I Should Have Felt Something

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016I’ve been dragging my feet putting this post up, because I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t feel more emotion at my visit to the Central High School Gymnasium Saturday, the last public viewing before it’s torn down sometime during this month and March.

Here, by the way is a panorama shot from the top of the south bleachers looking to the north. Click on it to make it larger.

Maybe I didn’t connect because all of the spirit signs, the Tiger logos, the baseball brag board and the Alma Mater had all been removed from the walls. My knees didn’t like the bleachers that we were made to run up and down in P.E.

It was the noise that was missing

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016It was too quiet. There were no basketballs bouncing off the shiny floor. No coaches blowing their whistles and bellowing at lackadaisical students like me. There was no hollering nor the SPLAT! of one of those red rubber dodgeballs leaving an equally red mark on some slow-to-move freshman.

No fond memories

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016I can’t think of any fond memories I had about that room. I hated physical education class with a purple passion. I had neither the skills nor the desire to play sports.

I attended tens of dances and proms, but, with few exceptions, my job was to wait until this queen or that queen was crowned, then head home to process my film for The Missourian, The Tiger or The Girardot.

First high school girlfriend Shari found out I wasn’t fibbing when I told her I didn’t know how to dance, and last high school girlfriend Wife Lila will confirm that I never got any better.

I thought the showers were bigger

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016When I journeyed to the locker room and showers, I was astounded at how small the shower room was. It’s hard to believe that you could cram a dozen or more guys in there at one time, even considering that I was half the size I am today.

I stand by a description I wrote in 2013: “We guys were herded into gang showers where earsplitting hoots and hollers echoed off the tile walls like a bad prison movie. At least once during this session (which I tried to complete as quickly as possible), there would be something that sounded like a space shuttle lifting off, followed by a sulfurous cloud of methane gas that rolled off the tiles in a green cloud, prompting another Neanderthal to try to best the earlier contribution.”

If the dodgeballs went “SPLAT!” the snapping of wet towels sounded like a wild bunch of cowboys trying to get the herd moving by cracking their bullwhips.

Bleacher and floor signup sheet

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016There was a signup sheet near the entrance where people could leave their names if they were interested in getting pieces of the bleachers or floor when the building is being torn down. I talked with Coach Terry Kitchen Monday to get details, but he said the administration hadn’t made a decision yet on what will happen with the salvage. He asked me to check back later this week to see what was going to happen. When I hear, I’ll post an update.

I have to admit I wouldn’t mind having a chunk of bleacher.

A moment with Terry Crass

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016On my way out, I stopped to chat with a man wearing an orange shirt. It turned out to be Terry Crass, probably one of the nicest guys who ever walked the halls of Central High School. As team manager of just about every sport except Chess, he kept players patched up, and he’s doing much the same work today at the Veterans Home.

After a few minutes of chit-chat, Terry said, “On the afternoon JFK got killed, I was in Mr. Ford’s algebra class. The weather was bad. It was a lousy-looking day. Mr. Wilferth came on the PA and said the president had been shot. We didn’t know anything.

“The bell rings and I hit out to the study hall. Nobody was saying anything. Everybody was crying. There was a big black and white TV in there. That’s when Walter Cronkite looked up at the clock over his shoulder and said, “From Dallas, Texas, the FLASH, apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.” [I inserted the actual quote, but Terry pretty much nailed it from memory.]

I had a flashback

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016I flashed back to another TV on that day. One that was sitting in the gym with shocked students staring at it. “All you could hear was breathing,” I told The Missourian when I rushed my photo to the paper to make my first EXTRA edition.

Suddenly, I must have swallowed a marble because I couldn’t say anything, and there was a lot of dust in the air that caused my eyes to water.

I guess I DID leave a little piece of myself in that old gym.

Last Day photo gallery

Here are some random photos of folks saying goodbye to the old building. Click on any picture to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

A Smell of Varnish

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016David Hente:  “I started here in 1956. Fall. I’ll never forget the first day I walked through that door. This place was immaculate. There was a smell of varnish. The gym was only two years old at that time anyway, and every summer they came in here and redid the floors.

“When I worked at the paper, I was out here a lot for various functions, and, just for the fun of it, I always make sure to go down to the gym, walk in and just take a whiff. As soon as you’d walk in that door… and if they were still using it, you could get over by the dressing room and get that smell of water and whatever….”

More pictures later

I promised you pictures of the public’s last glimpse of the old gym, but I need more time to edit the photos and go through my notes. I’ll give you this quote from David Hente about walking through the door behind him on his first day as a freshman as a placeholder. I’ll post the rest later.

By the way, you can click on David to make the photo larger.

Cape Girardeau Sand Company

Cape Girardeau Sand Co 06-19-1967While cruising around looking for flood photos, I stopped at the Cape Girardeau Sand Company for a couple of shots. David Hente had a good piece on the sand company in the August 30, 1992, Missourian. At that time, Cape Sand had been in business 75 years and was the largest company of its type between Cape and Chester, Ill. (In another month, the river was higher.)

Family-owned business

Cape Girardeau Sand Co 06-19-1967The company was created in 1919 when Peter Deimund and his son, Linder, launched the business with a capital investment of $5,510. When the story was written, it was still a family business. Members include Linder P. Deimund, Jr., who helped construct a sand conveyor system with his father and who does all the maintenance work; Richard Deimund, the pilot of the sand dredge Miss Catherine; Jerry Beckett, deckhand on the Miss Catherine; Jeff Deimund, clamshell shovel operator; Gary Hester, front-end loader operator in the sand yard, and office manager Sonny Deimund.

Business started at the foot of Themis

Cape Girardeau Sand Co - 300 Block N Main c 1964The company’s first site was at the foot of Themis Street, then it moved north to Broadway. In 1924, the Deimund family bought riverfront property in the 300 block of North Main Street. This is where I took this photo around 1964. It was supposed to be an arty silhoutte. It ended up neither arty nor a good record shot.

The building in the background with the white on it has a hanging sign that says “North American Van Lines.” Across the front of the building is lettering that says something “& Storage.” I’m going to guess that was Nichols Transfer and Storage listed at 447 North Main Street in the 1969 City Directory. The sand company moved to its final location in the 1300 block of Water Street in 1963.

Red Star and Cape Sand Co

Aerial photo of Cape Girardeau Sand Co and Red Star District 04-17-2011This aerial showing the Cape Girardeau Sand Company and what is left of the Red Star District was taken April 17, 2011. The concrete pad at the left of the photo is what we used to call Honker’s Boat Dock. To the left of Sloan Creek is the area that is being cleared for the Isle Casino Cape Girardeau. The light-colored building at the top center is the Show-Me Center.

Housekeeping note

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