2015 in Review

Newspapers are big on year in review stories because they can be written well in advance as space fillers for the slow holiday weeks. Why should I be any different (except for the part about doing it well in advance)?

I have to admit I’ve slacked off this year. After almost three years of posting seven days a week except for when there was a technical glitch, I took some big chunks of time off when I was caring for my mother before she died this spring. Once I found that the world wouldn’t end if I skipped a day or three, I started doing it more often when I was busy.

The most popular post last year was a piece I originally posted in 2011 about the burning and sinking of the steamboat Stonewall near Neely’s Landing. Two or three hundred people burned or drowned in the disaster. Sixty or 70 bodies were buried in a mass grave that I have searched for unsuccessfully.

I followed up the original post with a few others:

“See you later”

Mary Steinhoff funeral 06-24-2015You readers were extraordinarily kind when I wrote about Mother’s death in June. An account of the family’s rather unconventional graveside ceremony was the second-most read story for the year. My family and I appreciate the many notes you all left.

Mother seldom said, “Goodbye.” She preferred “See you later,” and Brother David scratched that phrase on her casket before it was lowered in the ground.

Kermit “Moose” Meystedt

1963 Girardot Kermit MeystedtOur lives are marked by special dates and ceremonies. When we are kids, we attend birthday parties of our classmates. As we get older, we’re go to proms, ballgames and dances. Not long after that, it’s weddings, followed by baby showers. We have a bit of a gap before we start attending the funerals of the parents of friends. Finally, when we are at the stage where we have more yesterdays than tomorrows, it’s our turn to show up in the obituary pages.

Kermit “Moose” Meystedt, one of Central High School’s finest athletes, died January 10, 2015. An account of his life was the third highest-read post of the year.

Dean Kahler, survivor of Kent State shootings

Curator Jessica and I toured the Kent State May 4 Vistors Center on one of my Ohio rambles. We were fortunate enough to meet Dean Kahler, one of the students shot by the National Guard that day in 1970. He is one of the most remarkable men I’ve met, and I don’t say that about a lot of people. His story was in fourth place.

His description of that day is haunting. Click on the video if you don’t follow a single other link.

“I knew I had been shot because it felt like a bee sting. I knew immediately because my legs got real tight, then they relaxed just like in zoology class when you pith a frog,” he said. He never walked again, but he has turned into a highly competitive wheelchair athlete.

After the shooting stopped, he called out to see if there were any Boy Scouts around who could turn him over. “The only thought that came into my head was if I was turned over, would I bleed more internally than externally? I thought (shrugs shoulders) there’s a 50 / 50 chance that you’re going to die one way or the other. I knew I might die. I had a really good chance of dying, so I wanted to see the sky, the sun, leaves, peoples faces. I didn’t want to be eating grass when I died.”

Tower Rock Quarry Exposed

Tower rock and quarry at low water 10-28-2011I started posting old story links to a Facebook page for folks who are interested in the Mississippi River. That’s probably why this 2011 story about Tower Rock and how the low water had exposed an old stone quarry south of the Rock was pushed to fifth place.

Mary Welch Steinhoff 1921- 2015

MLS Card 06-03-2015I wrote so many stories about Mother (some of them were even true) that complete strangers would come up to her in the grocery store and ask if she was “Ken’s Mother?” She pretended not to like that, but I know she enjoyed the attention. When I wrote her obituary on June 23, 2015, I came up with a list of more than three dozen links before I quit searching. I guess that’s why she became the mother everybody had (or wished they had had).

You can’t know how comforting it was to read the comments you left about a woman many of you knew only through my late-night ramblings. She had a great run. October will forever be Birthday Season.

The picture is a card sent to Mother at the Lutheran Home from someone who had never met her in person. I think it captures her spirit.

The Old Burnt Mill

Burnt Mill - Perry county 11-19-2015Sometimes you run across a reference to a place and you just have to go searching for it. That’s how I ended up at the Old Burnt Mill in Perry county.

It’s an interesting building with a fascinating history of hubris, double-dealing, maybe a murder and a haunting.

This picture drives me crazy

Cape CHS Girls volleyballThis copyrighted photo of girls wearing “ugly” gym suits has been stolen by I can’t count how many websites. It’s been shared hundreds of thousands of times, even though I’ve been quick to file DCMA takedown notices every time I find it posted.

The crazy thing is that hundreds swear that the photo was taken at their high school and even contains their sisters. Trust me, I took the photo and have the original 4×5 negative in a file box. It was taken at Central High School. And, if Rosanne Hecht or Joni Tickel aren’t your sisters, then you’re wrong.

For the record, I love it when people share links to my posts, but I get really cranky if you copy and publish a photo without permission.

It was only number eight on the hit parade, but it would be a lot higher if the folks who ripped it off had posted links.

CHS 2015 class reunion

2015 CHS reunion 07-31-2015It’s not fair that Terry Hopkins can still fit in his letter jacket without sucking in his stomach so much that his eyes bug out. There was a big difference between the last get-together and the 2015 Central High School reunion. We’ve all gotten a lot grayer and a lot less spry. (Except for Terry, of course, who was probably the reason that the post scored the number nine spot.)

A celebration of Wimpy’s

Wimpy composite 8x10The Centenary United Methodist Church held a one-day only Wimpy’s Day, featuring the original Wimpy’s family cooking to the original recipes.

Here are photos of the Lewis family and friends at work.

 

 

The Truth about Locker Rooms

Books and gynm clothes 19

Since I didn’t know exactly where this photo was taken, I was going to toss it aside. Then I got a closer look and I saw what was on some of the shelves. (You can click on the photo to make it larger, but if you do, I suggested deactivating the Smell Emitting Diode on your computer first.)

Those rolled-up towels contained fermenting gym clothes. I wonder if this could have been taken near the Tiger Den on a Friday, traditionally the day when you were supposed to take your PE clothes home to be washed.

Of course, may of those rolls got stuffed into lockers and recycled again and again.That’s probably why the school got new lockers when it was converted to a junior high school.

As you may have gathered from earlier posts, I wasn’t exactly a fan of PE.

Guy shower experiences

When I saw those rolls, it brought back all kind of olfactory twitches. Now, despite teen movies, I was never privy to how girl locker rooms worked, but we guys were herded into gang showers where earsplitting hoots and hollers echoed off the tile walls like a bad prison movie. At least once during this session (which I tried to complete as quickly as possible), there would be something that sounded like a space shuttle lifting off, followed by a sulfurous cloud of methane gas that rolled off the tiles in a green cloud, prompting another Neanderthal to try to best the earlier contribution.

How I envisioned the girls’ locker room

Cape Girardeau Central High School girls in physical education uniformsI envisioned my female counterparts being ushered into individual cleansing facilities where there would be soft music playing, the water would come out at the perfect temperature, towels wouldn’t be needed because each compartment would be equipped with air-drying fans and there would be a gentle spritzing of the perfume of the girl’s choice on the way out. Attendants, probably freshmen, would take care of nail and hair maintenance and see that clothing was restored with nary a muss.

The physical education portion of the hour would last about 8 minutes, with the remainder of the time being taken up with the ablution process just described. I’m not sure if the freshmen were actually required to peel the grapes for upper classwomen or if they did it of their own volition.

That must have been the tradeoff for having to wear those ugly uniforms.

I can’t wait to hear how close my vision came to reality. Girls?

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.