APO Helps Civic Center

APO Work Project Civic Center 03-11-1967 7The March 13, 1967, Missourian caption under this photo said Approximately 25 members of Alpha Phi Omega, State College service fraternity, spent Saturday clearing a lot north of the Cape Girardeau Civic Center on South Sprigg. Here, Alan A. Urban, Webster Groves, and David Brown, University City, use a power saw to cut up a tree. Others in background are engaged in various jobs. [Nothing like a caption that states the obvious.]

Ugly Man – Miss Beautiful Contest

APO Work Project Civic Center 03-11-1967The work is part of the fraternity’s annual Ugly Man – Miss Beautiful  Contest, which last month netted $4,000 for the Civic Center. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

APO has raised thousands of dollars

APO Work Project Civic Center 03-11-1967 6In several years, the fraternity, through this contest, has raised thousands of dollars which have been poured back into Cape Girardeau community service activities.

Money will be used for playground

APO Work Project Civic Center 03-11-1967 13This year’s money was used to purchase the lot and to buy playground equipment which will be placed on it for use by the participants in the Civic Center’s youth program.

Other Civic Center Stories

APO Work Project Civic Center 03-11-1967 10I spent a fair amount of time at the Civic Center. Here are a few of the stories





Civic Center Baking Contest

All I know is that the negatives were labeled “Civic Center Baking Contest 8/30/1967.” I looked in The Missourian for several weeks figuring that it was probably a Youth Page feature, but I couldn’t find a story. Some of the faces look familiar, but I’m afraid to put names to them. It’s up to you.

Other Civic Center stories

Photo gallery of Baking Contest

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery. Chime in with names if you recognize anyone.

$2 Million Shawnee Park Center

June 17, 1959, The Missourian reported that citizens and churches were trying to raise $5,500 in operating expenses for the Smelterville Civic Center to be opened in the renovated Hartle building..

Fifty-two years later, a March 16, 2011, story by Scott Moyers said that the $2 million Shawnee Park Center was going to open March 28. Quite a contrast. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

For years, residents in the central area had the Arena Building for activities; the Osage Center and the water park was built later for the northern part of the city. South Cape, always the municipal step child, was pretty much neglected until the Shawnee Park Center was built at 835 S. West End Blvd, next to the Shawnee Sports Complex..

14,541 square feet

The 14,541 square-foot facility includes:

  • 6,500-square-foot gym.
  • 870-square-foot fitness room.
  • 720-square-foot activity room.
  • 1,540-square-foot meeting room that can be divided into two rooms.
  • A full-service kitchen.

Stories about old Civic Center

  • June 17, 1959 – A special committee composed of 70 Cape Girardeau groups planned to raise $5,500 for operating funds for a Smelterville Civic Center. The funds would come from three sources: many churches agreed to contribute 10 cents per communicant to provide start-up money; donations from civic clubs and industrial firms would be solicited, and a giant variety show using local talent would be held.
  • May 9, 1960Report of accomplishments: attendance increased from 15 to 20 children on a Saturday to over 100; demand grew so much that arrangements were made to use the May Greene School gym for Saturday athletic programs; a state-sponsored program taught many women in Smelterville the use of sewing machines; a quilting program had been started; the county medical society gave assistance and an eye clinic was held.
  • May 11, 1960 –  Stephen Limbaugh, Miss Bertie Cleino and Rev. Owen Whitfield were elected to the Civic Center board of directors. Henry Ochs reviewed the center’s accomplishments and said that plans were being made to add washing machines and bathing facilities to the building. Gary Rust talked about expansion plans. Fred Thomas reported on Saturday activities. C.C. McClue announced a fundraising drive for June.
  • May 10, 1961Mississippi River was expected to crest at 39 feet, the fourth highest point since the modern record of 42.4 feet on May 27, 1943. [That compares with 48.49 ft on August 8, 1993.] Some Smelterville families move into the Civic Center when their homes flooded. The rise was unexpected. The river came up 6.9 feet in 48 hours.
  • Dec. 23, 1966 – SEMO students insured that Christmas presents were available to children at the Civic Center.

Links to old Civic Center photos

I’ve done two stories with photos of old Civic Center activities:



Civic Center 1967

Here’s another story that’s fallen into Google’s black hole. These photos of girls at South Cape’s Civic Center were taken February 22, 1967 for The Missourian’s Youth Page. Unfortunately, there’s a whole range of dates missing from the Google Archives for that period, so I can’t tell you exactly what’s going on and who the girls are.

As best as I can remember, a young lady from Southeast Missouri State College showed up to lead the girls in something. I can’t tell if it’s modern dance, stretching or, in one photo in the gallery, the proper way to carry a heavy rock.

How the photos were taken

Since I don’t have any other info, let’s talk technique.

I got a little sloppy with this photo. See the legs of my tripod light stand in the back left of the photo. This must have been when I was experimenting with “hot lights” to boost the illumination enough that I wouldn’t have to use flash.

That’s a technique that I used for most of my career. Some guys are able to visualize what the light will look like when their strobes fire. I can’t. I have to SEE the light. That’s why I used photo floods or quartz lights. My theory was that if God had wanted the world lit by flashes, he’d have made lightning the standard, not the sun.

Rube Goldberg lighting

In addition to more formal lighting, I carried some homebrew contraptions.

The photo staff made up a sets of Rube Goldberg-looking portable lights that used a peanut-sized 1000-watt light bulb that fit into a special ceramic socket with two bare wires protruding from it. We’d twist those wires onto some lamp cord, attach the sockets to a huge metal clamp with pipe clamps and be on our way. The more diligent of us would solder and tape or use heatshrink tubing on the junction. They were great because you could clamp them just about anywhere and they’d throw out a LOT of light. OSHA and the loss control department would probably frown on them for a number of very good reasons.

As much heat as light

The bad thing is that they’d also produce a lot of heat along with the light.

One election day, chief photographer Jose More and I went around to all the campaign headquarters and stuck lights up so the shooters wouldn’t have to deal with it on the run. The next day, Jose and I went back to retrieve our gear.

Oops, one of the lights had shifted, leaving a large charred mark on the drywall. Jose and I looked at it, looked at each other, nodded, then slapped a huge campaign poster over the damage and bolted. Thank goodness this was still back in the day of smoke-filled rooms. Nobody noticed that the place was nearly on fire.

Civic Center Photo Gallery

If you recognize anyone, call ’em out. If you remember what was going on, please fill us in on that, too. I shot a sock hop at the Civic Center in the summer of 1967. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.