Why Weren’t We Killed?

Photos by James D. McKeown III, courtesy Steven McKeown

Looking at this photo from Steve McKeown’s collection of his dad’s old family photos made me think of the red Radio Flyer wagon Brothers Mark and David and our buddies used to streak down Kingsway Drive.

Our wagon had a tongue which folded back so a rider could steer the wagon, unlike the rope contraption in the photo.

We trudged up the hill time after time for a 45-second ride down from in front of 1618 Kingsway Drive to the fishhook-shaped J-curve at the bottom.

A physics lesson

We discovered the elemental law of physics that heavy objects at the top of the hill have lots of potential energy that gradually bleeds off by the bottom.That was the advantage of loading up the wagon with brothers and buddies. It also meant you had people to help pull it back up to the launch site. The brothers, unfortunately, would frequently beg off, saying they were “too tired” to walk back up the hill, leaving us to pull them AND the wagon back. It was amazing how their tiredness went away when it was time for another run.

Too often, the blast to the bottom would be interrupted by the cry of “CAR!!!” that would result in the tongue being abruptly twisted in whatever direction would throw us off into a ditch for safety.

Check out the socks

This wasn’t a generation of white sock wearers. Looks like Mom must have bought his jeans with the idea that he’d grow into them, and until he did, then rolling up the cuffs would keep them from dragging in the dirt.

Looks like his shoes are holding up well. I had a lot of pairs that had been half-soled. Late in grade school days, I would nail “taps,” onto the heel. Ostensibly they were to keep your heels from wearing down, but the real reason for putting them on was to make a cool noise when you walked the hallways in school. They came in various sizes – from tiny to huge horseshoe-shaped ones that were suitable for clogging.

The coolness factor was negated if you happened to hit a slick patch of floor that would cause your legs to spread apart like a guy with one leg in the boat and one on the dock.


Flailing Arms, Skinned Knees

Photos by James D. McKeown III, courtesy Steven McKeownReader Steve McKeown sent me a selection of family photos taken by his father, James D. McKeown III. Time and storage haven’t done the negatives any favors, but that doesn’t keep us from enjoying the era they captured.

I don’t know who this girl is, but I give her credit for negotiating the cracks in the sidewalk without having the knees ripped out of her pants from falling. Or, she may have just started out.

Cracks weren’t the only problem

I remember those steel-wheeled skates. If the cracks didn’t get you, then they would come loose from your shoes and turn sideways while still strapped to your foot. If you cranked down hard with the metal skate key to keep that from happening, all you would accomplish would be to bend the sole of your shoe, causing the same result.

I hope the girl made it to adulthood in one piece, but the way she’s holding her right hand was an invitation for a broken wrist if she tried to catch herself while flying through the air like Supergirl.

Thanks, McKeown Family for the use of your photos.

Working for Extra Credit

When I spoke to Dr. Lily Santoro’s Local Techniques in History Class, I offered to help students find information for the topics they had been assigned on local landmarks. The first step was to compile a list of posts about their subjects.

Jennifer was first out of the box

1956 SEMO Homecoming courtesy Steve McKeownThere’s always one student in the class who starts work right away. Jennifer Baker emailed me early on: “My topic is the Wehking Alumni Building on Broadway.  From what I have been able to find, the building was previously occupied by the First Baptist Church. Construction on it began in 1926. So, my project will start with the First Baptist Church and end with the Wehking Alumni Center.”

I had to confess to her that the building had been on my to-do list for a long time, but the only photos I had were ones taken of the 1956 SEMO Homecoming parade by James D. McKeown III and passed on by his son, Steve McKeown.

I did suggest that she check out a story I had read that Louis Houck was so enamored by reproductions of classic sculptures he saw at the St. Louis World’s Fair that he bought them at the end of the fair and donated them to the college. I heard that they were being displayed in her building after being moved out of Academic Hall. I suggested she look for Joel P. Rhodes‘ book, A Missouri Railroad Pioneer: The Life of Louis Houck, to see if I remembered it correctly.

Bingo. “Wow!  I just found a copy of this book as an ebook on line. Within minutes, I was able to read this section of Dr. Rhodes’ book on Louis Houck.  Thanks again for the help!  You are pretty cool!” she gushed.

Thanks to Jennifer, I finally got around to shoot the statues and former church for a future post. (If Jennifer is a REAL digger, she will uncover a story about a bank loan and why the building looks like it does. That’s the only hint I’m going to give because I’m saving it for my future post.)

Fairmount Cemetery

Aerial Old Notre Dame HS - New Lorimier and Fairmont Cemeteries 04-17-2011_5226The deadline for the project must be coming quickly because I got a flurry of requests on Wednesday.

Crystal Haugsness wanted an aerial shot of Fairmount Cemetery and a photo of the cemetery with Bingo World in the background.

Beer on the first date at age 13

Myrtle (Schilling) Kuehnert in Trinity Lutheran Church 11-12-2013Lucas Greenwalt was fascinated by Myrtle Schilling Kuehnert, part of my Last Generation project. ” I was wondering, if by chance, you would give me permission to cite one of your works for a poster presentation.  It was from a video interview you did where an elderly lady discusses her first date with her husband and they casually grabbed a beer at the age of 13.  My project is on the Evangelical United Church of Christ here in cape.  As you may know the church has very deep German roots and I feel as though this would be a wonderful reference when giving the history of the building.”

St. James AME Church

NAACP 08-10-1967Scott Bates drew the St. James AME Church. “I want to know if you would allow me permission to use a photo from your website. The photo that I would like to use is the photo with Mr. Kaplan speaking and Rev. Ward smiling in the back. This was from the NAACP president’s visit to St. James AME Church in 1967.”

Luke Haun wanted Fair photos

SEMO Fair by Mary Steinhoff 09-08-2011Luke wanted six photos: four from the 1964 fair; one inside the Arena Building in 1966, and a color shot that Mother took in 2011. I liked his taste. He picked out some of my favorites.

I wonder if any other students will come skidding in tomorrow? They may be in trouble. I have to wrap up a bunch of loose ends before getting on the road to Ohio at the end of the week, so I may not be around to look up photos.

I hope Dr. Santoro gives me extra credit for my work. I could use some help pulling up my grade point average.



Putt-Putt Golf Course

Putt-Putt GolfThere has been some discussion on Facebook about the Putt-Putt Golf Course that was located on Independence across from Central High School. I was pretty sure I didn’t have any photos of it, but I sort of played hooky tonight, which led to this discovery.

Wife Lila and I got a late afternoon invitation to go to dinner with the boys, wives and kids. It was made more special by Grandson Malcolm announcing he had won first place in his elementary school science fair. He’ll represent his school in the next level of competition soon. He and Dad Matt built a trebuchet in his backyard and calculated the best pivot point to get the greatest throw range. So, if you need to launch a bucket of boiling oil at your neighbor, give third-grader Malcolm a call. (And, he emphasized, do NOT call it a catapult. They are similar, but different siege devices.)

[Editor’s Note: that wasn’t particularly relevant to the story. I just had to find a way to brag on my grandkid.]

Thanks to Steve McKeown

Putt-Putt GolfA year or so ago, Reader Steve McKeown sent me a whole flock of photos his dad, James D. McKeown III had taken. I was sifting through them when I saw these Putt-Putt photos. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking at (Steve didn’t provide any background with the photos), when I saw the building  in the background. That pretty much convinced that it was on the east side of Sheridan south of Independence. The top photo and some others have railroad tracks in them, making me even more sure of the location.

Yep, Putt-Putt

Putt-Putt GolfThe clincher was when I spotted the words “I Play Putt-Putt” on a sign behind the woman’s head. You can see the golf club handles behind her and a box containing scorecards, different colored golf balls and a roll of tickets.

Free Parking

Putt-Putt GolfOne of the selling points of the Putt-Putt was free parking.

Wooden chairs for the weary

Putt-Putt GolfIn case you got tired walking the course, Putt-Putt provided chairs built for two as a resting spot.

Grand opening in 1961

Putt-Putt GolfThe only story that popped up in The Missourian was an Out of the Past column on June 12, 2011,that reported, “Grand opening of the new Putt-Putt Golf Course, a standardized miniature entertainment at 1739 Independence St., is set for next weekend; the 18-hole course is managed by Dean Brown and Kenny Hargens.