vewed from the air
Who We Are
Remembering the Coffee
Thanks to Job Conger for the pictures. Thanks to everyone you see here and many more for
some wonderful memories!
In a nutshell: sixth grade: Mom and Dad gave me a $15 guitar that it took me forever to
learn how to play. Not until Mom brought home some Mel Bay self-instruction books did I
learn a first chord. Thanks to my two-year-older neighbor Bill Wilson, I learned a little
more and by Ninth Grade, I knew enough to play three songs in Mr. Nika's music class at
Ben Franklin Jr. High School. I learned more in high school. When I was a senior, Jim
Richardson, Carl Musson, Steve Baker and I formed a folk group and were scheduled to play
at the high school talent show. I got sick, dropped out of the group and was not on stage
with them the night of the big show. Jim, a young lady whose name I cannot remember formed
a new folk group after graduating high school. We played at least three dates: an event in
the Washington Park Pavillion and a folk festival at the Old State Capitol Building before
it was extensively renovated, and a variety show in the gymnasium at Springfield Junior
College in 1966. It was all great fun.
In August 1967, I had been playing guitar about three years and was looking forward to
returning to Springfield Junior College after dropping out second semester of my first try
with a serious case of infectious mononucleosis, which we all called "mono" for
short. I had moved out of my parents house because I didn't like their perpetual bickering
and was living in an apartment just south of South Grand on Fifth Street and working in
the camera department at Goldblatts, an anchor store in Town & Country Shopping Center
where Burlington Coat Factory is today. Dale Neal, a friend who had heard me play
guitar at my MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) group came by the store one night and told
me about a new coffeehouse where people were playing guitar and invited me to come down.
So I did. They were open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and after my first visit
there, I returned and played every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night they were open,
which was not long. It was one of the longest, sustained tranquil and rewarding periods in
my life. I had just purchased my first 35mm camera, and took it to Something Else only
once, when I took these pictures.
When I saw the picture above in the October 16, 1977 State Journal-Register I clipped it
because of the memories of what happened up that flight of steps on Capitol (going off to
your right) and in the game room that looked out of the sidewalk just above the NO PARKING
sign in the lower left of the picture. Dick Binetsch, the photographer was a friend of
mine in his later years.
These pictures are thumbnailed for faster loading. Click on any for a larger image and
"Back" to return to the smaller view. Feel free to copy these. For larger,
higher resolution pictures for a nominal fee to cover my costs, write me at email@example.com
1. Looking from the sidewalk into the game room, the first room on your right after you
walked up the flight of stairs from the sidewalk. Walking the length of the place, all
additional rooms were on the right. After the game room came the art gallery, the kitchen,
which fronted the hall, a graffiti room where visitors were encouraged to write on the
walls, and finally the performance room, largest room of all, in the back.
2. Marita Stankitis played and sang often at Something Else. I knew her as a kid from
Sacred Heart Academy, an all-girls high school near Griffin High, an all-boys high school.
Marita had a way of belting out a ballad like no other female vocalist I met during that
era. She was Springfield's parallel Janis Ian, and as I was belting out Stagolee and
Blowin' In the Wind at the drop of a hat, Marita did the same with Society's Child.
A few years ago, I was sitting at a table at Capitol Caffe on
Sixth Street -- by any measure the best coffeehouse ever operated in Springfield -- when
she came up to me after not seeing me since 1967. We had a great conversation, and she
departed with a copy of my poetry book Minstrel's Ramble. She has recorded one CD and has
a book of poetry in the works. To read a review of her CD click here
There was always something going on at Something Else, and I rushed there every night it
was open after working at Goldblatt's and hung out. This is where I met Glenna Kniss,
Springfield's answer to Judy Collins, and several male folk singers and fans, most of
whose names I no longer remember.
3. Looking into the kitchen where we could buy coffee, baked goods and soft drinks.
4. One of the convivial people in the kitchen.
5. The crowd was diverse and incredibly convivial. I don't remember this fellow's name. We
could be different and still like each other. Not everyone played and sang. There were
rumors of people doing drugs or selling them there, and yes, the place was busted by local
police once, but I wasn't involved. I arrived as they were finishing up the investigation.
If you recognize the people in these pictures, please share their names with me by
writing firstname.lastname@example.org I will add your
memories to this page.
6. Dale Neal plays guitar in the game room. In 2004, I was practicing guitar on my front
porch, accompanied by a tall glass of iced tea when he walked over and re-introduced
himself! I had purchased a house two doors east of where he and his brother John grew up,
and he was visiting his parents who still lived in his childhood home. His parents are now
living in an assisted living facility, and their house will soon be on the market.
7. This shows the problem with pictures taken with flash bulbs by a neophyte camera guy
who didn't know what the hey he was doing. The fellow in the left foreground is another
folksinger and nice guy: John Stasukenis, or "Stas'" for short. He was a good
guy. We've seen each other a few times over the years, but have never said more than
"how's it goin' - Fine - see ya" and I guess that's just the way is has to be in
these modrun times.
8. The fellow on the left is "Father Gus" who was a nice fellow who played a
large role in getting The Stove Pipe coffeehouse going. He was a regular visitor at
A coffee house (I can't remember its name) in the basement of the church on the
southwest corner of College at Monroe (subsequently torn down and reborn as a parking lot)
was popular with younger kids, among them Dale Neal. In a flash of mischief which was
totally unlike me, I pulled something of a prank on them. Arriving early, I noticed the
donuts they were selling were priced far below what it had cost them. With something
approaching a twinkle in my eye, I bought the entire box, departed the place in a hurry as
some of the honchos there watched their evening's donuts leave the premisis, and hurried
down to the Something Else where I sold the donuts to them for exactly the price I had
paid at the other place. This resulted in my being considered "personna non
grata" at the church place, but that was okay. I was more comfortable with the older
The other coffee house I frequented, The Stovepipe, was in the top floor of the Episcopal
Church which is there today on the southwest corner of Second at Lawrence. People
parked in the parking just to the south of the church, entering and departing parking from
Lawrence and Second. Access to the coffeehouse was up a long steel staircase on the
outside of the structure facing the south. Inside it was a revamped basketball court if I
remember correctly. Father Gus was a major leader there; so was an older gentleman, an
official of the church, who had a very pretty daughter whose voice and talent for song was
matched only by her good looks. We somehow got together long enough to play for a
convention at Holiday Inn East. It was my only duo appearance, but it was great fun. I
don't remember what happened to The Stovepipe, but it was great fun while it lasted.
After the Something Else closed, Sangamon State University established Rudolph's Bean on
Capitol between Sixth and Seventh Streets. I visited once, but never played there.
Another coffee house The Lighter Side of Darkness was the longest lasting establishment of
its kind in Sprinfield's history I believe. It was located next to Prairie Archives, a new
used book store on the north side of Monroe, close to Walnut. Soon after it started, I
played there solo a few times. While there, I met a student at Illinois College in
Jacksonville, Illinois. He wanted to form a folk group. I drove over and visited him in
his dorm room, and we arranged a first practice session. At that first get together, he
introduced me to a friend of his who was going to be the group's drummer. It took about
three bars of a first tune to convince me that I didn't want to be part of a folk group
that had a drummer with a rig as big as Buddy Rich or Barret Deems. That was my brush with
intercity folk consortia. The Lighter Side of Darkness (LSD for short; get it? Har har
har) later became a "Christian" coffee house, and I lost interest in folk music
for a few decades.
I was too busy having fun to take more pictures. In those days I wore my guitar the way I
wear my camera today. Given my druthers; I'd still rather be wearing my guitar.
9. During this time, I changed apartments, moving to a place on Seventh Street about where
the relocated Elijah Iles House is today, and employers when I became camera department
manager at K-Mart downtown. About that time I met Ralph and Linda, shown here in the art
gallery. Ralph and Linda knew Nancy Harris (whom I had known in high school) and she met
Roger Legg who played guitar at Something Else. The five of us did a lot of partying
together, even went up to Chicago for a few days.
10. Two Dans if I remember correctly. Dan on left was passing through Springfield on his
way to Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. He told me Springfield was a way station for
people transiting west and east because it was easy to find a place to stay and marijuana
or other illegal chemicals to ease the journey. Dan left was in Springfield about a month,
and was an interesting fellow. Dan on right is Dan Davis, a friend from junior high and
high and MYF. An interesting fellow in his own right. Where are these gentlemen today?
11. Dan Davis in front, was having fun with an extended finger. Marita Stankitis was
taking a break from singing, and Nick in the back was the founder/prime organizer of the
Something Else Coffee House. I understand from Marita that Nick is a pastor in Hawaii.
- Nick, if you read this, please write and let me know how life goes in your
part of the world!
They were paradise times, though we didn't appreciate it at the moment. A few weeks
after these pictures were taken, I broke my left foot when walking back to my place from
Roger Legg's apartment and jumping a corner at Eighth at Cook. I moved back home,
and thanks to a new girlfriend, Carole King, last known address: Golden, Colorado I
enrolled at MacMurray College in Jacksonville and took a few steps up the ladder to
12. Philosopher Dan.
13. Here he is again. He was an excellent thinker and a nice guy.
14. The fellow on the far left is "Black Ralph" who went through lots of
treatment and rehab and re-surfaced during my time hosting an open mic at Capitol Caffe in
1998 at "Cat Ralph." Standing next to him is Philosopher Dan and some other
||So I just found a picture of me about the same time as the coffeehouse
action. I was attending an art fair when this picture was taken. Seeing this picture led
me to shave off my mustache on Thanksgiving 2004 to see if I could capture some of my
boyitch good looks. Gotta tell you: it didn't work. But I'm determined to live the rest of
my life sans facial hair. The more I think about it, I had more of a love life
without mustaches and beards than I had with them. And I can't think of a better reason to
shave regularly than that!
|Here I am at Barnes & Noble Springfield a few years ago. I've also
played -- thanks to Dave Bishop -- Barnes & Noble Kankakee (no sign of Arlo Guthrie OR
a train) and lots of elsewheres. About the only place I've not yet played is the place YOU
invite me to play. In case I didn't mention before, you can reach me at 217-544-6122 and email@example.com
I WISH I had taken more pictures of this place and the people. If you have pictures
from your times there that you can loan me to scan, please share them with me, and we'll
add them to this site.
And for the record, the humbule photographer/writer is still playing guitar and singing
The Times They are a Changing, Motorpsycho Nightmare, If I had a Hammer, Puff, the Magic
Dragon and writing songs like All Over but the Shouting, The Mashed Potato Song, The
Preposition Song, Bird Crap, Oh What Fun It is to Ride, Bullet In the Back, Cameron
Do-Well and much more. If you live in the Springfield area and you're as bright as I hope
you are, invite me to you play and sing acoustically at your next party or special event.
I don't provide background music, but if people want to listen, I want to play. Want to
know more? Write me -- firstname.lastname@example.org or call
Visit Acoustic Jam here
Visit Arts Links here
Visit AeroKnow home here