Some Who Came Back

I was alone walking around in St. Mary’s Cemetery looking at graves of servicemen Friday afternoon. I was looking for a specific grave, but didn’t run across it.

What I did find in just about a third of the graveyard was the final resting place of many men who served in our country’s various conflicts, then came back to rejoin their community. Look at how many bronze markers are catching the late afternoon sun. You can click on the photos to make them larger. Here are just a few of the markers and the men they represent.

An obituary in The Southeast Missourian on Sept. 30, 1980, said that Adolph C. Halter had served in the Army in Europe. He worked as a mechanic at Ford Groves Motor Company until he retired due to ill health.

James Patrick “Pat” Tlapek

James “Pat” Tlapek earned a long obit in the June 28, 2016, Missourian. It was interesting that his military past didn’t even get a mention, maybe because he had accomplished so many other things in his life.

[He] “took a small auto-parts store in Cape Girardeau and watched it grow into business that spans four states. He also contributed to the community through time and donations throughout his life. Tlapek bought Auto Tire and Parts in 1948, when it was one store in Cape Girardeau. Over the years, he expanded, opening a store in Sikeston, Missouri, then adding a parts warehouse. He sold the business to his son John Tlapek in the 1980s, but he remained involved in the company. It has grown to 49 stores in four states with more than 300 employees.”

Paul Scherer Sr.

A March 14, 2012, Missourian obituary said that Paul Scherer Sr., was born in Advance in 1920, and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. It reported that he was production manager at Davis Electric, worked as a carpenter, and was an avid gardener.

John W. Byrne

The Dec. 31, 1981, obit said that John W. Byrne came to Cape Girardeau with the Phillips Petroleum Co., and later became assistant administrator at St. Francis Medical Center. He moved to Jefferson City in 1975, and became medical services coordinator for the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Freeman E. Moyers

Freeman Eugene “Gene” Moyers, served in the Air Force during both the Korean and Vietnam wars. After he retired as a master sergeant in 1970, he worked for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. He was superintendent of Trail of Tears State Park for three years.

Leon Jansen

Leon Jansen served aboard a Coast Guard patrol frigate during World War II. When he returned home, worked for Midwest Dairy. In 1959, he started B&J Refrigeration. He established Jaymac Equipment in 1963, which was one of the longest-established Carrier dealers in the country.

Merlin B. “Bud” Schloss

Merlin B. Schloss served with the Air Force in England, France and Germany from 1943 to 1946. Mr. Schloss worked as a route salesman for Locke Distributing for 25 years, then for Bluff City Beer, until he retired in 1977. He worked part-time for Bi-State Southern Oil Co. after retiring.

John W. Dean

John W. Dean, spent 18 years with the Army Nurse Corps, served in both Korea and Vietnam, and retired with the rank of major. He was director of nursing at St. Francis Medical Center for two years, then opened the Sub and Suds in 1978.

Raymond C. Seyer

I had to pause a few extra minutes in front of Ray Seyer’s stone. I didn’t have to look up his obituary. I knew him as Wife Lila’s favorite uncle. He was the consummate storyteller. I wrote at the time of his death, “You could tell when Ray was going to let loose with a good one by the way he’d get this half-grin with his lower lip pooched out just a little bit; then the crinkles would show up in the corners of his eyes. That’s a sign of a man who has laughed well and often.”

I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Lila, Ray, Mother, and Aunt Rose Mary. I had the foresight to keep a video camera running while Ray was talking about growing up in Swampeast Missouri, serving in the Navy and developing a low opinion of Rush Limbaugh. You can find them at this link.

 

 

 

 

 

Good Persimmon Season

Persimmons - Trail of Tears 09-27-2014We made a swing by Trail of Tears State Park to check the status of a persimmon tree next to the lake. That baby was so full of fruit the branches were pulling down. One of the dark orange ones came off the branch easily, but it was still firm enough that I wouldn’t risk biting into it.

A few have started falling

Persimmons - Trail of Tears 09-27-2014I picked up several persimmons that had fallen on the ground, looking for ones that had that “squishy” feel that indicates they might be pucker-proof. Mother is the persimmon expert, so I let her have her pick. She rejected the one plucked from the tree as being “green,” despite its orange color. She tossed out two that were soft, but had worm holes. The last she pronounced as good-tasting but hot from the afternoon sun.

Here’s what the tree looked like last year when the leaves were gone.

Waiting for the first frost

Persimmons - Trail of Tears 09-27-2014Tradition has it that persimmons aren’t good until after the first frost, but we’ve had ripe persimmons in late summer off a tree at Tower Rock, and the one today was sweet. I think the “first frost” rule has more to do with how long the fruit ripens rather than anything the frost has to do with it.

Speaking of tradition, have you ever used the seed to predict what kind of winter you’re going to have? If you cut the seed in half and see a fork, it is said the winter will be mild; a spoon means lots of snow, and a knife means it will be bitterly cold.

Seeds cut by the Farmers’ Almanac’s Persimmon Lady, who lives in North Carolina, came up all spoons this year. She makes it clear that the forecast is only good for the immediate area, but comments from other parts of the country sound like you should make sure you know where your snow shovel is.

I haven’t checked any Cape persimmon seeds. I value my fingertips too much to try to split the seeds, and Mother faints at the sight of blood.

Cape Rock tree is loaded, too

Persimmons - Trail of Tears 09-27-2014There’s a tree next to the railroad tracks in the parking area below Cape Rock that is loaded, but the persimmons are marble-sized, less than a third or half the size of the ones at Trail of Tears. What few persimmons have fallen were small and hard, so we couldn’t do a taste test on them.

Color Finally Arrives

Leaves at Trail of Tears State ParkI was surprised at how little color there was this year as I’ve driven across the country. It wasn’t until last week around Louisville that reds and yellows started popping up.

We had a serious storm (tornado sirens and the whole deal) blow through Cape a couple of nights ago, so I thought most of the leaves would be blown off the trees before they had a chance to show their stuff.

Just the opposite happened: it was like the wind slapped the trees around and woke them up that winter was coming. Mother, Curator Jessica and I meandered all over the place Saturday afternoon, marveling at the changes that 48 hours had made. Jessica ignored my “are you kidding?” look and decided we should climb out on the breakwater off the Trail of Tears State Park marina. Click on the image to make it larger.

I’m glad we went. The sun kept popping in and out of the clouds until just the right combination got stirred in.

We’re on our way to St. Louis in the morning so she can hop on a plane back to Ohio and her husband and cat. I won’t tell you which one she seems to have missed more.

I’m sure we’ll stop along the way to appreciate even more color. Stay tuned.

Waving Goodbye at Lambert

Anne Rodgers at STL airport 07-02-2013Friend Anne and Wife Lila hopped on a plane at St. Louis’s Lambert Airport Tuesday morning. (Lila isn’t in the picture because she’s still on the shuttle.) Just as I started to pull off, I thought, “Maybe I should bookend the trip by getting a final shot of her leaving Missouri.”

‘It’s just my daughter….’

Anne Rodgers at STL airport 07-02-2013I got out of the car, called her name and watched heads swivel around. To avoid attracting the attention of the security folks, I announced in a loud voice, “It’s OK. I’m just sending my daughter off to school.”

(I’m pretty sure Anne paid that woman to say, “Looks more like his granddaughter,” but I could be mistaken.)

On our first day on the road, the server said, when I asked about an item on the menu, “I find that a little on the spicy side. The couple behind you ordered it, though.”

I started to get up. Anne put her hand on my arm. “You wouldn’t, would you?” Yep, I would. The server was right. The couple agreed that it might be a bit too spicy for a long road trip that late in the evening. Anne knew from that moment on to expect the unexpected. I have no shame.

Stuff to remember

Jackson mailbox 06-27-2013Once she gets past the cringing and embarrassments, I hope she’ll remember all the cool stuff we saw and the people we met.

The gas tank read somewhere between “Low Fuel” and “Who gets to walk for gas?” when we pulled out of Wib’s, but Anne and Lila wanted to shoot a sunset. While they were making art, I was looking at this mailbox and thinking that sometime over the next couple of days, maybe a mailperson would come by and take the survivors back to civilization.

Boat traffic on the Mississippi

Trail of Tears - River - Bald Knob CrossWe stopped at the overlook in Trail of Tears State Park only to be greeted by a nice ranger who said, “This part of the park closes at 7:00 and it’s 7:05.” Anne must have batted her eyelashes at him, because he waved us on, saving me from having to pull out one of my “we’re newlyweds” stories. I knew there was a reason to bring her along.

Bald Knob Cross

Trail of Tears - River - Bald Knob CrossLooking up and to our right, we saw one of the clearest views of the Bald Knob Cross I’ve seen in years. Anne resisted directing any bald knob comments in my direction, for which I was grateful.

Spectacular rainbow

Irrigation system Charleston 06-29-2013Shortly after I took this photo of an irrigation system, the temperature dropped about 15 degrees and we were met with a gust of wind that sent umbrellas flying, accompanied by a brief squall. After the storm moved on, a double rainbow of incredible intensity formed off to our side. It’s the first time I can recall actually feeling like I could see where it was touching the ground.

Good persimmon crop

Tower Rock 06-28-2013I can’t take anyone to Missouri without showing them the Lutheran Heritage Museum in Altenburg and Tower Rock. We coasted into town after the museum closed, but we spotted Gerard Fiehler pedaling down the street. He recognized my van, pulled over and agreed to open the museum for us even though he was hot and sweaty from mowing.

If they don’t fall or get blown off, it looks like Mother’s favorite tree is going to have a good crop of persimmons.

Flood not so good for fish

Dead fish after 2013 flood 06-28-2013We spotted lots of vultures sitting on the wires of the suspension pipeline, but didn’t think much of it. When we drove out of Wittenberg and over to Frogtown, we saw lots of white wading birds off in the distance. When we got past where the old train depot and church would have been, we noticed all sorts of white objects in the fields.

They turned out to be huge carp and other fish who had come in on the flood waters, then gotten trapped when the waters went out quickly. My guess is that the white wading birds were going after the live fish because they weren’t bothering the carrion. The vultures had probably had their fill for the day (or like their food a little riper).

Years have taken toll

Barn near Altenberg 06-28-2013_5116The years and high winds have taken their toll on this old barn seen on the way back home from Altenburg. You can click on the photos to make them larger, by the way.

Here are earlier Anne road trip stories:

Don’t forget First Friday

If you missed me at Hastings, stop in at Annie Laurie’s Antiques on First Friday, July 5. I’ll have Snapshots of Cape Girardeau calendars and Smelterville books. I’ll be there from 6pmish until 10 or when I start snoring and Laurie kicks me out.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.