Top Stories: 2009 to 2011

When I cranked up this blog on Oct. 20, 2009, I never dreamed that I’d still be churning out stories two years later. The first post contained a photo that later became one of two rotating pictures at the top of the blog page. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

This is the time when publications traditionally look at the previous year. I started to do that, but discovered that some of the top read stories from 2011 had actually run in 2010 and were still getting hits, probably from search engines. That caused me to look at what the most popular stories were overall.

 Rush Limbaugh – Koran-burning Terry Jones

The most-read story of 2010 and 2011 continues to be the coincidence that the two best-known members of the Central High School Class of 1969 are Rush Limbaugh and the kooky pastor, Terry Jones, who threatened to burn the Koran (and eventually DID burn one when he was out of the spotlight).

The Sept. 9, 2010, story has garnered 14,274 pageviews, about four times as many as any other story I’ve done. It was picked up by media all over the world.

I rode tight herd on the comment section, which attracted 150 comments, to keep the train on the tracks. I was impressed by the general high tone of the discussion compared to the trash talk I saw on other sites. When it was all over, I had deleted only three comments that stepped over the line into personal attacks on other readers.

 Cape’s new water park

The second most-popular story is probably a fluke. April 18, 2010, I did a quick and dirty story on Cape’s new water park while it was still under construction and compared it to the Lickitysplit Water Slide that used to be between Cape and Jackson on Hwy 61.

It kept getting a smattering of hits during the summer of 2011, probably from people searching for information about the park. Interestingly enough, folks who got there, probably by mistake, ended up spending over two minutes reading the page, something that’s highly unusual. Folks who don’t find exactly what they’re searching for generally bounce out in about 10 seconds.

The Boat House

When you wanted to impress visitors from out of town with the homes in Cape Girardeau, there’s one place you’d always take them – The Boat House at the corner of West End Blvd. and Highland Dr., across from Capaha Park. This story attracted 2,109 readers and 28 comments, including good information from the family that owns it.

 Bill’s Transition to Jacqie

One of the most interesting and challenging stories I’ve done started out with this email: “Hi lila and kenny. Its bill jackson but if you have facebook, you will discover that many changes have taken place. It seems that after all these years I am more comfortable as Jacqie, my female half and counterpart. Florida is much more familiar with this than cape. The reunion should be very interesting.”

 Bill and Wife Lila were good friends from lifeguarding days. In fact, he was her first date in high school. We connected in Cape and St. Louis and I produced a video showing our classmate as both Bill and Jacqie. For a first effort at an ambitious project, I’m happy with the way it turned out. The page has only logged 2,024 hits, but the video has been viewed 16,106 times. I was really pleased to see how understanding the 31 commenters were and how well Jacqie was accepted at the class reunion.

Here’s a comment I posted after I saw the reaction to the piece:

“It’s amazing how much more accepting we are of others’ differences when we get a few miles on the old odometer. Maybe some things do get better with age. In a scene I had to cut because of time constraints, Bill commented, ‘We were all not exactly as kind to each other as children as we could have been, but that’s the nature of being children. You’re learning how to be human beings.’

 “Looks like my readers have done a good job passing the human being test. That’s a pretty good diploma to tack on the wall.”

 Rains, Wind and Flooding

I was in Cape during the spring of 2011 just before the near-record flooding. A page of photos showing Cape’s flood control project that kept the Town Plaza from flooding like it did in earlier decades, attracted 1,976 visitors and 28 comments. There’s a link on the page to a video I shot when Mother and I took shelter from a hail storm earlier in the week.

 Kent State, Never Forget

I can always count on getting a message from friend and fellow photographer John Lopinot every May 4. Usually the subject line says it all: “Never Forget.” May 4th, of course, is the day that four Kent State students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard.

 I pulled together a sequence of photos of protests and demonstrations I covered at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, during that tumultuous period. Another photographer and I were on our way to Kent State when word of the shootings came over the car radio. We headed back to Athens, figuring we needed to be in our own backyard that night.

The page has been read 1,876 times and attracted 27 comments, including one from my former Ohio University Post colleague Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a frequent talking head on TV.

From Shoe Factory to Casino

I still contend that the city missed the boat in not finding a way to make a productive use of the old shoe factory. If the old Central High School on Pacific can be re-purposed as Schultz Senior Apartments, then surely the landmark building on North Main could have been saved. It’s a moot point, though. The building was torn down decades ago and a gambling casino is going up on the property.

The page showing aerial and ground photos of the shoe factory taken in 1970 and the area around it taken before the land was cleared in 2010, drew 1,829 visitors and 22 comments, one from the granddaughter of a woman who had been scalped by machinery in the shoe factory.

Capaha Park reduced to memories

I did several stories on the razing of the Capaha Park swimming pool. This was one that hit close to home: much of Wife Lila’s teen years were spent at the pool swimming, lifeguarding and teaching swimming.

I dug out a bunch of vintage photos and turned the page loose for Lila, Bill/Jacqie Jackson and Terry Hopkins to write about how much that hole in the ground meant to them. Terry’s account ended, “At one time, I wanted my ashes scattered on the hill above the pool just so I could be close and watch people having fun at a place I loved. Farewell my 12-foot deep, 8-lane, L-shaped fun factory and memory maker, farewell.”

There were 35 comments, some almost as long as the original piece. A total of 1,654 people visited the page.

 Central High School ’60s reunion

June 27, 2010, I ran one of several galleries of photos of the 1960s decade class reunion. It picked up 1,641 readers and 23 comments.

On the last night, I was moved to write, “This isn’t my favorite photo of the weekend, far from it. It’s a mediocre image from a technical standpoint, but it’s the one that caused a wave of deja vu to wash over me.

 “It was the end of the evening. The crowd was starting to drift away. A few couples got up to dance. I climbed up on the stage for a higher angle and stood there holding my camera and waiting for a photo to happen.

 “Suddenly I was transported back forty-plus years. It dawned on me that my life had come full circle. I was the same kid I was in high school who was AT the event, but not PART of the event.”

This account of the last night contains links to all of the reunion pages.

 Annie Laurie’s Laurie Ann

There’s a bit of nepotism here. Laurie Everett, who owns Annie Laurie’s Antiques on Broadway across from Shivelbine’s, is my wife’s niece. Putting that aside, she’s a shrewd businesswoman who was worth a story because of the building she’s in (the old Brinkopf-Howell Funeral Home) and for her interesting life. The petite blonde was an army MP who was an Expert marksman before she got into the antique business. She’s as good at that as she is with a gun: her shop was rated #1 Antique Shop in Cape County three out of three years (maybe four, since that story was done in 2010).

It’s not your typical stodgy antique shop. She makes good use of social media and has developed quite a following of SEMO students with her emphasis on vintage clothing, dorm makeovers and competition for models to become the face of the shop.

 Tornado drills and the JFK assassination

I stopped by Alma Schrader School to get some photos identified just as they were conducting a tornado drill. That give me a flashback to that stormy day in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I took photos of students gathered around a TV in the gym and rushed them to The Missourian to make my first EXTRA!

 Wimpy’s in 1966, 1967 and 2009

There are two topics that will always bring in readers and comments: Wimpy’s Drive-in and the Blue Hole BBQ. Everybody who grew up in that era has fond memories of both.

I shot a night time exposure photo of the intersection of Cape Rock Drive and North Kingshighway in 1966 that showed the traffic patterns in and around Wimpy’s. In 1967, I shot a wreck at the intersection with the drive-in in the background. By 2009, Wimpy’s was gone and the intersection had changed, but I tried the time exposure technique again.

Readers: 1,552; comments: 31, including much discussion of a shootout near there that took  the lives of two Cape police officers.

 Top Stories of 2011

In addition to the 2009 and 2010 stories above, here are the top stories that were published in 2011:

  •  Cape’s tornado of 1949: a riveting account of the May 21, 1949, tornado that killed 22 people, hospitalized 72 and injured hundreds, written by a pregnant newlywed to her mother on pages torn from a day calendar. If you haven’t read it, you should.
  • Do these photos say Cape? A collection of photos of Cape Girardeau for use by the city on its web page.
  • 43 years of Cairo photographs: I’ve been fascinated with Cairo since I covered my first riot there in 1967. This was a collection of photos of the town which is, unfortunately, disappearing a block at a time.
  • Arena Park Stock Car races: Vintage photos of the Arena Park stock car races. Some of them are classics.

 Mind-numbing statistics

Since the site started in 2009, it has seen its pages viewed 565,631 times. I’ve written 641 posts containing 512,268 words and you all have left 5,728 comments. In fact, commenters have written 391,796 words, almost as many as I have in the original stories. The depth of detail in those comments is astounding. I’ve posted nearly 5,600 photos.

Support this site

Here’s a link to my Tower Rock book and my 2012 calendar.

In addition, if you do your Amazon shopping by clicking on any of the Amazon ads on the page, I get a tiny percentage of your purchase without it costing you anything additional.



12 Replies to “Top Stories: 2009 to 2011”

  1. You should move the request for support to the top of this post. Ken Rockwell does it, and it doesn’t bother me one bit. You should be able to stand with your virtual hand open, and expect that people will fill it for the work you have done on this site. And, next year, leading up to the Christmas shopping season, I suggest that you start every post with a link to Amazon so that your readers will click it for their holiday shopping. It’s not that people don’t want to click through; it’s that they forget. Make sure that you remind them often.

  2. Have to agree. I don’t use Amazon much but the time or two I think I would have done the the most good I remember after the fact. And the other think I guess, does my click really count? Any accounting method? I might have to look at my Amazon account closer..

    1. David,
      I don’t get rich off Amazon, particularly on this site, because it doesn’t lend itself to product reviews as much as my bike blog. For example, I wrote a review of the Topeak Road Morph Pump with Gauge way back in February of 2009 and embedded an Amazon link in the story. Nine people followed that link two years later and earned me about two bucks per order.

      Readers bought a total of 435 items from Amazon in 2011, spending $10,824.95. My cut of that was $632.45.

      I don’t know WHO bought the items, but I know WHAT folks bought. What IS apparent is that some readers are doing a lot of their day-to-day shopping after clicking on the ad links. I see lots of books, clothing, electronics, cosmetics, music, shoes, bike accessories, even pet food.

      Big-ticket items, obviously, bring in the must revenue. Thanks to the person who bought a Garmin GPS ($7.95 to me); the XOOM Android tablet ($25) and the HP touchpad ($14.28).

      The one I’m really curious about is the “Complete Setup Tattoo Kit with practice skin” that someone ordered last year. There have been several accessories ordered in 2011, so it must have worked out OK.

      BTW, if you click on the Killerwatt ad on the right side of the page (it’s only set to run four months, so it might not be there if you’re reading this in the future) and buy a copy of Sharon Woods Hopkins’ book that’s set in SE MO, I get about a buck; if you buy the Kindle version, I make about 33 cents.

      Bottom line: if you are an Amazon shopper, keep me in mind. Click on the ads on my site to place your orders. I’ll make a little money and it won’t add to your price.

  3. Wow…..Time in review from our favorite photographic journalist……..Thanks, Ken, for all you have shared and thanks to those who have left comments. Happy New Year to ALL…… Susan

  4. Love your blog and have shopped your Amazon link several times.

    I agree with Adam and David about placing your Amazon link in the beginning of your blogs. Good reminder and I am pretty sure your readers won’t mind a bit.

  5. Ken, thanks.
    But a simple thanks just doesn’t seem enough for someone that has enriched our lives by nudging us back down memory lane and one that has become a good friend in many ways.

    You should consider a donation app similar to the one we use on the site to support the site. When funds are sufficient to operate for a year, the app is hidden until a need for more money arises. I think you generate enough value here for us to provide some consideration.

  6. Ken,

    Thanks so much for everything you do, your site is a 1st for me in the morning! I will be purchasing your book and calendar. Happy New Year!

  7. another happy new year to you ken and lila, and cape and capeeeees it has been said that any day above ground is a good one i guess that applies to the years too. thanks for all the great pics ken i often use your pics as the background so you all are always in my thoughts.

  8. I just love reading your posts, Ken. Even though I don’t live in the area and don’t know the people, you make me feel as if I do. You certainly make me care about them.

    Oh! And what a wonderful quote from your friend, Bill: ‘We were all not exactly as kind to each other as children as we could have been, but that’s the nature of being children. You’re learning how to be human beings.’

    I second the recommendation to click on the link to buy Killerwatt. It was a fun read!

  9. Hi Kenneth
    My name is Cheri and Gordon Brumley is my Stepdad. Unfortunately he is no longer with us. I have a pic of him in his police uniform with your info on the back dated June 7 1967. He told me u two were good friends and told me a story bout him riding on his police Harley in front of a parade and u snapped a quick pic of him actually flipping him off! I sure would love to just even know if it exists?? Sure would like to talk to u.
    Thank you,sincerely

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