Jo Ann Bock’s Book

Jo Ann Bock at Tom Nuemeyer book signing 03-14-2010I photographed Jo Ann Bock at Tom Neumeyer’s book signing for his photo documentary book, Cape Girardeau Then & Now back in 2010.

When Mrs. Bock wrote Around the Town of Cape Girardeau in Eighty Years, she asked if she could use one of the photos on the back cover of her book. I didn’t hesitate to give her permission. She sent me a copy of the book in return. I was pleasantly surprised to see she had some extraordinarily nice things to say about a piece I wrote about her husband, Howard Bock, when he died.

Mr. Bock Changed my life

Howard Bock CHS 23In the curious way that things in Cape are intertwined, Mrs. Bock was my Cub Scout den mother and knew I was interested in photography. When I got to Central, her husband was in charge of the Tiger and Girardot photo staffs and asked if I’d like to join. That was, indirectly, the start of my photography career.

We saw different slices of time

Jo Ann Bock BookHoward and Jo Ann Bock were getting married (1950) just about the time I was getting born (1947), so we view Cape through slightly different lenses. She stayed in Cape, except for a few years, and I left in 1967, although Cape has never left me.

In the introduction to one of the chapters, she says, “Sometimes a person will ask why I didn’t mention this place, or that person, or recall a special event. My answer is that memories take different directions with people.” Maybe that’s why even though she and I plow the same ground, we come up with different crops.

Her view of Broadway

Vandeven Merchantile Company 1967She and a city directory did a good job of creating a list of businesses and residences along the Broadway corridor. We have some memory overlap on some long-time businesses like Vandeven’s and the movie theaters, but a lot of places she remembers were long gone when the 1960s came around.

Here’s a partial list of what I found along Broadway between Kingshighway and Main Street.

Library and Courthouse

Cook kidsids playing in courthouse fountain on Cape Girardeau's Common Pleas Courthouse grounds June 29, 1967She and I both spent a lot of time in the Cape Public Library when it was located on the grounds of the Common Pleas Courthouse. Unlike these kids, she “never felt right about playing in the fountain with that soldier staring down at me.”

Just for the record, the soldier that stared down at her was smashed by a falling limb. The pieced-together original lives at the Jackson Courthouse, and a replacement casting stares down at children today. Maybe the new one would be less intimidating.

The George Alt House

Trinity Lutheran School neighborhood c 1966We both served our time in the George Alt House, turned into Trinity Hall by Trinity Lutheran School.

A walk down Main Street

107 Main St Cape Girardeau MO 10-20-2009 - Hecht's Mrs. Bock takes us for a walk down Main Street, reeling off a list of businesses that are mostly not there. In fact, the only business still in operation is Zickfield’s Jewelry. Hecht’s is gone, as is Newberry’s, where she worked in the infant clothing department for 15 cents an hour.

Here’s a page where I posted photos of many of the businesses I remembered from my era. The current generation will think Main Street was nothing but bars and antique shops with a little art thrown in.

Hurrah for Haarig

Meyer-Suedekum 03-29-2010_2679That’s the name of her chapter covering the Good Hope / Sprigg area. She drops names like Hirsch’s for groceries, Suedekum’s for hardware, Cape Cut Rate for drugs and the anchor, Farmer’s and Merchants Bank. If she mentioned Pure Ice, I must have missed it.

Music and Majorettes

Homecoming 34Mrs. Bock devotes several chapters to the Cape Girardeau music scene: choirs, operettas, plays, the Cape Choraliers, the Girardot Rose Chorus, and local dance bands. She also mentions being a Central High School majorette in 1946.


SEMO Fair Groscurth's Blue Grass Shows MidwayShe and I both spent time at the district fair, both as kids enjoying the rides and exhibits, then later covering it for The Southeast Missourian.

Bring on the Barbecue

Wib's BBQ Brown Hot (outside meat) sandwichThis chapter touched on two of my favorite barbecue places: the Blue Hole Garden and Wib’s.

 Parade of Photographers

GD Fronabarger c 1967You don’t serve as a high school publication adviser and a Missourian reporter without running across that strange subset of humans (some would debate that human part) called photographers. She was suitably enough impressed with us that she devoted a whole chapter to photographers she knew and worked with.

One-Shot Frony, AKA Garland D. Fronabarger, was one of the most unique newspaper photographers I ever ran into. His gruff exterior covered up a gruff interior. He got his name because he would growl around a pipe or cigar clenched between his teeth, “Don’t blink. I’m taking one shot,” push the shutter release and walk off.

Paul Lueders, a Master Photographer who shot almost every school group and class photo for years, was the opposite of Frony: he was quiet, patient and willing to take however long it took to get his subject comfortable.

She mentions several other professional and student photographers who crossed her path over the years, then launches into two pages of such nice things about me I thought maybe I was reading my obit.

How do I get a copy?

Jo Ann Bock Book backIf you grew up in Cape, you might find yourself between the pages of Around the Town of Cape Girardeau in Eighty Years. She manages to work in more names than the phone book. So, how do you get copy?

The book is available on Amazon for $15.49. It’s eligible for free shipping though Amazon Prime, so if you sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime by January 10, you can save some money and get it in two days.


Blue Hole BBQ Sauce

Blue Hole Garden BBQ sauce 08-16-2013Buddy Terry Hopkins invited me to lunch, then said we were going on a Super Secret Mission. It was so secret that I would have to be blindfolded to keep from seeing our destination. I thought that might be problematic since I was the driver, but Terry was pretty good at hollering “Gee” and “Haw,” so we made it around almost all the curves OK.

I think we may have straightened out Snake Hill.

Anyway, we made it to our destination after getting temporarily misplaced a couple of times – we were in an area so remote from civilization that neither of us had cell service and my GPS said, “Why are you asking me? I’m lost, too.”

Blue Hole Garden established in 1927

Blue Hole GardenSomewhere in the wilds of Egypt Mills, lives the only person who knows how to make the REAL Blue Hole Garden BBQ Sauce, Barbecue Billie Haupt. She’s a descendant of William Franz, who established the landmark Cape restaurant next to the Blue Hole Quarry in 1927.

When Franz sold the restaurant, he sold the recipe for the sauce, but not the steps to MAKE it. That’s sort of like giving someone a parts list for a car, but not telling them how to assemble it.

I used to buy bottles of Blue Hole sauce in the store to take back to Florida, but I always thought it looked sort of watery gray instead of a rich red.

It’s all in the cooking

Billie Haupt with Blue Hole BBQ pot 08-13-2013_8232Billie said that watery sauce disappointed long-time Blue Hole fans, which caused stores to discontinue it.

She brews the sauce in this original 4-gallon pot custom-made out of stainless steel (the acid from the tomatoes will eat up other metals). The key she explains, is knowing what ingredients to add when and how long to cook them. The process takes about five hours, about three to cook and two to cool down. It has to be stirred all through the process.

She wouldn’t be any more specific. “The secret is staying in the family. If my granddaughter doesn’t learn it, it’ll die with me.”

I made her promise to look both ways before crossing the street until after her granddaughter gets married and she had enough time to learn the family secret.

How can I get some sauce?

You have to pick it up. She doesn’t ship.

“Most people arrange to meet me somewhere in Cape, like the K-Mart parking lot.” You can also go to the farm where she and Husband Martin live. If you can find it, it’s worth going to the source. Terry and I spent more than an hour in their kitchen talking about the Blue Hole, Cape and good eating places. It was one of the highlights of the week.

The sauce – the rich red stuff I remember – is sold for $12 a gallon, $6 a half-gallon and $3 a quart. It contains a tiny bit of preservative, so it should last about a year (if you don’t use it all up). Interestingly enough, she says it is better NOT to put it in the refrigerator after it has been opened.

You can place an order for the sauce by calling Billie at 573-334-1944.