Is Under Construction

Some days when your job is to FIX the bridge, unexpected things happen. I’m not sure exactly what happened here that caused Steinhoff, Kirkwood & Joiner’s truck and dragline to end up in the creek, but I suspect that it had something to do with a 100-lb load trying to cross a 10-lb-rated bridge.

You wonder exactly how many men it takes to look at a heavy piece of equipment in a hole before something productive happens. I’m going to guess action started about the time Dad put down the camera and said, “OK, enough standing around. Let’s get to work.”

You may have noticed some changes

We’ve changed the template that controls the look and feel of I mentioned before that I thought this was going to be a photo site, which would have looked really good in the template Son Matt recommended. When it changed to one with a lot of writing and comments, we thought this one would look better.

Let’s hope it doesn’t end up with a bunch of guys standing around looking at a broken bridge.

It’s going to take some tweaking

The old format used smaller headline and subhead typefaces. That’s why these suddenly look HUGE (and feel like I’m HOLLERING). I’ll find a way to fix that. Some things are in a slightly different places. We’ll try to get things back to about where they were so you don’t bump your shin on the coffee table on the way to the kitchen in the middle of the night.

Geek Talk

For any tech-types out there, this is the Atahualpa theme. I saw that Bob Rogers, a photographer I worked with in Athens, OH, was using it for his blog and I liked the way it looked. (Our original theme was Photocrati Lightbox 1.0.)

If you are interested in travel, cycling, RVing, eating, good photography and fascinating stories, give the newbohemians a read.

Meet the New Bohemians

Claire and Robert Rogers (Bob), married 19 years, bookends to the baby boomer generation, are dedicated to getting the most from this adventure of life. To that end, we seek our own fulfillment through adventure travel, creative pursuits, and living as simply as is reasonable.

Our web pages introduce several of our adventures: North America, Canada and Australia, 39,000 miles, carrying all the worldly possessions we would need for up to a year at a time, sleeping in a small tent, spending 24 hours a day together. We crewed on a sailboat in the South Pacific; four months of white-knuckle sailing and lazy days and nights with the mellow islanders of Melanesia, and most recently pedaling across the center of muddy, frozen and beautiful, Iceland.

What Are These People Thinking?

[Non-Cape News alert. From time to time, I may toss in some stuff that isn’t exactly from or about Cape directly. This is a story about a week where I experienced the best and the worst that the newspaper business has to offer.]

I’ve mentioned that I spent most of my life in the ink-slinging business. C.J. and Dean, two of the best photographers and nicest guys I ever worked with  joined me for lunch the other day while Dean’s wife was visiting relatives in the area. We spent almost two hours reliving stories we had covered, folks we had worked with and sharing a few sober moments thinking about ones who are no longer with us.

Dean died on the job one day

Died literally. Not figuratively. Literally.

He was covering a sporting event when a wild pitch going about 70 mph clocked him right in the temple, fracturing his skull in several places.

“I dropped like a rock. I stayed awake long enough to hand the the sports writer my car keys and to ask him to secure my equipment. I recall them loading me into the ambulance and I started fading away. The last thing I remember is telling the paramedic, “We have to get going.”

They lost him at least once on the way to the hospital and had to pull off to the side of the freeway to bring him back. A buddy who saw him shortly after he arrived at the hospital said he was sprawled on a table with no one around, with tubes coming out of him. He thought he was dead and offered up a prayer, he told Dean later.

The original prognosis wasn’t good. Even if – and that wasn’t a given – he started to come back, the doctors predicted it would be two years or more before he could do practically anything. Four months later, Dean was back shooting pictures.

Somebody PAID us to have this much fun

When we got up to leave, I said,  “You know, there aren’t a whole lot of folks who weren’t in our business who could tell stories like ours. And the neat thing is that someone PAID us to have those experiences.”

Someone asked me later if I had taken pictures of Dean and C.J.. I confessed that the thought crossed my mind, but some days you take pictures home; some days you take memories home. That was a memory day, not a picture day.

That was the highlight of the week

It didn’t take long to hit the low of the week.

Last night I went to my old paper’s web photo gallery to see if any local staffers had gone over to cover the earthquake in Haiti. I only saw one local picture, but there were some excellent photos in the collection. Hard to look at, but excellent news photos.

The advertisements next to these horrific pictures was appalling

There’s a Jet Blue ad that says, “THIS DAY JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER” next to a father who has found his 10-month-old daughter in a pile of corpses.

A Palm Beach Post house ad has the headline “SURVIVING THE SQUEEZE” next to a photo of a pair of feet sticking out from under a collapsed hotel.

Another house ad headlined, “LOSING YOUR HOME?” runs next to a photo of the rubble of Haiti’s Presidential Palace.

The photos are graphic and not the kind of thing that I want to put here. I have screen captures of the photos and ads on this journalism site, if you want to see something embarassing.

In fairness, the photo gallery was probably put together by a third party and the ads are stuffed in at random, so it’s not a case where it’s being done deliberately. In many ways, I don’t consider that an acceptable excuse. I’m glad I got out of the business while folks who worked in newspapers actually read what we produced and were held accountable for it.

See Your Toes, Win a Third Eye on Your Forehead

Fluoroscope in the National Museum of Nuclear Science

There’s been some talk lately about the machines at Buckner Ragsdale and the other downtown shoe stores that would let you see your toes inside your shoes.

[Chuck Blitstein jogged my memory about Gaylor’s in an earlier comment. That’s where we always went for my Buster Brown shoes.]

As I remembered them, you’d stand up on a platform, stick your feet through a couple of slots, push a button and look through a viewfinder at your toes while your gonads were exposed to massive jolts of X-ray radiation. That explains why Baby Boomers are sterile or why their kids have a third eyes in the middle of their foreheads.

Mother would never let me play on the Fluoroscope

Much to my disappointment, my mother would never let me play on the machine. My boys are equally disappointed that they don’t have that third eye, like all of their friends.

When Wife Lila and I took a mini-vacation to New Mexico to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, we stopped in at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque. There, just before you exited, was one of the see-your-toes machines.

And, no, it wasn’t turned on, darn it. My mother wasn’t around and this was my chance.


Police Safety Review Tips from the 50s

You’re going to hear a lot about the time capsule that is my Mother’s attic.

I was rooting around up there last month and ran across a 24-page The Police Safety Review booklet that was distributed by the Cape Girardeau Police Department in what had to have been the mid-to-late 50s.

The Police Safety Review distributed by the Cape Girardeau Police Department in the 1950s

Archeologists determine dates by examining objects found near the target and by carbon dating. I used the first method, but mostly relied on a Rube Goldberg cartoon in it that was copyrighted in 1954. (Yes, it was THAT Rube Goldberg, but it was done in a style that you don’t normally associate with the crazy gadget guy.)

Cape Girardeau Police Department and Patrons

The Police Safety Review distributed by the Cape Girardeau Police Department in the 1950s

Safety tips show why Baby Boomers don’t run with scissors

You can see a summary of the cartoons in the booklet on my bike blog.

In a nutshell, kids were told that actions have consequences. If you were a scofflaw or careless, bad things were going to happen. You’d be

  • Killed
  • Injured severely
  • Scarred for life
  • Arrested
  • Have your bike taken away
  • Have a mark on your permanent record
  • All of the above

Really cool, gory drawings

They knew their audience. Almost everybody came to a bad end in a particularly gruesome manner.

Here’s where you can see the whole book.