Big Tire Smashes into Car

The big news in The Missourian Nov. 20, 1965, was a 700-pound wheel that broke off a city motor grader and went bouncing down the 700 block of Broadway. It smashed a window at Shoppers’ Warehouse Market, Inc., then bounced into in the side of Mrs. Diane Kincaid’s car. No one was injured. Cape Girardeau Patrolman Jeffery L. Steger is investigating.

That’s the most newsworthy photo – and the one that ran in the paper – but some of the other frames I shot that day are interesting from a historical standpoint.

Pete Koch’s Sinclair Station

I tried to read the price on the pumps, but I couldn’t make it out. My guess is that it was about 36 cents a gallon in 1965. The building and pumps have been replaced by a convenience store named Downtown Sinclair.

Downtown Sinclair in 2009

If there are any gas pumps around, I can’t see them in this photo. The Dino the Dinosaur sign has been replaced by one directing you to Centenary Church.

Familiar buildings on Broadway

The phone company building still has its microwave tower used for long distance back in the days before fiber optic cable. With a little imagination, I thought I could read that a Steve McQueen movie was playing at the Esquire, but I couldn’t make out the name of which one.

I can make out signs for Bill’s Pharmacy and Wayne’s Grill, the home of the best filet I’ve ever eaten. It was a Saturday payday ritual to stop off and have one of those bacon-wrapped steaks.

Crash attracted crowd

A crowd gathered, with much looking, speculating and theory-thrashing. In one of the photos in the gallery, someone with a movie camera showed up, probably from KFVS-TV.

Photo Gallery of the Big Tire Crash

Include are all of the shots taken in 1965, plus contemporary photos of the neighborhood in 2009. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Shoe Factory Neighborhood

I can’t believe I missed this aerial photo of the old shoe factory plant I shot April 14, 1964, when I ran the piece on the site being the new home of the Isle of Capri Casino. You can clearly see the infamous jog in Main Street that will be straightened.

Jog provided challenge

Reader John Burciaga shared this story about the jog: My only brother, Joe, Jr., 9 years older, was quite adventurous as a youngster. He and a buddy used to race side by side from downtown Main St. to the shoe factory site, where the sharp “dogleg” zig-zags left-to-right. This was always late at night, being careful police cars were not around, or traffic from the opposite direction. He never got hurt but I recall he tore a door off–reminding me a bit of the movie Rebel Without A Cause and the great chase to see who would bail out of his auto first before the drop-off.

This undated wreck photo from the 60s probably wasn’t caused by the zig-zag. It happened north of the jog and the car was southbound. You can barely see a building in the background that says “Cafe and Tavern.” The 1969 City Directory didn’t list the full name of the establishment.

Windows were painted

This shot of the wreck from the other direction shows the heavy-duty power lines feeding into the shoe factory and the painted windows. The only reason I can think for painting the windows would be to diffuse the light coming through them so there wouldn’t be any glare inside.

Old building at bottom of Mill Street

This old building at the bottom of Mill Street and south of the shoe factory, was still there in the spring when I shot a freight train going by.

Fairway Market No. 2

Missourian photographer Fred Lynch ran a Frony photo of shoe factory workers on strike in 1962 in his blog Dec. 3, 2010. He identified a building in the background as being the Fairway Market No. 2.

It’s been a number of things in the intervening years. Oct. 20,2009, a sign on the front of the building said that it was NOW OPEN as Margarita Mama’s. I don’t know how long they lasted or if they are still open. The Missourian had a number of stories detailing problems with the establishment’s liquor license.

I did see a notice that a tax lien against the property was discharged Dec. 10 of this year.

Red Star Baptist Church

The Red Star Baptist Church is outside the casino area, as far as I know, but I’m tossing in a photo of it since it’s been a Red Star landmark. I remember it being right on the edge of the flood waters in 1993. I’ll revisit that area when those negatives surface.

Cape’s First Car: 1904; First Crash: 1910

The first gas-powered automobile of record in Cape Girardeau was a Great Northern owned by George McBride, a stave manufacturer. The year was 1904. The Missourian’s 25th Anniversary edition has a fascinating history of the automobile from a 1929 perspective.

Other motorists in 1904

Dr. A.D. Blomeyer drove a Locomobile, a slow-moving, steam-powered vehicle.

The first gasoline bus was the “Red Devil,” bought by William Gockel. The paper said that “the Red Devil remained true to its name during the period Mr. Gockel was its owner and he finally gave it away for fear it may take a notion to return to the place from which, as its name indicated, it originally came.”

Buggy manufacturer considers Cape

Not everyone was so sure automobiles were going to be a permanent transportation fixture. Russell Gardner, a prominent St. Louis buggy manufacturer, came to Cape in October, 1904, to select a location for a buggy factory that was to be in operation by March of the next year. The factory was never built.

Cape automotive pioneers

Fred A. Groves and O.G. Edwards came to Cape in 1916 to start an automobile business. They had been in business together in Farmington, a Missourian story explained, when they decided to give Cape a go.

It took them three days to drive from Farmington to Cape Girardeau. One day from Farmington to Ste. Genevieve; one from Ste. Gen to Perryville, and one to cover the 35 miles from Perryville to Cape.

The two young men established an agency for Hudson and Hupmobile. Edwards went back to Farmington, but Groves stayed in Cape. He took over the Ford agency in 1914.  Groves sold 5,526 Ford Model Ts and 500 Model As in his first 15 years.

Other early Cape car dealers

  • A Dodge franchise went to Thomas L. Harris.
  • Rudert and Sons started in the garage and automobile agency business in 1917.
  • Albert P. Rueseler and Walter Bohnsack organized the Rueseler-Bohnsack Auto Co. in 1923. The Rueseler Motor Co. was formed in 1925, and Bohnsack became a Studebaker dealer.

Significant dates in Cape automotive history

  • First car theft: Oct. 21, 1905. Salesman Vince Chapman left his car in front of the Broadway Mercantile Co. “Manufacturers apparently thought there was about as much temptation for the predatory criminal to steal an automobile as to steal a box car or a steamboat and had not provided locks,” The Missourian speculated. There is no indication that the car was recovered. It is estimated that there were perhaps 20 cars in Cape at that time.
  • Fastest time Cape to Jackson: July 9, 1906, Joe Wilson drove from Cape to Jackson in a record time of 25 minutes, “probably the shortest time in which the 10 miles had ever been traversed up to that time.”
  • First Tin Lizzie: George McBride (remember him) brought the first “Henry” into Cape in May of 1909.
  • First garage: A.J. Vogel opened the first garage on Jan. 10, 1910. It had a showroom big enough to hold six cars, a washing and cleaning shop and a repair shop. Vogel, a farm machinery salesman and experienced mechanic, placed the first display auto ad to run in The Missourian. The 4-inch, single column ad read: “The Vogel Motor Car Co., 419 Broadway, will be ready for business in 10 days. Come and see us.”
  • First auto license tax: Dec. 6, 1909. $5.
  • First car vs ped: July 21, 1910. Esaw Hendrickson, a Delta farmer, got off a street car between the H&H Building and the Idan-Ha Hotel and stepped in front of a car driven by City Councilman Joe T. Wilson. He was knocked down and run over, but his injuries were not serious.

(Cars were still bumping into each other at Broadway and Fountain in 1966. See more photos of this crash, plus read about Fred Kaempher, Cape’s song-writing policeman.)

  • First auto vs bicycle: the day after Mr. Hendrickson’s accident, a car driven by R.B. Oliver, Jr., and a bicycle ridden by Fred Frenzel, a Western Union messenger boy, collided at the corner of Broadway and Spanish. “The boy was not hurt much, but his brand-new wheel was demolished.”
  • First funeral procession: Oct. 30, 1916, when the body of Charles E. Booth, a Frisco fireman, was laid to rest. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and the Odd Fellows asked Booth’s friends to bring automobiles for the funeral procession.

Cars were big business in Cape in ’29

  • Ten garages were exclusively devoted to repair work; 14 others were dealerships in addition to their garage functions.
  • Two automobile accessory concerns.
  • Three automobile battery stations.
  • Seven exclusive tire and service stations, not counting garages and stores handling tires.
  • One vulcanizing shop.
  • At least 30 filling stations.
  • Cape automotive landmarks
  • First car theft: Oct. 21, 1905. Vince Chapman left the car in front of the Broadway Mercantile Co. “Manufacturers apparently thought there was about as much temptation for the predatory criminal to steal an automobile as to steal a box car or a steamboat and had not provided locks.” There is no indication that the car was recovered. It is estimated that there were perhaps 20 cars in Cape at this time.
  • Fastest time Cape to Jackson: July 9, 1906, Joe Wilson drove the 10 miles from Cape to Jackson in a record time of 25 minutes, “probably the shortest time in which had ever been transversed up to that time.”
  • First Tin Lizzie: George McBride (remember him) brought the first “Henry” into Cape in May of 1909.
  • First garage: A.J. Vogel opened the first garage on Jan. 10, 1910. It had a show room big enough to hold six cars, a washing and cleaning shop and a repair shop.
  • First auto license tax: Dec. 6, 1909. $5.
  • First Missourian auto ad: Oct. 15, 1909. A.J. Vogel, a farm machinery salesman and experienced mechanic placed a 4-inch single column ad: “The Vogel Motor Car Co., 419 Broadway, will be ready for business in 10 days. Come and see us.”
  • First auto crash: July 21, 1910. Esaw Hendrickson, a Delta farmer, got off a street car betwen the H&H Building and the Idan-Ha Hotel and stepped in front of a car driven by City Councilman Joe T. Wilson. He was knocked down and run over, but his injuries were not serious.
  • First auto vs bicycle: the day after Mr. Hendrickson’s accident, a car driven by R.B. Oliver, Jr., and a bicycle ridden by Fred Frenzel, a Western Union messenger boy, collided at the corner of Broadway and Spanish. “The boy was not hurt much, but his brand-new wheel was demolished.”
  • First funeral procession: Oct. 30, 1916, when the body of Charles E. Booth, a Frisco fireman, was laid to rest. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and the Odd Fellows asked Booth’s friends to bring automobiles for the funeral procession.

Fender-Bender at Broadway and Fountain

Looking south toward the Idan-Ha Hotel

I’ve got a gazillion wreck pictures in my files, but I’m  going to run only those that are of unusual vehicles, unusual circumstances or have interesting backgrounds. This fender-bender between a car and a taxicab at the corner of Broadway and Fountain in 1966 fits the criteria. I assume the two guys in the foreground were the drivers from their universal “Oh, Bleep” pose.

The old Idan-Ha Hotel is on the corner. I spent many a lunch hour in the coffee shop there when I was working at The Missourian.

Looking north toward the Marquette Hotel

The Marquette Hotel is on the right and the H&H Building is on the left.

Officer Fred Kaempfer directs traffic

I looked at the officer directing traffic and thought I had a shot of him from another occasion. Yep. It was a portrait of a guy with sort of a soulful look in his eyes. I remembered him as being one of the nicest guys who ever wore a uniform.

Wife Lila immediately recognized him from her days working at the Rialto Theater. The only problem was that we couldn’t think of his name to save ourselves.

Fortunately, we have house guests from Cape Girardeau staying with us. Lila’s sister, Marty Perry Riley (Class of 68) and her husband, Don Riley (class of 67) are in town for Marty to do a chalk drawing in the Lake Worth Street Painting festival this weekend. Son Adam’s company, DedicatedIT has brought her down the last three years to do the drawings. (It’s chilly down here this year, but it’s generally not hard to convince her to come to Florida in February with the kind of weather Cape’s been having.)

As soon as I showed them the photo, they both said, “Fred Kaempfer.” Don had been a Cape police officer himself.

What I didn’t know about Officer Kaempfer was that he was a song writer who came up with “Keep Walking On,” sung by Ken Roberts, in 1970. Fred died in 2004, at 80. His obituary fleshed out his life. He worked at Leming Sawmill for 25 years, was a Cape policeman from 1965 to 1973, and was a Scott City policeman from 1973 until he retired in 1978.

A letter to the editor in The Missourian after his death pointed out something else. Few know that during World War II Kaempfer fought in five major campaigns: Sicily, Central Europe, Normandy, Rhineland and the invasion of France, where he was awarded the Medal of Freedom.

View to the east shows First Federal Savings and The Southeast Missourian

It was a hot day in 1966, if the temperature sign on the First Federal Savings is correct – 88 degrees. This is quite a contrast with a Frony picture taken at the same intersection during a snow storm when the temperature was 28 degrees on the sign. You can see it in Fred Lynch’s Southeast Missourian blog.

Notice the phone number on the side of the cab: ED. 5-4433. ED stood for Edgewater. Jackson was the Circle exchange.

You can see The Missourian Building and the Royal N’Orleans, but the KFVS tower hasn’t been built yet.

The Idan-Ha is gone

The Idan-Ha Hotel caught fire a couple of times and was torn down. Here’s what it looked like on Oct. 24, 2009.

The Marquette Hotel escaped the wrecking ball

The future of the Marquette Hotel was very much in doubt for many years, but it looks like it’s taken on a new life. The canopies over the doors were more interesting when the building was a hotel, but, overall, the building looks better than it has in decades.

Note the KFVS TV building sticking high up into the sky.