Snow Comes to Cape

The weather folks have been teasing us all week telling us that a big snow storm (they call it an “event”) is coming. We had a little God Dandruff scatter for a few minutes earlier in the week, but Wednesday was supposed to be the biggie.

I had to go to the Jackson Walmart to have some prints made. As I backed out of the driveway, some fairly sizable flakes were getting organized, but I wasn’t worried. Just as I closed the car door, I noticed how the flag was nicely backlit, and some of the flakes were popping out. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Rose bush looks like cotton field

Since I was already almost to Jackson, and because I had some time to kill, I decided to have a combo, slaw, fries and a Mr. Pibb at Wibb’s.

By the time I finished, there was serious snow on the road. I got behind a slow driver going up the steep hill next to the city park, and I kept thinking, “If this guy don’t dial some giddy-up, we’re going to spin out here.”

There wasn’t a bread and milk freak-out going on at Walmart when I picked up my prints, but a lot of baskets were filled with snow melt.

Hwy 61 between Jackson and Cape was covered. I got in behind a snow plow (at a safe distance), but parts of the road were still slick. Even going up Kingsway Drive kept my traction control popping on and off.

I looked at the rose bush in the front yard, and was glad I had a nice, warm house to hide away in.

Memories of snow and smack

I’m pretty cautious about driving on snow and ice because I learned at an early age that just because you can go doesn’t mean you can stop. Jim Stone, Carol Klarsfeld and I were checking out the sights on a steep hill near Bertling when we came around a curve and saw a car on our side of the road.

I put on the brakes, but gravity was not on our side. We slowly crashed into the other car with my tank of a 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon. My car suffered so little damage I didn’t bother to take a photo of it. The other guy was less lucky.

OK, I’ll go take a look

After pacing around in the kitchen for a few minutes, temptation overcame good sense and I grabbed for a jacket and headed out.

I learned as a Missourian photographer, that there are a few places in Cape that are like shooting fish in a barrel when it’s time to come up with some weather or wild art.

Capaha Park and the train is one of them.

A heavy, wet snow

This may be one of those great snows that turns out to be very pretty, but probably won’t stick around long. Roads that were pretty treacherous when I set out were already plowed or in the process of being plowed by the time I headed back.

This was taken near the new pavilion in Capaha Park that overlooks where the pool used to be.

Next stop: SEMO

It took two passes to shoot this picture of Academic Hall. When I got right in front of the building, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a bus coming up behind me. I figured I’d better keep going to give him room.

Then, I saw him turn off.

When I made my second pass, I managed to get off a few frames before a car showed up in the mirror again. What are those fools doing out on a night like this?

A swing and a miss

I felt like I had to shoot something along Broadway. These trees and utility pole caught my eye, but I’m not overjoyed with the result.

Oh, well, you can strike out 7 of 10 times at bat, and still make a million bucks a year.

Main Street decorations

Some other folks had posted pictures of Main Street’s decorations on Facebook before the snow, so I actually got out of the car to shoot this.

Lady Liberty and Freedom Corner

This situation looked better than it photographed. I’m including it because it was the second time I got out of the car.

As I stepped off the curb, I thought, “Please don’t let this slush be deep enough to fill my shoe.”

It wasn’t.

I was acutely aware of the possibility, because the night before I was pricing a pair of old-fashioned galoshes that I could slip over my shoes when confronted with mud, slush or snow. When I saw the price, I decided my toes could get pretty chilly before I’d spring for overshoes.

I decided that I had cheated death enough, so I hung it up and headed home. My meanderings didn’t produce any great art, but it felt good to check snow off the year’s bucket list.

 

 

Capaha and Arena Parks

Historic Preservation Class SeMO 04-08-2014Tuesday was a fun day. I got to speak to Dr. Lily Santoro’s Local Techniques in History class at SEMO. I brought along Carla Jordan from the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in case the kids got rowdy. As it turned out, they were a very attentive group: the laughed where appropriate and were somber where appropriate. I hope they enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

I promised the group I would keep providing links to the subject matter they had been assigned, so here are stories about Arena and Capaha Parks.

Capaha Park Lagoon

Capaha Park Lagoon SwimmersCapaha park has many different facets, so I’ll break pieces of it apart. The lagoon is in more-or-less the center of the park. It was one of the first places I fished by myself. Except for one monster crappie I caught to win a rod and reel in a fishing contest, my results were mostly unremarkable.

Capaha Park Pool

Capaha Pool 07-11-1967

The Capaha Park pool was THE place to be in the summer months. Wife Lila and her best friend were lifeguards there. When the pool was razed, they shared some powerful memories. She had a tear in her eye the first time she came back to Cape and saw it gone.

 Capaha Baseball

General Park stories and photos

 Arena Park

SEMO Fair Round Up Arena Park was best known for the District Fair, stockcar races, animal exhibits and the train.

 

Cpl. Robert Taylor 1947-1968

When I wrote about ’64 classmate Gary Schemel being killed in Vietnam, Bill East quickly pointed out that the Class of 1964 had also lost Bobby Taylor in the war.

Sondra Cook chimed in, “Both Gary and Bobby were great guys. Bobby went to Washington Elem. and was a one semester behind me until the infamous Cape summer school when the “B” classes made up the semester of work. Gary moved to Cape when we were in Jr. High. My eyes still tear every time I go to the Vietnam Memorial or see the Visiting Wall and find their names.”

Bob’s name on Freedom Corner

A plaque on a pillar in Capaha Park’s Freedom Corner lists some of Cape Girardeau’s Vietnam casualties. There was some discussion here about other Cape names.

Larry Saddler: “[Gary] was a great guy. I lived within blocks of both Gary and Bob Taylor (also a great guy). Looking back I think they both died for absolutely nothing. I’m a big flag waver, but I think we wasted many lives with that war and I wonder if in the future many supporters will think we are wasting lives in our current conflicts. I think of Gary, Bob, and also Earl Tharp often, wondering what their lives cold have been if they had lived. I’m also thankful they were willing to serve. God bless them all.

[A Missourian story reported Earl Tharp, the 20-year-old son of a Cape Girardeau minister, was killed in June 1970 when enemy mortal fire hit his base camp in Vietnam.]

Burt Lehman: “I remember them both. Bob Taylor was like an older brother. We had great times together. I served in Vietnam and I am proud of my service to my country. The war was won after Tet of 1968, but somehow turned into defeat by media and politics. Gave the NVA and Viet Cong just enough encouragement to carry on the war. We were ultimately fighting “for” each other so I don’t believe that any of us died in vain. We still embrace as brothers no matter what our politics are. I have the greatest respect for Gary and Bob for the sacrifice they made.”

 First flag for Parade of Flags

A Missourian Out of the Past column about a 1987 story said “Early response has been good for a Parade of Flags that will be on display near the war memorial in Cape County Park on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day; the first burial flag turned in as part of the display honored Robert L. Taylor Jr., who was killed in the Vietnam War.

Bob’s brother, Tom, honored his memory

Tom Taylor posted a tribute to his brother on his Facebook page. I asked for permission to reprint the photos and some of Tom’s remarks. Most of these were downloaded from Facebook. Here’s Bob as a Troop 15 Eagle Scout in 1963.

Bob as SEMO student

Tom said that Bob attended Southeast Missouri State College in 1966-67.

Worked as a lineman

Bob’s deep tan was a result of his work as a lineman the summer before he joined the military, Tom said. The picture was taken at his home, probably in 1966.

Bob Taylor in Vietnam

From Tom: Bobby (far right) with his squadmates in Vietnam; probably the last photo of him before his death.

In the 1986 movie  “Platoon,” actor Willam Dafoe played Sgt. Elias and actor Tom Berenger played the scar-faced Sgt. Barnes. Elias treated his men with respect, and took new soldiers under his wing, teaching them how to stay alive. Barnes treated his men with contempt, putting the newest soldiers out front like cannon fodder.

From all accounts, Bobby was like Elias. He always took new soldiers under his wing and taught them how to survive.

Virtual Wall profile

Here is the Bob’s profile on the Virtual Wall. It’s an incredible resource. [The following information is Copyright 1997-2012 www.VirtualWall.org, Ltd.]

PERSONAL DATA: Home of Record: Cape Girardeau, MO; Date of birth: 03/10/1947

MILITARY DATA: Service: Army of the United States; Grade at loss: E3; Rank: Corporal; Note: Posthumous Promotion as indicated; ID No: 56586679; MOS: 11B10: Infantryman; Unit: C CO, 3RD BN, 60TH INFANTRY, 9TH INF DIV, USARV

CASUALTY DATA: Start Tour: 10/31/1967; Incident Date: 03/08/1968; Casualty Date: 03/08/1968; Age at Loss: 20; Location: Dinh Tuong Province, South Vietnam; Remains: Body recovered; Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright; Casualty Reason: Ground casualty; Casualty Detail: Gun or small arms fire

ON THE WALL: Panel 43E Line 062

Bob was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. His citation says, in part, “Through his untiring efforts and professional ability, he consistently obtained outstanding results. He was quick to grasp the implications of new problems with which he faced as a result of the ever changing situations inherent in a counterinsurgency operation and to find ways and means to solve those problems. The energetic application of his extensive knowledge has materially contributed to the efforts of the United States mission to the Republic of Vietnam to assist that country in ridding itself of the Communist threat to its freedom.

“His initiative, zeal, sound judgement and devotion to duty have been in the highest tradition of the Unite States Army and reflect great credit on him and the military service.”

 

 

 

Gary Schemel: Casualty of Vietnam War

A Facebook friend my age said she had been showing her teenage son her old yearbook. “As we went through it I had to say at several photos ‘this one is dead.’ It was sobering to us both to see those young faces and know that some of them are gone now, some for a long time. But then I remembered his yearbook had two in memory pages. Some die so young and never have a chance at life.”

Gary Schemel 1946 – 1965

While looking for something else, I ran onto an obituary photo of Pfc. Gary Leroy Schemel, who was No. 22 in the photo above of the 1963-64 Conference Basketball Champions.

I remembered that Gary had gone into the service right out of school, and I vaguely remembered that he was one of the first of our classmates to die in Vietnam, but I didn’t know any details.

The Oct. 8, 1965, Missourian story was equally vague. It just gave the date of the funeral and that military rites would be conducted at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Gary’s name is on Freedom Corner

All of a sudden, it seemed like I was running into Gary’s name all over the place.

When I photographed Cape Girardeau’s Freedom Corner honoring the war dead from World War I onward, I noticed his name.

When Terry Kitchen was telling the story about ghosts at Central High school, he pulled out some of the yellowing championship team photos  he had salvaged from the dumpster, Gary was in two of them: the Conference Basketball Champs above and on the 1964 Conference Track Champions.

1964 Track Champ

Gary is the fourth from the left in the top row.

I couldn’t find anything in the Google News Archives of The Missourian about Gary, but that’s probably because of errors in the index.

Schemel profile on www.virtualwall.org

I did find this profile at The Virtual Wall:

Gary Leroy Schemel

Private First Class

PERSONAL DATA

Home of Record: Cape Girardeau, MO

Date of birth: 01/04/1946

MILITARY DATA

Service: United States Marine Corps

Grade at loss: E2

Rank: Private First Class

MOS: 3500: Basic Motor Transport Man

Length Service: 01

Unit: SUBUNIT 3, H&S CO, H&S BN, 1ST FORCE SVC RGT, FORCE LOG CMD, III MAF

CASUALTY DATA

Start Tour: ——

Incident Date: 09/26/1965

Casualty Date: 09/26/1965

Age at Loss: 19

Location: Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam

Remains: Body recovered

Casualty Type: Non-hostile, died of other causes

Casualty Reason: Ground casualty

Casualty Detail: Drowned or suffocated

ON THE WALL Panel 02E Line 095

THE VIRTUAL WALL ® www.VIRTUALWALL.org

Remembrances on The Wall

The Virtual Wall says that two remembrances have been left on The Wall for Gary:

  • From his niece, Ramona Hobbs: Gary Leroy Shemel was the second oldest of six children, Barbra, Daniel, Donna, Joyce and Randy. He was also survived by his mother Anna. His father passed away from cancer when Gary was a child.
  • A 1932 poem by Mary Frye posted by Bob Ross, a fellow Vietnam veteran:

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.

 

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.