KFC Closes, Plans to Rebuild

Closed KFC 02-11-2016I have to admit that I’m a sucker for Kentucky Fried Chicken’s hot wings, cole slaw and chicken pot pies. That’s why I was disappointed when I drove by the KFC at William and Sheridan and saw the sign that said it was closed.

The Missourian had a story on February 10 that said not only was it closed, it was going to be torn down. The good news for people with my cravings is that it’s going to be rebuilt.

When was it built?

Closed KFC 02-11-2016When I read the story, something was missing. If I had turned that copy in, editor jBlue would have kicked it back until I answered the question, “When was it built?”

I found that wasn’t as easy to figure out as I thought it would be. It took a couple hours of rooting around in the Google’s Missourian archives to come up with an answer. (Keep reading.)

The first reference to Kentucky Fried Chicken I could find was a May 23, 1970, story that said Ralph Harris was “remodeling his Kentucky Fried Chicken building at 2100 William Street, adding a center cupola to the roof, this to be painted in the red and white candy stripe effect which characterizes the food chain’s buildings. The new cupola extends 12 feet above the building roof.”

That address, 2100 William, would put in on the north side of the street, across the street from the present building, at 2101 William.

A&W Rootbeer expanding

A news brief right above that one said that Richard Popp is expanding his A&W Rootbeer facility at 335 North Kingshighway “by adding the longest automobile stall canopy in the city. The addition, to the west side of the existing building, is 120 feet long and provides 22 car stalls, the facility providing 32 stalls overall. The new canopy will include under-roof lighting and a system of speakers for customer order placement. Blacktop pavement will be added to areas not already paved.”

A KFC on Broadway?

Closed KFC 02-11-2016Adding to my confusion was a June 5, 1971, reference to steel being raised for a building in the 1300 block of Broadway that would house businesses, including a franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant. It sounded like it was adjacent to a new Shell station at 1325 Broadway that was going to be managed by Kenneth Wunderlich.

An empire of KFCs

Closed KFC 02-11-2016A May 9, 1976, business story by Frony mentioned that Kentucky Fried Chicken’s local franchise operators, Ralph and Lloyd Harris are erecting a new building on Highway 61 in Jackson and plan to open a new facility there early in June. The Harris brothers will now have 11 of the facilities, including two in Cape Girardeau, two in Poplar Bluff, and one in each of the following: Sikeston, Dexter, Malden, Kennett and Hayti. A new one opened Thursday in Cairo, Ill.

I don’t remember this one

Closed KFC 02-11-2016Frony’s February 6, 1977, business column talked about a KFC I don’t remember:

The term “restaurant” has its own local momentum. Another new one is to open soon and preliminary construction work has started on another. Frank and Lloyd Harris who, with their Harris Take Home enterprise, operate a number of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in the area, are building another, this one at the northwest corner of North Kingshighway and Hopper Road. They recently purchased a portion of the area formerly occupied by the old West Mount Motel, which area fronts 340 feet on Kingshighway and has a depth roughly of 165 feet, from West Cape Development Co., the transaction handled by Cape Reality Co. Workmen are razing a building on the site. Plans are to have the structure ready in early summer.

The new facility will, in addition to the regular service given by other units of its type, feature a smorgasbord. The Harris brothers now operate Kentucky Fried Chicken stores at 2100 William, 1315 Broadway, also in Jackson and other area communities.

Here’s the answer: 1981

I finally found the answer to when the present facility was built in an April 26, 1981, business column.

Construction will begin shortly on a new building on the south side of the 2100 block of William street for Harris Take Homes, Inc., owners and operators of Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurants in Cape Girardeau and the area. Plans are in contractors’ hands for bidding, and a contract will be awarded in a few days. The local firm, with offices at 1001 North Kingshighway, is owned by Ralph and Lloyd Harris, who opened a restaurant at 2100 William 16 years ago and three years ago built another at Kingshighway and Hopper Road.

The new building, featuring the latest in design by the Kentucky Fried Chicken firm, which franchises its outlets, will be 71 by 26 feet and is located on a lot 140 by 140 feet recently purchased from Texaco, Inc., which had operated a retail gasoline facility there. The building housing the station was razed to make room for the new structure.

This new restaurant, which will have seating for about 85 persons and have a drive-up window, will replace the present one on William. The Harris brothers own the group of buildings of which the restaurant is a part, and the old location will be leased to other interests.

Land behind KFC has been cleared

Closed KFC 02-11-2016Google Earth shows four or five buildings that were in the area that has been cleared behind the KFC. The Missourian story said that land will be used as part of the new construction.

We’re looking north from Good Hope towards William. Sheridan is to the right.

SEMO Indian R.I.P.

SEMO orientation packet 1965I was cleaning out the hall closet that held a bunch of newspaper clippings and old school papers this afternoon. In the midst of yellowing newsprint more suitable for confetti than reading, I found this folder from my 1965 freshman orientation.

Poor Chief Sagamore had no idea that he and every vestige of his Indian heritage would be exiled only a few decades later.

Look to your left, look to your right

SEMO orientation packet 1965This was a listing of special events. I must have been taking notes on it so I could perform my duties as The Missourian’s campus correspondence. I drove poor editor jBlue crazy because I was supposed to be covering the school, but I spent as little time as possible on campus. Chasing sirens was a lot more fun.

All I can remember from the Houck Stadium Freshman Welcome was sitting in the bleachers and hearing some guy delivering the old lines, “Look to your left, look to your right. Next [can’t remember if he said “semester” or “year”) one of you won’t be here.

He was right. Two years later, I transferred to Ohio University, a school that wasn’t run like a Charleston high school. If you think I’m exaggerating, check out the Student Handbook.


SEMO orientation packet 1965In case we felt like breaking into song, a small sheet of appropriate songs was included. I visited the SEMO website to find that the alma mater hasn’t changed (although the current version has another verse. Maybe ours did too, but they thought memorizing TWO verses might be too much for us frosh.).

The four songs contain seven references to “Indians” or “Braves.”

Give Me An “I”

SEMO orientation packet 1965The administration must have thought we more capable of cheering than singing because we were given a list of 13 cheers printed on canary-colored paper.

Give Me an “I” was a call and response where the cheerleaders would yell, “Give me an ‘I,” at which point we were supposed to echo “I” back at them. This was repeated for “N,” “D,” “I,” “A,” “N” and “S.”

To make sure we got it, the cheerleaders would ask, “What does that spell?”

The proper response was “INDIANS!” repeated louder three times.



1964 or 1965 Football

Central High School football players c 195This print of 1964 or 1965 Central High School football players wasn’t great when it was new, and time has faded it even more. Sylvester Johnson is third from the left in the back row.

Syl was one of the best athletes Central ever produced. After Principal Dallas Albers noticed the star player eying his suspenders during an assembly, he shot him a deal: he would award his suspenders to Syl at the homecoming dance if the Tigers won their homecoming game against Sikeston. Albers was so sure Syl was going to come through that he showed up at the dance wearing both a belt and suspenders so his pants wouldn’t fall down after paying off his obligation to Syl.

That’s Bill / Jacqie Jackson on the far left in the front row. I’m pretty sure I recognize some of the other guys, but I’ll let you tell me for sure who they are so I don’t have to run corrections.

Those blue marks

Those blue marks on the top and right margins are crop marks where the sports editor decided to tighten up the photo, probably because he wanted to be able to run the faces larger.

A couple of years ago, I hooked up with Don Gordon, my old Missourian mentor who confessed that he leaned on me whenever it came to doing page layouts. “I watched John Blue mark up pictures. He almost always put a crop mark on them. It might be just to whittle off an eighth of an inch, but he seemed to feel he hadn’t done his job unless he had touched the photo in some way. When I got a picture, I found myself doing the same thing. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I’d always take a little off the edges.”

“I knew that, Don. That’s why I always printed my photos with a little ‘air’ around them so that by the time you and jBlue got finished, the picture would be just right.”

The News from Delta

Burfordville NewsOne of the most challenging jobs I had in my newspaper career was a brief stint as District News Editor at The Southeast Missourian. Denny O’Neil, who had been herding the cats we would call “citizen journalists” today left town in a hurry, so I was nominated to take over the slot.

Every morning, I would slit open hand-scrawled envelopes containing “news” that these people would file. In print, they were called Correspondents. In newspaper jargon, they were called “stringers,” who were paid per published inch. Since many journalists are math-challenged, we would measure the published columns with a string, then measure the string to arrive at the number of inches, hence the name.

If we were lucky, the stringer, who might be filing the same stories to three or four papers, would type the copy. If you were even more lucky, you might get the original or one of the top carbons. I usually didn’t have that kind of luck.

Sometimes the stories would be typed in black ink. When that started getting light, they’d switch to the red part of the ribbon, Eventually you’d get something like this: a page that just peters out with a penciled note, “Sorry hope you can make this out. my typewriter ribbon just gave out.”

No, your ribbon gave out about two weeks ago. (Click on the photos to make them easier to read (except for this one. Nothing is going to help it.))

Ann Withers from Delta

1965-12-18 Chicks Delta News by Anne Withers 8One of our long-time stringers was Ann Withers from Delta. She and her husband Andy operated a service station in the tiny town best known for being a speed trap halfway between Cape Girardeau and Advance. He ran the garage and she handled the gas station side.

Her stories were heavy on the doings of Ann and Andy. Being a serious journalist, I edited her copy with a meat axe until here was nothing left but the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

One afternoon, Editor John Blue came over to give me some guidance. He said to cut people like Ann and Rip Schnurbusch in Old Appleton some slack. “Not much happens in these little towns, so they make do the best they can. Besides, their little asides are what make their columns fun to read.”

Since I now write in much the same Ann and Rip style, I can appreciate what jBlue was saying.

She loved blood and gore

1966-02-26 Deaths redacted Delta News by Anne Withers 12Ann loved to provide more detail than what most of our readers wanted to encounter over the dinner table. I can imagine her leaning over the gas pumps getting the full scoop from the local railroad gang. (I’ve removed names from this offering to protect the privacy of family members.) She also tended to run stories together, leading to a blending of a gruesome railroad accident, a gunshot suicide and the passing of a well-loved citizen all in the same paragraph.

I never figured out Ann’s penchant for inserting random extra spaces between words and punctuation marks unless she thought she was paid by the typed inch instead of the printed inch and she was going to stretch it as much as possible.

OK, THIS one was funny

Music mystery Delta News by Anne Withers 9Proving that even a blind hog can find an acorn from time to time, this account of mystery music was funny. Since the “beloved senior citizen” wasn’t named, I wondered if it might have been Husband Andy.

Saga of dead sparrows

Storm Delta News by Anne Withers 11Here’s her account of a sparrow-strangler of a storm.

The end of an era in Delta

Leaving Delta News by Anne Withers 6This story must have been written in 1966 about the time they retired.

Andy Withers died in 1979

Pigeon Delta News by Anne Withers 4Here is Andy Withers’ obit from the July 25, 1979, Missourian:

Delta–William Andrew (“Andy”) Withers, a businessman here for many years, died at 8:15 Tuesday night at Chaffee General Hospital. He was 74 years old. Mr. Withers was born May 3, 1905, near Delta, the son of Frank and Selena Lewis Withers. He had resided in the Delta community his entire life.

On Dec. 27, 1927, he married Miss Ann Cracraft at Cape Girardeau. For 38 years, he and his wife owned and operated Withers Service Station and Garage here. He was a member of the Delta First Baptist Church and the Whitewater Masonic lodge.

Surviving are his wife; brothers, John and Louis Withers, both of Florissant, James Withers, St. Louis, and Arthur Withers, Clinton, Md., and sisters, Mrs. Herbert Schlegel, Cape Girardeau, and Mrs. Glenn Chateau and Mrs. Jeff Thomas, both of St. Louis.

Service will be at 2 Friday afternoon at the funeral home in Delta, with the Rev. Ronald Shrum, pastor of the Delta First Baptist Church, officiating, assisted by the Rev. Jack Owens. Burial will be in Memorial Park at Cape Girardeau. Members of the Whitewater Masonic Lodge will serve as pallbearers.

Ann Withers died in 1988

1965-01-22 Grandparents Delta News by Anne Withers 3Here is her obit from The Missourian on Dec. 1, 1988:

Delta–Service for Ann C. Withers will be held at Ford & Sons Funeral Home in Delta at 1:30 p.m. Friday, with Rev. Kenny Martin officiating. Interment will be in Cape County Memorial Park.There will be an Eastern Star service at the funeral home at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Withers, 77 years old, of Delta, died Wednesday, Nov. 30, 1988, at southeast Missouri Hospital. She was born March. 9, 1911 at Jackson, daughter of John W. Cracraft, and Margaret Statler Cracraft.

She married W. A. “(Andy”) Withers on Dec. 27, 1927, in Cape Girardeau. He preceded her in death July 24, 1979. Survivors include a brother, Lynn Cracraft of Carlsbad, Calif.; two stepsisters, Mrs. Carmen Golightly of Cape Girardeau, and Mrs. Ruth Miller, of Sandusky, Ohio. She was preceded in death by 6 brothers and one sister.

Withers was a member of the First Baptist Church of Delta, the Whitewater Eastern Star Chapter 174 and the VFW Auxiliary 3838 in Cape Girardeau.

She and her husband owned and operated Withers Garage and Service Station in Delta 38 years, retiring in 1966. she was the Delta news correspondent for the Southeast Missourian, the Chaffee Signal, and Advance News.

[Editor’s Note: jBlue would have given the writer of this obit a royal reaming. You NEVER referred to someone in an obit by their last name, particularly if it was a woman: you used the full name or a courtesy title with the last name. It was also style to stick a “the” in front of Rev.. The writer also failed to capitalize “The” in the newspaper’s name in the last graf. There is a better than even chance the obit was written by the funeral home, but a Missourian copy editor should have caught those errors. Unless, of course, that was in the era when the paper didn’t care about such niceties.]

A prayer for the rabbits

1966-02-14 Rabbits Delta News by Anne Withers 2She may not have been the best writer in the world, but she was wired into her community.

Donkey ball game postponed

1966-03-1966 Donkey Ball Delta News by Anne WithersThe excitement of a donkey ball game had to be put on hold because the donkeys scheduled to play were killed in a fire.

Vietnam War touches Delta

1966-01-021966 Vietnam Delta News by Anne Withers 10I can picture Carl Dayton Poinsett’s mother telling the story about her soldier son in just that breathless burst. Maybe Ann was a better writer than I gave her credit for.

jBlue was right: I should have passed on more of her copy.