Penzel and Stone Are Appreciated

Cape Girardeau Optimist Club recognizes Jim Stone and Carolyn PenzelThe 1965 Girardot says that the Cape Girardeau Optimist Club honored Jim Stone and Carolyn Penzel during their first annual Youth Appreciation Week. Jim and Carolyn were given trophies.

The school was presented with a print of Wasserberger’s Sad Clown. Sounded like kind of a strange choice to me, but I barely made it out of Art 101 in college.

Who was Wasserberger?

A Google search turns up a Polish artist named Nathan Wasserberger, who was born in 1928 and is still alive, at least as recently as early 2009. He is best known for his nudes and darker works which reflect the horrors he saw when his family and friends were killed in World War II and he spent time in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

I wonder if the print is still kicking around.

Photographers hate grip ‘n grins

Carolyn Penzel recognized by Cape Girardeau Optimist ClubThe bane of every smalltown newspaper photographer – and what else is a high school but a small town? – is the presentation photo.

We hate grip n grins, three-people-and-a-piece of paper, check passings with a giant check, ribbon cuttings with giant scissors, ground breakings with gold-painted shovels with ribbons tied to the handles wielded by guys wearing suits and hard hats… Geez, the list could go on and on and I get the shivers just thinking about how many of those I’ve done.

You have to keep it in perspective

Jim Stone recognized by Cape Girardeau Optimist Club during Youth Appreciation WeekThe most important thing you had to keep in the back of your mind, though, was that this routine PITA assignment for you might be a big deal for the folks in the picture.

I remember when my Dad was awarded the Boy Scout’s Silver Beaver Award. It was the highest adult award you could get as an adult volunteer and Dad was very proud to have received it. The newspaper photographer did a lousy job of taking the picture; it was poorly set up and badly lit.

After that experience, I made it a point to do the absolute best job I could even if the assignment WAS a cliche.

After all, EVERYBODY is SOMEBODY’S mother, father, brother or sister.

Photographers get the last word

OK, I have to recall one check-passing I did in Athens, Ohio. A gaggle of local movers and shakers were making my life difficult by hamming it up and mugging the camera while I was shooting.

I ended up running a three-shot sequence of their antics.

The day it hit the streets, the publisher called me in and said that some of the people in the picture thought I had made them look “undignified. I promised them that I would talk with you about it. That concludes your obligatory chewing out,” he concluded.

Kage School, a Picture with a Question Mark

Students in front of Kage School in Cape Girardeau circa 1965-66

It wasn’t until I had looked at this picture five or six times that I realized that the students are forming a question mark.

That leads me to believe that I must have shot the picture for a “What’s going to happen to Kage School?” story.

Since the school, which was established in 1880, closed May 20, 1966, exactly 112 years after its creation, that’s probably what it was.

One of the last one-room schools

Interior of Cape Girardeau's Kage School before it closed in 1966

The National Register of Historic Places Registration Form has fascinating factoids buried all through it.

  • It was one of the last one-room school houses in the area, right up until it closed.
  • It was unusual because of its racial and economic diversity. Enrollment included white children from well-established families, the district’s African-American students from as far back as 1889 or earlier and children from the County Poor Farm.
  • Because of the need for children to work on family farms, the school term was usually only the three or four winter months.
  • The current brick building was erected in 1880 for a low bid of $1,200. (Additions and changes brought the total to $1,600).
  • The original log cabin school cost $180.25, including a $9.25 fireplace. After the new building was completed, the old one was sold to Henry Klaproth for $13.
  • Electricity and lights were installed January 21, 1938, most likely as a result of a WPA project to upgrade schools.

The long, cold walk

Outhouse behind Cape Girardau's Kage School

The school started serving hot lunches in 1933 once a week. Later a makeshift cafeteria was created by erecting a partition in a back corner of the classroom. Times were tough and Kage was the first rural school in the area to serve a hot lunch.

One thing the school DIDN’T have was indoor bathrooms. Outhouses were used until the school closed.

Updated photos

Here’s what Kage School looks like today, including old initials carved into the brick walls.