Pfister’s in Treasure Trove

Pfisters - Gen Sign Co by Laverne H Hopkins croppedBuddy Terry Hopkins stopped by the house when we were both in Cape and dropped off a box of photos. His dad, Laverne H. Hopkins, worked for General Sign Company for years, Terry said. His specialty was drawing people and objects, as opposed to lettering and striping.

You have to remember that signs in those days were individually painted or lettered: they weren’t mass-produced like the ones you see today. A General Sign employee would take a picture of his work to prove to the customer that it was done.

The box contains hundreds of those iconic photos of signs, store fronts and logos we grew up seeing (and probably not really noticing). It’s going to take me a long time to scan and index the photos, but I thought Pfister’s Drive-In would be a good first candidate. Cape Electrical Supply and Cape Memorial Company are in the background, and I think the large brick building on the left might have been the Coke bottling plant.

Click on the photo to make it larger.  Here’s a shot of the drive-in and the area from the air, by the way.

Founder of Cape’s McDonald’s Killed in Crash

1967 Achievement - Cape Ricardos 47I shot this photo as a candidate for The Missourian’s annual Achievement Edition because it looked like Ricardo’s Italian Swiss Chalet Ristorante on Broadway had been spiffed up. My newspaper buddies are going to say I buried the lead, so stick in there until the very end for a surprising twist.

Not as spiffy in 2009

700 Block of BroadwayI was scrolling through some of the other pictures I’ve taken walking up and down Broadway more recently and spotted this 2009 picture that makes the building look a little rough. I can’t tell what has gone into what used to be Sisco’s Professional Barber Salon on the left. There are some beer signs in the window, so it may have been joined with the former Ricardo’s.

Tattoos replace optometrists

700 Block of Broadway 10-28-2009Optometrists Joe L. Mosley and James A. Drace have been replaced by a tattoo parlor.

Owner of landmark business dies in crash

Pfisters outdoorsWhen I did a search for “Ricardo’s” I couldn’t believe the story that showed up in the March 7, 2003, Missourian:Crash kills founder of Cape McDonald’s.”

As 13 of the fast-food restaurants around Southeast Missouri continue to fly their flags at half-staff, authorities are pointing to bad weather as a contributing factor in the Wednesday night airplane crash that took the life of Jerry Davis, the man who brought McDonald’s to Cape Girardeau 35 years ago.

The McDonald’s connection would have been enough to make him an important figure in Cape’s dining scene, but a detail at the bottom of Scott Moyer’s story was astounding:  In the past, Davis has also owned Royal N’Orleans and three eating establishments that have since closed: Ricardo’s, Shakey’s Pizza and Pfisters Drive-In.

Except for Wimpy’s, Mr. Davis had a corner on Cape Girardeau’s version of American Graffiti.

Tower of Memories a Bird House

Tower of Memories - Memorial Park 06-27-2013When Friend Anne was in town, Buddy Bill invited us to lunch. His ulterior purpose was to determine if Anne was real or a figment of my imagination. Anne accepted the invitation because she wanted to find out the same thing about Bill.

After a nice lunch with Bill, his Wife Sharon and some other friends, Bill invited himself along for a tour of Cape. Along the way, Anne got thirsty and we ended up at Sonic, where they each ordered limeades. These were NOT the limeades we used to get at Pfister’s. Let’s just leave it at that.

Anne hears something inside the tower

I’ve always like the Tower of Memories at Memorial Garden, so we made a swing by there. (I covered the history of the tower and gardens in 2010.)

While we were walking around the landmark structure, Anne said, “There are noises coming from inside – and the door is screwed shut from the outside.” Anne isn’t the kind of person who spooks easily: she’s a Texan, after all, a fact she references frequently.

Bill and I crept closer and discovered that Anne was right. We COULD hear strange scratching and beating noises and something else coming from inside the sealed building.

I just have to outrun Bill

Tower of Memories - Memorial Park 06-27-2013

I took a close look at my two friends and calculated that I didn’t have to be faster than Anne; I just had to be faster than Bill if something came busting out like in a bad horror flick.

Anne, using her well-honed Texas tracking skills, figured out what was happening. She spotted some broken windows on the side of the tower that allowed birds to fly in and out. Based on the amount of bird – let’s say guano – on the window sill, it looks like they’ve been doing it for quite some time.

I waited to capture a photo of one of the winged invaders, but Bill’s choice of shirts kept the poor creatures cowering inside.

Pfisters from the Air

Cape IT director Eric McGowen, a reader, asked if I’d like to see the Jackson Courthouse and the Common Pleas Courthouse from top to bottom – bell towers to dungeon. Do bears squat in the woods? You bet.

Bright and early (for me), Friend Shari came down from St. Louis to carry lights and tripods, and we met up with Eric and Don McQuay, public works director. I’ll post the courthouse pictures later.

What we ran across was almost neater than the landmark buildings. In the basement of the Common Pleas Courthouse hung three framed prints. As soon as I saw the round shape, I knew immediately that it was on the few photos of Pfisters I’ve seen.

This is a section of the photo showing the Broadway – Kingway split just west of Kingshighway. Click on the photos to make them larger. I made them a little bigger than usual, so they may take a few extra seconds to load.

A wider shot

This is the uncropped version. The Broadway – Kingsway split is at the bottom right. The next street to the left is Clark. The curved one is Thilenius. Central High School is at the top right. Franklin School is at the top left.

I used a polarizing filter to cut as much glare as I could, but there’s still some left. There was nothing on the photos to indicate who might have taken them.

Central High School

This is an enlargement of the Central High School area. It looks like the school might still be under construction, which would mean the picture was taken sometime around 1952 or 1953. The first classes were held there in 1953.

Franklin School is at the top left. The Grace United Methodist Church hasn’t been built yet. I’m not even sure that the streets are paved. Caruthers Avenue, especially in front of the school, doesn’t look like it. Themis Street has some gaps between houses.

2011 aerial photo of Central High

It’s a junior high school now, but to me it’ll always be Central High School. I didn’t have one taken from the same direction as the 50’s photo. This is looking southeast to northwest, diagonally opposite of the older picture.

Caruthers and Independence is on the lower left. The long, red building in the middle of the top of the picture is where Pfisters would have been. Grace United Methodist Church is on the right, near the intersection of Caruthers and Broadway.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.