Common Pleas Courthouse 1964 Aerial Photo

The Common Pleas Courthouse reigns over downtown Cape Girardeau in this aerial photo taken April 14, 1964. It’s a coincidence, but that’s almost a year to the day to when Ernie Chiles and I did a flight that launched me on the path to becoming a photojournalist. This story is going to contain a lot of links to other posts I’ve done that show Cape Girardeau from the 1960s and the present.

I photographed downtown Cape at night FROM the Courthouse this spring. I like this night shot of the Courthouse taken from Water St. up Themis.

Cape landmarks that are missing

Other aerial photos of downtown Cape Girardeau ran in March.

Courthouse statue visible

The Civil War soldier that’s there today isn’t the same one I photographed in 1967, but it’s in the same place.

The H&H Building is still there, along with the Marquette Hotel. The future KFVS office tower is a parking lot.

The peaked front of Hecht’s sticks up on Main St.

The library is behind and to the left of the Courthouse.

Common Pleas Courthouse  in 2009

The photo was taken from the west side of the Courthouse, looking east. The sundial on the right was a prop in a photo of Outstanding Seniors Russell Doughty and Bill East, Class of ’66. It was an object lesson in why some photos don’t run the way they were taken.

Nighttime Old Town Cape from the Common Pleas Courthouse

I have a favorite night shot of the Common Pleas Courthouse and Port Cape Girardeau taken from the Themis St. floodgate looking west, so I thought I’d see what it looked like from the other side.

This is shooting down the courthouse hill looking east down Themis St. The floodgate at the end of the street is closed because the Mississippi River is at about 36 feet.

Loose shot or tight shot?

I couldn’t decide whether or not I liked it as a wideangle or a slightly tighter photo. Electrons are cheap, so you get both.

There are some tiny smudges in the tight shot in the middle of the sky. You can calls them puffs of smoke if you like, but I think they are specular highlights from the street lights bouncing around between the lens elements. What the heck, let’s go back to calling them puffs of smoke. That sounds more interesting.

Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge from the Courthouse

While putzing around trying to get this shot composed, (for the record, I don’t care much for it) a young woman materialized from the shadows. We exchanged some pleasantries and she disappeared. There was an elderly gentleman sitting on a park bench nearby and he said, “Do you reckon we scared her off?”

Shana Gemoules, stairclimber supreme

About five minutes later, she showed up again.

“Did you just run up those courthouse stairs? Twice? On purpose?”

“Yes. It was three times.Yes. I’m training for a triathlon in Florida in April.”

When she disappeared down the hill again, the man on the park bench said, “Tell her there are 55 steps, not counting the landings.”

When she got back to the top, she was barely breathing hard and her heart rate was in the low 170s (resting is usually 52 BPM, she said.) A stint of working in a downtown restaurant where she had to hump meals up three floors prepared her for running up and down the courthouse steps, she said.

Getting ready to go car-free

Shana, who grew up in Perryville, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and has worked at a variety of local resturaunts. She’s at Imo’s Pizza now, a place she rates highly for its employee-friendly management and good food.

Right now, she’s working to get debt-free and to sell her car to cut expenses. Cape is small enough that she feels like she can get around on foot or or her bike. Her boyfriend lives in a house with three other guys. The four of them make do with one car for those times when they go a long distance or need to carry something bulky.

When she finished her fifth climb up the hill, she said she was going to call it a night. All of the talk about food and restaurants had made her hungry.

I waited until she had run out of sight before I headed to my car. I wasn’t going to insult her or embarrass me by offering her a ride.

Civil War Soldier Still Guards Courthouse

Cook kidsids playing in courthouse fountain on Cape Girardeau's Common Pleas Courthouse grounds June 29, 1967

The glassine negative sleeve that held this picture was slugged “Cook kids & Courthouse Statue 6/29/67.”

It was a fairly popular picture – in fact it won something in at least one contest – but I don’t remember anything else about it. If anybody knows who the “Cook kids” are, let me know and I’ll add it to the page.

I’m sure I’ll find the newspaper clipping at some point that will let me fill in more detail. It’s hard to imagine that those kids probably have grandkids that age today.

Wild art

Pictures like this are called “wild art” in the business. They are pictures that have no particular news value that can run with cutlines only and can be held for a few days. (You had to be careful that your subject didn’t die and that you didn’t run a sunny-day picture on a rainy day, but other than that they could go as needed.)

Some shooters were masters at feature and wild art photography. I was more into news and story-telling pictures, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Since I got paid $5 for every picture The Missourian ran, I had a financial interest in keeping my eyes open for wild art. (Actually, I was so prolific that the paper eventually changed the deal. I got paid $5 for every shot I was ASSIGNED and only $3 for every self-generated photo except spot news.)

The Civil War Soldier is still on duty

I was a little early for my appointment with Fred Lynch at The Missourian, so I wandered over to see how the Civil War soldier was doing. It made me feel good to see that he was still standing watch.

Civil War statue and fountain on grounds of Cape Girardeau's Common Pleas Courthouse 10-31-2009