Capaha Park Master Plan

Capaha Park pavilion construction 04-02-2014Sorry for another Capaha Park story, but I post ’em as I find ’em. We were cutting across from Normal coming back from the university (something that won’t be possible when the all of the new master plan goes into effect), when I spotted dirt being moved on the hill just east of the old swimming pool.

That’s when I remembered seeing a brief in The Missourian about a new pavilion being built there. The March 28, 2014, story mentioned that the ground was being cleared, that the new structure should arrive in April and be installed in May or June.

The buildings in the background are part of Southeast Hospital.

Dinky will stay

Capaha Park pavilion construction 04-02-2014A November 9, 2012, story assured residents that “Dinky,” the train that has been a park fixture for about half a century will stay.

Here is a link to the city’s master plan of park “improvements.” I put quotes around “improvements,” because I saw how Bloomfield Road was “improved,” so I’m withholding judgement.


Future CVS Site Stirs Memories

Future CVS site at Christine-William 07-07-2013I was roaming around Cape looking at all the bare ground where buildings had been torn down. One that caught my eye was at Christine and William across from the Town Plaza. There’s a new Plaza Tire directly south of it.

I mentioned to someone that a sign said a new CVS pharmacy was going on the bare lot, but I couldn’t remember what had been there before.

My friend said she couldn’t remember, but had read the project had been delayed because a couple of big underground tanks had to be removed.

I remembered those tanks

Future CVS site at Christine-William 07-07-2013That shot me back over half a century ago. One of the most significant moments of my boyhood came flooding back.

Here’s how I remembered it: When I was about 10, Dad was setting a big tank for someone. He had the load locked down and suspended about five feet off the ground while a worker for his client was leveling the dirt below it. He stepped off the crane for a break, then sent me back to get his jug of iced tea. When I climbed up into the cab, the tank owner went berserk. “Kid, get DOWN off there. If you touch something, you could kill that man.!”

I froze until Dad hollered back, “If I thought he was going to touch anything, I wouldn’t have sent him.” Turning to me, he said, quietly, “Fetch me the jug, please.” I realized then how much confidence Dad had in me.

Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders pulled up a Frony aerial of the area right after the Town Plaza was built. From all the trucks parked around the lot, it might have been a trucking depot at one time. That would explain why they needed the tanks.

On a Roll of Film

I got a lot of mileage out of a roll of film. The photos of the Notre Dame vs Central High School basketball game took up about half of it.

This photo, shot on the same roll, ran on the front page of The Missourian February 1, 1967, over the caption, Pattern in the Sky: Workmen and structural features form an interesting and eye-catching picture in silhouette as the men go about their tasks in the construction of the addition to Kent Library on the State College campus. Open weather during winter months has enabled construction to move along at a rapid pace. McCarthy Construction Co. of St. Louis is prime contractor for the job. Contracts total $2,659,079, with additional funds available for equipping and furnishing the addition. The original Kent Library, named for Miss Sadie T. Kent, longtime librarian at the college, was constructed in 1939.”

This is what we used to call “wild art” or CLO for Cutlines Only. It was a news-oriented feature photo that ran without a story. I probably shot it on the way to or on the way back from a class. Click on any photo to make it larger.

Kent Library construction workers

Truth be told, the silhouette was a little too cluttered to be a good photo. I think I shot it as a silhouette because I wasn’t sure the photos I took of workmen on the building could hold enough detail against the bright sky. As it turns out, I like a couple of these better than the silhouette.

I like the way he’s gripping his hammer, the couple of small rips in his shirt and the wrinkles in his face that show years of working out in the sun.

From an editor’s perspective, though, it doesn’t tell the story in one shot. It would only work if you ran multiple photos as a mini picture story. That, of course, was the method behind my madness. I was paid by the picture, so it was in my best interest to try to sell a combo package of pictures and hold back the all-in-one shot as a fall-back.

These guys built this country

None of these guys ever got rich, but the monuments they built will live long after they are gone.

Pre-OSHA days

OSHA folks would get cranky these days over rebar without safety caps, scaffolding without guardrails and workers without hard hats and other safety equipment. That’s not to say those aren’t good things. Those pesky regulations were enacted to make a dangerous job just a little bit safer. Construction work exacts enough of a toll on its human engines without adding in accidents.

Other Kent Library pictures

What in the world is happening?

OK, not every photo works. I have no idea who these folks are, what they were doing or why I pushed the button. I didn’t have time to focus and I only got one frame off. They’re not paying any attention to me, so whatever they’re reacting to is down the street.

It has the feel of Water Street about it, maybe down around the Sportsmans Club.

Another single shot mystery

Here’s another single frame. A young woman reaches past her compact to dig for money to buy something. I don’t know she is, where she was or why she caught my eye enough for one frame, but not to follow up with more pictures.

So, that’s a lot of mileage out of one roll: a basketball game, a construction site, some wild and crazy guys on the street and a woman shopping. Toss in a car wreck, a service club meeting and a school feature and it would have been a regular old day as a newspaper photographer in a small town.

Cape Sewer Project 1940-41

Dad worked for Markham and Brown Construction before he started his own company. These photos are from one of his scrapbooks. They were captioned “Sewer Job – 1940 – 41 Cape.” His sewers aren’t as old as the ones I posted yesterday.

1936 Project required 25 to 100 men

I couldn’t find any news stories about the 1940 project, but E.L. Markham was awarded a $125,837.69 contract to construct a sanitary sewer in the West End in 1936. The February 1, 1936, Missourian story said the project would employ an average of 25 to 100 men for a period of three months. The money was going to  come from PWA, one of the alphabet soup of “make-work” agencies created to get men working and pull the country out of the depression. (We’d call that a stimulus project today).

80% of work to be done by machines

Eighty per cent of the excavation work was to be done by machinery. Laying the sewer pipes would be done by guys like this. About 11 miles of ditches needed to be dug.

Dad said a guy came up to him on a job and complained, “Mister, that dragline you’re operating put 20 men with shovels out of work.”

Without missing a beat, Dad responded, “Yep, or 2,000 men with teaspoons.”

The H.H.S. in the above photo would have been my Uncle Hubert Steinhoff. He ended up working for an asphalt company in Illinois.

Skilled labor made 60 to 75 cents per hour

Three classes of labor were to be employed: skilled, semi-skilled or intermediate, and common laborer. Ninety per cent of the workers were to be taken from the relief rolls in the city before looking for other workers.

Skilled labor, such as operators of machines, concrete finishers and brick layers, were to be paid 60 to 75 cents per hour; intermediate labor, 40 cents, and common labor, 30 cents. Because the goal was to employ as many men as possible, no laborer could be worked more than eight hours a day or 130 hours a month. The PWA preferred that the work day be divided up into two five-hour shifts.

I remember Peewee

Some of these guys have the fresh-off-the-farm look of some of the fellows I worked with one summer. One young guy named Peewee was built like a fireplug and was strong as an ox. He would make lunch money by betting passersby that he could rip his shirt off just by expanding his chest. As soon as the mark had handed over the ernest money, Peewee would take a big gulp of air and the shirt would go ripping off like The Hulk on the TV show.

One day three or four of us were wresting a concrete bucket onto a truck. Peewee walked up, told us to step aside, and threw it on the truck by himself.

Dad was really sorry the day Peewee told him he was going to have to leave the job because he’d been drafted. All that was left was for him to pass his physical. The next day Peewee was back on the job. The army rejected him because he had gotten “all stoved up” when a wagon fell over on him when he was a kid. Maybe that’s why I was a 128-pound weakling: I didn’t have a wagon fall on me during my formative years.

Photo gallery of sewer project

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