Signs of Christmas

Joe Snell Christmas Ornaments 12-07-2013There are several things that indicate that Christmas is here : eggnog, a box of chocolate-covered cherries (better than a trip to the dentist to see if you have any cavities) and a card from Joe Snell with a handmade ornament in it.

I don’t know how many years Joe has been making these things, but I could lay my hands on five of them in the top of the ornament box.

Photos of Joe and his Dad

Joe Snell CHS c 1964Joe and I went to school together, worked on the Central High School photo staffs and were members of Trinity Lutheran School’s Scout Troop 8. I got to know him and his parents well. Here are some other stories with Joe in them.


Joe Snell

Joe Snell CHS c 1964I’ve been thinking a lot about my former Troop 8 buddy, Tiger photo staffer and classmate Joe Snell. I found this photo of him cutting up outside the Central’s darkroom on the same day I got the sad news that his mother had died.

Norma Ruth Snell

Here is the obit that appeared in The Missourian:

Norma Ruth Snell, 96, of Cape Girardeau passed away Saturday, June 15, 2013, at Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau.

She was born Dec. 19, 1916, in Frohna, Mo., daughter of Joseph R. and Edna I. Hellwege Mueller. She and Stanley Lee Snell were married May 18, 1946, in Cape Girardeau. He passed away April 15, 2010.

Norma was baptized and confirmed at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna and was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. She was a perpetual care-giver to friends and relatives at the Lutheran Home.

Loving survivors include a son, Joseph (Marguerite) Snell of Lake St. Louis, Mo.; daughter-in-law Sharon Snell of Cape Girardeau; four grandchildren, Jennifer (David) Doering of O’Fallon, Mo., Joseph Snell Jr. of Imperial, Mo., Joseph (Julie) Vetter of Creve Coeur, Mo., and Mark (Agata) Vetter of Brooklyn, N.Y; and five great-grandchildren.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her parents; a son, the Rev. Jerry L. Snell; and a sister.

Stan Snell

Stan SnellI didn’t know Joe’s mother very well, but his dad, Stan Snell, was a favorite of the boys in Troop 8. He was a dead ringer for Popeye the Sailor Man.

He died April 15, 2010. The comments that followed the post I did on Stan Snell brought back a lot of fond memories.

1963 Boy Scout Pre-Camporee

It’s Scout Week, so it’s an appropriate time to dredge these up. Some of these photos are of are men and boys I recognize being in Trinity Lutheran School’s Boy Scout Troop 8. The negative sleeve said they were taken at the 1963 Pre-Camporee. I can’t quite place where the event was held. Maybe someone else can clue me in.

I recognize a few of the boys. Two who were my age were Joe Snell and Ronald Dost.

Stan Snell, Harry Ruesler , Ralph Haman

Three of the adult leaders were Stan Snell, Harry Ruesler and Ralph Haman.

Loading them up

Dad (L.V. Steinhoff),  left, loads up a batch of boys into his pickup. Clarence Schade is on the right.

A double exposure

Something was wrong with this photo. A closer look disclosed that it was a double exposure: two photos taken on the same frame of film. That’s pretty tough to do with most cameras because you cock the shutter for the next photo when you advance the film. About the only only way you can do it by accident is to load the film in the camera twice. (There’s another way, but you REALLY have to want to do it.)

It dawned on me, then, that in 1963 I was still using a Kodak Pony 135 camera. I had to go searching for a manual on line to refresh my memory. As soon as I saw it, it all came flooding back.

It was designed for folks who didn’t know much about photography, but it still required you to set your shutter speed, aperture and distance. On top of that, you had to remember to cock the shutter by pushing down on a lever on the front of the lens. After you had taken the photo, you had to turn a knob on the top of the camera to advance the film. If you forgot to do that and just cocked the shutter, you could take a double exposure like this one.

Scout Executive Paul Berkbigler

I wrote about Mr. Berkbigler earlier.

Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.


Stan Snell: 1921 – 2010

The first email I opened this morning was from classmate Joe Snell with bad news: his dad, Stan Snell, had died last night.

I immediately thought of the gentle, genial man that my buddies and I thought looked like Popeye the Sailor Man. He almost always had a pipe clinched between his teeth, a crinkly little grin and perpetually squinted eyes with laugh lines around them.

Active in Boy Scouts

I didn’t know Stan as well as my brothers, who were younger. By the time they got into Trinity Lutheran School’s Troop 8, my Dad was winding down his business and had more time to spend with them. Dad and Stan got to be good friends planning Scout activities and going on camping and hiking trips.

I didn’t know until I did some research that Stan had been Scoutmaster of Washington School’s Troop 15 in the late 50s. There was a story in The Missourian on Nov. 13, 1959, about him leading the troop on a foxhunt. (Animal lovers, don’t get upset. We’re not talking about REAL foxes.)

Served in World War II

There was a long piece in The Missourian Oct. 31, 1945, listing all the men being discharged from the military. I recognized a lot of the names as men I knew who never mentioned their service in the war.

Down toward the middle of the story was a single paragraph: Stanley Lee Snell, motor machinist’s mate, 519 North Main St., Cape Girardeau – Entered service, July 1, 1942; discharged Oct. 3, 1945, at Coast Guard Center at San Francisco, CA, served aboard The Sequoia.

Married Miss Norma Mueller in 1946

The Missourian had a story about his wedding in the paper May 27, 1946. (The bride wore a brown, street-length dress with blue trimmings; she also wore a string of pearls given to her by the bridegroom.)

I’ll never forget his pipe and his grin

Most adults are sort of a blur to kids, but Stan Snell is a man I’ll never forget. He was a genuinely nice guy. There’s not enough of those around these days.

Here’s his official obituary

From the funeral home web site:

Stanley Lee Snell, 88, of Cape Girardeau passed away Thursday, April 15, 2010 at Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau.

He was born December 19, 1921, in McClure, Illinois, son of Lee J. and Dora Moore Snell. He and Norma Ruth Mueller were married May 18, 1946 in Cape Girardeau. Snell was a veteran of WWII, serving in the United States Coast Guard from May 3, 1943 to October 3, 1945.

He worked 30 years as office manager for Wiethop Truck Sales, retiring in 1987. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau since 1946, and was a former treasurer of the Men’s Club. His civic affiliations included membership in American Legion Post 63 and the Disabled American Veterans, both in Cape Girardeau. He volunteered many years with the Boy Scouts, serving as Scout Master for Troops 8 and 15 in Cape Girardeau, and in 1962 he became a Vigil Honor Member of the Order of the Arrow.

Loving survivors include his wife of 63 years, Norma of Cape Girardeau; a son, Joseph L. (Marguerite) of Lake St. Louis , Mo. ; a daughter-in-law, Sharon Snell of Cape Girardeau ; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a son, the Rev. Jerry L. Snell (5-16-1996); two brothers; and one sister.

Friends may call Sat., Apr. 17, from 10AM until time of service, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau.

Funeral service will be Saturday, at 11:00 AM with the Rev. Douglas Breite officiating. Interment will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery in Cape Girardeau. Memorials may take the form of contributions to Living Hope, c/o Trinity Lutheran Church.

McCombs Funeral Home in Cape Girardeau is in charge of arrangements.