Picturing the Past Business Cards

A big box with 1,000 new business cards came this morning. My telephone number changed, so I had to do an update.

This photo, which replaces the one of the Cape Girardeau traffic bridge, reflects that I’m broadening out from concentrating on Cape Girardeau.

To be honest, I still have a lot of unpublished photos from the SE MO area, but all the ones I really like have already been posted. I’m looking forward to scanning more of my Ohio pictures.

This photo was taken when Grandma Gatewood was honored by having a bridge over the Buckeye Trail in the Hocking Hills State Park dedicated to her in 1969. 

I didn’t know she was a big deal

Grandma Gatewood, 81, hikes the Buckeye Trail In Hocking Hills State Park 01-1969

When I showed up at the state park, it was foggy, sleeting and raining. The trail was a mixture of mud and treacherous ice. Lots of my photos were fuzzy because the lens was constantly fogging over or being rain dappled.

The cute gal second from the right is Lila Perry a few months before she became Lila Steinhoff.

I didn’t realize my subject was a big deal until about 20 years ago when I read a book on the Appalachian Trail where she was mentioned prominently in the forward.

The Washington Post filled in details about Grandma Gatewood:

Grandma Gatewood, as she became known, was the first woman to hike the entire 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail by herself in 1955. She was 67 years old at the time, a mother of 11 and grandmother of 23. She’d survived more than 30 years of marriage to a brutal husband who beat her repeatedly.

Gatewood hiked the trail carrying a homemade knapsack and wearing ordinary sneakers — she wore out six pairs of them in 146 days from May to September. She  brought a blanket and a plastic shower curtain to protect her from the elements, but she didn’t bother with a sleeping bag, a tent, a compass or even a map.

The back of the card shows my bike blog

The back of the card has a drawing Don Greenwood was gracious enough to let me repurpose. I’ve neglected that blog for years, but there’s still enough good info in it that it’s worth mentioning.

You can throw this one away

This is the one that has the old phone number on it, so you can throw it away (unless you just like the photo). By the way, if anybody has a use for about 700 outdated cards, let me know.

More Smelterville books available

The last batch of Smelterville books disappeared quickly, so I ordered another 50 from the fine folks at PDQ Printing in Cape. If you’d like like a copy (they’d make great Christmas presents), they are available at these three local places.

Cape Girardeau County History Center, 102 S. High Street, Jackson, Mo., 63755; Phone 573-979-5170. $20 in person; $30 to cover shipping and handling if mailed.

Annie Laurie’s Antique Store, 536 Broadway Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63701; Phone 573-339-1301, $20 in person.

Pastimes Antiques, 45 Main Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63701; Phone 573-332-8882. $20 in person.

 

 

Randy Barnhouse, a Kindred Spirit

Randy “Hambone” Barnhouse 10-08-2020

I’ve followed Randy “Hambone” Barnhouse’s musings on Facebook, and have even exchanged mail with him from time to time, but had never met him in the flesh.

When he posted that he’d be hawking his book, “Dear Samuel Clemens” Messages in a Bottle , on Main Street (with a $5 discount to “locals”), I figured it was time we hooked up.

“Want to make a deal?”

Randy “Hambone” Barnhouse 10-08-2020

I introduced myself, and said, “I think a might be able to slip by as a local, and I’d be happy to pay you $15 for your book, but I wondered if you’d like to trade for my Smelterville: A Community of Love.

We bumped elbows and the deal was sealed.

We share a love of the river

Randy has led a much more adventuresome life than I have. He’s been a treasure salvor,  an historian, a teacher, and a devotee of Mark Twain. I’ve just been a chronicler of other folks deeds and foibles.

Several years ago, the Mississippi gave Randy a tantalizing look at the bones of a boat exposed when the water went down.

He and the river have been playing hide and seek with the boat ever since.

I’m pretty sure the first contact I had with Randy was when he offered to share the location of the wreck if I would promise to keep the exact location secret.

I decided the best way for me to keep the secret was for me not to go see the site.

The Mississippi can be unforgiving to the careless. This isn’t Randy’s wreck, but it’s a barge that ran aground near Cape Rock in 2012.

We understand each other

Abandoned house – St Mary Mo c 1966

Randy was a diver with Mel Fisher, who helped recover gold and other items from the Atocha shipwreck off Key West. He and I speak the same language.

“After the initial phase of being allured by the gold and silver discoveries, I found the simple items from every day life just as unique in their own way. They spoke to me. Candlestick holders were fascinating to find. How many meals did they grace a table for and who appreciated the glow of the stick they held, and for what reason were they gathered around it? How much laughter, conversation and arguing had the the candlestick holders, with their fiery tube of wax and string been witness to?”

I walk around in old abandoned houses trying to pick up the vibes of those who lived there. The pride the first owners felt; marks on the door frames chronicling the growth of children; wondering what joys and sorrows were contained inside the walls. Sometimes those vibes hit me too hard.

When I looked through this open window of an old house in St. Mary, I had to wonder what did the owners take from those opened drawers, and why did the random beads, buttons and juice squeezer not make the cut when they closed the door the last time?

Letters to Mark Twain

The book is a series of letters Randy has written to Mark Twain: “each letter I write to you will be sealed in a bottle and tossed into the mighty Mississippi. There are no post offices in heaven or hell. Where we go, we never know until the last breath escapes our lungs. Maybe we disappear into inky oblivion from whence we came. Should your spirit dwell on the river, please read and respond in whatever manner a will-o’-wisp employs. I need your help while looking for your lost and discarded possessions.”

Searching for Mark Twain’s buried treasure

Randy has been using a metal detector to search for artifacts at Mark Twain’s home in Hannibal (with permission, I should note.

Sam, to investigate and excavate the soil where you and your family once lived, loved and walked is an intimate act, too. What will your candlestick holder be that shines light on your time there on Hill Street? A coin, ring, shoe buckle, tool or object that will be attributed to you? Knowing your affinity for buried treasure causes me, in my wildest imagination, to hope that you buried something there.”

Whenever I take someone new to see what’s left of Cairo, we stop here long enough for them to pry up a piece of blue tile from what used to be a large department store.

I hope they keep it as a memory of a town that is rapidly disappearing, and as a link to me. Probably, though, they’ll pull open a drawer some day, and say, “What the hell is this?” and pitch it in the trash.

I guess I can’t be surprised. On any given day, some of my best work ended up on the floor being peed on by a poodle.

Shameless plug

Randy was kind enough to say some nice words about my Smelterville book on his Facebook page, and that caused a lot of folks to wonder where they could find it.

Here’s the answer:

Annie Laurie’s Antique Store, 536 Broadway Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63701; Phone 573-339-1301, $20 in person.

Pastimes Antiques, 45 Main Street, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63701; Phone 573-332-8882. $20 in person.

Cape Girardeau County History Center, 102 S. High Street, Jackson, Mo., 63755; Phone 573-979-5170. $20 in person; $30 to cover shipping and handling if mailed.

 

Vine Street Connection 2014

Vine Street Connection 07-26-2014The second Vine Street Connection reunion was held July 25-27. I was late getting into Cape on Friday, so I missed the fish fry at Capaha Park, but I did manage to attend the dinner and dance Saturday night and the picnic at North County Park on Sunday.

I recognized quite a few folks from the first reunion two years ago and had interviewed others for the Smelterville: Community of Love book and video I’m working on. I’m usually pretty detached when I’m covering something, but there were at least three instances that really moved me this weekend.

The first came when Brenda Newbern called forward all those in the audience who had served in the military or who were presently serving. While they were coming up, she delivered this speech:

I don’t know about you, but when I was young and watched the movies about the war and how the “colored” soldiers were treated I wondered why would you go fight and risk your life for a country that doesn’t want to count you as a human. Doesn’t want to give you a proper uniform or shoes and doesn’t think you are intelligent enough to be an officer or fly an airplane and don’t even think you are going to get equal pay. Oh my word, not you!!

I asked my dad why he went to fight and he never really gave me an answer. Because I believe it was a deep-rooted conviction that those men had to show the world just who and what they were made of. And to say this is my country too!! But as I grew older and watched the same movies and saw how God would set things up to prove all of the ASSUMPTIONS WRONG!! I began to ask the question:

What if there was no 54th Massachusetts Infantry that produced the likes of Col. Robert Gould Shaw and took the battle to the assault on Fort Wagner.

What if they had not served in World War I & II? 179,000 Black Men served in the Civil War (10% of the Union Army). 19,000 served in the Navy. 40,000 Black soldiers died over the course of the war.

Buffalo Soldiers

What if there were no Buffalo Soldiers building forts and maintaining order on the frontier?

Vine Street Connection picnic 07-27-2014What if there were no Tuskegee Airmen and Capt. Benjamin Davis, Jr. who would become the first African American Air Force General

What if there was no Major Martin Robison Delany, the first Field Officer in the US Army; or First Lt. Vernon J Baker, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in the battles in Italy, or General Daniel “Cappie” James, Jr. who became the full general commander of the North American Air Defense Command!

AND, WHAT IF there were NONE OF YOU!!!!

Each of you served your country and left your families, placed your life on the line and did it with dignity and honor. We as a black people may be proud and know that you did this to represent each and every one of us and for that I say “Thank you!” When I salute the flag and say the pledge it will be to remember all of you and those that have served before you that I may be free. May God Bless You and May God continue to Bless America.

We Shall Overcome

Vine Street Connection 07-26-2014The second came when the group stood and sang We Shall Overcome. I’ve heard Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul & Mary sing it live, and I’ve been a dozens of marches and protests where it was sung, but hearing the Vine Street folks sing it, and knowing some of the things they had to overcome in Cape Girardeau suddenly made the song meaningful to me. It will never be “just a folk song” again.

[Editor’s note: they aren’t singing We Shall Overcome in this photo. They didn’t need a song sheet for THAT anthem.]

“The Walkers bought them”

Vine Street Connection picnic 07-27-2014While waiting for the bulk of folks to show up for the picnic, I was talking with some men. The inevitable question of “Where are you from?” came up. One of them said, “My ancestors arrived in New York. That’s where the Walkers bought them.” He started to talk about where they went from there.

I put up my hand and said, “You just sent a shiver down my spine. It’s one thing to think about slavery in the abstract, but when I’m standing next to a man who says of his family, ‘and that’s where the Walkers bought them,’ it suddenly becomes real.”

Plenty of books left over

Rough draft of Smelterville book by Ken Steinhoff 07-17-2014

There are plenty of copies of Smelterville: Community of Love left over. I’ll be dropping some of them off at Annie Laurie’s Antique Shop at the corner of Broadway and Frederick. They are $20 each. They will also be available by mail, but I’m going to have to work out how much the postage is after the recent increase.

Vine Street Connection Portraits

Most of these photos were taken at the picnic on Sunday. Lighting conditions at the dinner and dance were horrible, so I didn’t shoot many pictures there. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the images. Because there are so many images, it make take longer to load than usual.

Rain Brings Rain Lilies

Rain Lillies 07-22-2014I’ve had my share of rain (computer problems) this week, but Matt called early in the morning to say that my computer had copied over essential files and that it had been running all night without crashing. I picked it up and started packing the van.

Just goes to show that if you can put up with a little rain, you’re liable to find your yard is packed with rain lilies when the sun comes out. (If you are a flower fan, click on the photo to make it larger.)

Headed back to Cape Wednesday

Rough draft of Smelterville book by Ken Steinhoff 07-17-2014I’m trying to make it back in town in time for Smelterville’s Vine Street Reunion. I had really hoped to have a video presentation containing the interviews I had done with folks over the past few years, but the hard drive crash cost me too many days.

I will have copies of the latest edition of Smelterville: Community of Love available. Any that are left over after the reunion will be available at Annie Laurie’s Antique Shop at Broadway and Frederick in Cape Girardeau. The price is $20.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the new pages before some of the typos were fixed and some design elements changed.