Dempster Hall Fire

SEMO Dempster Fire 07-15-2013I’ve given up chasing sirens, but I couldn’t help but notice a big column of black smoke in town this afternoon. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

A few years back, I pointed to smoke off in the distance to a friend of mine who was married to a newspaper photographer. She said, “There are two kinds of people in the world who see smoke: firefighters and photographers.”

The Cape fire department has been doing some practice burns, so I assumed that’s what it was until I got closer and saw it was coming from near the middle of Southeast Missouri State University. The school has a propensity for tearing down landmark structures to build parking lots, but it usually doesn’t turn on its own.

Localized plume

SEMO Dempster Fire 07-15-2013When I first rolled up, the plume of smoke was fairly localized, but it didn’t take long before it looked like it might be spreading. It had the look of a roofing tar fire to me. They burn hot and black and spread as the tar turns to liquid. I was told the building was undergoing some maintenance work, so that wouldn’t surprise me.

Pulling hose

SEMO Dempster Fire 07-15-2013They had positioned the ladder truck where they could get a look at what they were dealing with, but hadn’t tied into a hydrant yet.

There was a white-shirted officer standing with his back to the pumper when it started backing up. I kept waiting for him to move, but there was so much noise he must not have heard it coming, and he must have been in the truck’s blind spot. At the last second, I hollered “HEY!!!” as loud as I could and the truck stopped. Either he became aware of the man behind him or he heard my shout.

A bystander commented, “I thought he was going to run over that guy.” So did I.

 Where are my Missourian buddies?

SEMO Dempster Fire 07-15-2013I kept looking around for Fred or Laura from The Missourian, but didn’t spot them. I made a courtesy call to Fred, but got his voice mail. “Maybe I’ll have a chance to make the paper”, I thought.

I’d love to frame a $5 check from The Missourian for old times’ sake. It would drive the accounting department crazy when it didn’t clear.

I was living at home when I worked for the paper, so I had minimal expenses. Every few weeks, John Mehrle from accounting would come up and ask me to cash my paychecks so they could balance the books. That was the LAST time I ever had that luxury.

The high point of the day was when a cop came and pushed the onlookers back, but walked right past me. I guess carrying real cameras still makes you look like you belong.

No sale

SEMO Dempster Fire 07-15-2013Once they got the master stream playing on the fire from the ladder, the black smoke quickly turned white, then disappeared. It was all over except for mop-up and investigation.

I headed home to edit my film. Drat, The Missourian’s website already had a decent photo up that was tagged “Submitted by Alicia Lincoln.”

“Submitted by” is code for “We got it for free.”

I stopped by to see Editor Bob Miller, who liked a couple of the shots. “Are you giving them to us?” he asked.

“I’d like to get the same token $5 per shot I got in 1963,” I said.

“We can give you credit”

“We can give you credit,” he countered.

“That’s my problem: I have lots of credit. I just don’t have any money to pay the credit card bills when they come due.”

When I shot my first real newspaper photos in 1963, I got a front page byline and a check for $10 in the mail the next day. I wonder if I would have been ruined for honest work had that unexpected check not come? Bylines are cool, but bylines and money will hook you faster than crack.

Ron Smith – Fan of Year

Ron Smith was one of those quiet gentle souls who seems to float through high school without making any waves. I’ve often wondered what happened to him. Everyone knew who he was, but I don’t think many people, including me, could say they knew him.

I shot him at a basketball tournament at Houck Field House on Feb. 27, 1967.

This photo ran in the March 1 Missourian with the caption, “Fan of the Year: You see him at every sporting event, whether it be baseball, basketball, football, track, or even swimming. It makes no difference whether it’s high school, college, or junior high. Ron Smith (shown holding radio), a junior at Central High School, was recently presented the “fan of the year” award by State College’s Varsity Club.

Ron Smith died November 8

Judy Kurre Ringwald passed on the sad news that Ron died Nov. 8, 2012.

Here is his obituary from the Nov. 11 Missourian: Ronald Roy Smith, 63, of Belleview, Mo., passed away Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, at Belleview Valley Nursing Home. He was a longtime nursing home resident, having spent most of his time at Belleview Valley Nursing Home where he was loved by staff and residents.

He was born November 13, 1948, in Cape Girardeau, Mo., to Roy and Hulda Vasterling Smith. He was a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. In his teens, he was an avid sports fan, following local high school and college teams and the Capahas. Smith especially loved the St. Louis Cardinals and didn’t miss listening to or watching most of their games.

Loving survivors include one sister, Rosalee (Everett) Plunk of Cape Girardeau; one brother, Ray (Linda) Smith of Scott City; nieces and nephews, Marla (Maury) Taylor, Crystal (Justin) Smith both of Cape Girardeau, Mike (Nancy) Plunk of Lake St. Louis, Mo., Kim (Brad) Schiwitz of Frisco, Tex., Ray (Brittney) Smith of Jackson; great-nieces and nephews, Christina (Lee) Dodd, Haley and Hayden Dodd all of Scott City, Jennifer Boren of Lake St. Louis, Mo., Mackenzie and Mason Smith of Jackson, and Elizabeth Smith of Cape Girardeau. He was preceded in death by his parents.

It must have been a slow game

When you look at your film and see pictures of fans like Ron and Notre Dame Cheerleader Cathy, you can surmise that the action must have been pretty slow. If you haven’t bagged something at least half-way interesting by the end of the first quarter, you start looking around for sports feature shots. (As always, you can click on any shot to make it larger.)

Yep, pretty dull

I can see why I was looking for features. This was about the best action I had from the game.