Radioactive Teenage Girls

When I first ran across the photos of this giggle of girls in front of the Arena Building, I thought they might be refugees from some kind of band camp. One girl is strumming on a guitar, there’s at least one other guitar case there, and another girl has what appears to be a ukulele under her arm.

Ouija Boards and sleeping bags

Then I noticed a Careers board game, a Ouija Board, sleeping bags, canteens and other camping paraphernalia.

Is this a Girl Scout campout?

If it is, they certainly don’t travel light. They appear to be a thirsty bunch, too. I see canteens of various shapes, thermos bottles, an insulated jug and a pitcher. Those square boxes look like they might contain beauty aids. Or ham sandwiches.

Headed INTO the Arena Building

They weren’t meeting in front of the Arena Building to go somewhere, they were headed INTO the building. That’s interesting. If you have really sharp eyes, you can see a Civil Defense triangle on a box on the table at the top of the stairs. Maybe that’ll provide a clue to what’s going on.

What is that on her head?

There is some kind of signing up going on here. I covered lots of Boy and Girl Scout events, but I don’t every recall running into the ceremonial or protective headgear the girl at the table is wearing.

Elaborate forms to fill out

The forms these girls are holding look more formidable than the ones we face on April 15 every year. What ARE they up to?

Civil Defense and National Security

Then, I finally found the two frames that made it all clear. Notice the small box with the Civil Defense triangle on it the man is holding? It’s a Geiger Counter.

You have to remember that this was at the confluence of The Red Scare and the Dawn of Rock and Roll, you know, Devil’s Music.

The girls were suspected of being Radio Active

Some busybody neighbor must have heard these girls listening to rock n roll on the radio and passed the word to the local Civil Defense office. The message got garbled at each stage along the way until it finally read, “Scores of teenage girls in Cape Girardeau are radioactive.”

The next thing you know, buses were dispatched to snatch the girls and quarantine them in the Arena Building until they could be screened with Geiger Counters.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to until someone can come up with a better one.

Girl Scouts of the 60s

Here are a couple of random Girl Scout photos. I think I recognize some girls from the Central High School Class of 1968, but don’t hold me to it. There are girls from Troops 113, 96 and 4, among others.

Beyond that, it’s all a mystery to me. I don’t know why they were all gathered together or where they were.

Trinity Lutheran Church Girl Scout

This young lady is receiving some kind of award at Trinity Lutheran Church. I’m assuming it’s the Girl Scout equivalent of the Boy Scout Pro Deo et Patria award. (Most Protestant Boy Scouts earn the God and Country award; Lutherans have to be different and use the Latin translation.)

The photo was taken March 11, 1967, but I don’t know who the man and girl are.

Cub Scouts at Arena Park

Virtual buddy Missourian photographer Fred Lynch dredged up a Frony photo of square dancing in the Arena Building from the 50s.

I have a variety of photos from the park, but these of Cub Scout activities were the first that bubbled to the top of the pile. I think the Scout leader sporting the drill instructor’s campaign hat is Rich Renfro.

The flags in the background look like the same ones in Frony’s picture. I wonder if they’re still there. They could have been 48-star flags in those days.

Game with wheel and stick

Outside the Arena Building, there was some kind of competition involving rolling a wheel with a stick.

How you hold your tongue is important

Pinewood Derby Gallery

Time has not been kind to these negatives, but I’ll throw them out here anyway. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

Valentine’s Day Cards from Trinity Lutheran School

Valentine’s Day card from Cheri Huckstep

Preparing for my Presidential Libary

There was a time when I thought I had a career in politics. Because I was positive my Presidential Library would find the trappings of my early life important, I made sure to save everything.

My political aspirations hit an iceberg when I picked Bill Hopkins to pilot my Student Body Presidential campaign. Let’s just say that the 163 folks who voted for me were nowhere near a majority and certainly didn’t warrant calling in lawyers to oversee a recount. Jimmy Feldmeier was the clear winner.

Reading the will of the people very clearly, I abandoned my plan to run for POTUS in 1984, the first year I would be Constitutionally eligible and decided that I was more suited for journalism and sniping from the sidelines.

My Mother’s attic is a time capsule

I may have never made it into a Presidential Library, but I have the next best thing. On my last trip home, I ventured up into the time capsule of my Mother’s attic.

If you dig deep enough, you can probably find every school paper I ever brought home; all of my workbooks going back to kindergarten; hundreds of stickers that say, “Don’t be a sucker, Vote for Kenny (I’d have gotten more votes if Jim Stone hadn’t eaten most of the suckers instead of handing them out to potential voters); report cards; a Bucker-Ragsdale receipt for my Cub Scout uniform and this huge stack of Valentine’s Day cards from Trinity Lutheran School days.

There’s also a box of vintage early 1950s comic books that my destructive younger brothers shredded after I went off to college. I’d be able to afford a better brand of cat food in my retirement years if they were in the same condition as when I left. They saved the fragments just to drive me crazy.

1961 Eighth Grade Class at Trinity Lutheran School

We were together for nine years at Trinity Lutheran School

Most of us were in the same class from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Even though the yearbook didn’t have names with the pictures, I can probably still place names with all but about three or four pictures (they may not be the RIGHT names, but…). No, I’m not going to tell you which one was me.

Valentine’s Day ranked way up there in the Grand Scheme of Holidays. It wasn’t quite Christmas, the Fourth of July or Halloween, but it came pretty close to your Birthday.

The only hassle was having to fill out a card for every member of your class. Then, there was the agony of picking out which card went to which kid. You didn’t want to send one that was too mushy to a girl in the sixth grade.

Now that I look back at these cards from sixth and seventh grade level, I wonder about some of the cards I got from the boys in my class.

Was there a message I missed?

Judy Schrader’s card saying that she wished I’d fall for her line caused my heart to pitter patter. I mean, we actually skated together at the Hanover Skating Rink on Friday nights. That was a big deal. (At least to me, it was.)

Getting that same card from Don Sander seems a little strange these days. I mean, I shared a tent with him on Scout camping trips. I never realized he felt that way.

These were simpler times

The card below didn’t come for Valentine’s Day. My dad built roads all over Southeast Missouri and we lived in a house trailer he’d pull from small town to small town. When I was about three years old, we must have gotten to know a family in Mountain View well enough that I was invited to a birthday party.

Look at how the envelope was addressed:

Kenny Steinhoff

City

It didn’t have a street address, a city, state or Zip Code. It wasn’t even addressed to my parents. It’s addressed to a three-year-old living in a house trailer. And it cost just a penny to be delivered.

You can’t beat that with a stick.

Gallery of cards

These represent a couple of years, because several classmates appear more than once. I guessed at last names, but I think I’m close to right. Click on any card to make it larger, click on the left or right side to move through the images.

Valentine Season Aside

Forty-five years ago this month, I was lucky enough to meet Lila Perry, who was working as a cashier at the Rialto Theater. We were married in 1969 and she’s tolerated me every since. I wrote up the whole story last year.