I was looking through scans from Mother’s college scrapbook when I saw what must have been the snowstorm of 1940 or thereabouts. This shows the terraces south and east of Academic Hall. Click on the photos to make them larger. I looked but didn’t see anybody sledding down the hill.
Albert or Leming Hall?
This might be Leming Hall, but I’m going to let someone else make the call. A Missourian story said Albert Hall and Leming Hall were almost identical in appearance and layout. Another picture in the scrapbook labeled Albert Hall, taken at a different time, showed steps leading up to screened-in porch.
A Frony photo showing a city crew putting cinders on Normal Avenue in front of Leming Hall shows a screened-in porch and no columns.
I don’t know where this photo was taken, but considering how much snow there is, I have to think it was taken around the SEMO campus. I can’t imagine Mother would have been able to make it back home to Advance given the condition of roads back then.
How many times have you been told “There are no dumb questions?” Take it from me, there ARE dumb questions. I asked one. More about that later.
The Missourian’s January 16, 1967, front page lead story was “Cake Fires Girls’ Dorm,” with three of my photos. Clothing and bedding were destroyed and smoke and fire damage were extensive when fire enveloped a room in Dearmont Quadrangle, women’s residence hall at State College, Saturday night (January 14).
Wally Sinwell looks at birthday cake
Wally Sinwell of St. Louis, right, who used hall extinguishers to contain the blaze, looks at birthday cake whose candles ignited paper, while firemen view the room.
B & C wings were evacuated
Girls living in B and C wings, in pajamas and pincurlers, were evacuated, but later returned to their rooms.
A fire which apparently started from a birthday cake Saturday night damaged a room on the fourth floor of Dearmont Quadrangle. Damage was extensive to the room and its contents. Firemen said mattresses on the bunk bed were destroyed, clothes in the two closets were badly burned and smoked, drapes on the windows were ruined and the ceiling will have to be redone.
Carroll Walker, dean of students, said the room was occupied by two freshmen, Miss Mary Lou Halliday, Shipman, Ill., and Miss Patricia J. Ham, St. Charles.
Preparing surprise birthday party
Walker said the girls told him they were preparing to celebrate the birthday of Miss Halliday. Some of the girls had taken her down the hall in order to surprise her.
Miss Martha Susan Owen and Miss Iris Anne Hargrove, both of Paducah, Ky., and Miss Patricia Ann Singrun, St. Louis, were in the room decorating for the party. Mr. Walker said they told him they were putting toilet paper on the ceiling and some was on the floor when a piece of the paper fell from the ceiling across the lighted candles on the birthday cake. The paper burst into flames and the girls said they tried to put the blaze out, but couldn’t.
Here’s the dumb question
That was the official version.
Somewhere in a box in my shed is a tape recording I did of my interview with the girls where they confirmed that they had, indeed, dangled toilet paper all over the room. With luck, it’ll never be found and played.
“When we walked into the room with the birthday cake, a streamer dropped onto one of the candles and the whole room burst into flames,” one of them told me.
My question, which I tried as hard as I could to haul back into my mouth, was, “Was it supposed to?”
I think a withering glance was the only answer I got.
Student fought fire
Walter J. Sinnwell of St. Louis, a student who was in the parlor of the quadrangle when the fire broke out, collected building’s fire extinguishers and attempted to put out the blaze.
Miss Halliday said that at one point the fire was thought to have been put out by the extinguishers, but when they went out looking for more extinguishers, some one heard and explosion – “probably a can of hair spray or spray deodorant” – and the room was engulfed in more flames than before.
Cake remained intact
Capt. Paul Kesterson said a pumper, a ladder truck and nine men went to the scene. The Seagraves pumper and 140 feet of one-inch hose were in use for two minutes.
He said one of the girls was concerned because a radio her mother had given her Christmas was damaged. Through it all, he said, the birthday cake remained intact. It had some dirt and water on it, but was still in one piece on the hallway floor.
Photo gallery of women’s dorm
I have to admit that charging into a women’s dorm was a lot less exciting than I thought it would be. I never knew there were so many different forms of pincurlers. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the sides of the photos or use your arrow keys to step though the images.
Wife Lila wanted to go to the Mississippi River overlook that used to be the traffic bridge. Along the way, we saw that not only had the historic handball courts been demolished, but that the beautiful view of the St. Vincent’s Seminary was also being lost. Sorry for the quality of the photo: it was the wrong time of day to shoot in that direction.
This is what you used to see
This nice, peaceful green space is what used to welcome you to Cape when you crossed the bridge.
Here’s what is going up
You’ll never know what the old seminary looked like from the south side. Let’s hear it for SEMO’s historic preservation program.
When I ran photos of the Southeast Missouri State Indians playing the Martin Branch of the University of Tennessee, several readers commented on Curtis Williams, #34. It turns out I had some action mug shots I took of him for either The Missourian or The Sagamore in December of 1966.
Central grad first black SEMO athlete
What I didn’t know until I read an excellent profile by Marty Mishow in the February 19, 2004, Missourian was that the CHS grad was SEMO’s first black student-athlete and a basketball and track standout from 1964 through 1967.
“Kermit Meystedt, Williams’ former basketball teammate at both Central and Southeast who along with Williams was inducted into Southeast’s Athletic Hall of Fame last October said, “He was just a very class individual, and an excellent, very gifted athlete.”
In basketball, Williams was a three-year letterman under coach Charles Parsley. He averaged 18.4 points per game as a senior to earn first-team all-MIAA honors after being second-team all-MIAA as a junior.
On the track, Williams earned four letters and excelled in all the jumps. He at one time held school records in both the high jump, at 6-8 3/4, and the triple jump, at 48-8 1/4. He was a multiple conference champion.
Wasn’t on a scholarship
The story pointed out that Williams began his SEMO career without a scholarship, which meant that he not only played sports, but he routinely worked almost a full shift at Cape Frozen Foods, which specialized in butchering and storing meat.
Track coach Marvin Rosengarten said, “He worked at least 30 hours at the frozen food locker on Broadway. I always used to have him promise me he wouldn’t work the day before a meet so he wouldn’t be worn out.
“But after his sophomore year, I went to Charles Parsley and we worked out a deal where we split the scholarship. I think in his junior year he was just on a partial scholarship but by his senior year he was on full scholarship between basketball and track.”
Flashbacks of racism
Williams was quoted as saying that he was well accepted by his teammates.
“Coming back from trips, sometimes we wouldn’t get served in restaurants, or they’d say I had to go eat in the back, but Coach Parsley said we would all eat together or we wouldn’t eat there. I remember we left one place outside Jonesboro.”
While Williams said he never encountered much negative reaction because of being black while at Central or Southeast, he was certainly not exempt from racism.
“During the early years of my life, I grew up at a time when blacks had to go in the back doors of restaurants to be served, where you were not allowed to attend movies or swim in public pools,” he said. “To this day, I still have flashbacks of those moments when one was made to feel less than human. You deal with it and move on.