Support Ken

Click here to support Ken Steinhoff through your Amazon purchases.

Purchases made at from that link put 6% of the total transaction price in Dad's pocket at no additional cost to you. You're going to shop online anyway, right? Do it through to support this web site.

Or, if you'd rather just send him a random amount of money, you can do that too...

Cape Central High Photos

Ken Steinhoff, Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1965, was a photographer for The Tiger and The Girardot, and was on the staff of The Capaha Arrow and The Sagamore at Southeast Missouri State University. He worked as a photographer / reporter (among other things) at The Jackson Pioneer and The Southeast Missourian.

Come here to see photos and read stories (mostly true) about coming of age in Southeast Missouri in the 1960s.

Please comment on the articles when you see I have left out a bit of history, forgotten a name or when your memory of a circumstance conflicts with mine. (My mother says her stories have improved now that more and more of the folks who could contradict her have died off.) Your information helps to make this a wonderful archive and may end up in book form.

Murray State’s Shoe Tree

Ever since I ran across the Perkins Shoe Tree (OK, it’s really a pole, but the pole was once a tree, so I’m going to say it still qualifies as a tree), I’ve been wondering how many other ones there are out there. When I spotted a newspaper clipping about the Murray State University Shoe Tree, I decided to make a detour on my way back home.

Located behind Pogue Library

I mentioned being a bit unnerved by the clown sign on the edge of town. I left my phone charger in Cape, so I had to stop at a Big Box store to get a new one. Neither did the young cashier nor an older woman at the door had ever heard of the Shoe Tree. Out in the parking lot, I did a little web research and found that the tree was supposed to be near Pogue Library. I put that in my GPS and headed out.

Unfortunately, when I got to the university, it seemed like every street I needed to turn down had temporary barricades on it. I went into a building that had all kinds of security monitors behind a desk, but there was nobody around to ask. The door that said I was supposed to show ID before entering was propped open. Trusting folks, those Kentuckians.

Skateboarders point the way

Out in the parking lot, I flagged down some teenage skateboarders who gave me vague directions. That got me close enough to ask some coeds in another parking lot who said they didn’t know the names of the streets, but I should take a right, another right before the McDonald’s, then curve around until I got to the library. They were right. Even found a parking spot in the shade.

More like a snag than a tree

The legend is that if two students who met at Murray State University, fall in love and then marry, they will have good luck if each partner nails a shoe to the tree. Some folks have returned to tack a baby shoe to the tree when they’ve started a family. Nobody seems to know when the practice started.

This isn’t the original tree. The first one, the story goes, was struck by lightning and burned. This one has had the branches lopped off and appears to be on its last legs (roots). Some accounts say that even this tree has been struck by lightning “due to a high zinc content from the nails.” I tend to discount that theory. There are lots of taller metal objects around that would provide more enticing targets for Thor.

Las Vegas? Chicago?

Stefanie, the self-proclaimed List Queen, debated going to Las Vegas to celebrate her first wedding anniversary. Her hubby was pushing for an expensive Chicago restaurant.

“So what the heck are we doing? We’re going to nail our shoes to a shoe tree in Murray, KY (#185 on my list). What kind of redneck tradition is that, you may ask?”

How do you do it?

Stefani continues, “I thought there would be a whole process of verifying that we were students and that we actually did indeed meet at Murray. I thought we’d have to be escorted to the tree and someone would take our picture. But when Blake called, they were like, “Yeah, just show up and nail your shoes to the tree.” Awesome.

Southeast Missouri State University has its Gum Tree at the top of Cardiac Hill, so I guess it’s only right that Murray State would have a shoe tree.




1 comment to Murray State’s Shoe Tree

  • Susan Welker

    I’m all smiles as I read this and see the pictures of the shoe tree. After graduating from Cape Central in 1966, I attended Murray State. I received my Art from MSU in 1970.
    Go Tigers!! Go Racers!! 🙂
    Yes, the shoe tree has been an awesome sight. Kinda weird seeing the snag of a tree.
    p.s. Vivian Walton (’66) and I were roommates during our first year at MSU.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>