Letters in the Mail

Marque letters from Esquire TheaterNo, I mean LITERAL letters in the mail.

I’ve really enjoyed checking my real and virtual mailboxes of late. Shortly before the end of the year, I exchanged some email from a woman who asked if it was possible to buy some prints I had taken of the Esquire Theater when it looked like it might be reborn. One of the shots she was interested in was a stack of the marque letters. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

They’ll never see the marque again

Owner John Buckner in Esquire Theater before renovation 10-18-2011I mentioned that I tried to buy some, but the supposed owner wanted to hold onto them for their original use. She said she had bought some in a local antique shop after the renovation project fell through.

We came to a mutually satisfactory agreement on the prints, and I thought that was the end of it. A couple of days ago, a box arrived in the mail. Strange boxes make me uneasy after I opened one with a live snake in it at the office. (Long story involving a staffer with a stalker ex.)

Inside it were the letters F, Z and J. Or, I guess you could say Z, F and J, or J-Z-F, depending on your perspective.

That beats a live snake all to pieces.

Wow! That’s not spam

Moonrise on the Mississippi 08-11-2011

I get a lot of messages claiming to be from the Better Business Bureau, banks I don’t do business with and the IRS that turn out to be cleverly disguised spam. At first read, I almost hit the JUNK button on this one:

This email confirms that you have received a donation of $365.00 USD from [name deleted]
Receipt ID: 2684-0226-3517-0502
Donation Details
> Total amount: $365.00 USD
>Currency: U.S. Dollars
>Purpose: Ken Steinhoff / CapeCentralHigh.com

I’m going need a bigger hat

Weeds and soybeans in Dutchtown field 11-04-2012I didn’t recognize the person’s name, although I found they did subscribe to the daily email notifications, so I sent a thank-you and asked, as discretely as possible, “Who ARE you?” The response was so flattering that I’m going to have to spend the donation money on a bigger hat because it made my head swell:

I accomplished my New Year’s Resolution, to let you know how much I enjoy your web site.  I go there almost every day to view your photos and read your interesting and quirky remarks and I feel like I’ve had a visit  to Cape.  It all started when my cousin mentioned your web site and told me I would like it.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

I especially like hearing about your mother and the things your family has saved through the years, the photos of the special and historical spots around town and reading other peoples comments about the articles, and of course the river photos.

I appreciate your time, effort, and talent to make this web site so successful. Thought this would help. Thanks for starting my day with memories of Cape.

I offered to print favorite photos

Northbound tug Mississippi River Cape Girardeau 10-15-2008I offered to have some prints made of some of the donor’s favorite photos, including the ones above. Here was her gracious response:

Picked up the photos this morning.  They look good. Thanks so much. I wanted to let you know that your posting “71 years ago” is one of the reasons why I’m hooked on your web site.
A romantic story about of 2 people your viewers have come to know. I even knew who wrote in the sand because I know your Dad’s perfect printed letters.  What a difference 71 years makes, your father on the beach in a suit in that gorgeous car and driving right up to the surf!  Your mother is beautiful and so looking so absorbed in those vintage photos. Thanks for sharing your families’ memories.  

One day it’s barges on the Mississippi, the next, Miss Ketterer yelling at wrestling  match, or a birthday party on Themis….   I never know…the unexpected, almost everyday. Thanks again.

Where’s the donate button?

The DONATE button is at the top left of the page, along with a link to Amazon that gives me a cut of whatever you order at no additional charge to you. My latest donor has really put the pressure on me. When you get $365, that implies a dollar a day, which is going to force me to keep posting seven days a week. I’m going to feel guilty if I slack off. (Mother takes me to task any day I miss, anyway.)


4 Replies to “Letters in the Mail”

  1. Well Ken, those letters are Bevlite -Adler Letters, forgot the actual Trade name for them. They where were also made in the Chicago area for years by Wagner Zip change in Melrose Park, I believe. The Guy who invented them was named Sid Adler as in Bevlite -Adler Letters, he sold them on the west coast and Wagner sold them on the east. He used to own a Rolls Royce and give rides to vendors like be all over Hollywood, he knew a bunch of Hollywood types. Sid lived close to Arron Spelling, Calabasas, and I remember talking with him in Sid’s Rolls in the 1980’s this was before people knew or cared who TV producers were. Sid was giving his neighbor a ride to Warner Brothers and I tagging along.

    In the olden days there were trucks that came around each week and changed the letters for new weeks shows. I used to see them at the Esquire late at night changing the marques. When the Theaters were on there own, then the local theater had to buy their own set of letters and a hook to change the marque as needed…
    I used to sell the letters to local theaters from my company in Chicago, although usually the cheaper flat Wagner ZIP change letters you see today.

    ….my BIG donation was probably lost in the email..I don’t even know people you can donate THAT kind of money!

    1. Two of the letters (J and F)have the following inscribed inside them:

      Theater Specialties In.
      Pats Pending.

      The Z is the same, except the third line says Hollwood (without the Y).

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