The Kelleys on Ranney Street

This post was sent to me by my brother, Mark, who was best friends with ‘Little Skip’ Kelley who lived on Ranney Street. Here are some of his memories:

 

I found this last night.  This was my friend Skipper’s dad.  I really like him and June a lot.  June always treated me just like a son.  I practically lived over there as much as possible.  I would eat with them, etc…  I can remember Skipper and I playing at his grandpa’s and just destroying their house but they kept letting us back in.

http://www.semissourian.com/story/print/1469146.html

I remember one day Skipper and I were there and Velma was complaining to Skip’s grandpa about the stairs going up the side of their house to the second floor and the little porch.  She said it was falling apart and if he wouldn’t fix it then she would like to tear it down.  Of course now I know that she was just trying to get them fixed.  Well, they left and Skipper and I just assumed she meant what she said, so we tore the steps and the porch off the house.  Well when they got back home we found out that she didn’t really want them torn off!

Another time when we were at their house and they left, Skipper and I pulled one of their mattresses out of the house and somehow used some ropes to get it up in between two trees that lined their front walkway.  We were going to make a tree house.  I guess we wanted it to be comfortable, because I don’t have any idea why we decided to take a mattress out for it.  When they got home, I don’t remember them getting mad at us, I think they were just shocked that we would and could do such a thing.

Another time they left and we were there, we found some of their homemade wine in their food closet (I remember it had tiny marsh mellows in it) and drank a little bit and then got worried that they might be able to tell so we just added some water.  Never did get caught for that one.

I also remember that they had boxers and Skipper’s uncle lived there for awhile and he had a pit bull.  The Stafford’s had a collie just like the tv show – Lassie.  The Staffords and Skipper and I were always betting which dog could whip which dog.  Of course we were on the boxers side!  Then one day the pit bull got loose and it and the Stafford’s collie did get in a fight and it was not pretty.  The pit bull was tearing up the collie.   Never wanted to see them fight again after that.

I, Darla, also spent time with the Kelleys; in particular June Kelley, Little Skip’s mom. She had a gang of kids and I loved to help her with the babies. It was a full-time job feeding, bathing and diapering those children. June was a lot of fun to be around and she gave me some experience in being a mom’s helper.

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The Staffords lived on Ranney Street

I don’t remember how I met Brenda Stafford but she & I were best buds and lived in the same block. I lived on Sprigg and she lived on Ranney. We both went to May Greene School. I think she was a year older than me.

Brenda came from a large family. Her father had died before I met her. Her mother’s name was Gertrude. Gertrude was doing her best to raise her girls alone. The family had experienced a lot of sorrow before I ever came into the picture. Besides losing their father, they also lost their oldest sister, Patty, in a fatal 2-car collision coming home from the Trail of Tears area one summer. Here is a link to Patty’s obituary from the Southeast Missourian: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rxUpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=adcEAAAAIBAJ&dq=patricia%20stafford&pg=1411%2C342991 Brenda was also injured. Also, the next oldest sister, Janie, had life-threatening injuries. Patty’s fiancee was driving. He was not seriously injured. Patty was sitting in the middle of the front seat. I think the mother, Gertrude, was sitting on the passenger side of the front seat. She was not seriously injured. Their family dog, Prissy, was killed. Brenda and one of her younger sisters were in the back seat. There was one sister who was not in the car; I think it was Barbie, but my memory is foggy. I did not know the family at the time; the information I have was given to me by Brenda. There was a portrait of Patty hanging in their living room and she was a beautiful girl. Here is a link to an article in the Southeast Missourian referencing the injuries from the accident which occurred in July 1959: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=phQpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=X9cEAAAAIBAJ&dq=gertrude%20stafford&pg=2545%2C3893884

Update: Article from Southeast Missourian dated July 6, 1959 http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=rhUpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=adcEAAAAIBAJ&dq=accident%20egypt%20mills%20road&pg=1125%2C265541

After the accident the remaining Stafford girls were: Janie (oldest), Brenda (next oldest), Barbie (second youngest), & Kitty (youngest).

As I wrote in my last post, Brenda & I had a profitable business working for the Webers doing household chores and picking up groceries for them. Brenda is the one who introduced me to the Webers, for which I am forever grateful. Brenda was bold and not afraid of anything it seemed.

As you can imagine, the Stafford house was a wild and crazy place, and I loved being in on the action. When their mom was at work, there would be music blaring, dogs running all over the house, and lots of girls in various stages of getting beautified; rollers in the hair, make-up being applied, outfits being tried on, all the things girls love to do. Of course, being sisters, there was also a good amount of arguing going on.

When Janie (the oldest & a teenager) had her friends over, Brenda & I would sneak around trying to see what they were up to. Janie would usually discover us and chase us out of the house.

Brenda & I were sort of in-between being little girls and being teenagers. Part of the time we were pretending to ride horses, and part of the time we were dancing on the back porch, doing the twist, the Mashed Potato, the Jitterbug, and the Wahtusi. Brenda had a wild streak and we sometimes got into trouble because whatever she suggested, I would go along with.

We had some friends who lived across the alley from Brenda; Rusty & David Goehring, I think were their names. They had a pool table in their basement and we would go over and play pool with them once in a while. One day Brenda & I happened to notice that the Goehring’s car was in the garage with the keys in the ignition. I think Brenda was about 10 yrs old and I was 9. We decided to go for a ride and hopped in the car. Brenda started it up and put it in reverse about the time Mr Goehring came running & yelling out of the house. Brenda stopped the car and we made a run for it down the alley. Of course, someone came after us and questioned us about the incident. And, of course, we lied and said that we had been collecting rocks all day and showed them the sacks full of rocks we conveniently had in our hands. I don’t remember where we got those sacks but I do remember quickly filling them with rocks from Hackberry Lane before anyone caught up with us.

The Staffords had a steep terrace in front of their house. In fact, most everyone in the south end of the neighborhood had a terrace. Ranney Street had very little traffic so we used Brenda’s terrace as a slide any time someone got a new washer or dryer that came in a huge box. One kid got in the box and the rest of the kids pushed it until it started sliding down the terrace. We took turns flying down that hill.

We also had go-kart races down the hill on Ranney in front of Brenda’s house. I have no idea where we got the go-karts, but it was a blast racing down that hill with the other kids cheering us on. At the bottom of the hill, the street ended and we would fly on past Hackberry Lane past Mr. Hilderman’s grocery store and into the open field next to the beer warehouse. Those were fun times. It is a wonder we never had any injuries.

There are many stories to tell of the neighborhood adventures Brenda & I had but many of them would be uninteresting to anyone except the South Sprigg Street kids.

In thinking about those long-ago days of summer, I actually feel sorry for the kids who didn’t live in our neighborhood, the ones who lived on the “right side of town”. I wonder if they have the fun memories that us poor kids have. I hope they do. One thing is for sure, none of us relied on technology for our good times. The great outdoors was all we needed.

Please return for future articles or sign up for email updates in the column on the right side of the page. Did you live on or near South Sprigg? Did you perhaps go to May Greene School in the late 50’s or early 60’s? Do you know anyone else who lived or visited there during that time? If you would like to re-connect with some of the friends, neighbors, or classmates of that era and location, please let me know by comment below or by email to:
 

darlayow@gmail.com

Thank you for reading!

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The Webers – Part 2

(continued from 8/26/2011)

Yesterday I wrote about meeting and becoming acquainted with Mary Weber, one of the neighbors of the South Sprigg Street neighborhood where I grew up. The beginning of our relationship was somewhat traumatizing for me as a 4th grade girl. But, as time went on, the trauma subsided and, in its place, good memories were made.

My neighborhood buddy, Brenda Stafford, and I had a profitable business working for the Webers. We each received $1 for mopping the floors and washing the dishes. One dollar was worth a lot in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Brenda and I took turns with the chores and after the first major cleaning, it was fairly easy work. Before long, that putrid smell was gone from the house and the welcome smell of their wood-burning stove was what greeted us when the cool weather came.

In the process of doing our chores at the Weber house we became acquainted with Mary’s siblings, Louis and Loretta. Louis was the oldest, Loretta was the youngest, with Mary being the middle sibling. I would guess Mary’s age to be around 50.  As I wrote yesterday, they all had Muscular Dystrophy, each in differing stages of the disease. Mary was the most mobile of the three, Loretta had little mobility, and Louis had little to none. In fact, in all the years I visited them, I only saw Louis stand up once and that with great difficulty.

Louis was quite tall, with a shiny, bald head. He sat in a recliner chair beside the window the entire time I knew him. The chair was always in a reclined position because Louis could not breathe well in an upright position. He wore a plaid shirt and suspenders. He was well-educated and continued to study and share his knowledge with me as long as I was interested. He knew several languages and also knew a lot about animals. He spoke slowly and with effort so I really had to listen hard to get what he was saying. He never seemed to mind the effort it took to teach me though.

Loretta had shoulder-length dark brown hair and seldom got off of the couch. She and Mary had in the past, before I knew them, occasionally taken a taxi to the downtown area on Main Street to shop. After Loretta broke her leg a couple of times, they decided not to do that anymore. Her leg was in a cast when I first met her I believe. She, like Mary, wore a house dress every day as did many women in that era.

Mary was a little plump, with short dark-brown curly hair. She was the only one of the three who could get around very well.

All of the Webers were ill-kempt, with bad teeth. There was no one to assist them with personal hygiene. They were a frightful threesome in appearance, but I can tell you that they were beautiful on the inside. I enjoyed being with them so much that I visited them several times a week, not just when they needed chores done.

They taught me how to play board games. I especially loved playing Clue with them; I learned some logic. They had shelves full of books which they would lend to me and then discuss with me when I was finished reading. They had a little chihuahua named Mitsy and also some caged birds that actually nested and had baby birds. Louis taught me a lot about animals. Loretta was always laughing and telling jokes.

I guess the Webers became dear to me because they ALWAYS were happy to see me and they ALWAYS listened to what I had to say and they played games with me. They were available. They became my family. They even had a birthday party for me which none of the neighbor kids came to because they were afraid of the Webers. But we had a great time anyway, playing games and winning prizes. No one had ever had a birthday party for me before.

The Webers were very special people. Knowing them taught me not to judge a person because of the way they look because underneath there could be a real treasure of love.

I found an ad in the Southeast Missourian from 1963 offering canaries and cages by Mary Weber on Ranney St: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=GrcfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mdcEAAAAIBAJ&dq=mary%20weber&pg=6818%2C1894988

Update 8/30/2011: In searching the Southeast Missourian, I found Loretta being admitted to the hospital in 1963. Here is a link to the hospital admissions: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=tcEfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fNgEAAAAIBAJ&dq=loretta%20weber&pg=923%2C4970810

Update 8/30/2011: In searching the Southeast Missourian, I found Loretta’s obituary August 10, 1971: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=GWofAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CtUEAAAAIBAJ&dq=louis%20weber&pg=1136%2C4061852

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The Webers – Life Lesson; Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover Part 1

Yesterday I wrote about the Seabaugh family that lived next door to us on South Sprigg. They were such an influence for the good in my life and I am thankful for the many memories they gave me. It is no secret to my family and close friends that there were no good memories being made at my house; so, I found family wherever I could. As Forrest Gump would say “And that’s all I want to say about that”, at least for this site at this time.

Another family that influenced me with many good times was a family that would seem the least likely to do so. The Webers lived on the alley next door to the Stafford family (which I plan to write about later). They were siblings, Louis, Mary, & Loretta, all never married. They all suffered from Muscular Dystrophy, Louis being the most advanced. I only saw him get out of his recliner once the entire time I knew them and I was there most everyday. He could not sleep lying down flat because he was unable to breathe, so he spent his time in a recliner next to the window. He was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and he taught me everything he could. He and his sisters instilled in me a love of reading by loaning me books. The rule was that I could borrow a book and when I brought that book back I could borrow another one.

My first contact with the Webers came about through my best buddy, Brenda Stafford, who lived next door to them. Brenda was paid 10 cents to walk to the grocery store and pick up their groceries. They got their groceries from Sheepys, which was located on the west side of Sprigg Street in the same block as the Womack Drug Store. They would call in their order, Sheepys would bag them up and all Brenda had to do was carry them back to the Weber home. Since I hung out with Brenda a lot, I would usually tag along.

This is not the Weber house but the siding is similar

The first time I went with Brenda to the Weber house I was pretty “creeped out”. I couldn’t believe she was actually going to go up to their door and knock. Their house was  a dilapidated shanty up on concrete blocks. It had siding that was supposed to look like bricks.

The windows had a thick coating of dust from the alley. The porch sagged and the floor boards looked like they had never been painted. I tried to talk Brenda out of going up there but she insisted that it was safe.

Mary answered the door. I instinctively stepped back a little behind Brenda. The only thing about Mary that wasn’t scary was her smile, a wide yellow-toothed one. Her hair was dirty-looking, her old house dress was worn and almost shiny along the collar and front button placket.

By far, the most vivid memory is the smell coming out of that open door. I held my breath as long as I possibly could, then fled off that porch just as soon as Brenda had received her dime for delivering the groceries.

My mother was one of those 50’s moms who kept the house so clean that you could have safely eaten off the floor. Dishes were never left undone. And the dirty clothes barely hit the bottom of the hamper before she had them washed, dried, folded and put away. Germs didn’t have much of a chance in our house.

So, needless to say, I was appalled at the possible condition of the Weber home after smelling the putrid aroma and seeing Mary’s lack of grooming. What I didn’t know was that Mary was the best-looking of the three! And, even though I didn’t see inside the house, my imagination ran wild about what it must look like.

My imagination was way off – the inside of the house was much worse than anything I had pictured in my mind. How did I find this out? Well, now for the rest of the story:

All summer Brenda & I made the grocery deliveries to the Weber house, always being greeted at the door by Mary. Eventually I got over my fear of her appearance and discovered that she was a very kind and thoughtful person, not the least bit like a witch. One day she asked if Brenda and I would be interested in CLEANING THEIR HOUSE. I felt like I was going to pass out at the suggestion of even going in the door, let alone CLEAN. In my mind, I was saying “Thanks, but NO thanks!”

By the expression on Brenda’s face, she was actually considering it. Then Mary said that they would pay each of us $1.00 each time we cleaned. One dollar!! That was as much pay as 10 trips to the store! What we could buy with a dollar was huge at that time. We could get 2 pieces of candy for 1 cent, a candy bar for a nickel; this was awfully tempting. But, then reality hit me; me – go in that house? Me, touch anything in there? No way!

Then I heard Brenda saying “Yes”. Mary said she wanted one of us to clean the floors and one to do the dishes. I was not an assertive person at all and I just stood there and let Brenda make the deal. I don’t know if Mary saw the look of total fright on my face but, if she did, she did not say anything about it. I am thinking I was probably as white as a ghost at that point.

Now the Webers had pets, a little chihuahua named Mitsy, and some caged birds. I had seen the little dog at the door with Mary.  Thinking that the floor would probably have doggie doo on it, I opted to do the dishes. MISTAKE! Doggie doo would have been much easier to clean up.

Upon entering the kitchen, which was the first room as you went in the door, I saw the sink full of dirty dishes; then, the table full of more stacked up dirty dishes; then the stove covered with dirty pans. The dishes in the sink had been there so long that there was liquid in them, which I assume started out as clean water, but which was now green and had something floating on top that appeared to be sort-of sponge-like.(Do you feel like throwing up yet? I do.) But, wait, it gets worse.

There was a pan on the stove with a lid on it. Inside that pan was something that should never be seen in a kitchen, much less in a cooking vessel. I hate to actually say what it was because it is so extremely gross but I will give you a hint. Women use them once a month. Ugh!!! I guess it was too far to walk to the bathroom. ‘Nuff said.

Brenda finished up the floors long before I finished the dishes. I could have kicked myself for choosing the dishes instead of the floors. But, I did finish the dishes without passing out and we were both paid $1.oo as promised. We were rich! I couldn’t wait to get to the store (right after I sanitized my hands).

There is much more to tell about the Webers but since this article has become so long, I will continue it later………….

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The Seabaughs and Sitting on the Roof in the Summertime

 

The Seabaughs were our next door neighbors on South Sprigg. The parents were Virgil & Maggie. Virgil was a stout man with brown hair and a round face who seemed to always be smiling or else concentrating on his thoughts. He was always kind and welcoming to me. Maggie was a woman with light brown short hair and she seemed always to have her apron on. She was working in the kitchen most of the time when I was visiting their home. She, too, treated me warmly and had a nice smile.

The Seabaugh children were Donnie (I think he was the oldest), Lonnie, Jimmy, and Linda (nicknamed “Luke”). I never could figure out why they called their sister Luke. The boys were always off doing whatever boys do and Linda and I were busy checking out the neighborhood.

Linda and I decided that we needed a club house (those Little Rascals really impressed us, didn’t they?) There was a perfect hide-out under the Seabaugh’s back porch, not high enough to stand up completely, but high enough to walk with a stooped back. It was dirty, had spider webs, and, of course the floor was dirt. We wanted to upgrade it so we found some plaster of paris from somewhere, mixed it up and started spreading it on the ceiling and the walls. It was looking lots better in there. But still, the floor was dirt and we needed to sit most of the time in there since we couldn’t stand up straight. So, we decided to plaster the “floor” also.

As you can imagine, plaster spread on dirt does not hold up well. But, we were kids, and we were happy with the look of it when we were finished. As time went by, our “floor” began to crack but we just lived with it. It was a pretty good clubhouse for us and we made our plans in there. I don’t remember what our “plans” were but I am sure they were exciting to us at the time.

Linda & I spent lots of time outside together during the spring, summer, and fall. We loved to pretend that we were riding horses; we galloped around holding imaginary reins and whinnying a lot. In the winter, we roller skated in her basement. We had those old metal skates that fit over your shoes, with a key to tighten up or loosen the clamps depending on how wide your shoe was. Back then, the furnace burned coal, so there were cinders all around the basement floor. When the metal wheels of the skates would hit one of those cinders, there was a gritty, grinding sound, and often I would find myself on the floor picking cinders out of my knees. But that did not stop us. Linda and I skated and sang songs while we were skating.

One of our favorite things to do was climb out the second floor window of Linda’s house in the summer evening. The window was just above the porch roof, a perfect place to sit and watch everyone going by on Sprigg Street on a warm summer night. Something about that seemed magical. We could see them but they didn’t notice us. I am sure we had little girl conversations up there but I don’t remember a single thing we talked about. I only remember how the humid summer air felt, seeing the lightning bugs all over the neighborhood, and watching and hearing the cars and trucks going by.

The Seabaughs were religious people and they often took me to their church with them on Sunday. It must have been a new congregation because they met in different buildings and the numbers in attendance were small. But, they could sure sing! Especially those Seabaugh boys. Jimmy later went on to work at Ford & Sons Funeral Home and sang at most of my family’s funerals; grand-parents, aunts & uncles. He had a beautiful voice. My mom had always said that she wanted Jimmy to sing “How Great Thou Art” at her funeral. Little did we know that he would pass away before Mom did.

The Seabaughs were great to live next door to and provided me with many happy memories of those days in the late 50’s and early 60’s on South Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

If any of you know one or more of the Virgil and Maggie Seabaugh family, please let them know about this website. Thanks.
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Getting Acquainted with the New House and Neighborhood – Part 2

The Campbell Truck Line (humpin’ to please) was our very favorite truck line. The drivers always honked when we gave them the universal sign to honk by reaching up and pretending to pull an imaginary rope. (The above image is actually a toy truck image but is a good replica of what they looked like.) Click on the title to see the image.

Our house was a cracker box house with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen a living room, and one bathroom (which was 1 more than we had when we lived on Cedar Lane). It was built on a hill and had a full basement with a garage where the car could be parked under the house. I may have old photos of the house stored in my cedar chest and maybe someday I will find some and add them to this post. (The cedar chest is full to the very top with photos from my family and also the photos my mom gave me. That will be a major project.)

I digress….The front yard had a steep terrace and a very long concrete stairway up to the house. The house faced Sprigg Street, and, since it was a business route, the traffic was constant and steady. One of our favorite things to do was stand on the sidewalk in front of the house and pump our arms when we saw a semi coming. Some of those truckers I am pretty sure anticipated seeing us out there and would make our day by honking their horns for us. It probably gave them a chuckle to see us jump when they honked their horn. Even though I wanted to hear them honk, when they did honk I would re-actively jump and cover my ears.We had our favorite truck lines: the ones who would honk. And other truck lines that we did not like: they ignored us and did not honk. Neighborhood kids would join with me and my brother, Mark, in the daily truck honking activity.

Another highlight of our location was the beer warehouse just to the south of our house, across Hackberry St. It may have belonged to Falstaff or Anheuser Busch, the latter being most likely since St Louis was approximately 2 hrs north. There was a large metal building on the NE corner of the lot, the rest was mostly wide open field, which we romped and played in freely. It was a great place for a ball game.

On the other side of the block to the east of our house was Ranney St. Lots of our friends lived on Ranney and that street had a hill that was fantastic for go-kart races. We would start out at the top of the hill and fly down Ranney toward Hackberry, oftentimes overshooting Hackberry and ending up in the open field next to the beer warehouse. I have no idea where the go-karts came from; I am guessing from my brother’s friend, Skipper Kelly. I never knew Skipper’s real name. His dad’s nickname was also Skipper, so they were called “Big Skip” and “Little Skip”. I remember that his mother’s name was June; they had a gang of kids and I spent quite a bit of time with June in their basement apartment, watching her manage to feed and clothe all those kids, and keep some sort of order. It was a marvel to me.

Also on Ranney, were the Staffords (Brenda was my best buddy in the neighborhood). I will write more about the Staffords in a separate post. Mr Hilderman’s grocery store was also on Ranney at the corner of Ranney and Hackberry. I don’t think he trusted us neighborhood kids….he would follow us and stand tapping his toe and staring at us while we picked out the candy we wanted. I’m sure he had good reason not to trust kids in the candy aisle, especially if they had pockets. Mr Hilderman would make us bologna sandwiches for 10 cents and I often ran to his store to get one while Mom was at work.

There was a family of 2 sisters and 1 brother who lived next door to the Staffords on Ranney. Their name was Weber and they seemed to be rather reclusive. They became an important part of my life and I will write more about them later.

On my side of the block, Sprigg, our next door neighbors were the Seabaughs: Virgil and Maggie – parents, Donnie, Lonnie, Jimmy, and Linda – children. I played with Linda a lot and there will be more about the Seabaughs later also.

Other folks on Sprigg that I remember were Mr & Mrs Drury; they had an apricot tree in their back yard that they gladly let us kids eat from, all we wanted.

The Goehrings had 2 boys, Rusty and David, and a dog named Blondie. We played pool in their basement and once, Brenda Stafford and I stole their car but didn’t get very far. Got caught in the driveway by their dad.

On the corner, there was a church….Assembly of God, I think. I never went there. I claimed to be a Baptist since my biological father was a Baptist minister. I attended Southside Baptist, just one block from my house to the west on Hackberry. Rev Charles Marshall was the pastor there at the time. I knew 2 of his children, John and Esther.

One other neighbor that I visited lived on the other side of Sprigg; I lived on the east side of the street, Mrs. French lived on the west side of the street. She was quite elderly, hard of hearing and almost blind. Her house had more bird cages and birds in it than I had ever seen in my life (still to this day the only place I have seen that many birds in cages is in the pet shop). I helped her find birds when they got out of their cages. She showed me her goldfish pond in the yard. I was fascinated by the huge orange fish in that pond.

That pretty much gives you, my reader, an overview of the neighborhood. My world was about 1 or 2 blocks square at that time but there was so much to do and eventually us neighborhood kids expanded our area of adventure.

If you know where the Staffords or the Kelleys are, please send them a link to this blog: http://www.spriggstreet.wordpress.com
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Getting Acquainted with the New House and Neighborhood – Part 1

I was in the 4th grade when we moved to Sprigg Street. My mother and father had divorced 4 years earlier. That is when some of the family, my mom, myself, and my younger brother (3 yrs younger than me), moved to Cape from Illinois. We first stayed with my grandmother for a couple of years. She lived on Cedar Lane (which I plan to write more about in a future post). Then we moved to a private drive off of Kingshighway, and eventually ended up moving to Sprigg when my mom and step-dad got married.

When Mom, my younger brother(Mark), and I moved to Cape, my father(who I was very close to- I was a “daddy’s girl”) and older brother (Tim-7 yrs older than me) stayed in Illinois. My heart was so sad to be away from my dad and my big brother; but, you know, being a child of 5 when we all separated, I dealt with the sad feelings by going outside to play. And I played all day in the summer time. There was always some adventure or group of kids playing a game with which I could occupy myself.

The neighborhood we had just come from (the private drive) was very quiet. Our house was at the very top of the drive away from the traffic. There was a big back yard with a fence and some honeysuckle vines at the very back of the yard. We had neighbors but their houses were not close to our house. There were some kids that we became friends with and played with a lot while we were there. My mom’s boss, Mr. Deneke, owned the house we rented. It was his “summer house”. He, Mrs. Deneke, and his daughter lived in a much bigger house nearby. (Again, I have plans to elaborate on life at the private drive in a future post)

The new house at 1240 South Sprigg Street was situated on a business route where semi-trucks lumbered by pretty steadily day and night. Behind us about 2 blocks away was the railroad tracks where trains frequently came through Cape day and night. The trains also changed cars somewhere back there behind our house; the screeching and banging of those cars being removed or attached made my teeth hurt when we first moved there. But, eventually, I quit even noticing it. The same was true for the truck traffic in front of the house. There was other noise that I loved from the moment we moved there; it was the river noises of tug boats, barges, and even steamboats passing by heading south. My aunt worked on one of the big boats and would make sure that they honked their horn when they passed by our house. When I heard that horn, I shivered with pure joy. I would usually hear the boats early in the morning.

The Delta Queen - click on this image for a larger view

I remember hearing from a distance the music of a calliope in the summertime. The Delta Queen and The Mississippi Queen would each visit for a number of days or a week every summer. They docked near the downtown area and people would flock there and pay to board the boat. I remember watching people walk up the walkway in their best clothes and being greeted by a man in uniform. There would be food and music and shows to enjoy on board the showboats, and dancing too, I think. I longed to go up that boardwalk and see what was happening on-board, but I never had that opportunity. When I would hear the calliope from my bedroom window I would imagine in my mind what it would be like to get on board one of those showboats.

To this day, the noise of the boat horns honking is soothing to me, although there are no boats to hear where I live now. I sure do miss the boats and the river.

I said all that to say that, to me, the first vivid memory of moving to 1240 South Sprigg Street was the constant noise, day and night, of the trucks, trains, and boats because we had come from such a quiet neighborhood. The noise took some getting used to; at first I couldn’t get to sleep at night but, eventually, those noises actually put me to sleep at night and when we left Sprigg and moved to a quiet neighborhood again, I couldn’t sleep because it was TOO QUIET!

To be continued……

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Dredging Up Memories…..

The above image is an aerial view of the flood of 1993. This is the old bridge that I was familiar with as a child.
In the image, the top of the photo is south, the bottom is north. My home was south along the river a couple of miles from the bridge. Further south I think I can see a faint image of the old concrete plant tower. You can see part of the old downtown area just to the right (west) of the bridge.  I remember when we had to pay a toll to drive across this bridge. Once the bridge was paid off, they closed the toll booth and removed it. As a young child, I was terrified that the bridge was going to collapse with me on it, so I closed my eyes tight when we drove over it on our way to see Aunt Toots and Uncle Lesley and our cousins, Donna and Glenda Kay, who lived over the river in Olive Branch, Illinois.
 

1240 South Sprigg Street, Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

New house, new school, new neighborhood.

My mother, my step-father, one of my brothers, and I moved to South Sprigg Street while I was in grade school. We had come from an upscale neighborhood just off Kingshighway where we had lived in a summer house owned by my mother’s boss. The summer house was located on a private drive and was considered by most to be on “the right side of town”.

The new neighborhood on South Sprigg Street was, however, referred to as “the wrong side of town”. I was not aware of that distinction at first but, to be sure, someone pointed it out to me soon after we moved there.

My new school was May Greene School. It was across the street from Fort D – a civil war fort positioned on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. I was to spend many a day playing at the old fort with my friends, imagining what may have happened there during the civil war. There were big bunkers built all around the property which were fantastic for hiding from people. Every Easter, May Greene School students participated in an Easter egg hunt on the Fort D grounds.

Gun Powder House, Fort D, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Fort D, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Mississippi River is to the left in this image, May Greene School is to the right.

Fort D, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Gun Pits

Fort D, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Gun Pits surround the fort.

I will be writing of the friends and neighbors of those days, the changes in my life because of them, and how I view it now after so many years have passed. Although some did refer to the South Sprigg Street neighborhood as the “wrong side of town”, I remember it as a place where people were down to earth and I have many good memories of those days.

Please return for future articles or sign up for email updates in the column on the right side of the page. Did you live on or near South Sprigg? Did you perhaps go to May Greene School in the late 50’s or early 60’s? Do you know anyone else who lived or visited there during that time? If you would like to re-connect with some of the friends, neighbors, or classmates of that era and location, please let me know by comment below or by email to:
 

spriggstreet@hotmail.com

Thank you for reading!

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