Jim Stone and Main Street Neon

Jim Stone, Shari Stiver and I had our own mini-reunion October 2010 after the big official one. We promised to do it again. Jim had something come up that kept him from coming Octoberish, but I was lucky enough to still be in town the first part of December, when he could make it. We thought we’d give it another shot.

Right before we were to get together, though, Shari said she was suffering from a bout of bronchitis and wouldn’t be able to make it. We tried all kinds of entreaties.

  • Brother Mark and his friends had just finished baking hundreds of cookies; he’d send a sample of those down with her.
  • Jim offered to pick her up and drive her to Cape.
  • I offered to go half on a bottle of oxygen to keep her alive.

Finally, on Friday, it looked like she might make it, but, alas, she cancelled on us at the last minute.

“Jim, do you think this is the 2011 version of when she used to tell me, “I’d love to go out with you, but Friday night is the night I wash my hair?”

He was kind enough not to answer me, because I think I already knew the answer.

So, anyway, we spent the afternoon roaming around. Late in the afternoon, I spotted that the back door at Central High School was open. He hadn’t been back in the place in decades, so I said, “Let’s go.”

(I subscribe to the Roger Miller King of the Road Theory: “I know…every lock that ain’t locked when no one’s around” when it comes to this kind of thing.

Wandering the hallways naked

“I’m from Florida. You’re from Boston. We’re old and confused. We’ll just tell anybody that asks that we’re late for our math final and we can’t find our lockers and that’s why we’re roaming the hallways naked.” (Recurring dream / nightmare.)

Jim was properly impressed with the quality of upkeep. (We did note some peeling paint in the stairwell leading up to the auditorium stage.) I tried to convince Jim that we should go up to the third floor to his old haunts in the science department. He was reluctant to explore too far. He’s done some work for the State Department, so he might know more about rendition flights and whether they apply to people snooping around in old high school buildings than I do. We wiped our fingerprints off and exited the building, speaking to a number of people on our way out who didn’t give us a second look.

Jim wanted to cruise downtown to see if there was any life after dark, so we ended up at Port Cape Girardeau for dinner. I had some fancy-named nachos that were excellent – way better than the taco chips drenched in Velveeta cheese that you usually get.

Neon at Broussard’s

Instead of heading back to the car, I started strolling along Main Street. The neon lights and people on the street in front of Broussard’s Cajun Cuisine caught my eye.

Wow, more neon

I looked behind me and saw more neon.

You’re from Boston?

I was just lining up a third shot when I noticed that Jim was huddled in a doorway to get out of the slight breeze that was blowing down the street. “Stone, you’re from BOSTON. How can you be cold?”

“If I was in Boston, I’d have warmer clothes. I didn’t remember that Cape could be this cold.”

In fairness, a street thermometer showed the temperature to be about 27 degrees. One weather forecast said that we might experience record low temps for this date, although I don’t remember what the old record was.

So, instead of being able to bring you a nice collection of neon photos from Main Street, I had to put Stone in my van and crank the temperature up to Melt. You know how it is when folks get old. They can’t stand the cold like they once could.

Other Jim Stone stories

Chickens in the City

Florida Foodie buddy Jan Norris sent me a link this morning about how chickens became a war crop during World War I. I thought it was interesting, but not that exciting.

Now I see chickens everywhere

I was shooting a building in th 100 block of North Main Street for a story when I stepped into the alley for a different angle. In my newly chicken-sensitized state, I immediately was drawn to these stencils.

If I was back in the Fine Arts program at Ohio University, we could spend hours analyzing the hidden meanings behind this work of folk art. Is there a significance to the order of the colors? Does the red signify blood? Is it a political statement about the Trickle-Down Theory? Let’s dissect the racial angle. Is it significant that there are no black chickens? Is the white chick on the bottom for a reason? Why are they perched on a drain?

I have to admit that it is curious that the “artist” went to the trouble of using four colors, plus red. Was he / she trying to figure out which color was most suitable for concrete?

Cape has been made safe from chickens

With all of the other obsessions with regulations, I just KNEW Cape would have had to legislate chickens in some form or another. Indeed, an Oct. 10, 2010, Scott Moyers‘ story in The Missourian said that an ordinance that would allow Cape Girardeans to keep up to 10 hens (no roosters) per tract for non-commercial uses was headed for adoption.

Unfortunately for folks hoping to be able to get their fresh eggs from their backyards, the city council switched gears during its Nov. 15, 2010, meeting and put the kibosh on chickens in the city.

Let the Hen Whip the Kaiser!

While trying to find examples of chicken posters, I came across this great site with lots of war era food posters. It’s worth a visit. This poster was from the College Station, Texas, Extension service in 1917.

Keeping chickens: patriotic and profitable

This USDA poster urges farmers not so sell laying hens. You could make more money selling the eggs than the chicken, it pointed out.

When you look at the posters from those eras, it’s clear that the American public was expected to sacrifice to win the wars.

Where’s THIS message?

Here’s a piece I did when gas prices were headed to four bucks a gallon this spring. It talked about the June 11, 1943, Missourian Phillips 66 ad headlined “You are a Soldier in The Battle of Transportation.

Have you seen this World War II message delivered on TV, radio or print or by any politicians?

“Every bit of rubber and gasoline you save on the home front is a contribution to the combat needs of our fighting men on every battle front.

“You can help hasten the day of victory by confining your driving to a patriotic minimum. Use your car only for going to and from work …for needed shopping…for war-time activities like vegetable gardening…for travel to and from places without other transportation facilities.

“Remember, your Government asks you to do your part to prevent a transportation breakdown, asks you to care for your car–for your country.”

The concept of shared sacrifice for the common good just isn’t popular these days, I guess.