Dutchtown: Flood of 1993

Mark Steinhoff - Dutchtown Flood of 1993Some of you have been wondering where I’ve been. I was busy in Cape getting a boat ready to pull down to Florida for Kid Adam, then it was a long slog south because of weather. When you’ve been gone from home for months, there are a number of things you have to catch up on. If you don’t accept all those excuses, I’ll have to fall back on “the dog ate my homework” and hope you don’t know that I don’t own a dog. (I’m owned by a cat, but they rarely eat homework.)

OK, to bring us back to the headline, I was in Chicago for phone switch training when the Flood of 1993 was going on. I told the boss that I’d pay any difference in ticket price to do a stopover in Missouri for a couple of days, so I could see the high water.

Dad’s construction company owned a piece of ground at the southeast corner of Highways 25 and 74 in Dutchtown. It had gone under in 1973, and was revisited by water backing up from the Mississippi River in 1993. Brother Mark and I rented a canoe to explore the property at the height of the flood. The building we’re headed toward was what we called the mechanics shed.

Big enough to hold heavy equipment

Mark Steinhoff - Dutchtown Flood of 1993The building had a super-thick slab strong enough to hold bulldozers and draglines when they needed repair and maintenance. Half of it was set aside for mechanical and welding work, and the other side had storage cabinets and a carpentry setup.

The first challenge was how to open the door. The Master lock was located just beyond where you could reach it comfortably without tipping the canoe over. My key ring, 22 years later, is still bent from trying to twist the lock open.

Not a pretty sight

Mark’s first peek showed stuff bobbing around all over the place. We lost some good table and band saws because we never thought the water would come up so high and so fast.

How do we get through the door?

Mark Steinhoff - Dutchtown Flood of 1993The next challenge was how to get a wide canoe through a narrow door. It was part of family lore that Dad once built a boat in a basement on Themis street, then figured out it was too big to get out. I never knew for sure if that was true, and he’s not around to either confirm or deny the story.

I REALLY didn’t want to go swimming, and I REALLY, REALLY didn’t want to spill all my camera gear in the drink, but how can you pass up an opportunity like this?

I went first

Mark Steinhoff - Dutchtown Flood of 1993I managed get the bow of the canoe far enough into the building to rig a 2×8 or 2×10 board between the top of a cabinet and some shelving, and clambered out. Mark handed up everything that was in the boat and followed my lead.

Once the boat was empty, he was able to twist it enough to get it through the door.

Mark doesn’t look comfortable

Mark Steinhoff - Dutchtown Flood of 1993He’s giving me the look that says, “I bet you’ve rigged that board to dump me. I can’t figure out HOW you did it, but I’m pretty sure something nasty is going to happen.”

Snakes?

Mark Steinhoff - Dutchtown Flood of 1993He looked even more uncomfortable when I started sharing snake stories from other floods and hurricanes I had covered. “Don’t forget,” I warned him, “snakes are looking for high ground, and they might mistake you for high ground.”

Compressor was flood casualty

Mark Steinhoff - Dutchtown Flood of 1993There was a huge, industrial-size air compressor on the mechanic side of the shed that wasn’t bolted to the floor. When the water came up, the air tank on the bottom started to float, but the heavy motor and compressor on the top caused the unit to flip over. Had it been bolted down, the water wouldn’t have gotten up high enough to do any damage. Mark’s using the big ceiling hoist to get it out of the water.

We asked someone if they thought the compressor was salvageable, but we were told that the motor was probably shot. We gave it no thought for about ten years until Brother-in-Law John came down to help us with something. He said he’d take the thing off our hands.

Sure enough, when I went over to his shop a couple of weeks ago, the compressor was puttering away as good as new. I’m glad it found a good home.

On the same side as the compressor was our ski boat, The Mary Lou, floating, still attached to its trailer. (You’ll hear more about The Mary Lou later.)

Water marks

Mark Steinhoff - Dutchtown Flood of 1993When I got back to Cape several months later, the armpit-high water marks on the buildings were still evident. Mark may be my “little brother,” but he’s not that little.

I saw drone aerial photos of the property shot a couple of days ago. The water is already into the buildings, and I suspect that Mark and I could take a canoe through the big shed pretty much the same at 1993 if the water crests as high as predicted.

 

Dad Would Have Been 95 April 17

Dad was born April 17, 1917. That would have made him 95 this year. He had an interesting quirk. He’d make up small pocket diaries or journals that he’d carry in his shirt pocket. The covers were made of cut-up manila folders and the pages were of paper cut and stapled inside. He had a rubber stamp that he would use at the start of every month to date every pair of facing pages. (Click on any image to make it larger.)

He was meticulous about recording every penny (literally EVERY penny) he spent every day. Generally there would be some mention of the weather and a brief accounting of what he had done during the day. By February, 1975, he and his partner, James Kirkwood, were beginning to wind down Steinhoff & Kirkwood Construction, so he had a lot more time to spend on stuff like Scouts. (SOR stands for ScoutORama, for example.)

Uncharacteristically, he set off a section: Got Big News about being Grandpa this PM. Talked to Ken Okee. Fla (I must have been in Okeechobee) later to Lila. (Then reverting to company business, he finished up by saying that he talked to Jim in Fla this PM.)

December second was big day

On December 2, 1975, we find that the day had sunshine in the 50s; he got up at 4:30 A.M., had toast and coffee, then left for Memphis Airport.

Picked up Ken & Lila and seen Grand child 1st time at 11:10 A.M. (He consistently used “seen” for “saw” and “too” for “to,” but otherwise generally used good grammar and spelling with lots of abbreviations. His penmanship was precise.)

Along the way to and from Memphis, he had coffee for .83 (with a 15-cent tip), bought a paper for 15 cents and put six bucks of gas in the car.

Here’s the first meeting with Matt

Matt was born September 27, 1975. (Matt’s the one who scanned these for me about 10 or 12 years ago. He was disappointed that his birth wasn’t mentioned in the journal, probably because Dad was over at Kentucky Lake on the day.) Here is Mother, Wife Lila, Dad and Matt getting together for the first time at the Memphis Airport. It’s the same airport we would fly out of in 1977 after Dad’s funeral.

Matt got a cold

December was cloudy, cold and damp. Dad got up at 6:45 and went to 7:30 church by himself, where he took Communion. When he got back home, he built a fire in the fireplace and watched Cardinal football until 1:45. Took 13 of us to dinner, including Lila’s mother, brother and sister; my grandmother, Elsie Welch, Mother, Brother Mark and Mark’s date. (The Cardinals beat Dallas, in case you were interested.)

The final note for the day said that Matt got cold. Nose stopped up. Call Dr. Kinder. [Matt doesn’t know how lucky he was that Dr. Herbert had probably retired by then. That’s why Matt can still eat¬†Popsicles.]

Headed back to Florida

  • December 11 – Clear, sunshine and warmer. Got car checked over for trip to Florida. Left Cape for Lake and Florida 12:30 PM – arrive at trailer at 3:00 PM. Matt didn’t sleep too well tonight. He threw a real cry buster at Joe Summers. Had his nose cleaned out.
  • December 12 – Sunshine clear. Up at 5:30 because Matt up since 3:00. Lila back to bed. Got Matt to sleep for abt 1 Hr 1/4. Left Lake for Florida at 9:15 AM. Ate at Cracker BL Manchester 12:30. Drove to Macon Ga. by 8:00 PM. Matt feeling better today – was really good.
  • December 13 – Clear sunshine – left Macon, Ga., at 9:15 ate at Shoney’s. had blueberry pancakes – No Good – Drove to Wildwood & ate at Union 76 at 3:00 PM – then on to WPB arrive at 8:00 PM. 1093 miles. Matt real good on trip. [Editor’s note: I have two routes I take from FL to MO. Both of them are within a dozen miles of being 1,100 miles. I find it interesting that Dad’s trip was 1,093 miles.]

Another interesting thing I had forgotten was that while Lila and Matt were parked in Cape, I flew down to Corpus Christi, Tex., for a job interview. I had been at The Post for almost exactly three years, generally about as long as I was comfortable anywhere. While the Texas paper and I were talking about the move, I was offered the job of director of photography at The Post. I took it and spent the next 35 years in photo, as editorial operations manger and as telecommunications manager. I discovered that I didn’t have to move to a new town every three years if I took on new responsibilities at the same company.

Other stories, pictures of Dad

This picture was taken before we left for my Trinity Lutheran School eighth grade graduation ceremony. They weren’t sure how many more graduation ceremonies there might be, so they dressed for the occasion.