Ross’s Leaves Downtown Jackson

Longtime downtown Jackson business Ross Furniture is moving to East Jackson Blvd. from South High Street, a story in The Missourian reported June 12, 2012. The store had been at that location since 1979. As Cape’s business center has shifted west, I guess it’s only logical that Jackson’s would move east. The furniture store had one of the two bay windows that existed in the Courthouse Square area. It must have been exciting to look up and down the street and toward the courthouse Back in The Day.

Looking north toward Courthouse

Late afternoon isn’t the best time in of the day to shoot a north-south street. I was limited to shooting the businesses on the east side of the street because of dark shadows.

Even though I worked at The Jackson Pioneer, I have very few memories of Jackson’s main drag. I covered lots of governmental meetings and school activities, but there must not have been much happening in the business district.

Well, I have vague memories of a bit of a stir when one of The Pioneer’s editors developed a strange obsession with a local high school girl a third his age. When the girl’s father, one of our largest (and, to be honest, few) advertisers refused to let them date, the editor picketed the father’s place of business. I’m not sure even that was enough to get you fired at The Pioneer, but he didn’t last long. One of these days I’ll get around to writing about the collection of misfits we had working there.

Other Jackson stories

Photo gallery of South High Street businesses

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

Carol Ann Browning, 1964 Miss Missouri

Carol Ann Browning, Miss Missouri of 1964, paid a visit to Jackson on Aug. 6, 1964, if the date on the negative sleeve is correct. I can’t believe that I don’t remember shooting this beautiful young woman. Click on any photo to make it larger.

I particularly like what’s happening in the background here: the expression on the guy on the right and the oblivious diner in the left  who is dutifully sawing away at his meat.

Awed onlookers

The Cape County Courthouse in Jackson was located across the street from The Jackson Pioneer, the paper I was working for in 1964. I wonder if I saw these women gawking at the hubbub on the courthouse steps and went over to check it out or if I just banged off a frame on the way over to the event.

He has to be a politician

I don’t know who the fellow on the right is, but he has to be a politician (and, if the boy in front of him is his son, I bet he grew up to be a politician, too). Only a politician would mug the camera when he’s four feet away from Miss Missouri.

A story in the Oct. 8, 1999, Nevada Daily Mail said that Miss Browning, a former Miss Eastern Jackson County, was given a two-year college scholarship and the use of a new Oldsmobile for her travels. If every day was as full of grip and grins as this one, I’d say she earned every penny of it.

Larry Winburn won a bet and a date

The Daily Mail story said that Larry Winburn was taunted by a buddy who bet Larry couldn’t get a date with Miss Burns. Larry accepted the challenge and won the date, the bet and the girl. After the Miss America pageant was over, the two got married.

She helped her husband’s father raise greyhound dogs, became a substitute teacher, then served as vice president and president of Nevada’s Boatman’s Bank; in 1998, she left the bank to become an insurance representative and did accounting work at a Sear’s store co-owned with her husband.

Gave free shows behind dad’s hardware store

Miss Browning, her five sisters, two brothers and mother put on free musical shows on a platform behind her dad’s hardware store. They became so popular that they bought a bus and spent much of the summer months and weekends on the road performing.

Her dad, Eugene Browning, died June 5, 2010. His Lee’s Summit Tribune obituary mentioned that the had partnered with Carol Ann, his first-born, to produce a book, Remembering the Browning Family Show – A Father’s Legacy in Photos and Philosophy.



Jackson Junior High School Pickets

This must have been one of the first protests I covered. There are two frames on the roll of Jackson Pioneer Editor Gary Frederick in the envelope. One of the shots has an August 1964 calendar in the background and the negative sleeve is slugged “Jackson Jr. High – Gary at office,” so this must have been for The Pioneer and in the summer of ’64.

The odd thing is that this group of what appears to be students, parents and teachers are demanding that union pickets go back to work so the Jackson Junior High School could open on August 31, but there weren’t any union picket lines set up and a couple of photos show workmen working. There are signs for Crites and Sailer Construction Company and Kelpe Electric Company in two of the photos, but I don’t know if their workers were the ones striking.

Are these two different schools?

This building looks like it might be in town, while the new junior high was located on what was the outskirts of town in 1964.

I think this might have been the assignment where somebody at The Pioneer tossed me some car keys and said, “Hey, Kid, go out to the junior high school and see what’s going on.” Unlike most of my peers, I didn’t run right out and get my driver’s license at one minute past midnight on my 16th birthday. I hadn’t been driving all that long in the summer of ’64 and I certainly hadn’t driven any car other than the family’s Buick station wagon. When I stepped on the brakes at the first stop sign, I felt that sickening feeling you get when you realize that you could do better by dragging your feet on the ground like something out of The Flintstones. It was a good thing the junior high school wasn’t too far away and that there wasn’t much traffic.

Junior High School photo gallery

For what it’s worth, here’s a selection of photos from the protest and school construction. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.


2012 Was Going to be Big Deal

After working for papers in Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina, I got a job offer from the one newspaper I had been admiring for years – The Palm Beach Post. When I moved out of the Midwest into Gastonia, N.C., I became part of the National Press Photographers Association’ Region Six, which encompasses the southeastern part of the country. Because I slept with a police scanner and worked 18-hour days, I did pretty well in photo contests that were normally swept by the Florida papers, which ran photos well and had some of the best color reproduction in the country. They took notice of this nobody at a nothing newspaper who had suddenly popped up on their radar screen.

I had the chance to meet some of the West Palm Beach staffers at a couple of conferences, and we hit it off. The next thing I knew I was offered a job without even submitting a portfolio. I figured I’d be in a better negotiating position if I actually met the boss in person, so Wife Lila and I made arrangements to drive down to West Palm Beach for the interview. They put us up in a beachfront hotel – nothing fancy, but it WAS on the beach.

I finally agreed to take the job at the same money I was making in North Carolina – $180 a week. (I found out a couple of years later when I became director of photography that was the highest salary on the staff at the time.) Nobody bothered to mention that Florida ain’t as cheap as North Carolina. Our rent in Gastonia was 90 bucks a month. In West Palm Beach, it was double that.

They didn’t exactly pay moving expenses, either: they put you on the payroll two weeks before you actually started working to help defray your costs. As it turned out, my official hire date was 12/31/72, which turned out in my favor. By being hired in 1972, I was elegible for two-week vacation in ’73. If I had been hired one day later, I wouldn’t have had a paid vacation until 1974.

(You can click on any photo to make it larger if you want to see my waistline expand and my hair recede.)

“You have to fill out an application”

The boss caught me when I was coming back from an assignment. “I need you to fill out an employment application,” he said.

“You’re kidding me, right? I’ve been working here for two weeks.” Yep, I had to fill it out.

Still not sure he wasn’t pulling my leg, I sat down and worked my way through the four-page application where I filled in such answers as

  • Type of position – Photographer
  • Married or single – Married
  • Father’s occupation (why they needed to know that, I can’t fathom) – general contractor
  • Are you available to work nights, weekends or any other hours requested – yes
  • Do you use a typewriter – Yes  If so, how fast – Adequate
  • Three persons not related to you to whom reference can be made to your character, habits and ability – the editor and publisher at The Gastonia Gazette and John Blue of The Southeast Missourian.
  • (I left blank the miscellaneous references that might include my minister.)
  • Selective Service Classification – 4F (Thank you, Draft Lottery)

Then, finally, to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie in Alice’s Restaurant, “I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the following words: “State experience, talents or training which cause you to feel you are qualified for work sought:”

I typed, “i’m a damn good photographer” and handed the application back to my boss, who, I assumed, would stuff it somewhere in a desk drawer to be forgotten.

There really IS a permanent record

One day I was helping a friend in HR with a computer problem when I asked her if I could see my employee file. “You can’t add anything, change anything or remove anything,” she warned.

“That’s OK. I just want to see if something is in there.” Yes, it was. My original job application was there, carefully cradled between two sheets of manila folder. She turned her back while I made a copy of it.

So, why was 2012 going to be a big deal?

After turning in my employment application, I had to listen to an orientation speech by a nice woman in Personnel (later buzzworded to Human Relations). She explained that I’d be vested in the pension plan after 10 years and she started to explain how this was going to be important to me in 2012, the year I could retire. I held up my hand and said, “Lady, I’ve never lasted at any newspaper longer than three years. I’m NEVER going to see 2012.”

As the years went by, I kept making more and more references to 2012. “I’ll sign a contract with you in 2013,” I’d tell a vendor. When The Voice Report, a trade magazine, asked me on a bio form, for a “Prediction on the Future of Telecom & Telecom Managers,” I responded, “Please, please, please have a future that lasts until at least 2012 or the first Saturday when I can guess more than three lousy numbers right on the Florida Lottery.”

When rumors of buyouts started floating at the paper, my boss told me that I shouldn’t worry: I was “essential” personnel and wouldn’t be offered a buyout. “I WANT the offer,” I told him. “I’m looking to retire as soon as I hit 62; I’ve been here 35 years; I’m making too much money because of my longevity, and I’ve been grooming my replacement for the past two years. Please, get me the deal.” He worked some magic, and I ended up with a year’s pay (and a huge tax hit), a pension, a health package and early retirement.

So, instead of being a Big Deal, New Year’s Day 2012, is going to be just another wonderful day of retirement.