Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christina (Hromas) Walker Funeral

Elaine and I met brother Don and Gladys at St. John the Apostle Church in Lincoln this morning to attend the funeral of Christina Hromas Walker. Christina had married Ralph Walker, my Mother's youngest brother on August 4, 1941. They lived in Lincoln and had 4 children. Ralph died in 1983. The picture is of Don, Ronald Walker, Duane Walker and I. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the two girls, Delores Havlat & Bonnie Burianek. There are 11 grandchildren, 25 Great Grandchildren and 6 Great Great Grandchildren. Christina is also survived by her brother Fred and his wife Georgia. 
This picture is of Fred and Irene Kovar Middleton who are both on the 1934 Oak Grove School picture shown below. Irene is at the left end of the 2nd row and Fred is standing next to her just as they are in this picture nearly 70 years later. Their mothers were sisters and part of the Henry Nemec family of 12 children. Christina was 3rd from the right end of the 2nd row with me standing behind her with my face partially obscured. My sister Vivian is to my right. Fred, Don and I really enjoyed our visit. Fred said that as he has gotten older he more that ever appreciates what Vivian, I and the Plautz boys did to help him go to High School with us in Garland. He was a very successful farmer in the Ulysses, NE and now lives in Omaha near their daughters. It was a most interesting day.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Early Years

In visiting with son Verlon over Christmas, he asked about some early happenings. While I researched the information he was seeking, I came across this collage which includes his early years. While we think that our Great Granddaughter is pretty special and receiving a lot of our attention, it is apparent that  he too was very special. While Sadie is our first Great Grandchild, Verlon was the first Grandchild for my folks and also for Elaine's parents. You can almost sense that in the pictures of them in the upper part of the collage. Those were great years. We lived in the Maltby apartment, I  worked sawing wood to make some extra money in addition to my SCS job, as well as helping put hay in the barn at Flowerday's and stacking it at my folks.We had major floods here in Seward in 1950 which led Hughes Bros. to begin a dike project. My brother Don built many miles of field terraces with a Whirlwind Terracer. Elaine enjoyed horseback riding and Verlon liked roasting ears. We moved into our own little house in '51 and were proud of the limestone retaining wall that we built and the poured concrete "stepping stones"  that led up to the porch and front door. 
I even found time to play baseball. Those were the Days. I could tell you a story about every picture in this Collage and we enjoy recalling them in our minds as we come across the pictures.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Time Marches On

The Holidays are always a good time to look back at some of the earlier pictures. This is one taken at Christmas time 10 years ago at Carolyn and Ben's house when Julie was home. The first thing we notice is that Jack, the toy poodle, is no longer with us. Julie has matured, married and become the mother of little Sadie. I have lost a few pounds but Elaine hasn't changed a bit. In fact I think she and I are still wearing some of the same clothes. We are still living in the same house, driving the same car, and have the same Christmas tree. We are most fortunate. While we have lost family members and friends during these 10 years, we have also gained friends and especially John, our first Grandson-in-law and our first Great Granddaughter in Sadie. I believe that's what God intended.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christina Walker, Vivian, Fred and others

Few of you will recognize any of us  shown in this picture. We got it out of the file to take along to Christina's funeral on Tuesday. She is the 3rd little girl from the right in the second row in front of Miss Druker. I am standing behind her with only the top of my head showing. My sister Vivian is to my right in the 3rd row between Vern and I.  Christina and my Mother's youngest brother Ralph were married in 1941 making her my Aunt.  Ralph died several years ago. Christina is survived by their 4 children and their families.  Christina's brother Fred is the 2nd from the left end in the 2nd row. He and his wife moved to Omaha from a farm near Ulysses, NE a few years ago.  I hope to see him on Tuesday at the funeral and to see if we can identify more of the students in the picture.  Today, December 28th, would have been sister Vivian's 90th birthday had she not died suddenly in the spring of 2008. She would have been able to help with the identification if we hadn't waited so long to get the names "written down". 

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Monument to Farm Boys having Fun

On January 16, 1948, my brother Don and 3 other buddies left Seward, NE at 4:00am in my '41 Chevy and headed for Quantico, VA. One of the buddies, Don Armstrong was to pick up a Plymouth Coup being given to him by his brother stationed at Quantico. We did some sightseeing along the way as we traveled through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and finally into Virginia with a stop in Richmond.  We were most impressed with all the Monuments of Hero's and Horses on Monument Avenue. We had a Great time at General Armstrong's in Quantico, had a tour of Washington, D.C, saw our first professional basketball game, and headed for home in two cars. On a Sunday afternoon later that spring, Brother Don and I put the bridle on old Betsy, got her up on a pile of corn cobs and tried to imitate some of the poses that we had seen on Monument Avenue in Richmond. She was a very gentle old "plow horse" but Dad never did understand how we were able to get her to climb up the 5-6 feet  on cobs to get on top of the pile. The picture has been one of our favorites over the years as an example  of a couple farm boys having fun on Sunday.      Now "fast forward 65 years".
While visiting over Christmas with our oldest son, who lives in Richmond, VA, he brought up his memory of this picture. He lives near Monument Avenue and had visited the Museum there recently. He suggested I write up my story of the picture and send him a good copy so he could make it available to the Curator. I trust he knows the Curator well enough to avoid any adverse reactions since it could be considered a "spoof" on something quite "sacred".

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Seward Manor

One never knows where they may find a bit of Holiday Cheer. While expecting it when Sadie is around and occasionally when I get into the "catacombs" of our basement, but surprised to come across this display while delivering Home Delivered Meals today. The Lady who lives at the end of the 2nd story hall of the Manor came out to demonstrate it. After plugging it in, the lights came on and the snowman began to sing and dance. He has a repertoire of some 20 songs and is activated by walking past him. She told of one of the fellows who delivered meals being shocked as he opened the nearby stair door and was greeted by the snowman. She said it had been given to her after being in its original box for over 10 years unopened. She was very proud to demonstrate the display and is always very appreciative of the meals we deliver. It is heartening to see people who qualify for Home Delivered Meals and living in the Manor enjoying such interesting displays. But it gives me even more Holiday Cheer to know that we as a community and state can help them enjoy a very acceptable standard of living. It's part of what helps to make our community special and an example of the Love that Jesus brought into the world. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sadie with Her Daddy wishes all a Merry Christmas

What better way to spend Christmas Day than with a Great Granddaughter. She was the center of attention and the star attraction. We went out for gift exchange and dinner, and then back out for supper. Enjoyed telephone conversations with the rest of the family during the afternoon and evening. I spent part of the afternoon "processing" pictures (like the one shown) that I had taken during our noon visit. Today's activities will be added to my list of how I've (we've) spent Christmas Days "over the years". Some years ago I went back through my old 5-year Diaries and Journals and compiled a list of how we spent the day. I have been adding to that list and now must have a record of over 70 Christmases. The Christmas when Elaine and I became engaged probably tops the list. We had some great Christmases during the time we were in Virginia and participated in the "live" Nativity Pageant at our Church but today with our Great Granddaughter and local family was also very special. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Rev. Dale Lambert is shown here as he makes a point at last Sunday's Service in the Methodist Church. The Sunday School program had been presented a week earlier. Yesterday at our Kiwanis Meeting where I was asked to recall Christmas Memories, I told of my sister Vivian and I singing "Away in the Manger" as part of a Christmas Program at the Methodist Church here in Seward those many years ago. It was my first memory of Christmas. Mother had told us the Nativity Story so we knew about "the manger and the Little Lord Jesus". We have Candle Light Services this evening at 5:00 and 9:00pm. Though we have had our family "gift exchange" following Church services for the past several years, with family involved in other activities this year, decided to forgo it. All of our Seward family will be together tomorrow for our Christmas Celebration. Elaine and I will probably watch a Christmas Mass on TV after we get home from Church and do a bit of reminiscing. It was on Christmas eve that we were engaged to be married. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kiwanis Meeting Today

Our Kiwanis meeting this noon was planned by the Club's Spiritual Aims Committee. It consisted of a very short business meeting, followed by the Kitones and Rev. John Meyer reading Luke 2. Three of us were asked to relate "Memories of Early Christmas" which were interspersed between group singing led by Jack Swanson. Rev. David Dobbertien read a writing of "Mary's Perspective of Christmas Eve". It was a most impressive program. Jack Duensing pictured here told of growing up on a Kansas farm and of a large gathering of people in their home at Christmas time with a tree and live candles. At one point it burst into flame with Jack's School Master sitting next to it. The School Master calmly picked it up and carried it through the nearby front door without further incident. Jack said the Gentleman was his Teacher for 8 years. He learned many things from him and developed a deep respect for teachers. Jack went on to earn his PhD in Education and had a very successful career in teacher education. He possesses a wide range of skills, abilities,  and knowledge. And,  has continued to "Give Back" during retirement with "Laborers for Christ" and taken advantage of numerous other  volunteer opportunities which exemplify his Faith and Stewardship. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sadie and The Sound of Music

Sadie and her parents visited our house yesterday afternoon. She has a favorite picture album that she finds on one of the step tables and enjoys "reading" it while sitting on my lap. It is the album from our "family get together" in Washington, D.C. to celebrate a wedding anniversary a couple years ago. She picks up the album, walks over and hands it to me and then crawls up on my lap and starts to "read". She recognizes many of the people pictured and has "names" for most of us. 
This morning she was a "lamb" in the Nativity Scene at Church while wearing a little "lambskin appearing vest" and cap with big ears. Attempts were made to teach her the sound that lambs are noted for but to little avail. While eating with them this evening, when asked about being a lamb this morning she let out a "baaaaa, baaaaa" as well as anyone could. The older we get, the more we are fascinated by children, especially when they happen to be a Great Grandchild. We are now enjoying "The Sound of Music" for the "umpteenth" time. Julie Andrews and the Trapp Family are as fascinating as ever. What a great way to approach Christmas. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The song, "The 12 Days of Christmas" has an interesting legend as follows: From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly.   Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.  It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church.  Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control. -The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Friday, December 20, 2013

In the Spirit of Christmas

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Our weather is cold with a few snow flurries and a cold north wind but the spirit of the season warms us, body and soul. Elaine has been working on getting out a few cards during the past few days but this afternoon, we got serious about it. We have a letter with a couple pictures that we print off on the computer, hand write a few lines, and get them on their way. We worked much of the afternoon on the project. When we got home from the Post Office, it seemed appropriate to mix up a couple Pina Coladas and enjoy our many blessings. This evening we are enjoying "Christmas in Washington" and eating Cashews. We are definitely in the Christmas Spirit. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

National Christmas Tree & Drive Back to Nebraska

We went to a Christmas Party this evening and on the way home, we reflected upon some Christmas past. During our years in the Washington, D.C. area, a trip down to the ellipse to see the National Christmas Tree was always a high priority. Especially if we hadn't driven back to Nebraska. We did that in 1963, 50 years ago and didn't get down to see it that year but we had a great time in Nebraska. I got off work early and we left South Arlington at 4:20pm. We were up to the Pennsylvania Turnpike by 7:00 and on our way in our '56 Pontiac Station Wagon. Our generator began to make noise as we approached Chicago but fortunately were able to get it replaced along with a new voltage regulator at an all-night Service Garage. It was -15 degrees as we drove across Illinois and Iowa, but we kept warm. We got in to Seward by 10:30pm. Elaine, Carolyn and Jon stayed at Flowerday's while Verlon, Tim and I went out to my folks. We had Christmas Dinner at Flowerday's and went out to my folks during the afternoon where all the family had gathered for supper. We all had a great time, even the kids, visiting with old friends, etc. We left to drive back at 7:00am on the 31st and had good weather through Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana but ran into snow around Pittsburgh but were able to get home by 12:30pm EST. We watched Nebraska beat Auburn 13-7 in the Orange Bowl. Elaine even got a washing done. We were glad to be home.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kitones Singing at the Utica Senior Center

The Seward Kiwanis Kitones sang this noon at the Utica Senior Center. We sang a collection of  typical Christmas Songs. Our youngest member, who has a beautiful Tenor voice, sang a couple solos. Several of us are to the age where we appreciate Jonathan's solos for an opportunity to set down nearly as much as we enjoy his singing. Most of us went early and ate lunch with the Senior Citizens. Most of us know several of the people there so it makes it an enjoyable event. The temperature was up over 50 degrees when we got home so I put up some outdoor Christmas lights on our front porch railing. I also blew some leaves away from the porch and then chopped them up with the mower.  It isn't often in Nebraska that you "fire-up" your lawnmower a week before Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Gift for Sadie

The object pictured may be difficult  to identify without a bit of background information. It would appear to be a "shrine" of some type but it's not what you think it may be.
The Chief Architect was Tony Vrana, from Columbus, IN assisted by his sister Maggie. It was constructed on the coffee table in our living room during the last few hours of their visit in Seward. This is not the original "object" but rather the culmination of numerous versions that were destroyed. A close look reveals that the foundation consist of Sadie's wooden blocks. The inverted yellow Toll House Cocoa container provides the linkage to the "Tower Structure". The Tower is made of Dominoes, all turned with the dots concealed. Three Dominoes form the top of the Tower over which is draped the doilie that was originally under a plant on the coffee table. Finally, the object is topped-off with a Wise Man riding a Camel that Sadie scavenged from Elaine's Nativity Scene on the entry-way table. It was built for Sadie's amusement which she has yet to enjoy. Tim, Tony and Maggie have gone back to Indiana.  I want to be ready with my camera when Sadie comes to visit and sees it for the first time. She will be fascinated at first blush but will quickly realize that Tony built it for her to knock down like she did all the other "Towers" that he built for her.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tim and Sadie

We continued to do a lot of visiting at our house today with Tim, Tony and Maggie here from Indiana. But, guess who was the Center of Attention. It was Sadie!! Carolyn, Julie and she spent part of the day with us and she learned how to use Maggie's smart phone. In fact, she put in a call to Tim's Office back in Columbus and Tim had to explain to the lady that answered.  Tim and I went to Kiwanis this noon where Gene Faszholz talked about his 8 years with the St. Louis Cardinal Baseball Organization. His baseball career was interrupted by the Korean War. Though he never made it to the Majors, he still had a great career. He was playing with Omaha in 1953 when the Parent team played an exhibition game in Rosenblatt. We had gone to the game and while I remember Marty Marion and Enos Slaughter, I don't remember Gene nor  any of the Omaha players. We have really enjoyed Tim and the kids' visit. We covered quite a bit of ground while they were here and are already talking about their  next visit. I expect Sadie may be giving them a call every now and then. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tim, Tony, and Maggie

Elaine and I have both taken advantage of Tim, Tony, and Maggie's being here to pass on "Family information" that we feel they should know. They are looking at one of Elaine's Genealogy  books in the picture and the enthusiasm of Tony and Maggie is evident. I brought up my "Highlights" book which is a summary of my Diaries and Journals. I went through the part of it this afternoon when Tim was a little boy. Some of the entries amused Tim like "Timmy is getting very naughty about hollering 'Hi Couckoo' out of the car window". I was also teaching him to bat left handed when he was 4 years old. By the time he was 7, he could catch a baseball that I would throw in the air as high as I could throw it; which was probably at least 150 feet. When Tim was about 6, he fell out of the backseat of my old '36 Ford when the door flew open while Elaine was taking the kids to Sunday School where she was a teacher. Tim was a bit chagrined for his kids to hear about him lighting matches down in the basement of our house when he was about 5. One of the "quotes" that he was most proud to have them hear was: "Mrs. Tom Novak told Elaine that Tom thought Tim had a lot of athletic ability." Maybe even more so than when " Mrs Mickle called to say they want to move Timmy up to Fifth Grade" since he was advanced in his scholastic abilities. So Tony and Maggie are not only learning about their Genealogy but also a bit about their Dad that they hadn't known before.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nebraska vs Creighton Women's Basketball

Tim, Tony and I went to the Nebraska-Creighton girls basketball game this morning at the new Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. We had to park under the "0" street viaduct so it was a pretty long walk to the Arena but well worth it. I had a reserved ticket thanks to one of the Seward "Old Guys" so I sat with the 3 that were able to go. Tim and Tony got tickets across the court. The new Arena is really a great place. Emily Cady scored 14 points and Jordan Hooper added 15 rebounds as No. 19 Nebraska downed Creighton 63-38. The Huskers led at the half by eight points (35-27) and went on a 10-0 run after the break to stretch the lead to 18. Creighton did not score for the first six minutes of the second half, missing 12 attempts until Sammy Jensen made a 3-pointer. Hailie Sample scored 13 points for Nebraska (8-2) and Brandi Jeffery came off the bench to shoot a perfect 4-4 from the floor and made both her free throws for a total of 11 points.  Alyssa Kamphaus a former Seward HS started for Creighton so with Emil Cady and Hanna Tvrdy playing on the Nebraska team, we enjoyed seeing 3 of the girls play that we cheered to State Championships when they were here in High School. We stopped at "Buzzard Billy's" on the way back to the car to eat and give this old guy a walking break.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fish Dinner in Bee

Tim, Tony and Maggie drove out from Indiana yesterday arriving here in Seward about 10:30pm. We are certainly enjoying their visit as well as the time that Carolyn, Ben, John, Julie and Sadie are spending at our house. Sadie has been the prime attraction and that carried on to our Fish Dinner in Bee this evening. Having a Fish Dinner in Bee on Friday night is a tradition with many people. I suspect the population of the village doubles on Friday with the people coming to Lou and MaryAnn's. The fish is good as is the service and the ambiance is outstanding. Where else could you take people out to Dinner and have the atmosphere and background like that shown in the picture. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Decorations

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around our house. Elaine has her Christmas Village lit-up on the Buffet; the tree up, decorated and lit; the Nativity Scene with Bible, Wise Men, Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus, etc. on the entry way table; the Holiday quilt hung above the piano; NOEL on display in the kitchen; stockings hung on the piano with other items; and Christmas Cookies in the kitchen. It's all a part of celebrating the season. We enjoyed Christmas letters and pictures after supper that came in the mail today. We have our Christmas letter written but haven't sent it yet. I hope friends and relatives enjoy ours in some small relationship to how much we enjoy theirs. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Brother Don

We met Brother Don and Gladys for lunch today at the Villager in Lincoln. Don has a birthday coming up in a few days and he certainly doesn't look his age. He and Gladys have a great family. It is always interesting to hear about them and today we learned of an upcoming wedding. We also talked about the days when REA brought electricity to where we lived. While I have kept a daily Diary (Journal) since my 15th birthday (with the exception of 2 1/2 years after the first 5 year Diary was filled), it was during that time that REA came through as well as several other significant changes. So I don't have the specific references for those events that I have for most others.
Elaine's appointment to have the stitches taken out from her eyelid surgery is what prompted our trip. While it wasn't a very pleasant experience, she was pleased to have the stitches out. Dr. Mausolf felt she was doing real well. The discoloration around her eyes is rapidly improving. While it was a cold day to be out, the sun was shining, we had a good visit with Don and Gladys, and Wednesday is "Free Pie" day at the Villager. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"The Hillbillies"

The writing on the back of this picture says: "Lem, Clyde, Ethel and John. 1972". I came across it recently in an old cigar box of "Aunt Ethel's things". Ethel was my Mother's youngest sister and Clyde her brother. John is Ethel's husband; they married rather late in life and never had children. Clyde and Ethel were very close as siblings though he married and raised a family. His wife died quite young and Clyde spent a lot of time with them. Lem must have been the owner of the tractor though John had one similar. My Dad referred to the three of them as the "Hillbillies". Though John and Ethel owned a couple small farms, they were not very good farmers. John loved machinery and was more interested in how the tractor ran than the care of the crops he was tending. They retired from farming in the mid '80's and moved to Seward across the street from our house. They still drove their Buick to Farm Shows where a steam engine may be on display. John had a stroke which limited him to enjoying listening to Polka music and Emergency radio messages. After he passed on, Ethel lived for a few years before having a stoke,  brain surgery and spent close to ten years in  a local rest home.
 I was her Power of Attorney even prior to her stroke and the administrator of their estate. The expenses of their final years exhausted their financial resources that came from the farms, house in town and personal property. Elaine did the bookkeeping for Aunt Ethel during the last 15 years or so of her life. We were very conservative in accepting reimbursement for our expenses but ended up with a few interesting personal possessions and pictures like this one. Aunt Ethel was always good to me as a kid, and John  did some wiring for us in our first couple houses. They were good to us when we needed their help, and we were able to return the favor.  Isn't that what relatives are supposed to do??

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cold Day in Seward

We watched the sun set Saturday evening as we prepared to eat supper and questioned the forecast of snow by morning. But as we awakened Sunday morning, it was here. After some snow during the day and last night, I took this picture this morning of our deck. We are calling it 5 1/2 inches. I cleaned about an inch off the driveway this morning, went to coffee, did some bank business, and mailed some eBay parcels. It took a while for the temperature to get above zero. Dr. Bob Fiala spoke on China at Kiwanis this noon.
Elaine's eyes are clearing up but still quite colorful. The stitches are beginning to itch and draw so is looking forward to having them taken out on Wednesday. She hasn't wanted to go out of the house the way she looks and the way the weather has been. 
Some 20 of us Kitones sang at the Heartland Emeritus Home this evening and then at the Civic Center where the Kiwanis Club was having the Christmas Party for the children and parents involved in the Head Start Program. Elaine fixed Hot Chocolate for me when I got home a few minutes ago. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sadie in the Snow

Is it cheating when a picture of your Great Granddaughter is copied from Facebook and used on a blog page?? If so I'm guilty. We have had about 5 inches here in Seward, and it continues to fall. We had much of it by the time we got up this morning and didn't even consider going to Church. We  enjoyed a leisure breakfast, read the Sunday paper and thought about cleaning the snow off the driveway. I looked out and was surprised to see that it was already cleared. Elaine baked a frozen apple pie which I took over to the Good Samaritan Neighbor who reluctantly admitted to having done the Good Deed.
John and Sadie stopped by to visit yesterday evening when she was dressed like she is on the picture. She enjoyed playing with the dominoes at our house, but it was nothing like being out in our first snowfall of the season. Since the snow came on the 8th of the Month, an old farmer's adage says that we will have 8 snow falls this winter. The criteria used to determine the count is "enough to track a rabbit". That sounds like about the right number for a good year.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Interesting Old Days

This picture was taken nearly 50 years ago of Jean Rolenc and Carl Lindstrom standing in front of one of the doors to the Employment Branch of the Personnel Division of the Soil Conservation Service. It was common practice in those days to decorate the doors for Christmas. This was in the South Agriculture building of USDA in D.C. , 2nd wing, 6th floor. I worked in all 5 Branches of the Personnel Division and became Director when   Carl Lindstrom died suddenly in 1972. Jean was from Ulysses, NE and lived not more that 6 miles from when we lived when I began employment with SCS; but I never knew her until she came to D.C. to work in our Division. She actually typed my MBA thesis on weekends. We have had an opportunity to see her a couple time since I retired. This morning's Lincoln Journal Star contains the Obituary of her twin sister, Joan from New Burn, NC. Jean is listed among the survivors. It's difficult for an old man to realize that this young lady is now 75 years old.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

eBay Activity

I have been putting several things on eBay recently with hopes of getting rid of some of our excess "stuff" and also keeping me active. It's not necessarily a money making activity but is a continuing challenge. Here is what I have said about this Magazine which I listed for $2.50 plus $1.75 for postage:

This is the January 19, 1946 issue of the Nebraska Farmer Magazine, Vol. 88, No. 2-. The feature story is on the danger of "pitch forks" by Keith Carter. There is also an interesting story of David City Women refurbishing furniture.  The Nebraska Soil Conservation District Supervisors were preparing for their 5th annual convention. in Lincoln.  Dale Flowerday of Seward was recognized as 11th place winner in the 1945 Saddle and Sirloin Club Medal Essay Contest that involved students from throughout US and Canada. The subject written on was: "The Value of Sires That Work Improvement. ( I eventually became Dale's brother-in-law). The magazine shows some wear but is in generally good condition.

I typically list items with a minimum bid price and for a 7 day auction. This is a good time of year for selling. It can be viewed along with others by googling "Nebraska Farmer Magazine on eBay". 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chuck Hassebrook

Chuck Hassebrook, Democratic candidate for Nebraska Governor, was at the Liberty House in Seward this morning to meet with a few invited guests. Chuck is the lone Democratic in the race since Nebraska Senator Annette Dubas dropped out recently. There are 5 Republican candidates. Chuck has a rural northeast Nebraska background, graduated from UN-L and has been with the Center for Rural Affairs for over 30 years: much of it as head of the 25-30 member staff. He has recently served for 8 years  on the UN-L Board of Regents. He indicated the importance of non-partisan relationships and told of being the only Democrat on the Board of Regents during his tenure. He also mentioned his being elected to the Regents from the highest concentration of Republican voters in the State. His priorities include early childhood education, small business growth, and wind energy development. He spoke of specific ideas for achieving goals in each of these areas. I have known Chuck for over 25 years and served on the Center's Board of Directors for many and certainly believe he could bring a unifying effect to doing what is Best for the State and the People of Nebraska. We need a lot of that throughout the whole Country. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Great Plains Conservation

We are watching Michael Forsberg on NET1 this evening  where Great Plains is being shown along with Forsberg being interviewed. We have seen it before but it is a great educational production of man's abuse of the land and efforts to bring back wildlife and productivity of the region. Michael and his family live in Lincoln. His wife is from Utica, and he presented a program here is Seward last spring that we thoroughly enjoyed. The picture shown here is of Michael in the Kansas Flint Hills where he is about to film fish in a spring fed stream. He actually joins the fish by being submerged with his camera. 
Here he shows an extreme example of soil erosion that occurred during the Dust Bowl days of the '30's. While we in Seward County, Nebraska were never faced with the dust storms that took place at that time, we did have serious wind and water erosion. On one occasion, I remember waking up to a red covering of dust that had blown in overnight from Oklahoma. Our most damaging soil erosion occurred because of rainfall and the agricultural cultural practices. In my early days with the Soil Conservation Service, conservation farming on the contour with terrace systems was very revolutionary. It was a matter of Soil Stewardship and tied to the Scriptures of "The Earth is the Lord's and the Fullness Thereof." We almost felt like "Missionaries" in those early days .

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Elaine's Biepharoplast

We have had a busy day. Elaine faced up to the fact that it was the scheduled day for her blepharoplasty, or in other words, having her eyelids “lifted”. We picked up medication from Mueri's this morning, Carolyn came down to drive us to Bryan West in Lincoln for her 10:am check in time. Dr Mausolf had 4 similar procedures scheduled for today. From the very beginning we were very favorably impressed with everyone involved at the hospital. The preparation was extensive with Carolyn and I able to spend most of the time with her. They were actually a bit ahead of schedule and wheeled her into surgery about 11:30 so Carolyn and I went to the Cafeteria for lunch. They had alerted us to phone calls which would be made to our cell phone as things progressed. It is really a great service. (The first picture in the prep room shows the extent of droop of the eyelids, the second picture was after we were home..)
The first call reported that she had done well in getting through the final preparation, the next  was when the surgery was under way and finally that it was completed and on her way back to the recovery room. Carolyn and I were back to the recovery room ahead of her return so we were there to Welcome Her. After an hour or so in the post-op recovery mode and with instructions for further “home care” we were on our way home. She had ice packs which were used intermittently on the way home and we arrived about 4:00pm. We were well pleased with her condition. She is to go back down to Dr. Mausolf's office for a 10:20am appointment. We have been in contact with all three boys and really appreciate Carolyn's assistance in driving and making sure we understood the instructions. We consider it one of God's blessings that enabled us to have a daughter to help “look after us” in our aging years. She is planning to take us back down tomorrow morning, and I can enjoy the scenery on the way. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dr. Tom Osborne

Dr. Tom Osborne spoke to a joint meeting this noon  of the Seward Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. All 3 Clubs ate together; then moved to the auditorium where Dr. Osborne spoke on the TeamMates program which he and wife Nancy began back in 1991. He spoke of it starting out by he and the coaches mentoring football players and has grown to a very popular program throughout High Schools in Nebraska. Rick Weatherholt, TeamMates coordinator, told of our goal of reaching 50 matches of Mentor and Mentee here in SHS. Dr. Osborne told of the high number of students today that need to know that someone cares personally about them. He talked of the need for "Agape", (unconditional love). He also told of how a Circuit Riding Minister had influenced the life of his Grandfather and subsequently his life. And, how one person can have a multiplying effect  in improving lives by giving HOPE.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Decorations

In addition to our Christmas Tree, Elaine has always decorating around the house. This picture was back in Arlington, Virginia as evidenced by the ages of the kids. This year Elaine has her "Village" displayed on the buffet and the Nativity Scene in place on the little table in our entry way. She has made a concession to me this year by leaving the old fashioned kerosene lamp off the table. Its chimney was very near the hall light switch which caused a certain amount of excitement on a couple occasions. The tree hasn't been put up yet but will probably be done next weekend. We are anticipating house guests near the middle of the month so want to get our decorating done. Our weather should be nice for a couple more days; so maybe I can get some lights out on the front of the house and porch railing. It all helps to get us in the Christmas Spirit. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Smithsonian Magazine

I don't know if we have ever received a magazine that included as many interesting items as this Smithsonian for November. It has articles about 101 Objects that made America. Smithsonian Staff sorted through millions of artifacts scatted though out many museums to compile the list in addition to "nominations" from many well know people. Martha Stewart for instance, suggested the Singer Sewing Machine. Items included range from Louis Armstrong's Trumpet to The Pill to the Star Spangled Banner that inspired the song. The Spirit of St. Louis is also included. It tells the story of Charles Lindbergh, his flight  and the plane. I'm not aware of where the plane is on display currently but during our years in Washington, it was hanging in Smithsonian's old Castle Building on the Mall. It was a short walk from my office in the South Agriculture Building. On several occasions I took visitors over to see the plane. As you walked under it,  a small copper tube could be seen coming down from the cockpit. As you backed away and looked closely, a small funnel was visible at the front of the pilot seat. After all, it was a long trip. You can visit Smithsonian at http://www.si.edu/collections and make your own list of Objects That Made America. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Picnic along the Potomac

I started to write about the Nebraska's loss to Iowa, 38-17 this afternoon but as I got started it was difficult to say anything good about it. Coach Pelini's best job security is his contract which would cost 7.6 million dollars to buy out. So I gave up on writing about that. I looked forward to seeing the Garth Brooks Special from Los Vegas expecting to hear some of his old Country Music. Instead he seems to be imitating "Larry the Cable Guy" and is making "fun" of some good old County songs. Finally, I turned back the pages of time to when we lived in Arlington, VA, the Kids were all home and we would have a picnic down along the Potomac River below Alexandria. Little David, the neighbor boy, often went along with us. Carolyn would stand on her head to entertain him as she baby sat. We played "pepper ball" and Jon must have been in the "outfield". Those were good days.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

After a big Turkey Dinner at John & Julie's, we had pumpkin pie a bit later. Sadie has always been a good eater but this was my first opportunity to give her bites of pie. She really enjoyed the pumpkin, almost as much as I enjoyed feeding her. She amuses and amazes us every time we are with her. Sadie has very sensitive hearing. I opened my phone while she was busy with someone else but it made just enough of a beep that got her attention. When I conceded to her having it, she pushed enough buttons that Tim got a call from area 402. He suspected it was us so he called back and we had a good visit.
We have had a big day including the exchange of Greetings with several people. Just "processing" the Lincoln and Omaha papers took some time to sort out all the advertisements. We felt sorry for the carriers having to deliver all the weight. We did "Home Delivered Meals" and did a little extra visiting along the way; then out to Owens' for a big noon meal and later dessert. We got home for our afternoon naps and an opportunity to do a few "chores" before going up to Hughes' for another big meal. Ben has a real "knack" for fixing Turkey Legs and he even sent one home with us for tomorrow. We are now back home with the thermostat turned up and enjoying seeing Seward's Sam Koch punt the ball for the Baltimore Ravens.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgivings Over the Years

Some of my earliest memories of Thanksgiving are of going to Grandpa Walker’s farm 4 ½ miles south of Garland for a big family dinner. In the late ‘30’s we went over to Bill Thompson’s which was the first time I had even eaten Turkey. Some years ago I compiled a listing of how we spent Thanksgivings from the time I started keeping a Diary in 1940. (I missed the years of ’45, ’46 &’47 when I didn’t have a Diary and in 1966 when my College studies took priority over writing every day.) Tomorrow will be my 69th recorded Thanksgiving. My (Our) activities have varied considerably over the years from the standard of going to Grandparents' houses. They include such things as: husking corn, hunting, sawing wood, putting pictures in albums, greasing the Whirlwind Terracer, seeing movies, putting on storm windows, watching football on TV, watching slides, singing, playing Ping-Pong, playing cards, sightseeing in Washington, D.C., going to Church, raking leaves, visiting Jon’s in western North Carolina in the Motor Home. And, we (I) flew to Hawaii, sang “Star of the East” with Vivian and Don, danced the “Flying Dutchman” to Dad’s accordion playing, Tim’s visited us in Ankeny, IA, looked at used vehicles on Rolfsmeier lot, Ben roasted the Turkeys, sent and received computer cards and messages, played with Jack (dog), played golf with Charlie, listed things on e-Bay, did Home Delivered Meals and watched part of Macy’s Christmas Parade. One of our most special Thanksgivings was in 1979 back in Virginia. My folks and Elaine’s Mother flew back to visit, and our boys and spouses were all home. ( Carolyn was due to deliver Julie in about 6 weeks so didn't get home) It was a beautiful warm day, and we had dinner out on the Deck. Dad enjoyed splitting wood, we tossed a football around, played horseshoes and had a great time. While our activities, location, family , etc. changed over the years, the one constant was Thanking God for our Many Blessings.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ridge Road in South Arlington, VA

Here are two pictures of the same house.  As can be noted by the size of the Spruce tree in the front yard, there was some 40 years between the one on the right and the white house to the left. We lived here on South Arlington Ridge Road during much of the 60's and till '76 when we moved out to Fairfax County. The picture on the left was taken just a few years ago when we were back in the area. It was a very well built house that we bought from the White Sisters who were the daughters of a Minister and his wife that had lived in it since it was built back in the early '30's. The house was just 2-3 miles south of the Pentagon and just a few blocks from an Elementary and Junior Hi School. It was also  very convenient to the Ag Building and George Washington University. It's nice to be able to go back and see significant improvements in a house where you have pleasant memories. In addition to it being a very well built house, the location has had a lot to do with it's improvements and current value. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Set of the Sail

This picture of Elaine and I was taken back in the days when we lived in South Arlington, Virginia and I was the Director of Personnel for the USDA Soil Conservation Service. Our Agency had some 15,000 employees and I was frequently invited to speak at State All Employee Meetings and at the 4  Regional Training Centers. I  was able to tie these speaking engagements to other activities while at a location and took advantage of the opportunity to get acquainted with as many employees as possible. All Employee meetings at the State level were always enjoyable and I would give a "motivational type" message. On several occasions, I concluded the talk by quoting the last two verses of a poem written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in 1916 and entitled: "'Tis the Set of the Sail".
"One ship sails east, another west by the self same winds that blow. It's the set of the sail and not the gale that determines the way they go. Like the winds of the sea are the waves of time, as we journey along through life, 'Tis the set of the soul, that determines the goal, and not the calm or the strife." 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Family is Important

Coming "home" to Nebraska at Christmas time and if possible, once during the summer, was always very important to us during the years our kids were growing up. This picture helps show why. Our 4 kids are shown along with Brother Don and Gladys' 4 girls and Vivian and Eddy Souceks' boy and girl. The cousins from California and Wisconsin were not here at the time though we often all got together during the summer. You can see the satisfaction in the faces of the Grandparents with these 10 Grandchildren. Verlon, sitting next to Granddad is the oldest and 14 years older than MaryBeth near Grandmother, and 26 years older than Tanya, the youngest of the cousins. All told, there are 17 cousins and Mother probably knew the birth date of each of them. This picture was taken some 45 years ago and some of those pictured are Grandparents in their own right now. I hope this generation of cousins can have someone among them like me and my Vrana cousins have in Pat Grimes that spearheads a quarterly Cousins Letter; it helps keep us up-to-date with each other. We also  have a reunion once a year with as many attending as possible, and we generally have a good turnout. Friends are important but relatives are special.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

St. Paul's UCC Church in Lincoln, NE

The Lincoln Journal Star had a story and pictures this morning on St. Paul's United Church of Christ dissolving their congregation after 140 years. Elaine was raised and confirmed in Friedens UCC here in Seward, had gone to Church Camp at Blair, NE with kids from St. Paul's, and maintained a friendship with several of them. When I joined Elaine's Church at the time we were married, it was agreed that if we moved, we would go to my Methodist Church. After moving to Lincoln on June 14, 1958 we did visit the Methodist Church in Uni-Place a couple times but were so impressed with Rev. Crisp and the people in the Congregation that we joined St. Paul's on March 1, 1959. The Kids were all involved in Sunday School as were Elaine and I in addition to all attending Church. I belonged to a Men's group, Elaine taught 8th grade SS and we were members of the 3-Ring Club. It was quite a distance from our house at 6515 Hartley Street to the Church at 13th and "F" Street, and I noted in my Diary that on at least one occasion, we made 4 trips in one day. The Church was a major part of our lives during the 4 years we lived in Lincoln, though I was taking College Courses and working full-time. We had an opportunity to visit the Church a couple times while back on vacation after we moved to Virginia and even a time or two after returning to Nebraska. The Church that meant so much to us and now closing after next springs Easter Service, reminded me of our Methodist Minister's sermon last Sunday on "What Lasts Forever?".  He went on to tell that God Lives in People, not in Buildings nor Congregations. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

J. F. K. Memorial

The JFK Grave and Eternal Flame is located near the Custis Lee Mansion and directly in line with Memorial Bridge. The Eternal Flame was in place soon after the burial but the area as shown in the picture wasn't completed until some time later. I was taking night classes at George Washington University at the time. Normally I would walk the mile or so from the South Agriculture Building to class after getting off work; eating a sandwich and apple on the way. Elaine would drive down to pick me up after class.
This pattern continued for 2 or 3 years after the Eternal Flame and simple Monument was in place. It is located directly in line with the Memorial Bridge across the Potomac. I don't believe there was a time that we drove across that bridge that we didn't observe the Flame and reflect on President Kennedy. We had many guests and family members visit us during our years in the area, and this was always a stop on our tour of showing them around. The Navy Sea Chanters sang the Navy Hymn as the Kennedy Casket was carried from the Capitol Rotunda.  We sing "Eternal Father Strong to Save" at Kiwanis occasionally and it still brings a lump to my throat.  "How people make us feel about ourselves" is probably the most important factor of friendship. President Kennedy not only made the Country optimistic about the future, but made each of us feel better about ourselves and anxious to "Do What We Could For Our Country". 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family and Azaleas

Our early years back in the Washington, D.C. area were traumatic and yet we had very enjoyable family time and an opportunity to see many of the sights. This picture was taken in the spring of '63 at the National  Arboretum near College Park, MD. We were fortunate in having a lot of support from the people I was working with but also from 3 other families that moved to the area the same summer. One of these families had lived in Seward and Dave had worked with me some years earlier. He was promoted and transferred  to the National SCS Plant Materials Center in Beltsville, MD. We visited back and forth frequently which gave us an opportunity to become acquainted with their area. We thought it well to see as many sights as we could since we didn't know how long I would be in the SCS Headquarters office. Had we known it would be 18 years, we probably wouldn't have been as aggressive in our sightseeing but it helped our adjustment. We are pleased that our Daughter and her family came back to Nebraska at the same time we did, but two of the boys are still in Virginia and one is in Indiana. Parents never know the total impact of a move that includes children.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

We had been in Washington, D.C. about 17 months when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. I noted in my Diary on 11/22/63 that, "First report came at 1:55 and about 2:30 it was confirmed that Pres. Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. We were dismissed from work at 3:30. Jon was to star in a play at school on his 7th birthday. I had to take a mid-term Statistics exam that evening". It is impossible to describe the change that took place in the mood of the City with the news. Kennedy had brought optimism and excitement about the future,  and now he was gone. Someone said, "We will never be young again" and that is how we felt. There was continuous TV coverage the next day (Saturday) where it was confirmed that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin. We went to early Church on Sunday and churches were filled throughout the Country. We saw the live coverage of Jack Ruby shooting Oswald. That evening, President Kennedy "Ly-in -State" at the Capital Rotunda which stayed open all night. At one time the line for viewing the flag-draped casket was 32 blocks long.

Government Offices in D.C. were closed on Monday for the funeral. We went to a Memorial Service at our Church and then went down to the west end of Memorial Bridge where we could see the Funeral Cartage pass by on their way to Arlington Cemetery. It was an awesome sight to see the 6 white horses and the flag draped coffin. It was a solemn audience as shown on the faces of Elaine and the kids (Carolyn was about to sneeze). Jon even put on a white shirt and necktie. While it was a cool day, it was bright and sunny. The next day the weather seemed to change from fall to winter and that is how we felt.