SEMO’s Capaha Arrow Turns 100

Southeast Missouri State University’s student paper, The Capaha Arrow, turned 100 on Feb.l, a Missourian story by M.D. Kittle pointed out. Despite what my kids might think, I wasn’t around to help put out the inaugural issue.

I know I had a lot of photos in The Arrow, but the 1966 and 1967 Sagamore yearbooks don’t list me as being on the newspaper staff.  The photo above shows the front page of the newspaper set in type at The Missourian’s print shop. The picture on the front page is one I took, and this image appeared in The Sagamore.

Journalism Class

I had W.W. Norris, the paper’s adviser, for Journalism at SEMO. It was an easy A. I don’t remember Mr. Norris as being a particularly inspiring instructor, but we got along fine. After I’d breezed through the class exercises, he’d come over and we’d trade newspaper stories.

I wish I could dredge up some fond memories of The Arrow, but I can’t think of any memorable photos I shot there.

Part of that was because I spent as little time as possible on campus. That drove poor Missourian Editor John Blue to distraction because I was ostensibly hired as Campus Correspondent. I have a number of memos from him pointing that out and asking when I was going to get around to actually writing about SEMO doings. He’d probably have fired me if I hadn’t worn so many other hats (so cheaply).

Chief Sagamore and The Sagamore are gone

I’ve already written about the exile of Chief Sagamore for the more politically correct Rowdy Redhawk. In fact, The Capaha Arrow has dropped the “Capaha” from it’s name. It’s just The Arrow these days.

Bill East wondered what happened to The Sagamore if Chief Sagamore was deemed inappropriate. I went to the official SEMO website, put “Sagamore” in the search box and was directed to “Fun Facts,” where I was told, “The Sagamore Yearbook is no longer in production. Southeast began the Sagamore in 1912 and in 1989 decided to no longer print a University yearbook.”

So, if the university hadn’t pulled the plug on it, The Sagamore would have celebrated its centennial in 2012.

Don’t dis the subdivision editor

Wife Lila worked on The Sagamore as a subdivision editor. She rejected a print from one of the staff photographers, who sassed, back, “Let’s see if YOU can do any better.”

That was a mistake. She marched right into the darkroom and showed him that she HAD learned something from all those hours looking over my shoulder.

I normally side with the photographer, but I’d have loved to have seen that little exchange.

9 Replies to “SEMO’s Capaha Arrow Turns 100”

  1. I guess those big Sagamores just got too expensive to produce. They were beautiful pieces of work! I still have all four of mine – and three of my husband’s, in slightly worse shape.
    The first year I taught high school, I tried to conceal that I was a first-year teacher, but the kids found all our photos in the Sagamore (little rascals!), so the ploy didn’t work.

  2. I love the Lila story. It takes some people a little longer to realize they are in the presence of a quiet competent strong woman.

  3. I forgotton about those plates for printing. As for a strong woman part. Son’t argue witha woman that knows her stuff ever.I learned that the harcway.

    1. That’s back in the days of REAL newspapering. Reporters would type their stories on paper that was pretty much toilet paper with splinters in it, then hand it over to the copy editor.

      He or she would give it a slug or name, mark corrections with a fat pencil and write a headline for it. (Hint: do NOT slug the religion briefs “God Junk.” Folks who read the Church Page don’t really understand newspaper humor.)

      If there were major corrections, the editor might reach for scissors and the paste pot to do a literal cut and paste.

      The copy would then go to the back shop or composing room where a Linotype operator would set the story into slugs of lead type. I had a chance to learn how to do that at The Jackson Pioneer, but I was better at “squirts” than slugs. That’s caused when you don’t get the line completely filled up and the molten lead goes squirting out, leaving a mess to be cleaned up.

      One day I showed up at The Pioneer to be told, “The engraver just quit. You’re the new engraver.” I made the mistake of mentioning that in my resume and was made chief photographer and engraving manager at The Gastonia Gazette. I got shed of that job as quickly as I could.

      After the photo engravings are made, the story set and the headlines created, it all comes together like in the photo in a form, which rests on a turtle. If the type gets spilled, it’s said to be “pied.” That’s not a good thing.

      The completed form goes to the stereotyper, who makes a paper mache mold that was used to cast the lead cylinders that went on the press.

      After the press run, the lead in the form was poured into the Hell Box, where it was melted down and cast into ingots for reuse.

      John Blue had the forethought to have The Missourian’s last hot type page saved. It’s still kicking around, I’m told.

      I have a few of the zinc photoengraving plates put away, including Lila’s engagement and wedding pix.

    1. We have some printing blocks (the images are mounted on wood) from the Arrow and the Sagamore in Special Collections at Kent Library, Liz.

      The Sagamore was a great source of history for the University. We use it all the time and lament that it’s not still in production. There’s definitely a vacuum in the visual documentation of campus and student life after 1989 without the Sagamore.

  4. Lisa,

    I was completely dismayed by the decision to discontinue the Sagamore. I used to tell yearbook students here in Cape and at state and national workshops, “Nobody else is even TRYING to write a book about this year at your school.”

  5. Hi everyone!
    It’s amazing how things have changed. I’m the online managing editor at The Arrow and there’s definitely been some changes. Check out the website to see how we integrated digital in our newsroom. I’m a PR and journalism student now and I’m working on a pitch for the mass media department for my PR capstone class. I wanted to know who took the photos in this article because they are fantastic and I would like to include one in a campaign my classmates and I are pitching for our current chair. I would really appreciate your help!

    Please feel free to email me at or my personal email

    Thank you!

    Andrea Gils
    Arrow Online Managing Editor

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