Pfisters from the Air

Cape IT director Eric McGowen, a reader, asked if I’d like to see the Jackson Courthouse and the Common Pleas Courthouse from top to bottom – bell towers to dungeon. Do bears squat in the woods? You bet.

Bright and early (for me), Friend Shari came down from St. Louis to carry lights and tripods, and we met up with Eric and Don McQuay, public works director. I’ll post the courthouse pictures later.

What we ran across was almost neater than the landmark buildings. In the basement of the Common Pleas Courthouse hung three framed prints. As soon as I saw the round shape, I knew immediately that it was on the few photos of Pfisters I’ve seen.

This is a section of the photo showing the Broadway – Kingway split just west of Kingshighway. Click on the photos to make them larger. I made them a little bigger than usual, so they may take a few extra seconds to load.

A wider shot

This is the uncropped version. The Broadway – Kingsway split is at the bottom right. The next street to the left is Clark. The curved one is Thilenius. Central High School is at the top right. Franklin School is at the top left.

I used a polarizing filter to cut as much glare as I could, but there’s still some left. There was nothing on the photos to indicate who might have taken them.

Central High School

This is an enlargement of the Central High School area. It looks like the school might still be under construction, which would mean the picture was taken sometime around 1952 or 1953. The first classes were held there in 1953.

Franklin School is at the top left. The Grace United Methodist Church hasn’t been built yet. I’m not even sure that the streets are paved. Caruthers Avenue, especially in front of the school, doesn’t look like it. Themis Street has some gaps between houses.

2011 aerial photo of Central High

It’s a junior high school now, but to me it’ll always be Central High School. I didn’t have one taken from the same direction as the 50’s photo. This is looking southeast to northwest, diagonally opposite of the older picture.

Caruthers and Independence is on the lower left. The long, red building in the middle of the top of the picture is where Pfisters would have been. Grace United Methodist Church is on the right, near the intersection of Caruthers and Broadway.

22 Replies to “Pfisters from the Air”

  1. I ran across a pic of Pfisters the other day and thought of you. Looks like it may have been taken in the 50’s. I’ll try to make a copy if you would like it. I probably have more pics somewhere as my family owned it. I remember being told stories of how my grandmother, aunt and uncle sought shelter in a ditch next to the building when the big tornado came over. They said they saw trucks and cows flying overhead!

    1. If you could scan or copy them, that’d be great. Pfisters is a much-requested topic, but Fred Lynch and I have both come up nearly dry on pictures of the place.

      In the back of mind, I can almost see a photo I took there, but I have yet to find it.

  2. Pfisters was upscale hamburger joint when I was in High School and college for that matter. I remember the “cool” older girls in High School used to eat there for lunch. Janey Crites,Vicky Berry, Sheri Pind and THE PRATHER girl come ot mind… I had the cafeteria, thank you, and no car so I only knew what I saw at a distance or was told in study hall. When I did get my license I usually went to Wimpy’s or to Tony Pizza across from the Ralito Show for meals…but food was not big deal in those days…”the who was there” was much more important! Everyone one I knew was at Wimpy’s…

  3. I just noticed the old Coke plant that was on Clark and Broadway, SE corner. I remember the tours we all took in those days to see Cike being bottled and neat little plastic cases of coke you could buy! Very cool!

  4. Terry, my uncle used to work at the plant. We would go in there and buy it direct. He gave me and my sister a “case” (24) of the miniature coke case with tiny coke bottles in them. I still have mine to this day.

  5. In your photos 2 & 3 you can still see the Lacey House where Thilenius Street would be extended and Grace Methodist Church would be built. The Lacey House was in the direct fire of the Battle of Cape Girardeau in 1863 during the Civil War. There were suppose to have been three dead confederates buried down from the house near a spring. I always wondered if that was where the willows were east of Central’s track and just west of the intersection of Caruthers and Luce Streets.

  6. Pfister’s began as Park-N-Eat in 1940.

    G.D. Fronabarger wrote this in his business column published June 26, 1977:

    Demolition of the old Pfister’s restaurant building in the 2100 block of Broadway began Thursday (June 23, 1977) to make way for another quick food type restaurant. A franchise has been purchased by Robert Collins and Wilson Viar of Memphis for operation of a Danvers, Inc., restaurant to be built at the site by Cape Realty Co., and leased to the holders of franchise. The pair also has the franchise for a similar outlet to be built at Carbondale, Ill.

    Out of the Past:

    Dec. 22, 1952

    William H. Pfisterer, 42, owner of Pfisterer’s drive-in establishment, 2125 Broadway, dies suddenly of heart attack at family home; Pfisterer was born in Cape Girardeau; he attended Central High School and Chicago School of Engineering; in 1935 he married Mildred Miller, who survives, along with his father and brother; following World War II, when he served in Army, he went to Louisiana and engaged in ice cream business; he returned to Cape Girardeau in 1947 and “purchased the drive-in which he operated at the time of his death.”

  7. Here is the old Lacy house:

    June 1, 1956 Southeast Missourian
    The old Haas house, built about 1858, will soon be torn down, removing the city’s last physical link with the Civil War and one of the oldest landmarks in the community. The house was built by Alfred T. Lacy, cashier of the city’s first bank and mayor of the town in 1851 and 1852. If Thilenius street should be relocated, the large trees would be removed and the street would come almost to the front porch of the house. Razing of the house has been ordered by the Board of Education. The school district owns the property. (G.D. Fronabarger photo)

  8. I recall a wonderful drink at Pfisters. I think it was called Hawaiian Cooler. Anyone else remember that. It was quite yummy. It had pineapple in it, but don’t know what else.

  9. Susan I can almost taste that Hawaiian Cooler right now….loved those! I remember playing at the Lacy House and flying kites in the field by Central. Oh the good old days…Thanks, Ken for the memories.

  10. Ken, I bet you had some chuckles with my friends Eric and Big Don! Don has a sense of humor that is one of my favorites. Will be waiting for pictures and stories!

    1. They were good guys. I’ll have several days worth of posts out of our tour. The only thing I feel bad about is that I misspelled both names in the story. I corrected it as soon as Eric pointed it out, but I still felt like a doofus for either misreading my notes or punching the wrong keys.

  11. It must be true about Taste being the most enduring sense memory, because I can still remember Pfister’s distinctive BBQ pork sandwiches and baked beans. I’ve never had anything remotely like them since and would happily pay $50 for that same meal now – and probably on a regular basis!

  12. Ken: I remember Pfisters in the 70’s it was one of the “turnaround spots” and it was a hangout for some of my “Hot Rod” buddies. Many a Drag Race was formulated there and when some of the “Hot Cars” had circled and went the other way down Broadway, some would take off and squawl their tires. It was a lot of fun, a great place to eat and a fantastic cruising spot. It is fun to think about the fun times at Pfisters. Also, Gas was cheap back then and a cars performance was HIGH. Thanks for a Great article and the memories you help us relive.

  13. Our next-door neighbors used to pile all the neighborhood kids in the car and take us to Pfisters for a lime sherbet cone. The Mighty Caesar was my favorite sandwich. Unfortunately when Pfisters was gone, so was that great food!

  14. I was raised in Anna, Il (Born in 66) My parents used to go to Cape just about every other Friday night to go eat, shop & buy cheap Missouri gas. We used to go to Pfisters on occasion and all I remember was the neon lights and this wonderful garlic & cheese roll they had, this was probably 1970-74 when I remembered this, but it was damn good !! Yea, I’d pay 25.00 to get one of those again. Other things I miss about Cape: the candy counter at Sears & the Grecian Steak House..

  15. I worked for a few months during the summer of 1966 at Ray’s Drive-in, which can be seen next door to Pfisters, on the west side. Really greasy hamburgers!

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