Turn Right to Downtown

General Sign for Cape DowntownThis General Sign Company invitation to “Stop ‘n Shop – Turn Right Foot of Bridge to Downtown Cape Giardeau takes us back to the day when Main Street was THE shopping area for the region. The photo is part of the collection Terry Hopkins loaned me from his dad’s job at General Sign Company.

The sign must have been located in East Cape since that’s the only place a “Turn Right” would make sense.

See the smokestacks?

General Sign for Cape DowntownWhen the picture is blown up, you can see two smokestacks off to the right, one of them puffing black smoke.

The cement plant would have been way off to the left, so these stacks must belong to the shoe factory and the power plant north of it. I’m not sure what the white building off to the far right would be. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Here’s what they would have found

Cape Downtown Aerial Photo from the 1960sIf our shopper had turned right, this is what they would have encountered. Follow this link to see other downtown stories. Here is a collection of links to stories about Main Street businesses and buildings.

Frisch’s Big Boy

Frisch's Big Boy - General Sign CoTerry Hopkins‘ dad’s General Sign Company box of photos had these shots of Frisch’s Big Boy’s 3-D rotating sign. (Check out the Garber’s sign in the background.) I guess I never looked closely enough at a Big Boy to notice that he had a slingshot in his back pocket.

When I was a kid, I wondered how those rotating signs kept the electrical cord from getting tangled up. It’s obvious from this that the motor that provided the spin was BENEATH the rotating point.

BUT, how about signs that had lights in the rotating part? Did they get their power from contacts that slipped as they rotated? I’m sure someone is going to come up with an answer that is going to make me feel really foolish. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Did Cape have a Frisch’s?

Frisch's Big Boy - General Sign CoThe building has General Sign Company on it, but the Big Boy is going for a ride in a truck that says Operle Poster Advertising, Paducah, KY, on its side.

I wonder if the Big Boy was headed for Kentucky? I don’t recall any Frisch’s stores in our area.

Sides-Miller Men’s Store

Sides-Miller Men's Store -General Sign Co sign

Here’s another General Sign Co. sign from Terry’s Hopkins‘ dad’s box of photos. This one is for Sides-Miller Men’s Store at 625 Broadway. It must have been around Christmas time because of the reindeer decoration behind it.

Random news stories

  • December 6, 1948$4000 Loot in Men’s Store Theft – More than $4000 in cash and merchandise was taken from Sides-Miller Men’s Store, 625 Broadway, Saturday night or early Sunday morning by thieves who cut the three-eighths inch iron bars on a rear window and hauled away a 250-pound safe and armloads of men’s wearing apparel, police said today.
  • July 21, 1949Dog Saved Burglary of Store – Sides-Miller men’s store, 625 Broadway, from which burglars stole $4000 in cash and clothing last December 5, was booked a second time by St. Louis thugs last week but a barking dog and heavy iron bars changed the plans, Cape Girardeau police learned Wednesday through written confessions by two St. Louis suspects.
  • May 13, 1979New Sides-Miller – Bulletin-Journal: Sides-Miller Men’s Store, established on Broadway since 1947, has had a change of ownership effective May 1. Larry W. Barnes, a former Girardeau [resident], is the new owner. He and his wife Judi purchased the corporation from Eugene Sides. The name and location of the store will remain the same.
  • June 10, 1984Sides-Miller to close Cape store – Sides-Miller Men’s Store, after 37 years in business is closing out its stock of merchandise, reports Larry Barnes, owner. He said the store, located at 3 West Park Village, will dispose at a special sale all it merchandise during the next 60 days and will not reopen. He stressed that no merchandise in addition to the current inventory will be brought in for the sale. Barnes said his plans for the future are as yet uncertain.
  • August 17, 2004Eugene Sides – Eugene Sides, 91, of Cape Girardeau died Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004, at the Lutheran Home. He was born Jan. 4, 1913, at Indian Creek, Mo., son of Pearl and Jeffie Abernathy Sides. He and Lucille M. Herbst were married July 8, 1940, in Cape Girardeau. She died Aug. 12, 1994. Mr. Sides owned and operated Sides-Miller Men’s Store on Broadway from 1947 to 1980. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean Conflict. When he returned from Korea, he helped organize Little League baseball in 1952. He was a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, and a member of Abe Stuber Boys. He was a member of Centenary United Methodist Church, past president of Centenary Men’s Club, and was president of Downtown Rotary Club in 1960. Survivors include a son, Ronald E. Sides of Springfield, Ill.; two daughters, Linda S. Craig and Brenda Sides Emerson of St. Louis; a brother, J.O. Sides of Cape Girardeau; a sister, Hazel Schloss of Jackson; and two granddaughters, Alison Sides and Nina Emerson.



Bill’s and Hirsch’s Midtown

Bill's Courtesy Cleaners signWe’re dipping into Terry Hopkins‘ dad’s General Sign box again. This time I ran across two signs that shared a bunch of elements.

Bill’s Courtesy Cleaners was located at 1107 Broadway, more or less across from Houck Stadium. The cleaners were housed in one of two buildings built by Eddie Erlbacher shortly after World War II. I photographed the school board moving a big safe out of the second floor of the twin building to the east.

The property had an interesting past, detailed in a Fred Lynch blog in April 6, 2010.

Hirsch’s Midtown

Hirsch's Midtown signThe Hirsch’s sign’s has the same arrow and basic shape. I wonder how many other businesses in the area shared those pieces / parts?

I did a post on Hirsch’s Midtown in 2012, and it generated quite a few comments. So many, in fact, I followed up with another story about the Hirsch Bros. No. 2, otherwise known as Hirsch’s Northtown.

It was better known to later generations as the Mule Lip or Margarita Mama’s. It’s a casualty of the Casino, but the Midtown store is still standing.

Mystery sign

Hirsch's Midtown signIf you look closely at the bottom right of the Hirsch’s sign, there are some tiny red letters faintly visible. Blowing them up just makes them blurrier. The appear to spell COFERS. I looked at the 1968 City Directory and didn’t see any business in the 200 block of South Sprigg that came close to that.



I usually post the blog at about 2 a.m., and after I’m done I check to see if Fred Lynch has updated his f/8 and Be There blog. I didn’t check it before going to bed, so I was stunned this morning to see his topic was “Cofer’s Men’s Store.”

I emailed him to ask if he had seen my topic and decided to piggyback it (we exchange links, which builds traffic for both of us, and it helps readers fill in the gaps).

His response: “Are you kidding? I’m in bed by 10 pm. You retired folks amaze me with your sleeping habits. Anyway, I am two weeks or more ahead with finished blogs so yes, quite a coincidence.”

Working people can be SO organized. I usually don’t start thinking about the next days’ post until around 9 p.m. the night before.