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

Mainstreet Midnight Madness Sale 1964

While I was walking around down on Main Street last month, I vaguely remembered covering some kind of late night sale on Main Street on June 6, 1966. (The 6/6/66 Sale is was billed, I think.)

While looking for something else, as usually the case, I found one sleeve of negatives marked Midnight Madness 1964. I don’t know if it was the same sale or not. I think there are more pictures, but these were the ones that bubbled to the top.

I recognize some of the stores and maybe even some of the people, but I’d rather have you leave comments identifying the places or people and any memories you have of either. That’ll mean a lot fewer corrections for me to make. I was always lousy with matching names and faces.

You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly

I got a great piece of advice in early in my career: “The difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer is that a good photographer never shows his bad pictures.” I’m going to break that rule on CapeCentralHigh from time to time. I figure folks might like to see a picture of themselves, even if it isn’t technically or artistically top-rate.

I’ll put these up as a gallery. Click on any image to make it larger, then you can step through the pictures by clicking on the left or right side of the picture.

Midnight Madness, Main Street, Cape Girardeau, MO, 1964

Staying open late was a big deal in 1964

Stores didn’t stay open past 5 or 6 P.M. on weeknights and Blue Laws kept most of them shut on Sunday. In the days before 24-hour Walmarts, getting to shop late at night was a big deal.

I guess Midnight Madness was as close as Cape ever got to a Black Friday, with customers lined up in front of stores waiting for them to open.

The sad thing is that I think only two of the stores on Main Street from our era are still in operation. Everything else has turned into a bar, an antique store or an empty storefront.

[Editor’s note: I just stumbled onto a story in the Southeast Weekly Bulletin from June 13, 1963. Sounds like it might have been the same event or one from a year earlier.]