Is Winter Over?

Jonathan Creek 04-01-2014_6676I rolled into Cape Girardeau not long after dark-thirty, got the van unloaded and the computer gear set up.

On the way up, I stopped for a 17-minute nap in the first Kentucky rest area on I-24. When I got out to stretch my legs, I noticed that the trees were blooming and some flowers were popping out. Birds were chirping and some bees were making their rounds. Does that mean I dodged winter?

Kentucky photo gallery

Boaters and fisherfolks were taking advantage of the super weather in the Land Between the Lakes area. All of us who hold our breath going over this bridge will be happy to see this construction projection finished. And, finally, I just had to pull off the road near Wickliffe to capture the sun setting over the Mississippi River bridge near Cairo. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.

 

Plastic Statues and Seatbelts

Woman w kids in car 03-21-1969 64When I spotted this carload of kids shot back in Ohio in 1969, I thought back on more innocent days when we counted on plastic statues on the dashboard to keep our precious cargo safe. The only restraint system most kids encountered was Mom’s arm hastily flung out in front of them.

Padded dashboards

Religious statues on dashboard 09-06-1967These icons would have a tough time sticking to today’s padded dashboards that replaced nose-bending metal ones.

You can say what you want to about how “they don’t build them like they used to,” but that’s a good thing. My 2000 Odyssey van just turned over 170K miles. I used to have to trade cars about every two years when they had less than a third that much mileage. It’s true that cars suffer damage at lower speeds than they used to, but that’s because they are designed with “crumple zones” that eat up the energy of a crash rather than transmitting it to the vehicle’s occupants like the old solid-frame cars.

Seatbelts in the Buick LaSabre

Ken Steinhoff 1959 Builck LaSabre station wagon at Buck Nelson Flying Saucer Convention 74

My folks figured I needed more than plastic statues, particularly after I hit a bridge before I had driven 150 yards during Ernie Chiles’ attempt to teach me how to navigate the highways. They equipped the family’s 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon with some of the first after-market seatbelts to hit the market. My car and I were covering the Buck Nelson Flying Saucer Convention in Mountain View in this photo. You’ll read more about that later.

There was nothing automatic about those first belts. In fact, I’m not even sure they had quick-release buckles; you might have had to thread the belt through the buckle every time. I don’t remember if the wide front seat had two sets of belts or three. If it was the former, that was probably Mother’s idea of safety – it kept my date on the far side of the car.

I give Dad credit: he put them in the car for me, but he wore them religiously, if only to set a good example. Working hundreds of wrecks made me a seatbelt fanatic. When I encountered a passenger who didn’t want to buckle up, I’d give them a choice: buckle up or walk. Here’s a site that gives a good explanation of why seatbelts save lives and how they work. They’ve come a long way since my fabric belt bolted to the floor.

Crash stories

Trooper Norman Copeland 04-14-1966

1966 Don Ford wreck on Mississippi River Bridge

Traffic Bridge at Night

Mississippi River Traffic Bridge c 1967There’s something magic about shooting after dark. The light bounces around in ways it doesn’t during the daylight hours. There must have been some low clouds the night I shot these time exposures because the sky reflected a lot of the city’s lights.

When you were driving across the bridge, you probably didn’t notice there was a little bit of a curve to it. I shot this photo the same night as this one.

There’s  a lot of steel here

Mississippi River Traffic Bridge c 1967You can see why it was a challenge to demolish the bridge. In one of those strange coincidences, I was scanning these photos on the same day Fred Lynch’s blog carried photos of the 1957 bridge-freeing queens.

St. Vincent’s steeple

Mississippi River Traffic Bridge c 1967You can see St. Vincent’s steeple just barely peeking up at the bottom right of this shot. The exposure was long enough that the tree branches are blurry, but too short for the car headlights to streak all the way across the bridge. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

 

A Rainy Night in Cape Girardeau

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013Ever wonder why car ads always show wet roads, but it’s never raining? It’s because all the reflections are REALLY neat.  This is southbound on Kingshighway south of Broadway. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

I had to make a run to UPS to send a thumb drive full of photos to the Athen (OH) Historical Society and Museum. When I stopped by there last month, I left off a bunch of photos I took when I worked in Athens back in the late ’60s and early 70s. Friend Jan and I had barely gotten out of town when curator Jessica Cyders pinged me to ask if I thought it would be possible to put together an exhibit on the Martin Luther King National Day of Mourning I shot in 1968 by February 27 to cap off a Black History Month conference. Since Jessica and Danielle Echols were doing to do most of the heavy lifting, I agreed.

I’m flying out to speak to the group at the end of the month, and I’m busy putting together a show catalog right now. It’s neat that someone thinks my old stuff is worth sharing.

Tuesday I’m supposed to speak to a historical preservation class at Southeast Missouri State University. I threw in a lot of new Cape-specific stuff this afternoon, so what I say is going to be as big a surprise to me as it will be to the class.

Stop light at Pacific and Independence

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013After I dropped the drive at UPS, I decided I’d drive around looking for rain art. Photographers always thought life was unfair. Reporters did weather stories by calling the weather bureau, digging out clips about the Last Big Storm and, if they could be bothered, looking out the windows. Photographers had to get their shoes muddy.

Old Traffic Bridge

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013Downtown was kinda blah, so I stopped by what remains of the old Traffic Bridge.

Since I retired, my new contract says that I don’t go hungry, get wet or lift heavy objects. These photos were all taken from inside my van with the heater running.

Haarig or Good Hope

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013The wind and rain were really whipping from the south when I paused on Good Hope looking west toward Sprigg. It was coming across the road in sheets.

Pacific looking south from SEMO

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013

I figured I’d better scope out where I’m supposed to be presenting Tuesday, so I went up Pacific to the Carnahan Building. On the way back I tried to capture the rain coming up the street and down the hill.  These are the times I envy the TV guys with their video. It’s tough to get across the concept of driving rain in a still.

Through the windshield

Rainy streets in Cape 02-18-2013When an oncoming car lit up the water droplets on the windshield, the camera’s autofocus thought that’s what I wanted to shoot. It’s neat, and I’m glad it happened, but it wasn’t my target.