Central High School Auditorium

Cape Central’s auditorium is still in great shape. Here are some photos taken in 2009, during the 2010 reunion and black and white shots from the 60s. I understand that the seats have been recovered since we were there. It also looks like carpet has been added to the aisles. A projection booth in the back and some serious stage lighting has also been added over the years.

Auditorium used for speech and debate

Contestants in the Freshman-Sophomore Speech Contest in 1963 pose. I recognize Bill Wilson, Linda Stone and Janet Zickfield.

Red Dagger plays were the biggies

The biggest events of the year were the Red Dagger Plays. Here’s a posting of two plays.

Photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left of right side of the image to move through the gallery. I see vintage shots of Tricia Tipton, Carolyn Pensel and Jim Feldmier, among others. One of the reunion shots has Bill East, Betty Rawlings and Terry Hopkins wandering around trying to find the gum they had left under the seats in 1964.


Top Stories: 2009 to 2011

When I cranked up this blog on Oct. 20, 2009, I never dreamed that I’d still be churning out stories two years later. The first post contained a photo that later became one of two rotating pictures at the top of the blog page. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

This is the time when publications traditionally look at the previous year. I started to do that, but discovered that some of the top read stories from 2011 had actually run in 2010 and were still getting hits, probably from search engines. That caused me to look at what the most popular stories were overall.

 Rush Limbaugh – Koran-burning Terry Jones

The most-read story of 2010 and 2011 continues to be the coincidence that the two best-known members of the Central High School Class of 1969 are Rush Limbaugh and the kooky pastor, Terry Jones, who threatened to burn the Koran (and eventually DID burn one when he was out of the spotlight).

The Sept. 9, 2010, story has garnered 14,274 pageviews, about four times as many as any other story I’ve done. It was picked up by media all over the world.

I rode tight herd on the comment section, which attracted 150 comments, to keep the train on the tracks. I was impressed by the general high tone of the discussion compared to the trash talk I saw on other sites. When it was all over, I had deleted only three comments that stepped over the line into personal attacks on other readers.

 Cape’s new water park

The second most-popular story is probably a fluke. April 18, 2010, I did a quick and dirty story on Cape’s new water park while it was still under construction and compared it to the Lickitysplit Water Slide that used to be between Cape and Jackson on Hwy 61.

It kept getting a smattering of hits during the summer of 2011, probably from people searching for information about the park. Interestingly enough, folks who got there, probably by mistake, ended up spending over two minutes reading the page, something that’s highly unusual. Folks who don’t find exactly what they’re searching for generally bounce out in about 10 seconds.

The Boat House

When you wanted to impress visitors from out of town with the homes in Cape Girardeau, there’s one place you’d always take them – The Boat House at the corner of West End Blvd. and Highland Dr., across from Capaha Park. This story attracted 2,109 readers and 28 comments, including good information from the family that owns it.

 Bill’s Transition to Jacqie

One of the most interesting and challenging stories I’ve done started out with this email: “Hi lila and kenny. Its bill jackson but if you have facebook, you will discover that many changes have taken place. It seems that after all these years I am more comfortable as Jacqie, my female half and counterpart. Florida is much more familiar with this than cape. The reunion should be very interesting.”

 Bill and Wife Lila were good friends from lifeguarding days. In fact, he was her first date in high school. We connected in Cape and St. Louis and I produced a video showing our classmate as both Bill and Jacqie. For a first effort at an ambitious project, I’m happy with the way it turned out. The page has only logged 2,024 hits, but the video has been viewed 16,106 times. I was really pleased to see how understanding the 31 commenters were and how well Jacqie was accepted at the class reunion.

Here’s a comment I posted after I saw the reaction to the piece:

“It’s amazing how much more accepting we are of others’ differences when we get a few miles on the old odometer. Maybe some things do get better with age. In a scene I had to cut because of time constraints, Bill commented, ‘We were all not exactly as kind to each other as children as we could have been, but that’s the nature of being children. You’re learning how to be human beings.’

 “Looks like my readers have done a good job passing the human being test. That’s a pretty good diploma to tack on the wall.”

 Rains, Wind and Flooding

I was in Cape during the spring of 2011 just before the near-record flooding. A page of photos showing Cape’s flood control project that kept the Town Plaza from flooding like it did in earlier decades, attracted 1,976 visitors and 28 comments. There’s a link on the page to a video I shot when Mother and I took shelter from a hail storm earlier in the week.

 Kent State, Never Forget

I can always count on getting a message from friend and fellow photographer John Lopinot every May 4. Usually the subject line says it all: “Never Forget.” May 4th, of course, is the day that four Kent State students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard.

 I pulled together a sequence of photos of protests and demonstrations I covered at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, during that tumultuous period. Another photographer and I were on our way to Kent State when word of the shootings came over the car radio. We headed back to Athens, figuring we needed to be in our own backyard that night.

The page has been read 1,876 times and attracted 27 comments, including one from my former Ohio University Post colleague Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a frequent talking head on TV.

From Shoe Factory to Casino

I still contend that the city missed the boat in not finding a way to make a productive use of the old shoe factory. If the old Central High School on Pacific can be re-purposed as Schultz Senior Apartments, then surely the landmark building on North Main could have been saved. It’s a moot point, though. The building was torn down decades ago and a gambling casino is going up on the property.

The page showing aerial and ground photos of the shoe factory taken in 1970 and the area around it taken before the land was cleared in 2010, drew 1,829 visitors and 22 comments, one from the granddaughter of a woman who had been scalped by machinery in the shoe factory.

Capaha Park reduced to memories

I did several stories on the razing of the Capaha Park swimming pool. This was one that hit close to home: much of Wife Lila’s teen years were spent at the pool swimming, lifeguarding and teaching swimming.

I dug out a bunch of vintage photos and turned the page loose for Lila, Bill/Jacqie Jackson and Terry Hopkins to write about how much that hole in the ground meant to them. Terry’s account ended, “At one time, I wanted my ashes scattered on the hill above the pool just so I could be close and watch people having fun at a place I loved. Farewell my 12-foot deep, 8-lane, L-shaped fun factory and memory maker, farewell.”

There were 35 comments, some almost as long as the original piece. A total of 1,654 people visited the page.

 Central High School ’60s reunion

June 27, 2010, I ran one of several galleries of photos of the 1960s decade class reunion. It picked up 1,641 readers and 23 comments.

On the last night, I was moved to write, “This isn’t my favorite photo of the weekend, far from it. It’s a mediocre image from a technical standpoint, but it’s the one that caused a wave of deja vu to wash over me.

 “It was the end of the evening. The crowd was starting to drift away. A few couples got up to dance. I climbed up on the stage for a higher angle and stood there holding my camera and waiting for a photo to happen.

 “Suddenly I was transported back forty-plus years. It dawned on me that my life had come full circle. I was the same kid I was in high school who was AT the event, but not PART of the event.”

This account of the last night contains links to all of the reunion pages.

 Annie Laurie’s Laurie Ann

There’s a bit of nepotism here. Laurie Everett, who owns Annie Laurie’s Antiques on Broadway across from Shivelbine’s, is my wife’s niece. Putting that aside, she’s a shrewd businesswoman who was worth a story because of the building she’s in (the old Brinkopf-Howell Funeral Home) and for her interesting life. The petite blonde was an army MP who was an Expert marksman before she got into the antique business. She’s as good at that as she is with a gun: her shop was rated #1 Antique Shop in Cape County three out of three years (maybe four, since that story was done in 2010).

It’s not your typical stodgy antique shop. She makes good use of social media and has developed quite a following of SEMO students with her emphasis on vintage clothing, dorm makeovers and competition for models to become the face of the shop.

 Tornado drills and the JFK assassination

I stopped by Alma Schrader School to get some photos identified just as they were conducting a tornado drill. That give me a flashback to that stormy day in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I took photos of students gathered around a TV in the gym and rushed them to The Missourian to make my first EXTRA!

 Wimpy’s in 1966, 1967 and 2009

There are two topics that will always bring in readers and comments: Wimpy’s Drive-in and the Blue Hole BBQ. Everybody who grew up in that era has fond memories of both.

I shot a night time exposure photo of the intersection of Cape Rock Drive and North Kingshighway in 1966 that showed the traffic patterns in and around Wimpy’s. In 1967, I shot a wreck at the intersection with the drive-in in the background. By 2009, Wimpy’s was gone and the intersection had changed, but I tried the time exposure technique again.

Readers: 1,552; comments: 31, including much discussion of a shootout near there that took  the lives of two Cape police officers.

 Top Stories of 2011

In addition to the 2009 and 2010 stories above, here are the top stories that were published in 2011:

  •  Cape’s tornado of 1949: a riveting account of the May 21, 1949, tornado that killed 22 people, hospitalized 72 and injured hundreds, written by a pregnant newlywed to her mother on pages torn from a day calendar. If you haven’t read it, you should.
  • Do these photos say Cape? A collection of photos of Cape Girardeau for use by the city on its web page.
  • 43 years of Cairo photographs: I’ve been fascinated with Cairo since I covered my first riot there in 1967. This was a collection of photos of the town which is, unfortunately, disappearing a block at a time.
  • Arena Park Stock Car races: Vintage photos of the Arena Park stock car races. Some of them are classics.

 Mind-numbing statistics

Since the site started in 2009, it has seen its pages viewed 565,631 times. I’ve written 641 posts containing 512,268 words and you all have left 5,728 comments. In fact, commenters have written 391,796 words, almost as many as I have in the original stories. The depth of detail in those comments is astounding. I’ve posted nearly 5,600 photos.

Support this site

Here’s a link to my Tower Rock book and my 2012 calendar.

In addition, if you do your Amazon shopping by clicking on any of the Amazon ads on the page, I get a tiny percentage of your purchase without it costing you anything additional.



Class of ’61 50th Reunion

This weekend was the Central High School Class of 1961’s 50th Reunion. I crashed Saturday night’s shindig. When I left the house, I told Mother, “If you hear a disturbance call at the Country Club come across the scanner, it’s probably me getting tossed out for showing up uninvited and in jeans. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

I’m doing WHAT?!?

Much to my surprise (and dismay), I found myself drafted into taking the class group shots, even though I protested that I don’t really do that kind of thing and didn’t bring along the right equipment. I guess I shouldn’t underestimate what you can do with a Nikon D40 and Nikon SB-600 strobe.

The photos aren’t up to Paul Lueders standards, but they’re better than I expected. I had to break the class into two groups because my lens wasn’t wide enough to get everyone in the same shot.

I’m not set up to make prints for sale, but if there’s enough interest, I’ll find someplace to put them where you can order reprints at a reasonable price.

Past reunion stories

Here are some other class reunion stories that have run on this blog:

 Reunion photo gallery

I won’t even try to identify the folks in the photos. I’ll leave you on your own for that. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left and right side of the picture to move through the gallery. Please leave comments. (One technical note: if you return to the site, press Ctrl-F5 to make sure you see any new comments that have been left since your last visit.

Thanks to the Class of ’61 for making me feel welcome at your 50th.


A Walk On Themis Street

After we had finished touring Central High School, Linda Stone said she’d like to walk up on sit on the steps of the house where she grew up, “where Jim Stone and I played chess.” Tricia Tipton and I followed her on a walk down memory lane.

We lived at 1753 Themis when I was two years old

She didn’t know that I lived in one of the first houses on Themis Street when I was about 2 years old. Mother often talks about how the site CHS sits on was once a swampy field with a dead horse in it. The house to the east of us, occupied later by the Ravenstein family, was a low spot that had to be filled in before it could be built on.

“I played chess with Jim Stone”

Linda reminisces about playing chess with Jim Stone, who lived across the street from her. She and Tricia Tipton list off all the CHS students who lived on the street. Central was the epitome of a neighborhood school.

In an earlier email message, she wrote, “Our neighborhood was filled with kids exactly our age, so all summer a huge gang of us would play hide-and-seek until well after dark. My first-ever real date was with him (Jim) — summer of ’63, I think. I still remember scrambling to find a proper little summer dress to wear. It was a borrowed rust and tan plaid sundress. Vivid, colorful memories! He and I did not really date, we usually sat on the front porch and talked or went over to his house and looked at his home-made science lab with all his projects. Lots of fun.”

“Everybody on our block went to Central”

On my side of the street, Ronnie Marshall (’65) next door. The other side of our house next door and up the street: Sitz, Nowell, Early, Estes, ?, Goddard (the principal), then Garmes.  Then across the street at the top of the hill and down toward the high school: Mulkey, Kies, Dunklin, Stone (Jim), Young (Debby), Lueders (the photographer plus Dickie and Holly (’67), Amlingmeyer.  I know I am missing some.

Linda, Tricia and Jim circa 1964

One afternoon when I stopped by Jim Stone’s house, we noticed Linda and Tricia out in Linda’s front yard at 1744 Themis.

I can’t believe that Linda and Tricia let two guys with cameras get anywhere close to them while they were working on making themselves (more) beautiful. That’s Linda’s sister, Lisa, walking into the frame from the right.

Tricia’s inside attacking her hair

I have no idea what’s she’s doing. It looks painful. I am, to this day, amazed that I was able to shoot this sequence and live. The girls must have been sedated on some kind of hair goop at the time.

The result wasn’t bad

Linda went digging for her past

Linda wrote, “In prep for attending the reunion I’m digging through boxes that have moved with me from Cape to St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville, Atlanta, Dothan (AL), Coeur d’Alene (ID), Scottsdale and Durango.  And that includes more than one house in St. Louis, Dallas, Atlanta and Scottsdale.”

Brownie Troop 3

This picture is Brownie Troop 3 at some kind of ‘flying up’ ceremony which was held in my home at 1744 Themis St. in 1958.  The girls are all from the future class of 1966.  Left to right: __?__, Martha Penrod, Tricia Tipton, Pam Burkhimer, Mary Frances Sitze, Mrs. Sitze, Debby Young, Sally Bierbaum, Marsha Hitt, Mrs. Lolita Stone, Marilyn Maevers, Linda Stone (circled in ink), Prudy Irvin, Mary Lynn Nowell.

Birthday babes on Themis

This photo was taken in front of the house that was in the video. Linda wrote, “Bottom row: Jane Dunklin, Mary Frances Sitze, Linda Lou Stone, Joan Early. Top row: Mary Lynn Nowell, Sally Ann Stone, Judy Dunklin, Joan Amlingmeyer. I recognize the dress as my Easter outfit that my mother sewed for me.  Since Sally’s birthday is in April and this was taken on our front porch, it might have been a party for her.”

Boomer Birthday Party

It is a birthday party for Holly Lueders, who lived directly across the street from us (in the the home that Debby Young later occupied).  These are all future graduates from the classes of 1965, ’66 and ’67.  Baby boomers blooming on Themis. From the bottom and proceeding clockwise:  Dickie Lueders (hiding his face), Jane Dunklin, Mary Frances Sitze, Joan Early, Judy Dunklin, Holly Lueders, Mary Lynn Nowell, Linda Stone (spoon in mouth), Sally Stone, Joan Amlingmeyer, John Amlingmeyer.

Themis Street Photo Gallery

There are a few shots not shown above. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left of right side of the photo to move through the gallery.