Jo Ann Bock’s Book

Jo Ann Bock at Tom Nuemeyer book signing 03-14-2010I photographed Jo Ann Bock at Tom Neumeyer’s book signing for his photo documentary book, Cape Girardeau Then & Now back in 2010.

When Mrs. Bock wrote Around the Town of Cape Girardeau in Eighty Years, she asked if she could use one of the photos on the back cover of her book. I didn’t hesitate to give her permission. She sent me a copy of the book in return. I was pleasantly surprised to see she had some extraordinarily nice things to say about a piece I wrote about her husband, Howard Bock, when he died.

Mr. Bock Changed my life

Howard Bock CHS 23In the curious way that things in Cape are intertwined, Mrs. Bock was my Cub Scout den mother and knew I was interested in photography. When I got to Central, her husband was in charge of the Tiger and Girardot photo staffs and asked if I’d like to join. That was, indirectly, the start of my photography career.

We saw different slices of time

Jo Ann Bock BookHoward and Jo Ann Bock were getting married (1950) just about the time I was getting born (1947), so we view Cape through slightly different lenses. She stayed in Cape, except for a few years, and I left in 1967, although Cape has never left me.

In the introduction to one of the chapters, she says, “Sometimes a person will ask why I didn’t mention this place, or that person, or recall a special event. My answer is that memories take different directions with people.” Maybe that’s why even though she and I plow the same ground, we come up with different crops.

Her view of Broadway

Vandeven Merchantile Company 1967She and a city directory did a good job of creating a list of businesses and residences along the Broadway corridor. We have some memory overlap on some long-time businesses like Vandeven’s and the movie theaters, but a lot of places she remembers were long gone when the 1960s came around.

Here’s a partial list of what I found along Broadway between Kingshighway and Main Street.

Library and Courthouse

Cook kidsids playing in courthouse fountain on Cape Girardeau's Common Pleas Courthouse grounds June 29, 1967She and I both spent a lot of time in the Cape Public Library when it was located on the grounds of the Common Pleas Courthouse. Unlike these kids, she “never felt right about playing in the fountain with that soldier staring down at me.”

Just for the record, the soldier that stared down at her was smashed by a falling limb. The pieced-together original lives at the Jackson Courthouse, and a replacement casting stares down at children today. Maybe the new one would be less intimidating.

The George Alt House

Trinity Lutheran School neighborhood c 1966We both served our time in the George Alt House, turned into Trinity Hall by Trinity Lutheran School.

A walk down Main Street

107 Main St Cape Girardeau MO 10-20-2009 - Hecht's Mrs. Bock takes us for a walk down Main Street, reeling off a list of businesses that are mostly not there. In fact, the only business still in operation is Zickfield’s Jewelry. Hecht’s is gone, as is Newberry’s, where she worked in the infant clothing department for 15 cents an hour.

Here’s a page where I posted photos of many of the businesses I remembered from my era. The current generation will think Main Street was nothing but bars and antique shops with a little art thrown in.

Hurrah for Haarig

Meyer-Suedekum 03-29-2010_2679That’s the name of her chapter covering the Good Hope / Sprigg area. She drops names like Hirsch’s for groceries, Suedekum’s for hardware, Cape Cut Rate for drugs and the anchor, Farmer’s and Merchants Bank. If she mentioned Pure Ice, I must have missed it.

Music and Majorettes

Homecoming 34Mrs. Bock devotes several chapters to the Cape Girardeau music scene: choirs, operettas, plays, the Cape Choraliers, the Girardot Rose Chorus, and local dance bands. She also mentions being a Central High School majorette in 1946.


SEMO Fair Groscurth's Blue Grass Shows MidwayShe and I both spent time at the district fair, both as kids enjoying the rides and exhibits, then later covering it for The Southeast Missourian.

Bring on the Barbecue

Wib's BBQ Brown Hot (outside meat) sandwichThis chapter touched on two of my favorite barbecue places: the Blue Hole Garden and Wib’s.

 Parade of Photographers

GD Fronabarger c 1967You don’t serve as a high school publication adviser and a Missourian reporter without running across that strange subset of humans (some would debate that human part) called photographers. She was suitably enough impressed with us that she devoted a whole chapter to photographers she knew and worked with.

One-Shot Frony, AKA Garland D. Fronabarger, was one of the most unique newspaper photographers I ever ran into. His gruff exterior covered up a gruff interior. He got his name because he would growl around a pipe or cigar clenched between his teeth, “Don’t blink. I’m taking one shot,” push the shutter release and walk off.

Paul Lueders, a Master Photographer who shot almost every school group and class photo for years, was the opposite of Frony: he was quiet, patient and willing to take however long it took to get his subject comfortable.

She mentions several other professional and student photographers who crossed her path over the years, then launches into two pages of such nice things about me I thought maybe I was reading my obit.

How do I get a copy?

Jo Ann Bock Book backIf you grew up in Cape, you might find yourself between the pages of Around the Town of Cape Girardeau in Eighty Years. She manages to work in more names than the phone book. So, how do you get copy?

The book is available on Amazon for $15.49. It’s eligible for free shipping though Amazon Prime, so if you sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime by January 10, you can save some money and get it in two days.


Hecht’s “Poof”

Some members of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri journeyed to Altenburg to see my photo exhibit and liked what they saw. I stopped by the gallery at 32 North Main Tuesday to see what we might work out in 2013ish. I was very flattered by their comments.

But, that’s not the reason for this post. (By the way, click on the photos to make them larger.)

Does this look familiar?

“Did that come from where I think it did?” I asked Gallery Board Chair Lori Ann Kinder.

“Hecht’s. I had it recovered in a more neutral color so it would fit in better here.”

She said they call it “Poof.” Nobody knew the official spelling of poof, so we’ll go with “Poof.”

When I wrote about Hecht’s in 2010, many of the readers mentioned Poof. We all remembered it as Red on the Male Color Chart Scale, which contains only Primary Colors. I thought it was made of some slick material, but everyone else voted velvet. They’re probably right.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I kept waiting for Richard Dreyfuss to come sliding in looking for the strange mountain-like object in front of me like he did in Close Encounters.

Like Dreyfuss in the movie, I kept staring at it. Puzzling away at it.

Something wasn’t quite right. When I was a little kid parked on the thing while Mother did whatever Mothers do in a fancy dress shop, I could have sworn the thing was 8 feet tall. I’m pretty sure I never tried to scale Cape’s dress shop Matterhorn – I might not have been able to see Mother, but there’s no doubt that she could see ME – but I’m sure it would have taken Sherpas and supplemental oxygen to make it to the top had I gotten up enough nerve.

Today’s Poof is tiny in comparison. I could stand next to it and look over the top of it, making it somewhere in the 5-foot range or less. Lori Ann swore she hadn’t had the top 3 or 4 feet lopped off.

Better see exhibit soon

If you want to see my photo exhibit in Altenburg, better go soon. It’s coming down around November 9 to make room for the annual Christmas tree exhibit. There are plenty of calendars and show catalogs left over from the Immigration Conference last week. There are also a limited number of prints from the show available. If you go up this weekend, you might catch me there.

Hecht’s Department Store

One of the things I best remember about Old Town Cape’s Main Street was Hecht’s Department Store. Even as a kid I was fascinated by the sailing ship weather vane that perched atop the building at 107 N. Main. I snapped this shot Oct. 15, 2003. I’m glad I did. It’s not there today.

What happened to the weather vane?

The Missourian was asked by a reader what had happened to it. Here’s the answer:

“We had a major windstorm back in the fall before we closed, and we had some slate that blew off the roof onto the sidewalk. The next day I noticed the vane was missing,” said Dan Elkins, former president of Hecht’s. “The assumption is that it blew off during the storm. I climbed up and looked for it on the lower roof line, thinking it might have fallen there, because it was heavy and not likely to go far. If it blew to the street, someone could have picked it up.

“I doubt someone stole it,” Elkins said. “It was tall, a good 3-4 feet in height and solid. It’s a relic, definitely, from when the building was built in 1927. It was original with the building, designed by architect Thomas P. Barnett.”

Holy Cow, where’s her top?

As a kid, I remember a round piece of furniture inside the store. I’m going to say that it was red and had seats around a center piece that rose up to be a tall back rest. It was a perfect place for a squirmy kid to crawl around while his mother was shopping.

What I DON’T remember is the topless babe on the ceiling above the entrance.

Maybe it was because my Mother would distract me when we walked in, “Hey, look at that funny seat for you to play on.”

Hecht’s anchored downtown for 86 years

Hecht’s was the second oldest business in continuous operation downtown. Lang’s Jewelers opened a year before Hecht’s. Marty and Tootie Hecht retired in 2004, after nearly six decades of operating the store.

The store, which had been converted to a bar, was empty when I was home in the spring.

Scott Moyers did a history of the store that’s worth reading.

Hecht’s Photo Gallery

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