Jackson’s 1938 Swimming Pool

I get amused when I hear people complaining about federal stimulus programs, because a lot of the same gripes were made about FDR’s alphabet soup of  the CCC, NRA, WPA and the like.

In 1938, Jackson agonized over spending $2,000 for materials needed by the WPA to build a swimming pool for the city. The Missourian reported June 7, 1938 that a delegation argued “that such a pool is a necessity, that other cities nearby have such pools and that the pools are frequented a great deal and pay for their upkeep. It was also said that the construction of a pool in the Sanford Park would redeem the park which has become more or less of a white elephant to the city and that, unless something is done to utilize it, the park might as well be sold.

“It was also pointed out that daily Jackson people visit the swimming pool in Cape Girardeau, that, if Jackson had a pool, graduating classes from other towns could be invited to use it, that the pool would serve to keep the youth of the city off the streets in the idle summer months, that the Board of Education is spending $10,000 of the people’s money on a stadium that is used probably four or five times a year, and that only $1,500 of the people’s money is being asked for to build an $11,000 swimming pool that would be used 120 days a year.

The pool, as planned, would hold 140,000 gallons of water. The biggest concern was how much it would cost to maintain the pool. The City Council ducked making a decision by ruling that it would circulate a petition “to ascertain the feelings of the citizens regarding the matter.”

Jackson Swimming Pool and Drive-in

The voters must have decided they wanted the pool, because it WAS built. This aerial photo from the late 60s shows the pool in the middle of the photo. Jackson’s Drive-in Theater is at the bottom right. It’s the site of the new pool, which replaced the 1938 WPA project in 1976.

All good things come to an end

Oct. 13, 1965, The Missourian ran a story that said the old pool was too old and too small. James R. Nelson, summer pool manager and principal of Jackson High School, said the pool had become outmoded, machinery is believed to be in danger of collapse and huge leaks are releasing tremendous amounts of water. In one three-day period with no activity, the pool leaked 90,000 gallons of water, about half its capacity.

Nelson thought the problem was in the circulation system. When the pool was built, pipes were laid in the concrete around the pool. During the first 20 years of operation, the acid level of the pool was rarely checked and it was believed that acid over the years had eaten the pipes away. The presumed result was that the circulation system consists of holes in the concrete instead of pipes. Water leaked out at every joint or crack in the concrete. Water in the pool met safety standards, but just barely.

Pool has been filled in

I’m not sure when the old pool closed, but a new pool, opened in 1976. The old pool has been filled and turned into a Tot Land. If you look closely at some of the photos in the gallery, you can still see where the lifeguard chairs were mounted and see  barely make out the NO DIVING markers.

Jackson Pool Photo Gallery

Here is a collection of vintage and current photos of the Jackson pool. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the photo to move through the gallery.

Jackson’s Hanging Tree in Danger

Bill Hopkins was kind enough to post a Facebook link to Brian Blackwell’s Southeast Missourian story that the Cape County commissioners are opposed to a new roundabout design in Jackson. Sounds like one of those Dull But Necessary stories real newspapers still have to cover.

Hang on for the interesting part

A point of contention is that the roundabout could endanger a tree that was used to hang people who were convicted of murder. The tree is more than 100 years old and is the last “hanging tree” in the county, Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said.

The proposed roundabout would come within a few feet of the tree trunk, causing possible damage.

“If these three commissioners agree to give up that much of our beautiful courthouse lawn, there would be a three-person hanging on that hanging tree,” Jones said. “And I believe that would be us.”

I had to see the Hanging Tree

I mean, after all, I WORKED for The Jackson Pioneer, right across the street from the County Courthouse. I had never HEARD of the Hanging Tree. This was embarrassing. Besides, it was lunchtime and a trip to Jackson would give me another excuse to swing by Wib’s BBQ.

After having a brown hot (with Cole slaw on it), fries and a Mr. Pibb, I was off to the courthouse. The only problem was I had no idea which of at least three trees could be the Hanging Tree. I needed expert guidance.

Let’s start at Mapping & Appraisal

The very nice woman behind the counter in the Mapping and Appraisal office didn’t even smirk when I asked if she knew anything about the Hanging Tree. She simply said, “Come over here,” leading me to a window. “It’s that one.” She pointed to a tree that I had dismissed as being too low to the ground.

“I thought that one looked like a broken-down Redbud tree. It doesn’t look like it’d be tall enough to hang anybody,” I said.

“My husband said that all of the old-time bad guys must have been four feet tall, but that’s the tree.”

A cool-looking Cape County Plat Book caught my eye, so I started to hand over my pocket plastic. “We don’t take those,” she said kindly.

“Will you take a check?”

“Sure.”

I handed her a West Palm Beach check signed with an illegible scrawl and she started to walk away. “Don’t you want to see any identification?” I asked her.

“Nah, I have your business card. I can find you.”

THAT’S how you know you’re back home. Of course, having a Hanging Tree outside your window may make you a little more sure that nobody is going to write you a bum check.

“Trust, but verify”

The Jackson Pioneer was a solidly Republican newspaper. The first major political speech I covered was Ronald Reagan stumping for Barry Goldwater in 1964. (We’ll cover that experience some other time.) That got me thinking about Reagan’s favorite saying, “Trust, but verify.”

I went up to the second floor of the courthouse to an office overlooking the purported Hanging Tree. Not only did another nice lady verify Mapping and Appraisal Lady’s tree choice, but she pointed to a big painting on the wall with the story of poor John Headrick, the last person to take a ride on the tree on June 15, 1899.

Who was John Headrick?

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. I’m going to save myself a bunch of typing by sending you to The Southeast Missourian’s July 22, 2001, version of The Hanging of John Headrick that’s next to the picture on the wall.

Here’s a genealogy site with another  account that has slightly more and / or different details of the Headrick case.

Bottom line is that John Headrick was a 19-year-old hired hand who worked for James M. Lail. Headrick may or may not have been romancing Lail’s daughter, Jessie, but he was fired after he was arrested for stealing a buggy.

He returned to the farm, had a confrontation which resulted in Lail being shot dead. Lail’s wife, Vernie, trying to cover his body to protect him, was shot, beaten and stabbed by Headrick. While he was distracted by the daughter, Mrs. Lail ran for help. Headrick expressed a certain degree of admiration for the woman when he discovered she was alive, “By God, the old woman is gone, you can’t kill her, can you?”

Sheriff John H. Jenkins rounded up a posse of 30 to 40 men to hunt down Headrick and caught him hiding in Milt Golson’s barn.

On Nov. 19, 1898, Judge Henry C. Riley sentenced Headrick to “be hanged by the neck, between heaven and earth, until he is dead.”

The Missouri Supreme court affirmed the conviction and the execution was carried out on the Hanging Tree on the Jackson courthouse lawn.

Sheriff Bernard Gockel reported to the court, “I hereby certify that I served the within and attached Death Warrant, at the County of Cape Girardeau, State of Missouri, on the 15th day of June A.D. 1899, by reading the same to the within named John Headrick, and on the same day between the hours of six o’clock and seven o’clock, A.M., and at the same County and State, and within the Jail Yard of said County, within an inclosure surrounded by a fence higher than the gallows and sufficiently closed to exclude the view of persons on the outside, I did inflict the death penalty by hanging the said John Headrick by the neck until he was dead.”


Lynch Finds Santa – in JACKSON

Shopper eyes Santa Claus in Cape Girardeau (actually Jackson)Hillary wrote that it takes a village. She got that right. It took a village of CHS readers to find a town – Jackson.

To recap: I posted a gallery of Christmas shopping pictures on Wednesday and confessed that I didn’t know where they were taken. Since one of them showed the inside of a Rexall Drugs store, I jumped to the conclusion that it had to be Unnerstall’s on Good Hope and that Santa would be nearby.

Santa drew guesses

My brother, Mark, missed the target completely. He thought it was taken from Shivelbine’s on Broadway.

Missourian photographer Fred Lynch keyed in on the telephone pole in the picture and convinced himself (and me) that it was taken on Good Hope near my original guess.

He sent me pictures that seemed to confirm it and I posted an update here. He followed it up with some pictures later taken from almost the same angle as mine that sure made it look like we had found the correct spot.

Fred Lynch Haarig photo looking southBill Hopkins chimes in

Emails with pictures attached start flowing in from Bill Hopkins, none of which are even close.

Blitstein sees problem

Chuck Blitstein posted a great description of Good Hope from the days when he worked at Cape Cut rate, but then he questioned our findings:

The location of your Santa photo presents a real conundrum, and the several ‘clues’ exacerbate the problem rather than lead to its resolve; e.g., the shoes in the window tend to make one think of a Men’s Clothing Store; in the 60s the shopping areas were Main Street, Broadway and Good Hope.  Sides-Miller was in the 600 block of Broadway, Irvin’s and Ross Young were on Main but I do not remember a cafe/bar across from them.  Al’s Mid-Town Lounge at 627 Good Hope might  have had a Stag Beer sign, but the word Cafe doesn’t seem to fit and the location seems wrong for the picture.  Hirsch’s might have sold shoes but again, the cafe/bar across the street?  Then, there is the car, ’62 Dodge Dart?  It looks like it is parked at an angle?  I thought all on-street parking was parallel, but maybe not.  Oh, well, a senior moment, I guess.

Hopkins questions Lynch

Building across the street closeupBill Hopkins: Fred, take a look at the door in the Santa photo; it has a transom (is that the correct term?) above it and then a window offset slightly to the viewer’s right. In the photo of the building you propose as the correct one, that door (if it’s the same door) does not have such a window above it. In fact, the building you took a photo of shows those star thingies; they were connected to rods and helped support the building. My deceased pal Floyd Runnels (father of Jeanie Runnels Eddleman, the artist who draws historical buildings) was a bricklayer and explained that to me once. Of course I don’t remember what he said.

One more thing I noticed: the Santa building has drainage over the top windows; the suspect building does not.

Larry Saddler agrees with Blitstein

Larry Sadler: Chuck Blitstein points out that the car looks like it is angle parked.  I agree with him.  The sign on the window looks like it says Palace Cafe to me.  I don’t remember the Palace Cafe in Cape Girardeau.  Could this possibly be a picture taken in Jackson.  I believe they used angle parking extensively in Jackson.  The mystery continues.

So does Jesse James

Jesse James: Doesn’t look like the Santa picture is in Cape, notice the car is parked at an angle and not parallel. Don’t remember any places that was done in Cape, maybe Jackson?

Brenda Bone Lapp piles on

Brenda Bone Lapp: I  agree with Jesse that the photo of the boy with the Santa in the storefront is taken in Jackson.  I think it is somewhere in the area of the Square.  It may be close to that store (I think it was a feed store) where they had the stuffed horse in the window.  Remember that?

[Editor’s note: I sure do remember it. It was next door to The Jackson Pioneer, where I worked.]

Fred sends a flash bulletin

Fred Lynch: Flash! Santa mystery photo solved! Details to follow. (I have a day job.)
Clue: The utility pole is gone.

Fred discovers Santa in Jackson

[Here’s the complete account. Fred doesn’t normally talk about himself in the third person. He was trying to make it easy for me by making it look like I had actually written this, but I want to make sure he gets full credit for running around for two days and enlisting the help of a co-worker. I think we should make him an honorary member of Central High School 1960s’ Decade]

GD Fronabarger shooting parade in front of Southeast MissourianFred Lynch: When photojournalist Fred Lynch is not taking pictures for The Southeast Missourian, a daily newspaper in Cape Girardeau, Mo., he can be found driving around looking at buildings to identify for Ken Steinhoff’s blog. Ken was Fred’s predecessor in the late 1960s at the Missourian.

Fred is always up for a challenge, more so since starting his own blog, F/8 and Be There. Fred shares old photos of Cape Girardeau and their background with readers on the web site. Some of the pictures date back to the 1920s and earlier. Many have been taken by G.D. Fronabarger from the 30s to the 60s. Frony was Ken’s predecessor at the newspaper.

With an eye for detail, Fred checked a photo that Ken took of a child standing outside a store window that had a Santa Claus in it. Ken didn’t remember where it was taken, so he invited blog readers to help.

Looking for clues

Using two different frames of the photo that Ken provided, Fred found these clues:

  • Utility pole
  • Parking meter
  • Two women walking across the street
  • Automobile angle-parked
  • Store across the street with Palace Cafe on the window
  • The two-story building with distinctive second-floor windows, building trim
    above the windows
  • A glass case with a movie poster inside.

Fred first thought the scene was the 600 block of Good Hope. He even took pictures to support the theory. The pole was there and the windows were there, or so he thought. In the end, Fred could not fit the square peg into the round hole.

Wrong street. And wrong town.

The mystery Santa photo was not taken in Cape Girardeau. It was in Jackson.

Old Palace Theater and cafe in Jackson, MOFred began his quest with a call to Cathy Hancock at the Jackson office of The Southeast Missourian. She grew up in Jackson. Fred learned from Cathy that Rozier’s department store had a Santa in their window back in the 1960s
when Ken took the photo.

[Editor’s note: I was working for The Jackson Pioneer at the time, so it’s likely that I shot these pictures for it, and not The Missourian.]

Fred learned from Cathy that Jackson had a movie theater at the time, the Palace Theater. Cathy contacted a friend who confirmed there was a Palace Cafe next door to the theater.

Buildings change over decades. The utility poles on High Street are gone, as well as the parking meters. Rozier’s is now High Street Center, an office building. The theater is no more, but one can imagine it was there from the
front. Now it has a church and a beauty salon. The Palace Cafe is now Lloyd’s of Jackson, a bar. And so it goes with progress in Jackson.
.

[Thanks to Fred and Cathy at The Missourian and thanks to all of you who pulled out magnifying glasses to help solve this mystery.]