Cheating Death at the Perkins Shoe Tree

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

I got this email from Number Three Steinhoff Brother Mark Tuesday: “I was wondering if you ever went back and photographed Perkins Shoe Tree to see if first, the pole was still there and second, if the shoes were there?”

Steinhoff Family Shoes

Shoes for shoe tree 11-26-2010

He was referring to a utility pole I discovered in 2010 when heading out to shoot aerials with Ernie Chiles. When the Tulsa Clan came to Cape to visit Mother, Mark assembled their shoes, created special red tags, and took them to Perkins to start a family tradition.

Mark wants to be the oldest brother

David, Mark, Ken Steinhoff 08-1978

If it had been any reader other than Brother Mark, I would have assumed it was idle curiosity. With him, I suspect more nefarious motives.

See, he’s always wanted to be the oldest brother. Since that didn’t happen in the natural order of things, he’s been trying to gain the title by attrition. In other words, he’s trying to kill off his two older brothers.

Attempted Fratricide

Mark Steinhoff Christmas 2000

In 2000, we went on a bike ride around Cape. We were going down a long, steep hill with a nasty curve at the bottom when he started pushing me to the edge of the road, kind of like a collie herding a sheep.

I had no choice but bail out into a ditch, making a taco out of my wheel. When the Steinhoffs convened in St. Louis to celebrate Christmas, I presented him with my wheel and a plaque attesting to his evildoing. I wanted a record of his past in case he tried again.

Wanted me to break quarantine

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

I could only assume that he wanted me to leave the safety of my self-quarantine on Kingsway Drive so he could count on my high-risk status to move him up a notch in the Brother Universe.

I accepted his challenge. The top photo shows that the pole and the shoes still exist.

This closeup shows some shoes with the metal tags still in them, but the red paint has faded. In a few places, the tags are still embedded in the pole, but the shoes have gone AWOL.

Shoes tired of hanging around

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

It looks like some shoes have gotten tired of hanging around.

Not Welcome to Perkins

Perkins Vol Fire Dept sign 05-05-2020

This isn’t exactly a Welcome to Perkins message, but I can understand its meaning.

In for a penny, in for a pound

Advance Elementary School 05-05-2020

Since I was already out and about, I made a quick run through Advance to see if I could pick up some great chips and salsa at El Mexicano. They were dark, so I’m afraid they were closed.

I DID see this cool sign on the door of the Advance Elementary School (along with one that said that all Advance R-4 School District facilities are closed until further notice. A man who saw me at the door said they were closed for the rest of the school year, and hoped they might open again by August).

Mrs. Tanner, Mrs. Theresa, Mrs. Christina and Mr. Jones wanted pupils to know “We really miss you!”

“P.S.,” it continued, “I used the ‘smelly” markers. NO you cannot smell them through the window (smiley face).”

There are some bright spots around

Flowers south of Leopold 05-05-2020

I pulled off on the side of a gravel road somewhere between Advance and Leopold to take a look at this field of yellow.

If you don’t hear from me, it’s because Brother Mark’s plot to move up in the Brother Universe was successful.

Dad Would Have Turned 101

When I walked out the front door the other day, I noticed that the tulips that Mother had planted years and years ago had started to bloom. I snipped off a few, along with some other flowers from the yard, and started looking for something I could put them in at the cemetery.

It was pretty windy, so I thought I’d better get a vase of some kind with a spike on the bottom. After going to three places, I found a small, white plastic one, but it had plastic flowers in it. I hate plastic flowers when real ones are available.

I turned to an elderly woman in front of me (if I call someone elderly, you KNOW they are old), and asked if she’d like some flowers. Her face lit up like she had won the lottery. It was the best thing that happened all day.

By the way, you can click on the photos to make them larger.

Brother David hits Cape

Brother David passed through St. Louis and Cape doing a honk ‘n’ wave on his way back home to Texas. He brought along a wreath to put on Dad and Mother’s stone.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a way to secure the wreath, and the winds were blowing so hard that we were afraid it would end up in Perry county. I promised him I’d come back the next week to rig something up.

My flowers were woebegone

The cheap plastic vase I bought wouldn’t hold water, and the wind had whipped the flowers around, so they were looking a bit ragged when I went back on Monday to rig David’s wreath.

If you look closely, you can see the head of two big spikes I pushed into the ground, and some fine green wires leading upwards from them.

It’s up in time for his birthday

Two similar spikes and wires hold on the front of the stone secure the wreath. When I messaged David that I got the display up in time for Dad’s birthday, April 17, he pointed out that he would have been 101 years old this year.

Wow! That boggles my mind.

Earlier posts about Dad

The Game of Life

This is the third Birthday Season without the guest of honor. Wife Lila sent me an email today that said, “Read your Mom’s obit post from 06-2015 this morning. Felt like I needed to. It was good then, and is even better now.”

I confessed that I had let Mother’s October 17 birthday sneak up on me, and I hadn’t done an update. Her reply rocked me: “Someday there will be a point when you won’t remember to update. Not sure if it is something to look forward to or not.”

I’m pretty sure I won’t let that happen. I still remember what happened when I moved away from home to go to school in Ohio and forgot Mother’s Day.

This photo was taken when Brothers Mark and David came down to help “declutter” the house preparing it for sale. Little did we know that I’d end up buying the house myself in June two years later. (More about that later.)

Past stories about Mary Welch Steinhoff

Making the Rounds for Mother

When I pulled into 1618 Kingsway Drive late April 18 after a marathon month on the road that took me from Missouri to Ohio to Florida to Ohio, then back to Missouri, the first thing I noticed was a single red rose on the bush around the yard on the front yard.

The next morning, the bush was covered in blooms. Even though we had several days of torrential rain over the past few weeks, there were quite a few blooms ready for me to make the Mother’s Day rounds.

I don’t like plastic flowers

I’d rather leave some ratty real blossoms cut from the front yard instead of plastic plants made out of dead dinosaurs. The latter might last longer, but they are impersonal. The first stop was Wife Lila’s mother’s grave in St. Mary’s Cemetery off Perry Avenue.

Unusual tributes

My brothers and I usually mark Mother and Dad’s graves with things we pick up on the road, or things from the house. I’ve left tiles from the ruins of a building in Cairo, a railroad spike from Wittenberg and a coin smashed flat by a train car. David and Mark have buried tiny shoes from Mother’s shoe collection and Christmas ornaments.

Mother was an unusual lady, so we think she’d appreciate our quirky leavings.

“Who will decorate the graves?”

I spent many hours with Mother driving all over Cape and Stoddard counties visiting tiny cemeteries that contained the final resting places of her friends and family. This is my grandparents’ grave in Advance. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

I don’t know how many times I heard her ask, “Who will put flowers on the graves after I’m gone?”

I’ll do my best.