2015 in Review

Newspapers are big on year in review stories because they can be written well in advance as space fillers for the slow holiday weeks. Why should I be any different (except for the part about doing it well in advance)?

I have to admit I’ve slacked off this year. After almost three years of posting seven days a week except for when there was a technical glitch, I took some big chunks of time off when I was caring for my mother before she died this spring. Once I found that the world wouldn’t end if I skipped a day or three, I started doing it more often when I was busy.

The most popular post last year was a piece I originally posted in 2011 about the burning and sinking of the steamboat Stonewall near Neely’s Landing. Two or three hundred people burned or drowned in the disaster. Sixty or 70 bodies were buried in a mass grave that I have searched for unsuccessfully.

I followed up the original post with a few others:

“See you later”

Mary Steinhoff funeral 06-24-2015You readers were extraordinarily kind when I wrote about Mother’s death in June. An account of the family’s rather unconventional graveside ceremony was the second-most read story for the year. My family and I appreciate the many notes you all left.

Mother seldom said, “Goodbye.” She preferred “See you later,” and Brother David scratched that phrase on her casket before it was lowered in the ground.

Kermit “Moose” Meystedt

1963 Girardot Kermit MeystedtOur lives are marked by special dates and ceremonies. When we are kids, we attend birthday parties of our classmates. As we get older, we’re go to proms, ballgames and dances. Not long after that, it’s weddings, followed by baby showers. We have a bit of a gap before we start attending the funerals of the parents of friends. Finally, when we are at the stage where we have more yesterdays than tomorrows, it’s our turn to show up in the obituary pages.

Kermit “Moose” Meystedt, one of Central High School’s finest athletes, died January 10, 2015. An account of his life was the third highest-read post of the year.

Dean Kahler, survivor of Kent State shootings

Curator Jessica and I toured the Kent State May 4 Vistors Center on one of my Ohio rambles. We were fortunate enough to meet Dean Kahler, one of the students shot by the National Guard that day in 1970. He is one of the most remarkable men I’ve met, and I don’t say that about a lot of people. His story was in fourth place.

His description of that day is haunting. Click on the video if you don’t follow a single other link.

“I knew I had been shot because it felt like a bee sting. I knew immediately because my legs got real tight, then they relaxed just like in zoology class when you pith a frog,” he said. He never walked again, but he has turned into a highly competitive wheelchair athlete.

After the shooting stopped, he called out to see if there were any Boy Scouts around who could turn him over. “The only thought that came into my head was if I was turned over, would I bleed more internally than externally? I thought (shrugs shoulders) there’s a 50 / 50 chance that you’re going to die one way or the other. I knew I might die. I had a really good chance of dying, so I wanted to see the sky, the sun, leaves, peoples faces. I didn’t want to be eating grass when I died.”

Tower Rock Quarry Exposed

Tower rock and quarry at low water 10-28-2011I started posting old story links to a Facebook page for folks who are interested in the Mississippi River. That’s probably why this 2011 story about Tower Rock and how the low water had exposed an old stone quarry south of the Rock was pushed to fifth place.

Mary Welch Steinhoff 1921- 2015

MLS Card 06-03-2015I wrote so many stories about Mother (some of them were even true) that complete strangers would come up to her in the grocery store and ask if she was “Ken’s Mother?” She pretended not to like that, but I know she enjoyed the attention. When I wrote her obituary on June 23, 2015, I came up with a list of more than three dozen links before I quit searching. I guess that’s why she became the mother everybody had (or wished they had had).

You can’t know how comforting it was to read the comments you left about a woman many of you knew only through my late-night ramblings. She had a great run. October will forever be Birthday Season.

The picture is a card sent to Mother at the Lutheran Home from someone who had never met her in person. I think it captures her spirit.

The Old Burnt Mill

Burnt Mill - Perry county 11-19-2015Sometimes you run across a reference to a place and you just have to go searching for it. That’s how I ended up at the Old Burnt Mill in Perry county.

It’s an interesting building with a fascinating history of hubris, double-dealing, maybe a murder and a haunting.

This picture drives me crazy

Cape CHS Girls volleyballThis copyrighted photo of girls wearing “ugly” gym suits has been stolen by I can’t count how many websites. It’s been shared hundreds of thousands of times, even though I’ve been quick to file DCMA takedown notices every time I find it posted.

The crazy thing is that hundreds swear that the photo was taken at their high school and even contains their sisters. Trust me, I took the photo and have the original 4×5 negative in a file box. It was taken at Central High School. And, if Rosanne Hecht or Joni Tickel aren’t your sisters, then you’re wrong.

For the record, I love it when people share links to my posts, but I get really cranky if you copy and publish a photo without permission.

It was only number eight on the hit parade, but it would be a lot higher if the folks who ripped it off had posted links.

CHS 2015 class reunion

2015 CHS reunion 07-31-2015It’s not fair that Terry Hopkins can still fit in his letter jacket without sucking in his stomach so much that his eyes bug out. There was a big difference between the last get-together and the 2015 Central High School reunion. We’ve all gotten a lot grayer and a lot less spry. (Except for Terry, of course, who was probably the reason that the post scored the number nine spot.)

A celebration of Wimpy’s

Wimpy composite 8x10The Centenary United Methodist Church held a one-day only Wimpy’s Day, featuring the original Wimpy’s family cooking to the original recipes.

Here are photos of the Lewis family and friends at work.

 

 

Debaters Not Worth 20¢

CHS Debate Club c 1965I posted pictures of a mad feeding frenzy after the Girardot yearbook had gone to press and the photos in it were made available for purchase. When I was going through a box of prints the other night, I found this one of what I assume to be the Debate Club. It had the price of 20 cents written on the back of it.

Despite the people clamoring for photos in the other post, apparently nobody thought we were worth two thin dimes, so I ended up with it.

I think I have figured out who all the players are. Back row, l to r, Chuck Dockins, Ken Steinhoff, Bill East, Jane McKeown, Mike Seabaugh, Debby Young and Shari Stiver.

Front row, l to r, Pat Sommers, Joni Tickel, Vicky Roth and Sally Wright. Click on the photo to make it larger.

Goldwater Signs and Ugly Negatives

Central High School Auditorium c 1964These negatives were so gnarly I almost didn’t post them, but there are lots of familiar faces, so I’ll just have to ask you to overlook the spots and amoebas eating our classmates. This looks like some kind of debate function, but I don’t understand all the Goldwater signs.

Click on the photo to make it larger and see who you can spot. I see Laura Folsom, Margaret Randol, Skip Stiver, Linda Stone, Pat Sommers, Mike Seabaugh, Chuck Dockins, Georganne Penzel, Joni Tickel, Kathy Slinkard, Bill East and Joe Snell, among others. Based on the mix, I’m going to guess this was taken in the fall of 1964 and is made up of the classes of ’65 and ’66 and ’67.

Ueleke, Folsom and Randol

Central High School Auditorium c 1964The only ones I’m going to venture a guess on are John Ueleke, Laura Folsom and Margaret Randol. I don’t know if the older women were teachers.

Goldwater and green file boxes

Central High School Auditorium c 1964Lots of Goldwater buttons and bumper stickers. I was a Barry fan and got to shoot his campaign stop in Cairo. The girl in the center must have been a debater. I still have a dozen or more of those green metal 3×5 and 4×6 file boxes full of notes and arguments.

 Amoeba revenge

Central High School Auditorium c 1964This young lady’s legs are being eaten by film amoebas for the way she is disrespecting the photographer. The bemused blonde has held up quite well, but actually laughing, well, that’ll earn you the photographer’s revenge.

I KNOW I should know the boy in the left background, but I can’t pull his name out of the mist.

Mystery man

Central High School Auditorium c 1964The man on the right is another one of those faces I recognize but can’t ID. Ideas?

20 Cases of Bean Dip

CHS canned food drive c Dec. 1964I don’t know if I’d call it the Class of 1965’s finest hour, but what happened during a Christmas food drive stuck out in some students’ memories 10 and 20 years later.

When it came to for people to come up with their memories of Central High School for the 10th reunion, Lee Dahringer listed “20 cases of bean dip.” Louie Ervin also listed the canned food drive (along with Twirp Week, baseball, football, student council and Tiger Den).

Treasure trove of 65 students

CHS canned food drive c Dec. 1964I’m assuming this is the infamous food drive because I don’t see anyone from the Class of 64, but there’s a smattering of the Class of ’66 lurking around.

I’m pretty sure that’s Joni Tickel in the dark sweater in the foregound (Wife Lila wasn’t quite as sure), with Carole Rapp behind her. I see Louie Ervin, Lonnie Blackwood, David Hahs, Betsy Ringland, Charlie Baldwin and Jackie Knehans among the group.

 What was the story of the bean dip?

CHS canned food drive c Dec. 1964I don’t have first-hand knowledge of the whole story, but as I recall, there was a contest to see which class could bring in the most canned goods to distribute to the needy. Whoever set up the contest must have not thought about the devious devils in the Class of ’65 because the rules (if there were any) were extremely lax.

At the last minute, some folks showed up with 20 cases – 20 cases, not cans – of bean dip they had purchased cheaply. (Or knowing these guys, the cases may have fallen off a truck.)

That was more than enough to seal the deal for the Class of ’65. It wasn’t what I would consider a classy move since bean dip may not have been the highest priority for hungry families, but it won the contest.

I see Charlie Duncan, Jim Feldmier, Brad Wilson, Ron Marshall, Jim Lorberg, Walter Stafford and Tom Holt in the mix.

Halls were packed

CHS canned food drive c Dec. 1964The halls were packed. Faithful Reader Terry Hopkins, ’66, is more or less in the middle of the melee.

Ranked right up the with The Hearse

CHS canned food drive c Dec. 1964For the 20th reunion, Pat Sommers listed his CHS memories: “The Dances, Senior Skip Day, Wimpy’s, school plays, canned food drives, Debate trips, Mr. Chapman, Kennedy’s death, and the dress-up day when Randy, Mike, Paul David, Phil and I brought the Hearse to school!!”

I think I can pull Ken Trowbridge and Steven Crowe out of this crowd, along with Craig Brinkman.

Click on the photos to make them larger and add your own IDs, plus correct my errors.

 

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.