1967 Cape Student Protest

Southeast Missouri State College wasn’t exactly a hotbed of political activism when I was there. You didn’t often see students carrying protest signs, particularly on Broadway.

I imagine Editor John Blue looked out his office window on the second floor of The Missourian, saw these young hooligans walking with picket signs in front of the Petit N’ Orleans restaurant, and immediately dispatched his Campus Correspondent (Yours Truly) to find out what the firebrands were up to.

Pickets: N’ Orleans not fair

Despite my riveting art, The Missourian didn’t run any photos. The story of the N’ Orleans Protest ran on Page 3 of the April 8, 1967, paper, below the fold with a one-column headline:

Pickets Claim

N’ Orleans Not

Fair to Some

The story said that “at one time, eight persons marched with signs bearing such slogans as ‘Students Have Rights,’ and ‘Faculty, Support Your Students.’

“However, the number in the line was reduced to three after a Cape Girardeau police officer arrived and talked to the picketers. He explained that more than three pickets constitutes unlawful assembly.”

Owner alleges students were unshaven

Richard H. Barnhouse, proprietor of the restaurant, said that some students had been refused service because they were not properly dressed and were unshaven.

“The students who marched in the picket line Friday, though, were neatly dressed with coats and ties and were clean shaven.”

[Editor’s note: I made a typo in the quote above and said the students were “nearly” dressed. I can’t believe one of you didn’t catch it. I’ve changed it to “neatly.” Much less interesting.]

I don’t know if it’ll reproduce on the screen, but one of the signs read, “I’m a Veteran and twenty-four. Because I’m a Student, You shut the door.”

N’ Orleans in 2009

The restaurant was involved in some sort of controversy and was closed, I think, when I shot it in the fall of 2009. I didn’t pay much attention, because it wasn’t one of my hangouts. I don’t recall ever eating there.


28 Replies to “1967 Cape Student Protest”

  1. Its probably a good idea that their ranks were reduced…it looks like a riot about to happen!!! My own kids refer to our generation as “hippies” & ask me if I protested anything or wore flowers in my hair, did Dad wear his hair long & smoke weed! lol They have no clue that the closest we came to a true hippie was on the news & would have had to travel hundreds of miles to protest the Viet Nam War. Besides a great deal of the young men were there fighting it, regardless of how they felt about the war. Never saw or smelled “pot” & I did however wear flowers in my hair & a toga sheet for a party on one occasion…the year 1967, my friend Marcia & I attended the Latin Banquet, ate with our fingers seated in the floor of CHS Cafeteria, being served by slaves! Actually in the 1st photo, the “hippie” wearing glasses looks like Marcia’s boyfriend, Lyman. He did tend to let his hair get a little long around the edges, & have five o’clock shadow once in awhile …which at the time made him very controversial, at least in her parent’s eyes! Not to be trusted, those college students…

    1. When I transferred out of SEMO, which was more like a high school than a college, I had a real culture shock.

      My first impression at an early student get-together was that my new friends on the university newspaper must be really poor. They could only afford to light one cigarette at a time and share it.

      I became a dope dealer before I became a user. My buddy and I decided that we should experience this strange herb and bought a tiny, tinfoil-wrapped “nickel baq,” that even WE recognized as being mostly twigs and seeds.

      Before we got up enough nerve to try it, though, the cops conducted a bunch of drug raids, which dried up the supply in town.

      Greed overcame curiosity and we sold the nickel bag for a “dime” and doubled our money.

      As far as appearance: the local sheriff in Palm Beach County was a Republican former insurance salesman whose main delight was harassing hippies (defined as anyone under 40 who didn’t LOOK like a Republican).

      Kids would gather at an old shell rock mining pit to play music, smoke dope and do what kids would do. The sheriff would scramble half the county’s deputies and the helicopter to roust them out so they’d head to the beaches on the north end of the county, where the process would repeat until both sides got tired.

      One night, the cop reporter and I figured we’d head out to the shell pits before the cops got there. As I’m walking past one group of kids, I heard one of them whisper, “Watch it. Narks.”

      “Nah, man, he’s too straight-looking to be a nark.”

  2. Ah yes the Petit New Orleans, my Mom and Dad used to go there at times…and I went with them when I was in my thrities. I showed up in jeans and Izod shirt…I was told that “all gentlemen wear a coat to dinner, and only gentlemen eat at the Petit New Orleans” With that I was handed a very large, very old sport coat and helped into it! Now a proper gentleman I enjoyed the meal and a Jim Beam with diet coke at the very well stocked bar. The piano player played 50’s songs all night long.
    Nice place to eat and have a drink…for a gentleman at least…

  3. In the 60s, 70s and 80s the steaks were the among the best I have ever eaten, bar none. So Ken you missed out if you never ate a Barnhouse steak. The Manager who worked there for years now owns/runs the Tractor restaurant in Jackson and the steaks are yummy!

    1. Judi,

      I was a Wayne’s Grill kind of guy. Dorothy didn’t care what you wore, so long as you were polite.

      They cooked up a filet with bacon wrapped around it that set the standard for every steak I ate after that point. Salad, fries and the steak would set you back $1.25. (It might have been raised to $1.50 by the time I left town.)

      My Saturday Missourian payday ritual was to go to Wayne’s for lunch.

      I’ve eaten at Tractors a couple times in the last five or six years. Good food.

  4. I imagine John Blue thought it was rather entertaining – as long as they were peaceful – and
    especially since they were “appropriately dressed”!!!

    1. Bunny,

      I don’t doubt it for a minute. There was no bigger SEMO booster than jblue.

      He was a little different from a publisher I worked for in a university town who prefaced every statement with “You know I’m a liberal,” even ones that ended with “when that hippie wouldn’t get out of my way, I just wanted to kick him in the spine.”

  5. The Petit N’Orleans was our very favorite place in Cape to eat. We even went there on our wedding night for dinner with our friends. The baked shrimp creole was fantastic! Every time we returned to Cape we would eat there with friends or family.

  6. my sister worked for them..their son in law became the mcdonald’s guru..LOL i remember it was very dark inside the place…i used to wonder if it was so you couldn’t see the roaches? the owner’s lived up stairs.it was a beautiful building.and now how many times has it burnt? i saw a sold sign on the front of it last time i was in town.
    does anyone remmeber the palmer house when it was on broadway across from the rialto?

  7. I remember the Palmer House…never had the pleasure of dining there, but Denny Palmer was one of my good friends at CHS. His parents owned it. Spring of 1967 our senior year we were walking back from the new Junior High building where he had Art & I had Latin II, when he confided in me he didn’t think he would graduate. Shocked & concerned, I asked him why, knowing he surely had enough credits. He told me it was just a “feeling” he had which proved to be a premonition. I sat beside his empty chair with my hand on the seat through graduation…he had been killed in a car wreck a few weeks before. The Palmer House was one of Cape’s finer dining establishments & Denny was definitely a 5 Star friend as well!

    1. Libby,

      That’s a seriously spooky story.

      I tried a Google Archive search and found some motions filed in some legal maneuvering between insurance companies and the estate of Dennis D. Palmer, but I didn’t see the original account of the crash.

      That’s not unusual. Google indexes of old newspaper microfilm are hit or miss, with more misses than hits.

  8. i went to with mickey palmer…his brother and a female friend were killed in an auto accident out near trail of tears? in corvette? a guy who i knew as zip craft? maybe the name was is wrong was paralized from the waist down.the palmers if i am not wrong had a pet monkey..that was back when F W Woolworhs sold exotic animals…

  9. Denny & Zip were friends but Denny’s accident was in Mike Busch’s Corvette. I didn’t know Mike or the girl, at the time, but in the future Mike married a close friend of mine from CHS days. Denny was said to be driving which wasn’t surprising, he was that type of guy, you’ve had too much to drink, no way will I let you drive! He had lost an older sister to leukemia & was deeply affected by her death! He seemed to want to protect himself from loosing anyone else from his life & was very protective of girls especially. Never liked Corvette’s from that day forward, light weight & easy to burn. All for a night of partying…nothing good ever came from adult beverages, not even for adults!

  10. funny how this site triggers old memories..i recall when mickie’s sister died too..i was in the third grade ..lormier school..mrs hall think was her name.damn that was a long time ago.

  11. Dennis Palmer was a good friend of mine. We used to hang out together a lot. Long story, but, right before the accident I had left town overnight (against my will I might add). Because of the fire, the girl in the car was not immediately identified and because I was all of a sudden missing and was a friend to Denny, my close friends thought the girl was me. When they called my house, my mother just started crying and told them I was gone. They then felt sure it was me and sent a letter to either Bill Snell or Terry Brock(I am not sure which one) in Viet Nam that I had been killed in a car accident with Denny. When the girl who was actually in the car was identified, my friends forgot to update the guys in Viet Nam. Consequently, when I came back to Cape for a visit years later and called Bill on the phone, he was shocked. He said, “I thought you were dead.” Then I was shocked because I didn’t know any of this. My friends had never said anything to me about thinking I was dead or about writing to Bill and Terry. So, it was news to me that anybody thought I was dead. Bill came over to see me within a few minutes (his face white as a sheet) and we figured it all out eventually. That was just really weird. Denny was one of the sweetest guys I knew in high school.
    Now, about the Petit N’Orleans. Never was there, wanted to go there, couldn’t afford it. I loved the look of the building. Remember when one of the famous comic strips used a drawing of the N’Orleans? Man, I really got carried away with this comment. I will shut up now.

  12. Oh, one more thing, Zip was partially paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. And, for a time, Phil Davis lived with him and was supposed to take care of him but I don’t think he really did.

    1. mcds guru lol? that was my brother, dont know who you are but that guru has 17 mcds across se mo, dont know who you are but i know what you are

  13. Ken: Thanks for another Wayne’s Grill reference. Wayne and Dorothy were all about low cost, high volume, and the restaurant provided me with my best education. SEMO was a highly paternalistic environment, but, in 1962 when I entered, we were still products of our docile, 1950’s mentality. The 60’s had not really hit yet. President Mark Scully would approach female students off campus who were who were wearing pants or shorts and confiscate their ID cards. I remember registering for classes and requesting a parking pass. “OK, that will be $10,” the clerk said. “What parking lot am I to use,” I asked. “Oh, you can’t park on campus. The pass just allows you to drive a car in town.” So I live in Cape and have to have a pass to drive??? I just walked away with my $10 in hand.

  14. mike zip craft was injured in a car crash and the car was driven by again mike bush, you doubt if i reallly took care of him? sorry u feel like that but requires no explanation, tis better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.\, i remember you as a cute skinny girl always askin if i had seen dallas

  15. My name is Judy (Palmer)Hildrich
    My parents owned the Palmer House
    I’m the oldest , my sister Dixie Palmer, died of Cancer at 16, my brother Denny Palmer died in a fire car accident
    I didn’t know the the young girl. They both perished in the fire.
    Mike Bush, survived.
    Mackey Palmer. Is my younger brother., he is still very much alive
    So now I’m the oldest and Mickeys the youngest. Just wanted to make things perfectly clear
    Mickey and I both live in Cape Girardeau.

    1. Thanks for filling in the blanks. There are a lot of readers who knew you and your family.

      I didn’t work that crash, but it made enough of an impression on me that I have had a fire extinguisher in my car ever since. I’ve never used it to save anyone, but I’ve put out half a dozen car fires (including one where the guy begged me to let it burn because he needed to collect on the insurance).

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