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.

Walther’s Becomes Discovery Playhouse

Volunteers were busy converting the old Walther’s Furniture Store and Funeral Home at 502 Broadway into the Discovery Playhouse when I was home earlier this spring. It opened April 22.

It looks like it’s going to be a great place for kids to cool off during Cape’s hot and humid summer.

Playhouse starting on the ground floor

The Playhouse is a two-story building, with an attached section that rises to three floors. All of the work is concentrating on the first floor at this time, with the other floors to be developed as funds become available.

Landmark sign to stay

I was told that the landmark Walther’s sign will remain, although it will be changed somewhat. I don’t know what those changes are.

The old parts of the building and the views from the windows fascinated me more than the playhouse in progress.

1916 was a big year

A Missourian roundup on Dec. 31, 1916, said that “1916 is prominent for the number of fine business houses erected, among them being the new home of the Buckner-Ragsdale, ‘Quality Corner Store,’ a handsome structure, the upper floor of which is occupied by the Cape Girardeau Business College; Walther Brothers Furniture Store, one of the largest in Missouri outside the three largest cities; the I. Ben Miller ice cream and candy factory, declared by State Dairy Commissioner Bennett to be the finest in the State of Missouri; the Meyer-Suedekum Hardware Company’s building and others.”

That’s a lot of landmark businesses in year. Meyer-Suedekum (now Meyer Supply) is the only one that has survived.

501-503 Broadway

Looking to the south from the second floor of the building, you can see 501 and 503 Broadway across the street. Hinchey-Greer Merchantile company occupied 501 Broadway around 1906. Alvin Cotner modified the building in 1919 or 1920 to house the Auto Parts Company, which was there until 1957. Cape Paint and Glass occupied the property from 1958 through 1991. An interior connection between the two buildings was made somewhere between 1908 and 1915.

Mural sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church

A mural, sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church is on the west wall of 503 Broadway. It reads, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” That’s probably fitting to be across from the Discovery Playhouse.

It’s easy to get lost in old newspaper stories

While researching the Walther’s history, I got sidetracked with stories of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic and accounts of local boys going “over there” to fight the “huns.”  One thing that surprised me on the front page of the May 13, 1921 Missourian, was a pair of obituaries.

The first was three paragraphs giving an account of the funeral of Allbright Walther, retired furniture dealer of Cape Girardeau. It contained very little personal information.

Directly under it, was one headlined, Sam Randol, Ice Dealer Is Dead; Long Illness Fatal to Colored Man.” It went on to say that “Sam Randol, well-known colored ice dealer, died at his home…following a long illness with dropsy. It listed his relatives and the organizations he belonged to and some funeral arrangements.

It concluded by saying that “Randol was among the better colored citizens of Cape Girardeau and stood high both among the people of his race as well as among the white citizens. He had been in the ice business here since a young man and was known by most every family in the city.”

I would never have expected the second obit to have been given such prominence in that era. He must have really been an exceptional person.

Walther’s was the city’s oldest retail store

A business column announcing the closing of the furniture store in 1984 said it had been open continuously for 120 years, making it the oldest retail business in town.

Gallery of photos from Walther’s Furniture / Discovery Playhouse

Here is a selection of photos taken of the Discovery Playhouse renovation and views of the neighborhood. As always, click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the photo to move through the gallery.


Cape’s New Water Park

Cape voters passed a Parks and Recreation Storm Water bond issue that included the construction of a Family Aquatic Center at the Osage Center on N. Kingshighway, this side of Cape LaCroix Creek. I don’t know if the official name is going to catch on. Everyone I heard mention it called it the Water Park.

There was a lot of wrangling over whether or not is was a good use of money, but, in the end, it’s projected to be finished by Memorial Day, reported a story in The Missourian on April 8.

Remember the Lickitysplit Water Slide?

I’m not sure when the Lickitysplit Water slide on the way to Jackson on 61 opened. I know I never went down it, but my kids loved going there when we were visiting Cape in the summertime.

There’s nothing left of it today except a few undulations in the hill and some blacktop that the grass is gradually taking over.

Google Earth Mar. 5, 2003

It’s the curvy thing in the middle of the frame.

By 2005, Google Earth showed it gone like a giant had taken a big eraser and rubbed it out.

Google Earth May 11, 2005

jacksonmo.com needs updating

Wife Lila helped come up with the name of the Water Slide by finding a site called www.jacksonmo.com.

It assured readers that “Besides being a great place to live, work, and raise children, Jackson is also a fun place to live. Some of Jackson’s most well-known and beloved recreational activities are listed below.”

Methinks that site must not have been updated recently. Anybody who would want to take advantage of the Slide’s “water fun during the summer months” today would go home with a serious case of butt brambles.

Besides being a great place to live, work, and raise children, Jackson is also a fun place to live. Some of Jackson’s most well-known and beloved recreational activities are listed below.