Rush Limbaugh: “Horse’s Patootie”

Ray Seyer, Wife Lila’s uncle, was going to turn 90 in 2012, so we sat down with him on Oct. 20, 2010, for a wide-ranging discussion about what it was like to grow up in Southeast Missouri when much of it was still swampland. The result was a collection of ten videos that we put together for his family to pass down to their kids. I’ll get around to posting them one of these days.

Rush Limbaugh Remembered

A video that I didn’t include was Uncle Ray talking about one of his first encounters with high schooler Rush Limbaugh. As soon as school would let out, Rush would run home and fire up his CB and monopolize Calling Channel 9, making it impossible for truckers and others in the community to communicate.

[Channel 9 eventually became set aside for emergency use only. Truckers, who first migrated to Channel 10, moved to 19 about the time C.W. McCall’s song Convoy put two-way radio antennas on just about everything on the road.]

Despite a career in the Navy during World War II, Uncle Ray contented himself by labeling Rush a “horse’s patootie.” I’m sure he would have been more colorful, had Mother, Lila and Aunt Rose Mary not been in the room.

Rush Limbaugh and Terry Jones

September 9, 2010, when Terry Jones was international news because he was threatening to burn a Koran, I pointed out that Terry and Rush Limbaugh were both members of the Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1969. The story didn’t hint that they were in cahoots, it just noted the interesting coincidence that Cape’s two best-known exports were in the same class.

The Terry Jones / Rush Limbaugh story was picked up all over the world and got more traffic in three days than I usually get in a month. It also attracted 150 mostly respectful comments. I rode herd to make sure that they STAYED respectful.

Rush has been immortalized on Cape Girardeau’s Mississippi River floodwall mural displaying pictures of prominent Missourians. I don’t think they’ve reserved a space for Jones.

So, you are welcome to comment on an 88-year-old’s recollections of a young Rush Limbaugh, but we’re going to keep it civil, right?

New Library Not Like Our Old Study Hall

When I stopped by the new Central High School to pick up a copy of the Centennial book, I couldn’t believe I was in a high school library. It felt more like a coffee shop than Mrs. Wilcox’s study hall that served as my freshman homeroom.

The first thing you see when you walk into the library is a small lobby with a catalpa and sycamore sculpture by art instructor Robert C. Friedrich III. The work, “Mind, Body & Soul,” was commissioned by librarian Julia Howes Jorgensen “To Honor Her Family’s Three Generations of Central Graduates.”

She said that the “experts” would consider the small alcove wasted space, but she thinks it’s important to have a place where students can scrape off teenage angst and “decompress” before entering the library. “You remember all the drama, with the cat fights between boyfriends and girlfriends…”

Bright, airy, inviting

Julia said she was given extraordinary latitude in designing the space. She figured it was because she was “Old Cape;” a Class of 1969 graduate “along with Rush Limbaugh” (and, Koran-burner Terry Jones, I added), and had been librarian since 1985. “I live here. I know Cape and our students. I’ve taught here. I knew what we needed.”

It is clearly a non-shushing library. There’s enough space that students can collaborate on projects or talk quietly without interfering with their neighbors. The facility is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30. Julia says students are frequently waiting for her to swing the doors open in the morning.

Craig Thomas murals and art

She brought in local artist Craig Thomas to do paintings and murals. It was a great learning experience for the art students to see him set up his scaffolding and create his work. He was able to communicate to them that “it’s great work, but you really need a spouse with life insurance, too.”

The fireman’s pole in the corner of the room came from the Pacific campus.

The Bookend raises money for books

The coffee shop feeling is enhanced by The Bookend, a self-serve, honor system counter where students can buy popcorn, hot chocolate or cappuccino for 50 cents. The money goes to buy “extra” books. “The district buys the first copy of a book, but I use the proceeds from The Bookend to purchase the second, third or fourth copy of books that are ‘hot.'”

She also tries to stock bestsellers, when appropriate, so that students and faculty members have an opportunity to read a book by an author they saw on a late-night talk show .

Scrounging 101

Julia is an expert at scrounging useful items. Some of the tables in the library came from a Barnes & Noble bookstore that was moving. They were destined for the dumpster when she stepped up to take them.

Links to the past

She’s also rescued key items from the Pacific Street and Caruthers high schools. This artwork and books came from “our” Central. There are patriotic posters and a room directory taken from what is now Schultz Senior Apartments.

There’s a whole shelf of Girardot yearbooks. “That’s how you can tell I’m not a real librarian,” she said, “because I make them available to the students. It’s their school. If they want to look up what grandpa or an aunt or an uncle looked like, they shouldn’t have to beg my permission. They’re always available.”

Students can look into library

There are small windows set high in the room that allow students in the second-floor classrooms around it to look down into the library.

Her father’s uniform

One of the items on display is Julia’s dad’s uniform from World War II. When students remark about how small he was, she tells them that “when you walk the length of Italy, you get that way.”

Cape Central High through the years

If you want to see how the high school and the students have changed – and remained much the same – over the past 100 years, you can order the Cape Central High School Centennial book from a link on this page. Or, you can stop by to see Julia and her showcase library. That, alone, is worth the $50 book price.

Photos of Central’s library in the ’60s

Photo gallery of new library

Here are additional photos of the new library. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

 

Top Stories: 2009 to 2011

When I cranked up this blog on Oct. 20, 2009, I never dreamed that I’d still be churning out stories two years later. The first post contained a photo that later became one of two rotating pictures at the top of the blog page. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

This is the time when publications traditionally look at the previous year. I started to do that, but discovered that some of the top read stories from 2011 had actually run in 2010 and were still getting hits, probably from search engines. That caused me to look at what the most popular stories were overall.

 Rush Limbaugh – Koran-burning Terry Jones

The most-read story of 2010 and 2011 continues to be the coincidence that the two best-known members of the Central High School Class of 1969 are Rush Limbaugh and the kooky pastor, Terry Jones, who threatened to burn the Koran (and eventually DID burn one when he was out of the spotlight).

The Sept. 9, 2010, story has garnered 14,274 pageviews, about four times as many as any other story I’ve done. It was picked up by media all over the world.

I rode tight herd on the comment section, which attracted 150 comments, to keep the train on the tracks. I was impressed by the general high tone of the discussion compared to the trash talk I saw on other sites. When it was all over, I had deleted only three comments that stepped over the line into personal attacks on other readers.

 Cape’s new water park

The second most-popular story is probably a fluke. April 18, 2010, I did a quick and dirty story on Cape’s new water park while it was still under construction and compared it to the Lickitysplit Water Slide that used to be between Cape and Jackson on Hwy 61.

It kept getting a smattering of hits during the summer of 2011, probably from people searching for information about the park. Interestingly enough, folks who got there, probably by mistake, ended up spending over two minutes reading the page, something that’s highly unusual. Folks who don’t find exactly what they’re searching for generally bounce out in about 10 seconds.

The Boat House

When you wanted to impress visitors from out of town with the homes in Cape Girardeau, there’s one place you’d always take them – The Boat House at the corner of West End Blvd. and Highland Dr., across from Capaha Park. This story attracted 2,109 readers and 28 comments, including good information from the family that owns it.

 Bill’s Transition to Jacqie

One of the most interesting and challenging stories I’ve done started out with this email: “Hi lila and kenny. Its bill jackson but if you have facebook, you will discover that many changes have taken place. It seems that after all these years I am more comfortable as Jacqie, my female half and counterpart. Florida is much more familiar with this than cape. The reunion should be very interesting.”

 Bill and Wife Lila were good friends from lifeguarding days. In fact, he was her first date in high school. We connected in Cape and St. Louis and I produced a video showing our classmate as both Bill and Jacqie. For a first effort at an ambitious project, I’m happy with the way it turned out. The page has only logged 2,024 hits, but the video has been viewed 16,106 times. I was really pleased to see how understanding the 31 commenters were and how well Jacqie was accepted at the class reunion.

Here’s a comment I posted after I saw the reaction to the piece:

“It’s amazing how much more accepting we are of others’ differences when we get a few miles on the old odometer. Maybe some things do get better with age. In a scene I had to cut because of time constraints, Bill commented, ‘We were all not exactly as kind to each other as children as we could have been, but that’s the nature of being children. You’re learning how to be human beings.’

 “Looks like my readers have done a good job passing the human being test. That’s a pretty good diploma to tack on the wall.”

 Rains, Wind and Flooding

I was in Cape during the spring of 2011 just before the near-record flooding. A page of photos showing Cape’s flood control project that kept the Town Plaza from flooding like it did in earlier decades, attracted 1,976 visitors and 28 comments. There’s a link on the page to a video I shot when Mother and I took shelter from a hail storm earlier in the week.

 Kent State, Never Forget

I can always count on getting a message from friend and fellow photographer John Lopinot every May 4. Usually the subject line says it all: “Never Forget.” May 4th, of course, is the day that four Kent State students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard.

 I pulled together a sequence of photos of protests and demonstrations I covered at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, during that tumultuous period. Another photographer and I were on our way to Kent State when word of the shootings came over the car radio. We headed back to Athens, figuring we needed to be in our own backyard that night.

The page has been read 1,876 times and attracted 27 comments, including one from my former Ohio University Post colleague Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize winner and a frequent talking head on TV.

From Shoe Factory to Casino

I still contend that the city missed the boat in not finding a way to make a productive use of the old shoe factory. If the old Central High School on Pacific can be re-purposed as Schultz Senior Apartments, then surely the landmark building on North Main could have been saved. It’s a moot point, though. The building was torn down decades ago and a gambling casino is going up on the property.

The page showing aerial and ground photos of the shoe factory taken in 1970 and the area around it taken before the land was cleared in 2010, drew 1,829 visitors and 22 comments, one from the granddaughter of a woman who had been scalped by machinery in the shoe factory.

Capaha Park reduced to memories

I did several stories on the razing of the Capaha Park swimming pool. This was one that hit close to home: much of Wife Lila’s teen years were spent at the pool swimming, lifeguarding and teaching swimming.

I dug out a bunch of vintage photos and turned the page loose for Lila, Bill/Jacqie Jackson and Terry Hopkins to write about how much that hole in the ground meant to them. Terry’s account ended, “At one time, I wanted my ashes scattered on the hill above the pool just so I could be close and watch people having fun at a place I loved. Farewell my 12-foot deep, 8-lane, L-shaped fun factory and memory maker, farewell.”

There were 35 comments, some almost as long as the original piece. A total of 1,654 people visited the page.

 Central High School ’60s reunion

June 27, 2010, I ran one of several galleries of photos of the 1960s decade class reunion. It picked up 1,641 readers and 23 comments.

On the last night, I was moved to write, “This isn’t my favorite photo of the weekend, far from it. It’s a mediocre image from a technical standpoint, but it’s the one that caused a wave of deja vu to wash over me.

 “It was the end of the evening. The crowd was starting to drift away. A few couples got up to dance. I climbed up on the stage for a higher angle and stood there holding my camera and waiting for a photo to happen.

 “Suddenly I was transported back forty-plus years. It dawned on me that my life had come full circle. I was the same kid I was in high school who was AT the event, but not PART of the event.”

This account of the last night contains links to all of the reunion pages.

 Annie Laurie’s Laurie Ann

There’s a bit of nepotism here. Laurie Everett, who owns Annie Laurie’s Antiques on Broadway across from Shivelbine’s, is my wife’s niece. Putting that aside, she’s a shrewd businesswoman who was worth a story because of the building she’s in (the old Brinkopf-Howell Funeral Home) and for her interesting life. The petite blonde was an army MP who was an Expert marksman before she got into the antique business. She’s as good at that as she is with a gun: her shop was rated #1 Antique Shop in Cape County three out of three years (maybe four, since that story was done in 2010).

It’s not your typical stodgy antique shop. She makes good use of social media and has developed quite a following of SEMO students with her emphasis on vintage clothing, dorm makeovers and competition for models to become the face of the shop.

 Tornado drills and the JFK assassination

I stopped by Alma Schrader School to get some photos identified just as they were conducting a tornado drill. That give me a flashback to that stormy day in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I took photos of students gathered around a TV in the gym and rushed them to The Missourian to make my first EXTRA!

 Wimpy’s in 1966, 1967 and 2009

There are two topics that will always bring in readers and comments: Wimpy’s Drive-in and the Blue Hole BBQ. Everybody who grew up in that era has fond memories of both.

I shot a night time exposure photo of the intersection of Cape Rock Drive and North Kingshighway in 1966 that showed the traffic patterns in and around Wimpy’s. In 1967, I shot a wreck at the intersection with the drive-in in the background. By 2009, Wimpy’s was gone and the intersection had changed, but I tried the time exposure technique again.

Readers: 1,552; comments: 31, including much discussion of a shootout near there that took  the lives of two Cape police officers.

 Top Stories of 2011

In addition to the 2009 and 2010 stories above, here are the top stories that were published in 2011:

  •  Cape’s tornado of 1949: a riveting account of the May 21, 1949, tornado that killed 22 people, hospitalized 72 and injured hundreds, written by a pregnant newlywed to her mother on pages torn from a day calendar. If you haven’t read it, you should.
  • Do these photos say Cape? A collection of photos of Cape Girardeau for use by the city on its web page.
  • 43 years of Cairo photographs: I’ve been fascinated with Cairo since I covered my first riot there in 1967. This was a collection of photos of the town which is, unfortunately, disappearing a block at a time.
  • Arena Park Stock Car races: Vintage photos of the Arena Park stock car races. Some of them are classics.

 Mind-numbing statistics

Since the site started in 2009, it has seen its pages viewed 565,631 times. I’ve written 641 posts containing 512,268 words and you all have left 5,728 comments. In fact, commenters have written 391,796 words, almost as many as I have in the original stories. The depth of detail in those comments is astounding. I’ve posted nearly 5,600 photos.

Support this site

Here’s a link to my Tower Rock book and my 2012 calendar.

In addition, if you do your Amazon shopping by clicking on any of the Amazon ads on the page, I get a tiny percentage of your purchase without it costing you anything additional.

 

 

“Bye, Bye, Birdie” 1967

One of my photos illustrated a an April 7, 1967, Margaret Randol feature on “Bye, Bye, Birdie” on The Missourian’s Youth Page.

The caption read, Bruce Huebel, Gary Sides, Richard Harter and Charles Holt, who are playing Shriners in Central’s “Bye, Bye, Birdie,” look up in confusion at Rosie (Miss Barbara Nunnelly), who broke into their meeting room and started dancing on their table. Bruce is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Huebel, 1109 North Main; Gary is the son of Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Side, Jr., 221 East Cape Rock Drive; Richard is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Austin G. Harter, 2526 Jonquil; Charles is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Grant T. Holt, 1835 Lacey, and Miss Nunnelly is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Gordon M. Nunnelly, 1432 Themis.

How do you serve a “Birdie?”

Miss Randol posed that as a question. Her answer:

Like any other delicacy you would prepare, a successful and appealing “Birdie” begins with the fixin’s.

The recipe calls for these ingredients:

  • 3 fresh young directors
  • 1 prepared orchestra
  • 2 cups of talent
  • 1 cup of patience
  • 70 assorted (interested) pupils

Blend these ingredients for three months and add the support of the whole school to make the spirits rise.

Place this combination in a large, well-filled auditorium and serve.

Most successful musical ever produced

The directors, Mrs. Judy Williams, Mrs. Madeline DeJournett, and Bill Ewing, along with 70 members of the “Birdie” cast, have sacrificed leisure and work time – plus hours of sleep – to make “Bye, Bye, Birdie” the must successful musical ever produced at Central High School.

Rehearsals far from uneventful

The rehearsals have been far from uneventful, testifies Miss June Siemers, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. R. Siemers, 1635 Brookwood. She said she was supposed to run the length of the stage into the arms of her waiting partner.

The running went fine, she explained. The flying through the air part was all right…it was when she missed her waiting (??) partner’s arms and landed on the opposite end of the stage that presented the difficulty, Miss Siemers related.

Production threatened by measles

The entire production was threatened when one of the cast came down with a case of measles. (But not everyone saw red and things have apparently turned out all right.)


 

 

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