I was roaming around Cape looking at all the bare ground where buildings had been torn down. One that caught my eye was at Christine and William across from the Town Plaza. There’s a new Plaza Tire directly south of it.
I mentioned to someone that a sign said a new CVS pharmacy was going on the bare lot, but I couldn’t remember what had been there before.
My friend said she couldn’t remember, but had read the project had been delayed because a couple of big underground tanks had to be removed.
I remembered those tanks
That shot me back over half a century ago. One of the most significant moments of my boyhood came flooding back.
Here’s how I remembered it: When I was about 10, Dad was setting a big tank for someone. He had the load locked down and suspended about five feet off the ground while a worker for his client was leveling the dirt below it. He stepped off the crane for a break, then sent me back to get his jug of iced tea. When I climbed up into the cab, the tank owner went berserk. “Kid, get DOWN off there. If you touch something, you could kill that man.!”
I froze until Dad hollered back, “If I thought he was going to touch anything, I wouldn’t have sent him.” Turning to me, he said, quietly, “Fetch me the jug, please.” I realized then how much confidence Dad had in me.
Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders pulled up a Frony aerial of the area right after the Town Plaza was built. From all the trucks parked around the lot, it might have been a trucking depot at one time. That would explain why they needed the tanks.
As many of you have figured out, I’m in Cape for a few weeks. When I’m here, I drive around like crazy trying to bag as much new material as possible to dole out when I return home to Florida.
From time to time, I have even managed to scoop The Missourian. (Of course, as I point out to bike riders who brag about overtaking another rider, “It’s only a race if the other guy knows it.)
I thought I might have a chance of catching Photo Buddy Fred Lynch asleep this afternoon when I drove past what I’ve dubbed the Historical Triangle.
Have catskinners become deere slayers?
There was a artist on a bulldozer who we’d have called a “catskinner” in the days when yellow Caterpillar equipment was ubiquitous on job sites. I’ve seen enough dirt pushed around to judge he knew what he was doing.
Since he’s on a Deere dozer, I guess that would make him a “deere slayer,” but that doesn’t have the same ring. The sign in the foreground proclaims the narrow strip of grass to be Murtaugh Park. The Red House is in the background.
Drat! James Baughn beat me
Right there in front of me was a flurry of dump trucks, jackhammers, front end loaders and guys leaning on shovels. All I had to do now was to figure out what was going on.
Drat! Missourian webmaster James Baughn, who with Fred and Sharon Sanders, are must-read Missourian bloggers, beat me to the story. He deserves the traffic, so get the full story from Baughn. (If you REALLY want to be distracted, go to his Bridgehunter website. There’s nowhere else like it to find interesting factoids about bridges.)
The short version is that making Main Street open to two-way traffic made Aquamsi Street redundant between William and Merriwether Streets. The workers were ripping up Aquamsi so grass could replace asphalt, resulting in Murtaugh Park nearly doubling in size. (Of course, that will last until the City Fathers and Mothers decide to make Main one-way again in a few years.)
I stumbled across another story that is right up Baughn’s alley. I hope he reads it here before I see it appear in his blog.
Stories about Murtaugh Park
The Harris Motor Company fire at the northeast corner of Broadway and Lorimier wasn’t all that exciting, but it did capture some interesting things in the background of a couple of shots.
I don’t know that I was ever in the building, but Fred Lynch and Sharon Sanders did a pretty good job of nailing down the history of the landmark building in Fred’s blog.
Idan-Ha Hotel sign
You can see the Idan-Ha Hotel sign off in the distance on the left. The N’Orleans sign shows up behind one for the State of Missouri Employment Service. The Idan-Ha burned in 1989, and the N’Orleans is sitting empty today.
Built in 1915
Fred’s blog said the building was constructed in 1915. In 1937, Harris Motor Car Co. razed the adjoining Dr. Adolph List house, built in 1888, to expand its operation. Another story noted that the List house was modeled after a German castle.
Turned into apartments in 2001
I couldn’t find a story about the fire, but there was an ad in the Dec. 3, 1965, Missourian saying to watch for the Grand Opening of Harris Motor Car Co. The 1968 City Directory listed Harris Motor Car Co. at Highway 61 North and Independence.
In 1968, Charmin, which was building its new plant near Neely’s Landing, leased space in the “former Harris Motor Car Building.” In 1971 the paper reported that the building had been converted into an apartment complex by Vernon Rhodes.
I shot Alice Godwin at the Cape Girardeau Municipal Airport on April 12, 1967, but I can’t find the story that I know ran. I looked at every Missourian over a three-week period and couldn’t find a single word about her or why she was putting a plaque in a showcase.
For what it’s worth, this is a nice portrait of a woman in a cockpit. I’m sure I didn’t use fill flash, so I must have gotten lucky with an overcast sky that kept it from being too contrasty.
Not-bad plaque picture
If you have to shoot a cliche picture, you might as well do it well. This is better than average. I just wish I could read what the plaque says.
Like Terry Eiler, my Magazine and Newspaper Photography instructor wrote across one of my college assignments, “Congratulations. You are now a better than average hack.”
First thought was Powder Puff Derby
My first thought was maybe this might have been related to when the Powder Puff Derby came to Cape in 1966, but I couldn’t confirm it.
Here are some aviation stories from over the years.
[Editor’s note: I originally identified this woman as Alice Higgins, but David Seesing set me straight: “The lady in the photo is Alice Godwin wife of John Godwin. John and J.T. Seesing owned Cape Central Airways. Alice and John competed and won numerous aviation competitions. I have since updated the post.]