This is NOT the Home of the Birds

One of the neat things about my Mother is that she’s always up for an adventure. Start the car up and she’s ready to go ambling and ramblin. Some days we just head out and see if we can find a road we haven’t explored.

This time we cruised by Cape Rock, then made a left turn onto Big Bend Road just west of East Cape Rock, where I saw the remnants of what our family had always called the Home of the Birds.

Entrance to Kelso Bird Sanctuary north of Cape GirardeauWhen I was a kid, there were two bird houses on the stone gate posts, but one of them is long gone and the other doesn’t look long for the world. Of course, they’ve been up there half a century (unless someone has replaced them since I was in my pre-teens), so the survivor may outlast me.

Out of the Past didn’t help

I have to admit that I cheat when it comes to doing research. My first stop is The Southeast Missourian for local factoids. This time, though, when I searched for “Home of the Birds,” I got less than a handful of hits and they were mostly in the Out of the Past column compiled by librarian Sharon Sanders. They just kept referring to Southeast Missouri State University construction projects that were eating up the land “north of the campus.”

What made it worse was that I couldn’t exactly figure out WHERE I had taken the picture so I could put it on the map. I thought I had set a GPS waypoint, but I must not have saved it. Even more confusing was that where I thought I was didn’t seem to be anywhere close to the University.

This house picture didn’t help much, either

House across the street from the Kelso Sanctuary Natural AreaI took a picture of this house diagonally across the street from the birdhouse, so I pulled up Google Earth and tried to find IT with no better results.

I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to know everything in the world. You just have to know the people you can call who DO know everything in the world.

I took a stab and sent the pictures in an email to Sharon and to James Baughn, who does a great blog called Pavement Ends, which explores lots of neat areas in Swampeast Missouri. James also has a site, which is a database of historic and notable bridges in the United States. (Full disclosure: I have contributed some bridges to the database and I can get lost in there for hours.)

I’ve never met either person, but I got my first response 21 minutes after the original query. That’s fast. NOT only were they fast, but they were kind enough not to use the phrase, “you fool,” when they pointed out that I wasn’t AT the Home of the Birds.

Springdale Bird Sanctuary

Entrance to Kelso Sanctuary Natural Area north of Cape GirardeauSharon’s first message said, “Hi, Ken. I enjoy reading your Central High reminiscences, even though I’m an alum of Notre Dame (class of 79). The photos you’ve taken, I believe, are of the entrance to the Springdale Bird Sanctuary. Let me do some checking and I’ll get back to you.”

James had slightly different info, but he had the GPS coordinates: “This is the old entrance to the Kelso Bird Sanctuary on Highway 177 north of town. The GPS coordinates are 37.341008, -89.501195 — give or take a few hundred feet.”

When I plugged in the coordinates, BINGO! The place was exactly where I thought it would be. But what’s this business about different names?

It’s now called the Kelso Sanctuary Natural Area

Sharon’s next message cleared it up. “Here is the URL for the Kelso Wildlife Sanctuary. At one time, part of the area went by the name Springdale Bird Sanctuary. Hope this helps.”

There’s not a lot of information on line about the the site, but SEMO does have some promotional pamphlets put out by the Audubon Society of Missouri around 1937 after Judge and Mrs. I.R. Kelso donated 20 acres of land for the sanctuary. The Audubon Society transferred management of the land to SEMO in 1960. I’ll have to visit SEMO someday to read the rest of the story.

The sad thing is I STILL don’t know anything about the Home of the Birds.

Kelso Sanctuary Natural Area

View Kelso Sanctuary Natural Area in a larger map

Santa Search Causes My Head to Hurt

Santa Claus photo printed to emphasize background buildingI’ve been poking around trying to figure out where the Santa picture was taken that I posted here. I’ve looked at Google Maps, Topofusion Maps and every current photo I took last month. My head hurts.

Brother Mark suggested it might have been taken from Shivelbine’s Music on Broadway, but I pretty much dismissed that. (And not just because he’s my brother.)

Here’s a second frame taken from a slightly different angle that shows that the business across the street is, indeed, a bar and / or cafe.  Note the six windows that are visible on the second floor. (Click on the image to make it larger.)

Southeast Missourian photographer Fred Lynch came up with another theory.

Fred’s message and photos

It looks like the Santa in the window photo was taken in the 600 block of Good Hope in the Haarig District.

I shot these photos today.

Photo #1, the building in the background

The south side of the 600 block of Good Hope in Cape Girardeau's Haarig District

In photo #1, notice the three-story building on the left. It appears that is in the background of your Santa photo. At the far right in the Santa photo, notice the two-story building.

Photo #2, the building from which the photo was taken

The north side of the 600 block of Good Hope in Cape Girardeau's Haarig District

The Santa photo has a utility pole in it. In photo #2, notice the utility pole in front of the building.

The buildings have changed much over the years.

I am not sure which building was Unnerstall’s since it has changed.

It could be, it might not be

Like Fred says, the street has changed so much that it’s hard to tell what was there 40 years ago. The best reference I have is a 1979 Cape Girardeau City Directory that lists what business were in the 600 block of Good Hope. Even in 1979 it was depressing to see how many addresses were marked “Vacant.”

North side of 600 Block of Good Hope

Here is what the directory shows for the addresses in Photo #2 in 1979, from right to left:

  • 620 Good Hope (Meyer Supply Company) was Suedekum Hardware
  • 624 Good Hope – vacant
  • 624A Good Hope – vacant
  • 626 Good hope – vacant
  • 630 Good Hope – Unnerstall’s Drug Store. I think that’ll be the light-colored building with the white awning.
  • 632 Good Hope – Mary Dee Cafe
  • 632 Good Hope – vacant
  • 635 Good Hope – on corner of Sprigg (not shown) – Jo Donna Day Dance School (was Shade’s Clothing Store in the 60s)

If Fred is correct, the original picture was probably taken in one of the small shops between Meyer Supply Company and Unnerstall’s.

Does anyone else want to take a stab at it?

Haarig was once a vibrant community

Suedekum’s wasn’t just a hardware store. They set up some great toy train displays at Christmas time. I’ll never forget the year Dad brought home of of their displays. I still have the trains.

There was a bakery right around the corner east of the hardware store that had smells to die for. We would shop for clothes in Schade’s Clothing Store and get prescriptions filled at Unnerstall’s or Cape Cut Rate. One of my barbers was within a block on Sprigg and there was a grocery store nearby.

Farmer’s and Merchants Bank was on the other side of Sprigg and Dad had an office for his construction company upstairs for awhile. I can still remember walking into the bank with a handful small change to deposit in my savings account. (Later I was disappointed to find that my money got mixed in with everyone else’s money and I wouldn’t get the exact coins back.)

[Editor’s note: Fred’s photo blog in The Missourian is one of the most widely-read features in the paper. If you like my photos, you’ll appreciate the ones he comes up with.]

60’s Cape Girardeau Christmas Shoppers

This is another head-scratcher. I have no clue where these pictures were taken, nor who is in them. (Click on any photo to enlarge it, then step through them by clicking on the left or right side of the picture.)

[Important update: just about everything I wrote here is wrong. The pictures were taken in Jackson, not Cape. For info about the Santa, go here. For the drug store and other shopper pictures, go here.]

Rexall Drugs

Rexall DrugThe only clue I have in a couple of them is that there is a Rexall sign in the window. As far as I know, there were two Rexall drug stores in town.

  • Finney Drug Store, 709 Broadway
  • Unnerstall’s Drug Store, 630 Good Hope

If you look out the window, there a store across the street that’s selling bananas. Dr. Wilson’s office was pretty much directly across from Finney’s and I can’t see him selling bananas, so that leads me to believe that this was Unnerstall’s.

I wonder who the perky blonde was and what she was promoting.

Cape Girardeau Drug StoreLiquor on the shelves

I didn’t think drug stores sold liquor, but The Southeast Missourian’s Out of the Past column had this item:

75 years ago: Feb. 6, 1934

Frank Unnerstall, proprietor of Unnerstall’s Drug Store, 626 Good Hope St., has been issued the first city license to sell liquor at retail by the package.

That’s another reason to think it was Unnerstall’s.

Checking out Santa Claus

Shopper eyes Santa Claus in Cape GirardeauThere are a few clues to the location of where the boy and Santa, but not enough for me to pull an address out.

The two-story brick building across the street has a window sign that starts with “Pa” before it’s cut off by the power pole. The “Ca” below it makes me wonder if it’s a cafe.

I looked through all the pictures I took of Broadway and Main Street last month and couldn’t find any existing building that matched the architecture enough for me to make a good guess.

I hope one of you will leave a comment if you know where it is.

Interior shots give no clues

The interior photos were taken in several different stores, but I don’t have any idea where they were. I sent copies to my Mother, who seemingly knows everyone in town, but she drew a blank, too.

Here’s a gallery of all the photos

(As always, click on an image to make it larger.)

Barber Ed Unger Retired in 1983

Cape Girardeau Barber Ed Unger

The Southeast Missourian’s Out of the Past column on December 13, 2008 carried this note:

25 Years Ago: Feb. 13, 1983

After a million or more snips, Ed Unger is putting away his hair clippers and razor and retiring from the barber profession; Unger began barbering in 1935 on Main Street; he has been associated with several shops virtually all over Cape Girardeau.

Ed Unger knew my head well

Back in the days when I still had hair to cut, Ed Unger was most likely the guy who did it.

I don’t know who this kid is, but I was probably about that age or younger when Ed gave me my first trim.

The best part was that he didn’t mind if I read comic books while he was working away.

A Machine for Contemplation

Wright Morris, in his book, God’s Country and My People, described the barber chair this way:

A machine for contemplation, a throne for reflection, a couch for taking in or giving out information, capable of elevation, bodily suspension, facial and tonsorial transformation, the Iron Age went on to more imposing constructions, but none of them so well scaled to the nature of man.

Seated on a cushioned board placed across the chair arms, I first appraised the world from a point of elevation, observed my new head emerge from my old one, experienced the baptism of green tonic, held my breath in the cloud of fragrant talcum, and as I descended, heard the voice of authority pronounce the code word, “Next.”

Cape Girardeau Barber Ed UngerI have my own throne

When my brother Mark said that a buddy’s dad was selling three barber chairs from his shop, I told him to snatch one up for me. It took a U-Haul trailer to get it from Missouri to Florida and three friends to help get it into the house, but it’s been ensconced in my living room for over 35 years. It’s getting a little tired, but grandson Malcolm still likes to be pumped up and down in it.

Don’t discuss politics

My hair was a bit shaggy when I started working at The Athens (OH) Messenger in 1968, so I hopped into a barber chair to be made more presentable. At some point in the conversation, I mentioned my new job.

I was stretched out in the chair while he shaved under my neck with a straight razor when he asked, “Do you know ‘Joe Smith’, who’s running for whatever?”

“Yeah, I shot him last week. There’s a guy who’s a couple bricks short of a load.”

His next two sentences were, “He’s my uncle, ” and “Oops.”

I didn’t bleed much

I didn’t bleed much, but my conversation in a barber shop is now limited

  • “Mornin.'”
  • “The usual.”
  • “Thanks.”