What IS That Symbol?

A rainy day at CHS c 1965One of the most frequently-asked questions is “What is that symbol on the side of Central High’s wall over the auditorium entrance?” Nobody has come up with an answer.

Here’s a look at it on a rainy day, probably in 1965. I think Mrs. Muegge is the woman in the dark dress on the left. The two women in the doorway on the right may have worked in the library. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

1965 Girardot Photo

Central High School at Night for GirardotHere’s a view of it at night that appeared in the back of the 1965 Girardot. I shot it using the school’s Crown Graphic 4×5 camera.

2009 recreation

Central High School at night 10-14-2009 by Ken Steinhoff

I went back to recreate the photo in 2009. Here’s how the photos were taken then and now.

Cape Central Evacuation


Looks like everybody has been evacuated from Central High School. I thought it might have been a fire drill, but there are photos of officers searching the building., so I’m leaning to bomb threat. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Did the lockers have combination locks?

I was trying to figure out how they would have gotten all the lockers open if every student had an individual padlock. I seem to remember that there was a round, black combination lock on the front of the door that you turned right-left-right to open the locker. They also had a key slot that the administration could use to open them. That must have been how they did it so quickly.

Leaving no place unchecked

So, why am I inside when everybody else is outside?

I’m playing the odds that there’s no bomb. Plus, it’s cool to run around in the empty building.

Bomb on an aircraft

One night in the late 70s, we got a report of a bomb on an aircraft at Palm Beach International Airport. They unloaded the plane to search it, then blocked all but ticketed passengers from the terminal. No problem. I called the travel agency that handled our business and had them issue tickets in the name of a reporter and photographer, telling them that we had no intention of actually using them. We did enough business with the agency that they were happy to work with us.

After about an hour, the photographer radioed back that the plane has been given the all clear and that they were going to start boarding passengers soon. I was all set to tell them to come back to the office when the guy working the city desk said, “Tell them to get on the plane.”

“Get on the plane?”

“Get on the plane? That makes no sense. If there is no bomb, then there’s no story. If there IS a bomb, they’re going to be dead and they’re not going to be able to file.”

He insisted. So, saying that I wanted it on the record that this was a bad idea, I broke the news to the team. “You’re going to Pittsburgh (or Philadelphia, I can’t remember).”

“We’re broke. We have no money,” he replied. This was in the days before everybody carried plastic. We quickly took up a collection and got them a handful of cash and change.

Their conversations with their seatmates was interesting. “Let me get this straight… Your editor thinks there’s a bomb on the plane and he tells you to get on it? And, you DO it?” When you put it that way, it does sound a little strange.

They arrived in one of those P-towns to find out that there wasn’t a room to be had. There was a Shriner’s convention going on. Not only were there no rooms, every eating establishment and bar in town was full of drunks wearing funny hats. They did NOT have a fun time.

It’s all over

There are folks holding umbrellas, the concrete looks mottled and the sky is overcast. It may have just started raining. I see Calvin Chapman on the right in the first wave of returning teachers. Mrs. Muegge might be in the back of the group. Typing teacher Mr. Gockel might be leading the charge, but I’m less sure about her.

I wonder who had a test scheduled or a paper due?

The Missourian, like most papers, had a policy of not running bomb threats if nothing was found. They didn’t want to encourage copycats, so these were never published.