A reader posted a comment recently which I felt should be published as an article on this blog. The following article is being published with her permission:
Memories from Carole Avery Adams:
I spent the first five years of my life (1946-50) living in Smelterville on a fairly large plot of land that my grandfather, Martin Luther Avery, had bought in probably the 1920′s and built two houses on. We lived across the dirt street from a lady named Cal Barnes, and near the central Packing Company. I remember names like Jess Bolen (sp?) and John Dieteker (again sp?) who were friends or acquaintances of my Grandpa and Dad. I know that they were all white. A favorite thing to do with my grandpa was to walk back across the railroad tracks to a little grocery store to buy strawberry soda. Being a small child, I don’t remember the color of anybody’s skin there. It was just fun.
We moved from Smelterville to South Henderson because my mother did not want to be a resident of “Smelterville” when I started school. My first year was at the old Jefferson School — teacher Miss Miskell. My spellings are all “as sounded”. When John Cobb School burned, all of us “white students” from Jefferson were sent to May Greene where I began 2nd grade. May Greene was a great school to go to. We loved Miss Alma, Miss Sanders, and in sixth grade, Mr. Charles Clippard, who was teaching his first year at May Greene. The teacher with the toughest job was my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Savings. If I remember my facts correctly, my class was supposed to have Mrs. Sanders again for fifth grade because she had moved up from 2nd. We were all so excited. She was killed (I remember a car wreck) that summer and Mrs. Savings was hired to take the class. What a position to be in — but we grew to love her as a teacher. Years later, I met her again when she attended the visitation at my mom’s funeral. How thoughtful. Fellow students I remember from May Greene are Connie Wills, Karen Lange, Louise and Lawanda Haynes, David Cotner, Isaac Wren, Carl Seabaugh, really, too many to list. I remember Isaac being a boy who, today, would have been in special classes. He and the teachers had to struggle along the best that they could.
Growing up in South Cape and going to May Greene, none of us realized that we didn’t really have a lot, or that the rest of Cape might think less of us —– until junior high school. Being fairly smart, I was thrown into classes with quite a few of the upper half kids. i became very reluctant to say that I had lived in Smelterville, or that on South Henderson, we still had a coal burning stove in our living room. Nobody was unkind or mean to me — we just did not understand each other and probably made assumptions that were not true for either of us.
Today I am certainly proud of where I grew up and, as for Smelterville, a little saddened that all of it is gone. I do hope that Ken Steinhoff publishes a book about it. I would love to hear from people I knew then, and would also like to have any faulty memories corrected if need be. End of novel. Carole Avery Adams
Note from Darlajune: Ken Steinhoff has a blog which has many extremely interesting articles about South Cape, as well as photographs he shot as a young photographer first for Central High School and then for the Southeast Missourian newspaper. Anyone who grew up in Cape would enjoy his writings. Here is a link to his blog: Cape Girardeau History and Photos
Thank you for your memories, Carole Avery Adams. Hopefully some of the people you named in your comment will see this and re-connect with you.