Mary Nowell of Themis Street

Mary Nowell c 1966Mary Nowell was one of the many Central High School students who lived on Themis Street. I did a video of Linda Stone and Tricia Tipton sitting on Linda’s old steps and listing off all the classmates who grew up around them.

I didn’t know Mary well, but her dad, Bill Nowell, was a major influence in my life. Mr. Nowell owned Nowell’s Camera Shop at 609 Broadway. Other boys hung out in pool rooms and gas stations, but we photo geeks gravitated to Nowell’s so we could drool over the latest Pentax cameras (he carried Nikon gear, but Cape was a Pentax town), Honeywell strobes and other gizmos.

There was faint acidic smell of photo chemicals in the air, along with the odor of unopened boxes of photo paper and film. When I walked into The Palm Beach Post’s photo department stock room, I’d be transported back in time to Nowell’s. I can’t describe the smell, but I’d recognize it anywhere.

Mr. Nowell took a chance on us

Mary Nowell c 1966Mr. Nowell took a chance on us kids. I don’t know how many teenage boys were extended credit, but I was one of them. I don’t recall Mr. Nowell and I ever discussing it, it just happened. I know he didn’t talk to my parents about it.

Dad grew up in the Depression era where you paid cash. I remember overhearing him talking to a friend one day when he didn’t know I was in the vicinity. He was telling him that Mr. Nowell (he was the kind of man you didn’t call “Bill’) was letting me “put stuff on the books.” Dad said it in a way that indicated that he was proud that an adult trusted me enough to give me credit.

I was always careful to pay the bill off regularly. I always paid for major purchases like cameras and lenses on the spot, but I would charge consumables like film, paper and chemicals. When the balance hit around 25 bucks, I’d pay it off and start again. I’ve held off writing about Nowell’s because I keep hoping I run across more photos taken in the shop.

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone more kind and decent than Mr. Nowell.

U Honk We Drink

U Honk We Drink 04-17-2014Mother and I were cruising on Caruthers past the old Central High School when I saw three guys in with a sign in front of them. “They are at little old to be selling Kool-Aid like the Lamkin kids did,” I thought.

I was almost past them when I read the sign, “U HONK WE DRINK.”

I gave them a “Toot! Toot!,” drove on a couple of blocks, then decided this was too good to pass up. I made a right turn onto Thilenius Street, a right onto North Sunset Blvd., a right onto Themis and a right onto Caruthers Ave. to put me within half a block of the guys. Just as I pulled up, a couple of cars gave a honk.

Dustin Miller, Daniel Price and Justin White turned out to be a trio of nice guys. Best part was that they had easy spelling names. “M-i-l-l-e-r?,” I asked. “Nothing all weird like Mueller?” “Nope, just Miller,” he answered.

“OK, so, what’s going on?

U Honk We Drink 04-17-2014Daniel Price said the fridge had a few beers in it and “I’ve been waiting for a sunny day like this for two weeks.”

Justin said he had just come home from work and saw his two roommates sitting in the back yard of 1752 Themis and decided to join them.

Common Spelling Miller didn’t say anything because he was going into the house for another beer run. When he came back, he started dealing out brews: “There’s one for me; there’s one for you, and one for you.”

“Where’s mine?”

He started to hand me a can, but I waved him off.

It sounded like about every third car honked. I suggested they’d do better if they put up signs a little in advance of where they were sitting. I could seeing them considering the idea for about as long as it was worth, then they sat back and waited for whatever toots came their way.

I DID notice that the would take an anticipatory toot swig from time to time if traffic was light.

Franklin School Safety Patrol

Franklin School Safety Patrol 2There’s no doubt that young ladies were attracted to those cool uniforms we School Safety Patrol guys wore. Not only did we have bright yellow helmets, Sam Browne belts and bright raincoats, but we also had the STOP flags that could capture the cute girls until you gave them permission to proceed.

Key post at Keller and Themis

Franklin School Safety Patrol 6Our patrolman bundles up against the rain falling on his post at Keller and Themis. That’s my 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon at the curb (mentioned for the car collectors who specialize in it).

White boots and rolled cuffs

Franklin School Safety PatrolThis was the era of white boots for girls and rolled-up blue jean cuffs for boys. I mean, you had to buy them long because of expected growing spurts. Just like bikes were bought big enough that you had to put wood blocks on the pedals so you could reach them until you grew into the two-wheeler.

Not allowed to stop cars

Franklin School Safety Patrol 7We were strictly informed that we weren’t supposed to actually stop cars. Our flag was to hold back the kids until we were sure the street was safe to cross, then we would swing out flag out to reinforce to any approaching car that they were supposed to stop.

I did, in my role as Captain, turn in the tag and description of a car that failed to stop at the stop sign I had rolled out into the middle of the street. Whether he turned it into the cops or not, I never knew.

We took our jobs seriously

Franklin School Safety Patrol 5I am proud to report that all of our charges always made it across the street safely. Surprisingly enough, I don’t recall any of our peers mocking us for our duty. Maybe it was because we could sneak out of class early to take our posts. We wore our rolled-up white Sam Browne belts attached to our belts when we were off-duty.

Trinity and St. Mary’s Patrols

 

 

It WAS the Junior High School

Aerial Photos of Central High School on Carruthers Ave 04-17-2011When I asked readers to help me identify a building yesterday, it didn’t take long before Dennis Mize, Jim Feldmeier, Charlie Holt, Tim Ludwig, Keith Robinson and Dave let me know that it was Central Junior High School. This aerial isn’t from the same angle, but you can see the boxy shape and ramp that confirm what the guys were saying.

Here’s a new mystery

SEMO Academic HallWhen Neighbor Bill and I looked at this picture, I said I thought the crane was probably working on the highrise dorms that would have been north and east of Academic Hall. He said he woke up at 3 a.m. with the revelation that the crane was working on the KFVS-TV tower across from The Missourian.

I’m not convinced. If that’s the case, then what is the building to its left that has a rounded rooftop? Click on it to make it larger, if that helps.

SEMO campus with dorms

Aerial Southeast Missouri State University 11-06-2010Here’s a a 2010 aerial of the SEMO campus with the high rise dorms in it for comparison.

Downtown aerial

Aerial Broadway - Sprigg - Independence 11-06-2010_9143This aerial shows the KFVS-TV tower at the top left. The square is bounded by roughly Broadway – Themis – Sprigg and Main Street.

Common Pleas Courthouse 1964

Aerial Common Pleas Courthouse 04-14-1964This 1964 aerial centered on the Common Pleas Courthouse was taken before the KFVS-TV tower was built. There’s a parking lot across from The Missourian where it will be built.

I hope one of these will help you figure out the mystery building.

 

 

 

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.