The Night Belongs to Me

Broadway 11-13-2015_2464I like roaming the streets at night. Maybe part of it is that I don’t like to get up early. Even most of my bicycle riding was done as the sun was going down and later. The streets were quieter. People weren’t in as much of a hurry. It was fun cruising through neighborhoods chatting with people walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers or rolling their garbage cans to the curb.

If you saw a flickering light in a darkened room, you knew the residents were watching TV; if the light was steady, they were on their computer. If their windows were open, you could smell their dinners cooking, and maybe even guess what part of the country or world they were from by those fragrances.

After I dropped off my late-night meeting or sports photos at The Missourian (so I wouldn’t have to get up early in the morning to do it), I’d roam up and down the streets and alleys listening to police calls, talking to the night watchmen or just enjoying a city asleep. The cops all knew my car, so they never stopped me to see if I was up to something.

View from Fort A

View from Fort A 11-13-2015The view from what had once been Civil War Fort A at the end of Bellvue is arguably the prettiest view of Cape Girardeau. I wish I had been there 15 minutes earlier so the barge would have shown up better in the reflections of lights on the river. Of course, had I been there 15 minutes earlier, the boat would have been below the bridge, and it wouldn’t have mattered what the light level was. As it turned out, I had to wait about five minutes for it to get where it is here.

KFVS antenna farm

KFVS at night 11-13-2015Coming down the hill from Bellvue on North Lorimier from Fort A, my eye was drawn to the KFVS tower and the antenna farm behind it. I drove past, wondering if it was worth a shot. When I saw the crescent moon over the Marquette Hotel. I circled the block and was lucky enough to find a parking spot just about where I needed to shoot. (You can click on the photos to make them larger, by the way.)

A car pulled in across the street just about the time I got out of mine. The driver must have wondered what I was up to, because I could sense he was watching me. Finally, when I opened the door to get back into my van, he got out and walked across the street. I didn’t stick around to see if he went into KFVS or walked down the hill to what used to be the the N’Orleans, the brick building on the left.

The antenna on the right is a twin to the iconic one on the last hill on Highway 61 coming into Cape from Jackson.

World Book Day

Steinhoff basement offices c 1966I was driving down the road this afternoon when someone on the radio mentioned that this was World Book Day. That caused a flashback to some photos of the side-by-side offices Dad and I had in the basement.

This was my desk, which is uncharacteristically neat and clean. I’m normally a stacker. The radio dial is set somewhere to the middle, so I was probably listening to KFVS, which I think was 960. It’s doubtful I could have picked up my favorite stations: WLS out of Chicago, WLN out of New Orleans or KXOK out of St. Louis.

The reference books I still have on my shelf nearly 50 years later are to the left of the radio. The Olivetti portable typewriter followed me to Ohio University and points beyond. I passed it on to Brother Mark at some point, and he still has it.

My darkroom equipment was eventually set up behind me on a table and Dad’s workbench. These photos must have been taken before I bought my enlarger and other stuff.

Shari saving me from Algebra

Shari Stiver in Steinhoff basementMaybe I cleaned up my desk because Girlfriend Shari was coming over to try to drill algebra into my skull. If you blow it up big enough, you can see a hand-scrawled note on the wall that says, “When I’m right, nobody remembers; When I’m wrong, nobody forgets.”

Dad’s side of the world

Steinhoff basement offices c 1966Dad had a real office where he did most of his book work, but he’d also work on things at home. There’s a blueprint on the left side of the desk. That lamp hanging down is still in use, and the fan is still there. The book shelves gradually filled with books, mostly about Scouting, but there are still a lot of Pinewood Derby cars and wooden neckerchief slides gathering dust. There is a stack of aluminum film cans containing our 8mm home movies to the left of the light.

Getting back to World Book Day, I’ve always been surrounded by books and magazines. When we lived in a tiny house trailer that Dad pulled from job to job, there wasn’t a lot of storage space, so my comic book collection was housed in a wooden seat with a hinged lid back in my bedroom. When you are an only child (at the time) and living out in the boonies, your books become your closest companions.

Dad and my grandfather liked murder mysteries

Steinhoff basement offices c 1966I asked my grandfather, who lived with us, why he liked Earl Stanley Garden and Perry Mason books and not the fishing magazines I subscribed to.

“Because I can read a mystery without wanting to kill someone, but if I read a fishing magazine, I’d want to go fishing,” he answered.

Our family subscribed to The St. Louis Globe-Democrat in the morning and The Southeast Missourian in the afternoon. We must have gotten at least half a dozen magazines. If nothing else was available, I’d read the cereal box.

When I finally got a library card, I checked out as many books as I could carry. I made a tiny mark inside the books when I finished them. A few years back, I prowled the aisles of Cape’s library until I saw some old friends that still had the marks in them. If any of the book police are reading this, I hope they will forgive my youthful transgression.



High in the Common Pleas Courthouse

When you look at the Common Pleas Courthouse from Spanish Street, you hardly notice the windows in the dome. (You can click the photos to make them larger.)

Looking east from the courthouse

If you’re lucky enough to hook up with guys like IT director Eric McGowen and public works director Don McQuay, folks who have the right keys and know where the hidden passageways are, you can see some impressive sights. I’m glad Friend Shari and I picked a day when it wasn’t 107 outside for our tour. Even on a relatively cool (sub-100) day, it was hot and dusty. The tiny and winding staircases were made for smaller people than me.

Here’s a view down Themis Street. The greenish building on the left side of Spanish and Themis was Doyle’s Hat Shop. One of the Teen Age Clubs was in the building across the street from it. The tall, red brick building that was the Sturdivant Bank may not be with us for long. It’s on the Endangered Building List. A steel cable is keeping bricks from the top floor from raining down on Main Street.

View to the west

This is the view in the opposite direction. The Civil War fountain and statue is to the right of the roof. Don shared an interesting story about it when we were at the Jackson Courthouse. We’ll save it for another day.

DR. C.E. Schuchert’s bandstand

The bandstand dedicated to Dr. C.E. Schuchert and the KFVS tower can be seen to the northwest. The view from the 11th floor of the KFVS building is pretty spectacular, too. There’s a photo looking back toward the courthouse that provides an interesting counterpoint to this one.


Broadway Construction Project

Brother Mark was down in Cape for Mother’s Day. He’s got an advantage when it comes to jockeying for a favorable position in the will. He’s 125 miles away from Mother; I’m 1,100 miles away.

He jingled the keys and mother hopped in the car to go exploring. Mark stopped long enough to shoot these pictures of the 200 and 300 blocks of Broadway. The city’s embarked on what is either a very good or a very bad idea. They are enlarging the sidewalks on the north side of the street to make the area more attractive to pedestrians (at the expense of parking on that side). Here was the Broadway end-to-end piece I did recently, by the way.

Narrow lanes worry me

We had a West Palm Beach mayor (thankfully, gone) who went on a traffic-calming binge. There were a number of streets that were wide enough that a car could pass my bike without having to cross the centerline while still giving me the legal three feet of clearance. He started choking the lanes with traffic furniture where he didn’t narrow them and added speed humps willy-nilly. By doing that, he made it impossible for a car to pass without going over the centerline, which irritated folks if there was oncoming traffic.

So, if you see me cranking my way up the Broadway hill, just know that I’m going as fast as I can and that it wasn’t MY idea to make the lanes smaller. Oh, and the sidewalk isn’t an option. Bikes don’t belong on sidewalks.

It IS pretty, though.

Brother Mark’s photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery. I don’t know why he’s being so nice to me. There’s nothing to put in the will, it’s past his birthday and Christmas is a long time off.