Nash Road Transportation Corridor

When bicycle tourist John Gorentz, AKA Spokesrider, passed through Cape on his way from Michigan to New Madrid, I tried to pick him a better route to follow than the Missouri River Trail that runs through the hills and curves of New Hamburg. One alternative was to take Nash Road. Unfortunately, at that time is was a dusty gravel road. On a recent trip to the airport to eat, we decided to see if the road was finished. It is and it is really nice. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Bloymeyer roundabout

When I was flying aerials in November 2010, I noticed the Bloymeyer roundabout joining Nash Road, Hwy 25 and Hwy 77 had been completed. In this photo, Nash Road comes in from the top left. Hwy 25 from Jackson and Dutchtown is on the lower left and then turns to the right to go to Advance and Bloomfield. Hwy 77, at the top right, goes to Chaffee.

Mario’s Pasta House and a water hole is opening up at the intersection to take advantage of the traffic coming off I-55 and headed through. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other businesses open up, maybe even the old Montgomery Drive-in.

A nail in the coffin for Dutchtown

This is going to put another nail in the coffin of Dutchtown. Northbound I-55 traffic headed to towns south and west of Cape won’t have to go all the way to Hwy 74 and then through Dutchtown. It’ll be able to take a fast (60 mph), straight road with good shoulders straight down to Hwy 25. There’s not much out there yet except farm land, so there aren’t many driveways and side roads to watch.

When Hwy 74 floods at Dutchtown, which it seems to be doing more and more often, traffic has to go all the way to Jackson to get through. Nash Road is on the dry side of the Diversion Channel, so the highway department won’t have any incentive to raise the roadbed in Dutchtown to keep it above water.

Nash Road: south of Diversion Channel

Nash Road starts south of the Diversion Channel and north of the Cape Girardeau Airport.

Road is a shipping hub

I was surprised at the number of warehouses and depots that have grown up on the road.

Railroad derailment

In early October, 15 empty cars on a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train derailed on the tracks that parallel Nash Road. Nobody was injured and no hazardous chemicals were involved, The Missourian reported. I include these photos only because you could see them from Nash Road and because Keith Robinson, a railroad buff, is a regular reader.

Nash Road photo gallery

Here is a gallery of photos taken of and on Nash Road. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.


Jim Stone and Main Street Neon

Jim Stone, Shari Stiver and I had our own mini-reunion October 2010 after the big official one. We promised to do it again. Jim had something come up that kept him from coming Octoberish, but I was lucky enough to still be in town the first part of December, when he could make it. We thought we’d give it another shot.

Right before we were to get together, though, Shari said she was suffering from a bout of bronchitis and wouldn’t be able to make it. We tried all kinds of entreaties.

  • Brother Mark and his friends had just finished baking hundreds of cookies; he’d send a sample of those down with her.
  • Jim offered to pick her up and drive her to Cape.
  • I offered to go half on a bottle of oxygen to keep her alive.

Finally, on Friday, it looked like she might make it, but, alas, she cancelled on us at the last minute.

“Jim, do you think this is the 2011 version of when she used to tell me, “I’d love to go out with you, but Friday night is the night I wash my hair?”

He was kind enough not to answer me, because I think I already knew the answer.

So, anyway, we spent the afternoon roaming around. Late in the afternoon, I spotted that the back door at Central High School was open. He hadn’t been back in the place in decades, so I said, “Let’s go.”

(I subscribe to the Roger Miller King of the Road Theory: “I know…every lock that ain’t locked when no one’s around” when it comes to this kind of thing.

Wandering the hallways naked

“I’m from Florida. You’re from Boston. We’re old and confused. We’ll just tell anybody that asks that we’re late for our math final and we can’t find our lockers and that’s why we’re roaming the hallways naked.” (Recurring dream / nightmare.)

Jim was properly impressed with the quality of upkeep. (We did note some peeling paint in the stairwell leading up to the auditorium stage.) I tried to convince Jim that we should go up to the third floor to his old haunts in the science department. He was reluctant to explore too far. He’s done some work for the State Department, so he might know more about rendition flights and whether they apply to people snooping around in old high school buildings than I do. We wiped our fingerprints off and exited the building, speaking to a number of people on our way out who didn’t give us a second look.

Jim wanted to cruise downtown to see if there was any life after dark, so we ended up at Port Cape Girardeau for dinner. I had some fancy-named nachos that were excellent – way better than the taco chips drenched in Velveeta cheese that you usually get.

Neon at Broussard’s

Instead of heading back to the car, I started strolling along Main Street. The neon lights and people on the street in front of Broussard’s Cajun Cuisine caught my eye.

Wow, more neon

I looked behind me and saw more neon.

You’re from Boston?

I was just lining up a third shot when I noticed that Jim was huddled in a doorway to get out of the slight breeze that was blowing down the street. “Stone, you’re from BOSTON. How can you be cold?”

“If I was in Boston, I’d have warmer clothes. I didn’t remember that Cape could be this cold.”

In fairness, a street thermometer showed the temperature to be about 27 degrees. One weather forecast said that we might experience record low temps for this date, although I don’t remember what the old record was.

So, instead of being able to bring you a nice collection of neon photos from Main Street, I had to put Stone in my van and crank the temperature up to Melt. You know how it is when folks get old. They can’t stand the cold like they once could.

Other Jim Stone stories

Purple Crackle Becomes The Pony

On our way over to Thebes this afternoon, we passed The Pony, a “gentleman’s club” that used to be the Purple Crackle. I commented that I didn’t think I had ever been in the Crackle or the old night club near it, The Colony Club.

Mother said, “I’ve danced there.”

I assumed that meant that she and Dad had gone there in its heyday for a nice evening of entertainment, but I’ve watched enough lawyer shows to know that it’s a bad idea to ask a question that you don’t know the answer to. I let the topic drop and pretended an interest in the road construction along the way that has apparently stalled.

A typo made the Purple Grackle the Crackle

You can tell when you start calling up old newspaper stories that every rewrite pulls stuff out of what we called, in the old days, The Morgue. You can count on reading the same accounts and anecdotes every time an editor says, “We haven’t done a story about so-and-so in five or 10 years. See what you can dig up.” You hustle out to find some minor new peg, then go back to see Sharon Sanders in what’s now called The Library.

So, I don’t know if it’s true or not that the place was supposed to be named the Purple Grackle when it opened in 1939, but a 1979 story quotes owner Clyde “Bud” Pearce Jr. as saying “The club didn’t have a very extravagant beginning. It opened with a bottle in a box and a crap game. And the name — Purple Crackle — was a mistake. My father had named the club the Purple Grackle, after the bird, but I guess the crack of the dice led everyone to call it Crackle, and the name stuck.”

Since I have no direct knowledge of the facts, I’ll perpetuate the story like any good reporter.

Goodman, Ellington and Herman played up front

Up front was band music played by the greats: Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Woody Herman. Hometown boy Jerry Ford played the trumpet there when he was 15. The house band, Jack Staulcap’s Orchestra, made more than 850 appearances before the club’s format changed in 1979. The club was known for having some of the first and best Chinese food in the region.

In the back, legend has it, was gambling.

The landmark business transitioned to a “gentleman’s club” in 2006.

Clubs kept blowing up or catching fire

I can remember hearing people talking about mob activities in Southern Illinois. Night clubs and juke joints seemed to blow up and / or catch fire on a regular basis. Dad said you’d better keep your life insurance paid up if you were in the pinball machine business in Illinois.

Missourian reporter Ray Owen mentioned that “The first bomb dropped on United States soil was in Williamson County [Illinois] when members of the Shelton gang flew over the Charlie Birger roadhouse and tossed three dynamite bombs at the Shady Rest. The only one to explode did little damage.”

One-Shot Frony came into The Missourian sporting a new telephoto lens one afternoon. “What are you going to do with that?” I asked him.

“I going to stand over here in Missouri and shoot corruption in Illinois,” he growled.

The Purple Crackle burned at least twice, with two men arrested for arson in a 1984 fire. A 1982 fire was blamed on a neon sign.

East Cape depended on Purple Crackle taxes

Purple Crackle owner Bud Pearce was instrumental in the birth of East Cape Girardeau. In 1975, when the area reached a population of more than 400, he led the drive for incorporation.

His business was essential to the city. When it burned in 1982, the village board had to cancel plans for landscaping and equipping the city park due to the loss of tax revenue from the night club. Pearce estimated that he paid about $500 a month in sales tax to the village. When the club burned again in 1984, the tax roll took a similar hit.

Stories about the Crackle and East Cape

I’m sure some of you have stories that are more interesting than the ones from The Morgue. Just don’t share any about my mother dancing.

Hutson’s Christmas Display

I was whining to Brother Mark this evening that I was sleepy and didn’t have any idea what I was going to post in the morning. He suggested I go looking for Christmas lights and decorations. Mother and I needed to make a quick run to the grocery store, so we headed out. I figured Hutson’s traditional display would be a sure bet. We pulled up just as Town Crier Darryl Morgan and his escort, Betty Morgan, made an appearance in front of the store. Bingo! Early bedtime.

Sky cooperates

When I made my first frame, it was yellow like the world had been eating carrots. Recognizing that most the light was coming from incandescent light bulbs, I went into the Nikon D40’s menu and switched Color Balance from Automatic to Incandescent and dialed in the maximum amount of color correction. I could have done the same thing in PhotoShop, but it’s better if the quality is at least close before you start playing around.

The sky had a natural blue cast at sunset, but the menu correction I did boosted the blues even more. (That’s the last of the photo geek-speak.)

One of those Cape coincidences

Here are some of the folks I ran into (you can see them in the gallery):

  • Abby Meyers, 5, and her grandmother, Melody Hutson;
  • Simon, 7, and Ben, 5, Edmunds along with their dad and grandmother.
  • Montgomery Bank bell ringer Becka Hollis

I was ready to call it a night. I looked around one last time and saw a toddler in a stroller who looked just a little older than my 8-month-old Grandson Graham. I grabbed a couple of frames under some miserable light at a super low shutter speed. He was grooving to the music, so I was afraid they’d be blurry. Since I had gone to that much trouble, I asked his mother his name and gave her a business card.

Terra Hendrickson looked at the card, then she looked at me, said, “You sat next to us on an airplane.” Indeed, she was right. Tarra and Roscoe – now a year old – were seatmates on Cape Air at the end of July. They were on the way to see hubby Karl’s parents in Alaska. I was en route to St. Louis, West Palm Beach and Seattle. She had lost the card I had given her on the plane, so she had never seen the photo of her and Roscoe that ran then.

Old Town Cape Christmas ornament

Old Town Cape chose Hutson’s Christmas Window as the 2011 ornament. The ornament looks pretty much like my photo (but my sky’s prettier).

Hutson’s Christmas Display photo gallery

Click any photo to maker it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.