Civil War Fort A

Everybody who grew up in Cape learned about Fort D. Maybe you even went on a field trip there.

If that was D, were there Forts A, B, C and E? Well, there wasn’t a Fort E, but A, B and C existed.

Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders wrote about efforts to preserve Fort A, which was atop the bluff at the end of what is now Bellvue Street. Her research, as always, is worth reading. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

She’s not a dry historian, either. she likes to toss in tidbits like, “A 1922 story reports 12-year old Wilson Gibbs chased a rabbit into a a cave at the site. While the rabbit made its escape, Gibbs did stumble upon two jugs of moonshine. A law-abiding youth, Gibbs turned the illegal liquor in to Justice of the Peace C.M. Gilbert. There’s no mention of whether anyone claimed the whiskey.

Scenic lookout proposed

In 1960, Sharon reports, there was talk about creating a scenic overlook/turnaround at the end of Bellvue. The project never got anywhere.

Here’s what’s on the right side of the street today. That apartment building has been there since at least the mid-60s, because Missourian reporter Arlene Southern lived in one of the first floor apartments.

Fort B became SEMO

If you have good eyesight, you MIGHT be able to spot a gray marker in the median of Normal Avenue just east of the red brick crosswalk between Kent Library and Academic Hall. That marker notes the location of Fort B, which was to guard the Perryville and Jackson Road approaches to Cape Girardeau.

St. Francis Hospital site was Fort C

The old St. Francis Hospital site in the middle of the marked streets was the location of Fort C. It’s occupied by the Fort Hope housing development today.

I’ve written about some of the landmarks in this photo.

Hirsch’s Northtown

When I published a piece on Hirsch’s Midtown, formerly known as Hirsch Bros. No. 1, and the establishment of Hirsch Bros. No. 2 as Hirsch’s Northtown, I mentioned that I didn’t think I had ever¬† been in the Mill Street and Main Street store.

Susan Fee Means commented on Facebook, “Ken – if you’d ever been to The Mule Lip, across from the old shoe factory on Main St, then you’d been to the Hirsch #2 store. Or at least the building.

I led a sheltered life. I was never in The Mule Lip or its reincarnation as Margarita Mama’s. Now that the casino has leveled that area, I guess I missed my chance.

[Note: we made it as far as Lake City, Fla., tonight. I’m staying in a nice Comfort Suites I’ve stayed at before. I pulled in shortly before midnight after driving through moderate to heavy rain most of the day. The desk clerk gave me her “Your eyes sure are bloodshot super discount” that she said was even better than the alphabet soup list of names I usually give her.]



Hirsch’s Midtown


Reader Bob Reese was kind enough to loan me a copy of Cape’s 1956 Sesquicentennial book. It took me half a day to scan it, but it’s a treasure trove of information, just for the advertisements alone. A lot of them are plain text “Congratulations for surviving 150 years,” but there are a few with logos and artwork I don’t remember seeing. (You can click on the images to make them larger.)

Hirsch Bros stores sold in 1955

The Southeast Weekly Bulletin had a story on December 22, 1955, that Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hirsch have announced sale of the Hirsch Bros. Company’s two retail outlets in Cape Girardeau, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon V. Fee having purchased the Hirsch Bros. No. 1 store at Good Hope and Sprigg Streets, and George Hirsch now being the owner of the Hirsch Bros. No. 2 store at Main and Mill Streets.

Mr. and Mrs. Fee, who will operate the No. 1 store, plan to call it Hirsch’s Midtown. They have indicated that they will consolidate the grocery and variety departments and operate them as a self-service unit. Gilbert Popp will be assistant manager, with Bob Fee assisting in management of the food section and Richard Riddle in charge of the meat department.

The No. 2 store will be known as Hirsch’s Northtown, with Mr. and Mrs. George Hirsch in charge. The store will be redecorated, with some interior changes made.

The Hirsch Brothers Co. will remain an active corporation, retaining ownership of the store buildings and its other holdings. An office will retained in the Hirsch Building and the present officers will continue. They are Alfred Hirsch, president; George Hirsch, vice president, Mrs. Florence Hirsch Fee, treasurer, and Mrs. Alfred Hirsch, secretary. Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hirsch have announced their complete retirement from the retail business.

Building is holding up well

The old Midtown building is still in pretty good shape, compared with its neighbors on Haarig’s Good Hope Street.

I can remember going in there with Mother when I was a kid, but we were more of a Broadway and Child’s customer, probably because we lived on the north end of the world. I’m almost positive that I was never in the Northtown store at Mill Street and Main.

Wife Lila, who lived just a few blocks from the store, remembers it more as a department store. I remember it for groceries. I guess it all depends on what kind of shopping your parents did there.