H&H Building, Draft Board and Dentist

I don’t have a whole lot of pleasant memories of the Himmelberger & Harrison Building – better known to natives as the H & H Building.

When I was about six, I needed to have a cavity filled. It was my first visit to a dentist’s office. I don’t remember the dentist’s name nor exactly where his office was in the H & H Building. What I do know is that he wasn’t anything like the dentists we go to these days with their high-speed, water-cooled drills, their pain blockers and soothing music.

This guy, I swear, used a drill that had to have been foot-powered like an old-fashioned treadle sewing machine. It wasn’t a drill so much as a jackhammer.

To this day I am dental-phobic. I’m so rigid, that the only thing that touches the chair is the back of my head and my heels. I even tense up in a barber chair because it reminds me of the ordeal.

A visit to the Cape Convention & Visitors Bureau

While I was in town this spring, I stopped by the H & H Building to see if the Cape Convention & Visitors Bureau would be interested in buying an ad on CapeCentralHigh. What would be a better fit than a blog getting Boomers all excited about coming back to Cape for high school reunions?

It was a very nice visit, but I walked out empty-handed. Well, truth be told, I came out worse than empty-handed. I offered to run a free ad for the Story-Telling Festival to show how well we could drive traffic to their site and I bought a T-shirt from them.

South East Missouri Trust Co

While wandering around their office, I spotted a cool old safe in the corner left over from when the office was the South East Missouri Trust Co. That’s the third safe I’ve discovered in Cape left over from the 20s and 30s.

Yale Time Lock was cleaned and guaranteed

This one still had stickers dating back to pre-Depression days guaranteeing the Yale Time Lock had been properly cleaned and serviced.

After I left the office, I shot a few more pictures of the lobby area.

Staircase led to the Draft Board

I remember that staircase. I walked up it to register with the Draft Board when I turned 18. I didn’t get off to a good start with Draft Clerk Miss Lolla B. Gilbert. I guess I should back up to explain that I have lousy handwriting. Despite my Dad’s best efforts, my cursive was illegible. I got in the habit of printing anything I wanted to read, and even that was a struggle to decipher.

When I had finished filling out part of the paperwork, Miss Gilbert grabbed it and said in an offended tone, “You PRINTED. You were supposed to sign.”

Not wanting to make her any more distressed, I picked up the form and scrawled my signature.

Even more offended now, she said, “I can’t read that.”

“Mam, that’s why I printed it.”

“You didn’t list any scars”

I won’t say she was exactly mollified, but she didn’t say anything else until she got down to the bottom of the form. “You didn’t list any distinguishing marks or scars.”

I guess I had a lucky childhood, because I had escaped any disfiguring injures, so far as I could recall. The silence grew between us.

Finally, inspiration struck. “I cut my finger once,” I said hopefully.

“Where? Show me.”

The mailbox where she mailed the letter

And then, as I curled the middle finger of my left hand to show her the cut, I hoped that she would take the gesture in the spirit in which it was intended.

I’ve often wondered if Miss Gilbert had an evil grin on her face when she sent me the letter to report for the draft physical that would have given me an all-expense-paid vacation to beautiful Southeast Asia, had I not come in Number 258 in the 1969 Draft Lottery.

Historical side note: The Southeast Missourian ran a story about the two 19-year-olds who were at the ends of the spectrum when birthdates were drawn in the Dec. 1, 1969, Draft Lottery. Gary Wayne Hurt, 1030 West Cape Rock Dr., was born April 24, the second date selected in the lottery.

Lonnie Lee Brockmire, 1826 Woodlawn, celebrates his birthday on Feb. 26, the second to last date drawn. If you’d like to look up what your Draft Lottery number was, follow this link to the list in The Missourian.

If you’d like to see what the H & H Building looked like in 1966, it shows up in the background of a fender-bender in this post.

Photo Gallery from H & H Building

Here are some additional photos from the H & H Building. Click on any picture to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

27 Replies to “H&H Building, Draft Board and Dentist”

  1. Plesant memories you may not have, but the building and more particularly its owners played key rolls in the development of Southeast Missouri. Perhaps no men were more intregal to making the dream of draining the swamp that characterized this land into the most productive farm land in the world. See http://medialab.semissourian.com/story/1288730.html for an overview of the Little River Drainage District.

    It is no coincidence that the Oliver Law Firm was housed in the building for many years, as Alan Oliver and his descendants served as cheif counsel to the this engineering marvel from its inception until recently. SEMO, or however it is now known, benefitted by receiving the records that had been stored in the building’s basement.

    As to the bank, it is uncertain whether it predated Cape’s oldest bank, Sturdivant, at the site. The latter bank moved to H&H about 1930 and ended its days there during the Depression. A testimony to the character of the bank’s owners, which included Himmelberger, Harrison and a couple of others, is that they paid the depositors in full from their own pockets. Find a similar example this century.

    These men and their compatriots transformed a sleepy college town into “the Beacon City of Five States” culminating in with the All American City designation in 1968. Their contributions are long forgotten – witness the post above. But, were it not for the bold initiatives they pursued, there would be few to support Cape’s medical industry or pay SEMO’s scandalous tuition. It may represent the vision of the current town leadership, but compare it to that of Himmelberger, Harrison and Oliver whose actions were the engine for a large number of fortunes, some beneficiaries of which post here regularly, from what had been one of the poorest areas in the country in 1900.

  2. Oh my….. I also have vivid memories of dentist visits in the H&H Building. I went to Dr. Brown. He loved to TALK and he loved cigars. He would often light up a cigar and chat in between the stages of a procedure. I think he timed things by the number of puffs on the cigar. Dr. Brown put braces on my teeth and that was an experience I prefer to forget. In those days, braces were something out of the “dark” ages. They were held in place by rings filled with cement which were fastened onto each back tooth. More than once, the rings came loose which meant a quick trip to Dr. Brown to put in new cement. Like Ken, my memories of events inside that building are not so great, but the memories of the physical aspects of the building are quite special. I loved riding the elevator and, of course, there was always a man operating it – no self service in those days. Great photos you provided of the interior – thanks Ken……

    1. Dr. Chisum on Broadway, not far from CHS, was the dentist who installed my braces. Yes, in those days it was a crude and painful process involving sharp wires and cement.

      I dreaded going for adjustments, which meant that you would be in excruciating to dull pain as your teeth were pulled in a new direction.

      Every adjustment meant that the apparatus would rub in a slight different place in your mouth. The ends of the wires were needle-sharp, so he’d give you a glob of red wax to cover any spears he hadn’t clipped or rounded off until you could get back in to have it fixed.

      I’m not positive, but I think all of the Cape dentists I went to were graduates of the de Sade School of Dentistry.

      I can’t believe how braces went from an instrument of torture to status symbols in the years between the 60s and today.

  3. MISS Gilbert, she of booming voice and flaming red hair, was a faithful member of our church. I could hear her unique voice all over again in your conversation. Thanks Ken for reminding us of our formative and former lives.

  4. I worked in the H&H Building, buit in 1904, from 1977 to 1983. I was in two offices on the second floor, the last being across from elevator. People were always looking for directions which I was glad to provide. In those days, Missouri Utilities leased the first two floors. These are a dentist office, some kind of State or Federal office, Olivee & Oliver Law Offices, an insurance agency and some others but I can’t remember any more. I don’t remember if the Draft Board was still there or not (I think it was). One visit with Miss Lola Gilbert was enough!

    The old safe on the first floor I was always told originally belonged to the old Sturdivant Bank which failed in the 1930s. It took all my great grandmother’s life savings when it closed its doors.

    Always an early one to work, the late Dave Kaempfer and I would alway make the coffee in the basement of the building where we had a little breakroom. Dave was a great guy and good radio announcer-we had many a good conversations in that basement.

    1. Bill,

      The safe from the Sturdivant Bank ended up in another Cape landmark building. I had planned on featuring that building, but decided on a whim to throw up the H & H Building in its place.

      (There’s no rhyme or reason to these things. I didn’t start pulling this page together until around 10 P.M. and didn’t press PUBLISH until about 1:30 A,M. That’s why I hope you won’t grade my typos and misspellings too harshly.)

    2. Bill,

      I received the following message in my email. I will forward you the person’s email address off-line. Please let me know what you find out:

      Apparently in comments on your blog today, Bill Stone asserts that his great grandmother lost her life savings in the collapse of the Sturdivant Bank. This is contrary to our family history and the knowledge of the records archivists in Jackson where the bankruptcy records are located. Please asked Mr. Stone to contact this address with his ancestor’s name so that we may address this anomaly.

  5. Ken….great description of the adventure with braces. I could feel my mouth hurting. I think it was actually a form of torture.

  6. Ken,
    Wonderful description of the H&H building and how it relates to your life. I would like to link to this post for The Cape Social newsletter, August edition. By the way, how did that ad traffic go? I meant to ask you at the CapeGTweetUp, but didn’t get a chance to talk with you.
    Stephanie Lynch
    Director of PR and Marketing
    Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau

    1. You are more than welcome to link to this site.

      I’ve been kid sitting the grandkid all day and I have to cover a two-day bike expo for my other blog.

      I’ll get you stats the first of the week.

      In case anyone out there is interested, we are close to breaking 9,000 page views over the last 30 days; we’d be over 10K if I hadn’t slacked off traveling to and from Cape.

      There are a lot of folks out there interested in Cape Girardeau in the 1960s (and beyond). That’s a lot of readers for a site that wasn’t even a glimmer in my eye a year ago at this time.

  7. I don,t recall a dentist; Dr Brown, but our dentist in the H&H building was Dr Baumstark, and I knew Lolla Gilbert pretty well too!
    Joe Whitright

  8. My dad and grandfather worked in the insurance office in the H&H Building in the early 80’s. The only thing I can really remember is that Thad Bullock kept 2 dobermans on the roof of the old Marquette. I used to love to make them bark.

  9. My mother worked for Missouri Utilities whose offices were in the H&H Building. Upon entering the building I remember getting very quiet, perhaps in deference to its beauty. I rode up with the elevator operator, but walked the steps for exercise when mom and I went to the basement for her coffee break. One thing that always caught my eye in the basement was the huge supply of fallout shelter items housed there. That was the only time, in my youth, when the threat of nuclear war was ever very real to me.

    In reference to the Little River Drainage Dist., one name is asbent ….. Kochtitzky. He developed the dredge that was used to dig the ditches. Mr. Kochtitzky lived in Malden, and when my husband bought his home, we found a model of the dredge in the attic! The link in the first post will take you to a photo of the dredge in action, and a visit to the Malden Historical Museum will allow you to see the model and its intricacies in better detail.

    Our family dentist, Dr. Dan Cotner, was located there, too. His dental assistant, Mimi Hoffman (John Hoffman’s aunt) lived in our upstairs apartment. Thankfully, my memories of visits to Dr. Cotner were actually humorous. He gave us fluoride treatments which usually ended in a waterbath of spritzing spray.

  10. I used to sell the St Louis paper at the H&H building when I was little. I also enjoyed the ride on the elevator to the Missouri utilities office. Ms Gilbert was kind enough to see a bunch of us off at 5:00 one morning across the street from the H&H building going to St Louis, I believe on the St Louis/Cape bus line so we could get an all expense paid trip to Southeast Asia. She was a character.

  11. I have the same memory as Sally going to Dr Cotner. But in addition he would give a coupon to go to the Idanha (?) Hotel across the street for an ice cream cone!

  12. Thank you all for sharing your comments. I too have fond memories. My grandfather, Allen Oliver, employed me in the Oliver& Oliver Law Firm while in High School. I was to “dress appropriately” for the ride up the elevator. I then donned my overalls and used linseed oil to clean the books in the law library. My appropriate attire was again put on for the ride down from the fourth floor. I believe that in addition to the Missouri Utilities office, there was an abstract office on the third floor. J. Fred Waltz can give you a more up to date history of the building.

  13. Cape Girardeau County Abstract and Title Company was in the H & H forever! They are still in business and it is run by Scott Browning, I believe class of ’59 CHS. Penny that is funn that you had to dress appropriately to ride the elevator. Of course back in the day we did dress appropriately!

  14. I use to eat lunch with Lola in the Idanha Hall Cafe. She knew my Mom and she was so much fun. Yes, I remember the dyed red hair she had. I think that was the first person I ever know who died her hair. I was working at the Otakhi Girl Scout Council at the time. Mary Spitzmiller was my boss. And to this day she was the best boss I ever had

  15. I have a hat tree in my house that came from Dr Baumstark’s office at the H&H building. Its dated around the early 1900s. I live in Dr. Baumstark’s house on N Benton that he bought in 1926 (built in 1924).

  16. I am certain the dentist to whom you are referring was Dr. Baumstark as I had
    a similar life scarring experience at the age of 5. An abcessed molar was removed
    without any pain medication! Dr. Baumstark was a neighbor with an alley
    separating our back yards. His daughter and I were playmates and despite his
    dental methods, he was a nice man. I remember more pleasant visits to the H&H
    Building with my mother to pay bills at the Mo. Utilities office. What a wonderful

  17. Ken, you and I tried to find info on Libby Oliver. I could never bring up those newspaper editions on file you sent me. I still appreciate your effort.

    What I like so much about this is that Penny Oliver responded. Penny, wasn’t your mother the Libby Oliver who served as Mistress of Ceremonies at Girl Scout events?

    If so, she had a major impact on my life. It is a miracle that I grew up to be a public speaker since I was so shy as a child. You may not remember that in high school … but that story is too long to share now.

    At any rate, my entire adult life has found me sometimes with regularity holding in front of a microphone. I was always intrigued by Mrs. Oliver’s professionalism and at the same time humor. I try to incorporate both because of her.

    I would like very much to have a picture of her if any one has one and would want to share it. Thank you.

    I also remember going to Penny’s home, I think, for a Girl Scout swimming party that Libby Oliver sponsored.

    Speaking of Girl Scout memories, do any of you have any pictures of us at day camp or of making tin can stew in I think the alley on Themis Street?

  18. Libby Oliver’s fabulous smile is something I will never forget . When she smiled, which was almost always, it lit up her whole face. She was always so very nice and upbeat. When I was about 9 or 10, I took my little sister, Johanna on a hike through the woods acrossfrom Big Bend Road. Going into to the woods from Bend Road and coming out on Sprigg Street, I had no idea where we were. I saw a lovely greystone house and I knocked on the front door and a lady with a big smile on her face opened it. I told her we were lost and asked her if she would call our parents to come get us. She offered us milk and cookies while we waited in her big beautiful living room where a huge black babygrand piano dominated the area. I thought I was in a castle! Who knew that I would grow up to meet her son in Central Jr. High and become friends with her and have my sister, Jackie, work for some of the area’s most brilliant lawyers! Later, when I worked at Mercantile Bank, my job was to handle foreclosures with the bank’s attorney . . . John Oliver. Although he didn’t go to Central High School, he always supported our class reunions with a very generous gifts for our door prizes and also attended them. Cape Girardeau was so fortunate to have the Oliver Family’s contributions to the community. They are greatly missed.

  19. I well remember Dr. Baumstark. He was a chain smoker and always had a lit cigarette resting on the edge of a metal cabinet that he kept his dental tools in. His hands were stained with nicotine and his breath would take the curl out of your hair. I remember wondering what the building looked like when it was new and clean.

  20. I had the unlucky luck of having to go to Dr. Baumstark. You sure didn’t have an enjoyable visit. also I remember Miss Lola Gilbert. I had gotten the notice to go for my physical. She put me in charge of handling the meals for the bus load. The driver stopped and ask if we wanted to eat on the way there and then beat it back home or do the physical and then eat. Everybody voted to eat first. There was two on the buss that was getting inducted and should not have gotten the meals. When I got back she ask how many eat and I told her all of them. That didn’t go over to good as she said that got her into trouble she said. I was actually getting a hardship deferment I was my mothers only support. I figures that was done for, but she finally left me off the hook.

  21. Around 1910 my grandmother, Natalie Medley, worked on the 5th floor of the original H&H building. She may have been doing some type of volunteer work. She may have had a part-time job. She was in her late teens. I know she did not need the money because she was planning to soon marry my grandfather.
    What type of activities were taking place on the 5th Floor; she certainly was not into dentistry at all? Thanks for this
    opportunity to find out.

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