Brother Mark Gets Older

Mark Steinhoff 2cd birthdayI was lucky enough to stumble across these negatives just in time for Brother Mark’s March 10 birthday. How old is he? I guess I could root around and find his birth year, but let’s just say (1) he’s younger than I am and (2) Mother, Kid Adam and I went to his 50th surprise party in St. Louis quite a few years back, so he’s on the far side of that.

I think it will suffice to say that he no longer has to fear dying young.

Look at all the cultural icons in one photo: the cowboy hat, shirt and vest; the pinch-your-finger-right-off rocking horse; the toy telephone of indeterminate color and something dark and round with feet. It looks like his second birthday, unless Mother had used up all her candles on Mark’s older brothers.

Christmas time

David - Mary - Ken - Mark SteinhoffThis shot of Mother, David, Mark and me was shot at Christmas. David, with his bow tie was the spiffy dresser of the crew. Mark looks like a deer caught in the headlights in the backwoods of Bollinger County.

Speaking of spiffy dressers

Hubert SteinhoffThis is Dad’s brother Hubert, or “Unk” or “Uncle Hue.” He was the uncle every kid should have. He was funny, patient and enjoyed being around us kids. Uncle Mark followed in his footsteps.

Well, maybe not exactly: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mark in an outfit like this.

Peaceful coexistence

Mark - David SteinhoffSomeone must have wanted to get a shot of David and Mark when they weren’t saying things like, “He’s looking at me” or “Make him STOP!” It was a LONG, LONG trip from Cape to Florida and back in 1960.

Afternoon at Grace and Guy’s

At Grace and Guy Gardiners

I actually like this as an image. We spent a lot of time under these shade trees at Grace and Guy Gardiner’s house in Advance. Mother is on the left and Grandmother Elsie Welch is on the right with David. Mark, the center of attention as usual, is in the foreground with his orange push-up.

Those hours of listening to oldtimers talk about taming Swampeast Missouri had an influence, I’m sure. It’s funny how the world works: one day we’re a kid listening to old farts spinning tales, and the next thing we know, we’ve taken their place.

Monkey, Buick and my bike

David and Mark Steinhoff w Buick LaSabre station wagonBrothers David and Mark pose next to our 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon. Mark is dressed in some kind of strange jumpsuit and he’s holding a stuffed animal. It’s hard to make out, but I think it might have been a monkey. Off on the right is one of the few photos I’ve been able to find of my bike. It looks like it might have my Missourian paper bag in the front basket.

Chillin’ in the pool

Ken - David - Mark Steinhoff in backyard poolI didn’t get to spend much time in the Country Club swimming pool, but that didn’t matter. We Steinhoff boys had our own pool in the backyard. I think Mark was housebroken by the time we got the pool.

So, Mark, here’s wishing you a Happy Whatever Birthday.

Big & Friendly Morgan’s

Morgan's Furniture StoreMorgan’s Furniture Store in downtown Advance at the corner of South Ash Street and West Gabriel Avenue was the sponsor of one of the first local radio commercials I remember hearing. The appliance and furniture was always referred to in a booming radio voice as Big and Friendly Morgan’s.”

Just down the block from the furniture store was Morgan’s Funeral Home. Lloyd Morgan was the first young man from Advance to go away to learn the science of embalming.

Getting the real scoop from Mother

I called Mother and said, “I have some Advance questions: which Morgan owned Morgan’s Furniture and were all the Morgans related?”

Jack Morgan, she said, was the furniture guy. “When I was about 9 years old, I had diphtheria and people were supposed to stay away from me, but Jack was my ‘boyfriend’ and he brought me a bouquet of flowers.” In later life, he was known for his odd dressing habits: his socks were frequently mismatched and his shoes untied.

Lloyd, the undertaker, she said, liked his spirits and would come into the Welch tavern to play the piano and dance. “He was a monkey, for sure.” A small paperback book on the history of the town reported that “Lloyd always drove a good car, but he never took the key out of it. ‘One of my friends might need a car real badly sometime and not have the time to look me up.’

Mother’s brother, Kenneth, my namesake, would go on ambulance calls with Lloyd, she said. “Times were tough back then and not everybody had money, so Lloyd would take chickens or whatever they could spare.”

My Flirtation with Crime

Charlie's Cut-Rate-Store c 1970sThis is Charlie’s Cut-Rate-Store in Advance, more commonly known to townsfolk as Charlie’s Drug Store.

The building with the barber pole is where my grandfather, Roy E. Welch, had his liquor store. Dad had a small office between the barber shop and the liquor store. I’m sure Mother had something to do with seeing the town’s teenagers had a hangout in the basement. I mentioned that I still have some wooden “funeral home” chairs from there that I use today.

Crime spree was short-lived

Prather Building Advance c 1974_34

Once day when I was about four or five, I sauntered down to Charlie’s for an ice cream cone.

The ice cream was probably still dripping off my chin when Charlie paid my grandfather a visit. He handed over a counter check filled with my crayon scribbles that I had used for payment.

My excuse was that I had seen customers scribble on the checks, then Grandfather would hand over a bottle of whiskey. I figured if it worked for booze, then it should be OK for ice cream cones, too.

My grandfather made restitution and Charlie agreed not to call the town constable to haul me off to whatever passed as a hoosegow in Advance in those days.

I came by my lawlessness naturally. Check out Mother’s escapade with slot machines when she was barely a teenager. It’s at the bottom of the page.

Remember EDgewater? Or CIrcle?

Telephone similar to ones in kitchen and basementDo you remember giving out your telephone number as EDgewater 5-7543? Or, if you lived in Jackson, your telephone exchange was CIrcle.

This rotary dial phone was one I picked up used somewhere. It shows a number after area codes were assigned and names phased out. The phone in the basement is one that I talked on when I was a teenager, though. (Mother had been paying a couple of bucks a month to Ma Bell for the phone for 30 or 40 years. I wanted to hang on to it for sentimental reasons, so I paid the phone company a flat fee to own it.)

If you are a phone junkie, there is a site that has pictures of telephone central offices all over the country. Some of the ones in SE Missouri are interesting because they sit on fault lines and have had to be retrofitted for earthquakes.

When I was offered the job of telecommunications manager just before I left for Missouri on vacation in 1991, it dawned on me as I was driving through little towns like Old Appleton that if I took the job, I’d be in charge of more phones than a lot of towns had. I ended up taking the job and doing it until I retired in 2008.

Exchanges for this area

  • Advance – RAmond
  • Benton – KIngsdale
  • Bloomfield = LOcust
  • Cape Girardeau – EDgewater
  • Chaffee – TUlip
  • Jacksopn – CIrcle
  • Sikeston – GRanite