Capaha Park Lagoon Ices over in 1968

Treading on thin ice, literally

Cape Girardeau's Capaha Park Lagoon frozen over January 1968Four folks brave – or foolish – enough to ignore a DANGER sign walk on the ice covering the Cape Girardeau Capaha Park Lagoon in late 1967 or early 1968.

This picture was on the end of a roll of film of buildings I was shooting for The Southeast Missourian’s year-end Achievement Edition. (In internal Missourian-speak, that was called the Atomic Edition. Never did learn why.)

When I came home from Ohio University on Christmas break, editor John Blue asked if I’d drive all over Southeast Missouri taking pictures of new construction.


  • Shoot all of the new commercial buildings you can find in each town.
  • Shoot a handful of new or remodeled residential buildings with a value of more than $25,000. (For awhile, I thought I might have a future as a property appraiser.)
  • Start at the far end of the circulation area and work my way to the center so they didn’t have to pay me mileage to backtrack.

Easy money for a college student

Most of the rolls of film had a note on them that said, “Printed 1/11/68,” so I’m going to assume they were shot within a week or 10 days of that date. It was a pretty good gig. Five dollars a shot, plus mileage. I’m sure I scored a couple hundred bucks for a week’s work.

That was good money in those days. When I left The Missourian to go to school in Ohio, I think I was making about $80 or $90 a week as a reporter.

8 Replies to “Capaha Park Lagoon Ices over in 1968”

  1. I see the islands in the Capaha Park lagoon were in place by 1968. I was at SEMO through the summer of ’66, then left town. I don’t remember seeing the “rehabilitation” of the lagoons when it was drained and the islands created. So it must have happened in ’67? Do you have any photos of that? I remember the Missourian doing an article about the two big Alligator Gar found when the lagoon was drained, but I’m thinking now that relatives must have sent me the news. Any pics of those fish?! Hope I am not completely off base regarding the lagoon reconstruction; that will mean the brain cells are diminishing at an accelerating rate.

  2. Larry,

    I’ll keep a lookout for anything I have of the lagoon rehab. I recall it being done, but I don’t remember WHEN it happened.

    I was planning on doing a whole piece on the lagoon and / or Capaha Park when I get enough pictures to do it up right. I’ve scanned a couple of negatives when the lagoon was really disgusting with algae, floating debris and a picnic table dumped in it.

    I’ve got a picture of a kid walking home in the rain from the park carrying a big fish, but I don’t remember the story about the big gars.

    I spent many an hour fishing in the park, usually drowning worms. I did catch a monster crappie once when it counted; it won me a nice rod and reel in a fishing contest.

  3. Recently my brother found my old fishing pole that I had not seen in years. I guess I got to busy as the years went by to take the time to relax by the lake and look back on those early evenings with grandpa. I failed to understand it then but, there was a lot of wisdom shared in those all but forgotten moments.

  4. You could find duck eggs in the islands in the lagoon. My sister and I used to fish in the lagoon with paper cups. We caught a few little minnows that way.

  5. As a SEMO student in the winter of 1968, our fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, put up nets on the ice and played a hockey game on the frozen pond (lake?). Each player gave themselves state of the art hockey player names such as Bobby Hull, Stan Makita, Phil Esposito etc. It was fun and the ice held up. That is the only time I remember that pond freezing over.

  6. Ken, I so appreciate everything you provide us with your history and photography over the years. However, maybe in today’s times you might want to refer to “shot” as photographed? LOL

    1. When the Pope came to Miami in the mid-1980s, we pulled out all the stops to cover his visit, including renting two Winnebago vans for mobile command posts. I was driving one of the vans to the site where he was going to speak to a massive crowd. The credentials for my van designated that we were going to have to park in a remote area.

      Much to my surprise, every checkpoint waved us closer and closer to the stage. When we were finally parked, I radioed back to the office that “We’re within pistol shot of the stage.”

      Then realizing that the feds monitored media radio frequencies the same way we listened to them, I quickly added, “That’s just an expression, guys. It’s just an expression.”

      Another funny thing happened that day. Just as the Pope started to speak, a powerful squall moved through with high winds, dangerous lightning and torrential rain. The pope was hurried off the stage to safety. One of my photographers were stationed on a tall speaker stand also occupied by a Secret Service agent. At the height of the storm, when there was danger of the tower blowing over, the agent abandoned his post.

      After things calmed down, I asked my photographer why he didn’t bail when the agent did.

      “Lopi (the chief photographer) said I wasn’t to come down for any reason. I was more afraid of him than of being struck by lightning.”

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