Bill East, Class of ’66

We’re getting to the point where we have more yesterdays than tomorrows. Still, it was a punch in the gut to see this posting about Bill East on Facebook a couple of weeks ago:

This is a very difficult status to enter. As you all know Bill is a very private person. I asked him to please allow me to let all of his friends know of his situation. Bill is in the later stages of stage 4 kidney cancer. The latest CT scan has shown it has spread into both lungs and has now gone into the bone causing a compression fracture of the T4 vertebra. It is an extremely aggressive type of cancer He was given the choice of trying additional treatment that most likely would not work and would make him sick or he could not get any more treatment and he could have better quality and a little less time. He chose to have quality time. We should be moving him in the next few days to a Hospice facility. This is a very difficult time for all of us and we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers. We will keep everyone updated as things change. Thank you, Bill, Judy and Heather

Monthly mini-reunions

A couple of years ago, some of the Class of  ’66 members started getting together once a month for luncheon mini-reunions. Some months only two or three folks would show up, other months might see nearly two dozen show up. Regulars were Marilyn Maevers, Gail Tibbles, Jacqie Jackson and Wife Lila, when she was in town.

Lila came up with the idea of inviting Bill to participate in this month’s luncheon by webcam. She put Son Adam in touch with Nephew Rocky Everett in Cape, who handled logistics at that end. Considering that we were all winging this, it worked out quite well. I tried to get some screen captures of the participants, but the program didn’t save them.

Terry Hopkins wanted to share some things

Terry Hopkins, also Class of ’66, who likes to come off as the class clown, has a serious side he tries to keep hidden. I first became aware of that when he wrote how much the Capaha Pool meant to him when he was growing up. After participating in the webcast, he wrote this for Bill and gave me permission to share it.

Terry’s message to Bill

I remember you in high school as the guy who worked at Wimpy’s and wore a white apron. You were the guy who knew the secret of Wimpy’s French fries. At times, you were the guy who chased all of us out of Wimpy’s parking lot for Mr. Lewis when we were too rowdy or we were just staying too long and not buying anything. So when I close my eyes and think of Bill East, I see you in the parking lot at Wimpy’s with a white apron, hands on your hips and looking at the parking lot filled with cars and teenagers of the sixties. I can close my eyes and see you now.

 We were Hall Monitors

You and I were Hall Monitors and in this exulted position, we were able to roam the halls of Central High School knowing nothing could stop us from our rounds doing what ever we did to maintain order in the cosmos and to prevent others from butting up in the lunch line. (… and really knowing nothing, at the time, about life either.) This is where I noted your patented “Mount Rushmore Pose”. There you are with your head looking up to horizons that only the lofty can see.

I can close my eyes and see you now, no wait here is the picture!

[Editor’s note: Bill is in the second row on the left in this Girardot photo of the Hall Monitors. I posted this photo to the Class of ’66 Facebook fan page in December. I don’t want to break the serious mood, but here’s Terry’s comment at that time: “We all were Hall Monitors…Sly is telling me that I was unzipped and Linda Maddox is trying to look! Bill East has his pose for Mt. Rushmore, Stovall is doing his natural thing…Linda Stone is vamping and doing a good job of it…Dee has glasses from someone else…”

[Bill, always a stickler for accuracy, filled in the blanks: “We hall monitors had to meet exacting criteria: Have a study hall during lunch time, have no outstanding wants or warrants, and, I think, be a senior.”]

 Honored as Outstanding Senior

You were in National Honor Society, spoke in the Optimist speech contests and you and several others were honored as up and coming High School Students. I remember you and Russ Doughty posing down town at the court house and there is “The Pose” again. At the time I just thought that you were nice guy and it was great to be honored in such a way by your school and faculty and you deserved it!

[Editor’s note: this vertical photo was cropped into a tight horizontal in the yearbook for this reason.]

Terry and Bill’s acting career

I also think of you as my brother. In Claudia Modder’s Pulitzer Prize winning Thanksgiving play in high school (sure wish I could remember the name of it…) you and I played brothers. That was the highlight of my short theater career. I really appreciated you carrying me during the play. I remember all the practices that we did, with Mrs. Wright, Vivian Walton, Mary Ellen Baker (as sis) and you my friend. I remember the effort it was for me to learn the lines and repeat them correctly, and you nailing every line on the first walk thru. I still was using the mimeographed script sheets in the later practices. I still can remember the smell of back stage and mimeograph ink…that was a nice smell and those were pretty good days.

I never had a brother, and the interaction of you and me during the play moved me. In the play, I was the straight-laced military brother having just returned from Viet Nam and you, my good friend, were the hippie brother. The details I forgot except a couple of things like the line when Mary Ellen Baker comes walking toward me and I said, “You were just a little squirt when I left” to roars of laughter…Mary Ellen was pretty short then and probably is now too… The play ended with both of us standing in front of some stained glass windows with the choir singing something with you in your “Mount Rushmore” pose and me in Civil Air Patrol Uniform. The message was we are all brothers and we are all Americans. Nice message then, even better message for today. I can close my eyes and see you now.

[Editor’s note: I didn’t record the Hopkins/East theatrical performance, but I did catch Bill dancing in the First National Bank Parking lot after the floor at the Teen Age Club started bouncing so much the city shut them down. Terry says that Bill was known for his Mount Rushmore pose, but I seemed to always catch him with his mouth open. Of course, in the photo at left, that was the typical male reaction when confronted with the Barringer Twins.]



Bill and Judy start their lives

You went to college, joined the Air force, got married ( to a lovely lady), had kids, moved around and got jobs doing things you loved to do and maybe some you didn’t. Ditto for me, and we lost track of each other while in pursuit of our own dreams.

 Years pass, and then there was the Internet. 1998 or so, I was sitting as my desk in Naperville, Illinois at the house and I get an email from a Bill East. Low and behold it is my old buddy Bill East from Cape Girardeau, Mo., class of 1966 and all around good guy. We email each other and catch up a little. Please remember that this way before MySpace, Facebook and a million other social networks. The Internet was new and BILL EAST found me out of the clear blue sky! As far as I knew we were the only guys on the internet and that was cool….

 We start connecting with classmates

As the years pass, once again BILL EAST invites me to new thing called FACEBOOK and I join. A month or so later Larry LaBruyere joins and now there are three people on the internet. We catch up some more. I see a present day shot of Bill and think…geez he looks the same! Not Ditto for me… and we catch up a little more. Then Gail Tibbles discovers us and the WHOLE world is on the Internet and we all can see and talk to each other again! So now I know that Bill has a family, kids and grandkids and whole life lived that I knew very little about, and you know it looks like a pretty good life too! So I get another picture of you as an older and wiser man with kids and responsibilities and think, hey we both made it as adults. I can close my eyes and see you now.

 Got together at the 2010 reunion

I met you again at our reunion this last year and had a great time. We talked for only a couple of minutes at a time about ten times over the weekend and I enjoyed hearing about your life now and of course talking about our classmates. It seems we all were trying to talk to everyone all the time in catch up with everyone all at the same time; at least it seems that way for me.

We connect with Jacqie

You and I were talking and then up comes the best dressed lady in the house and, of course, we both have to talk and take a picture.

[Editor’s note: That’s Jacqie, formerly Bill Jackson, also Class of ’66.]

You and I bumped into each other at lunch, on the tour of Central high School at breakfast, in the auditorium, in the halls and in the weight room. Saturday night you and I bump into each other again with Mike Friese and John Hoffman plus their spouses, and catch up a little more with life and times. During the course of this weekend we really did see each other a lot and I got to catch up on the Bill East of the 21st century. I even got to know about Buddy a little, more on Facebook about Buddy, but this started it.

Today we had lunch together via the Internet… you in Ohio, the lunch bunch in Cape and me in Florida. I did not say a lot, my camera and microphone were on the other computer which died TODAY. You looked the same, well, except for the headphones and O2 tube. I thought you looked quite dashing. High attitude pilot of the 1930’s was the look you had going for you, and it was working dude! I saw flashes of Buddy running around in the background and his mother too, which was nice. I listened to your interaction with Buddy and got to see the loving grandfather part of my friend, Bill.

Life is full of glimpses

I guess life is full of glimpses. We only get to see and get short takes from our friend’s real lives, just little pieces of their real lives. Thru the last 60 years or so I have been privileged to see and hear pieces and only pieces of a normal life of good guy, you, my friend.

So when I close my eyes and think of you I see the young Bill East in white apron, my brother Bill East as a hippie with stained glass behind us both, The younger Bill East getting married, the mature Bill East with dashing 1930’s high attitude flyer looks stopping to talk to his grandson off camera. All of these small pieces make a whole picture for me. That is what I see when I close my eyes, and think of you.

[Editor’s note: Thanks to Terry for sharing his thoughts. Bill has been a frequent contributor to this blog and a good guy for an underclassman. I’ve grown to appreciate his dry wit and attention to detail. The journalist in him seems to think that truth and accuracy should be as important as telling a good story. I consider those things merely incidentals, if not impediments.]







Central vs Perryville Homecoming

This shot of Charlie Duncan and Fanny Clemmons walking off the field after Central bested Perryville 20-6 in the homecoming game was published in the 1965 Girardot.

Duncan was a superb athlete and one of the nicest guys at Central. The Girardot Senior Directory lists his activities as “President, Treasurer of Homeroom; Varsity Club; Football; Track; All-State Honorable Mention, All Conference First Team.”

Fanny was in the Sports Club and was Secretary, Treasurer of the Volleyball Club.

“Glory Comes Late in Season”

The Girardot said “The highlight of this year’s season came in a triumphant victory over the Perryville Pirates, 20 – 6. This being the homecoming and final game, the Tigers would settle for nothing less than victory. Executing brilliant plays and coordinated teamwork, Central took and early lead. The second half showed as much determination as the first, as the Tigers maintained a definite advantage and ended the Pirates’ winning streak.”

Cape Beat Jackson 19 – 0

I remember Jackson as being Cape’s biggest rival in our generation. The Girardot reported on the season’s fourth game: “The rivalry between Cape and Jackson surged to a climax as Central downed the Indians, 19 – 0.”

There were several players with numbers beginning with 5 in the yearbook team photo. Since I can’t read the whole number, it could be Mike Gray (52), Wayne Roeder (50) or Leslie Carlton (56). I know it’s not Bill Jackson (54), and I’m pretty sure it’s not Mike Gray. The girl on the left looks like she might have been one of the Dunklin girls, but I’ll let somebody else confirm it.

CHS lost squeaker to Sikeston

The Sikeston – Cape Central game I covered in 2010 was a blowout, with Sikeston scoring in the first minute and winning 21 – zip. The 1965 Girardot said “One of the most thrilling games was the Tigers’ encounter with the Sikeston Bulldogs. The last 52 seconds proved to be the deciding point when the Bulldogs scored a touchdown, ending the game in a close 20 -19 defeat for the Tigers.

I’m pretty sure # 84 was Jerry O’Connell.

1964 Varsity Scores

The Girardot: “Highlights of Central’s 1964 football season included both disappointments and triumphs.”

  • CHS vs Blytheville: 6 – 12
  • CHS vs University City: 7 – 14
  • CHS vs Paducah Tilghman:  6 – 6
  • CHS vs Jackson: 19 – 0
  • CHS vs Poplar Bluff: 0 – 14
  • CHS vs Sikeston: 19 – 20
  • CHS vs Chaffee: 34 – 13
  • CHS vs Charleston: 0 -14
  • CHS vs Perryville: 20 – 6

The yearbook’s team photo has some of the numbers obscured, but I’m going to guess that #28 was Mike Friese. Girlfriends, unfortunately, didn’t wear numbers, so I’m not sure who the girl was. Ron Riley was wearing #73 in the yearbook.




Top Stories: 2009 to 2011

When I cranked up this blog on Oct. 20, 2009, I never dreamed that I’d still be churning out stories two years later. The first post contained a photo that later became one of two rotating pictures at the top of the blog page. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

This is the time when publications traditionally look at the previous year. I started to do that, but discovered that some of the top read stories from 2011 had actually run in 2010 and were still getting hits, probably from search engines. That caused me to look at what the most popular stories were overall.

 Rush Limbaugh – Koran-burning Terry Jones

The most-read story of 2010 and 2011 continues to be the coincidence that the two best-known members of the Central High School Class of 1969 are Rush Limbaugh and the kooky pastor, Terry Jones, who threatened to burn the Koran (and eventually DID burn one when he was out of the spotlight).

The Sept. 9, 2010, story has garnered 14,274 pageviews, about four times as many as any other story I’ve done. It was picked up by media all over the world.

I rode tight herd on the comment section, which attracted 150 comments, to keep the train on the tracks. I was impressed by the general high tone of the discussion compared to the trash talk I saw on other sites. When it was all over, I had deleted only three comments that stepped over the line into personal attacks on other readers.

 Cape’s new water park

The second most-popular story is probably a fluke. April 18, 2010, I did a quick and dirty story on Cape’s new water park while it was still under construction and compared it to the Lickitysplit Water Slide that used to be between Cape and Jackson on Hwy 61.

It kept getting a smattering of hits during the summer of 2011, probably from people searching for information about the park. Interestingly enough, folks who got there, probably by mistake, ended up spending over two minutes reading the page, something that’s highly unusual. Folks who don’t find exactly what they’re searching for generally bounce out in about 10 seconds.

The Boat House

When you wanted to impress visitors from out of town with the homes in Cape Girardeau, there’s one place you’d always take them – The Boat House at the corner of West End Blvd. and Highland Dr., across from Capaha Park. This story attracted 2,109 readers and 28 comments, including good information from the family that owns it.

 Bill’s Transition to Jacqie

One of the most interesting and challenging stories I’ve done started out with this email: “Hi lila and kenny. Its bill jackson but if you have facebook, you will discover that many changes have taken place. It seems that after all these years I am more comfortable as Jacqie, my female half and counterpart. Florida is much more familiar with this than cape. The reunion should be very interesting.”

 Bill and Wife Lila were good friends from lifeguarding days. In fact, he was her first date in high school. We connected in Cape and St. Louis and I produced a video showing our classmate as both Bill and Jacqie. For a first effort at an ambitious project, I’m happy with the way it turned out. The page has only logged 2,024 hits, but the video has been viewed 16,106 times. I was really pleased to see how understanding the 31 commenters were and how well Jacqie was accepted at the class reunion.

Here’s a comment I posted after I saw the reaction to the piece:

“It’s amazing how much more accepting we are of others’ differences when we get a few miles on the old odometer. Maybe some things do get better with age. In a scene I had to cut because of time constraints, Bill commented, ‘We were all not exactly as kind to each other as children as we could have been, but that’s the nature of being children. You’re learning how to be human beings.’

 “Looks like my readers have done a good job passing the human being test. That’s a pretty good diploma to tack on the wall.”

 Rains, Wind and Flooding

I was in Cape during the spring of 2011 just before the near-record flooding. A page of photos showing Cape’s flood control project that kept the Town Plaza from flooding like it did in earlier decades, attracted 1,976 visitors and 28 comments. There’s a link on the page to a video I shot when Mother and I took shelter from a hail storm earlier in the week.

 Kent State, Never Forget

I can always count on getting a message from friend and fellow photographer John Lopinot every May 4. Usually the subject line says it all: “Never Forget.” May 4th, of course, is the day that four Kent State students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard.

 I pulled together a sequence of photos of protests and demonstrations I covered at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, during that tumultuous period. Another photographer and I were on our way to Kent State when word of the shootings came over the car radio. We headed back to Athens, figuring we needed to be in our own backyard that night.

The page has been read 1,876 times and attracted 27 comments, including one from my former Ohio University Post colleague Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a frequent talking head on TV.

From Shoe Factory to Casino

I still contend that the city missed the boat in not finding a way to make a productive use of the old shoe factory. If the old Central High School on Pacific can be re-purposed as Schultz Senior Apartments, then surely the landmark building on North Main could have been saved. It’s a moot point, though. The building was torn down decades ago and a gambling casino is going up on the property.

The page showing aerial and ground photos of the shoe factory taken in 1970 and the area around it taken before the land was cleared in 2010, drew 1,829 visitors and 22 comments, one from the granddaughter of a woman who had been scalped by machinery in the shoe factory.

Capaha Park reduced to memories

I did several stories on the razing of the Capaha Park swimming pool. This was one that hit close to home: much of Wife Lila’s teen years were spent at the pool swimming, lifeguarding and teaching swimming.

I dug out a bunch of vintage photos and turned the page loose for Lila, Bill/Jacqie Jackson and Terry Hopkins to write about how much that hole in the ground meant to them. Terry’s account ended, “At one time, I wanted my ashes scattered on the hill above the pool just so I could be close and watch people having fun at a place I loved. Farewell my 12-foot deep, 8-lane, L-shaped fun factory and memory maker, farewell.”

There were 35 comments, some almost as long as the original piece. A total of 1,654 people visited the page.

 Central High School ’60s reunion

June 27, 2010, I ran one of several galleries of photos of the 1960s decade class reunion. It picked up 1,641 readers and 23 comments.

On the last night, I was moved to write, “This isn’t my favorite photo of the weekend, far from it. It’s a mediocre image from a technical standpoint, but it’s the one that caused a wave of deja vu to wash over me.

 “It was the end of the evening. The crowd was starting to drift away. A few couples got up to dance. I climbed up on the stage for a higher angle and stood there holding my camera and waiting for a photo to happen.

 “Suddenly I was transported back forty-plus years. It dawned on me that my life had come full circle. I was the same kid I was in high school who was AT the event, but not PART of the event.”

This account of the last night contains links to all of the reunion pages.

 Annie Laurie’s Laurie Ann

There’s a bit of nepotism here. Laurie Everett, who owns Annie Laurie’s Antiques on Broadway across from Shivelbine’s, is my wife’s niece. Putting that aside, she’s a shrewd businesswoman who was worth a story because of the building she’s in (the old Brinkopf-Howell Funeral Home) and for her interesting life. The petite blonde was an army MP who was an Expert marksman before she got into the antique business. She’s as good at that as she is with a gun: her shop was rated #1 Antique Shop in Cape County three out of three years (maybe four, since that story was done in 2010).

It’s not your typical stodgy antique shop. She makes good use of social media and has developed quite a following of SEMO students with her emphasis on vintage clothing, dorm makeovers and competition for models to become the face of the shop.

 Tornado drills and the JFK assassination

I stopped by Alma Schrader School to get some photos identified just as they were conducting a tornado drill. That give me a flashback to that stormy day in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I took photos of students gathered around a TV in the gym and rushed them to The Missourian to make my first EXTRA!

 Wimpy’s in 1966, 1967 and 2009

There are two topics that will always bring in readers and comments: Wimpy’s Drive-in and the Blue Hole BBQ. Everybody who grew up in that era has fond memories of both.

I shot a night time exposure photo of the intersection of Cape Rock Drive and North Kingshighway in 1966 that showed the traffic patterns in and around Wimpy’s. In 1967, I shot a wreck at the intersection with the drive-in in the background. By 2009, Wimpy’s was gone and the intersection had changed, but I tried the time exposure technique again.

Readers: 1,552; comments: 31, including much discussion of a shootout near there that took  the lives of two Cape police officers.

 Top Stories of 2011

In addition to the 2009 and 2010 stories above, here are the top stories that were published in 2011:

  •  Cape’s tornado of 1949: a riveting account of the May 21, 1949, tornado that killed 22 people, hospitalized 72 and injured hundreds, written by a pregnant newlywed to her mother on pages torn from a day calendar. If you haven’t read it, you should.
  • Do these photos say Cape? A collection of photos of Cape Girardeau for use by the city on its web page.
  • 43 years of Cairo photographs: I’ve been fascinated with Cairo since I covered my first riot there in 1967. This was a collection of photos of the town which is, unfortunately, disappearing a block at a time.
  • Arena Park Stock Car races: Vintage photos of the Arena Park stock car races. Some of them are classics.

 Mind-numbing statistics

Since the site started in 2009, it has seen its pages viewed 565,631 times. I’ve written 641 posts containing 512,268 words and you all have left 5,728 comments. In fact, commenters have written 391,796 words, almost as many as I have in the original stories. The depth of detail in those comments is astounding. I’ve posted nearly 5,600 photos.

Support this site

Here’s a link to my Tower Rock book and my 2012 calendar.

In addition, if you do your Amazon shopping by clicking on any of the Amazon ads on the page, I get a tiny percentage of your purchase without it costing you anything additional.



Capaha Pool Reduced to Memories

When I was in Cape last month, I took a bunch of photos of the Capaha Park Pool, including an aerial, because I knew something was going to happen to it. When I opened up Facebook this morning. Mary Bolen had posted this photo of heavy equipment knocking down the pool house. She was kind enough to let me reproduce it.

We’re going to run photos of the pool for the next two days. Today we’ll showcase photos taken during the 1960s, along with memories of three lifeguards who worked there. I’m going to pretty much stand back and let them do all the talking. The next day, I’ll publish photos of what the pool looked like more recently.

Lila Perry Steinhoff’s story

Lila Perry Steinhoff’s love affair with the water:

I have to admit that I felt a quiet tear or two when I saw the picture of the heavy equipment tearing down Capaha Pool. Capaha Pool was where I first realized that I loved the water… a love that has never left me. I walked into Capaha Pool for swimming lessons when I was 10 years old and didn’t leave until I was 20. I learned to swim there, and later, taught swimming, coached a water ballet team and met a life-long friend there.

Last swim was last summer

I last swam in Capaha pool on June 28 and 29, 2010. I did a mile both days. I still loved the place. It never occurred to me that it would be my last time.

The time I spent at Capaha Pool is time I have never forgotten. I can’t remember working anywhere else in the past 45 years that I have loved and remembered more than my time there.  Concrete may not last forever, but good memories do.

Lila’s one serious rescue

Other than having to shove tired swimmers toward the side on occasion, I can remember having to actually rescue only one little girl in the 10 years I was there. She was in one of my swimming classes.

One skill required of each student was to swim across the pool. She was half way across when her long, loose, wet hair covered her face and she couldn’t breathe. I went in and took her to the side. She was shaken and so was her mother. I asked her mother to please braid her hair or get her a cap. The next day, that child had the tightest braids I had ever seen. Plastic surgeons couldn’t have pulled her face any tighter.

Those of us who worked at Capaha were close, and we knew what was going on with everyone else.

“You’re getting married in two hours”

The day I got married, I taught swimming lessons until 1 PM, then went home to await the 7 PM start time. When I got home, my mother was having multiple meltdowns. I knew if I stayed there, I’d be a basket case, too, so I went back to the place where I felt most at home… the guard chair at Capaha.

Periodically, during the afternoon, fellow guards would walk by and suggest that maybe it was time to go home. I just didn’t want to, and I stayed. Finally, around 4:30, someone… I don’t remember who… got up in my face and, emphatically, said, “Go home. You’re getting married in 2 hours.” I left and was dressed and at the church door by 7… with a red nose. Forgot to use the zinc that day.

Terry Hopkins’ story

Strange, the Capaha pool would be opening this next weekend, Memorial Day weekend, and right now all of us would be working like dogs trying to open the pool. Track season would be over and Bill Jackson, Dave and Dan Ranson and I would be up to our necks in cleaning the pool with muriatic acid and shoveling all the leaves that had collected in the deep end diving well out. After that was done, we painted the bottom and touched up the lines on the bottom of the pool.

Ranson Twins laid out the lines

The first year we added the lines on the bottom of the pool, Dan and Dave Ranson designed it, and with sticks and string, laid it out and painted between the lines to make the eight lanes we used for swim meets…this was a great advance at the time. This took us forever, and I remember we were not paid. We were sweating and hoping the paint had enough time to dry before we had to start to fill the pool with water. We waited until the last minute for the paint to dry and then filled it…the paint held!

There is probably STILL some of that paint we laid on the pool after all these years.

It is funny, I knew every kid in town during those years from 1958 until I left town in 1970.

EVERYBODY went swimming

In those days EVERYBODY went swimming: the kids in afternoon and lessons or swim team in the mornings, the adults had Wednesday morning for “Ladies Day”. The Jaycees’ of several towns rented the pool at night and college groups at times too…

This was about the center of the kid universe in Cape at the time. Kids would play minor league or Babe Ruth baseball in the park and then come swimming to cool off. When you had to mow the  lawn, you went swimming to cool off. During the really hot days of summer you just went for a swim to cool off. If you were a kid you were at the Capaha Park Pool sometime during the summer.

I loved the place. I can remember all the lifeguards when I was growing up and they were GODS to me.   Even Norval Jones, the school record holder in the half mile, was a guard. I remember the guys said he had legs like trees.

Original pool rat

I was one of the original pool rats and swam every day. The pool opened when I was 10 or so, and I was old enough by then to ride my bike from 1414 Mississippi Street to the pool and swim until dinner time. I rode my bike home, ate and then waited until it was time to go the next day when it opened at 1:30 PM. That was my life and at the time it was great!

THEY can swim across the pool!

At the pool, my friends were Bill Jackson and Bob Young, and we all had season passes. We swam every day; at the time we were the only ones who were swimmers among the kids of that age or older. I can remember the lifeguards telling people, “look, these guys are only 10 years old and they can swim across the pool!”

Bill, Bob and I would swim in swimming lessons. When the swim team started, we were among the first to sign up and be there! Mr. (Dick) Flentge and Mr. Schneider were the first of the swim coaches. All of us took and passed the senior lifesaving course and became full-fledged, card-carrying life guards. Later, all of us became WSI or Water Safety Instructors and taught others the skills we learned and taught others to be life guards!

God of The Pool

Now back to becoming and attaining the HOLY GRAIL of really being a paid life guard and sitting on the chair at the Capaha Pool. You could take and pass your life guard test at 15-1/2 years, so in the summer of 1964, before I could drive, I climbed the chair for the first time as a GOD of the pool.

So this is how it happened. In August, the life guards were all shot and wanting time off, and the pool managers couldn’t get anyone to work. Ray Schurbusch was on the chair and wanted to see his  girlfriend before going back to school, but he had to work at the pool. Presto, I was a PAID life guard ( Mr. Cracraft approved me to work) and there I was a GOD of the pool at 15-1/2. I went home and my mom sewed the Lifeguard patch on my swimming suit that night so I could be a real LIFEGUARD.

Worked 60 hours a week for six summers

I worked at the pool 60 or so hours a week for next six summers as a pool guard, head guard and pool manager and swim team coach. Bill and I were the swim coaches at the pool and had a great working relationship. Bill worked with the big kids and produced several great swimmers and helped many kids to have better lives. I worked with the little kids and developed kids so they could become better and swim with the big kids and Bill.

Mrs. Jack Rickard (or MAW Rickard as we called her) ran the swimming lessons. I think back to that time as one the best times of my life, I did not know it then, but it was. We all had a great impact on kids’ lives and hopefully gave them some good values, a safe place to be and hang out and maybe had a little healthy fun too!

Scatter my ashes above the pool

At one time, I wanted my ashes scattered on the hill above the pool just so I could be close and watch people having fun at a place I loved.

Not a single time that I have returned to Cape have I missed seeing the Capaha Park Pool, and I will visit her again next week.  I will miss the Capaha Park Pool and all the life that ran thru it and all the memories it created over its life time.

Farewell my 12-foot deep, 8-lane, L-shaped fun factory and memory maker, farewell.

[Editor’s note: When I sent Terry an email thanking him for the good job he had done, he replied, “I had tears in my eyes at the end.”]

Jacqie (Bill) Jackson

Jacqie (Bill) Jackson, Class of 1966:  We started going to the pool as soon as our parents would let us go down here. I remember the pool being built in the late 50s. When we were little, we would go down and splash in the little pool. When we got to be about 10 or so, our parents turned us loose and would let us walk down there. The lifeguards essentially became our babysitters for the day.

I got involved with all the swimming lessons and activities with Helen Shamboo. We went through the whole program with Richard Flentge.

I was faster than the guards

I was on the swim team from 10 years old on. By the time I was 15, I could swim faster than all the lifeguards at the pool. When I got old enough, I did lifesaving and got lifeguard training. When I was 16, I got hired. That was the summer of ’65.  I was the only 16-year-old; everybody else was in college.

There was a great big guy named Martin and Irvin Beard and Allen Nenninger and Gary Kinder and David Langston: a whole bunch of basically fraternity guys and me.

Brothers were guards, too

I coached swimming, taught lessons and did life guarding. My brothers – both Bob and Tom -were lifeguards and coaches there after I was. There were the Ranson twins – Dave and Dan – and Terry Hopkins was coaching.   Bob Young, Emmett Jones’ son, was involved heavily through the years.

It set my life for 30  years. I continued to coach in different places, teach lessons, do lifeguard training. I kept my finger in aquatics right up until 2000. Lila and all of us were involved with the whole program for several years, then we were down at the Natatorium with Dan Beatty.

My last swim was sometime in the early to mid-80s after we came back from Alaska. We’d take the kids down to splash around. I probably got in to do a few laps or try to swim the length of the pool underwater like we used to do. It was a big deal to swim 50 yards underwater. Then we got good enough to push off the wall and make it back to the end of the deep water.

We were always in the water pushing some poor little kid to the side or dragging somebody four feet. Almost everybody who needed help was generally within about five feet from the edge, so  you’d get in behind them, go underwater, gave ’em a push on the butt, boost them to the side and let ’em grab hold.

Serious injuries came from diving boards

The serious injuries were on the diving boards.  There was always someone cutting the top of their  head open on those old aluminum boards. One kid was clowning around on the high dive one day. He walked out to the end, then decided he was going to walk back. He slipped, fell off the board half-way back, caught the rail, the concrete, the upper concrete level, and the lower concrete level and rolled in the water. I’ve never seen anyone bounce off so much concrete in my life.

Head off to the hospital

I had an old ’57 Plymouth. It was the designated car about half the time. We’d get a kid, slap a dirty towel on the top of his head and drive him up the hill to the emergency room at Southeast Hospital, drop him off and then call his parents, who would thank us for taking the kid to the hospital. To think about doing anything like that these days would be horrifying.

The pool began to show its age, even back in the 70s. We used straight-up chlorine in a tiny little concrete room down there. We also used caustic soda, 50 per cent sodium hydroxide in 55 gallon barrels. We adjusted chlorine and pH levels basically straight out of  tanks. We’d always get a dose of chlorine if we didn’t get the washers hooked up right. It was a seat-of-the-pants, old-time, dangerous operation.

It guided my life

As far as the demise, it’s been so long, you know. I drive by there and the front of it looks sad and sort of like no color to it, stains down the brickwork… it wasn’t like it was in the old days. All I can have is memories. It was my life. It guided my life for a good long time.

[Editor’s note: After we hung up, he sent a text message: “Toward the end of the interview, it hit me and I started remembering a lot of stuff.”]

Other pool photos

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for more recent photos.

Gallery of Capaha Pool Photos

Because there are so many kids pictured, I’m putting up the whole section. You just might see yourself or a sibling there. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.