Do it Now. Say Thank You. Thank you, Ken Steinhoff and Lila Steinhoff, and Mary too!

For the past twenty some years I’ve been doing something that brings me great satisfaction, something I recommend to you. Express your appreciation to those who have had an impact on your life. Begin with your parents, if you are so lucky to have one or both, your siblings, teachers, work mates, bosses, old friends, spiritual guides; anyone who had an impact on your life’s path. When you begin thinking about these people, you will be amazed, as was I, at the people who helped form your present self. It’s a wonderful process, one I don’t expect to finish..

As Claire and I wend our way East this year I have sought out, or been found (Thank you Facebook) by some people I wanted to appreciate. The prospect of meeting an old acquaintance can be unsettling at first thought. After forty some years, how much have we changed, will we have anything to talk about?  These feelings fade quickly, when I see a familiar smile, hear a familiar voice, and listen to the first of many stories of times gone, but not forgotten. The thank you, and accompanying hug, create a new memory.


Ken Steinhoff, and his 43 year wife Lila, found me through Facebook. I brought Ken on board at the Athens Messenger as a photographer when Jon Webb left for new challenges at the Louisville Courier Journal (a later post).

Claire and Lila on the Mississippi


Ken and I worked together for about two years. I was nominally Chief Photographer, but never noticed it. We mostly played at doing our passion, photojournalism. We worked hard, and played hard at it, often late into the night. I’m sorry Lila, that I kept him away from you so much, though I’m sure you knew his mistress would always be his camera. Ken and Lila kept this bachelor company many a lonely evening, though I was probably too quick to abandon them when I found female distractions for my few free hours. Some of those detours seem to have been engineered by Ken, probably so he could have some time with Lila.

We met Ken and Lila, and Ken’s mother Mary at her Cape Girardeau, Missouri home. Ken writes and photographs the wildly popular site (I’m not kidding):  about the town and surrounding area of The Cape. He is retired now from the newspaper business, where he got kicked upstairs to management way too soon, and back to doing what he loves best, taking pictures and talking to people, reporting. He’s doing his own personal form of the Picture Page he and Jon and I produced at the Athens Messenger back in the golden age of photojournalism. His readers are legion and appreciative. I wish I had 10% of the returning visitors he has for our New Bohemians. He’s giving his readers what they want and understand, what they have a personal connection and memory of; I’m just rambling on about our travels, but we’re both having fun, using old skills, not yet too rusty to make a creative contribution.

Ken took us on several road-trips to show us some of the special places he reveres in Southeast Missouri. It’s quite a place, and I understand why he loves it so.

We parked Turtle in Mary’s driveway and quickly made a new best friend. She’s a great mom to Ken and his brothers, and a friend to anyone. At age 90, she’s one of the happiest people I know; an inspiration we hope to see again. Ken said she was about to hide away in Turtle and go back to Arizona with us. I think we’ll have to arrange that Mary.

This is one of my favorite photos of the trip: Mary lost in the beauty of an historic chalice at a rural Lutheran church.


Do it Now. Say Thank You. Thank you, Ken Steinhoff and Lila Steinhoff, and Mary too! — 4 Comments

  1. Bob, I had the same wonders and worries you did. We shared so much for a couple of years, but we let four decades sneak in between us. The last I heard from you was a postcard showing you climbing a mountain in about 1970.

    I wasn’t sure if the silence was because you were buried under a snow slide, to be uncovered as a block of ice by some future generation, or if you had merely lost track of me.

    It was amazing how the years melted away (like the ice off your mummified corpse) in minutes.

    We’ve chosen different paths, but we’ve both had a good ride. I’ve always marveled that we got paid for having so much fun at The Messenger. (Considering how little we were paid, it’s a good thing we thought it was fun. I’ve always said you can work for love or your can work for money, rarely do you get both at the same time.)

    The best thing that happened to both of us was finding wives like Claire and Lila, strong women who will overlook our foibles and encourage our passions.

    Mother enjoyed your company immensely. She’s still talking about your visit. A trip to AZ with her in the future could happen. I’m really surprised that you didn’t open up a cubby somewhere about halfway to Louisville and find her peering up at you.

  2. In the last two or three years, I have been blessed by having a few friends from high school come back into my life after 40 or so years. These are the people who knew me before I had a life and are very special.

    In June, you and Claire added to the blessing. Seeing you again and meeting Claire felt like we were continuing a conversation we began in 1968. Old friends are comfortably deep-seated inside us somewhere. We don’t lose those who were important to us, no matter how many years pass. We have to do this again, soon.

    I am grateful.

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