Central’s auditorium that my friend and neighbor, Mr. Haman, printed for me (thanks for giving me that contact, Mr. Robinson!); not sure yet if JW was in on that.

  • Mark Simmons

    Not being from Cape, I must know about those two “that first step is a doosey” doors up high on one end of the gym.

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