1964 Capaha Park Swim Meet

This is a swim meet at Capaha Park Pool on July 31, 1964, if we believe the note on the negative sleeve. There are big holes in Google’s Missourian archives for the last part of 1964, so I don’t know if a story ran in the paper. Some of the pictures are pretty marginal, but there are a bunch of Capaha Pool fans our there who will overlook the technical shortcomings. Click on any photo to make it larger.

I almost got electrocuted

All I remember about this swim meet was that I almost got electrocuted. My electronic flash – strobe – was sick, so I borrowed one from somebody so I could cover the meet.

In case you didn’t know, strobes work by sucking an electrical charge out of low voltage batteries and storing it in a capacitor until it’s boosted to hundreds of volts. When you press the shutter release, that closes a contact that sends all that voltage across the flash tube, producing a very short duration powerful blast of light. Later models operated off a 510-volt battery, but that’s another, equally painful story.

Keep the plug covered

The batteries would drain fairly quickly, so some of the strobes had ports where you could plug the unit into a regular electrical outlet. Well, what can go in, can also come out, so you’re supposed to keep the contacts covered with a plug when you’re not using it with AC power. The guy who loaned it to me either wanted to see me dead or he didn’t have the plug. I never did find out.

Photographer lights up

So, anyway, I’m walking across the wet pool deck when my finger accidentally touches those exposed contacts. The strobe says, “This guy must want to take a picture, so I’m going to dump my XXX volts and make a bright flash.” Instead of going through the flash tube, all those electrons took the path of least resistance – my body – to get to the wet pool deck. I thought somebody had tackled me from behind. I looked all around, though, and there was nobody close to me.

Flash was brighter than the photographer

I went on to cover the meet and POW!!! the same thing happened. This time I realized what was going on and made sure to keep my fingers away from the light-the-photographer-up contacts.

Remember braiding lanyards?

I think the kid on the far right is braiding a plastic lanyard. That was all the rage when I was in grade school. Square braiding was easy; round braid was a little harder. I can’t remember all the ways we used them. I think the challenge was in the braiding. Actual utility was secondary.

Wife Lila pointed out that these were taken before the lanes were painted on the pool bottom. Here’s what the pool looked like when they were getting ready for the season. It contains links to most of the other Capaha Park Pool stories we’ve done.


Number, Ball, Face, Action

That’s the basic formula for a good sports photo: you should have the player’s number, his face, the ball and the action. Some of these photos from an unknown baseball game at Capaha park sometime in March 1966 (maybe) have at least some of the pieces of the puzzle. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

That’s easier said than done. Some shooters are better at it than others. I hired a kid named Allen Eyestone fresh out of Kansas who was one of the best sports photographers I’ve ever worked with. He had an uncanny ability to be just where the action was and to shoot images that were tack-sharp. Some of the guys went to sneaking up behind him and touching him with magnets to see if he was some form of robot.

How do you call what you can’t see?

There were nights in Southern Ohio when the fog would come rolling down into the valleys so thick you couldn’t see from one side of the football field to the other. I don’t know how the officials could call a game they couldn’t see. You couldn’t use flash because the light would bounce off the fog and all you’d have would be a bright blob. When the game was over, you’d drive back home with the door open so you could guide yourself by the line painted down the center of the road. Those were the nights you were happy to bring back ANYTHING.

Push, push, push that film

Shooting on fields so dark that the players should have had candles stuck on their helmets got me to experimenting with “pushing” film – using exotic films that I developed in the photographic equivalent of jet fuel to eke out as much speed as possible. In a day when the fastest normal film was 400 ASA, I would push mine to 3,600. Sometimes it would be grainy or contrasty, but it was the difference between a technically flawed photo or none. Sometimes it was pretty darned good.

This last shot has the ball (stuck deep in his mitt), the player’s face, the action (caught in mid-air) and almost his number. I like the line of cars parked in the background and the kid running along the fence with what look like a tire in his hand.

First Book of Last Times

A couple of my former coworkers put together a book called The First Book of Last Times. (If you are intrigued enough to buy it, click on the link and I’ll get 6%, without it costing you an extra cent.)

The Amazon description says, “First times get the glory and the high fives. When you first rode your bicycle without training wheels or got that first haircut without the booster board, the whole world applauded. But what about those last times, as forgotten as a petrified Fruit Loop under the sofa?

“One day you’re a kid playing hide and go seek and jacks on the front stoop and next thing you know you’ve moved on. No more “Ollie ollie oxen-free” and “Onesies and twosies. That changes now. In fact, we here at the First Book of Last Times remember them and celebrate them. And then we kick off our shoes and slide in our socks.”

That’s the old skate case

That’s the skate case I mentioned in my piece about my grandson’s 7th birthday and my memories of skating at Hanover and Maryann roller rinks in Cape.

Brother Mark crawled up in Mother’s attic to look for it when he went to Cape for Labor Day. Thanks to him for the photos.

The funny thing is, I would have SWORN the picture of the girl was white. I guess I must have been thinking of the trim at the top and not the red girl skater. That poor case sure has its share of dents and dings.

See, the wheels ARE wood

I hope Son Matt will believe me now that the skate wheels WERE made out of wood. Looks like someone took the shoelace out of the left skate. I thought I had a pompom on the toes, too, but I could be wrong there. The rubber toe stops are worn down quite a bit. Once you got proficient, you usually stopped or slowed down by turning your skate sideways to scrub off the speed. That kept you from wearing out the toe stops. You’d also use the stops for quick starts by tilting the skate down and pushing off the rubber for the first couple of strokes, sort of like a runner used a starting block.

I don’t know what the leather strap was for, nor where the red paint on the side of the wheel and the side of the shoe came from. The red paint was probably the work of my destructive younger brothers, who destroyed my pristine comic book collection as soon as I went off to college.

The wheels look like they’re covered in dust. Do I recall correctly that the Hanover rink would put a resin powder or something on the floor to give us better traction? Or was that just some kind of absorbent to blot up the spilled blood?

What does this have to do with the Last Times book?

It occurred to me when I looked as these photos that I don’t remember the last time I put those skates on. I wonder if I KNEW it was the Last Time? Wife Lila remembers going skating with me at Hanover. I wonder if the Last Time was with her?

On the way to dinner with Son Adam, we were talking about this topic, which caused her to flash on a time when he was sleeping on the living room floor when he was four or five. “When I picked him up, I thought, is this going to be the last time I’m going to be able to do this?”

I thought the last time I walked out of the newspaper after close to 35 years would be traumatic, but it turned out that the paper left me long before I left it. I thought that would be a Major Last Time, but it was anticlimactic.

What are your Last Times?

If you need hints, click on the link below and buy the book. Retired newspaper guys need all the help they can get.

  • When did you have your last burger at Wimpy’s or a Mighty Caesar at Pfisters?
  • Or a barbecue at the original Blue Hole BBQ by the cement plant?
  • When was the last time you stayed in a motel where you had to put a quarter in a slot to keep the TV playing? Or in one with Magic Fingers?
  • When did you last think of a Cape phone number as being EDgewater5-XXXX or a Jackson number being CIrcle2-XXXX?
  • When did you last cruise down Broadway after putting in a buck’s worth of gas?
  • When was the last time you crossed the old bridge?
  • When was the last time your mother left you off at the comic book rack while she was shopping at the grocery store?
  • When was the last time you rode holding onto the front of the grocery cart and pretending it was a railroad car?
  • When was the last time you pumped your arm up and down to get a truck driver to honk (scaring the wits out of your dad?)

Let’s hear it from you.



Civic Center Holds Sock Hop

The caption for this July 1, 1967, Missourian Youth Page photo reads, “There was fun for swingers and non-swingers alike at the Civic Center’s Sock Hop last weekend. Caught frozen in poses during the “stop the record” dance are, in the foreground, David Vann and his sister, Miss Peggy Vann, both of 437 rear North Middle; behind them are Ronald Conners, 620 LaCruz, and Miss Gwen Sides, 807 Ranney. Miss Sides is chairman of the center’s Youth Council.

(Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Non-swinger Deborah Allen

The photo was paired with this one:  “In a quieter corner (but not too far from where the action is), Deborah Allen, wearing a cast on her ankle, catches up on the current gossip with Miss Sylvia Duncan, left, and Miss Evelyn Hardimon.”

Civic Center registration desk

At the registration desk, James Hughes, left, 1706 South Sprigg, and Lloyd Francis Williams, Vine Street, exchange greetings; Miss Lucille Mosley, 1013 North Middle, signs up Miss Margaret Williams, Vine Street, as a Civic Center member.”

Gwen Sides covered the sock hop

Gwen Sides, chairman of the Civic Center Youth Council, wrote this account of the evening for The Youth Page. [I was editor of The Youth Page and I see some stuff I should have caught. Overall, though, Miss Sides did a much better job covering this story than a lot of our student reporters.]

“You should have been there,” said Miss Joy Jackson, 906 South Ranney.”

“It was a blast,” agreed Miss Brenda Colon, 513 South Frederick.

Their comments came after a membership dance held last Saturday at the Cape Girardeau Civic Center, 1232 South Ranney, by the center’s newly formed Youth Council.

 Sock hop without stocking feet

Though it was planned as a sock hop, nobody came in stocking feet – even though Miss Deborah Allen, 920 North Middle, came minus one shoe, with a cast on one leg, hurt in a gym accident at school. She seemed to have a good time, even though she couldn’t join in the dancing.

The dance was designed to get members for the Civic Center, and it succeeded; we now have 72 members.

 Street dance and carnival planned

The Youth Council now is making tentative plans for a street dance and carnival to be held later this summmer on the playground area just north of the center. The lot was purchased for the center by Alpha Phi Omega, service fraternity at State College, and has been graded and readied for playground equipment.

At Saturday’s dance, the chaperons were Mr. and Mrs. Ed Mosley, 1013 North Middle. Mrs. Herbert Gaden, 1624 South Sprigg, acting director of the Civic Center, also was in attendance.

 Balloons bustin’ out all over

Balloons were bustin’ out all over, as the boys broke balloons tied around the girls’ ankles while they were dancing. Miss Jackson and Jim Clemons, 320 rear South Fountain, won the balloon dance.

After the first dance, couple were  “rematched” in a puzzling game – with real puzzles. Girls drew part of a picture from one bowl; the boys drew the other halves of each puzzle from another bowl, then they had to find the holder of the missing half of their picture, who would then be their partner for the next dance. Miss Alice Sides, 919 North Frederick and Robert Estes, 1011 North Middle, were the first to match the puzzles.

 Open for 13 through high school

Winners of the “Stop the Record” dance – a variation of the child’s game of “Freeze” – were Miss Vickie Sides, 419 North Street, and Roland Conners, 620 LaCruz, who were able to stop motionless every time the record stopped. This is the first time the group has played games at a dance.

The Civic Center is scheduling a social each Saturday night from 8 to 11. From now on, admittance to the dance will be by membership card only. (The cards are available from Youth Council members or the center director, for 25 cents.) Membership is open to young people from age 13 through the summer after they complete high school. Dress at the dances is casual.

New South Cape blog

I’m not the only one looking at the 1960s in Cape Girardeau. There’s a new blog called South Sprigg Memories, Growing up on the wrong side of town.

Here’s the writer’s description: “Welcome to Sprigg Street Memories! My name is Darla June Franklin. My maiden name was Yow. This blog will be my place to re-live old memories and introduce you to the people who lived near me in the South Sprigg Street neighborhood of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.”

She writes movingly of the culture divide between the black and white communities from the perspective of a white girl growing up in a mixed neighborhood in South Cape in the early days of integration. She offers some interesting perspectives and her column has found its “voice” more quickly than most I’ve read.

I encourage you to stop by. I’m hooked.