Cape’s Dew Drop Cafe

When I wrote about the Dew Drop Inn in Bloomsdale, I mentioned ones in nine other states. What I didn’t know until contacted by Jeffry Lynn Boswell Hawk was that Cape had its own Dew Drop at 111 North Main Street. She was kind enough to share some photos of her grandparents and the interior of the store. Here is her account:

MY GRANDPARENTS (Homer and Madge Boswell) OWNED A SMALL CAFE CALLED “DEW-DROP IN” IN THE LATE 40’S. It was located next door to The (OLD) First National Bank on Main Street. It was in the building that recently housed Brown Shoe Store (which has now moved out on Broadridge) in Cape.

As a little girl of about 3-4 years of age, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in their cafe. The Tot & Teen Shop was a couple doors north next to Osterloh’s Book Store. I would run up there and see Miss Mercer, who would dress me in real cute little outfits and then tell me to “run back down and show your grandma how cute you look.” Of course, my grandparents couldn’t resist the outfits and I had many beautiful clothes as a little girl!

One day, I ran down the street in front of Hecht’s where a fire hydrant was sticking out between Hecht’s and the adjoining building. Curious, I stuck my hand in the hydrant to see what was in there and IT GOT STUCK on the swinging flap (like a Japanese finger lock). Anyway, the old night watchman, Sam Tucker, heard me hollering for my Grandma and helped me get out of the big trap and took me up to my Grandparents’ DEW-DROP IN and told them what happened. Everyone knew everyone on Main Street and they all watched out for each other. Those were some wonderful days!

Inside the Dew Drop Cafe

The Missourian had a business brief September 10, 1945: H.O. Boswell of Cape Girardeau has purchased the Dew Drop confectionery, 111 North Main Street, from Charles Barranco, who has operated the business on Main for 36 years. Mr. Barranco will retain the building.

Mr. and Mrs. Boswell will operate the business, and he said meals, as well as fountain service, will be featured. He and a son, Homer F. Boswell, for a year have operated the Plaza Cafe on Broadway, and Homer Boswell now has taken full charge of the Plaza. Mr. Barranco said he will retire from business, at least for the present.

Remember the Birds?

The evening I shot the St. Vincent’s Catholic Church at sunset, I turned the camera in the other direction (standing in almost the same spot) and took this photo of a radio tower that stands along the railroad tracks. (Click to make it larger.)

There was something about the blue sky, the silhouetted tower and the microwave dish that looked like a flying saucer on its side that appealed to me. When I enlarged the frame, there were streaks of birds flying by (or they might have been mosquitoes; they were that big that night).

Sky would turn black with birds

That reminded me of the huge flocks of starlings that would turn the skies over Cape black at dawn and dusk in the 1960s. They would fly over the house making the most raucous screeching sounds. Then, as suddenly as they had appeared, they were gone. I stood out in the yard blasting away with my Daisy BB gun a few times, but quickly realized I’d never hit anything.

The birds made the news in 1965, when folks in Dexter started testing positive for histoplasmosis, a lung disease attributed to  fungus in the droppings and soil underneath the roosting areas used by several million starlings and blackbirds. A March 24, 1965, Missourian story said that the birds had been roosting on a 20-acre tract near the city for the past five winters.

Eight million birds near Dexter

A five-acre tract near Frisco, about 1-1/2 miles south of Essex, had also been a roosting area for an estimated three to five million birds. It was estimated that as many as eight million birds were nesting around Dexter.

I did a tongue-in-cheek story about suggestions the city had received for taking care of the bird problem. They ranged from the bizarre to the impractical. One, I recall, was to spray them with detergent from the air in the wintertime so that water would penetrate their feathers and they’d freeze to death. The problem with most of the solutions, a city official said, was “what do you do with two million dead blackbirds?”

Birds roosted on bridge

Another story quoted Marvin Campbell, Cape County sanitation officer, as saying that the main roosting place for the Cape Girardeau starlings appeared to be the Mississippi River bridge. Evidence was found that thousands of birds frequented it. The problem wasn’t as great then as it had been in previous years when the birds roosted on State College property, he continued. (I wonder if that’s where the Home of the Birds got its name?)

Ridding the bridge of the birds was going to be complicated because authorities from both Missouri and Illinois would have to be involved. Songbirds were mixed in with the starlings, so mass extermination was not an option.

I suspect that development eliminated most of the nesting areas and the birds either died off or moved on.


High in the Common Pleas Courthouse

When you look at the Common Pleas Courthouse from Spanish Street, you hardly notice the windows in the dome. (You can click the photos to make them larger.)

Looking east from the courthouse

If you’re lucky enough to hook up with guys like IT director Eric McGowen and public works director Don McQuay, folks who have the right keys and know where the hidden passageways are, you can see some impressive sights. I’m glad Friend Shari and I picked a day when it wasn’t 107 outside for our tour. Even on a relatively cool (sub-100) day, it was hot and dusty. The tiny and winding staircases were made for smaller people than me.

Here’s a view down Themis Street. The greenish building on the left side of Spanish and Themis was Doyle’s Hat Shop. One of the Teen Age Clubs was in the building across the street from it. The tall, red brick building that was the Sturdivant Bank may not be with us for long. It’s on the Endangered Building List. A steel cable is keeping bricks from the top floor from raining down on Main Street.

View to the west

This is the view in the opposite direction. The Civil War fountain and statue is to the right of the roof. Don shared an interesting story about it when we were at the Jackson Courthouse. We’ll save it for another day.

DR. C.E. Schuchert’s bandstand

The bandstand dedicated to Dr. C.E. Schuchert and the KFVS tower can be seen to the northwest. The view from the 11th floor of the KFVS building is pretty spectacular, too. There’s a photo looking back toward the courthouse that provides an interesting counterpoint to this one.


St. Vincent’s Church at Sunset

While we were waiting for the full moon and fireworks, Mother and I cruised the downtown area. The green lights on St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (always referred to as St. Vincent’s) caught my eye as the sun was going down. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Previous St. Vincent’s stories