Several years ago, I searched through my archives for what I thought were iconic images that I could turn into post cards. Most of them were taken in Southeast Missouri, but some Illinois and Ohio images managed to sneak in (even one from Washington, D.C.).
Every card has a description on the back. In the interest of full disclosure, a couple of them ended up with the WRONG description, but that’ll only make them more valuable to collectors, like the 1918 “Inverted Jenny” postage stamp that was printed with an airplane upside down.
The post cards are available at
Pastimes Antiques, 45 Main Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63701; Phone 573-332-8882. They are two dollars each or three for $5 in person. They are able to take credit card phone orders and mail as many as will fit in an envelope for an additional $5 for shipping and handling.
If anyone is interested in larger prints of any of the photos, send me an email and we can work out the details.
Smelterville: ‘A Community of Love’
My Smelterville book is available from three local places.
Pastimes Antiques, 45 Main Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63701; Phone 573-332-8882. $20 in person. They are able to take credit card phone orders and mail them for $30, which includes shipping and handling.
Cape Girardeau County History Center, 102 S. High Street, Jackson, Mo., 63755; Phone 573-979-5170. $20 in person; $30 to cover shipping and handling if mailed. Unfortunately, they are unable to take credit card orders.
Gallery of post cards
I can’t guarantee that all of them are still available, but scroll through the gallery to see what you might like. Clicking on an image will make it larger, then you can use the arrow keys to navigate.
For the record, all of the images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without express written permission. You are encouraged to share a link to this post, but not individual photos.
I’ve followed Randy “Hambone” Barnhouse’s musings on Facebook, and have even exchanged mail with him from time to time, but had never met him in the flesh.
When he posted that he’d be hawking his book, “Dear Samuel Clemens” Messages in a Bottle , on Main Street (with a $5 discount to “locals”), I figured it was time we hooked up.
“Want to make a deal?”
I introduced myself, and said, “I think a might be able to slip by as a local, and I’d be happy to pay you $15 for your book, but I wondered if you’d like to trade for my Smelterville: A Community of Love.”
We bumped elbows and the deal was sealed.
We share a love of the river
Randy has led a much more adventuresome life than I have. He’s been a treasure salvor, an historian, a teacher, and a devotee of Mark Twain. I’ve just been a chronicler of other folks deeds and foibles.
Several years ago, the Mississippi gave Randy a tantalizing look at the bones of a boat exposed when the water went down.
He and the river have been playing hide and seek with the boat ever since.
I’m pretty sure the first contact I had with Randy was when he offered to share the location of the wreck if I would promise to keep the exact location secret.
I decided the best way for me to keep the secret was for me not to go see the site.
The Mississippi can be unforgiving to the careless. This isn’t Randy’s wreck, but it’s a barge that ran aground near Cape Rock in 2012.
We understand each other
Randy was a diver with Mel Fisher, who helped recover gold and other items from the Atocha shipwreck off Key West. He and I speak the same language.
“After the initial phase of being allured by the gold and silver discoveries, I found the simple items from every day life just as unique in their own way. They spoke to me. Candlestick holders were fascinating to find. How many meals did they grace a table for and who appreciated the glow of the stick they held, and for what reason were they gathered around it? How much laughter, conversation and arguing had the the candlestick holders, with their fiery tube of wax and string been witness to?”
I walk around in old abandoned houses trying to pick up the vibes of those who lived there. The pride the first owners felt; marks on the door frames chronicling the growth of children; wondering what joys and sorrows were contained inside the walls. Sometimes those vibes hit me too hard.
When I looked through this open window of an old house in St. Mary, I had to wonder what did the owners take from those opened drawers, and why did the random beads, buttons and juice squeezer not make the cut when they closed the door the last time?
Letters to Mark Twain
The book is a series of letters Randy has written to Mark Twain: “each letter I write to you will be sealed in a bottle and tossed into the mighty Mississippi. There are no post offices in heaven or hell. Where we go, we never know until the last breath escapes our lungs. Maybe we disappear into inky oblivion from whence we came. Should your spirit dwell on the river, please read and respond in whatever manner a will-o’-wisp employs. I need your help while looking for your lost and discarded possessions.”
Searching for Mark Twain’s buried treasure
Randy has been using a metal detector to search for artifacts at Mark Twain’s home in Hannibal (with permission, I should note.
“Sam, to investigate and excavate the soil where you and your family once lived, loved and walked is an intimate act, too. What will your candlestick holder be that shines light on your time there on Hill Street? A coin, ring, shoe buckle, tool or object that will be attributed to you? Knowing your affinity for buried treasure causes me, in my wildest imagination, to hope that you buried something there.”
Whenever I take someone new to see what’s left of Cairo, we stop here long enough for them to pry up a piece of blue tile from what used to be a large department store.
I hope they keep it as a memory of a town that is rapidly disappearing, and as a link to me. Probably, though, they’ll pull open a drawer some day, and say, “What the hell is this?” and pitch it in the trash.
I guess I can’t be surprised. On any given day, some of my best work ended up on the floor being peed on by a poodle.
Randy was kind enough to say some nice words about my Smelterville book on his Facebook page, and that caused a lot of folks to wonder where they could find it.
This wicked-looking device hanging in Mother’s basement came from HER parents’ backyard garage in Advance. I can remember seeing it and being fascinated by the grisly tool when I was a little kid.
The way it worked was you would look around your yard until you saw the raised portions of ground where the moles had created runs. You would cock the trap by pulling up on the handle at the top, which would compress the spring and raise the spikes.
After that, you would put the trap straddling the run with the big stakes on both sides, sticking it in the ground just far enough that the flat trigger at the top of the spike platform would rest across the raised dirt. The theory was that a mole passing through the run would jiggle the ground just enough to send the spikes plunging through him.
I never checked for success
I’m not sure we ever deployed the device with any serious intent to dispatch any moles, and I certainly never dug around to see if it had been successful if we had.
Wow! I just did a Google search for “mole trap” and came up with a whole bunch of more modern devices for dealing with the rodents. After looking at a couple of videos, I am more convinced than ever that ignorance is bliss. I’m glad I never checked for results.
Dad and I spent many a winter evening building plastic models of ships and planes. Well, to be more accurate, I sat at the table WATCHING Dad build plastic models of ships and planes.
He was a follow-the-directions kind of guy, so he would get frustrated when I skipped around and ended up having to take apart stuff that I had assembled out of order. Before long I would be relegated to applying decals and sorting parts.
One of our largest projects – at least in size – was The U.S.S. United States. It wasn’t the most complicated, but it lit up and it was about two feet long.
A memorial to my Grandfather
Here’s something about the model I never told anyone: when my grandfather, Roy Welch, died when I was 10, I wiped all the dust off the deck and vowed that I would only dust half of it in the future as a way of remembering the passage of time since I had lost him.
When I took it down from the attic to put in a box of stuff going to Annie Laurie’s Antiques, I looked for the dust demarcation, but 30 or 40 years had made it ALL dusty.
Despite that, I still remember my Roi Tan cigar-chomping grandfather. I guess I really didn’t need the U.S.S. United States to do that.