Mary Nowell was one of the many Central High School students who lived on Themis Street. I did a video of Linda Stone and Tricia Tiptonsitting on Linda’s old steps and listing off all the classmates who grew up around them.
I didn’t know Mary well, but her dad, Bill Nowell, was a major influence in my life. Mr. Nowell owned Nowell’s Camera Shop at 609 Broadway. Other boys hung out in pool rooms and gas stations, but we photo geeks gravitated to Nowell’s so we could drool over the latest Pentax cameras (he carried Nikon gear, but Cape was a Pentax town), Honeywell strobes and other gizmos.
There was faint acidic smell of photo chemicals in the air, along with the odor of unopened boxes of photo paper and film. When I walked into The Palm Beach Post’s photo department stock room, I’d be transported back in time to Nowell’s. I can’t describe the smell, but I’d recognize it anywhere.
Mr. Nowell took a chance on us
Mr. Nowell took a chance on us kids. I don’t know how many teenage boys were extended credit, but I was one of them. I don’t recall Mr. Nowell and I ever discussing it, it just happened. I know he didn’t talk to my parents about it.
Dad grew up in the Depression era where you paid cash. I remember overhearing him talking to a friend one day when he didn’t know I was in the vicinity. He was telling him that Mr. Nowell (he was the kind of man you didn’t call “Bill’) was letting me “put stuff on the books.” Dad said it in a way that indicated that he was proud that an adult trusted me enough to give me credit.
I was always careful to pay the bill off regularly. I always paid for major purchases like cameras and lenses on the spot, but I would charge consumables like film, paper and chemicals. When the balance hit around 25 bucks, I’d pay it off and start again. I’ve held off writing about Nowell’s because I keep hoping I run across more photos taken in the shop.
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone more kind and decent than Mr. Nowell.
Cape Central’s auditorium is still in great shape. Here are some photos taken in 2009, during the 2010 reunion and black and white shots from the 60s. I understand that the seats have been recovered since we were there. It also looks like carpet has been added to the aisles. A projection booth in the back and some serious stage lighting has also been added over the years.
Auditorium used for speech and debate
Contestants in the Freshman-Sophomore Speech Contest in 1963 pose. I recognize Bill Wilson, Linda Stone and Janet Zickfield.
Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left of right side of the image to move through the gallery. I see vintage shots of Tricia Tipton, Carolyn Pensel and Jim Feldmier, among others. One of the reunion shots has Bill East, Betty Rawlings and Terry Hopkins wandering around trying to find the gum they had left under the seats in 1964.