Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Fearless Foursome

This is our 4-some that teed off at 10:00 this morning. We played our 9-hole round and then an "extra" 3 holes. This was taken on the #2 tee box. Our last few days have been very hot and humid so playing early in the day helps. I am to the left in the picture, then Dale, Charlie, and Perry. Dale had a very close call earlier in the week and was pleased to be playing. The Burlington RR double track line runs near Dale's land west of Seward which carries over 75 trains daily. As is often the case, one train was parked near the crossing that he approached with a front end loader on his John Deere tractor. A second train came along on the far track and just clipped a few inches of the loader. Fortunately, the tractor was heavy enough to limit the damage but the loader was destroyed and Dale suffered no injury. He drove the tractor on home but it must have been a horrendous incident. However, he had a good golf game today and we will probably play again tomorrow after early Church. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Congressman Morrill

Congressman Justin Morrill (aka Jon Vrana) made pesentations this week on legislation to establish the U. S. Department of Agriculture 150 years ago. Morrill was also the force in getting the Congress to approve the Land Grant College System which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. These continue to be two of the most important pieces of Agricultural Legislation ever established. He made presentations from the Smithsonian Tent on the Washington, D.C. Mall this week during the Folk Festival. The weather there has been similar to what we have suffered through here in Nebraska this week. Jon says his "all wool" suit was surpisingly cool in the hot humid weather. Folk festivals are big events in Washington. One of my favorite Festival memories is of attending one of the early ones during the time we lived back there. Jon and I sat in this small tent with some 20-25 people where Mother Maybelle Carter played a Harpsaccord and sang. I believe others of her family were there but don't remember who they were. We enjoyed a lot of outstanding,  free entertainment during our time in the area. Having grown up back there, Jon is very comfortable being a part of such festivities. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dr. Van Vahle

Dr. Van Vahle, our family physician for a number of years has announced his retirement. Along with being our Doctor, he is also a very good friend. He not only treated us like family but that was his standard for treating all his patients. He is 68 years old and has practiced in Seward since 1971. In 2009 he was recognize as the Nebraska Family Physician of the Year and has received many honors for his work. With our age difference, I always think of him as a young man. In addition to spending more time with family, he also is considering Doctors Without Borders, and other activities that may utilize his many talents. We wish him well  and know that he and his wife will enjoy a more relaxed life style, but we will miss him very much. It's one thing to change Financial Advisor,  Dentist, Lawyer, or even Minister, but something quite different to change Family Physician.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

USAF Brass in Blue

The US Air Force "Brass in Blue" presented an outstanding concert in Seward this evening. It was scheduled to be at the Band Shell but with 102 temperature this afternoon, it was moved to the air conditioned St. John's Church. It was just a fantastic concert. The highlights for me were the John Phillip Susa marches: Liberty Bell, El Capitan and the Washington Post but The Battle Hymn of the Republic was also great. The music "took me back" to our early days in D. C. where we would go down to the Potomac and hear the Military Bands perform concerts at the Watergate. Tonights concert was a fitting way of continuing the celebration of my day of "Attainment" (the date at which I reached the point of having been retired from the Federal Civil Service as many years as I worked under the system-32 years). After coffee this morning, lunch in Lincoln with Don & Gladys, a visit this afternoon with Don and Jackie Armstrong, it was a full day. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fairlington Presbyterian

Tim and Verlon  were a part of this 36-voice Choir at Arlington, VA in 1967. Verlon graduated from HS in 1968 and Tim in 1969. They are near the top of the picture directly above the Director, Robert Chambless. This picture is from their 33 1/3 speed record folder. The record includes: Kyrie, Nicene Creed, I Walk the King's Highway, The Lord's Prayer, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Gloria in excelsis. The church was located across King Street from where we lived when we first moved to Arlington. It remained very much a part of our lives during the 18 years that we lived in the area while living in 3 different locations. Carolyn and Jon were also active in the church's programs, Elaine taught Sunday School and I was on Session. We very much enjoyed our association with the Church, the Ministers, and the Congregation during that Chapter of our lives.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Birthday Parties

This picture was taken 82 birthdays ago at the time of my 5th. I was pleased to hold my birthday cake with the 5 candles in the presence of my neighbor playmates, aunts, cousins, etc. Sister Vivian is the little dark haired girl to the left of me. Aunt Ethel is holding little Donnie who was about 6 months old. Mother is the lady at the right edge. My party tonight wasn't as large but equally enjoyable. Carolyn and Ben brought down a delicious cake, Elaine fixed fruit cups and cookies. John and Julie were here to bring greetings and share in the "festivities". Gifts included Golf paraphernalia,  some of which will be put to use as soon as tomorrow. Calls came in from all 3 boys, Anna, Brother Don, Sister Janice, Francis Rine (who shares this birth date) and others. We had "special treats" for coffee this morning, Chicken for lunch at Kiwanis this noon, a good golf round with Charlie and Eldy, appearance on television in "Our Town Seward", Kitone practice in preparation for our 4th of July concert, and the party this evening. We also saw some of the Yankee and Royals wins. Ben reminded us that Custer's Last Stand occured on this date just 49 years before I was born. Does that almost make me a Pioneer??

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Retirement Party 6 24 80

This picture was taken on June 24, 1980 on the occasion of Elaine's leaving the Forest Service and my retirement from the Soil Conservation Service. The event was held at the Shirley Highway/Glebe Road Holiday Inn and attended by many co-workers from both agencies and other friends. It marked our 18 years in D.C. and return to Nebraska. My official retirement date was 6/27/80 following my 55th birthday on June 25th. My first day of employment with SCS was 3/26/48 as a WAE Conservation Aid and worked through the spring season. After a break in service and taking a Civic Service Examination came back on duty with a Career Conditional appointment 7/26/48. My service computation date was constructed as 6/27/48. My birthday tomorrow and Wednesday of this week will have particular significance. It will match the 32 years of Service with SCS with the 32 years of retirement from the Agency. It is a milestone I am pleased to achieve but also feel I continued to make a contribution to society through my years of service with the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission, The Soil and Water Conservation Society and through the many Boards on which I have served and continue to do so. Elaine has been a vital partner through it all, in fact, as the County Agent's secretary back in 1948, she suggested to the local District Conservationist that I may be interested when he was looking for part-time help.   

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Garland Scrapbook

I don't remember this incident but knew most of the fellows involved as I got a bit older.  This afternoon Elaine and I took some pictures up to Jack Armstrong that were taken a week ago at our Garland HS Alumni Reunion. During our discussion he brought out an old scrap book that his sister Geraldine had put together over the years. He loaned it to us and we have spent 3-4 hours in it this evening. This little "tid-bit" is just one of hundreds of things that we found of interest. Jack was an outstanding athlete and many clippings of his exploits are included. A few of them even included my name (often misspelled). Many obituaries are included which helps to understand family relationships. The wedding write-ups and pictures of my 2 sisters were included as well as those of old friends and many others. There is even a good story on Garland having its name changed from Germantown at the time of WWII. There is excellent coverage of the Seward Old Timers Celebration in 1939 and stories of many of the original settlers of the County. I didn't even pay much attention to the Mets-Yankee baseball game until we got through the scrapbook. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Magazine Rack

Here is our Magazine Rack that hangs on the basement wall in the Family Room. We have always been suckers for magazine subscriptions and receive more than we get read. We also are reluctant to take them to the Recycle Center without keeping them for a while. I built this rack several years ago and continue to keep it filled. In addition we file National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian Magazine, Saturday Evening Post, Golf Magazine and the Soil and Water Conservation Society Journal in other places. Elaine continues to take the Reminisce & Ladies Home Journal up to her sister at Ridgewood. Carolyn and Julie like the Everyday and Southern Living magazines. I have put some of the old magazines on eBay and even sold a few but it's not very lucrative. My suggestion is that the Post Office charge what it really cost to deliver magazines. The additional cost would be passed on to subscribers. That would raise the cost to where we would be able to resist most of them but would probably still take a few and help support the Post Office. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Downtown Lincoln, NE

Downtown Lincoln, NE. The State Capitol is the focal point of this picture and to its right is the SOB (The State Office Building). My office during many of the years that I worked for the State was at a corner window on the 4th floor. It had a great view of the Capitol. At the very top toward the right edge is Haymarket Park,  the baseball stadium. A new Arena is under construction on the bare area this side of the ball park. Those of us who worked in the SOB were very impressed by the height of the Capitol that towered above us and by the decisions that were made therein. However, I often reminded people that when I drove in to Lincoln my view of the Capitol from 20 miles out was only a blimp on the horizon. And, that was more nearly the way people "out state" thought about what happened there. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Garland High School, Class of '42

 Last Saturday evening we had our Garland HS alumni reunion. This class, the class of 1942 was recognized as the 70 year Honorees. Unfortunately, only 3 of us are still around and Jack, Don and I were all there. A lot of water has gone over the dam during those 70 years. WW II was in progress at the time we graduated and the outlook was very dismal. Yet, I believe there was a unity within the country that is certainly lacking today. FDR had told us that "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Winston Churchill said " We will never give up" and we persevered. We were always a close-nit group and the 3 of us remaining, still are. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Groves Farm

One of our stops yesterday afternoon on our ride in the hills of "A" township with Jackie and Don Armstrong, was at the "Groves" farm. It is no longer the Groves farm and has been through several owners since Don's Grandparents lived there back in the 1920's. Jackie says they have a picture of the place from that era showing it as a beautiful farm house. It has probably been close to 50 years since anyone lived in the house but it is still in remarkably "good " condition. Don has distinct memories of being there when he was a child, sleeping in the upstairs bedroom and looking out the windows that we see in the picture.  A 1921 Atlas shows the 160 acre farm belonging to "Elijah J. Groves, Etux". Seeing an old house like this and hearing Don's stories makes one wonder just what might be written in the "History" of such a House.  But maybe our memories  are the best  we can hope for, and they seems to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative.

Monday, June 18, 2012

"A" Township in Seward, County, NE

Don & Jackie Armstrong were here from Wyoming for the Garland HS Alumni Reunion and spent the afternoon with us today. We drove around out in the "Hills" where Don and I grew up. This was taken on Branched Oak Road between 154 and 168 Roads. The Butterfly Milkweed shown is on the farm where Don lived. Jackie is standing by the roadside. The Wake Watershed dam and pond are across the road. Our travels took us past a "Castle type" house that's been advertised for sale at over $850,000. to an old abandoned house where Don's Grandparents lived back in the 1920's. We also stopped past the Kooser place but didn't find anyone home. Don and Jackie lived at the Kooser place some 60 years ago when they were first married. It was a great afternoon even though it was our hottest day of the summer.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Garland High School, Class of '42

The 70 Year Honor Class from Garland High School was recognized last evening at the American Legion Hall in Garland. The 3 surviving members of the class of 11 graduates in 1942 were in attendance. They are: Jack Armstrong, Tony Vrana & Don Armstrong. Don and his wife Jackie were here from Wyoming to join with Jack and I from here in Seward. It was a most enjoyable evening visiting with old friends. GHS graduated it's first class in 1923 and the last class in 1969 so there were few "young people" at the party. Attendance seems to decline with each passing year. Willard Kilzer was recognized as having graduated in 1937 and the oldest present. It was reported that Mildred (Davis) Lauber who is 103 years old and graduated in 1927 sent her regards. A film on "The Ridge Road" which involved several of us was shown for entertainment and discussion. A good time was had by all. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rain & Good Fortune

I had to look twice this morning when reading the rain gauge. As shown, the bottom of the meniscus is at 5.20 inches. My other gauge didn't show quite that much but when I got to coffee, found out that an "official gauge" only a few blocks away read 5.18. The front came through about 5:30 yesterday evening and the slow moving storm seemed to just sit over the Seward area. We had thunder and lightning over a 6 hour period. Winds were up in the 60mph range at times with lightning strikes around town. One of the big old trees on the Court House square was hit with a major part of the tree destroyed. A sign at the Cafe on the Square was damaged by the wind. Ironically, we had watered our lawn earlier in the afternoon. Maybe it had the soil softened up to where there was less runoff. We really needed the rain and much of our area had at least an inch. Obviously, I didn't get to play golf today but did sing with the Kitones this afternoon at Lancaster Manor in Lincoln. There were 16 of our Kitones there entertaining some 35-40 residents. They all seemed to appreciate and enjoy our songs. Some of them even sang along with us on familiar numbers. There is a certain satisfaction in feeling that we can help make their day more enjoyable, but also an appreciation by several of us for our good fortune since we are older than many of them.  It could be said that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Puff the Magic Dragon

Paul Siebert with Nebraska Humanities entertained yesterday for the "Birthday Dinner" at the Seward Senior Center. He is very versatile; played a Hammer Dulcimer, Guitar, Jew's-Harp, Accordion, sang and told stories. One of his songs was "Puff the Magic Dragon" and talked about Peter, Paul and Mary recording it back in the '60's. Music has the attribute of stimulating our memory. Often we can identify when, where or why we associate certain music with events. However, there are times when we hear music that puts us in a mood that we don't understand. His singing about the Magic Dragon put me in a very depressed mood and I don't know why. I associate the tune with our living back in Arlington, VA, our 4 kids were growing up and financial resources were very limited, we  couldn't get things for the kids that they wanted. Our buying a record at the Korvette or GEM Store was a real treat. It was a time of "bitter-sweet" memories. Was that the reason for my being depressed by hearing the song of that era?  Out of curiosity, I Googled it this afternoon and found comments from several people expressing feelings similar to mine. Is it the words of the song or a reminder of difficult times?? I wonder. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Softball Game

1992 was what we called "A Year of Transition". I had "retired" from my last 8-5:00 job at the International Soil and Water Conservation Society in Ankeny, IA at the end of '91. We traveled coast to coast on Amtrak, I went to Budapest, Hungary with USDA,  went through radical prostate surgery, joined the Seward Kiwanis Club & Kitones, took Carolyn & Julie on a trip to Yellowstone NP, participated in the SWCS annual meeting in Baltimore, MD, went to the Farm Progress Show (visited Tim's) in Columbus, IN, and went on a 14 day trip to China. In addition to all our travels, we had a family reunion at the time of Elaine's birthday. We had family pictures taken and a Labor Day picnic at the Hughes Cabin with our family and Elaine's brother Dale's family. We had many family softball games down along the Potomac as the kids were growing up. This may have been one of our last such games. I noted in my Journal, "I can't throw the ball more than about 70' but can still hit pretty good".  I also noted that "Ben got the twin boys (Ken & Linda's, Seth & Lucas) started whittling. And, that Carolyn threw a volley ball to Tony (Tim & Laura's son) and hit him on the nose. A typical family picnic.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

California in 1956

This is one of my favorite pictures taken during our 1956 trip to California. We took Elaine's folks with us out to visit Albert's brother and his wife in Santa Ana. Jon was less than 2 years old and stayed with my folks during the 2-weeks we were gone. We bought a new Pontiac station wagon earlier in the summer that had the 3rd seat that folded down. Charlie Kemper built us a luggage rack that fit on top of the vehicle where we had a tent, mattress, and all of our luggage. We also had camping equipment that included a little Colman camp stove. We visited Elaine's Aunt Verna and her husband Jack in Ramona as well as going on down to Tijuana, Mexico. Disney Land had just opened a couple years earlier and was within a couple miles of where Bob and Carlene were located. As we headed north we visited Albert's brother Fred and Zelma in Watsonville. Our travels took us through Sequoia National park and the Giant Redwoods, on up to Grants Pass, Oregon,  and Yellowstone National Park on our way home. We were in Yellowstone on the 4th of July and witnessed a brief but blinding snow storm. Elaine's folks had retired from farming and moved to Seward earlier in the spring. It was a great trip and amazing as it may sound, there was not a time when any harsh words were uttered. I suspect that Grandma may have questioned my judgement at times but had the courtesy of not making at an issue. You really get to know people when you spend 2-weeks traveling with them and our relationships were strengthened as a result of this trip. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Hombre

Do you see any similarity between this "hombre" and the old man pictured as the author of this blog page? It was 1953, I was a Technician with USDA Soil Conservation Service working with farmers in Seward County, NE. We surveyed various conservation practices such as: Terraces, Waterways, Drainage systems, Dams and Irrigation systems. We also worked with farmers planting trees, planning wildlife areas, grassland management and crop rotations, etc. It was very satisfying work. During the terrace "lay-out" season it wasn't unusual for me to walk 7-8 miles/day. It was also the summer that I played baseball with Seward in the Cornhusker League as well as continuing with Garland in the Blue Valley League.  This involved 3 games/week in addition to practices. Seward celebrated an "Old Settler's Day" and had a beard contest at the County Fair. Our daughter was born during the week of the fair and Grandparents took care of her two older brothers. Times were "tough" as demonstrated by the wear showing on my Tee shirt. Elaine was doing a lot of canning, we were both "picking up" part time work, and  "living within our means". These were some of the "Best Years of Our Lives" and we didn't realize it at the time. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Granddaughter Julie

This is Julie and some of the "stuff" in her bedroom at their house in the mid-to late '80's. For Grandparents, the years between then and now have gone by very fast. And to think that we are looking forward to a time later this summer when she and John will enable us to become Great-Grandparents. Many people achieve that status before they reach our age. Having waited this long is maybe why we are so excited about it. Or maybe it's because as Julie once said: "I'm kinda like your 5th kid" and its like our being Grandparents for the first time all over again. We are so looking forward to the event that our travel plans have been curtailed and I'm not even thinking about going to Miami to see a game in the new ballpark until the "blessed event" occurs.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sustailable Agriculture??

This picture was taken a few days ago to show a typical field of Soybeans planted in last year's corn residue with a minimum amount of tillage. This is a field adjacent to the Golf Course and does not have the benefit of irrigation. The minimum tillage helps to conserve moisture which is most critical in our area. It also helps to control soil erosion by the residue from last years crop remaining on the surface. Farming practices have evolved dramatically during my lifetime. At one time, a farmer was judged by how finely he tilled the soil. Rental contracts even included requirements that corn be cultivated at least 3 times. The advent of hybrid seeds, improved tillage equipment, chemicals for weed and insect  control, and farmer "know how" has revolutionized the industry. However, it is still critical that we adhere to the principals of Aldo Leopold that our land and water resources be utilized on a sustainable basis. If it's not sustainable, it should be questioned.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Horse Belly High

This was taken a few days ago and the Corn is now several inches higher. When I was a kid and we cultivated corn with horses, it was common to talk about corn being "Horse belly high by the Fourth of July". This corn achieved that height by the 4th of June. The forecast is for possible rain this coming Sunday or Monday which would certainly be welcomed. The drought index released this week shows some extreme conditions in the western part of the state and moderately dry conditions over many parts of Nebraska and Iowa. I rode with Perry  in his golf cart today who had been in Iowa and Missouri earlier this week. He told of their need for rain being much more critical than ours. We here in this local area have been fortunate so far. Last evening we went to Goehner to eat at Bubba's and saw several center pivot's in operation. Our weather has been very unusual so far this year and we hope that our normal 26" of moisture may still come on a timely basis. Most farmers have a pretty strong faith since their livelihood is largely determined by "Mother Nature".

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Part of Family Tree 1905

This is a continuation of yesterday's message regarding Lance being in Seward from a Lincoln, NE Television station doing some filming for "Lance's Journal" on "Our Town Seward" which will be shown the week of July 4. This picture was taken in the street on the north side of the Turner house shown yesterday. Mother was a bit younger when this picture was taken and is riding on the Donkey with a younger brother.
Here is the caption that Mother provided in 1986.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Seward & Family History

Lincoln, NE CBS Channel 10/11's "Lance's Journal" has been in Seward this week filming segments that will be shown on "Our town Seward" during the week of July 4th.  People achieve status by various means and I have become recognized by some people as a "Seward Historian" merely by  continuing to be alive. I was a part of Lance's filming this afternoon and told of my Great Grandfather coming to Seward in 1873 soon after the City was platted. He had come over from Ireland as a young man, fought in the Civil War with an Illinois Regiment  and after a few years of farming in Illinois, came west. He built a house withing 3 blocks of where we now live and it was there my Grandmother was born in 1879. The attached picture was taken in 1907 and my Mother is the little 7 year old girl looking at the Donkey instead of the camera.
Here is the caption to the picture that Mother wrote on 12 5 1979

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

63 and Counting

We are enjoying this beautiful bouquet of home grown roses from the Matzkes. It was 63 years ago on this June 5 date that Elaine and I exchanged our vows that have held up over time. We are planning to "go out" for dinner this evening as a part of our celebration. We had a big Anniversary celebration at the time of our 50th but 63 is one that normally doesn't muster up that much attention. There were two couples honored in last Sunday's paper that were celebrating their 70th. At one time Paul Harvey would even announce the names of any reaching that milestone and while it is happening more frequently now, it's still pretty special. Even 63 and counting is pretty good. Thanks to everyone who helped to make them special which includes Chuck and Jan for the flowers.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Is Tiger Back??

It was great seeing Tiger Woods birdieing 3 of the last 4 holes to win the Memorial this afternoon by 2 strokes. The highlight was his chip-in birdie on the 16th hole from about 50 feet out.  He looked like the Tiger of old in his 73rd PGA win to match Jack Nicklaus with that number. It was a good sports day with the Royals and Yankees both winning. We went to early Church in order to make a 11:30 tee time and were pleased to find that Social Hour at Church was moved to take place between the end of early Church and the 10:30 service. We enjoyed the Social time with the opportunity to visit with several people including Clifford Lowell. I have just about finished reading his book "The Early Years", so had some questions about his writing that were clarified. He has written other books and some "unpublished" stories. I would probably do more writing were it not for my "exercise program" that involves playing golf nearly every day in addition to watching PGA golf and Major League Baseball. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Time Marches On

Elaine and I just got home from being to the Cemetery where we picked up plastic flowers which we had placed on family graves for Memorial Day. We didn't get out early enough last year and lost a large collection of such decorations that we had  used for a number of years. When we had that supply, we covered many distant relatives and even others. Having to buy new supplies this year limited our coverage. Walking up and down the isles picking up our flowers was a bit like visiting old friends.  We concluded that we "knew" more people out there than we would on the City sidewalks today. It was also interesting to note the age of some of the "old" people that we had known. Many of them were not as old as I am now.  Though Dad was 93 and Mother 90. After getting home, I mixed us a drink and we toasted each other to our "good health". We also acknowledged appreciation for good genes. All of this followed my reading Joe Klein's cover story this afternoon in the current Time magazine on "What I learned from the Last Days of My Mom and Dad". But I did shoot under my age playing golf earlier today and hope to do so again tomorrow.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Corn, Rats & Capitol

This was the early summer of 1970 when we lived on Arlington Ridge Road. The grass in our front yard lawn had died out the previous year so we decided to get the soil in shape by planting it to garden and seeding it back to Blue Grass in the early fall. Jon had completed his Freshman year at Wakefield HS and Elaine was back home from her weekly beauty shop appointment. Our corn was really pretty successful and we enjoyed a few Roasting Ears. However, the corn attracted Rats that we figured came up from Four Mile Run that was only a couple blocks away. We were able to get rid of them by destroying the corn but it was another one of our many adventures. It's not the kind of story that one normally associates with the Washington, D.C. area but an example of the mundane things that go on within the "shadow" of the Capitol. The project was successful overall and the grass did well on the site in future years.