The Garitos of Chaffee

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

My old high school buddy Jim Stone came into town to research some of his family tree. That led us to cemeteries and courthouses in Cape, Scott, Bollinger and Stoddard counties.

Jim found a Stone with the ‘N’ reversed

Jim Stone – Chaffee 05-24-2021

While he was looking for relatives, I was just looking, particularly for something that might be a good topic for Memorial Day.

The unusual and ornate grave marker for Anthony and Helen Garito in Union Cemetery in Chaffee caught my eye. (Someone will surely point out that they don’t really qualify for Memorial Day attention because they didn’t die in their war. I will acknowledge the nit, and feature them anyway.)

Not much info available

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

I figured finding information about a family memorialized that grandly would be easy.

Unfortunately, The Chaffee Signal has long ceased publishing. When small down papers die, a lot of the town’s history dies with them.

 Battle of the Bulge survivor

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

A book, Battle of the Bulge filled in some gaps: “Anthony S. Garito, born in Norwich, NY in 1914 of Italian parentage. Inducted at Ft. Bragg, NC in April 1943. After basic training, sent to HQs 127th FA Bn., 35th Inf. Div., Ft. Rucker, AL in July 1943.

“Participated in mock battle for three months with the 100th Inf. Div. in the Tennessee Maneuvers. Sailed for Southern England and nearing D-Day, General “Ike” made his appearance to inspect troops readiness for battle. Landed on Omaha Beach and battled their way through St. Lo, France, and toward the Ardennes Forest.

“In the midst of freezing weather and bitter cold, a smashing blow fell upon us on Dec. 16, 1944, the first day now known as the Battle of the Bulge. Many Nazi prisoners were captured wearing complete GI uniforms.

“Garito is a disabled veteran (paralyzed on right side) with five Campaign Battle Stars and Purple Heart with life member of the Military Order of the Ardennes, Grand Cross of Homage, Reserve Officers Assn., Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, American Legion, and member of the European Theatre of the Battle of the Bulge, WWII.

 Met his wife overseas

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

“He remained overseas in the European Theatre of Occupation as Lt. Colonel after VE-Day, met a WAC friend, now his wife of 42 years, and lives in Chafee MO. One son, and two grandsons, Robbie and David.”

Involved in minor crash

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

I like to say I do stories about ordinary people – folks who get their names in the paper when they are born, get married, die, and get a speeding ticket.

Mr. Garito didn’t get a speeding ticket, but he lost a $15,000 judgement because of a car crash near Dutchtown in 1963. The Sikeston Standard reported the accident occurred when Mr. Garito’s car and one driven by Larry Meyr of Chaffee “collided or came near to colliding,” resulting in Mr. Meyr going into a ditch. The jury was out for 45 minutes before delivering the verdict.

The Garitos married in 1947

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

1948 Garito Building

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

Jim wanted to see if the Chaffee museum on Main Street in Chaffee was open (unfortunately, it’s by appointment only). While I was getting into my car, I looked across the street and saw an impressive stone building with the name Garito on it, along with the date 1948, a year after Anthony and Helen were married.

It had the same “running legs” logo as was on the grave marker. I wonder what the symbolism is?

Ran liquor store from 1948 to 1964 

Anthony and Helen Garito – Chaffee- 05-24-2021

A 1999 obituary in The Southeast Missourian said that Mr. Garito owned and operated Garito Liquor Package Store from 1948 to 1964. I wonder if it was in this building?

The International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame reported on July 4, 1963, that “Tony Garito had a good Independence Day! At Lucky 13 Lanes in Chaffee, Missouri, Garito rolled a 279. The center was outfitted by AMF equipment, and the manufacturing company provided proprietors with these ashtrays that could become personalized trophies in a pinch.”



Remember EDgewater? Or CIrcle?

Telephone similar to ones in kitchen and basementDo you remember giving out your telephone number as EDgewater 5-7543? Or, if you lived in Jackson, your telephone exchange was CIrcle.

This rotary dial phone was one I picked up used somewhere. It shows a number after area codes were assigned and names phased out. The phone in the basement is one that I talked on when I was a teenager, though. (Mother had been paying a couple of bucks a month to Ma Bell for the phone for 30 or 40 years. I wanted to hang on to it for sentimental reasons, so I paid the phone company a flat fee to own it.)

If you are a phone junkie, there is a site that has pictures of telephone central offices all over the country. Some of the ones in SE Missouri are interesting because they sit on fault lines and have had to be retrofitted for earthquakes.

When I was offered the job of telecommunications manager just before I left for Missouri on vacation in 1991, it dawned on me as I was driving through little towns like Old Appleton that if I took the job, I’d be in charge of more phones than a lot of towns had. I ended up taking the job and doing it until I retired in 2008.

Exchanges for this area

  • Advance – RAmond
  • Benton – KIngsdale
  • Bloomfield = LOcust
  • Cape Girardeau – EDgewater
  • Chaffee – TUlip
  • Jacksopn – CIrcle
  • Sikeston – GRanite

Chaffee Hwy 77 Bridge Hearing

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967Many photographers hated covering meetings, but I usually didn’t mind. Even dull but necessary governmental hearings offered up opportunities for interesting portraits and studies in body language. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

This meeting was to bring together all the principle players to hear why it was taking so long to complete a bridge over the Cotton Belt Railroad tracks on Hwy 77 north of Chaffee. The project had kept the most direct route out of and into town blocked for more than a year.

The Missourian’s caption said “Chaffee residents demonstrated their concern Saturday with the slow pace of construction on Highway 77 at a hearing held by Jack Stapleton and Albert C. Riley of the State Highway Commission. Mayor Robert H. Capshaw of Chaffee gestures as he describes problems created by the construction. Clockwise around the table are, Elbert Masters, Maurice Montgomery, R.P.Stephens, contractor for the project, W.D. Carney, District 10 highway engineer; Mr. Riley and Mr. Stapleton.”

A trip to the construction site

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967I never met a barrier you couldn’t walk around, so I shot this picture of the movers and shakers looking through the barricade.

They got bold

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967When the group saw nothing bad happened to me, they moved closer. Yep, there’s no bridge there.

Mayor makes his points

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967The Missourian said, “Mayor Capshaw describes the highway problem to Mr. Stapleton as Keith Moore and Mr. Masters look on.

One day there will be a bridge here

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967There’s still a long way to go before a bridge is going to sit atop that pier.

Do NOT do this!!!

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967I was doing a freelance job for a railroad insurance adjuster when I did what this guy is doing: I walked on the rail.

“Do you know what one of the most common injuries I see?” the adjuster asked.


“People who are walking on the rail like you are. When their foot slips off, it slices the ankle bone clean off.”

I never walked a rail again.

Not a happy crowd

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967You can tell this crowd is not happy by the dour expressions and the crossed arms.

W.D. Carney, the District 10 highway engineer disputed a statement made by Mayor Capshaw that the Chaffee Merchants had been damaged by the shutdown of the highway. “This is not true,” the paper reported he said.

“Town is not divided”

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967Mayor Capshaw asked permission to interrupt and asked for a a show of hands from those in the audience if they thought Chaffee had been done an injustice by the highway department. Every hand in the room was raised.

“Don’t come and tell us we have not been done an injustice,” Mr. Capshaw directed at Mr. Carney. “This town is not divided in its opinion we have been done an injustice.”

The crowd was so big it spilled over into the corridor and out onto the lawn.

Albert C. Riley

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967This is Albert C. Riley of the State Highway Commission. I don’t know who the reporter is who is behind him. I don’t think he was with The Missourian.

Jack Stapleton

Hwy 77 Road Hearing in Chaffee 07-15-1967

Jack Stapleton of the State Highway Commission