In last week's blog, we talked about the tile murals that grace the east wall of the Missourian Building.
The Naeter brothers' efforts produced the unique tile artwork that depicts the ART OF PRINTING and GATHERING AND DISSEMINATING NEWS, about which the Naeters were well versed. Their newspaper careers in Cape Girardeau began in 1904, when they resurrected a sleeping publication, The Daily Republican. Eventually, that four-page newspaper became the Southeast Missourian.
The ART OF PRINTING -- discussed in detail in last week's blog -- features the history of printing, as well as several local Girardeans who were engaged in the business in some manner.
GATHERING AND DISSEMINATING NEWS focuses more on news-makers.
As in last week's blog, what follows is an examination of GATHERING AND DISSEMINATING NEWS.
In the background, under a mural that took elements from artist Ary Marbain's interior Missourian murals, reporters are shown working at their desks. One is interviewing a CAPAHA baseball player, while a photographer takes the athlete's picture. The Caps, a semi-professional team, have been making history in Cape Girardeau since 1890s. Their name comes from a tribe of American Indians who formerly inhabited the Cape Girardeau area.
Pictured in front of the newsroom scene is the desk of publisher Fred Naeter, talking to two notable visitors to Cape Girardeau, Gen. Evangeline Booth and evangelist Billy Sunday. Both were brought here through the efforts of the Naeter brothers.
FRED NAETER has been called "the guiding light" among the three newspapering brothers. Following in the footsteps of brother George, Fred Naeter began his newspaper career as a boy in Shelbina, Mo., becoming a skilled printer. He went on to work at newspapers in Quincy, Ill.; Alexandria, La., and St. Louis, before ending up in Cape Girardeau as co-publisher of the Southeast Missourian with brothers George and Harry.
Fred's interests weren't limited solely to journalism. Among other things, he worked tirelessly for the beautification of his adopted town and was instrumental in the preservation of Old McKendree Chapel and the Common Pleas Courthouse.
At Fred's funeral in 1965, Methodist Bishop Ivan Lee Holt said, "He made a great contribution to Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri's thinking and its life." Holt said the blessings of God rest on those who serve his fellows and seek no credit for it. This was the kind of man Fred Naeter was, he concluded.
Gen. EVANGELINE BOOTH, retired commander of the Salvation Army, gave the first public address from the stage of the A.C. Brase Arena Building on May 14, 1940, when she took part in the dedication of the WPA-built building. The 74-year-old Booth exhorted the crowd of 1,500 to pray for peace in those war-torn days and to "do your part" to bring God to the troubled world. She held her audience spellbound for an hour and 10 minutes, climaxing her appearance here by leading those assembled in the singing of sacred songs.
Standing to the left of Booth is Missourian publisher Fred Naeter. The others, left to right, are Cape Mayor Hinkle Statler, Judge O.A. Knehans and Commissioner E.I. Pugmire of Chicago, Salvation Army commander of the Central Territory.
Evangelist BILLY SUNDAY roared into Cape Girardeau in the Roaring '20s, invited here by the Cape Girardeau Ministerial Alliance and the Southeast Missourian. For five weeks beginning Feb. 27, 1926, the former baseball player preached daily to large crowds -- a total of 250,000 by some estimates -- in a specially built tabernacle at the corner of Middle and Bellevue. By the end of the revival on Easter Day, 1,319 adults and a number of children had "hit the sawdust" trail and been converted; some 1,482 church members were reconsecrated. Some credit the Sunday meeting with a rejuvenation of Cape Girardeau churches, as more than 1,100 members were added to local congregations that year.
ERNESTINE SCHUMANN-HEINK, an Austrian opera singer, performed here in 1920 in observance of the installation of the first rotary press in Missouri south of St. Louis. Schumann-Heink was scheduled to appear in concert at the State College auditorium on May 17. But just days before her appearance -- and with most of the tickets sold -- a telegram was received saying she was ill and would have to postpone the engagement until May 24. However, the day of the concert came and went. No Ernestine. When contacted, the great lady said she was still ill and had instructed her manager to cancel the Cape Girardeau date. Somehow, that wasn't done. It all ended happily, however, when she finally sang here the evening of June 16, delighting a crowd of 1,600.
JOHN PHILIP SOUSA looks over Schumann-Heink's shoulder. He and his 85-piece band gave two concerts in Cape Girardeau on Sept. 14, 1929. A large crowd met the musicians and the "March King" at the Frisco Railroad station on South Main Street. The assemblage included three local bands: The Louis K. Juden American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps, the Cape Girardeau Municipal Band and the junior band from Ste. Genevieve, Mo. At the station, Sousa received the key to the city from Mayor James A. Barks. Later in the afternoon, Sousa's band gave a free concert on the terraces of Academic Hall, with between 7,500 and 10,000 people attending, mostly school children. That evening, the band played again at Academic Hall for a paying audience ($1 admission) of 1,500. Sousa and company stayed in Cape Girardeau overnight, and the next day departed for Decatur, Ill., and another concert.
Finally, HARRY S. TRUMAN stands between Schumann-Heink and a Southeast Missourian paperboy. Long before he was vice president and president of the United States, Truman was a frequent visitor to Cape Girardeau. He and Missourian founder Fred Naeter shared a long-lasting friendship that began when Truman was a judge in Jackson County, Missouri. Both were interested in roadside beautification, and Naeter contacted Truman to inquire about the work that had been done there. Their friendship was the seed of the development of Ten-Mile Garden (along old Highway 61 between Cape Girardeau and Jackson) and other roadside beautification efforts here.
In this 1965 photograph taken by Johnston Studio, Fred Naeter converses with Truman in the publisher's office.