Here is a picture of Elaine and I along with our oldest son, Verlon at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. It was taken on the Friday before Memorial Day in 1970. We had taken him out to fly to California and begin several months of training with the National Guard. He lives in Virginia and called on the anniversary of this departure day and asked if we remembered what we did 42 years earlier on that date. He went on to tell of the problems of arriving at Fort Ord late on a Friday night ahead of a 3-day holiday weekend. I was serving as the Director of the USDA/Soil Conservation Service, Personnel Division and Elaine was a Management Analyst with the US Forest Service Timber Management Division. Tim was finishing up his Freshman year at UN-L, Carolyn her Junior year and Jon his Freshman year at Wakefield HS in Arlington, VA.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I sat out on the deck this evening after supper and read several more chapters of "The Early Years", an autobiography by Clifford E. Lowell. It is a 265 page paperback, printed by Morris Publishing of Kearney, NE, Copyright 2000 with a 2nd printing and slight revisions in 2010. The book covers the first 21 years of Mr. Lowell's life from March, 1930 to August, 1951 which took place in the Kearney, Nebraska area. Mr. Lowell moved to Seward during the past few months to be near his daughter, son-in-law and family following the tragic death of his wife in a car-train accident last year. Clifford started coming to Kiwanis a few weeks ago and joined us as a 2nd tenor in the Kitones. It was during the Kiwanis initiation ceremony that he indicated having written this book that is available at the Seward Memorial Library. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading his vivid, detailed writing. His "story" is so similar to what many of us lived growing up on a farm during those years that it brings back many memories. This evening I came across this description of a fire drill held at Longfellow HS in Kearney during the 1943-44 school year: "Fire drills were held several times during the school year. On one occasion the bells sounded while I was in the library. Miss Amy Figard, the librarian, told us boys we could go out through the round tubular slide that provided an escape from the library. Most of us did." It's ironic that Miss Amy Figard was my English and Literature teacher in Garland HS during the years immediately preceding her going to Kearney and his contact with her. She was one of my favorite HS teachers and part of a prominent Seward family. She and her sister never married and left a significant gift to our Church Foundation Endowment. It's a small world.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Here is a picture of Joseph J. and Antonia (Milacek) Vrana taken in about 1909. They are my paternal Grandparents. Grandpa would have been in his mid 40's and Grandma in her late 30's at the time. My earliest memories of them was in the early 1930's and by that time Grandpa had a long white beard, was retired and an "old man" in his late 60's who went on to live to be nearly 87. Grandma lived until she was nearly 90. I wish that a High School teacher would have assigned me the task of interviewing each of them and writing a lengthy paper on what they might have told me. It is one of my regrets that I didn't show more interest in their lives and really get to know them. They were both born in Caslav, in the Czech Republic and came to this country as children with their parents. We put a flower at their tombstone the other evening and will treasure the memories that we do have of them. (This picture was copied and cropped from one of Grandma's family)
Sunday, May 27, 2012
We were asked to greet at Church this morning and all were asked to wear something red in recognition of Pentecost. We were a few minutes early so I set the camera on the edge of the piano and this is the result. It makes one appreciate a photographer being able to "pose" people rather that my having to run to the chair and set down quickly before the shutter opened. Our golf game was adversely affected by high winds which have lead to storms in the area this evening. Thunderstorms with hail have just "popped up" all around eastern Nebraska. Even some indication of tornadoes in the northern part of the state. So far we have had a smattering of "moth ball" size hail with about a half inch of rain. I expect we will get more of both during the evening and on into the night. We did get to see the end of the Indy 500 with Frachatti winning under a caution flag. The Royals won and Zack Johnson outlasted Jason Dufner to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational. So we had a busy afternoon in front of the TV.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
We had our first fresh roasting ears of the season earlier this week. It was just as good as it looks on this picture. I expect it was shipped in from Texas but was as good as we can raise here in the Cornhusker State. We never had Sweet Corn while growing up on the farm but just ate field corn. We liked it just as well since "Candy Corn" had not yet been developed. When Brother Don was 8-9 years old he told the Grandparents "At our house we smear a lot of butter on it and hog it down". The field corn is ahead of schedule this year as are most crops because of the early spring. We used to talk about corn being, "Horse belly high by the 4th of July" and this year much of it will be that size by the 4th of June. The temperature hit 96 degrees here in our area today and 100 in the southwestern part of the state. The weather forecast calls for rain within the next few days which will be necessary to speed the crops along. We have run our sprinklers once already on our lawn and will need to do so again if we don't get rain soon. As we came home tonight from taking flowers out to the Cemetery, we watched the setting sun peek through what we thought may be some rain clouds but they "fizzled". There is also an old saying in Nebraska that "We are never more than 2-weeks away from a drought".
Friday, May 25, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Elaine has continued to add Petunias to the Geraniums that she had planted earlier in the old butcher kettle. It sets in front of our house and provides color throughout the summer. The 4th of July parade goes past our house so we always try to have red, white and blue plants. The old cast iron butcher kettle came from Elaine's parents. When they moved from the farm to Seward in 1956, it ended up at our place. We suspended it with chains from a tripod of poles and grew flowers in it when we lived on 5th street during the '50's. We took it with us when we moved to Lincoln but left it with Flowerdays when we went to Virginia. When we returned to Nebraska, we reclaimed it and has continued to be an integral part of our landscape. There are many family stories that could be told about the old Kettle.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
This is a Florence and Tony Vrana Family picture taken during the summer of 1985 out at our farm. The top two rows are standing in a farm wagon. It was probably the highest percentage of our family ever to attend a reunion. Dad would have been 88 and Mother 84 at the time. Though several have passed on, Elaine tells me that the Family number is now around 80. We have enjoyed many such reunions during the intervening years, including those in California, Wisconsin and Colorado. We are planning a "Florence & Tony Vrana" family get-to-gather this summer on the 29th of July here is Seward. We hope that many of those pictured can be here along with the additions that have occurred during the past 27 years.
The details of this summer's event have not been finalized but Don and Gladys have had some discussions with us on it. We will definitely have it down in the Seward City Park. One of the complicating issues is that there are 3 picnic shelters and they can't be reserved. In the past, someone has gone down early on the Sunday morning and established presence.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Seward had it's first City Wide Rummage (Garage) sale starting last evening and continuing today. In addition to those shown on the map, there were several others that just "popped-up" to take advantage of the many potential buyers that were cruising the streets of our city. We did a few of the stops but didn't buy anything. It is always interesting to see that people are willing to part with items that may have been very important to them at one time. Baby and children's clothing were very popular items. I even caught Elaine looking at a little outfit that would probably fit a Great-grandchild. In addition to all of the sales around town, there was also an auction of Nursery Stock that had been brought in from Nebraska City, and sold down at the Ag Pavilion parking lot. We didn't buy anything there either. An event at the Country Club kept the Course tied up most of the day so I didn't get to play golf. After a couple days of strong south winds, a storm came through this evening giving us a half inch of welcomed rain. We had mowed the lawn and did some yard work in anticipation of the needed rain.
Friday, May 18, 2012
We had a good group at Coffee in the Bank this morning. I took in some freshly baked Chocolate Chip cookies and just happened to have my camera along. It was timely since Richard Hentzen was present from out-of-state. From left to right: Bob, Tony, Jay, Richard, Rich, Stan and Jerry. With the exception of Bob and I, the others all graduated from Seward High School in the same era. There was talk about former teachers as well as members of some of the good athletic teams. Jay had been on-line in the 1940 Census last night and confirmed my assessment of the few "old people" listed. He told of noting the relatively small number of people over the age of 65. I mentioned having read this morning that Nebraska has 37,000 citizens over the age of 65 diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. It's no wonder that we didn't hear much about the disease back in 1940, people just weren't old enough to be so susceptible. Our Kitones sang down at the Crestview Nursing Home in Milford this evening for their annual Picnic. Elaine went along and had the opportunity to study the crowd as we sang. We agreed that having a spouse in a Care Facility, is harder on the "care giver" than the patient. I heard that a child born in this Country today, has a very good chance of living to be 100. We can only hope that their lifestyle can be comparable to what we have enjoyed but I'm concerned that ours has not been sustainable.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Elaine took the Schefflera out doors and sat it on the pedestal from an old bird waterier. We have had the plant for some 20 years and she has started many others from it by using "Rootone" and rooting them with water in a vase. The Hydrangeas on either side of the plant are coming along O.K. and we recently planted the Begonias in front of it. We went down to Merle's this afternoon and got a Climbing Black Eyed Susan like we had last year. We planted it this evening along with 8 Inpatients. Elaine planted an Asparagus Fern to go along with the 4 Geraniums in the Old Black Butcher Kettle. We also put a white Petunia in the Kettle. I put some decomposed leaf mulch around several of our new plantings. Our front lawn is getting very dry. We need to get our sprinklers turned on but just don't like to do it in the month of May. That task is generally held off until July. Some years we have only run them a few times during the whole summer but this year has not been Normal.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Yesterday, I wrote about the Yellow Maple at the Golf Course and today have a picture of it. The tree is located just a few feet off the #5 green. It's trunk isn't as large as appears because of a split plastic hose around the trunk to protect it from weedeaters. We look forward to most trees taking on beautiful fall colors and this tree is as pretty now as it's every going to be. You miss out on all the anticipation. And, with a lot of things in life, the anticipation is more exciting and pleasurable than the achievement. On a more mundane note, the dead trees in the background are the victim of the Pine Bark Beetle. They are part of one of the many Shelterbelts that were planted by USDA in the late 1930's. It was on this very day 150 years ago that President Lincoln established the Department of Agriculture. I became an employee of the Agency in 1948 and son Jon continues the family tradition. I have known some 3 generation families and wonder what the record may be.
Monday, May 14, 2012
This Japanese Maple was an excellent choice for our back yard. It has continued to grow since this picture was taken and now fills the space between our Blue Spruce and the NW corner of the house. The leaves are a bright red all during the growing season and many hang on even into the winter. They make an ideal landscaping tree and require literally no special care. We have a couple young Maple trees out at the Golf Course with leaves just as yellow as these are red. They too hold their color all during the growing season and well into the fall. They are beautiful little trees but I can't look at them without thinking of an old Nursery Man that I worked with years ago. His comment was: "any tree with yellow leaves looks like it's dying". That was long before the Yellow Maples that I described, were developed. Sunburst Locust were popular with some people but not with Corny Speidell. He also taught me that trees were a lot like people. None of them are perfect. As much as I have always appreciated trees, I accept the fact that they have a period of beauty and usefulness. There is a lot of satisfaction in planting and watching a tree grow to maturity but there comes a time when they need to be replaced.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Here is page 4 of the Seward, County Nebraska, A Township, 1940 Census. The upper part is an expanded version of our family which is in about the middle of the full page. I was a 14 year old, white, single, male that had completed 1 year of HS. It was most interesting to read about our neighbors, many of whom had been born in Germany or the Austrian area that later became Czechoslovakia. Some of these "old" neighbors were not nearly as old as what I had thought of them. I've also checked to see Elaine's listing as a 9 year old. The B Twp. census was done by Raymond Sedlak who had beautiful hand writing and even noted who he talked to for the information in each family. He went on to lead one of the finest Dance Bands in the area during the 40's and 50's. Census records are not released for 72 years after they are taken but they make for very interesting reading for us "Old Folks".
Saturday, May 12, 2012
My Brother Don and Gene Sisco from Syracuse, NE were the Auctioneers for the MES Trust Sale that was held in Seward today. Carolyn picked me up early so we had a chance to look things over as well as a little visiting before the sale got underway. The house sold as well as personal property so it was an interesting sale. Carolyn bought enough stuff that she had Ben come down with his pickup to haul it home. I came away with quite a collection also. One of my "treasures" is the little Fisher Price Tractor shown in the picture. It will add to my toy collection for now but may later go on eBay or to a Toddler for their amusement. I walked through the big old house that has undergone considerable renovation during the past few years. It has 5 bedrooms and at one time was a Hotel. My Aunt Ethel worked there at the time when her Uncle and Aunt, operated it back in the early 1920's, It was worth the price of "admission" (what I paid for my purchases) just to be able to see the inside of the house and all the items that were available. Brother Don always injects enough humor for everyone to have a good time.
Friday, May 11, 2012
Elaine was most pleased when Merle's Flower Shop delivered a beautiful Mother's Day bouquet this afternoon from Tim's in Columbus, IN. We also did some shopping at Merle's Nursery where we bought Geraniums, Begonias, Marigolds, Straw Flowers and 4 tomato plants. We got most of them planted this evening and will finish tomorrow. While the Flowers from Tim's are for Elaine, I probably enjoy them as much as she. They are a mixed bouquet with Roses, Daises, Baby's Breath and others that I can't name. I'm sure we will enjoy them for several days plus having a picture of them to be part of the 2012 collection. As we went to plant those things that we bought this afternoon, we realized how much our back yard trees have grown that limits areas where plants can get enough sun. I picked out a nice sunny spot where we took out a Snow Ball bush last year only to realize that it is not a good spot for tomato plants because of the location of a lawn sprinkler. We will just have to wait and see how it turns out.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
May 10th was known as the date to plant corn when I was growing-up. The Seward County "frost-free" date was around the 15th, so farmers felt safe in planting a few days earlier. This year some corn was actually planted in March and much of it in April. While this has been a very unusual spring, there is no doubt in my mind climate change has occurred. May 10th also has the significance in our family as the date back in 1949 that sister Vivian and Eddy Soucek were married. Four years latter on this very date their son Terry was born. We celebrated this significant day by buying some annuals and planting them in the backyard plot under the River Burch. After then mowing the lawn, we sat down to rest; me with my Dr. Pepper and Elaine with her Root Beer. It was very pleasant out on the deck with the temperature in the high 80's and a brisk south wind. The sky was clear and we speculated on the destination of the planes leaving the vapor trails along the way. There was a time when we would wish that we could be up there among the passengers headed for exciting places and another time when we actually were among them. But now we watch them as we relax sipping our soda and say, "I'm glad we did it then and can do this now".
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
This picture was taken yesterday afternoon on the 6th tee of the Seward Country Club. I am on the left with Ken, Dale and Charlie. Dale and I had gone out after the Kiwanis luncheon and met Ken and Charlie. None of us had very good games. Ken and Dale play in the Tuesday morning Senior League so Charlie and I were going to play today. Charlie is still getting over having teeth pulled last week and didn't feel like playing today so I played alone. I played both a white and yellow ball. I don't know why I seem to do better when I play alone, but don't take mulligans nor gimmes over 1 ft. and got a 42 and 41. I do take my time playing alone, am probably more relaxed, and spend more time on club selection. I hope at least Charlie will be with me tomorrow when I will try to play like I do when playing alone. I spent much of the afternoon reading material in preparation for the Bank Board Meeting tomorrow afternoon and will participate in the Seward Aging Service Board meeting this evening. We did got responses in the mail today to 3 family HS graduates. I feel like I know some of these kids pretty well by being a facebook friend.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Immediate Past Governor for the Kiwanis, Nebraska-Iowa District, Gus Dornbusch was in Seward this noon to address and welcome 18 new members to the Club. He did an excellent job of encouraging them to get involved in ongoing projects or those that might be identified through a "community assessment" and to pursue them with a passion. This number will take our club over the 100 mark which is the largest in Division 22. Even with that number, there is community service for every member to perform. Many of our current projects were those for which new members had a passion and were suggested to the club to adopt. It will be interesting to see what all we may be doing in the next few months with the enthusiasm that was exhibited today. Long time member Marv Taylor headed up the membership drive with help from Ralph Hansen. President Julie Klimm was also deeply involved. If only our United States Congress could work together in solving problems as well as our Kiwanis Club.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
This is one of two tea roses that we have in our backyard. There were times when we never had less than 20-25 but having taken up the game of golf some years ago and advancing years have had an impact. We have not given even the two the care that they need. While the buds look beautiful, I'm not sure they are all going to open-up as we would desire. They do look nice in the flower bed around the River Burch trees. The Blue Birdbath is a favorite of our bird population which is abundant. Our large Blue Spruce and Concolor Fir trees provide nesting for Cardinals, Collard Doves, and others. We have a pair of Wrens in the old birdhouse. The Robins have built a nest in the Maple tree in our front yard. We have Juncos, Yellow Finch as well as their House Finch relatives. We also have several other species that make frequent visits. Our appreciation of birds is one reason for our dislike of cats. We have seen stray cats hide in shrubbery close to our bird feeder. When some of the "bottom feeders" are at their work under the feeder on seeds that have been scattered, the old cat will spring out and get them. I have not been successful in getting a City Ordinance to treat Cats like we do Dogs, but haven't given up on more restricting regulations. Omaha was recently described as having 68,000 feral cats within the city. And, while it doesn't seem possible, they also quote that, "...in 10 years, one pair of cats plus their surviving offspring can produce over 80 million kittens".
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
Charlie and I have been golfing together for the past several years and have played more that 40 rounds so far this spring. However, he as well as his wife, were having dental work done this week so he has not played since Tuesday. We have been in Lincoln the past couple days at lunchtime and also unable to play any golf. After coffee this morning I went out by myself at 11:30 and was able to get my round in before the Chamber golf outing began at 1:00pm. It was the first time I had played alone this season. I played with both a yellow and white ball so got in my 18 holes in about 75 minutes. I didn't have any problem finding my balls, didn't take any mulligans, nor any "gimmies" over 12 inches. I shot a 44 with the yellow ball and a 42 with the white one. It adds up to 86 so I shot my age.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
With our Peonies in full bloom and Memorial Day nearly 4 weeks away, we decided to go with "nature" and took flowers to the cemetery this afternoon. We put them in 2 1/2 lb. coffee cans which we placed in front of the gravestones of both my folks and Elaine's. We sat them low enough to eliminate any tipping and ironically, both stones are very close to large Pin Oak trees which restricts grass and lawn mowing. While we only took flowers to our parents, we paid homage to those relatives in the immediate area. While both stones include the little vases on the base, they have not proved to be very efficient. We will be back out before Memorial Day with additional flowers. Some of them may even be plastic but we rationalize that, "It's the Thought that Counts". It is also a time to reflect on how much our parents did for us that we didn't always fully appreciate at the time.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Elaine and I had 9:00am eye appointments this morning with Dr. Mousolf, our Opthomologist in Lincoln. As is our practice, we checked in and took seats at the far end of the waiting room. While Elaine was filling out papers and I was reading the morning paper, we looked up to see that Mahendra & Prem Bansel had also come into the waiting room. Mahendra and I had worked together at the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission back in the 80's. This picture was taken some 3 years ago at the time of Mahendra's retirement. He was back in this morning for some post-operative procedures and had a patch over his eye. His surgery was minor and we had a good visit. Their whole outstanding family is pictured here at his retirement party. According to their proud parents, they are all doing very well at this time. We were pleased to get good reports on the condition of our eyes from Dr. Mousolf. We then had an enjoyable lunch and visit with Brother Don and Gladys at the Village Inn while my dilated eyes returned to normal.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Here on the 1st of May our Peonies are blooming. Over the years they have been the most predominant flowers to use for Memorial Day. As a youngster, I well remember Mother and Dad cutting flowers from the row of white peonies that were located between our front yard and the garden. I believe Grandma Vrana had planted them while they were still out on the farm. We would load up the old reel lawnmower along with the flowers and water to go over to the Oak Grove Cemetery to decorate the Vrana graves. The mower was used to cut the grass on the Vrana plots and those of other relatives whom we knew would not be coming. It was an interesting family outing. There were family stories told that might not have been passed down otherwise. Elaine and I have continued to carry on the family tradition here at the Seward Cemetery with close relatives. When Aunt Ethel was still alive, it was a major undertaking to decorate the graves of her extended relatives. That too was a genealogical experience. We have narrowed the list considerably but will still make the rounds the day before Memorial Day. We just wont have Peonies to use for decorations.