In Which I Do Not Pick on Cape Girardeau

My sister took these photos in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, my home town, where they are filming Gone Girl. In the top photo people are standing on a hill looking at Cape’s riverfront downtown section, with the Mississippi in the background. In the lower photo is the man they’re hoping to catch a glimpse of, actor Ben Affleck, doing multiple takes of a scene where he exits a bar. Who knew a throwaway scene like that would be so important they’d make him do it over and over?

Cape Affleck_1
Downtown Cape Girardeau
Cape Affleck_2
Batman emerges from his cave!

Cape Girardeau’s riverfront section is historic indeed, picturesque to a fault, but a far cry from what it once was. Established businesses moved away years ago and secondhand shops now occupy the old storefronts. Riverboats still stop sometimes, and some of the bars … like the one they’re filming above … and restaurants still hang on, but commerce today is inland, housed in strip malls located between the old King’s Highway and Interstate 55. It’s still a pretty town, hilly, leafy, and green. One sister lives there in a historic brick building she and her husband bought and restored, somewhat similar to the one in the photos above; another lives in neighboring Jackson; another lives just up the interstate in St Louis. My father’s second wife, whom we adore, lives in Cape, along with my sisters-in-law from that second marriage. My mother and father are buried next door in Jackson.

I thought about moving there after retiring from the USAF. As noted, I have family there. Living is comparatively cheap in southeastern Missouri and housing costs, at least then, were quite low. You get four seasons and the homes have porches and basements. There are sidewalks. You can get really good produce. There’s a killer-good smokehouse in town that’s been in business for about a century. And it’s a college town. All good reasons to live there. But there were some buts, too. At the time you couldn’t even get NPR on the radio; nothing but Rush and Southern Baptist preachers on the dial. There were other buts, but that one was enough. It’s no place for a pinko like me, and I knew I’d be restless and uncomfortable there.

So instead I live far away and throw rhetorical bricks at the place whenever Rush and his KKK buddies do something especially stupid … but I do it with love.

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