When I first ran across the photos of this giggle of girls in front of the Arena Building, I thought they might be refugees from some kind of band camp. One girl is strumming on a guitar, there’s at least one other guitar case there, and another girl has what appears to be a ukulele under her arm.
Ouija Boards and sleeping bags
Then I noticed a Careers board game, a Ouija Board, sleeping bags, canteens and other camping paraphernalia.
Is this a Girl Scout campout?
If it is, they certainly don’t travel light. They appear to be a thirsty bunch, too. I see canteens of various shapes, thermos bottles, an insulated jug and a pitcher. Those square boxes look like they might contain beauty aids. Or ham sandwiches.
Headed INTO the Arena Building
They weren’t meeting in front of the Arena Building to go somewhere, they were headed INTO the building. That’s interesting. If you have really sharp eyes, you can see a Civil Defense triangle on a box on the table at the top of the stairs. Maybe that’ll provide a clue to what’s going on.
What is that on her head?
There is some kind of signing up going on here. I covered lots of Boy and Girl Scout events, but I don’t every recall running into the ceremonial or protective headgear the girl at the table is wearing.
Elaborate forms to fill out
The forms these girls are holding look more formidable than the ones we face on April 15 every year. What ARE they up to?
Civil Defense and National Security
Then, I finally found the two frames that made it all clear. Notice the small box with the Civil Defense triangle on it the man is holding? It’s a Geiger Counter.
You have to remember that this was at the confluence of The Red Scare and the Dawn of Rock and Roll, you know, Devil’s Music.
The girls were suspected of being Radio Active
Some busybody neighbor must have heard these girls listening to rock n roll on the radio and passed the word to the local Civil Defense office. The message got garbled at each stage along the way until it finally read, “Scores of teenage girls in Cape Girardeau are radioactive.”
The next thing you know, buses were dispatched to snatch the girls and quarantine them in the Arena Building until they could be screened with Geiger Counters.
That’s my theory and I’m sticking to until someone can come up with a better one.