Where Did 36 Years Go?

September 27, 1975, I pulled out my company two-way radio and announced the arrival of Matthew Louis Steinhoff. The next stop was to apply a bumper sticker I had custom made.

Newspaper announcement

In keeping with the newspaper theme, a couple of the gals in the Art Department put together this front page mockup. (Don’t try to read the stories. They pulled random real copy out of the paper to fill the space.)

Time flies when you’re having family

The photo gallery will show how quickly time passes. We survived swim meets (he was Rookie of the Year when he was five); photo contests, Scouts, high school and his move to Orlando to work for The Orlando Sentinel (and his move back to Palm Beach Gardens). Along the way, he met and married Sarah, one of the two best daughter-in-laws any parents could hope for. (Son Adam snagged Carly, the other keeper).

Matt and Sarah have their own Tiger Scout now, seven-year-old Malcolm, and Adam and Carly have started their family with Graham, who was born in February.

How do you pick through 36 years of photos?

Wife Lila looked at my photo picks and kept saying, “You missed that one. You have one with your Dad, but not your Mother. You left out …. How about….?”

My only answer was, “This ain’t his last birthday.” Scores of photos come to mind, but I went with some new ones I discovered this week going through old slide trays. Mixed in are some oldies that are favorites (or, to be honest, were easy for me to find.)

Wish Matt a Happy Birthday

Here’s a quick overview of Matthew Louis Steinhoff. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery. Don’t worry. We’ll add to the collection next BDay. I’ll be sure to have one of Mother in that batch.



David Steinhoff’s Birthday

You don’t see as much stuff about Brother David here as you do Brother Mark and Mother. Part of that is that David moved out to Tulsa, while Mark lives in St. Louis, so it’s a lot easier to see them when I come back to Cape. I’m bad about dates, so I let not only David’s birthday, which is September 12, slip by, I forgot that the 11th was David and Diane’s 35 wedding anniversary.

Stories about David

I’d like to find the photos of him when he drove my shiny new car from North Carolina. I bought the car the weekend before we were to move from Gastonia to West Palm Beach because I trusted the dealer. Wife Lila had her own car to drive, and I had to pilot the rental truck with all our belongings. David hadn’t had his license all that long, and I don’t think he had ever driven a stick shift before, but I put him in the car for a couple hours of driving lessons, then we headed south.

I’m pretty sure I said something like, “It almost all Interstate. If you can get it into fourth gear, leave it there until you can coast off the highway when you run out of gas.” He and the car both made it to Florida.

Gallery of David Photos

Here’s a quick selection of David Steinhoff photos over the years. I promise that I’ll do a better job next year of finding some better photos. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Fountain Street Community Garden and Robert Harris

I was riding my bike through South Cape when I spotted the Fountain Street Community Garden not far from Fort D. I had seen it before, but it’s a lot easier to pull your bike up on the sidewalk and go exploring than it is to park your car.

Flowers and food

I’m not someone who is good at identifying plants. I divide the world of green into poison ivy and not poison ivy. I DID recognize tomato plants that didn’t appear to have any tomatoes on them and hordes of okra.

I know what okra is because Daughter-in-Law Sarah was the second Okrafest Queen in the small Central Florida town Apopka. It’s only been in the last couple of years that she’s dispensed with the requirement that we bow and curtsey in her presence.

Robert Harris, a remarkable man

When researching the history of the garden, I ran across a number of stories about Robert Harris, a bus driver with the Cape Girardeau School District and a Master Gardener. The man helped create the Cape Girardeau Community Garden Project beginning with this plot of land. Later, he took over the Red Star Baptist Church garden on North Main Street. The vegetables, one story said, goes to senior citizens or people with health conditions unable to leave their homes. Some of the vegetables, including squash, tomatoes and green beans are left in small bins next to the gardens for anyone who needs them.

Here are just a few of the Missourian stories and editorials about Mr. Harris. I would like to have met him. Comments to stories generally contain at least one disparaging or contentious remark. It’s worth noting that there’s not one negative comment in any of the stories about Mr. Harris. Every one is effusive in praise for this man whose life’s mission is to help others.

Thinking of Dad

Sometimes I KNOW I’ve taken a photo; I just can’t find it. It’s been a long time since I went wading through the boxes of prints and negatives that are stored in Wife Lila’s domain in the dining room buffet. She’s the custodian of “family” photos. Most of my pictures are of strangers.

My search came up empty, but I did find this envelope of color negatives taken in the special summer of 1976.

Looks like Son Matt was about a year old. Brother David and Diane got married. We went to Kentucky Lake and down to Dutchtown where Steinhoff & Kirkwood kept their construction equipment. You can click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

I’m jumping the gun a little on the formal holiday, but every day is Father’s Day when the memories wash over you.

Riding the mailbox

Matt’s not sure he likes the idea of riding the mailbox in front of the house on Kingsway.

Ears make convenient handles

Matt’s trying to figure out what those funny things are sticking out of the side of Dad’s head.

Dutchtown “garden”

Part of the land at Dutchtown was set aside for a garden and small orchard. The floods have gradually wiped out all of the fruit trees.

Not your normal Tonka toy

One of the cool things about about having a dad in the construction business was getting to play on the real version of what other kids had in plastic. OSHA would probably take a dim view of this, but we thought it was normal play. You have to admit that not many grandmothers get a chance to do this, either.

An appreciation for different vantages

As you can see, if you were in our family, you learned an appreciation for different vantage points.

Were we really that young?

Where have the years gone? Wife Lila and I are twice as old as we were when these photos were taken. One minute you’re holding a toddler; the next you’re cashing your Social Security check. (Which that toddler is contributing to.)

Not quite ready to drive yet

You wonder if a child this young has any real memories of this or if they’re based on photographs and family stories.

Not sure about hay bales

This shed was used to store lumber and bales of hay. Matt doesn’t look like he cares much for sitting on stickery hay bales. Or, he might be trying to figure out if you’re supposed to eat the straw.

Good pepper crop

The pepper crop looks pretty good, but Matt is more interested in an apple.

Trailer on Kentucky Lake

Dad and Mother had a trailer over at Kentucky Lake. There was a bass boat for Dad to use for fishing and a ski boat for hauling Brothers Mark and David around. I skied a few times, but decided that wasn’t my idea of a fun afternoon.

Dad is introducing Matt to the finer points of cane pole fishing.

Duck feeding is more his speed

Matt seems to hope that Pringles will be sufficient to keep hungry ducks at bay.

This, my grandson, is a fish

This sequence maybe gives a clue to why Matt doesn’t eat seafood to this day.

What’s this thing taste like?

Am I supposed to put it in my mouth?

OK, I’m done with fish

It don’t take me long to look at a fish. I’m done.

Dressed for the wedding

Dad always wore clean and pressed work clothes, even when he was headed to a dirty job on a construction site. He looked good in a suit, too. I don’t, however,  recall seeing him dressed like this many times. The occasion was Brother David’s wedding.

A pensive look

Those sideburns are creeping down pretty far. I guess it was the influence of Mark, whose hair was so long that I gave him a bumper sticker that said, “I’m a Boy.”

Mother and Dad together

They made quite the couple.

Mark, when he had hair

I’m glad he enjoyed it while he had a chance to.

David and Diane

Sister-in-Law Diane looks just like she did as a bride. David, fortunately, DOESN’T look like he did on his wedding day.

Bittersweet memories

A year later, I learned a hard lesson: better pile up all the memories you can when you have the chance.

We had planned to go back to Cape in July of 1977, but my new job as director of photography at The Palm Beach Post got in the way. I had to postpone our vacation a couple of weeks to get the next year’s operating budget out of the way.

Dad was going to use the extra time to build a sandbox for Matt at Kentucky Lake. He must have been carrying a sandbag when he had a massive heart attack. He was 60.

I’m sorry that he didn’t have a chance to see how his grandsons turned out. He’d have been proud of them.

Sorry for indulging in a little more family history than I had intended.