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.

Smelterville 1967: Where Are They?

I need some help tracking down some kids I shot back in the spring of 1967.

Like most folks in Cape, I knew where Smelterville was and would drive past it on South Sprigg, but never ventured into it much.

Periodic cleanup

In the spring of 1967, though, I had an assignment to shoot one of the periodic cleanups. I took that as an opportunity to walk around documenting some of the buildings and people who lived there. One of the cleanup photos ran in The Missourian, I think, but everything else got filed away.

Photos have historical value

When I talked with Lisa Speer, Associate Professor and Special Collections Librarian at SEMO, about picking up my stuff when I move into that eternal darkroom, she was fascinated by the Smelterville pix and some I took of a New Madrid Mississippi River baptism. She said there’s a dearth of photography of the black communities in that era.

What happened to the people?

That made me wonder what had happened to the people in my photographs.

I’ve hit a lot of dead ends (literally) in New Madrid, but finding the Smelterville subjects seems more promising. When I was chasing down the minor league ballpark rumors, I talked with a couple of guys standing in a front yard near Fort D. When one of them mentioned that he had lived in Smelterville, I said, “Have I ever got some photos to show you.”

Got some good leads

One of them knew just about every kid, the names of their dogs and who owned the cars in the background. He even said that most of them still lived in the area. The old folks, have long passed on, but the kids should be in their mid to late 50s.

He put the word out on the street and I met with three members of one family. Interestingly enough, one was sure he could identify his siblings and the house they lived in, but couldn’t be positive if one of the photos was of him as a child.

Hard to identify children

I thought that odd, but then I looked back at photos of me as a toddler all the way up to my teens. If I hadn’t been TOLD that was me or if I didn’t recognize the backgrounds to put things in context, I don’t know that I would recognize myself.

Here’s your assignment

Anyway, here’s your assignment: if you can identify any of the people in these photos, let me know. If you know where they live or how to get in touch with them, that’s even better.

I’m going to be doing a quick swing to Cape to deal with my transportation problems toward the end of this week, but I’ll be back for a longer stay in October when we celebrate Mother’s Birthday Season. It would be great to have some interviews lined up for that trip.

I’ll keep you up to date on how the project is going. I have more photos and lots of stories for later.

Smelterville photo gallery

Here’s a selection of the people I’d like to find. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Rumor: Minor League Ball Coming to South Cape

The first day I was in Cape, we made the usual pass down Broadway, cruised past Water Street to see that the floodgates were closed, then headed down Aquamsi Street, jogged over onto Elm Street, then Giboney, on down to where the sinkholes had swallowed South Sprigg at Cape LaCroix Creek.

Funny how I always thought that was pretty much a straight shot until I looked at it on the map.

As we passed below Fort D, I thought something was odd: we could SEE the fort. I thought I remembered the view being blocked by brush and trees.

What’s all the clearing?

On the way back from looking at the sinkholes, we noticed that there was a lot of land being cleared north of the fort in an area roughly bounded by Maple on the north, Giboney on the east, Elm on the south and Ranney on the west.

“It’s going to be a minor league ball field”

There was a work crew digging out the foundation of a building half-way up Elm Street, so I stopped to talk with a worker about what they were doing.

“Well, I guess it’s no secret. The rumor is that it’s going to be a minor league ball field. We have people stopping by here all the time saying that’s what it’s gonna be. In fact, Walter Joe Ford pulled up yesterday and asked, ‘Is this [name deleted]’s ball field?'”

I didn’t track down the alleged owner

The name is deleted because I didn’t confirm the name. I heard it from several semi-reliable sources, but I didn’t talk directly to the person who is supposedly putting the project together.

Reporting is too much like work

Why didn’t I track it down? Frankly, that’s real reporting and real reporting is too close to being work. Something else was nagging me, too. I’ve worked stories about how big land purchases are put together. The early rumors of what was thought to be going on frequently turn out not to be even close to the final deal.

So, I’m going to let you folks theorize and speculate away. Let’s see how many of you have heard the same rumor I have.

Reasons that it might be true:

  • The person who is said to be involved has a history of doing or being involved in big projects, particularly of a civic-minded nature, and has been closely linked with some of the university’s expansions.
  • The person has an interest in baseball.
  • If a pro league DIDN’T come to Cape, the property is close enough to the River Campus, that it could be re-purposed for the University.

Reasons why it might NOT be true

  • As it stands now, there doesn’t look to be enough land for a playing field, practice fields, seating and parking. That’s not to say that more property hasn’t been obtained or could be obtained.
  • That area is made up of steep hills and deep gullies. Either an awful lot of hills are going to have to be cut down or there’s going to have to be a lot of fill brought in to make it level. There might be enough dirt on site, but I’m not sure.

Two houses need to be torn down

The worker told me that there are two houses at the top of the hill that still need to be torn down. Rumor has it that at least one of the the houses is owned by an elderly man who has no desire to move from his home. There are some trespassing signs that I can “overlook,” but I decided I’d believe this guy might just mean his, so I didn’t knock on his door to ask him what was going on.

Clearing work brings out treasure hunters

When I checked out the site on Saturday, I ran into Jamihia Walker, a 26-year-old SEMO student majoring in business, who was wielding a metal detector hoping to find coins or other treasures.

Trash or treasure?

Ms. Walker, was an absolute delight to talk with except for her insistence on calling me “sir” – “I’m sorry, sir, that’s just the way my grandparents brought me up.”

She came here from Sacramento to help care for them. Now that they’ve passed away, she plans to get her degree, stay in Cape a few more years, then move to a bigger city where she will become an entrepreneur. She might just make it if she can shed that “sir” business.

What’s your opinion?

  • Is the property suitable for a minor league ball facility?
  • Would Cape be able to support a minor league team?
  • Which major league team would it be affiliated with?
  • Would you attend the games or are you going to be spending all your time and money at the casino?
  • If it’s not a ball field, what is your alternative theory? Wild guesses acceptable.
  • By the way, I’ve heard this area called Mill Town and Giboney Woods. I’m not sure if they are the same or if it’s either. Anyone know the answer to THAT?

Photo gallery

Here’s a photo gallery of pictures taken July 1, 2011, and July 16, showing how much work has been accomplished. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the collection.

Flooded Quarry, Sprigg Sinkholes

The water in the cement plant’s quarry is a little lower than when neighbor Bill Bolton took his photos earlier in the month, but there’s still a lot of water in the bathtub. Here are pictures of the ebb and flow of water in the pit since 2002.

Pumping water into Cape LaCroix Creek

One reason they’re gaining on it is a new pipeline pumping water into Cape LaCroix Creek at South Sprigg. I don’t know if both pipes were being used at one time or if the one is being held as a spare.

It’s only fair that water be pumped  back into the creek because that’s where some of it is seeping from.

Sinkholes present challenge

Getting TO the quarry was a bit of a challenge. You can’t get there by going south out of Cape on South Sprigg. It’s closed at Cape LaCroix Creek because of some massive sinkholes. We had to come in from the west.

Devices along railroad tracks

I don’t know what these devices are along the railroad tracks north of the cement plant and south of the creek. Railroads have been using defect detectors for years to find overheating wheel bearings, called “hotboxes;” loads that have shifted; how many axles are on the train; objects sticking out and other anomalies. The devices transmit a radio report to the crew when it passes.

Until regular reader and train buff Keith Robinson chimes in, I’m going to speculate that these devices may be looking for changes in the track that would signal a sinkhole has opened up or swallowed the track.

Gallery of photos

Here are more photos of the Sprigg Street sinkholes and the railroad devices. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the right or left side to move through the gallery.