They Have Vampires; WE had Beatles

September, 1965, I heard that The Beatles’ movie Help! was going to play at the Esquire. It had gotten all kinds of buzz everywhere else it played, so I decided to do something unusual to cover it.

Beatles movie Help! plays at the Esquire Theater in Cape Girardeau in 1965I was going to use infrared film and infrared flashbulbs to photograph the audience’s reactions without drawing attention to myself. If you were looking directly at the flashbulb when it went off, you might see a dull glow of the filament, but it was otherwise invisible.

Infrared light makes some colors and skin tones look strange and the years have not been kind to the negatives, but it’s still fun to look back at a more innocent age.

The goal was to be unobtrusive

The Missourian normally wanted full names, addresses and the names of parents, but the editor understood that I needed to be unobtrusive and waived the rule.

Because of that, I only know (or can guess) at a few of the audience members.

The girl on the left, for example, is Marty Perry Riley, who would become my sister-in-law four years later.

A few Central High students showed up

Pat Sommers, second from left and Phil Vinyard, to his right, watch Help!The person second from the left is Pat Sommers; Phil Vinyard is next to him on the right. I think the popcorn muncher on the right is Jim Stone, but he denies it. He thinks the fellow on the far left is Bill Wilson; Terry Hopkins guessed Jim Wilson. I’ll let someone else make the call.

Pat Johnson watches Beatles movie Help!I’m sure the girl on the right is Pat Johnson. We not only went to high school together, but we spent eight years as classmates at Trinity Lutheran School.

Everyone else is a mystery to me. Feel free to comment and I’ll update the information.

Denny O’Neil wrote the story

Denny O’Neil was the reporter assigned to do the story to accompany my pictures. He went on to gain fame in the comic book business after he left The Missourian.

His best-known works include Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman with Neal Adams, The Shadow with Mike Kaluta and The Question with Denys Cowan, all of which were hailed for their sophisticated stories that expanded the artistic potential of the mainstream portion of the medium. As an editor, he is principally known for editing the various Batman titles. Today, he sits on the board of directors of the charity The Hero Initiative.

Beatles movie Help! plays at the Esquire Theater in Cape Girardeau in 1965He was one of the best newspaper feature writers I ever worked with. You’ll hear more later about us pairing up to cover Millie the Duck at Capaha Park and Buck Nelson’s Flying Saucer Convention.

Excerpts from The Southeast Missourian

By Dennis O’Neil

Missourian Staff Writer

Dim the house lights. Let the ritual begin.

Beatles movie Help! plays at the Esquire Theater in Cape Girardeau in 1965The screen flickers, there are a few lines of dialog, a few titters from the assembled worshipers, then the ear-splitting shriek of a hundred young female voices raised in simultaneous adoration.

A great, natural phenomenon is present. On the movie screen four young men – The Beatles, the pop-songsters supreme, the Twentieth Century’s equivalent of minor deities – are singing “Help, I need sumbodah” and every girl in the audience would like to be that sumbodah.

Beatles movie Help! plays at the Esquire Theater in Cape Girardeau in 1965Grandmothers and spinsters, too, would like to help these shaggy performers. Because, astonishingly, their’s is not sex appeal. Other pop singers raised to the stars on heaps of adolescent dollars – Elvis, the young Frank Sinatra, and going way back, Rudy Valle – made a strong appeal to the three-lettered feeling. Not the Beatles.

They are funny, these Beatles, they generate giggles, not sighs. they are cuddly, like teddy bears. And they are genuinely talented. Leonard Bernstein, conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, composer and conductor of the classics, calls their home-brewed music a “small art form.”

Enjoy the gallery

Click on any image to make it larger, then step through the photos by clicking on the left or right side. And, like the Beatles, I need help from sum-bodah to put names with the pictures. Please leave comments if you recognize yourself or a friend.

 

Cape Girardeau Parks Are Well-Trained

Arena Park Train

I found a strip of negatives that had kids playing in the Capaha Park Pool, followed by four pictures of kids climbing all over a train locomotive.

I’m Cool

Mark on Capaha Park Train October 2007To my surprise, the kid on the left in the white shirt doing an “I’m Cool” pose was my brother, Mark Steinhoff.

That brought to mind this picture I took of him in October 2007 lifting his bike above his head during one of our rides. (Don’t ask. He has this thing about holding his bike in the air. We try not to notice.)

Is it the same locomotive?

I was all set to proclaim it the same engine, except that it was facing in the opposite direction.

I knew that it had been worked over to make it safer and to take out asbestos several years ago, so I thought maybe it had been set up differently after it was fixed.

Then I looked more closely at the locomotive and determined that it didn’t look like the same one.

The boiler is skinnier, the older train didn’t have a skinny smokestack and the round objects on the top of the boiler are missing.

Is it the Arena Park Train?

Here’s a picture I shot of “Hoppy,” the train at Arena Park, in October 2008.

Cape Girardeau's Arena Park Train 10-07-08

There are several similar features, but I don’t think it’s the train in the picture from the 1960s. If nothing else, look at the placement of the bell. It’s in the middle of the boiler, not the front like in the other two pictures.

If I had to guess, parts were changed on both trains when the engines were taken apart for modification and asbestos removal. I’m going back to my original opinion that the old photos were taken on the train in Capaha Park and that cosmetic changes were made sometime later.

Feel free to chime in if you know the real story.

I’d like to know more about what was done to the trains between the mid-1960s when I shot these pictures and the late 2000s when I revisited them. Train buffs are welcome to correct any errors in how I described the locomotives and their parts.

More park train pictures from the 1960s

Cape Girardeau's Capaha Park Train

Cape Girardeau's Capaha Park Train

I must have been kid-sitting that day. My brother,  David Steinhoff is at the top left in the picture above

Cape Girardeau's Capaha Park TrainI loved those trains

I loved climbing on those trains when I was a kid. Things that used to open and move have all been removed or welded to make them safer, but I don’t think it matters much to kids.

When I got too old to play on them, I’d come back on slow news days to bag some wild art. You could always count on finding someone playing engineer after school or on weekends.

I wonder if cities would even consider putting something like this on playgrounds these days. I never heard of a kid getting hurt, but there were plenty of sharp edges and levers that could potentially cut off a finger and the fire grate that could crush one.

It’s a wonder any of us survived those days.

I remember using the Arena Park train in a Back-to-School photo shoot for The Missourian’s Youth Page. I’m sure it’ll show up in my digging and I’ll have one more excuse to run some train pictures.

Dribbling from Cape to Jackson

Who are these guys? What are they doing?

Cape Central High Students dribble to Jackson

A group shot of a bunch of guys in front of Central High School holding basketballs. Big deal, I thought. I’ve shot a zillion group shots in my day. [As always, click on the image to make it larger. After that, you may click on the left or right side of the picture to move through the gallery.]

Where did the picture come from?

I had a darkroom at home where I did most of my work. Under the table was a plastic garbage can. When I was finished making whatever print I needed, I’d pitch the film into that garbage can. Everyone knew not to empty it and nothing but film was ever thrown into it.

About 10 or 15 years after I left Cape, I came home for a visit, rolled up all the film and stuffed it into two coffee cans without looking at any of it. It hasn’t been touched in 25 or 30 years.

I finally dug out the cans for this project and started unrolling film. Talk about unearthing a time capsule.

Now they’re standing in the street

Cape Girardeau Central High School students with basketballs in front of schoolI looked at the next frame. They’re standing in the street in front of the school. Still, that’s not super unusual. Maybe I wanted to try a different angle.

Hey! What are they doing dribbling down Kingshighway?

Mark Stuart, foreground, dribbling ball from Cape Central High School to JacksonI activated my bellowphone and hollered to Wife Lila in the next room, “Do YOU recognize any of these folks?”

She was a librarian, so she knows how to do research. She pulled out our old Girardots and started thumbing until she found Terry Hopkins, who was in the picture. She reminded me that we’re all Facebook friends, so I fired off a message to Terry asking if he could help.

Terry Hopkins came up with an explanation

That is easy…we were dribbling the balls to Houck Field House for spirit raiser…now the guys in the pictures….Danny Birk palming the ball on the far left…Keith Kelly number 11 for you…Terry Hopkins front and center( god knows why) Bill Bishop…Nice hat dude!

The second row…Mike Young, Student body president…Mike Stuart (brother of Mark Stuart), Rick Beck 53#… and Michael Melvin Friese…what a group… we were all good friends and all of us hung around together all thru high school.

Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

I think we did this because the year before the “guys” in the class before us dribbled all the way to Dexter for the regional B’ball tourney…

Did you guys get lost on the way to Jackson?

Cape Central High School Student Rick Beck (53) dribbles a ball Kingshighway on the way to Jackson“Are you SURE you were going to Houck Field House?” I asked. “I have pix of you guys heading down Hwy 61 near past Wimpy’s. That’s Arena Park on the right. Houck Field House is up Broadway.

“And, you guys COULDN’T have been the basketball team. You might have attitude, but you’re seriously lacking altitude.”

Terry admits to being fuzzy

We were not the basketball team……

The game was at Jackson……I do remember going down Kingshighway…the rest is a little fuzzier… I do remember going down big hill on the way to Jackson….we ran a relay in cars with one of us dribbling the ball…other in the cars and I think we ended up at the Old Gym in Jackson.

”If you can remember ALL of the sixties…you were not there.”

Send some more of the pictures. maybe that will jog the memory…

I was happy to just remember all the guys…

Mike Friese’s 56 Ford with Bill Bishop hanging out

Bill Bishop leans out of Mike Friese's 56 Ford to protect dribbling students

That is Mike Friese’s old 56 Ford…and Bishop is in the car…the second darker car looks like Mike Young’s 64 Chevy that was used to help keep people from hitting us!

If anyone else remembers this, leave a comment. I’m sure there’s someone out there who can fill in some of Terry’s gaps.

Civil War Soldier Still Guards Courthouse

Cook kidsids playing in courthouse fountain on Cape Girardeau's Common Pleas Courthouse grounds June 29, 1967

The glassine negative sleeve that held this picture was slugged “Cook kids & Courthouse Statue 6/29/67.”

It was a fairly popular picture – in fact it won something in at least one contest – but I don’t remember anything else about it. If anybody knows who the “Cook kids” are, let me know and I’ll add it to the page.

I’m sure I’ll find the newspaper clipping at some point that will let me fill in more detail. It’s hard to imagine that those kids probably have grandkids that age today.

Wild art

Pictures like this are called “wild art” in the business. They are pictures that have no particular news value that can run with cutlines only and can be held for a few days. (You had to be careful that your subject didn’t die and that you didn’t run a sunny-day picture on a rainy day, but other than that they could go as needed.)

Some shooters were masters at feature and wild art photography. I was more into news and story-telling pictures, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Since I got paid $5 for every picture The Missourian ran, I had a financial interest in keeping my eyes open for wild art. (Actually, I was so prolific that the paper eventually changed the deal. I got paid $5 for every shot I was ASSIGNED and only $3 for every self-generated photo except spot news.)

The Civil War Soldier is still on duty

I was a little early for my appointment with Fred Lynch at The Missourian, so I wandered over to see how the Civil War soldier was doing. It made me feel good to see that he was still standing watch.

Civil War statue and fountain on grounds of Cape Girardeau's Common Pleas Courthouse 10-31-2009