SEMO’s Double Standard

You don’t hear the phrase “in loco parentis” much these days. It’s Latin for “in the place of a parent” and refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. It allowed for institutions such as colleges and schools to act in the “best interests” of the students as they saw fit.

I didn’t realize just how loco the parentis Southeast Missouri State College was until I ran across my old SEMO Student Handbook that I must have been given when I was a freshman. Women going to school in this century won’t believe the double standard restrictions women had placed on them until the 1970s and beyond.

Campus run like Bootheel high school

President Mark Scully ruled the college campus just like a Bootheel high school. [In fairness to Dr. Scully, his obit in The Missourian had nice things to say about him when he died in 2002.]

Dress Code for Men: Dress for men is slacks and sport shirt or sweater. Shorts may be worn in warmer weather to classes. Shirt tails should never be worn out, and because of sanitation reasons, socks should always be worn with shoes. Thongs are not considered appropriate for any occasion other than dorm wear. For concerts, plays and the like, a suit and/or sports coat is called for. [I’m pretty sure the word “thong” had a different meaning in 1966. Dr. Scully would go out of his way to enforce the shirttail rule personally.]

Dress Code for Women: Skirts and blouses and/or dresses are the appropriate dress for class wear. Girls may dress informally for trips into the Cape Girardeau community and on campus after 4:00 p.m. Informal wear (slacks or shorts) may not be worn in any instructional building or Kent Library. Dress in the residence halls depends on each hall’s rules. Also, teas and concerts and plays call for a suit or party dress with heels and hose.

[Notice that men can wear shorts to class, but women may not wear slacks or shorts in any instructional BUILDING. Guys DID have to wear socks for “sanitation reasons.”]

Association of Women Students

Women students DID get one perk male students didn’t. They were all automatically members of the Association of Women Students.

Membership of the A.W.S. includes every woman student enrolled at SEMO State. Each year this organization carries our several projects designed to aid the women of the campus, and among these projects are a fashion skit during the Orientation which advises the freshman coed on the various types of clothes to wear to college activities, a fall tea for all women students, and a Twirp Week. [The fall tea, Wife Lila informed me, was NOT optional.]

Twirp Week: The Woman Is Required to Pay. Every year, under the sponsorship of the Association of Women Students, one week is designated as Twirp Week. The woman has the opportunity to ask the man of her choice for dates, and assumes the responsibility for providing money and transportation. She must also perform common courtesies such as opening doors, and helping her date with his coat.

Life as a co-ed

I would occasionally need to go into female housing on assignment. It was kind of exciting to be in the inner sanctum with an escort hollering “MAN ON THE FLOOR!” as you walked along. You envisioned meaningful glances from your subjects.

Women’s Hours

  • 11:00 Sunday and the first night back after a college holiday (night before the first day of classes)
  • 10:30 Monday through Thursday
  • 1:00 Friday and Saturday

Unfortunately, this was a more typical reaction.

Late Emergencies

If a co-ed returning to her residence is delayed until after hours, she should notify the houseparent or head resident by phone, i.e., babysitting or travel delays. If a phone is not available, come in and ring the doorbell late. Also, if it is necessary for a co-ed to leave her residence before the time it is regularly opened, she should make the necessary arrangements with the person in charge.

Special Permissions

1:30 closing hours for Homecoming and Sagamore Ball. On these special late nights there will be no overnight permissions granted. All co-eds will have 15 minutes after the close of the following events to return to their living units: Plays, concerts, lectures, college sponsored movies, and similar special events that last beyond closing hours. Arrangements should be made in advance with the houseparent or head resident for any college sponsored group activities such as band trips, debates, and conventions which require extra privileges.

Sign Outs

Overnights in Cape Girardeau and surrounding towns require the use of special sign out forms in the residence halls. Students who plan to stay overnight should request the form only after the Head Resident has contacted the student’s hostess and learned that the guest is welcome. (Maximum number of times per semester, 4 on-campus and 4 off-campus) Any signouts in excess of the stated maximum will be given only at the discretion of the person in charge…Students on restricted permission from their parents must have a letter from them for each separate absence.

[Women could stay out overnight only if the Head Resident called to make sure is was OK with the student’s “hostess.” I would guess that a “host” would not be appropriate. Parents could have an even tighter lock-down: if the student’s parents had put her on “restricted permission,” the parents had to provide a letter approving each request.]

General Conduct

A student at SEMO State is expected to conduct herself in an appropriate manner in her living unit and to conform to standards of propriety at all times. This implies a thoughtful consideration of the welfare and reputation of the school, the individual student, and the community.

[Note the word “herself.” Apparently, except for keeping their shirttails tucked in, men didn’t have any restrictions.]

No panty raids

College Property and Buildings – …Any student found guilty of inciting to action or willingly participating in action resulting in destruction of property or in unauthorized group activities, i.e., raids on women’s’ residences, that may or may not be destructive, will be subject to dismissal from the college. [It doesn’t explicitly spell it out, but this is the No Panty Raid rule.]

Residence Hall rules

Liquor in the hall – State law and College policy forbid the use or possession of alcoholic beverages on State College property. This includes parking lots and other campus areas, including residence halls. Bottles that have contained or appear to have contained alcoholic beverages are not to be used as room decorations.

Gambling – Gambling in every form is prohibited in the residence halls. Mere absence of money from sight does provide loopholes to permit gambling.

Weapons – Possession of any kind of firearms, including war souvenirs that constitute a hazard, is prohibited in residence halls for safety reasons. Hunting equipment should be checked in with the Head Resident.

Pets – For health reasons, dogs, cats, and other pets are not permitted in the residence halls. Goldfish and tropical fish are accepted.

Television – TV’s are not permitted in residence Hall rooms.

[Just for the record, I make enough typos on my own that I usually don’t play grammar policeman. I have to point out the the information in italics came from the student handbook. I’m not responsible for the spelling, consistency in style, or punctuation. An inside page credits Robert Northcutt with the cover design.]

1966 Outstanding Seniors

These shots of the Class of 1966’s Outstanding Seniors – or slight variations of them – ran in the 1966 Girardot. Unlike most years, these were taken off the high school campus.

Andy Pemberton, Janet Zickfield and Richard Baker were photographed in front of Academic Hall. Click on the pictures to make them larger.

Bishop, Crass and Wright

From top to bottom, Bill Bishop, Terry Crass and Sally Wright pose in another SEMO building, but I don’t recall which one. I’m sure someone will be able to identify it from the view out the window.

Doughty and East

We’ve talked about Russell Doughty and Bill East’s Girardot photo that had to be cropped tightly to eliminate an inappropriate word. This was an alternative shot. I can’t tell if they are studious or merely sleepy. I notice that both students are sporting their senior rings. This isn’t Central’s library. Was it the public library or Kent Library?

Where did Pat go?

I rembered the photo in the yearbook as having two people in it – John Hoffman and Linda Stone. When I looked at the negative, though, there was a third person in the frame – Pat Samuel. Yes, she WAS cropped out of the Girardot photo.

This was going to be embarrassing. Was Pat drummed out of the Outstanding Club just before the book went to press? It was with some degree of relief that I saw Pat safely tucked into a photo with Joni Tickel, Debby Young and Sharon Trotter. (I haven’t found the original of that one yet.) The photo that ran was significantly more flattering than this one.

A picture of Kitty Garrett and Mike Young, the other Outstanding Seniors, will show up one of these days.

Academic Hall Construction

Some things, like SEMO’s Academic Hall never seem to change. This is what it looked like April 15, 2011. You can click on the pictures to make them larger.

Academic Hall 1966ish

Cape Girardeau was a black and white town in the middle ’60s.

Speaking of that, I’ve been talking about sending out a book proposal. I was putting the final touches on it Sunday night (Monday morning deadline, but, of course, I wouldn’t procrastinate) when I noticed that none of the books I had seen by this publisher had any color in them. When I shipped off the package, I asked the editor if they were a black and white publisher only. The sad answer was, yes. Because most of their books are old images from dusty archives, they don’t run color.

I thanked them for considering me, then withdrew my proposal. Looks like it’ll be a little longer before you have a chance to hold something in your hands. It’s gonna happen, but not as soon as I had hoped.

2012 Academic Hall renovation

Brother Mark slowed his car down long enough to snap a few frames of repair work being done at Academic Hall.

Academic Hall terraces

You can see the green terraces that Major James Frances Brooks designed for Louis Houck and that showed up in photos of the 1967 graduation ceremonies.

Terraces from Mother’s scrapbook

Here are the terraces from Mother’s scrapbook. The photo was probably taken in the late ’30s or early 1940s. Note the old car in the shadows.


101 North Main Street

I was walking east on Themis toward the Common Pleas Courthouse trying to spot the old Teen Age Club that got to bouncing so hard one night that the city inspector shut it down because he was afraid the floor might collapse. On the opposite of the street was a nondescript red brick building that had a plaque on it. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

The Rotary Club plaque read, “Telephone Service. In 1877 the first long distance telephone line in Missouri was completed December 18, 1877, between Cape Girardeau and Jackson. In 1896 here in a 10′ x 12′ second floor room the city’s first telephone exchange was established by A.R. Ponder, L.J. Albert, J.F. Brooks and M.A. Dennison doing business as the Cape Girardeau Telephone Company.”

As a former telecommunications manager, I was vaguely intrigued.

I flashed back to when I was offered the telecom job just before I left on vacation to head back to Cape in the early ’90s. I knew absolutely nothing about phone stuff, but I remember thinking as I was going through little villages like Old Appleton, “Wow, if I take this job I’ll have a bigger  phone system than this town.”

That call to Jackson

I put the story on the back burner for a slow day. When Friend Shari Stiver and I took a stroll down Main Street one day when we were both in town, she said she’d like to swing by to look at the old telephone exchange, which had also been the Sturdivant Bank, the oldest bank in Southeast Missouri.

“The call may have originated in Cape,” she said, “but do you have any idea where it terminated in Jackson?”

Somehow or another, knowing Shari, I was pretty sure I was going to find out.

“The first call rang in my great-grandfather’s kitchen,” she elaborated. “He was the J.F. Brooks mentioned on the plaque. He was the engineer who laid out the railroad for Louis Houck. Houck wanted to be able to get hold of him, so he had him pull a phone line between Cape and Jackson.”

Major Brooks “advanced” down to Advance

“Are we talking about the Major James Francis Brooks who Houck told to ‘advance’ down the line another mile to a stand of mulberry trees where land for a train depot could be bought for $10 an acre instead of $30 an acre in Lakeville?”

That “advance” turned out to become Advance, Missouri, Mother’s hometown.”

Yep, it was the same guy. Major Brooks’ engineering ended up resulting in the establishment of many of the small towns like Sturdivant, Brownwood, Blomeyer and Delta.

Brooks came west on a spotted pony

Shari added that her great-grandmother, “Bookie” (Florence Adele Turnbaugh Brooks) played telephone operator after the initial excitement of the first couple of calls died down. Maj. Brooks got his engineering degree at Vineyard College in Kansas City after he rode his spotted pony west with a wagon train to get there.

The Turnbaughs were Southerners who owned slaves, which Shari suspects caused some heated discussions over a bottle of whiskey on the front porch of the Turnbaugh house in Jackson.

Brooks created SEMO terraces

The excellent history, A Missouri Railroad Pioneer: The Life of Louis Houck (Missouri Biography Series), describes how Houck was concerned with preserving the pastoral beauty of Normal School (which became SEMO) and reducing water runoff so he hired Maj. Brooks to landscape the terraces on the east side of Academic Hall that are still visible today.

The book said that part of the project was to build a two-foot sandstone retaining wall along Normal Avenue, “although admittedly this last project was more to stop wayward farm animals from straying onto the grounds.”

101 North Main condemned

The landmark building has been condemned by the city. You can read the details of the wrangling in this Missourian story by Melissa Miller.

Cable reinforces wall

As much as I love old buildings, I can see what the concern is. When you look through the gallery of photos taken over a three-year period, you can see that the upper level has deteriorated to the point that a covered walkway had to be constructed to protect passersby from falling wayward bricks.

A double cable around the top of the building keeps the walls from sagging outward. I don’t know that I can argue with a Missourian commenter who wrote, “Look how the front is shifting out. If it falls about all the plywood awning will do is separate the bodies better from the rubble.”

Sign says Cape Wiggery

I’m not sure what the last business was to be in the building. The sign still says Cape Wiggery Shop. The 1969 City Directory said Kay’s was in there.

Interior has been cleaned out

The inside, at least from looking through the window, looks pretty clean.

It’ll be missed

I’ve made some iconic pictures of the building over the years, so I’ll miss it if it’s pulled down. It would be nice to think it could be saved, but it sure has the sniff of a parking lot about it, based on what I’ve seen and the news stories.

101 North Main photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery. (Thanks to Shari for the Jackson house picture and for sharing the story of her great-grandfather.)