Past and Present College Hangouts
By Michelle Queiser / “Now” photos by Jeganaath Mudaliar
The University Center (UC) has served as a central gathering place and focal point for the entire campus community since 1975. Originally housed in Memorial Union, the UC was built to accommodate the growing student population and has evolved over the years to meet the ever-changing needs of Southeast students. Lounges and computer labs, food court and dining hall, student and campus organizations have always been essential and frequent pit stops for students between classes. Renovations to the dining hall and food court have seen the dismissal of food trays – a prized commodity for outdoor winter sports – for the now more popular, open retail options – hello, Panda Express.
Pladium / D’ladium
Its proximity to Southeast and Houck Field has made this iconic bar a spirited stomping ground going on 58 years. The Pladium opened in 1959 as an eight-table pool hall, but its popularity among students really took off in the late ‘60s when the Towers Complex opened. Here students, pool sharks, sports fans and Cape residents have socialized and celebrated the passing of each Redhawks season. New owners, renovations and a name change in 2004 to D’ladium brought new life to the popular watering hole. Generations of Southeast alumni continue to fill the seats at the wood bar with their own children and grandchildren – and say hello to their favorite bouncer and bartender, The Beaver.
You don’t hang out at D’ladium without hanging out with its most famous icon. The man, the myth, the legend…The Beaver.
Jerry Beaver has been guarding the door and slinging drinks to the Southeast community for over 40 years, and he doesn’t plan to stop any time soon.
The bar became a popular college-crowd watering hole in 1968 with the addition of draft beer and the opening of the Towers residence halls. They were an easy walking distance for the influx of students living on campus and in the downtown area, says Beaver. Over the years he’s seen victories and losses, celebrations and defeats, old traditions and new beginnings. He’s served pool sharks, students, city officials, coaches and professors.
“It’s a lot of stuff to remember,” he says, “kids who have worked here for me and customers who have gone to be and do great things.”
Generations of Southeast students know him, and he even gets asked by today’s students for the juicy details about their parents’ college escapades. But fear not, those memories are securely sealed. Just one reason why patrons continue to visit, he says, because they can trust The Beaver.
He knows their faces and their drinks. The Beaver is as much a part of what makes D’ladium as the wood bar, pool tables and carpeted walls.
Today, he still manages it all from the bar or his barber chair at the front door, which was bought to celebrate his 65th birthday – or his “Social Security day” as The Beaver fondly remembers. When customers and friends ask him when he might retire, he tells them he doesn’t see himself being anywhere else.
“I have so much free time now, I don’t know what I’d do with myself really and I’d be up here shooting the breeze anyway,” says Beaver. “Right now, I’m enjoying myself and to me that’s what counts.”
The votes are in and Cape Girardeau has decided – the best pizza in town? Pagliai’s Pizza. The restaurant has won the people’s choice award for 10 years running, but it’s won the hearts and appetites of Southeast students for decades. Established in 1968 and located across from Houck Field and Field House, Pagliai’s satisfies your dinner plans, late-night cravings and pre-game carbo-loading. “My friends and I spent a lot of time at Pagliai’s after our fraternity meetings my friends would often share a pizza there, and my then girlfriend Patricia and I had lots of dates there,” says Leon Book, ’72. Today, happily married, Leon and Patricia still enjoy their cherished pizzeria – and so do new students every year.
Gone, but certainly not forgotten, Shakey’s Pizza Parlor was a popular student haunt. Opened in 1968, Shakey’s was known not only for its pizza, but also its famous Mojo Potatoes. Thin, breaded slices of potatoes, deep-fried and served with ranch or sour cream, this mouth-watering appetizer was a meal in itself for many a Southeast student. “The favorite hangout of my group had to be Shakey’s. They had a great buffet, cheap, and always showed black and white movie shorts on a giant screen in the dining area,” says Tommy Clayton ’80. In 1981, a fire damaged the restaurant, and the building was never repaired and razed in 1994. No matter what brought you in – food, prices or atmosphere – Shakey’s left a delectable remembrance.
Nestled among the shaded trees between Towers and Academic Hall is a walkway both loved and hated by alumni and students. “Cardiac Hill was a necessary evil–an expressway to class and a precursor to high intensity exercise,” says Daphne Flute ’86. The Southeast campus has a very diverse rolling terrain, but this particular steep trek has become an iconic University tradition—from the football players who first sprinted its slope, giving its name, to epic winter sled parties and the occasional rain-washed mud slides. Students can still leave a sticky token at the Gum Tree as part of their daily conquest at the top of Cardiac Hill.
Take a 10-minute drive on a winding road north from campus to a quiet, popular hangout tucked away along the banks of the Mississippi. Cape Rock was once a rocky landmass projecting into the river and is our illustrious city’s founding location. Here you can meander at the ‘beach’ or take a stroll by the train tracks. “One of my favorite hangouts was the pump house. It was isolated and a great place to drink beer and do other things students love to do. The rocks down by the river were a great place to hang out–serene, quiet, a good place to take a date,” says Jeffrey Eshing, ’84. Today, a newer pump house stands guard, but the river still rolls by and a peaceful calm resonates among the trees to help any student just take a load off.
The Purple Crackle
Opened in 1939, The Purple Crackle was just a short drive across the Mississippi and East Cape Girardeau’s elite supper club. Families and college clientele alike would don their best black and white attire for fancy food and big band music. In 1979, it was converted to a nightclub, and the Southeast college crowd continued to flock to its dance floors for disco, rock ‘n roll and a good drink. “I paid a visit to the Purple Crackle when I was about to graduate to celebrate with another senior. We had so much fun, and we still talk about that adventure!” says Marilyn Beiter ’62. On Dec. 31, 2005, The Crackle closed, ending an era and forcing Southeast’s students to find another dance floor.
First/Last Chance Saloon
Now Home of Burritoville
At the corner of Pacific and Broadway is a parking lot where Last Chance Saloon once quenched the thirst of many an alum. Located on what was then the edge of town in the early 1880s, the saloon got its namesake as the “last chance” to grab a stiff drink before heading west to Jackson and the “first chance” to quench your thirst as you entered the city from the east. Just walking distance from campus, the watering hole became a popular hangout and even as Cape Girardeau and the University continued to grow and expand, the tavern retained its historic name for much of its nearly 125-year existence. In the 1980s, it was briefly renamed “Second Chance,” but out of chances…or luck…the bar closed and the building was leveled in 1995. While the beloved bar is no more, a new popular hangout has thrived in its place, drawing the campus community to its doors for burritos, tacos and nachos. Burritoville is so popular, finding a place to park can be difficult but worth it. You can still get a cool, hoppy beverage to enjoy and pay homage to the past and present at the corner of Pacific and Broadway.
Towers Residence Halls
The four Towers residence halls—North, South, East and West—have been pinnacle fortresses of student housing since 1968. They’ve been home to generations of new and returning students. More than just a “home away from home,” the Towers host student social events and get-togethers. “Towers South was a great place to hang out – and it was a great place to watch the streaker phenom of 1974!” says Brenda Pigg ’82. In the mid-1990s, Towers West and North were remodeled and updated with suite style rooms. This fall, the newly renovated and reimagined Towers Cafeteria offers students a new dining experience with new equipment, new stations and all new menus. They may have seen some upgrades over the years, but the Towers remain a prominent living and hangout spot on campus.
“Then” images of the University Center, Towers, and the Purple Crackle courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Southeast Missouri State University.
October 19, 2016
October 19, 2016
October 19, 2016