Jo Ann Bock’s Book

Jo Ann Bock at Tom Nuemeyer book signing 03-14-2010I photographed Jo Ann Bock at Tom Neumeyer’s book signing for his photo documentary book, Cape Girardeau Then & Now back in 2010.

When Mrs. Bock wrote Around the Town of Cape Girardeau in Eighty Years, she asked if she could use one of the photos on the back cover of her book. I didn’t hesitate to give her permission. She sent me a copy of the book in return. I was pleasantly surprised to see she had some extraordinarily nice things to say about a piece I wrote about her husband, Howard Bock, when he died.

Mr. Bock Changed my life

Howard Bock CHS 23In the curious way that things in Cape are intertwined, Mrs. Bock was my Cub Scout den mother and knew I was interested in photography. When I got to Central, her husband was in charge of the Tiger and Girardot photo staffs and asked if I’d like to join. That was, indirectly, the start of my photography career.

We saw different slices of time

Jo Ann Bock BookHoward and Jo Ann Bock were getting married (1950) just about the time I was getting born (1947), so we view Cape through slightly different lenses. She stayed in Cape, except for a few years, and I left in 1967, although Cape has never left me.

In the introduction to one of the chapters, she says, “Sometimes a person will ask why I didn’t mention this place, or that person, or recall a special event. My answer is that memories take different directions with people.” Maybe that’s why even though she and I plow the same ground, we come up with different crops.

Her view of Broadway

Vandeven Merchantile Company 1967She and a city directory did a good job of creating a list of businesses and residences along the Broadway corridor. We have some memory overlap on some long-time businesses like Vandeven’s and the movie theaters, but a lot of places she remembers were long gone when the 1960s came around.

Here’s a partial list of what I found along Broadway between Kingshighway and Main Street.

Library and Courthouse

Cook kidsids playing in courthouse fountain on Cape Girardeau's Common Pleas Courthouse grounds June 29, 1967She and I both spent a lot of time in the Cape Public Library when it was located on the grounds of the Common Pleas Courthouse. Unlike these kids, she “never felt right about playing in the fountain with that soldier staring down at me.”

Just for the record, the soldier that stared down at her was smashed by a falling limb. The pieced-together original lives at the Jackson Courthouse, and a replacement casting stares down at children today. Maybe the new one would be less intimidating.

The George Alt House

Trinity Lutheran School neighborhood c 1966We both served our time in the George Alt House, turned into Trinity Hall by Trinity Lutheran School.

A walk down Main Street

107 Main St Cape Girardeau MO 10-20-2009 - Hecht's Mrs. Bock takes us for a walk down Main Street, reeling off a list of businesses that are mostly not there. In fact, the only business still in operation is Zickfield’s Jewelry. Hecht’s is gone, as is Newberry’s, where she worked in the infant clothing department for 15 cents an hour.

Here’s a page where I posted photos of many of the businesses I remembered from my era. The current generation will think Main Street was nothing but bars and antique shops with a little art thrown in.

Hurrah for Haarig

Meyer-Suedekum 03-29-2010_2679That’s the name of her chapter covering the Good Hope / Sprigg area. She drops names like Hirsch’s for groceries, Suedekum’s for hardware, Cape Cut Rate for drugs and the anchor, Farmer’s and Merchants Bank. If she mentioned Pure Ice, I must have missed it.

Music and Majorettes

Homecoming 34Mrs. Bock devotes several chapters to the Cape Girardeau music scene: choirs, operettas, plays, the Cape Choraliers, the Girardot Rose Chorus, and local dance bands. She also mentions being a Central High School majorette in 1946.


SEMO Fair Groscurth's Blue Grass Shows MidwayShe and I both spent time at the district fair, both as kids enjoying the rides and exhibits, then later covering it for The Southeast Missourian.

Bring on the Barbecue

Wib's BBQ Brown Hot (outside meat) sandwichThis chapter touched on two of my favorite barbecue places: the Blue Hole Garden and Wib’s.

 Parade of Photographers

GD Fronabarger c 1967You don’t serve as a high school publication adviser and a Missourian reporter without running across that strange subset of humans (some would debate that human part) called photographers. She was suitably enough impressed with us that she devoted a whole chapter to photographers she knew and worked with.

One-Shot Frony, AKA Garland D. Fronabarger, was one of the most unique newspaper photographers I ever ran into. His gruff exterior covered up a gruff interior. He got his name because he would growl around a pipe or cigar clenched between his teeth, “Don’t blink. I’m taking one shot,” push the shutter release and walk off.

Paul Lueders, a Master Photographer who shot almost every school group and class photo for years, was the opposite of Frony: he was quiet, patient and willing to take however long it took to get his subject comfortable.

She mentions several other professional and student photographers who crossed her path over the years, then launches into two pages of such nice things about me I thought maybe I was reading my obit.

How do I get a copy?

Jo Ann Bock Book backIf you grew up in Cape, you might find yourself between the pages of Around the Town of Cape Girardeau in Eighty Years. She manages to work in more names than the phone book. So, how do you get copy?

The book is available on Amazon for $15.49. It’s eligible for free shipping though Amazon Prime, so if you sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime by January 10, you can save some money and get it in two days.


11 Replies to “Jo Ann Bock’s Book”

  1. Ken, Thanks for making us aware of Ms Bock’s book.Just ordered a copy using your Amazon link rather than the link u posted in the article. I’m sure it will be a great addition to my Cape history books.

  2. Thanks for promoting Mrs. Bock’s book. I just ordered a copy as well, using the link in the story.

    I’m always on the lookout for books about the history of my beloved hometown. To paraphrase you, “I left Cape, but Cape has never left me.”

  3. Ken,
    Enjoying your review of my book…keep me posted on
    feedback you get from readers. When are you due back
    in good ole Cape Girardeau? JAB

  4. Ken,
    Are you in Cape Girardeau now? Hello to your mother
    over on Kingsway Drive. Maybe, just maybe, we will
    have springtime weather for Easter (sure was cold here
    this morning–about 36.)

    1. I got into Cape on April 2. Y’all gave me a few days of good weather, then yanked the rug out from under me.

      Let’s get things warmed up before I see flowers peeking out of snowbanks.

  5. Dick Hopper `49 (Derby, KS.)
    To Jo Ann Burton. I remember Teen Town which began on the second floor of a building on Main St. I think that it may have been the original 1st National Bank (?). Kitty and I both really like to dance during this “Jitterbug” era. My sister Shirley Hopper Carosello) married Tony Carosello, band leader/music teacher at CHS. She taught me to dance at a very early age.
    I remember one particular date I had with Kitty. A good friend, Richard Ryan, had a basketball scholarship to SIU, Carbondale, Ill. SIU was having a Christmas Ball (Formal Dance). Eddy Howard was the orchestra; his number one hit song at the time was “Daddy’s Little Girl”. Richard and I had dates to attend. My date was Kitty. The plan was that I would use our family car to attend. Being December, the weather turned nasty and my parents balked at my driving to SIU. After much “begging”, my folks relented. I bought an orchid corsage for Kitty; the only orchid I’ve e ever bought. Turned out to be great night!
    Speaking of using the family car, I remember when I just turned 16 and had just got my driver’s license. I asked my dad to let me use the family car as he was sitting reading the SE Missourian. He kept refusing. I used that old time tested ploy saying, “Everyone else is driving!” He looked up and said, “Ride with them.” End of story!
    After thought. Our `49er class has had two class reunions, 20 & 50 year. At both reunions, the the thing that the girls most remembered about me was my dancing.

    Believe you knew my sister Shirley Hopper whl married tony Carosello, music director at CHS.

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