Getting to the bottom of the Tower Club

Monday, July 25, 2005

Q: What is the Tower Club at the Hirsch Building that is so secretive?

A: "The Tower Club is a group of businessmen and leaders in the community who get together for lunch once a week on the eleventh floor of the KFVS Tower," said Harry Rediger, former J.C. Penney manager and heralded community leader. Rediger is secretary-treasurer of the organization.

"It was formed by KFVS-founder Oscar Hirsch when the tower was built and has lasted since around 1977 or 1978. Purpose is camaraderie. The organization operates under by-laws as originally developed.

"We have a limited membership of 30: Men only. New members are invited by a consensus of the club when a member leaves or passes away. Any club member can nominate a new member. If there is more than one nomination, then a nominating committee will review and put forth a candidate. Each member has an opportunity to say no to any of the nominations. It's kind of loose, but it is a formal process.

"There is a men-only rule for lunch, noon to two o'clock on Fridays. At other times, any of the club members or associates of club members can schedule a social function or business meeting in the Tower Club when it is available. It is open to whomever those people may invite.

"Membership dues cover the rental of the floor and the cost of food and any type of maintenance," said Rediger.

As a matter of disclosure, my father, Gary W. Rust, is a member of the Tower Club, and the Southeast Missourian uses the room every other month for employee birthday lunches. The views of the city and river are spectacular. Posted on the wall is a member list, which is a veritable who's who of the town's past and present. Of course, the same could be said about many civic clubs in town, too.

Q: I have been hearing rumors around Cape Girardeau that Buckner Brewing Co. is about to close its doors. Is there any truth to this?

A: "No. We're doing well," said Phil Brinson, owner of Buckner Brewing Co. "We just put in more than $60,000 to renovate a third-floor banquet room, which seats 200, and business is growing. Some confusion arose a few months ago when a foreclosure notice appeared in the newspaper. This came about while we restructured our short-term loans to long-term, and the new financial package wasn't in place in time. The new bank set-up creates a better business structure for us. We're in good shape."

Q: Why do they not make five-star generals or admirals anymore?

A: According to U.S. military and other Web sites, the five-star rank was created by Congress toward the end of World War II to have American officers with ranks equivalent to the Field-Marshal of other Allied powers. The new rank was established to reduce friction over who was allowed to give orders to whom within the combined forces. Five Army and four Navy officers received five stars. The rank still exists, but it has only been seriously considered once since 1950 because of historic ramifications.

It's interesting to note that World War I General and Missouri native John J. Pershing achieved rank superior to that of five stars, although he never wore more than four. George Washington, who served during the Revolutionary War at the equivalent of 3-stars, was posthumously promoted to the rank of 6-star general and declared by Act of Congress in 1976 to be the top-ranked military officer past, present or future in the United States.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. If you have a question, e-mail factorfiction@semissourian.com or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction?"

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