Cheating Death at the Perkins Shoe Tree

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

I got this email from Number Three Steinhoff Brother Mark Tuesday: “I was wondering if you ever went back and photographed Perkins Shoe Tree to see if first, the pole was still there and second, if the shoes were there?”

Steinhoff Family Shoes

Shoes for shoe tree 11-26-2010

He was referring to a utility pole I discovered in 2010 when heading out to shoot aerials with Ernie Chiles. When the Tulsa Clan came to Cape to visit Mother, Mark assembled their shoes, created special red tags, and took them to Perkins to start a family tradition.

Mark wants to be the oldest brother

David, Mark, Ken Steinhoff 08-1978

If it had been any reader other than Brother Mark, I would have assumed it was idle curiosity. With him, I suspect more nefarious motives.

See, he’s always wanted to be the oldest brother. Since that didn’t happen in the natural order of things, he’s been trying to gain the title by attrition. In other words, he’s trying to kill off his two older brothers.

Attempted Fratricide

Mark Steinhoff Christmas 2000

In 2000, we went on a bike ride around Cape. We were going down a long, steep hill with a nasty curve at the bottom when he started pushing me to the edge of the road, kind of like a collie herding a sheep.

I had no choice but bail out into a ditch, making a taco out of my wheel. When the Steinhoffs convened in St. Louis to celebrate Christmas, I presented him with my wheel and a plaque attesting to his evildoing. I wanted a record of his past in case he tried again.

Wanted me to break quarantine

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

I could only assume that he wanted me to leave the safety of my self-quarantine on Kingsway Drive so he could count on my high-risk status to move him up a notch in the Brother Universe.

I accepted his challenge. The top photo shows that the pole and the shoes still exist.

This closeup shows some shoes with the metal tags still in them, but the red paint has faded. In a few places, the tags are still embedded in the pole, but the shoes have gone AWOL.

Shoes tired of hanging around

Perkins shoe tree 05-05-2020

It looks like some shoes have gotten tired of hanging around.

Not Welcome to Perkins

Perkins Vol Fire Dept sign 05-05-2020

This isn’t exactly a Welcome to Perkins message, but I can understand its meaning.

In for a penny, in for a pound

Advance Elementary School 05-05-2020

Since I was already out and about, I made a quick run through Advance to see if I could pick up some great chips and salsa at El Mexicano. They were dark, so I’m afraid they were closed.

I DID see this cool sign on the door of the Advance Elementary School (along with one that said that all Advance R-4 School District facilities are closed until further notice. A man who saw me at the door said they were closed for the rest of the school year, and hoped they might open again by August).

Mrs. Tanner, Mrs. Theresa, Mrs. Christina and Mr. Jones wanted pupils to know “We really miss you!”

“P.S.,” it continued, “I used the ‘smelly” markers. NO you cannot smell them through the window (smiley face).”

There are some bright spots around

Flowers south of Leopold 05-05-2020

I pulled off on the side of a gravel road somewhere between Advance and Leopold to take a look at this field of yellow.

If you don’t hear from me, it’s because Brother Mark’s plot to move up in the Brother Universe was successful.

10 Replies to “Cheating Death at the Perkins Shoe Tree”

  1. Perkins volunteer fire department has an awesome fish fry. Locals bring out the homemade pies, cobblers, side dishes. It’s fantastic. My first home was within eyesight of Perkins before moving to cape. Almost to painton.

  2. Ken, thanks for revisiting the Perkins Shoe Tree. Now I was just wondering…did you ever go back and check on that note I left on top of Tower Rock Island?

    1. I didn’t realize you had left a note up there. I’ve only been up there the one time with you. I missed the last opportunity when the water was low. Maybe sometime in the future. Unlike you, though, I won’t carry my bike to the top.

  3. I have a shoe somewhere on that tree! The shoe tree was there, when I began teaching at nearby Oran High School in 1983. My students told me wild stories about it. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten most of them. (the stories–not the kids! I’ll never forget them!)

  4. I do wonder if the dangerous curve where Mark forced you off the road was at the bottom of what we called Snake Hill, I think where it intersected with Sprigg St.? If so I was on the verge of a crash there about 70 years ago. I was riding around Cape Rock Drive with a group of boys on single speed bikes and watching the needle on my speedometer. As we hit the lower part of the hill I saw it was within 5 mph of reaching the 45 or 50 mph peg and started pedaling to take it to the peg, not realizing the bike was moving faster than I could pedal. With no resistance, my right foot slipped off the pedal, striking the ground as the pedal struck the back of my leg, threatening to flip me through the air. I immediately kicked out and almost lost control and into a spin and crashing into the ditch. Whew!!! My impression is it is the same curve at the bottom of a hill that you describe. I do know that some years ago that road was redone to take out some of the curves. Also, in reference to Cape history, my grandfather drove a steam roller that used to roll the blacktop on snake hill and other streets in Cape including Mill Hill
    Some years ago during one of the 50’s reunions and the River Explorer was moored on Water Street, I met a dentist, I think Dr. Cotner, who was also a musician preparing to entertain on the boat. I remembered my grandparents speaking of a neighbor by that name and asked him if he knew Rufus and Ella Austin. He did! As a child he was their next door neighbor and remembered how fascinated he was when my grandfather drove in on his steam engine, and showed me the house where they lived just north of the Cape Bridge. My grandfather was one of the early auto mechanics, who moved to Cape in 1971 and worked for Ford Graves. He also converted model Ts into race cars and raced them in Southern Indiana before moving to Cape and there raced them at the track at the old fair grounds now south of the Arena building. Do you know where that is?

    1. No, it wasn’t Snake Hill. I don’t recall exactly where it was. It was pretty close to town, though, because I bent the wheel back as best I could, and rode it slowly back home, not sure if it was going to collapse at any time.

      Here’s Snake Hill before and after.

      Here’s a picture of Mill Hill and some background on it.

      My Boy Scout troop camped on the old fairgrounds you mentioned. I’ll never forget it because when it was time to leave, Dad found out that I hadn’t even started to pack up. He just rolled up all my stuff in the tent and carted it away. He wasn’t happy.

      1. Interesting. I camped there one time at a BSA Camporee in October, probably 51 or 52. My best friend John Popp and I were Seas Scouts, Ship 2, the SES Ensign Girardot. Our task was to judge the first aid competition and I was the ship cook and remember the the adult scouters came to our site at night for coffee. I discovered the old race track running through the woods. We usually did not set tents unless there was rain and preferred sleeping under the stars. IT was a beautiful night with a full moon and I remember looking at the stars and saw a v formation of snow geese flying over. The next day their was a commotion in the camp site next to us and we saw a scout flailing an axe at the ground. We ran over to find he had killed a large black snake. We gave them a talk on why they shouldn’t kill snakes and wretyrned ti sun ub the shade. Excitement broke out again and we intervened to stop the slaughter of another snake. I grabbed the axe and John rescued the snake, It wa agitated and bit him on the arm. He flinched but grabbed the snake and we released it in the woods. As we returned to the site he said, “We can have some fun.” When we got in view of the excited troop of scouts he said, “That snake bit me. ” And he fell to the ground, feigning unconsciousness. The boys got excited again, and one of them said, “It did. I saw the snake bite him and there is blood.” One of the boys said I know what to do and pulled out his scout knife.” I told John he had better get up that this kid was about to practice his first aid skill on him.:” It was a memorable weekend.David Middleton

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