2012 Top 10 Posts

Cape Girardeau Central High School girls in physical education uniformsNews outlets always run Top 10 stories at the end of the year because (a) they are usually short-staffed; (b) readers and viewers are busy with family activities and drop off; (c) it’s easy and can be done in advance, and (d) it’s traditional. So, for all of those reasons, except (c), here are the highest-read pages of 2012.

A 2010 post about the old gym uniforms topped the 2012 list because it went viral on another site. It was viewed 3,576 times.

#2 Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel concert Ohio University 10-29-1968I covered Simon and Garfunkel at Ohio University in 1968. This story was seen by 1,736 readers.

#3 Johnson’s Shut-ins

Johnson's Shut-In State Park circa 1978I was hoping to get back to update my Johnson Shut-Ins photos last summer but didn’t make it. Still, 1,674 folks looked at my old pictures.

#4 Queen Elizabeth II

web 1024 Queen Elizabeth layoutMy tale of getting to cover Queen Elizabeth II in the Bahamas because I was the only guy on the staff with a suit ranked 4th, with 1,462 views.

#5 David Holley’s obituary

David Holley of Wittenberg 07-18-2011David Holley, the last man living in Wittenberg and a storyteller supreme died April 11 of lung cancer. I only talked with the man twice, but he’s a character I’ll remember forever. His wife, Joanne, lives in one of only two buildings left in the once-vibrant Mississippi River town

#6 Low water exposed Tower Rock Quarry

Tower rock and quarry at low water 10-28-2011Low river levels has put Tower Rock in the news. A November 2011 story on the abandoned quarry south of The Rock was viewed 1,193 times.

#7 Geocachers conquer Tower Rock

Tower Rock geocachers 08-04-2012_6180

I was hoping the river would drop low enough for me to walk over to Tower Rock like Brother Mark and I did in 2003. It didn’t quite make it, and I didn’t want to take my inaugural kayak ride solo in the Mississippi River when these geocachers made the climb. The page was viewed 1,120 times, and 407 people clicked through to watch the video I produced about the day.

#8 “Rush Limbaugh is a horse’s patootie”

1024 Rush Limbaugh on Cape Girardeau's Floodwall 04-12-2011_3594I was interviewing Wife Lila’s Uncle Ray Seyer on a wide-ranging number of topics. Somehow or another, Rush Limbaugh came up. He described the high school Rush as a “horse’s patootie” for the way he monopolized the CB radio channels even when truckers were trying to get directions to local businesses. The page had 1,104 visitors.

#9 Terry Jones and Rush Limbaugh

1969 Girardot Rush Limbaugh senior photo P 132A 2010 story pointing out the coincidence of Koran burner Terry Jones and Rush Limbaugh both being members of the Cape Central Class of 1969 is still getting hits. It came in 9th with 1,099 readers.

#10 Lila turns fire photographer

Fire Wilmot and Georgia 05-21-2012I was running some errands when a warehouse across the street from our house exploded into flames. Wife Lila dialed 9-1-1, then grabbed her camera and started shooting. The West Palm Beach Fire Marshall and 1,099 other readers were interested in her handiwork.

Remember my Amazon link

Buy From Amazon.com to Support Ken SteinhoffIf you were one of the folks who stopped by 357,930 times during the year, don’t forget to place your Amazon orders by clicking on this big button or on the links at the top left of the page. I get a small percentage to keep the lights on and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

 

 

 

 

Taming Swampeast Missouri

Keith Lewis had a story in The Missourian October 4 noting that work on the Little River Drainage District started 100 years ago. There was a good reason why old-timers refer to this area as Swampeast Missouri: a large portion of Southeast Missouri was nothing but nearly impenetrable swamps with names like the Dark Cypress, Old Field and Big Field.

This aerial photo was taken south and west of Delta and shows the old Whitewater River meandering through what once would have been swamp. Dad had a job to divert the river, essentially cutting off this channel years and years ago.

Miles and miles of farmland

Once the timber was logged off and the land cleared, it turned out to be incredibly rich for farming.

Cut trees when swamp froze over

I interviewed Wife Lila’s Uncle Ray Seyer a couple of years ago when he was 89. Ray remembers growing up in the Tillman community area and hearing stories from his dad about the old days. “Pop would ride a horse – no cars in those days – from Kelso down through Delta and most of the time the water was up to the horse’s belly.”

“When they started clearing that ground there – it was all wooded area – they couldn’t cut when that water was in there.. they’d wait until it froze over, then cut it above the ice and let it float out later.”

Video: Soft ground could swallow tractor


Ray told some stories I had heard from old-timers back when I was a kid. I’m hoping I can run across a tape recording I made of one of Mother’s friends describing putting 12″ x 12″ “mudshoes” on horses to keep them from sinking into the “sinky” muck.

Ray and Dad both said you’d better not stop once you started across the old swamp. Ray talked about a couple of guys who used to haul limestone out of there. Their Caterpillar-type tractor stalled out at the end of the workday and wouldn’t start. They decided to leave it until the morning. The next day, only two smokestacks were visible above the muck, he said.

Diversion Channel

The Big Ditch is one of the main ways to move water out of the basin into the Mississippi River. Here are some of the stories I’ve done about the Diversion Channel.

Matthews Store in Randles

Somebody said there was an old general store in Randles where the owner just closed the door and walked away with all his stock on the shelves one day. I don’t know who told me about it, but it came from a couple of different folks.

When Ernie Chiles and I passed through the town on the way to the Painton airstrip, I noted a likely candidate and decided to check it out on another trip. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.) See the black cat crossing my path on the left?

Matthews Store

The sign on the north side of the building says Matthews Store. I don’t know if that’s Matthews with or without an apostrophe, but it probably doesn’t make much difference these days.

I had Mother and Wife Lila’s Uncle Ray with me on this adventure. Mother’s got a sharp eye for persimmons, so she made me pick up the ones that were on the ground and hustle them back to the car.

Lots of goods in the store

I couldn’t quite see through the windows, so I held my camera above my head to peer in through the broken front window. I can see lots of stuff on the shelves, but it looks more random than would support the “walked away” tale.A lot of the bottles and jars appear to have been opened and empty, like they were placed there by a collector. The center of the store was taken up with stuff that looked more like trash than treasures.

Still, it must have been quite a store in its day. It big inside and out. I imagine it was the center of  life in Randles.

Double doors to where?

I couldn’t tell if this was a separate storeroom or what the purpose the extension on the north side of the building would have served. I don’t think you’d have doors for customers this far away from the main entrance. My guess was they were used used for deliveries. It doesn’t have the feel of lodging for the store owner, either. It’s too long and narrow for that and probably wouldn’t have had double doors.

I guess when it’s time to add shoes to the Perkins Shoe Tree, I’ll have to ask around for more info.

[Editor’s note: I had originally said this store was in Perkins. Reader Madeline DeJournett, a REAL reporter, corrected me below in the comments. It’s actually in Randles. If you’ve been on the page before, you may have to press Ctrl-F5 to make her comment show up.]

Rush Limbaugh: “Horse’s Patootie”

Ray Seyer, Wife Lila’s uncle, was going to turn 90 in 2012, so we sat down with him on Oct. 20, 2010, for a wide-ranging discussion about what it was like to grow up in Southeast Missouri when much of it was still swampland. The result was a collection of ten videos that we put together for his family to pass down to their kids. I’ll get around to posting them one of these days.

Rush Limbaugh Remembered

A video that I didn’t include was Uncle Ray talking about one of his first encounters with high schooler Rush Limbaugh. As soon as school would let out, Rush would run home and fire up his CB and monopolize Calling Channel 9, making it impossible for truckers and others in the community to communicate.

[Channel 9 eventually became set aside for emergency use only. Truckers, who first migrated to Channel 10, moved to 19 about the time C.W. McCall’s song Convoy put two-way radio antennas on just about everything on the road.]

Despite a career in the Navy during World War II, Uncle Ray contented himself by labeling Rush a “horse’s patootie.” I’m sure he would have been more colorful, had Mother, Lila and Aunt Rose Mary not been in the room.

Rush Limbaugh and Terry Jones

September 9, 2010, when Terry Jones was international news because he was threatening to burn a Koran, I pointed out that Terry and Rush Limbaugh were both members of the Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1969. The story didn’t hint that they were in cahoots, it just noted the interesting coincidence that Cape’s two best-known exports were in the same class.

The Terry Jones / Rush Limbaugh story was picked up all over the world and got more traffic in three days than I usually get in a month. It also attracted 150 mostly respectful comments. I rode herd to make sure that they STAYED respectful.

Rush has been immortalized on Cape Girardeau’s Mississippi River floodwall mural displaying pictures of prominent Missourians. I don’t think they’ve reserved a space for Jones.

So, you are welcome to comment on an 88-year-old’s recollections of a young Rush Limbaugh, but we’re going to keep it civil, right?