Main Street Project

 Reflections Main St Cape Girardeau MO 10-20-2009

Katy Beebe, an assistant professor at SEMO, asked if I would speak to her Historical Preservation class February 19. I couldn’t understand why they would be sitting in a classroom listening to me instead of chaining themselves to the handball court landmark the university wants to raze, but…

Dr. Beebe gave her class an assignment to uncover the history behind the buildings on Main Street between Themis and Broadway. Here is YOUR assignment: post comments about any businesses in that area that you can think of. She said she would allow her students to use my musings and your comments as honest to goodness reference material.

To help their research, here is a partial list of stories I’ve done on Main Street. Students here’s a hint: even if the story wasn’t PRIMARILY about your Main Street business, read through the comments anyway. Folks here tend to wander all over the place. Another hint: if you visit a page, then want to see if any new comments have been added, press Ctrl-F5 or whatever you use to refresh your browser. That’ll bring up any new stuff. Don’t be afraid to leave comments or ask questions. All of the folks who placed a comment on a story will get an email if you post something after them.


 Buckner-Ragsdales - Main Street 12-14-2011

Whoever drew this business is in luck. It is one of the best-known family-owned businesses in town with a wealth of information readily available. I’ve written about it several times, the Lamkin family has a detailed website and Kathrine Porter Russell Lamkin wrote a riveting account of the 1949 tornado on torn-out pages from a calendar. (By the way, you can click on any of the photos to make them larger.)

101 North Main

101 North Main Street Area 12-07-2011

Wrecks on Main Street

John Carpenter - Walter Joe Ford remove victim from wreck in front of Montgomery Wards 04-23-1966Prowling the streets at night gave me a chance to know the “doorshakers” like Jack Burris and to work Main Street crashes

General photos and stories about Main Street

Midnight Madness 1964 09Some of these may be more valuable because of comments than the original story.

Hecht’s Department Store

Hecht's weathervane disappeared after storm 10-15-2003

Considered one of Cape’s finest department stores.


Where “Poof” ended up

Other Main Street topics

St Charles Hotel  3-11-67Most of these businesses and some of the buildings are long gone.

Aerial photos of downtown

Cape Girardeau Downtown District looking up Broadway; 1960s aerial photoI tried to shoot Cape from the air as often as possible

Oddball stuff

Teen Age Club dance overflowed to 1st National Bank parking lot c 1965Some things defy categorization.

Good reference resources


Another Full Moon

When you’re shooting your second full moon of a visit, it’s probably time to start packing your bags. The moon phase ap on my Droid showed that the orb was 97% full last night, so I told Mother we better be ready to saddle up to shoot it tonight.

We pulled in to the parking lot at the base of Cape Rock to find eight or ten cars getting ready for the free entertainment. Just about that time, a long, long, long southbound freight rolled by in front of us. It kept coming and coming and coming, slowing all the time. Finally, with the last three empty hopper cars and a pusher engine blocking our view, it stopped. Dead, put-a-penny-on-the-tracks stopped.

We decided to go to the top of Cape Rock, but feared that it would be parked solid. To our surprise, there was only one car parked there, and it moved on, leaving us some prime real estate to watch.

While I was setting up my tripod, a guy on a bike rolled up. We did all the ritual chicken dances that people with similar interests do and got so involved that I didn’t pay much attention to the horizon. I’d look over my shoulder from time to time and think, “Nope, not yet.”

Well, I had misjudged where the thing was going to come up. On one of my shoulder checks, I looked a little more to the south and did one of those, “Whoa! Where did THAT come from?” Of course, I pretended that I had been patiently WAITING for the moon to get 10 degrees out of the water before shooting.

I shot a few frames with the longer lens on my video camera, but I like this one better because it shows how low the river is now. That’s one BIG sandbox down there. The river’s about three feet lower than it was when I shot the little picture above from Cape Rock last fall.

Checked out the casino

When some clouds covered the moon, we headed toward town. I thought maybe there would be some night working going on at the casino, but it didn’t look interesting. I opted not to try for a moon shot from the floodwall and the bridge because I had done those before. I decided to see what the view was like from the Common Pleas Courthouse.

When I came around the corner, the two women going down the steps were standing shoulder to shoulder trying to get a moon photo with their camera phones. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the puny little flashes built into those cameras weren’t going to do much good at lighting up downtown OR the moon. I didn’t do much better. It was already pretty small in the sky by now.

This view down Themis Street is pretty similar to the one I shot in March of  2010.

I may try this angle for my next full moon shot, but it had better not be taken on THIS trip..

Cup ‘N’ Cork

I shot this late in the day when the afternoon sun added warmth to the bricks and ironwork.The Cup ‘N’ Cork is located at 46 North Main Street, at the corner of Main and Themis. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

Cup ‘N’ Cork is THE place to meet

I’ve been in the Cup ‘N’ Cork at least a dozen times, including when I met Pat Sommers and Terry Hopkins there last fall. Way back in the background you can see a fellow wearing black and purple. That’s Gary Rust thinking Big Thoughts or doing whatever newspaper moguls do. In contrast, that’s Terry in the foreground.

It’s getting to be one of THE downtown meeting places. When I’ve asked folks where they want to get together, that’s one of the most-often suggested locations. The food is good, the pie is great and the wait staff and owners are friendly.

I guess I’ll have to stop thinking about eating and talking on my next visit so I can shoot the interior.

Christmases Past

This is the time of year when newspapers run lots of year-end stories.

  • They’re popular with readers.
  • They can be produced early before everyone disappears.
  • They’re easy.
  • Everybody is too busy to read the paper, so you don’t want to burn up serious stories.

So, in that spirit, I’m going to recycle some stories from past Christmases. Follow the links for the Real Deal. Click on any photo to make it larger.

This was from a photo book Wife Lila and I did on our first Christmas as a married couple.

David’s first bicycle

Getting a bike for Christmas was a Big Deal. Here’s a video of Brother David getting his and helping Dad put it together. I love the way he keeps reaching over with his bathrobe sleeve to wipe off fingerprints from the chrome.

Christmas Confusion

People were running all around to try to figure out where these photos were taken.

Could it have been Good Hope?

Nope, it turned out to have been in Jackson.


St. Mary’s 1967 Christmas Novena

Missourian caption Dec. 24, 1967: The Rev. Bosco Westrich of St. Mary’s Cathedral presides over Friday night’s observance of the Christmas Novena at the church. At the left, an altar boy departs. The Novena is a nine-part series of Christmas services which will conclude on Christmas Eve. The banners on either side of the altar were made by school children of the parish.”

Witness Protection Program Santa

This is the first and only Santa I’ve ever seen wearing a full-face mask. (He’s almost as scary as this Easter Bunny in my past.)

Hutson’s Christmas Display

Hutson’s Fine Furniture has been hosting a Christmas display window for as long as I can remember. It’s not quite as large as I remembered it, but it’s still magic for youngsters.

Hutson’s is 2011 Old Town Cape Ornament

Coincidentally, Hutson’s window display was chosen as Old Town Cape’s featured ornament this year. Here’s a list of past ornaments.

Common Pleas Courthouse Live Nativity scene

Close to 2,000 people a day stopped by the live Nativity scene on the steps leading to the Common Pleas Courthouse in 1965. The exhibit proved so popular that the run was extended past the expected Christmas Eve closing date.

North County Park

Cars line up bumper to bumper to enjoy the Christmas displays at North County Park.

Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum

The folks at the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum have been putting together a wonderful Christmas display for the past six years. Here are photos from this year’s exhibit (plus a shameless plug for my Tower Rock book and East Perry County Calendar. Follow this link to see the 2010 exhibit.

Water Park holiday lights

The Family Aquatic Center at Osage Center was all lit up for the holidays. Quite impressive.

Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you’re celebrating at this time of year. We’ll probably take it easy for a couple of days. I’ve got a Top Stories of 2011 Review in the works.