SE Missouri from the Window of a Speeding Car

Someone’s farm from my speeding carFarmlands from a speeding car 2

I don’t know why I even bothered looking at these frames that were tacked onto a roll of Brownies touring The Southeast Missourian. They looked grossly underexposed and were just some old buildings.

I let the scanner do its thing anyway and serendipity clicked in. (Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.)

It just dawned on me why I like these pictures. I had a Gordon Parks quote on my office wall for close to 20 years. It perfectly sums up my feelings about The Midwest and why I have to keep coming back to recharge my spiritual batteries.

In this huge silence

Homeward to the prarie I come,

to swim in the memories of childhood

and draw strength from the huge silence—

knowing that all I thought was dead here is very much alive,

and that there is a warmth here,

even when the wind blows hard and cold.

– Gordon Parks, Spring, 1984 –

Farmland from the window of a speeding carLike so many of my pictures, I have no idea where these were taken. Let me know if you recognize them.

8 Replies to “SE Missouri from the Window of a Speeding Car”

  1. Ken
    Have very much enjoyed your photos, especially the ones of Mr. F., but I haven’t taken the time to tell you. Your photos of the farms, and especially the quote, really speak to me. I too make the trek home to re-charge. Auburn is nice, but . . . Right now we return to Cape 2-3 times a year. Mother is 95 and still in her home on Perry. One good thing about eventual retirement will be that we won’t have to confine ourselves to Christmas, summer and sometimes Thanksgiving. The ONLY good thing about Dad’s death almost 30 years ago was that it was October – a painfully glorious Midwestern October.
    Tell Lila “hello” for me, and thanks again for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Janet.

    I’m glad you saw the same thing in them and the words that I did. Despite going through a Fine Arts program, I didn’t do much “arty” photography. I went through a rocks and roots phase when I was influenced by Paul Strand, but I specialized in documentary photography and portraits when I had a choice.

    We try to make it to Cape in October for my Mother’s Birthday Season:

    That usually, but not always, coincides with good bike riding weather (when it’s not too cold, too hot or too rainy).

    Retirement is nice. We went back in October this year; Lila had a second visit right after Christmas to surprise her brother and sister; I’m planning to come back in February or March to shoot some more contemporary photos for the site and see if I can enlist any local sponsors to help defray some expenses.

    Stay tuned. I have a bunch pictures of you that I’ve been waiting to run.

  3. Ken,
    Thought I recognized Spring Farm in the top photo, but a closer look made me abandon the idea. You are absolutely correct about getting a spiritual recharging when returning to the Cape area. Even though I only live 68 miles away, there is a real homecoming when I drive through the old neighborhood. Your posts and pictures have become a daily interest of this household. My husband, Doug, will be very familiar with you before he ever meets you at the 2010 reunion! We appreciate your photography and your gift of storytelling. BTW — we now have a bike rack and are planning some short excursions for our wobbly legs. I want to ride part of the Katy Trail which runs right past the end of the lane to my Dad’s home place in Warren County just west of Trealor, and we are also going to make the ride from 1710 Independence (my Cape home) to Cape Rock. That used to be my Saturday trek. We may have to stop along the way for breathers! Thanks for the memories you provide. Sally

  4. Sally,

    I hope your Other Half isn’t disappointed when we meet. I look much better in print.

    Ernie Chiles and I talked about doing the Katy Trail last fall, but neither of us had enough miles under out belt to do it right.

    Check out my bike blog for lots of stories of Cape riding. One of these days, I’ll migrate some of them to this site. Here are a few off the top of my head:

    If you’re into majorettes and debaters, check this one out:

    (Something tells me that more folks are going to be clicking on the link to see majorettes than debaters.)

  5. Ken, thank you for your posting and photos. I share them with my husband Don who lived in CG his entire life until leaving for college. Don’s 92 year old mother, who is still going strong, currectly lives there. One of my reasons for retiring early six years ago was that our then four parents needed more visits and attention. Since then I’ve made many more visits to downstate Illinois and Missouri including CG than I did in earlier years.CG doesn’t speak to me quite in the same way as it does to others, probably because my family moved around a lot during my growing up years. My genealogy research for my 89 year old father has taken me all over the United States and taught me the power of family history in a way that has surprised me. Thanks again, Jane

  6. Jane,

    Dad was a contractor who built roads and bridges all over SE MO, so he was away from home a lot. My mother told him early on that he’d better find a way to take her along if he wanted to stay married, so he bought a small trailer and that’s what we lived in until I started to school and we moved out on Bloomfield Rd.

    My grandparents lived in Advance, so I know I lived in Advance, Piedmont, Poplar Bluff, Booneville and a host of other small towns before I was five. Every once in awhile a memory will pop up of one of those places at the strangest times.

    Dad would usually stop at some farm house near his job site and ask if it would be OK to park his trailer for some small amount of rent. In one town we were parked next to the city jail and my folks joked about hearing the drunks serenading each other all night long. In another place out in the country, my mother would tie a rope around my waist and snap the other end to the clothes line so I could wander around playing without being able to roam too far.

    I’d sure like to know where we were parked when I buried the blade to my toy motor grader just before we moved. The grader is still in my mother’s attic, but it would be a lot better if I had that blade back.

    Still, despite all the moving around before I was five and after I was 20, Cape is still home. Even my kids identify strongly with the area and they’ve only been there on visits.

  7. Ken,

    You mentioned Ernie Chiles, which brought up a memory of my first flight instructor at Cape Central Airways at the airport in 1967. He also was a teacher at CHS, I think. Might this be the same person?

    Thanks for providing all these great memories!

    John H

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *