We Had Snow in the ’60s

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauYou folks are tired of looking at snow and ice, I’m sure, but this is a reminder we had snow back in the 1960s. We had less snow than Cape has gotten in the last few winters, but I think we were better prepared for it. More cars had snow tires and it was common to put chains on the drive wheels back then.

I think this might have been taken at one of the stations where The Missourian would drop off our bundles of papers. It might have been a Gulf. The press would spit out the papers in batches of 50 or 100; they would be handed off to a binding machine that would put a blank wrap of paper around the stack, then twist a thick copper wire tightly around it to hold them together. A sheet of paper with your route number on it would let you know which bundles belonged to you.

When I first started carrying papers at age 12, I had to work to untwist the copper wire to get it off my bundle. When I got a little older and little stronger, I could grab the bundle under the wrapper paper, give it a hard yank and break the copper wire. When winter came around, the station owner would ask us to save the copper wire for him so he could use it to hold tire chains on his customers’ cars.

La-Petite Motel

Snow and Ice around Cape Girardeau La-Petite MotelA lot of these negatives are pretty scratched and spotted up. Just pretend the spots are snow flakes. The 1968 City Directory says the La-Petite Motel was at 1301 North Kingshighway and was owned or managed by Charles and Lorraine Scheller.

Human-powered snow cleaning

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauThe sidewalks around Central High School were cleaned by guys with shovels, not fancy snowblowers. The fact that they are being cleaned leads me to believe school was in session, snow or no snow.

A long throw

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauI don’t know if he’s shoveling out the stairwell or just breaking off overhanging snow.

Must have been a windy storm

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauThis snow storm must have had some wind with it to pile up drifts like these.

Central’s basement

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauI had forgotten how they built Central’s basement to be able to have windows to let light in.

Hilly neighborhood

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauI tried to read the mailboxes, but the letters were too small. I don’t know where this neighborhood was, but it was hilly and the snow didn’t have many tracks.

Out in the country

Snow and Ice around Cape GirardeauThis house looks familiar, but I can’t put a name or a face to it. Anybody? You can watch some 8mm home movies of snow here.

As usual, you can click on the photos to make them larger.

 

 

Missourian Equipment Move

Missouiran equipment moveIt looks like a heavy piece of equipment is being taken out of The Southeast Missourian building. It’s hard for me to tell what it is, but I think it might be a plate maker that etched the zinc plates used to make halftone photos. The man on the left in the patterned shirt is one of the many Hohlers who were responsible for producing the paper. I just can’t remember which one he is.

A balcony for parades

Missouiran equipment moveThat balcony opened off the newsroom, so it was a perfect place to watch the parades go by.

Missourian Building a landmark

Missouiran equipment moveThe Missourian building may not be as iconic from a distance as the Common Pleas Courthouse or Academic Hall’s dome, but it’s a Cape landmark, nonetheless. If you are interested in the history of the building, here’s a link to the National Register of Historic Places registration form.

Spooky place at night

Missouiran equipment moveI loved sitting up in the newsroom all by myself at night. It was a great place to do my homework. There were three police monitors hanging from a shelf on a column that would occasionally crackle to life from time to time with some minor call that I could usually ignore. In fact, over the years, I got to where I could pretty much tune out the sound of the cops and robbers in the background until I heard a change in voice stress and cadence, then I’d perk up.

The spooky part was the Western Union Clock on the wall. Every hour, it would make a sound as it synchronized itself with the mother ship, wherever it was. Even though I knew what it was and should have been expecting, I’d always jump.

Of all the places I worked, I don’t think any felt more like a newsroom “home” to me.

Shooting from the balcony

G.D. Fronabarger, Southeast Missourian photographerLooks like I got the high ground on this occasion. I snapped off a photo of One-Shot Frony standing on the sidewalk while I was on the balcony.

One-Shot Frony

GD Fronabarger c 1967

Everyone’s been shot by Frony

There’s probably nobody who lived in Southeast Missouri between 1927 and 1986 who hadn’t had his or her picture taken by One-Shot Frony.

G.D. Fronabarger started working at The Southeast Missourian in 1927 and stayed 59 years.

When I knew him, he was called One-Shot because he seldom took more than one picture per assignment. He’d line up a group shot with 50 people in it, growl through the cigar clenched between his teeth, “Don’t blink. I’m taking one shot,” push the shutter release and walk off.

He and I had a somewhat tense relationship in our early days. I was a reporter who got paid $5 for each shot that ran… when one ran. Because most of the staffers liked my candid style, as opposed to Frony’s more formal posed pictures, they’d connive to slip assigments to me on days when they knew Frony wasn’t available. He was gruff with everybody, but it always felt like he was a little more gruff with me.

Frony defended a controversial picture

Barge fatalities 12-05-1966That all changed after I went out on an early-morning spot news run Dec. 5, 1966.

A 19-year-old and another man were cleaning the inside of a closed barge with gasoline when they were overcome by the fumes. I took a front-page picture of the young man laying face-down on the cold barge deck while rescue workers lifted his partner out of the hold.

It was the first body I had ever seen outside of a funeral home – certainly the only one of someone my age – and it was one of the few I can recall The Missourian running. Seeing that, and writing the obituary of a kid I went to kindergarten with, showed me just how fragile life is. I never forgot it.

Predictably, the paper came in for a lot of criticism

I was surprised one day when I was in a coffee shop and overheard Frony defending “the kid” who took the picture to someone who was bending his ear. After that, Frony treated me a lot differently. Maybe he felt like I had paid my dues and had what it took to be a real newspaper photographer.

Fred Lynch is preserving Frony’s early work

Southeast Missourian Photographer Fred Lynch

I dropped in to see Fred Lynch, a Missourian photographer since 1975. I had seen his work over the years, but had never met him. While we were sharing war stories, he said that he was involved in a project to digitize all of Frony’s 4×5 negatives.

Frony was an early adopter of 35mm technology. He showed me a long telephoto lens one afternoon, and I asked what he planned to use it for.

“I’m going to stand here and shoot corruption in Illinois,” he groused, without a hint of a smile.

Fred pulled out a series of prints that showed a completely different side of Frony, the photographer. There were images that would qualify as art in any museum. He managed to capture a portrait of his era in a way I hope my pictures do.

I’m not sure how The Missourian will ultimately use the photos, but I’ll be first in line to buy the book if they publish one.

Frony’s Twister Tornado Warning Alarm

Tornado Warning Alarm owned by G.D. FronabargerI happened to be in town when many of Frony’s possessions were auctioned off. (A copy of the picture of him on the river front was one of the things that sold. I was touched that he had hung onto it for all those years.)

One thing that caught my eye was a Twister Tornado Warning Alarm. It was a quirky device that had a metal can in the middle. If the air pressure dropped suddenly, a buzzer would sound and a light would light. It had no practical use, but it was neat.

Auctioneer sweetened the deal

I bid two or three bucks and figured I had a clear shot. The auctioneer, though, wanted to boost the bid, so he threw in two pairs of Frony’s old shoes. One was an orangish color not seen in nature. NOW folks were getting interested. I think I finally had to go to five or seven bucks for my trophy, plus the bleeping shoes.

I felt foolish enough buying the Twister Torado Warning Alarm (which, by the way, is on permanent loan to the Mark Steinhoff Memorial Museum in St. Louis), the shoes made me feel REALLY foolish.

Frony Shoes are still in service

Frony Shoes, modeled by Matt SteinhoffIt turned out that Kid Matt, who was in high school at the time, thought they were the most comfortable things he’d ever found. And, showing that he had inherited his fashion sense from me, he insisted on wearing them in public.

I asked him the other night what ever happened to his Frony Shoes.

He was more than happy to pull them out of his closet to pose for this picture.

I guess you could say that the Steinhoffs have walked a mile in Frony’s shoes.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.