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.



Kermit “Moose” Meystedt

1963 Girardot Kermit MeystedtUnwelcome announcements are coming faster and faster these days. Brad Brune posted this note on Facebook Monday morning:

KERMIT “MOOSE” MEYSTEDT gone at 69 years of age. 
Sorry this is last minute but it was just in Missourian this morning, and apparently few were aware that he was even ill. Remember he is brother to Diane Meystedt Legrand (CHS ’66).

In speaking with his beloved son Jay, he shared that cancer of the liver was only discovered November 15th. Kermit was upbeat and enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family and close friends. All were optimistic. Last Friday night he suddenly experienced some pain and to be safe was admitted to the hospital to have it checked out. He digressed quickly and passed away at 9:45 AM Saturday morning. This happened so quickly that the family is in shock and prefers some privacy to mourn and come to grips with his unexpected loss .

The formal obituary

Kermit J. “Moose” Meystedt, I, 69, of Cape Girardeau, Missouri went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Saturday, January 10, 2015. He was born in Cape Girardeau July 20, 1945, son to Clarence and Hazel Meystedt.

Moose graduated from Central High School in 1963 and received a Bachelor’s Degree from Southeast Missouri State University in 1967 where he still holds the record for most points scored in a single basketball game, 52 points. He then went on to be drafted by the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA.

Married November 6th, 1970, he faithfully led his family as a husband to Sandy Haney Meystedt of Cape Girardeau; a loving father to Madra (Michael) Jones of Cape Girardeau, Kermit Jay (Gabrielle) Meystedt, II of Cape Girardeau, and Aron (Lauren) Meystedt of Dallas, Texas; and grandfather to Graesen, Anna Clare, Savannah, Liviah, Kermit Jay, III, and he was anxiously awaiting the arrival of grandchild number six.

Moose was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau and was currently serving on the Board of Elders. Moose and Sandy founded Genesis Transportation in 1982 and retired together June 30, 2012. During that time the Lord used Genesis as an outward expression of their faith in Jesus Christ to provide for countless missions across the United States.

Here’s a link to the formal obituary with a photo.

1963 Girardot

1963 Girardot basketball teamSpring sports were always confusing because they happened after the current year’s Girardot had already gone to press. That meant you were playing catch-up in the next year’s book. (By the way, you can click on all the photos to make them larger.)

The yearbook reported that the varsity basketball team had an outstanding season: The school record for points scored by an individual in a single performance was broken by Kermit Meystedt when he personally accounted for 47 points out of a 98 – 53 victory in the Tigers’ final game against Farmington. Meystedt made second team all district, missing the first team by one vote, while teammate Greg Neihart made honorable mention.

He went on to set a Southeast Missouri State College scoring record of 52 points in a game.

1962 State baseball champs

1962 State Baseball Champs 1963 GirardotKermit was key in getting the final out in the 1962 State tournament finals in St. Louis. The whole story is in the 1963 Girardot, above.

Had a .555 batting average

1962 Girardot baseball teamsThe 1962 Girardot indicated that Kermit was going to be a force to be reckoned with: The Freshman-Sophomore baseball team went undefeated in 1961, emerging victorious in seven contests. Kermit Meystedt, who played on both the varsity and Freshman-Sophomore team, led the team batting average with a .555 mark.

As the 1962 varsity season got underway, things looked bright for the baseball Tigers. Returning from a 1961 squad, which compiled at 15 – 3 record, were twelve boys. The twelve lettermen included last year’s top three pitchers and two of the top four players in the RBI department. Steve Mosley, Alan Kesterson and Kermit Meystedt were the pitchers, and between them they hurled eight one-run games, seven shut-outs, three one-hitters, and two no-hitters, both pitched by Steve Mosley. The pitching staff had a phenomenal ERA opf 0.395. In the slugging department, Floyd King and Meystedt led.

1961-62 SE Missouri Conference Champions

1961-62 Girardot basketball teamThe Coach’s Comments in the 1962 Girardot pointed out that the Tigers had won the Big Eight and College High Christmas tournaments and city series competition. The only loss in the regular season was to the “powerful Advance Hornets, one of the top Class M teams in the state. The Tigers entered the State Regional with a 21 – 1 record.

1961-62 Girardot basketball team 2You can see Kermit in SEMO college action here.

Oh, and the 1963 Senior Directory mentioned some things about Kermit that most of us probably didn’t know about him. In addition to his sports achievements, he was elected secretary and treasurer of his home room, and he entered the National Poetry Contest.








Curtis Williams – Trailblazer

Curtis Wiliams - SEMO's first black student-athlete 12-28-1966When I ran photos of the Southeast Missouri State Indians playing the Martin Branch of the University of Tennessee, several readers commented on Curtis Williams, #34. It turns out I had some action mug shots I took of him for either The Missourian or The Sagamore in December of 1966.

Central grad first black SEMO athlete

Curtis Wiliams - SEMO's first black student-athlete 12-28-1966What I didn’t know until I read an excellent profile by Marty Mishow in the February 19, 2004, Missourian was that the CHS grad was SEMO’s first black student-athlete and a basketball and track standout from 1964 through 1967.

Kermit Meystedt, Williams’ former basketball teammate at both Central and Southeast who along with Williams was inducted into Southeast’s Athletic Hall of Fame last October said, “He was just a very class individual, and an excellent, very gifted athlete.”

In basketball, Williams was a three-year letterman under coach Charles Parsley. He averaged 18.4 points per game as a senior to earn first-team all-MIAA honors after being second-team all-MIAA as a junior.

On the track, Williams earned four letters and excelled in all the jumps. He at one time held school records in both the high jump, at 6-8 3/4, and the triple jump, at 48-8 1/4. He was a multiple conference champion.

Wasn’t on a scholarship

Curtis Wiliams - SEMO's first black student-athlete 12-28-1966The story pointed out that Williams began his SEMO career without a scholarship, which meant that he not only played sports, but he routinely worked almost a full shift at Cape Frozen Foods, which specialized in butchering and storing meat.

Track coach Marvin Rosengarten said, “He worked at least 30 hours at the frozen food locker on Broadway. I always used to have him promise me he wouldn’t work the day before a meet so he wouldn’t be worn out.

“But after his sophomore year, I went to Charles Parsley and we worked out a deal where we split the scholarship. I think in his junior year he was just on a partial scholarship but by his senior year he was on full scholarship between basketball and track.

Flashbacks of racism

SEMO Indians vs Tenn Martin Branch 12-22-1966Williams was quoted as saying that he was well accepted by his teammates.

“Coming back from trips, sometimes we wouldn’t get served in restaurants, or they’d say I had to go eat in the back, but Coach Parsley said we would all eat together or we wouldn’t eat there. I remember we left one place outside Jonesboro.”

While Williams said he never encountered much negative reaction because of being black while at Central or Southeast, he was certainly not exempt from racism.

“During the early years of my life, I grew up at a time when blacks had to go in the back doors of restaurants to be served, where you were not allowed to attend movies or swim in public pools,” he said. “To this day, I still have flashbacks of those moments when one was made to feel less than human. You deal with it and move on.