Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Harry T. Jones house in Seward, NE

Here is a house in our neighborhood; a block and a half from where we live. According to the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, it is registered as the Harry T. Jones House. The house was designed by architect George A. Berlinghof and built by John Hughes and Sons in 1889-1890. The house is architecturally significant for its distinctive Free Classic Queen Anne style and one of the best examples of the style in the State of Nebraska. Berlinghof also designed the Seward County Courthouse, the Thomas building and the Goehner Buildings in Seward. The property also includes a two-story brick carriage barn built in 1890 that has been used for a garage. The property has been in the same family ownership since it was built. It has had several additions and renovations, including a very significant recent one, but the integrity of the original design has been preserved. It is a crowned jewel in our great community.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Buckingham Palace

Though we were unable to be there this morning, we were in London at  Buckingham Palace in May of 1997 to see the changing of the Guard. It was part of a 10-Country Globus tour of Europe. We took our daughter and granddaughter along and had a great time. We met the tour in London after having gone several days early to spend time with a Cousin of Elaine's and his wife in Norwich. While we were wating for the Guard to change, we had the thrill of seeing the Queen ride by in a big black car after her helicopter had been overhead. We didn't hear the story on the goat but assumed it was the mascot of the guard unit.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Four Fellows and a Model A Ford

August 1946, Four Buddies, a Model A Ford and a trip “out west”. The Badlands of South Dakota were our first realization that we were lucky to be living in Seward County, Nebraska. We bought gas at 6 gallons for $1.00. And, had a tent, camping equipment, ate sandwiches, etc. from local grocery stores and it didn't cost much to “travel”. We toured the “Wind Cave” before it became a major tourist attraction. The Black Hills National Monument was relatively new with some of the old machinery still on site. Somewhere in Montana our battery shorted out and burned nearly a half inch gap through one of the bars connecting the battery cells. There was little or no traffic for help so we used a pair of Vice-Grips to “bridge the gap” and drive some 25 miles to a service station to get a new battery. We thought we were losing power as we got into the mountains and stopped to “adjust the points”. It was when the car started rolling back that we realized we were going up hill. There were probably no more than 15-20 people who pulled their cars up to the base of “Old Faithful” and watched it's eruption. Gas was 25 cents/gallon in the park so we didn't stay long enough to have to buy any. We enjoyed the Tetons, came home through Denver and stopped at Burwell, Nebraska to see the big Rodeo. It was an “eye-opening” trip for 4 farm boys.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Golfing against the Wind

The beauty of the blooming Bradford Pear and lushness of the green grass hardly offsets the 30 mph gusts with temperatures in the 50's. It is apparent from the way Charlie and I are dressed that the weather added to the normal challenges. I hit a poor approach shot after this picture was taken and had a triple Bogey on this #8 hole after having pared 5 of the first 6 holes to finish the 9 with a 41. Would anyone care if I added today's score with what I had yesterday and say that I "shot my age".

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prince William

Here is a picture of Prince William taken back in 1997. This is from a People Magazine of September 15, 1997 which includes a 19 page cover story on Princess Di's life and death. There are several great pictures in the article The caption on the picture says it was taken a month earlier and that "Wills" at 6'1" is taller than Charles. The magazine was a discard from the Seward Public Library and I plan to post it on eBay this week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Collared Doves

We have a pair of Collared Doves nesting in the big Blue Spruce tree in our back yard. While we had seen them around other years, this is the first season we are sure this is home base.  The mate can be seen sitting on the clothes line which appears to be directly above the right Finch feeder. We don't have any Finch nesting here but have 12-15 that stop by regularly. We also have a pair of Cardinals that nest in the Spruce tree with the Doves. They too spend a lot of time in the back yard. The tree that can be seen on the picture is a Concolor Fir which is a beautiful tree but not as compact as the Spruce. The Fir needles  are soft to the touch whereas the Spruce needles are much sharper. They cam be distinguished in the forest by remembering  "Friendly Fir vs Sprickly Spruce".

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

This is the way the corner of our driveway and the street looked this morning as we went to Church. While there was frost on our deck rail and the neighbors rooftop as we ate breakfast, it didn't seem to hurt any of the plants. What you see is an example of "double-cropping". The tulips come on early and the Peonies will bloom about Memorial Day and show ample foliage all summer. We haven't figured out the little plants at the extreme right side of the picture-we planted what we thought were "Red Hot Pokers" a few years ago and all we have seen are little fuzzy "blooms" that look like dandelion  seed heads.
We had a great Easter Day: Church service with the Hallelujah Chorus concluding the service; Ham dinner with all the trimmings at Carolyn and Ben's along with Julie & John. We went back for supper with a lot of good conversation.
Alex Gordon got a base hit in his 18th consecutive game and I read a couple more chapters in the new book by Kostya Kennedy on the story of Joe DiMaggio hitting safely in 56 consecutive games back in 1941. It was a great day and it's not over yet.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Seward's Spring Cleanup Day achieved a new level of efficency this morning with the addition of "The Crusher". In the past Concordia University football players would unload appliances from trucks and a Front-End Loader would place them in a "Roll off" to be taken to a recycling location. As shown here, the Crusher has the ability to pick appliances out of a truck, place them in the "tank" and crush the material into metal blocks. The same "clamshell" picks up the metal blocks and loads them on a flat bed truck. In another area, computers, monitors, components, televisions sets, etc. were being collected as well. The community will be in much better condition for Easter Sunday as a result of the Cleanup. The project was coordinated by Scott Willett with the Great Plains Resource and Conservation and Development District. Thanks to all involved.
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Friday, April 22, 2011


I have always liked flowers. Some of my earliest memories are of gathering violets to put in May baskets to take to friends. When I first heard the name “Flowerday” it struck a cord as a very pretty name. My impression was confirmed when I met a very attractive 16-year old girl by that surname. It was only later that I learned of “Flower” being her nickname in High School which she didn't like since it came from the little skunk in a Walt Disney movie. I never did call her Flower but did call her a lot of other names including “My Girlfriend”, “My Fiancee”, “My Wife”, and even went on to call her Mother as the children came along. Then with grandchildren, she became Grandma. As she sat reading the Smithsonian Magazine yesterday near the Easter Lily that will go up to the Church tonight, she and the “Flower” seemed to compliment each other.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Straining to see the Obvious

I hope that no one has the experience I've had the past few days in trying to find something on the computer only to find it so obvious that you didn't see it. I'm referring to the little abc with a line through it in the Font area of the Home tab in Microsoft Word. I am working on a revision of By-Laws for our local Kiwanis Foundation and needed to use the "strike through" feature to show the words to be removed. Though I had utilized the strike through feature years ago on my old Gateway 2000, I couldn't find it on my HP PC. By studying a "Dummies" book I was able to find that by putting the curser in the Font button it would bring up the Font Display box. This showed that if you hold down the control+shift+f keys, it will bring up a "Font Box" that includes "Strike through". I was pleased with myself for having found that last night. Than at coffee this morning, a friend showed me the obvious way. I didn't believe that feature was on my computer but when I checked it out, there it was. Maybe this is why youngsters are so much more adept with current technology, our mindset is that it must be complicated. Now, someone tell me how to get a "screen shot" on my PC like I cam with my Apple laptop.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Twins grew up.

By just looking at this picture you can feel the close relationship between the "twins", my younger brother and sister. They were involved in a "Better Baby" contest at the Nebraska State Fair when they were about 20 months old. This picture was taken at the Seward County Fair some years ago when all twins from the area were being honored. I was 11 years old, my sister 13 and younger brother 7 when they were born. They were an immediate delight to the family as well as a surprise since twins were not expected. We are still surprised each time we get together and hear stories about things they did as kids that we never heard before. Janice and her husband recently came from California to spend some time with Jerry and his family in Tomah, WI. They had a great time together making many of the old "Czech dishes" that Grandma used to fix. Jerry, Sondra and part of their family came down to Nebraska recently where we got out to the old family farm in the "Bohemian Alps" north of Garland where the twins were born. We all had a great time and heard some of the "growing up" stories for the first time. Twins are a real double blessing and continue to have a relationship that is special.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pleasure vs. Pain

I have heard it said that a day when you couldn't play golf, was a day wasted. Today was one of those days when the temperature and the wind would have caused “the pain to exceed the pleasure”. But we didn't exactly waste the day. The Leid Senior Center held its annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon this noon with a good turnout. It is impossible to imagine a community like Seward without the people who volunteer their services. The Senior Center is only one such place, and it goes far beyond. The Fire Department and Rescue Squad are the first that come to mind. We have volunteers at the Library, Schools, and for a wide variety of City related activities. Our Kiwanis Club has volunteers who put up flag poles, deliver means, operate the Back Pack program, work at the Recycle Center, read to Head Start participants, call Bingo at Care facilities, and even sing for various groups. I haven't even mentioned what the Churches do locally with Food Net, etc. But it's who we are, a helping society, and the pleasure of helping others certainly exceeds the pain.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday in Seward, NE

This was not your average Palm Sunday but at least the snow that fell in Seward in Friday didn't build up. But it did snow with big flakes all Friday afternoon. This morning, we were up early to participate in a Lodge breakfast. It included Belgian waffles, sausage, strawberries, blueberries and all topped with whipped cream. This with a glass of orange juice. Then the second course consisted of ham & egg casserole, with a roll and coffee. I probably would have gone to sleep in church after eating so much had it not been “contemporary” Sunday with the drum beats and all that goes with it. I don't think even an Air Traffic Controller could have slept. With only a cup of coffee for lunch, I met a buddy for 9 holes of golf. It was the second consecutive day when I wore my hooded sweatshirt and jacket to keep warm. When I got home our thermometer showed 52 degrees. Hardly an appropriate day for an Easter egg hunt that was underway as we left the Church

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rada & Vrana families

This picture was taken at our farm east of Seward on July 4, 1983. The Jimmie Rada family was together for the first time in 25 years. George, Ken, Jim and Phyllis all graduated from Seward High School and the 4th was a popular time for HS reunions. Left-to-right standing: Eddy Soucek, George Rada, Anton Vrana, Florence Vrana, Elaine Vrana, Uncle Jimmie Rada, Jim (Shiml) Rada, Mrs. George (Donna) Rada, Mrs Jim (Pam) Rada. Kneeling: Vivian Soucek, Ken Rada, Mrs Ken (Eileen) Rada, and Phyllis Brierly. The Rada family came from Pennsylvania, California and points in between for the occasion. My Dad (Anton) and Jimmie's wife Tillie (deceased) were brother and sister. The Rada children were all born in Bee where their (and my) Grandma Vrana had a lot to do with their childhood. While we were together frequently “growing up”, we too hadn't seen some of them for many years. Except for Elaine, everyone on the picture is now deceased. A Memorial service was held at the Seward Cemetery this afternoon for Pam who died November 20, 2010.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Macrame Belt

As my waistline expanded over the years, so has my collection of old belts. I keep them in the “shop” part of the basement since you never know when one or more of them may help solve a problem. When we got our HD TV a couple years ago I used several old belts to strap the big, heavy RCA set to a cart to move it down to the basement. We have even used them to hold old suitcases together when moving. Today I came across the one pictured which was “hand tied” by son Jon when he was in Jr. High and Macrame was all the rage. It is made up of 12 strings knotted together with a beautiful design. He had the foresight to make it a 44 inch belt when I probably had a 36 in waste, suspecting that I may some day need the extra length.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

General Stonewall Jacksons

With the Civil war having begun 150 years ago at Ft. Sumter  in South Carolina, we will probably be hearing about many of the major battles over the next few years. This monument was erected at the Manassas battlefield in northern Virginia to honor General Stonewall Jackson. While living in the area, we spent many Sunday afternoons touring the battlefields. It was always a must place to take friends and relatives when they came to visit. This shows a young lady giving her Grandparents the tour.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Live Radio

Our Seward Kiwanis Kitones sang this afternoon on Radio Station KAWL at York, Nebraska. This was a special event and they had several groups in for half-hour slots. Our's was from 2:00 to 2:30. This had some special meaning for me since KGBZ in York was a favorite station back in the early 1930's when we got our first Majestic radio. It was necessary to “tune-in” all 3 dials on the radio to get good reception and the separate “curved neck” speaker sat on top of the radio. Our aerial was a wire strung from a 2x4 attached to the outhouse, to the chimney of our house. Our favorite entertainers were: “Henry and Jerome” who played guitars and sang. When my sister and I learned to play guitars when we were 12 & 13 years old, we talked about wanting to play and sing on the radio like Henry & Jerome. We never had the opportunity until today when I got to sing with the Kitones and my sister's son sang with the group that followed us.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Every Day a Holiday

Our beautiful spring weather continues. I had a good golf game after lunch with 5 of us "Seniors" playing from the Yellow tees. We played our 9 holes where I had a 41 and then 3 extra holes where I had a parr and 2 bogies. I took this picture in our front side yard a couple days ago as another  sign of spring. There will be no working in the yard today since I have a Library Board meeting at 4:30 and an Aging Services meeting at 7:00. Both of these are as a result of being on the City Council. But I enjoy them. A lot of things are planned for National Library Week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Baby Chicks

With the temperature in the high 60's under sunny skies, we decided that our winter weather was over. The snowblower was run out of gas and parked where the lawnmower has been for the winter, the hose was brought up from the furnace room, and the radishes and potatoes that have have just come up, were watered. Elaine wanted to go to the Greenhouse to check on plants but when we did, it seemed a bit early (and expensive). We went on to Orscheln's where they have their trees in but not their plants. Our old Finch feeder needed to be taped up as we filled it yesterday so we bought a new one. But the highlight of our excursion was seeing the baby chickens. It was reminiscent of growing up on the farm where 500 baby chicks each spring was standard practice. There was something about the smell of the brooder stove, the fresh straw bedding, and the baby chicks that made for a “Happy Aroma”. It was always a great day when the baby chicks came .  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Twins

I was 11 1/2 years old and my sister was 13 when our twin brother and sister were born. Brother Donnie had just had his 7th birthday at the time of their birth. While I had been helping with milking the cows in the evening, the day they were born was the first time I helped with the milking in the morning and continued to do so. Vivian was at the age where she was of tremendous help to Mother in taking care of the twins and helping with the housework, washing, cooking, etc. Though I wasn't nearly as much help as Vivian, I too got involved in taking care of the twins. It wasn't too unusual for Vivian to stay home from school on a Monday to help with the washing. One day when Vivian and I were discussing who was going to do the baby sitting, she said, "I'm getting tired of Mothering them". I in turn said, "I'm getting tired of Fathering them". With that comment, Vivian explained to me that the fathering had already been done; we both had to help with the mothering. It wasn't recognized in those days how important the "Fathering" was in raising a child.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Somewhere Along The Way.

I was 17 years old when this picture was taken and had grown an inch after being out of high school for over a year. I believe I wore size 32/34 pants, 16/36 shirts, and weighed 180 lbs. I don't know when, where,or why it happened, but somewhere along the way, I metamorphosed into an old man that wears 42/30 pants,17 ½ shirts, weighs 210 lbs., and am about 3 inches shorter than on this picture. But, I've played golf 7 of the past 8 days and consider myself pretty lucky.  

Friday, April 8, 2011


 My golfing partner referred to the group behind us yesterday as a “bunch of Honyaks”. It was the first time I had heard the term for many years. But, I can distinctly remember my Dad using it. He would say such things as, “What are you Honyaks trying to do?” when my brother and I would be trying to teach a calf to let us ride. Or, “I wonder when those Honyaks are going to show up” when my Irish Uncles were to help us butcher. He might have even used the term to describe my brother when he was caught smoking a cigarette in the haymow when he was about 13 years old. It could be said that this picture of me holding Prince and Dan like I was afraid they were going to step on my toes, makes me look like a “Honyak”.  I don't think it was an extremly derogatory term, but it wasn't a complement either. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Seward Country Club #4

This was the scene on #4 yesterday at the Seward Country Club Golf Course. These twin tubes are replacing 2 much smaller ones that had rusted out and were no longer functional. By today they had back filled over the tubes and are letting the water level in the lake come back up. There will be a minimal amount of fill over the tubes but their shape provides much more carrying capacity than if they were circular. Today's chilly, wet weather made necessary a hooded sweatshirt and a jacket. But I do it more for the exercise than for perfection.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another Opossum

The Seward Police Department responded promptly to a request for their animal trap and placed it in our backyard yesterday.  This morning we had a opossum desperately trying to get out.  Last year we had two that we caught.  Just hope this will be all that will come to visit this year.  We have no idea what draws them to our yard.  We also have a pair of collared turtle doves, a pair of cardinals, many juncos, robins, and yellow finch occupying our backyard.  Our daffodils are blooming in the front.  I believe spring is here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This is my 11th year on the Council and I find it quite enjoyable. The Mayor is in the process of finding a new City Administrator. The current Administrator is taking a similar position at Belleview, NE. We have a good cross-section of people on the Clouncil.
In addition, I got in a round of golf with Charlie, worked out in the backyard with Elaine for a couple hours and are watching the Nebraska-Creighton baseball game as well as the Texas A & M-Notre Dame women's NCAA basketball final.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Seward, NE Business District

These are pictures of the Seward, NE downtown area (pop 7,000) taken in April 2003 from the Courthouse dome. I took similar pictures from the same location in 1952 at the time our SCS office was located in the Court House and have taken them a couple other times over the years. The Cattle Bank building in the bottom picture is about the only new building on the "city square" during those nearly 60 years. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Birthday Party

A birthday party on Arlington Ridge Road back in the mid-sixties. Nothing like an Angle food cake for a birthday. The boys were still getting the Barber College haircuts.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

We attended the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement annual Dinner last night at the UN-L East Campus Union. Richard Hahn (pictured with me) and Dr. Terry Klopfenstein were the 2011 Honorees. Richard was on the Natural Resources Commission when we came back from D.C. ,and I went to work for the agency. He retired as President of the Farmers National Company. Doug Brand is shown in the new inductees receiving line in the other picture along with Stan Garbacz, Assistant Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Doug is from Seward and the first individual inducted into the Hall since I was some 15 years ago. The 8 new inductees maintain the membership in the rather stable 200 range. Albert Ebers was a Seward County member as is Loyd Young. Inductees are selected by nominations from members, a review committee and vote of the membership. The Honorees are selected by a committee each year from among the membership. Brother-in-law, Dr. Dale Flowerday was an Honoree in 2009. Being a member is a great honor and I appreciate being included. The Annual Dinner is an enjoyable evening and opportunity to visit with old friends.