Driving on Ice Crash Course

I was cruising around on a snowy December day in 1966 when I learned that studded snow tires will help you get GOING, but aren’t all that great at stopping.

Jim Stone, Carol Klarsfeld and I were creeping down a steep hall off Bertling when I came around a curve to find a car skidded out and sideways on my side of the road. I put on my brakes, but the same ice that kept him from going UP the hill kept me from stopping going DOWN the hill.

You can’t hurt a 59 Buick LaSabre

My car caught his left rear door and left rear quarter panel, crunching sheet metal and peeling paint. The damage to my 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon was so insignificant that I didn’t even shoot a photo of it.

It was certainly less a dent than I got on my first driving lesson with Ernie Chiles.

First on the scene

Considering how many miles I drove a year under all kinds of condition, I was pretty lucky (knock wood) never to have been involved in a serious crash. I DID have a few fender benders, though.

I was cruising on a twisty road in Southern Ohio when a farm tractor pulling a trailer full of kids pulled out of a lane in front of me. I opted to steer into a ditch to keep from hitting the tractor. Damage was minimal, but I reported the crash anyway.

The trooper who pulled up recognized me and said, “I bet that’s the fastest you’ve ever been to the scene of an accident.”

How to deal with insurance companies

Not long after that, I was following a bus that was coming into a small Ohio town. The bus stopped. I stopped. The guy behind me DIDN’T stop. He was cited. He had insurance with Grange Insurance, which took its sweet time settling with me.

I was hanging out at the highway patrol HQ trading gossip and complaining about getting jerked around when one of the troopers gave me some advice: “Call the agent and tell him that it’s a good thing it’s taking so long for them to get you a check. You’ve noticed some pains in your neck and back that didn’t start hurting right away. If it doesn’t stop hurting by tomorrow, you’ll go to the doctor to get checked out.”

Insurance adjuster tracked me down

I did as he said. That night, I was covering a high school football game in Logan, OH, where this photo was taken. At half time, a guy walked up to me and asked if I was Ken Steinhoff. I said I was.

It was the insurance agent from Grange. He wanted to know if we could go to my car to get out of the rain. When we got to it, I asked if he would like me to get a flashlight so he could inspect the damage to my vehicle.

“No, I just wanted to get out of the rain so I could write you a check if you think the amount is reasonable.” It was more than reasonable. My aches and pains went away immediately.

Red Dagger Play, Which One?

We haven’t had a mystery post in quite awhile, so here’s the question: What is the name of the play? I thought it was My Sister Eileen, but I couldn’t find anything in the Google News Archive for 1964-1965 in either The Missourian or The Southeast Weekly Bulletin that supported my guess. Ditto my Girardots.

Was it Our Hearts Were Young and Gay?

Vicky Roth wrote a piece for The Missourian’s Youth Page on Feb. 15, 1965, headlined Casting for Red Dagger Production Is Completed.

Cornelia Otis Skinner will be portrayed by Miss Sally Wright, senior, and Miss Sharon Stiver, who is also a senior, will enact the part of Emily Kimbrough. Cornelia’s father will be played by Albert Spradling, and Mrs. Skinner will be characterized by Miss Mary Sudholdt. The two young women’s romantic interests, Leo McEvoy and Dick Winters, will be portrayed by John Magill and Lee Dahringer.

On a cruise to Europe, Cornelia and Emily have amusing encounters with the ship’s company, among them the steward, Gary Fischer; the purser, Steven Crowe; the stewardess, Miss Frances Hopkins; the admiral, Wm. East [Editor’s note: The Missourian had a style quirk that said to abbreviate William as Wm.]; and the inspector, Miss Marcia Maupin. The two girls also meet two English girls, Harriet St. John and Winifred Blaugh, portrayed by Miss Norma Wagoner and Miss Ann Buchanan, respectively.

During the Paris visit, Cornelia and Emily conquer their living problems with the aid of Madame Elise, Miss Yyonne Askew, the landlady, and her daughter, Therese, played by Miss Sheila Kirchoff. Cornelia also attempts acting lessons with the “great” French actor, Monsieur De La Croiz, who will be portrayed by Ronald Marshall. During the confusion and laughter, the window cleaner, Grant Holt, adds his comments to the hilarious events. The play is under the direction of Mrs. Wm. Busch.

It STILL sounds more like My Sister Eileen

When I read a synopsis of My Sister Eileen, it sure sounds like the characters I see in the photos, up to and including the pack of Portuguese Merchant Marines and their conga line, led by Sherry McBride.

I started to put names on the pictures, but then decided, hey, if I don’t even know the NAME of the play, what are the odds that I’m going to get the names of the cast right? So, I’m going to throw up a gallery of photos, some of which have names (some of which might even be correct); the rest are going to be fill-in-the-blanks.

Gallery of high school play

Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery. Good hunting.

Valentine’s Day Cards from Trinity Lutheran School

Valentine’s Day card from Cheri Huckstep

Preparing for my Presidential Libary

There was a time when I thought I had a career in politics. Because I was positive my Presidential Library would find the trappings of my early life important, I made sure to save everything.

My political aspirations hit an iceberg when I picked Bill Hopkins to pilot my Student Body Presidential campaign. Let’s just say that the 163 folks who voted for me were nowhere near a majority and certainly didn’t warrant calling in lawyers to oversee a recount. Jimmy Feldmeier was the clear winner.

Reading the will of the people very clearly, I abandoned my plan to run for POTUS in 1984, the first year I would be Constitutionally eligible and decided that I was more suited for journalism and sniping from the sidelines.

My Mother’s attic is a time capsule

I may have never made it into a Presidential Library, but I have the next best thing. On my last trip home, I ventured up into the time capsule of my Mother’s attic.

If you dig deep enough, you can probably find every school paper I ever brought home; all of my workbooks going back to kindergarten; hundreds of stickers that say, “Don’t be a sucker, Vote for Kenny (I’d have gotten more votes if Jim Stone hadn’t eaten most of the suckers instead of handing them out to potential voters); report cards; a Bucker-Ragsdale receipt for my Cub Scout uniform and this huge stack of Valentine’s Day cards from Trinity Lutheran School days.

There’s also a box of vintage early 1950s comic books that my destructive younger brothers shredded after I went off to college. I’d be able to afford a better brand of cat food in my retirement years if they were in the same condition as when I left. They saved the fragments just to drive me crazy.

1961 Eighth Grade Class at Trinity Lutheran School

We were together for nine years at Trinity Lutheran School

Most of us were in the same class from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Even though the yearbook didn’t have names with the pictures, I can probably still place names with all but about three or four pictures (they may not be the RIGHT names, but…). No, I’m not going to tell you which one was me.

Valentine’s Day ranked way up there in the Grand Scheme of Holidays. It wasn’t quite Christmas, the Fourth of July or Halloween, but it came pretty close to your Birthday.

The only hassle was having to fill out a card for every member of your class. Then, there was the agony of picking out which card went to which kid. You didn’t want to send one that was too mushy to a girl in the sixth grade.

Now that I look back at these cards from sixth and seventh grade level, I wonder about some of the cards I got from the boys in my class.

Was there a message I missed?

Judy Schrader’s card saying that she wished I’d fall for her line caused my heart to pitter patter. I mean, we actually skated together at the Hanover Skating Rink on Friday nights. That was a big deal. (At least to me, it was.)

Getting that same card from Don Sander seems a little strange these days. I mean, I shared a tent with him on Scout camping trips. I never realized he felt that way.

These were simpler times

The card below didn’t come for Valentine’s Day. My dad built roads all over Southeast Missouri and we lived in a house trailer he’d pull from small town to small town. When I was about three years old, we must have gotten to know a family in Mountain View well enough that I was invited to a birthday party.

Look at how the envelope was addressed:

Kenny Steinhoff

City

It didn’t have a street address, a city, state or Zip Code. It wasn’t even addressed to my parents. It’s addressed to a three-year-old living in a house trailer. And it cost just a penny to be delivered.

You can’t beat that with a stick.

Gallery of cards

These represent a couple of years, because several classmates appear more than once. I guessed at last names, but I think I’m close to right. Click on any card to make it larger, click on the left or right side to move through the images.

Valentine Season Aside

Forty-five years ago this month, I was lucky enough to meet Lila Perry, who was working as a cashier at the Rialto Theater. We were married in 1969 and she’s tolerated me every since. I wrote up the whole story last year.