I Should Have Felt Something

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016I’ve been dragging my feet putting this post up, because I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t feel more emotion at my visit to the Central High School Gymnasium Saturday, the last public viewing before it’s torn down sometime during this month and March.

Here, by the way is a panorama shot from the top of the south bleachers looking to the north. Click on it to make it larger.

Maybe I didn’t connect because all of the spirit signs, the Tiger logos, the baseball brag board and the Alma Mater had all been removed from the walls. My knees didn’t like the bleachers that we were made to run up and down in P.E.

It was the noise that was missing

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016It was too quiet. There were no basketballs bouncing off the shiny floor. No coaches blowing their whistles and bellowing at lackadaisical students like me. There was no hollering nor the SPLAT! of one of those red rubber dodgeballs leaving an equally red mark on some slow-to-move freshman.

No fond memories

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016I can’t think of any fond memories I had about that room. I hated physical education class with a purple passion. I had neither the skills nor the desire to play sports.

I attended tens of dances and proms, but, with few exceptions, my job was to wait until this queen or that queen was crowned, then head home to process my film for The Missourian, The Tiger or The Girardot.

First high school girlfriend Shari found out I wasn’t fibbing when I told her I didn’t know how to dance, and last high school girlfriend Wife Lila will confirm that I never got any better.

I thought the showers were bigger

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016When I journeyed to the locker room and showers, I was astounded at how small the shower room was. It’s hard to believe that you could cram a dozen or more guys in there at one time, even considering that I was half the size I am today.

I stand by a description I wrote in 2013: “We guys were herded into gang showers where earsplitting hoots and hollers echoed off the tile walls like a bad prison movie. At least once during this session (which I tried to complete as quickly as possible), there would be something that sounded like a space shuttle lifting off, followed by a sulfurous cloud of methane gas that rolled off the tiles in a green cloud, prompting another Neanderthal to try to best the earlier contribution.”

If the dodgeballs went “SPLAT!” the snapping of wet towels sounded like a wild bunch of cowboys trying to get the herd moving by cracking their bullwhips.

Bleacher and floor signup sheet

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016There was a signup sheet near the entrance where people could leave their names if they were interested in getting pieces of the bleachers or floor when the building is being torn down. I talked with Coach Terry Kitchen Monday to get details, but he said the administration hadn’t made a decision yet on what will happen with the salvage. He asked me to check back later this week to see what was going to happen. When I hear, I’ll post an update.

I have to admit I wouldn’t mind having a chunk of bleacher.

A moment with Terry Crass

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016On my way out, I stopped to chat with a man wearing an orange shirt. It turned out to be Terry Crass, probably one of the nicest guys who ever walked the halls of Central High School. As team manager of just about every sport except Chess, he kept players patched up, and he’s doing much the same work today at the Veterans Home.

After a few minutes of chit-chat, Terry said, “On the afternoon JFK got killed, I was in Mr. Ford’s algebra class. The weather was bad. It was a lousy-looking day. Mr. Wilferth came on the PA and said the president had been shot. We didn’t know anything.

“The bell rings and I hit out to the study hall. Nobody was saying anything. Everybody was crying. There was a big black and white TV in there. That’s when Walter Cronkite looked up at the clock over his shoulder and said, “From Dallas, Texas, the FLASH, apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.” [I inserted the actual quote, but Terry pretty much nailed it from memory.]

I had a flashback

CHS gym last open to public 01-30-2016I flashed back to another TV on that day. One that was sitting in the gym with shocked students staring at it. “All you could hear was breathing,” I told The Missourian when I rushed my photo to the paper to make my first EXTRA edition.

Suddenly, I must have swallowed a marble because I couldn’t say anything, and there was a lot of dust in the air that caused my eyes to water.

I guess I DID leave a little piece of myself in that old gym.

Last Day photo gallery

Here are some random photos of folks saying goodbye to the old building. Click on any picture to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

The Bootery

2015-09-18 120 N Main St_1186I’ve probably been in Broussard’s a dozen or so times when a Cajun craving hit, but I never noticed “The Bootery” set into the entrance before this visit.

If you click the photo to make it larger, you can see my reflection in the glass. It was a warm day, so I didn’t commit the terrible fashion faux pas of wearing socks with my sandals.

Search came up empty

Fluroscope at The National Museum of Nuclear ScienceA search of The Missourian archive for “Bootery” turned up empty. I turned to Google next. It took me to a 1959 Life Magazine ad for Roblee shoes. The word “bootery” was used by a lot of shoe stores, but the only listing for Cape was C.S. Gaylor.

Gaylor’s was where we usually went to buy shoes. I was always disappointed that Mother wouldn’t let me play with the neat fluoroscope that let you see your toes inside your shoes (while delivering a mass of x-ray radiation to your gonads). You can read more about the machine here.

What was at 120 Main?

1938-08-15 Missourian AdMy next trick was to search for the store’s address, 120 North Main street. Still pretty much dry except for a 1938 ad for The Smart Shop. The building next door at 118 North Main was being vacated by Vogelsanger Hardware Company.

The Smart Shop was showing furs from St. Louis, but you could buy a quality rayon Giana crepe for $6.50 at Hecht’s. (I don’t know whether you’re supposed to eat, hang or wear a crepe, so you’ll have to tell me if that’s a good deal.)

Follow Santa’s Trail

12-06-1939 Missourian contest adThe Smart Shop was mentioned in this Christmas contest ad in the December 6, 1939, Missourian. It’s fascinating to see how many businesses were still around 30 years later. You’re definitely going to have to click this one to make it larger to read the names.

Bootery mystery

2015-09-18 120 N Main St_1179Someone else is going to have to fill me in on the background of The Bootery. I couldn’t come up with any information about it.

Steinhoffs Had a Gas Station?

DX service station premium glasses 08-26-2015Man, you never know what you’re going to find when you scrape the Mississippi River mud off an old glass. I had intended this to be a quick nostalgia piece about the days when you got all kinds of giveaways when you filled your gas tank.

Little did I know that it would let me discover something about my family that I never knew.

A search hint

Missourian search resultsHere’s a little hint if you want to search The Missourian’s archives. In this particular instance, I typed “DX service station” in the search box. (The quote marks means return that exact value, not every story with the words “service” or “station” in them.) Then, when I hovered over the SEARCH button, I waited until choices came up, then selected “Archive since 1918,” which will return the most results. (That’s a hint from Missourian librarian Sharon Sanders who has a blog of her own.)

Above is what came up. Click on the photos to make them large enough to read.

Employed by Steinhoff DX Service Station?

1945-10-04 MissourianpMy eye went straight to the last entry: “…employed by the Steinhoff DX Service Station.” What the heck is that?

The link took me to an October 4, 1945, war brief about two soldier sons of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Lacy who had been serving since 1944. The story said Pfc. Donald Lacy, a graduate of Central High School, was employed by the Steinhoff D-X Service Station on Broadway before his induction in October, 1944.

That’s the first I had ever heard of such a station. This is one of those times when I wish I could ask Dad or Mother for background info.

Bill Wescoat station at Broadway and Perry

Wreck at Broadway and Perry Ave c 1966The next story I checked was a brief from July 18, 1940: “Workmen have started to build a concrete drive and areaway at the Bill Wescoat D-X service station at Broadway and Perry avenue. Also a lubrication and washroom is to be built on the west side of the station and adjoining it. Westcoat is building the annex and the Midcontinent Petroleum Corp. is making the driveway.

The station at the far right of this wreck photo taken in the mid-60s is probably that station, although it was a Texaco here.

H.H. Steinhoff, Proprietor

1946-03-19 Missourian clipI struck paydirt with this March 29, 1946, ad. H.H. Steinhoff was listed as proprietor of Steinhoff’s D-X Service at 1700 Broadway. H.H. was Hubert Steinhoff, my dad’s brother.

1700 Broadway is the intersection of Broadway and Perry avenue mentioned in the 1940 story.

Uncle Hu

Hubert SteinhoffHubert – Uncle Hu we called him – was the “funny uncle,” and not the kind that the family keeps locked in the attic. He was a jolly guy, always ready to fool around with us boys.

He particularly enjoyed giving us presents that would drive my parents crazy (until they came to a agreement that live animals and toys that made loud noises were not appropriate gifts). I don’t claim to be a snappy dresser, but I AM happy that I didn’t follow in Uncle Hu’s sartorial footsteps.

I don’t know how long he was associated with the service station. When I knew him, he was working for an asphalt company in Illinois. I was always impressed that his car had one of those long, low-band two-way radio antennas that went “twanga-twanga-twanga” when you came to a sudden stop.

Our monogrammed glasses

DX service station premium glasses 08-26-2015I don’t know where the glass came from that started this search, but it appears that it DOES have our family initial on it.

 

 

 

 

 

That Dammed Sprigg Street Sinkhole

Cape LaCroix Creek sinkhole 07-19-2015I always take a run down check out the cement plant quarry, but the trip takes a little longer now that Sprigg is closed at Cape LaCroix Creek due to a persistent sinkhole. In the 2011 flood, water under pressure from the river followed cracks and almost filled the quarry.

Sinkhole swallowed water lines

Cape LaCroix Creek sinkhole 07-19-2015Mother Earth was hungry for Cape’s infrastructure.

The Southeast Missourian had a story by Samantha Rinehart on August 18, 2015, that reported the Cape city council had approved allowing crews to begin the design and construction phase of building a bridge that will span the sinkhole area. The cost had lots of commas and zeroes.

Upstream dam

Cape LaCroix Creek sinkhole 07-19-2015When I went there on July 19, I was surprised to see a dam upstream of the bridge to keep Cape LaCroix Creek from flowing into the sinkhole area. A fairly strong thunderstorm had moved through over the past couple of days, so I wondered where all that water had gone.

Dam to keep Mississippi out

Cape LaCroix Creek sinkhole 07-19-2015There was a corresponding dam on the other side to keep the flooding Mississippi out. I didn’t have any desire to have my shoes sucked off wading through gumbo, so I elected to wait for a dryer day to explore.

Lohmann Fixture Company

Dammed Cape LaCroix Creek 08-17-2015By August 17, it was dry enough to check out the Mississippi River dam. The white building sticking up in the background is the old Lohmann Fixture Company.

1929 railroad bridge

Dammed Cape LaCroix Creek 08-17-2015The river was back to its normal levels, so nothing was lapping up against it. The black pipe off to the right must have been how the water from upstream got past the sinkhole area. I have a hard time believing a 10 or 12-inch pipe could handle the volume of water dumped by the last rainstorm, but it must have. The railroad bridge in the photo was built in 1929.

No KKK and swastika in 2010

Dammed Cape LaCroix Creek 08-17-2015When I shot the 1929 railroad bridge in 2010, it didn’t sport the KKK and swastika that it does here.

 

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.