Capaha Lagoon: Funny What You Forget

The Southeast Missourian’s Don Gordon was a reporter of the old school. There was no flash and trash to him. He did what are dismissed today as “dull but necessary” stories – the kind that keep politicians and bureaucrats honest. I learned a lot from him in the three years we worked together.

I tried to emulate him, down to this crazy way he’d wrap a leg around the typewriter on the stand in front of him, like he was afraid it was going to sneak away or someone was going to steal it. I’m sure he was amused by my imitation, but he was kind enough never to make fun of me. When he got into a rhythm, his typing sounded like a machine gun going off.

He had kind of a long, hang-dog look and a perpetual five-o’clock shadow. I never saw him get stressed or angry, no matter what was going on.

We kept track for a long time; the last time we saw each other, he was working in Paducah, Ky. Then, he fell off the radar screen.

He always mentioned his favorite picture

Whenever we got together, he never failed to mention his favorite photo: a shot he said I took of a couple of kids fishing in the Capaha Park Lagoon oblivious to a dog eating their lunch.

I never had the heart to tell him that I thought he was mistaken. I couldn’t ever recall taking a picture like that. In fact, I had a sequence of photos of kids fishing that I thought he might have been thinking of, but none of them had a dog in them.

Still, I’ll take compliments anyplace I can get them. If someone wants to credit me for what they thought was a memorable photo, I’ll nod my head and agree.

Son of a gun, I DID shoot a picture like that

It was a single frame clipped off the front or back of a roll of film and stuck in with some unrelated photos. The date on the outside of the glassine sleeve says 4/21/67. That date might be right. It looks like it could have been spring. The kids are wearing sweatshirts or sweaters and there are leaves on the trees.

Don’t doubt the Master

Just goes to show that you should never question your old mentor when he tells you that you done good.

14 Replies to “Capaha Lagoon: Funny What You Forget”

  1. Ken…loving the photos. And Capaha Park bring back many memories for all of us, I’m sure. My brother, Jim Huff, who went to the College Campus High, spend many a morning at the park as kids fishing for the little sunfish. How much fun was it to make dough balls – perhaps my first experience at cooking? – and slice up that sticky, smelly old liver for our bait. There’s a great possibility were worms involved, too. We lived up on Perryville Road where it split off from Perry Aveue so we would ride our bikes down, down, down the hill to the park pst the Rose Garden…then I guess we would puff, puff, puff ride our bikes up the hilll home. Thank you for turing on our “memory” buttons with your photos.

  2. Ken: Great picture regardless of who took it. Thanks so much for your efforts in bringing back so many great memories from our salad days.

  3. Paul,

    There’s no doubt that I took it. It just managed to fall between the memory cracks. The funny thing is that I DID have a silhouetted picture of kids fishing in the lagoon that I had entered in several contests. I always assumed that was the picture he was talking about and he only IMAGINED that there was a dog in it.

    One of the classic photojournalism stories is about a photographer who came back from a parade with hundreds of photos. He handed the film over to a photoeditor who looked at the film for a couple of minutes and said, “That one.”

    The photographer was a bit perplexed. “You didn’t even look at all the film. Why that one?”

    “Because the guy in the photo is having his pocket picked.”

    Some days it just takes another pair of eyes to see what you missed.

  4. Ken, Your mother has the right idea. I’ve noticed in the old county histories that the people who outlived the others got to tell the pioneer stories the way they wanted to. Usually there isn’t evidence to contradict them, but occasionally they didn’t know about other records or about people who hadn’t died but had merely moved a long ways away.

  5. Like the old saying goes, “History is written by the winners (or the survivors).”

    This blog has really brought home the fact that newspapers are really the ones who “record history on horseback.”

    I may not have made much of an impact with my life, but it’s somewhat satisfying to know that long after I’m oak food, folks will be seeing my name when they look up factoids in MO, OH, NC and FL. If you’re only alive so long as someone remembers you, then I should be around for quite a while.

  6. Ken, I think most of us have more of an influence on those surrounding us than we might realize. For instance, you were indirectly a big influence on my Boy Scout career, since we were both in Trinity Lutheran’s Troop 8. At that time (when I turned Boy Scout age of 11), you were on your way out to bigger, better (and more age-appropriate) things. I wanted to be just like you, so at age 14, I achieved Eagle Scout and went on to earn to palms.
    I’ve since spent 31 years in the Cape Public School System as both a teacher and administrator, having retired in 2008.
    I sincerely enjoy your blog and its “quiz” aspect that makes me think back to the sixties. Not a realistic thought, but I hope you don’t run out of photos or the dialogue that goes with them. As a side note, your mom and mine have been friends for years.


  7. Tim,

    Good to hear from you. And, thanks for bringing back memories of Troop 8. I uncovered a bunch of pictures from there last night, so be assured that they’ll be showing up.

    You did better than I did. I had more than enough merit badges to earn Eagle, but I took ones that I was interested in instead of ones that were required, so I only made it as far as Life. My brothers, Mark and David, made it all the way and were also Vigil members of the Order of the Arrow.

    By the time they were Scout age, Dad was winding down his construction business and was able to spend more time with them and Scouting. I’ve always said that Scouting added a whole new dimension to his life: for the first time, he learned how to be comfortable speaking to groups and directing projects that weren’t focused on moving dirt.

    I’ve got lots and lots of stuff. The biggest problem is figuring out what the heck it is.

    Say “hi” to your mom for me.’

  8. Thank you very much Libby, Sherry, Paul, Spokesrider and Tim. The stories and pictures about Cape are great, but the conversations that you have with my dad in the comments section really add depth to, what I feel is, a new-age autobiography/biography/memoir. Please keep stirring the memories.


  9. Don Gordon was the reason I got into newspaper reporting.
    During the time I managed the automotive department of Montgomery Ward downtown, the Missourian had an open call to the community for a column, titled “My Opinion.” Before me, the only people they published for the column were bankers, lawyers, college professors, and established business people. I wrote an article that Don liked and he published my piece, and five others, before hiring me to become a sportswriter for the Missourian. I had no journalistic experience. I certainly was no sports writer, but Don believed in me and took a risk.
    Ken, you might have remembered Don in his somber days. But, the Don I saw was light-hearted and jovial. I even caught him grinning the day following when my great “flaming Missourian reporting vehicle” burned to the ground.
    At the time, the paper had bought a small fleet of Ford Pinto Station Wagons to ferry the crews around the area and to their assignments. This particular day, I was asked to deliver another reporter out toward the “mall” that was being built between Town Plaza and the interstate.
    As I returned, and while driving eastward along William Street, I was merrily motoring along as passers-by most heartily and vigorously waved at me as they passed westward. All this acclamation lead me to believe that I was a righteous traveller, but I soon discoved that the Pinto was on fire.
    As soon as I could, I turned left onto a side street, on the left side of Del-Farm, ran into the store, jerked a fire extinguisher off the wall, ran back out to the Pinto, popped the hood and was immediately met by an inferno that I had given enough oxygen to to really take off.
    The next day, I was greeted by the burned-out remains of a a kit car, sitting on a plaque, on top of my desk delivered by a round of applause. B. Ray Owen sat at his desk and grinned. Don stood at his door and smiled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *