Reading Race Prize

KLS Reading RaceBuried in a box of old newspaper clips that are crumbling bad enough that I’ve been sneezing all afternoon was my first grade Reading Race Prize.

Mrs. Kelpe, the first grade teacher every kid should have, wrote on the back, “To Kenneth, who was once again the winner of the Reading Race. I am proud of you, Kenneth.” It was dated March 25, 1954, the day after my birthday.

My “sailer” hat

Ken Steinhoff Trinity Lutheran School 1st Grade Scrapbook 1953My first grade scrapbook has this photo of me wearing the prize for winning an earlier Reading race.

The account of my big day

Ken Steinhoff Trinity Lutheran School 1st Grade Scrapbook 1953Dad’s typewriter didn’t have a spellchecker on it, so some typos crept in from time to time. The fact that he and Mother went to all the trouble to document my young life is much appreciated. As Kid Rel II, Brother David’s scrapbook was a lot shorter. Brother Rel III Mark’s book simply said, “Refer to earlier editions.”

“…Mrs. Kelpe timed up on readying (sic) today and had a prize for the fastest ones. I won as my time was only 1-1/2 minutes. It took one boy 6 minutes. The prize was a white sailer hat. A little bit [big] but I like it. Boy! I was good to win that hat. [OK, so I needed to work on humility.] I told Mrs. Kelpe she was the best teacher I ever had and I’ve had a plenty.

Old Trinity’s Altar

Trinity Lutheran Church 08-1978 142When we heard Trinity Lutheran Church was going to be torn down just shy of its 100th birthday, Brother Mark and I did our best to document the building.

Here are photos of what I think was the most impressive part of the church: the chancel and altar with its statue of Jesus. I’ll run more pictures later.

Money came with strings

Trinity Lutheran Church 08-1978 158It seems an odd coincidence that the old building was discovered to be structurally unsound not long after a large donation was made to the church that could only be used to build a new structure.

Missourian photographer Fred Lynch has a series of photos showing the steeple being pulled down that makes the place look pretty sturdy to me.

It’s not my church

Trinity Lutheran Church 08-1978 149

I was baptized in that church, confirmed in that church, suffered through a multitude of Christmas pageants in that church, and my father’s casket stood in the shadow of that altar.

I made a promise to myself never to set foot in the new building. I have no respect for an organization that allows nearly 100 years of memories to be turned into brick dust. It is no longer my church.

Photos of the church bell

Trinity Lutheran Church 08-1978 157I ran a post about the church’s bell in 2011. I read somewhere that the bell had been moved to the new church.

View from the bell tower

Trinity Lutheran Church 08-1978 144Here are photos taken from the bell tower in 1978.

1954 pledge drive

Trinity Lutheran Church 08-1978 150I copied a 1954 pledge drive booklet that included an extraordinary photo of the congregation. It’s amazing how many faces I can still pick out of it (names, however, are another matter).

Abraham story has him worried

Trinity Lutheran Church Mark - Matt 08-1978 6Brother Mark is holding Son Matt up for a closer look. He doesn’t look too comfortable. I think he may have heard that story about God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son on an altar and he’s not sure if the story had a good ending.


I learned several things from my readers here and on Facebook:

  • It wasn’t just a rumor that the donation was earmarked for a new building. A relative of the donors confirmed it.
  • Jesus wasn’t welcome in the new church: he has been exiled to Hanover School. I’ll swing by to see him on my trip back to Cape in October.