Fall Day at Houck Stadium

We’ll get the facts out of the way first, then we’ll get on with the story. I don’t know what sporting event was going on at Houck Stadium Saturday afternoon, but you couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to hold it.

Houck Field House, Academic Hall, Kent Library and the high-rise dorms all show up prominently. Parking has replaced some of the homes and businesses along Broadway in front of the Field House. (Click on the photo to make it larger. It has some cool detail.)

I’ll run a photo at the bottom of the page that was shot sometime around 1966 for comparison.

Ernie Chiles was my pilot

I flew my first aerials with Ernie Chiles while I was still in high school, and I’ve written about how one of those flights launched me into photojournalism.

We flew out of the Painton Airport

I asked Ernie if he knew where I could charter a plane to shoot some aerial photos on this trip home. He offered to fly me himself for old times sake. (By the way, we’ve come to an agreement: we refer to each other as “former student” and “former teacher.” Neither of us likes the way “old teacher” and old student” sounds.)

He keeps his plane at the Painton Airport.

If you have to ask where it is, you wouldn’t know where it was if I told you. Its a grass strip, with a short length of paved runway needed to get a crop duster airborne when he’s fully loaded.

It’s flying the way it used to be: park next to your plane, no TSA and no full body scanners. That’s not to say there’s NO security. There were half a dozen guys hanging around who knew who belonged and who didn’t.

Ernie’s seeing eye dog had the cutest parachute

Since he’s advancing in age, I tried as delicately as possible to see if Ernie was up to the task. He said that he’s finally mastered takeoffs; landings are handled by the Law of  Gravity, which hasn’t failed to bring every flight of his to the ground.

He DID suggest that I bring an extra milk bone or two for his seeing eye dog. It sits right behind him in the cockpit and presses down on the appropriate shoulder to indicate a left or right turn. It has the cutest little parachute.

I thought for a second that we had attracted a wingman just before touchdown. Turned out it was just our shadow.

Jet on strafing run

While Ernie was refueling and putting his airplane to bed, I looked up to see a jet making a low-altitude strafing run at a long freight train loaded with Canadian crude oil. It took a moment to realize that it was a radio-controlled model operated by one of Ernie’s buddies. Things are not always as they appear at the Painton Airport.

I really DID shoot some serious photos, but it’s going to take some time to wade through the 563 frames to pull out the best ones. I’ll scatter them out to keep you from overdosing on aerial photos.

Houck Stadium circa 1966

As promised, here’s what the Houck Stadium area looked like around 1966.

I asked Ernie if he knew where I could charter a plane to shoot some aerial photos on this trip home. He offered to fly me himself for old times sake. (By the way, we’ve come to an agreement: we refer to each other as “former student” and “former teacher.” Neither of us likes the way “old teacher” and old student” sounds.)

22 Replies to “Fall Day at Houck Stadium”

  1. I loved the high school football games at Houck. The smell of a the air on a brisk fall night, being on the field with the band, and packing in the stands close to everyone else to keep warm. Good times.

    1. That’s one reason I was sorry to hear that Central is building a football stadium out in West Jesus.

      I don’t think anything that a high school has is going to have the feeling of Houck Stadium. If you’re from a visiting small town school, it has to be an even bigger thrill to think you’re playing on a university field.

      On top of that, it’s going to keep all the commerce out on the Interstate. If you were coming to Cape from out of town for a game at Houck Stadium, you’d be tempted to take a ride down Broadway to check out the river and pass a whole bunch of local businesses. That traffic isn’t going to make it down there if all the folks do is pop on and off an Interstate exit.

  2. Wow! I used to live in the 3rd house on Henderson which was on the west end of Houck. A family named Haman lived next door. Werner’s Market was on the corner of Henderson and Broadway and always had penny and nickel candy to entice us kids. There was an alley behind my house and then the stadium. Wondering if anyone else remembers an old guy who lived there, Charlie Goza, slept under the bleachers sometimes…or is that in my imagination?

  3. As a math major, taking the field with the Golden Eagles (mostly real musicians) was always an exciting moment. We squeezed into the shoot on the south side of the stadium with the drummers beating 5X their regular cadence. Suddenly, screaming with the SEMO Indians’ war whoop, we ran onto the field. The tone immediately did an about face as we sang the Alma Mater, acappella. Then a real about face and off the field we marched to “On Wisconsin”. When the music stopped, the band was assembled single file the length of the football field. Mr. Mason, in all his brilliance, placed me between the bass drum and one of the tubas. . . non-major, clarinet; it all fits, but taking the bow was a challenge. Most dance moves don’t come close to what I had to do to be missed by both instruments and stay on my feet. Leroy Mason was a master at his craft of halftime shows and the Golden Eagles were known for the marque we could march down the field. Ken do you have any shots of the marque he invented?

  4. I used to deliver mail to Painton 40 odd years ago. The Postmaster was a gentleman named Painton and a relative of the founder of the town. The post office was in his converted garage. I also delivered mail to Chaffee, Oran Painton, Bell City and Advance. Nice drive in the summer time.

    1. Jesse,
      My Granddad, L.E. Jeffress, was the Postmaster at Painton from before I was born until the the mid-60’s when he retired and moved to Dexter. He was the son-in-law of the first Albert Painton who founded the town. The post office was inside the general store, a stone building that I google-earthed recently and was very sad to see has collapsed – I loved that building! I’m glad to hear there still IS a Painton airport – second cousins (?-or some such relation) Don & Albert Painton were such flying enthusiasts. Many good childhood memories of Painton!

      1. I really loved in the sprping when the chicks came in by mail to be delivered to rural route. I loved the old store the painton kids caught the bus there. What memories

  5. @Sherry. Our great uncle and great grandmother lived on the West side of Henderson mid-block. Erie Foster and Gt. Grandmother Melita Tenn. Cummins Foster, a sweet genuine Norman Rockwell great grandmother. To Werner’s market for popsicles and walk to Capaha! (Or back to Grandparent Foster’s on Perry Ave.) I’m with Ken, the missing homes on Henderson (Foster) and Broadway (Decker) and Pacific…the campus has growed parking lots. First Baptist is now campus. “She ain’t what she used to be!”

  6. don”t publish
    I was a young photographer at the Missourian in the mid 70’s when you came up from Fla. for a amily visit.
    We spent several valuable hours together. Thanks for the lessons and encouragement.
    Ernie is also a mentor. This in amateur radio.
    Thanks for all you are doing.
    A friend.

    Phil Nash, former Missourian and AP Photographer.

  7. I remember going to Houck many times with my dad. One year I remember the Golden Eagles paid tribute to Mr. Mason. They had practiced for days and nights without him knowing it. Then as he was preparing to start the halftime show, the band did their “thing”. He was very touched. The highlight was when they participated in a Super Bowl.

  8. Ken
    You’re fly-over picture of Houck Stadium November 6, 2010 was the SEMO Red Hawks vs Southwest Baptist football game. Semo won 40-14 remaining undefeated in our conference the OVC (Ohio Valley Conf.) and in first place. For the first time ever we are ranked Nationally at 7th of all 1-AA schools. We are breaking record after record this year and have already cinched at least a Tie for the OVC Championship. We play at Jacksonville State Alabama on November 13 and they are ranked 5th nationally. If we beat them we are the sole OVC champs and get an automatic bid for post-season play for the first time in school history.
    I was at the game and observed your fly-overs from a lawn chair in the end zone while holding my grandson and sipping on an adult beverage. All the cars and SUVs parked at the East end of the stadium are Semo Boosters who tail-gate and party before and during all home games.
    The week before was Homecoming and we broke the all time attendance record at Houck with 11,126 attending. It was ‘literally” standing room only as 10,000 is considered a sellout. I wish you had gotten that picture for posterity.
    GO SEMO!!

    1. If you saw my orbiting the stadium, how come you didn’t wave?

      I figured from the color of the uniforms that it might have been a SEMO game, but thought there would be a lot more spectators at a game with a winning team for a change.

      One of the perks of being a newspaper photographer in the old days was being able to park in that end zone. It wasn’t all that big, so you usually didn’t have but about half a dozen cars parked back there.

  9. Sally…you made me think…As a kid growing up in our house on Henderson behind Houck and watching many football INDIAN football games, little did I know that later I would be a cheerleader for SEMO and oh, how I loved standing on that field, being a part of the hoopla (how do you all like that retro word) of football.
    I remember the excitemen of cheering for the basketball INDIANS during the MIAA tourney (’62) inside the field house…those were the innocent, fall days of college life in the 60’s.

  10. I graduated from the old CHS in the class of 1948. I played CHS football on the Houck Field Stadium many times. Later on I was a spotter for KFVS when CHS footrball teams played. I have very fond memories of Houck Stadium.

  11. I have wonderful high school and college memories of Houck Stadium and loved that my boys were able to play there as the visiting high school team in recent years. And yes – it was a thrill for them to play on a college field. I sometimes wonder if moving Central High out of the center of Cape took away some of the community support that we all enjoyed years ago. It was definitely more pedestrian friendly to be within the core of the city – I walked home all the time from high school and college…

    1. That was my contention all along.

      The old Central and the old, old Central High Schools were in the center of the community.

      The new one may be closer to the geographical center of the city, but it’s not within walking distance for most of the students, nor will it be until the age of jetpacks.

  12. Ken,
    I am retired geologist interested in the old quarries in and around Cape. Do you know of any photos of the Matteson Quarry (where Houck Stadium is now) or the Edward Regenhardt “Normal” Quarry (somewhere near the corner of Henderson and Rockwood, just west of Academic Hall) or the William Regenhardt Quarry (on the river bluff just west of the casino)?

    1. You’ve tossed out some quarries I’m not familiar with. I knew about the Matteson Quarry, and I thought the area where the SEMO terraces east of Academic Hall had been quarried, but the others are new to me.

      Here are some other quarries I’ve written about.
      Trail of Tears quarry and rescue
      Strack quarry at Bloomfield and Hwy 74
      Which came first? Quarry or golf community?
      Fruitland quarry
      Heartland Materials quarry at Fruitland. This post has links to a bunch of quarry stories I’ve done.
      Fruitland quarry corrections
      More Fruitland controversy
      Tower Rock quarry

      I was always intrigued by the stonework around Crystal City, including some places that look to have been turned into underground storage.

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