Chairs

Funny how you look at things without seeing them. I was in the back yard when I asked Mother, “Aren’t those the same chairs we had in Advance?”

“Two of them were,” she confirmed.

Brother Mark in contemplation

I was pretty sure I have photos of those chairs in my grandparents’ yard when I was only a couple of years old. I couldn’t find them right away, but I did spot them in the Kingsway back yard in the summer of 1960.That means they’ve survived nearly three-quarters’ of a century of rain, snow, heat and cold with only the application of a little paint every decade or so.

We expect every season to be the last for the redbud tree in the right center of the photo, but it keeps coming back every spring.

Brother Mark, stretched out on a bench in contemplation, is trying to figure out what color he’s going to paint those chairs half a century later.

Maple is all grown up

That little maple tree sapling at the left side of the two photos is about 18 inches across now. I keep waiting for it to fall over and hit the house. That’s Brother David, Mother and my Grandmother Elsie Welch in the picture.

Funeral home chairs

I shifted my weight while typing this and was reminded that I’m sitting on what we call the “funeral home chairs.” It’s a set of wooden folding chairs that Mother said was used in a teen hangout in the basement of my grandfather’s liquor store in the Prather Building in Advance. There are five of them around the table I use as a work area in the basement when I’m in Cape. I have three or four in West Palm Beach.

If Mother is 90, that would make those chairs at least that old, because I can’t imagine my grandfather buying new chairs for a bunch of teenagers. I’d creak too, if I was that old.

In fact, now that I think of it, when I shifted my weight, I’m not sure if the sound was coming from the old chair or from me.

Travel update

Made it from Cape to Kentucky Lake to get Mother’s trailer set up for her to stay a few days. Tuesday night found me in Newport, TN. I got to see some beautiful mountain scenery going through the Smokies to the Winston-Salem area Wednesday to visit Don Gordon, a guy I worked with at The Missourian.

After a couple of hours of gabbing, I took off to see my old paper, The Gastonia Gazette. The first thing I discovered is that it’s been rebranded The Gaston Gazette. Then, I went to the corner where it should have been (and where the GPS said it was) and couldn’t find it. The shopping mall that used to be across the street was still there (but much larger), but no newspaper. The GPS gave me an alternative location. I pulled up to the building and thought it looked vaguely familiar, but the location felt wrong. It turns out there’s a Walgreens where my old paper was and this is a new joint. I’m not holding out much hope of finding much I can remember here.

Little Things on Father’s Day

I pulled a few slides at random from some slide trays I had just put into sleeves. None of the pictures are particularly significant, but they all brought back memories from 1961 when most of them were taken. This was an exception. It was taken in West Palm Beach at Christmastime 1973. That’s Wife Lila, Brother Mark and Dad on the couch. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

A couple of things catch my eye. The ring on Dad’s right hand belonged to my grandfather, Roy Welch. My grandmother, Elsie Adkins Welch, kept telling him that some of the help was tapping the till in their Advance inn and tavern. Roy, who always thought the best of everyone, said that was impossible – he’d notice it. So, over a period of time, she’d dip into the cash register when he wasn’t looking. Eventually, she had siphoned off enough to buy him that ring. When my grandfather died, Grandmother gave Dad the ring.

Ring passed down to me

When Dad died in 1977, Mother passed it on to me. When it’s time, Son Matt will get it. (Son Adam will get my Palm Beach Post 20-Year Rolex.) I don’t look down at my right hand without thinking of Dad and Grandfather. I hope Matt and Grandson Malcolm will carry on the tradition.

When Lila and I got married, we were furniture poor. Our second domicile was a huge basement apartment with a living room that had little in it except a couple of twin bed mattresses that Lila had covered with corduroy material. They served as a place to sit and a place for overnight guests to sleep. After Mother and Dad paid us their first visit, Dad handed me a check and said, “Please, buy something for us to sleep on before we come back.” The couch / sleeper bed came from that check.

Comic books and watermelon

I learned to read from comic books. Dad would pick one up from time to time. His favorite was Scrooge McDuck. I can’t quite see which one he’s reading here at the kitchen table.

The slide had “Winter Watermelon March 1961” on it. That’s my grandmother on the left. Mark is making short work of the melon. (We shot a lot of pictures of him at that age because we weren’t sure how long he’d be cute.)

The clown cookie jar is still kicking around. I’m not sure, but those glasses may have been giveaways from a service station promotion from the days when you actually got service and not just gas. The sandwich toaster is open on the counter, so that probably means we had barbecue sandwiches. Desert was always a big deal at our house. That’s why you can see watermelon, brownies and a bowl that probably contained ice cream.

Dad was a smoker

Dad looks tired in this shot. It was hard to shoot a picture of him without a cigarette in his hand.

I think it was New Year’s Day my sophomore year that Dad chewed me out for staying out late the night before. In the days before I worked for Missourian, it was understood that I would be home at what they considered a reasonable hour. I wasn’t THAT late, so I was surprised that Dad jumped me.

A few weeks later, he explained. At midnight that New Year’s Eve, he had tossed all his cigarettes in the fireplace and had quit smoking cold turkey. He didn’t tell anyone until he was sure that he could do it. I remember him saying that it was easier than he thought it would be. “I got to the point where I was disgusted with myself. I’d have one cigarette smouldering in the ashtray, have one in my mouth and be pulling out a new one to light. I got tired of burning holes in my clothes. It was time.”

As far as I know, he never took another puff. It sure made it a lot harder to buy him a present, though. I new pipe or some smoking paraphernalia was always a fall-back gift.

Napping in my room

One thing I inherited from Dad was an appreciation for a good nap. Here he is nodding off my my bedroom.

There are some interesting memory touchstones here, too. Hanging from the curtains are motivational flyers The Missourian would put on our bundles of papers. Cynical even at our young age, we carriers called them “sucker sheets” and wondered why they couldn’t take the money they spent on the flyers and pay us a little more.

The black object on the top of the window is a barometer that belonged to my grandfather. I still have it on our mantle here. Just over the top of Dad’s toe, over in the corner, is a magazine rack with my initials on it that he built in his basement workshop. I still have it and a set of bookends he made for me. Mother has taken over this room for her bedroom. She likes to be able to sit and look out the window while playing with her iPad.

Missourian Achievement Edition

We paperboys hated The Missourian’s Achievement Edition, the biggest paper of the year. Looks like Mother came to pick me up at the station where the truck dropped of my papers. That’s Brother David on the left; Mark’s on the right. I can’t make out who the front seat passenger is.

Dad was working some jobs around Cape during the last year or so I was a carrier. He’d help me roll my papers, then we’d head off in either the station wagon or his pickup. Once he got to know my route, we made it a game to see how quickly we could get all the papers delivered. If it hadn’t been for half a dozen or so customers who insisted their papers be put on their front doors, I swear that the first paper would still have been in the air when I threw the last house.

Earlier stories about Dad

 

 

Doctors Wilson and Estes

I have some fuzzy memories of the Spanish Revival style brick building at 714 Broadway. When I was a kid, Mother would take my grandmother, Elsie Welch, there for arthritis treatments. Dr. Charles F. Wilson was her doctor. When I searched for information on the building, I found that Dr. Wilson shared office space with Dr. Albert M. Estes.

Civil Defense needs 400 block wardens

Here are some stories that ran in The Missourian that mentioned the two doctors.

  • Sept. 9, 1954 – Reports on the organization of special groups within the local Civil Defense unit were made Wednesday night at Fort D at a meeting of service chiefs presided over by Kenneth Cruse, director of the local unit. Dr. Charles Wilson, medical chief, reported that his group is organized and that he has studied the plans set out by the state Civil Defense headquarters. About 40 persons have volunteered for service as block wardens, according to John Kitchens, group chief, but “this number is very short of our actual needs,” he added. Plans call for a warden on each of the city’s approximate 400 blocks.
  • Feb. 7, 1956 – The course of history has often been changed by disease as by military conquest, Dr. Charles F. Wilson said Monday in a talk before Rotary Club. [If you follow the link, he gives some interesting examples.]

Dr. Estes first to use electrocardiogram

  • Sept. 29, 1970Dr. Raymond A. Ritter, spoke to the Rotary Club in 1970 about the changes in medicine in Cape Girardeau over his 37 years of practice. He said that he and Dr. H.V. Ashley are the only two practicing physicians of those here when he began his practice here June 28, 1933. Dr. L.S. Bunch and Dr. H.F. Baumstark are the only remaining dentists practicing at that time, he added. Doctors George Walker and C.A.W. Zimmerman were local pioneers in the used of radiology. Dr. Albert M. Estes was the first physician in Cape Girardeau to use the electrocardiogram.
  • Nov. 11, 1972 – The cardiac units at St. Francis Hospital will be known as the Dr. Albert M. Estes Cardiac station in honor of Dr. Estes’ 33 years of internal medicine practice in Jackson and Cape Girardeau. Dr. Estes established the first two cardiac care units in Southeast Missouri. The first unit was located in St. Francis Hospital in 1949, and the other soon afterwards as Southeast Missouri Hospital.
  • Sept. 22, 2001Flora Marie French passed away Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001. She practiced as a registered nurse in the office of Dr. Charles Wilson 14 years, and then at St. Francis Hospital 10 years. After retiring, she was a member of the St. Francis Auxiliary.

Christmas at The Steinhoffs

Christmas was always a big deal at our house, as the 1966 photo above shows. The Christmas tree was always set up in the basement recreation room, as they were called in those days.

When we boys got up, Dad and Mother (mostly Dad) would torture us by making us wait until everybody got ready to go downstairs. Grandmother, who moved slowly because of arthritis, was always the first to go down.

When I got into high school, and became the official photographic historian, I was given the go-ahead to go next.

Christmas 1969

I had been doing some photo books for class projects at Ohio University, so Lila and I decided to put together one of our first Christmas as married folks in 1969. Here’s what it looked like.

Each person generally got one big “special” present. They weren’t always under the tree. In fact, as we got older, Christmas morning turned out to be more like a scavenger hunt as we tracked down clues all over the house. Dad and Mother (mostly Dad) took great pleasure in watching us scurry.

Mother got a skillet

Mother would almost always get at least one utilitarian present. It might be a skillet like this, or a vacuum cleaner or a clothes dryer.

Then she’d get a “fun” gift

It might be a series of cards with clues as to what she should buy with the money enclosed or it might be an actual gift.

Boys got lots of small gifts

Dad loved to buy things. I think he started shopping for next Christmas on Dec. 26. We never did figure out were he squirreled away all the loot. In fact, sometimes, he’d forget what all he HAD bought. At the end of opening orgy, he’d look around, then disappear for a few minutes, returning with yet another box or two that he recognized were missing.

Grandmother liked “smell-good” stuff

She’d get cosmetics, books, scarfs and knick-knacks.

Dad lived for Christmas

He loved to watch us tearing into the packages.

We were too busy to see this

We kids were too busy ripping paper to watch the interplay between our parents. I don’t think I paid much attention to them until I shot this book.

Dad got harder to buy for

My junior or senior year in high school, Dad decided to quit smoking on New Year’s Eve without telling any of us. We didn’t know why he had gotten cranky for several weeks. He finally said that he threw all his cigarettes in the fireplace at the end of the year, but didn’t want to say anything until he was sure he had kicked the habit.

That complicated our gift-giving, though. That ruled out pipes, tobacco, pipe stands, lighters and other smoking accessories.

Taking inventory

Once we had everything unwrapped, it was time to concentrate on that “special” gift. David must have gotten a turntable this year. I remember some of my big presents being a Hallicrafters S-38E shortwave radio (Son Matt has it now), a Daisy pump action BB gun, an Argus Autronic 35 (my first 35mm camera) and, a few years later, a Pentax camera.

They proclaimed it a success

When it was all over, it’s obvious that they rated our morning a success.

Biggest trash day of the year

I read somewhere that the day after Christmas is the biggest trash day of the year. When I see all of the debris left over in 1966, I can believe it.

I should feel guilty about all of the stuff we got, but Grandson Malcolm is playing with some of the toys and Mother’s attic has a lot left for the next one.

I’m glad Lila and I put this together. It brings back a lot of good memories.