1964 SEMO Fair Exposé

The Southeast Missouri District Fair in Cape Girardeau was my first newspaper undercover investigation assignment. Jackson Pioneer Editor Gary Fredericks decided he and I would go to the fair to see if we could uncover and document gambling violations on the fair’s midway. I have no way of knowing whether or not he had any evidence of the gambling or if he just wanted to go to the fair.

[Editor’s note: I THINK Gary was editor. We had so many come and go it was hard to tell who was wearing the Editor hat on any give day. I also can’t remember if his last name had an “S” on the end. We’ll just call him Gary from here on out to be safe.]

Mike’s Krazy Ball – Gary’s Krazy Theories

Gary had a number of theories

  • The midway games were either rigged
  • Or, they weren’t games of skill, which would make them gambling
  • If they were gambling, the cops had been paid off
  • UFOs were real.

Gary was capable of multi-tasking. He was working on that last theory at the same time.

Gary was playing, I was shooting

That’s Editor Gary pitching the Krazy ball trying to win a piece of plush (stuffed toy). I presume the enthusiastic gentleman perched on the stool is Mike. I’m not sure how Gary rated this stand.

Was THIS game rigged?

Soon we meandered over to this game. You might detect some kinda bad vibes coming off the gentleman at the left. I was beginning to get the feeling that he might not like me.

Nice man concerned with my safety

Before long, this nice man came over to talk with me. He was joined by two other burly fellows who wanted to make sure I got back to my car safely at the end of the evening, which, coincidentally, was Right Now. Gary shot this with a camera I slipped him when I thought things might be going south.

I was 5’10 and weighed maybe 105 pounds in those days, so they wouldn’t have had to be too big to meet my definition of “burly.” At any rate, I thought that maybe since they were kind enough to offer me an escort off the grounds that it would have been ungracious to refuse.

I don’t remember what kind of story Gary ended up writing. It may have had something to do with UFOs.

Blue Grass Shows Mighty Midway

When I wasn’t getting kicked out, the SEMO Fair ranked right up there with Christmas, the 4th of July and your birthday for big events. It was such a big deal that the schools let out for Fair Day.

Bottle deposits kept the day going

When you ran out of money, you’d scrounge the grounds looking for soda bottles to turn in for the two-cent deposit to food stands like this one.

Fair used as local fundraiser

Many local service service clubs and schools set up tents and stands to make money. This one has a sign, Delta Senior Stand. Note the electrical wires snaking along the ground.

Power for the grounds was provided by huge generators on the back of 18-wheelers. Huge cables the size of your wrist would feed into junction boxes on the ground, which would, in turn, fed into smaller cables. I always wondered why nobody got electrocuted when it rained. I’ll never forget the sound those generators made. They were noisy all the time, but they would scream when a big ride started up and they had to catch up with the sudden load.

Midway laid out in horseshoe shape

Most midways were laid out in a U shape was designed to draw crowds throughout the entire carnival and maximize spending. Crowds tended to enter the right leg, so the stands on that side were more valuable and were either owned by the promoter or went for big rents.

I wasn’t old enough for The Follies

Game concessions were usually the first joints along the outside of the right leg of the U. Rides would be located down the center column, with the carousel traditionally being the first ride beyond the front gate. After the games, the crowd would find the shows and the penny arcade.

The right hand bend was where the girlie show lived. I never made it into The Follies. I’ll have to let someone else fill me in on what you saw there.

The left leg would contain more shows and games all the way back to the front gate. They had slimmer pickings because a lot of money drained off before it got to them.

Ferris Wheel dominated the skyline

Other rides might be more spectacular, but the “wheel” traditionally signaled the end of the night. Because it was generally the tallest ride and could be seen throughout the whole midway, the carnival would use it to signal that the midway was closed for the night. When it went dark, it was time to go back to the trailers to get ready for the next day.

Carny could be your friend – or not

The greasy, tattooed guy with his cigarettes rolled up in his T-shirt sleeve who took your ticket when you got on a ride could be your friend – or not – depending on how he sized you up. He could give you a great ride or, by cleverly working the clutch, he could shake the change out of your pockets and make you puke on your girlfriend.

While we were scouting bottles for the deposits, we tried to look for loose change under the big rides. The carnies would run us off, though, because they considered that “their” money.

Not a Fair Week without rain

SEMO fairs are either hot and dusty or rainy and muddy. Frequently, they are both. Sometimes they even mix in cold and windy with the rainy.

Crafts and Good food

All of the action didn’t take place on the midway. Cape was an agricultural area, so there were plenty of 4H and livestock exhibits. The Arena building was stuffed with baking contests, quilts and sewing competitions with their blue, red and white ribbons.

In addition to the exhibits, there were scores of booths set up that were the Real World equivalents of the Home Shopping Network. Barkers were hawking every imaginable thing. No kid – and few adults – went home without a shopping bag of handouts and samples.

It was a great place to go when you had run out of money and soda bottles.

Southeast Missouri District Fair Gallery

Here’s a gallery of photos taken at the Southeast Missouri District Fair in the middle and / or late 60s. I don’t know that they were all taken in the same year. The earliest photos would have been of the 1964 fair. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right wide of the photo to move through the gallery.

Kent State: Never Forget

I wrote on my other blog last year that I can always count on getting a message from John Lopinot on May 4. Usually the subject line says it all: Never Forget. May 4, of course, is the day that four Kent State students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard.

What would cause this look?

The short answer is opportunistic politicians.

I had expected this would be the year when I would do the definitive piece on what a small Ohio university town was like in the months leading up to the shootings and the days afterward. I wasn’t at Kent State, but in Athens, Ohio, the home of Ohio University.

At two in the morning, I was looking at 545 scanned negatives and a stack containing at least that many more. The best I can do for the 40th anniversary is to hit some of the high spots.

A nation near civil war

It’s hard to remember how torn apart this country was in the late 60s. The country was polarized by age divisions, by feelings about the Vietnam War, by economics and by race. Opportunistic politicians promoted those rifts for their own advantage.

Richard Nixon, while running for president in 1968, told the electorate that the country was torn by division: “America has suffered a fever of words, from inflated rhetoric that fans discontent into hatred; from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading. We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another – until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.”

Peace march on Court Street

Athens religious leaders led a peaceful, non-violent march down the main drag in Athens on a beautiful October day in 1969. (My film sleeves are dated Oct. 16, 1969, but that might have represented when I processed the film, because Wikipedia says Moratorium Day was celebrated on Oct. 15.) The ministers and these children were at the head of the line.

The garage with the glowering man was on the parade route. I didn’t even notice that frame when I edited the film 41 years ago. Maybe I was so used to seeing that reaction that it didn’t register then like it does now.

Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam

Moratorium Day – a day to take off from work or classes and think about the war – was centered on the College Green in the heart of the campus and downtown Athens. It’s a beautiful setting with huge trees all around. The crowd ebbed and flowed throughout the day. It may have ranged from a few hundred to maybe a thousand at any one time.

There were a number of speakers, all forgettable. The thing that has haunted me since that day was a relay of volunteers reading the names of the servicemen killed in Vietnam. Every name was accompanied by a drumbeat on a drum with a smiling OU Bobcat mascot on its side.

If it takes about two seconds to read each name, you need about 24 hours to work your way through 50,000 names. The sound system wasn’t strong enough to carry the names much farther than the immediate area, but that drum beat was audible throughout most of downtown and the central area dorms.

Drumbeat marks the dead

Boom.

Boom.

Boom.

Even if you couldn’t hear the names, you couldn’t escape the realization that every beat represented someone just about your age who was dead.

Dead.

Dead.

Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction

I think of that drum when I listen to Barry McGuire sing this part of Eve of Destruction:

The Pounding Of The Drum The Pride And Disgrace
You Can Bury Your Dead But Don’t Leave A Trace
Hate Your Next-door Neighbor But Don’t Forget To Say Grace

ROTC: a stand-in for the war

Whether or not ROTC should be on campus was the surrogate issue for the debate over whether the university should be pro-war or anti-war. I attended small meetings and big meetings like this one for months. (I’m not sure if I noticed the guy in the front row with the turtle when I shot it.)

Photographers love action

Photographers gravitate to action. TV, in particular, has the slogan, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Demonstrators learned to play to that with marches, demonstrations, signs and street theater.

Unwittingly, they played right into the hands of the Nixon administration, which wanted something to demonize. Peter Davies, in The Truth about Kent State, wrote, “In less than two years the victors of that election [1968] had become masterful exponents of inflated, angry, bombastic rhetoric and evinced little inclination to learn from the dissenting views of others.

Nov. 15, 1969, half a million people participated in a March on Washington. Nixon, in what has to be a classic understatement said, “Now, I understand that there has been, and continues to be, opposition to the war in Vietnam on the campuses and also in the nation.” He continued, “As far as this kind of activity is concerned, we expect it, however under no circumstances will I be affected whatever by it.”

Cambodian invasion

The war seemed to be winding down by the spring of 1970, and student activists were starting to shift their focus to more domestic issues. That changed when Nixon announced on Apr. 30, 1970, that he was going to have American forces invade Cambodia.

Reaction on campuses was swift and angry.

Dissenters should be treated as Nazis

Vice President Spiro Agnew, who later resigned in disgrace over petty bribery charges, escalated the rhetoric much as Nixon escalated the war. At a Republican fundraiser in Miami, Agnew recommended that campus dissenters be treated as if they were Nazis.

Four dead at Kent State

If you click on this sentence, you’ll be taken to my account of the day the Kent State shootings occurred.

OU students were stunned

Students at Ohio University were stunned by the killings. One of the largest groups I can recall seeing turned out on the College Green to hear speakers and to be close to one another. The group wasn’t made up of your “usual suspect” campus radicals and protesters. Faculty members and Greeks were sitting side by side with long-haired hippies.

OU President Claude Sowle

Another mass meeting was held in the Convocation Center, usually used for basketball games. Speakers, including university president Claude Sowle, lined up for their turn to speak. What I find astounding looking at these pictures today is that President Sowle (standing, in jacket, with back to camera) was surrounded by thousands of students without any security present.

These are the same kinds of students Ohio Gov. James Rhodes characterized at a table-thumping law-and-order press conference in Kent on May 3 as “worse than the Brownshirts and the Communist element and also the night riders and the vigilantes. They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America. I think that we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America. We’re going to eradicate the problem, we’re not going to treat the symptoms.”

That speech was widely broadcast, including into the National Guard’s bivouac area on the Kent State campus, something that  was thought to give tacit approval, if not encouragement, to the shootings that would happen the next day. Rhodes was two days away from a tight primary race and he was hoping to fire up his base.

No-frill Communion

Some of the campus religious leaders announced a one-day fast in honor of the Kent State victims. It would be broken by the taking of Communion on the College Green the next day.

After having attended a Lutheran school for eight years, I always associated Communion with golden chalices, fancy wafer, droning organ music and great formality.

There were so many students participating in THIS communion service that the ministers had to dispatch someone to a nearby store to pick up some cheap bottles of wine and some loaves of ordinary bread off the shelf.

I understand Communion now

I usually never participate in the events I cover, but I understood, for the first time, the real meaning of communion. It wasn’t about the religious trappings, it was about coming together with something bigger than yourself.

I got in line for a chunk of bread and a swig out of a shared bottle of wine. I was never so moved by a religious ceremony before,  and I’ve never felt like taking Communion since. I don’t know if it was the place, the people or the circumstances, but something special happened that afternoon.

Days and nights blurred

Almost every day there was some kind of rally, march, demonstration or protest. Most of them were fairly benign. It was almost like no one wanted to push the envelope too far after what happened on May 4.

Alcohol, not revolutionary spirits

Even the night-time bonfires next to the War Memorial seemed fueled more by alcoholic spirits than the spirit of revolution. Ohio University has long celebrated The Rites of Spring where confrontations with local police were common when the first warm days chased the cold winter away.

The bars let out

When the bars let out on a nice spring night, it’s not uncommon for the students to take over the major intersection in town at Court and Union. On this night, there’s some political tension in the air, but there are no political signs and no organization. It’s a crowd, not a mob.

Officer reads the riot act

The officer in the center of the photo with the white hat uses a bull horn to tell the group to disperse. That’s commonly known as “reading the riot act.” It’s all part of the Rites of Spring ritual.

Streets clear, everyone goes home

Everyone pretty much stayed withing the Rules of Engagement and nothing unusual happened. Police and students all seemed on their best behavior.

Library taken over

At some point during the week, Chubb Library was occupied by the students. Some of the reporters and photographers decided that we would stay in the library during the brief siege. We figured the students would be less likely to trash the place if we were there to record it. We also assumed the police wouldn’t storm the building if we were there to photograph any head cracking. We were keeping both sides honest.

Movement is losing steam

There was one last half-hearted night of protest that involved a relatively small crowd that marched on the president’s home. I don’t recall much happening and the group started to disperse. Other newspaper folks and I had the feeling that this was about the last gasp. The movement was running out of steam. Even students get tired.

Herded back to College Green

Students started running back to the group saying that the Green was surrounded by police who were keeping them from leaving. To this day, I think this was a result of bad intelligence on the part of the police or bad planning.

  • I don’t think they realized that the energy was gone from the student movement and that it was about to collapse.
  • If they had allowed the students to disperse on their own, everyone would have gone home and it would have been over.

Bats n’ hats

To make matters worse, I discovered that police from all over the area had been brought in for reinforcements. These folks rarely had contact with students and were even more poorly trained than the Athens PD.

It wasn’t a good thing to see everyone decked out in full “bats ‘n hats” riot gear with gas masks. I don’t think I had ever seen Athens PD use gas before.

Like I described on my other blog, it wasn’t long before a cop I knew launched a tear gas grenade right toward me. It gave me great pleasure to give him a grin before I pulled on MY gas mask.

My tactical blunder

Friend and photographer Ed Pieratt shot me in my riot gear. I had to wear my glasses on the outside of the mask because I was blind without them. The old WWII mask kept the gas out, but the lenses fogged up so badly I couldn’t see WITH the mask or WITHOUT it. (By the next riot, I had a state of the art M16 mask courtesy of a policeman who “liberated” one for me. I had it fitted with prescription lenses and used it for another two decades.

I’m not happy with the photos from the night of the riot. For some reason, despite the fact that I specialized in shooting available light under lousy conditions, and despite that stuff I had shot by street lights earlier in the week looked good, I decided to bolt a flash on the camera.

Shooting flash draws attention to you – and can look like a muzzle flash from a gun – so you tend to shoot sparingly. It also makes for ugly pictures. Photographers shouldn’t think, they should shoot. Having that bleeping flash on the camera made me think, which caused me to miss photos I wish I’d had.

Ohio University shut down

It was over. By morning, President Sowle had made the decision to close the university until the summer session. Mayor Raymond Shepard and President Sowle decided jointly to request the Ohio National Guard.

Students leave town

With tear gas power still falling from the trees and the whole town suffering from red, itchy eyes from the night before, carloads of anxious parents descended on Athens to pick up their kids.

Kent State garnered all the attention

On the front page of The Messenger that detailed the closing of Ohio University is a story that has been dwarfed by Kent State: the killing of two students and the wounding of five at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

Does Agnew sound familiar?

Vice President Spiro Agnew said in April 1970, “One modest suggestion for the academic community: the next time a mob of students, waving their non-negotiable demands, starts pitching rocks at the Student Union – just imagine they are wearing brown shirts or white sheets and act accordingly.”

Shootings were “unwarranted”

The Scranton Commission concluded that the gunfire from the Ohio National Guard was “unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.”

James Michener, in his book Kent State: What Happened and Why, wrote that “a depressing number” of the four hundred Kent State students interviewed “had been told by their parents that it might have been a good thing if they had been shot.”

Think of that the next time someone on the left or the right loses touch with reality. Words can sometimes ignite more than the political base.

[Editor’s note: I’m sure there are some “facts” that are wrong. Dates on the film sleeves could be the day the photos were taken or they could be the date the film was processed. After weeks of marches, rallies, meeting, speeches and songifying, days and events run together. Like so many things I’ve covered, I’m glad to have been a witness to history, but once was enough.]

Gallery of photos from Ohio University

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

Cape Girardeau Then & Now

Some time between graduating from Central High School in 1965 and leaving for Ohio University in 1967, I hopped on a train in Cape Girardeau to go to a National Press Photographers Association Flying Short Course. I heard two things at that seminar that influenced my photography from then on.

Ken Heyman and This America

A photographer named Ken Heyman illustrated This America, A Portrait of a Nation, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. At that stage in my career, I thought any photograph that was published in a book had to be great. Looking back at it now, I know that some of the photos WERE iconic, some were solid images and some were merely pedestrian, at best.

Two photographers were sitting in front of me. One turned to the other and whispered, “I could shoot pictures better than that.”

His buddy responded, “Yeah, but the difference between him and you is that HE actually did it.”

Tom Neumeyer actually did it

I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

When I got back to Cape a couple of weeks ago, those the words I heard at that seminar 40-plus years ago came flooding back at me when I heard that some guy named Tom Neumeyer was holding a book signing for his new photo documentary book, Cape Girardeau Then & Now.

It’s a collection of 120 vintage photographs paired with what you would find at those locations today.

I COULD HAVE done that book. TOM did it.

When we went to Cape’s new public library (which is really nice, by the way) and I saw framed photos from the book hanging on the wall, I knew I had to have a copy.

Small world department

The person who took my money was Carolyn Penzel, another member of the Class of 65.

When I got up to Tom to have my book signed, he recognized my name and asked how [Family nickname my wife has been trying to leave behind for almost half a century] was.

Just about that time, Don and Marty (Perry) Riley, my in-laws walked in.

Life’s like a pinball game

I’ve always admired folks who know what they are going to do and go after goals in a straight line. My career path has been more like a pinball game where outside influences bounced me all over the place. I was reminded of that when I ran into a some people who had a major part in my life as a newspaper photographer.

I saw my Mother, Mary Steinhoff, (left) talking with Jo Ann Bock, who is a multifaceted writer and former teacher who was married to Howard Bock. When I came to Central High School as a freshman, Mr. Bock knew I had an interest in photography. He invited me to join The Tiger and Girardot photo staffs and taught me how to process film and make prints. When he died in May 2009, I discovered many things I never knew about the man.

I was admiring Tom’s photos on the wall when a man walked up and said, “I used to be Gary Rust.”

“I used to be Ken Steinhoff,” I countered.

Gary Rust, now a newspaper magnate, got me my first newspaper job. John Hoffman, the editor and publisher of The Jackson Pioneer had been in an auto accident that severely injured him and and killed his wife. Gary knew he needed help in the office, so he recommended me.

I think the recommendation was more because I had been dating the granddaughter of the local head of the Republican Party, and I was a rabid Barry Goldwater supporter, than it was for any journalistic prowess.

By the time I left the paper, I learned how to be a reporter, photographer, typesetter, layout editor, photo engraver… all for the munificent sum of $75 every two weeks.

There IS a market for photo books

Years ago, I helped illustrate a book, New Burlington: The Life and Death of an American Village. The writer encouraged me to turn my photos into a book of its own, but I was told “picture books don’t sell.”

I’m glad to see that Tom is proving an exception to that rule. So many people bought his books that they had to scurry out to the car to bring in extra boxes.

Where to find Then & Now

I see copies of his book all over Cape. Here’s a note he sent me with a list of places to find it.

  • Arts Council of Southeast Missouri
  • Annie Laurie’s Antiques
  • Back Porch Antiques
  • Broadway Books and Roasting
  • Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Crisp Museum
  • Cup’N’Cork
  • Grassroots BMW
  • Lang’s Jewelry
  • Mississippi Mud House
  • Neumeyer Photography
  • Old Town Cape
  • Renaissance
  • SEMO University Bookstore
  • Somewhere in Time Antiques
  • Stev-Mark

Tom said Dr. Frank Nickell’s website has an order form to download.

What was that second thing?

I mentioned that I came away from that seminar in Peoria with two life-defining messages.

The second was from Louisville Courier-Journal photographer Bill Strode who talked about photo ethics. “If I set up a photograph and there are only two people in the room – me and the subject – then that’s two too many people in the world who know that I’m a damned liar.”

Gallery of book signing photos

One of the nice things about doing this as a blog instead of as a newspaper story is that I won’t get in trouble if I don’t identify all of the people in the pictures. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to step through the gallery.

Tornado Drills and John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

Blaring klaxons at Alma Schrader School

Just as I stepped out of the car in front of Alma Schrader School Friday morning, an ear-splitting alarm cut the air. “Wow, that’s some greeting,” I thought. “They’ve got the sensor on the StrangeCharacter-o’meter set just a little bit too sensitive.”

When I got inside, I saw little kids hunkered down in the hallway and teachers taking headcounts. I glanced out the window where the skies were gray, but not particularly threatening. “Tornado drill?” I asked a staffer. “It IS a drill, right?”

I was assured that it was merely a drill, something they practice several times a year. I hope it’s more effective than the Duck ‘n Cover exercises we did to prepare for nuclear blasts.

It was a productive visit. Principal Ruth Ann Orr, administrative assistant Stephanie Voil Depro and counselor Julia Unnerstall were a great help in matching names to faces in the photos I shot of the school’s 50th Anniversary Celebration March 11.

What does Alma Schrader have to do with JFK?

My memory is a funny thing. It’s full of old stuff waiting for some kind of electrical spark to flicker between it and something I encounter in Today’s World. When I looked out the door at the gray skies, I flashed back to a stormy Friday afternoon on November 22, 1963.

The American History teacher was droning on. We were waiting for the end of the day and the start of the weekend. The PA crackled to life and we looked out at the threatening clouds wondering if we were going to hear a tornado alert.

Principal Fred Wilferth announced that President John F. Kennedy had just been shot in Dallas, Texas. Not long after that came the bulletin that the President was dead.

The Missourian reported that Central High School “held a period of respect and remembrance [that began] at 2:45, lasting several minutes.”

“All you could hear was breathing”

Shortly after that, a television set with rabbit ears was wheeled into the gym, where shocked students watched the story unfold. As soon as I saw the scene, I called The Missourian and told Editor John Blue that I’d have something for him. That promise would soon come back to haunt me.

EXTRA! EXTRA!

He said the paper was going to publish an EXTRA edition, but I’d have to hurry. They wanted the paper on the street by 6 p.m.

I ran up to the school darkroom, grabbed the Crown Graphic 4×5 camera and two holders of film. One side was empty, so that left me three shots. I didn’t see the school’s electronic flash, so I grabbed three old-fashioned flash bulbs on the way out the door.

Without getting too technical, the camera had to be set differently for each type of light. An electronic flash fires a very short burst of light, so the shutter has to be fully open when it goes off (that’s the X setting). A flashbulb ignites, then it gets progressively brighter until it dims out. That means it has to fire slightly before the shutter does so it is at maximum brightness when the shutter is open all of the way (that’s the M setting).

In my excitement, I didn’t notice that the camera was set for electronic flash. When I pulled the dripping film out of the fixer, my heart sank. It was almost blank. There was hardly any image on it at all. The flashbulb hadn’t had time to get to full brightness before the shutter closed.

Darkroom Magic

I knew I didn’t have time to reshoot the picture, even if the students were still around. I pulled out what meager little bag of magic darkroom tricks I had learned and managed to come up with a shot that made the paper.

It was the last time in my entire career that I ever told an editor that I had a picture before I saw it. You have to remember that my first Missourian news photo was published April 18 of that year. My credibility was on the line. You don’t tell someone to hold space in an EXTRA! unless you can deliver.

By the way, the “pupil” quoted as saying all he could hear was the sound of his fellow classmates breathing was me. The Missourian had this quaint style rule that you were a “pupil” until you were in college. Then you were promoted to “student.” I tried every way I could to get the style changed, but never succeeded.

Here’s a link to the EXTRA! edition. You’ll have to play around with the zoom settings on the page to be able to read it.

Polio Vaccine and Lee Harvey Oswald

I’ll publish all three photos, warts and all. In some ways, the dust spots, fingerprints and bad exposure makes the images feel more “real.” Or, that’s the excuse I’ll use.

My family and I went to Central High School on the Sunday after the assassination to get sugar cubes with drops of polio vaccine on them. When we got into the car to go home, we heard the news that Jack Ruby had shot Lee Harvey Oswald while he was being transferred from the jail to an interrogation room.

A change in the news business

The assassination, Oswald shooting and Kennedy funeral changed the way Americans would get the news. I know the The Palm Beach Evening Times put out an EXTRA! edition when the Challenger exploded. I’m pretty sure that was the last extra edition I ever worked on.

Radio and TV were much better equipped to handle breaking news. (I would argue that the 24-hour cable channels have mishandled breaking news in recent years with their obsession of staying live when there’s nothing going on.) The printed newspaper provided a keepsake and tangible proof that an event happened in a way that broadcasting couldn’t, but the Internet has essentially driven a stake through the heart of traditional media.

The screen shots, by the way, were taken off the Steinhoff family Zenith TV in our basement.

Innocence ended

JFK’s assassination was the first in a wave of killings and attempted killings: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan

None of us who lived through that era emerged untouched. If you don’t believe it, look how a tornado drill at an elementary school in my home town can give me a flashback to a Friday afternoon nearly half a century earlier.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.