Howard Bock Changed My Life

Howard Bock CHS 23 When I ran across this portrait of Howard Bock it got me to thinking about a post I did about him on my bike blog when he died. It’s worth revisiting and revising. You can click on the photo to make it larger. I really like it.

Howard Gilbert Bock, 87, lifelong resident of Cape Girardeau, died Monday, May 11, 2009.

It was a longish obituary by most standards because he had a much more active life than I ever knew.

B-26 Engineer Gunner in WWII

The quiet-spoken man had been an engineer gunner on B-26s in World War II. You would never know from talking with him that he had he been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, five air medals, American Defense Medal and campaign ribbons (Battle of Europe, Battle of the Rhineland and Battle of Ardennes-The Bulge).

Howard BockHe had been a teacher, coach and administrator for 32 years.

The Bocks lived on my newspaper route (on the left side of the road on a downhill stretch; they didn’t have any special requests, so I could fling and wing without slowing down). Jo Ann Bock, his wife, was my Cub Scout den mother.

When I was 12 years old, our family took a vacation / business trip to Florida. (Dad was looking for construction equipment to buy.) He gave me a Kodak Tourist II folding camera and I fell in love with photography.

When I was a high school freshman, I discovered the debate club, which caused photography to take a back seat.

My partner and I were undefeated for the year, so I thought law and politics were in my future. (You’ve heard me tell about why I abandoned politics.)

Do you want to join photo staff?

Howard Bock CHS 24Mr. Bock approached me one day, said he had heard that I was interested in photography and wondered if I might like to join the newspaper and yearbook photo staffs.

Darkroom was our special place

Cape Giradeau Central High School Girardot Photo Staff 1965I don’t know that I gave it much thought, but I joined the staff and learned how to process film and make prints in a tiny darkroom on the second floor down near the science classrooms. There wasn’t enough room to swing a cat, but we photographers had a key to the darkroom and it was our special place to hang out between classes.

It wasn’t long before I was freelancing for the local papers and discovering that being a photographer doing exciting things was more fun than the prospect of doing dull lawyer research. I can thank Mr. Bock for sending me off on a career path that was satisfying and rewarding. You never know where the ripples are going to go when you drop a pebble in the pond.

Uncle Milty and General O

Two of Central High School’s other science teachers were equally colorful and were war veterans of note.

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