Sunday, June 30, 2013

Siblings are Special

This picture was taken last week of Sister Janice, Brother Don & I during my birthday celebration. Our Sister Vivian and Brother Jerry have passed on but are still very much a part of our family stories and discussions. We all have our own families which have extended to 4 generations but there is something about siblings that is special. It is more than shared genes and may be related to the shared "trauma" of growing-up. While we may have very good friends that are associated with certain phases of our lives, our siblings are long time. Don and Janice never knew a time when I wasn't their big brother. Likewise, I remember every year of their life. Don and I shared more experiences than lone children can imagine. Janice is 11 years younger but I remember her "birthing cry" and was very much involved in helping take care of her for her first 12 years. (Until Elaine and I got married) Elaine has a similar relationship with her Brother Dale who is 3 years her senior. Like me and my siblings, there is a lot to  share whenever they are together. These relationships grow stronger and become more precious as time goes on.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Birthday Potaoes

Growing up on the farm during the drought and depression of the '30's, it was always a challenge to have new potatoes, fresh creamed peas and fried chicken for my birthday on June 25th. My Brother Don remembered those days and this is what he brought to me when we celebrated my birthday this past week. We had food left over from our company so it was this evening that Elaine fixed the "Don potatoes", store bought frozen peas which she creamed and hamburger. We finished the White  Coconut cake yesterday and our German Chocolate cake this evening. Don told of having only a few hills of potatoes and this is the product of two of them. This is the first year in several that we didn't plant any so his gift really kept the tradition alive. I feel like we have celebrated my birthday all week long and have enjoyed every minute of it. I've even reread my birthday cards 2 or 3 times. We also went down to Meyer Ford/GM this morning and had a door key made for our '92 LaSabre. I even looked forward to checking out the new Buicks  in the GM showroom and instead they had a restored '55 Chevy. I wondered why Doug didn't even try to sell me a new one and realized he knew me well enough to know that I wouldn't spend a couple bucks getting a new door key made if I even had any thoughts of trading cars.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Smile, You're on Camera

Elaine and I had been married for a little less than 5 years at the time this picture was taken back in 1954. It was family tradition to have a 6-Month picture of every child. In addition to Carolyn's picture we also have this one of she and her older brothers. Tim was a few days short of being 2 and Verlon was 3 1/2. The little vests and trousers were handmade as well as their matching shirts.  Carolyn's little blue dress was one of her baby gifts. Little boys were really dressed-up in those days if they wore a bow-tie and had saddle shoes. The Photographer was not one to put kids at ease and minutes after this picture was taken, all 3 were ready to get out of there. It's very interesting to watch the development of our Great Granddaughter and realize with our children being as close as they were, we didn't really have time to enjoy them to the fullest. Oh Yes!! Elaine got pregnant with Jon a few weeks after the picture was taken. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Old '92 Buick LaSabre

We had another early morning shower and saw Janice and Larry off on their way to Tomah, WI. I went to coffee and then we did Home Delivery Meals. We finish up down near the Senior Center and ofter go to their Potato Bake. However, after having a Sausage and Egg breakfast with Sorge's, we decided to skip the Potato Bake. We stopped at Sun Mart Grocery store to pick up a couple things and since it was raining a bit, I let Elaine out by the door and planned to pick her up back at the door when she came out. When I saw her coming I started the engine and realized she had 3 bags of groceries, I went to help her get them into the car. In the process of getting out of the car, I must have hit the lock button. We were locked out with my keys in the switch, the engine, radio and AC running. We fortunately caught Ben on my cell phone who took us home to look for another door key. When we didn't find it readily, we drove the other car back and called the Police Department who unlock doors only if a baby is locked inside but did give me the names of locksmiths. The local one was not available on the phone but one from Staplehurst said he could be there is 20 minutes. After about 25 minutes he called to say he was caught up in the Highway #34 construction east of town but got there is another 15 minutes. It took him less than a minute to open the window and hand me the keys. We know we had another door key around here somewhere but will get another one made or ordered. The car doesn't seem to have been effected but I'm still not sure how it got locked up. Maybe the car and I are both getting old and some of these things just happen. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cousins Get Together

We continue to enjoy Janice and Larry's visit from California and shared them today with other Vrana Cousins and spouses. My cousins (On Dad's side) have always been pretty close and continue to be so. Pat (back row, right end) facilitates a "Cousin's Newsletter" every couple months. We try to have a full fledged cousins reunion every couple years. This is really a "spin off" from annual reunions that our parents and Grandparents enjoyed. We are getting a few of the next generation involved and hope for more . We shared many family stories today that would be an interesting part of family history. There has been some discussion of a "Family Book" but it has never materialized. Several of us have done some writing and maybe we should see if we might each contribute a chapter. As 3rd generation Americans, we might be able to share some stories that would be of interest someday to our Great Grandchildren. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Birthday Party

Here is the group that gathered at our house this evening to visit with Janice and Larry from California and to help me celebrate a birthday. This was probably the most people that were here for my birthday since the big party we had for my 5th. (Birthday that is)  As we ate cake and they sang "Happy Birthday" I thanked Janice and Larry for coming through town at this time, and as Yogi Berra would say, "Making this party necessary". Ben did a great job cooking the Brats and Burgers, Elaine baked 3 cakes, and a lot of additional food was enjoyed. Don and I each make a list of items to talk about when we get together, and I'm sure that a lot of family history gets passed to the next generations through such discussions. It was one of my very best birthdays and I've now hit every key on a piano. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Janice & Larry Sorge Visit.

Sister Janice and husband Larry got to our house this afternoon at about 4:30. We are looking forward to their being with us for the next few days. I have ask Janice to help with this blog page.
It's great to be back in Seward to touch bases with siblings, spouses, nieces & nephews, cousins and friends.  It's been two years since we've been here and look forward to lots of visiting and recounting memories.  It's been a good trip - I've done most of the driving - the 100th anniversary of Gurley, NE and the Sorge family reunion in western Nebr Friday, Saturday and Sunday was very enjoyable. We're especially honored to be here to celebrate our big  brother's birthday tomorrow - it's been a long time since we've been able to do that!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hollyhocks in the Alley

This is the alley at the back of our property. When  we built the fence several years ago we carefully surveyed to assure we were a foot inside the property line.  Our fence has served us well though we have rebuilt the lateral supports. The left Hollyhock is right in the gate through the fence which we use very infrequently. We have never planted Hollyhocks in the alley but obviously seeds scattered from those that we had in our back yard. We still have some in the back yard but they have not done nearly as well as these. During the '30's when we had very few flowers out on the farm, we always had Hollyhocks blooming out near the mailbox. Even here in town it seems that we see more of them blooming in alleys and waste areas than in flower gardens. Is this another example of "Mother Nature" knowing more about the care of some things than we do??  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Daake's", "Sahn's", "Rathje's", etc. Conoco Station

The protective fence is up, a dumpster is in place and this former Conoco Filling Station is about to be demolished. It is on 4th and Main St. which is Highway #34 through Seward. This building dates back in the '70's and has been closed for the past 3-4 years. It was where we bought gas and had oil changed during the years that it was Rathje's. The old Seward Middle School  (Old HS) was just across the street which put some restrictions on its use which some of the owners found out after buying it. This station replaced an earlier Conoco building that was a very popular place during our earlier years in Seward. One of my fellow SCS employees worked there part time for several years so it was where we always took care of our automotive maintenance. And, in those days it took a lot more maintenance than today. When it was "Otto's Conoco in the 1970's, I remember telling him that his gas was the most expensive that we found driving back from the Washington, D.C. area. Progress now calls for its demolition and the construction of an Insurance facility. I'm sorry to see it go, but most of the  individuals I associate with it, are gone as well. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pat Coldiron Retirement

A "Retirement Party" was held this evening at the "Reunion Center" in the Fairgrounds for Pat Coldiron. Pat has served the Seward Area Chamber of Commerce for the past 17 years as Secretary. She has been a real asset to the Chamber and to the community. Her optimism has brought about many changes and improvements during a time when it wasn't a given. She continues to be so dedicated to tourism as a part of local economic development that she will continue to operate the "Liberty House" Bed and Breakfast during retirement.
Clark was the MC of the recognition portion of the party and is shown presenting her with a 4th of July Award. She was also commissioned as an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy. A sizeable cash gift was also presented to her. Pat is one of those few people who can encourage conservative old people to try new things or take on "unreasonable" projects and then be pleased with the way they turn out. I worked most closely with Pat as a member of the Chamber's First Impressions Committee. We meet monthly and there is seldom a meeting when Pat doesn't have an idea to toss out for consideration. One of her disappointments is not having a "Welcome to Seward" sign south of town but we will keep working on it and I'm sure she will continue to be involved. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hughes Brothers and My Birthplace

This picture of the Hughes Bros. Plant was taken in the late '20s. The little "insert" picture is of the house where I was born which also shows at the top of the bigger picture. The Fairgrounds Grandstand is partially visible at the very NW corner of the picture. The street shown is 13th and the picture was taken from a grain elevator on the north side of Seward Street.  Mother had noted on the back of the little picture that she and Dad  bought the house in 1921 for $1,700.00. Brother Don and Sister Vivian were also born there. Vivian and I walked down 13th street on our way to school. We moved to the farm north Garland in 1932 but the folks didn't sell the place until 1944.
Our son-in-law Ben, recently came across the Deed showing the folks selling the property to Hughes Bros. on January 25, 1944. The house was moved up to 10th street and with some additions, is still a nice home. The property consisted of 6 lots which became a part of the plant. Mother and Dad were very proud of this place at the edge of town where we had chickens, goats, fruit trees and a big garden. The goats came about when I was a baby and couldn't digest cows milk. The place was rented to numerous tennets during the depression of the '30's. One tenant came out to the farm and did some painting to offset rent payments. Another family had a baby girl born in the house on my 10th birthday. The rent payments went directly to the Seward Building and Loan where the folks had borrowed money to buy the property. On one occasion when it had set vacant for a month or so, I remember our driving in and seeing people unloading furniture. I have a very clear memory of Dad getting out of the old Model A Ford and hollering, "What the hell's going on here". It seems that the Loan company had rented it to them. My Brother Don says he remembers our Dad asking that same question at some of his antics. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Roses & Compost

Our red Rose has shown its appreciation of the Miracle Grow and extra fertilizer that it received earlier this spring. This is the best that it has bloomed in the last few years. The River Birch makes a nice backdrop for the rosebush and our Petunia planting. The Blue Bird Bath gives the planting a nice Red, White & Blue effect. I mulched the bed lightly with material from our compost bin recently and am surprised at the number of volunteer Tomato plants that have come up in the area. Some years ago, I was on a tour that visited a farm near Kearney, NE. The farmer was taking material from the City Waste Disposal facility and composting it with manure from his feedlot. There were rows of this material a couple feet in height and every couple days he would "mix" the material to give the microbes an opportunity for further "action". Some of the rows that had been composted  were still on site and were beginning to turn green with tomato plants. He explained  that the Tomato seeds were not effected by the "digesting" and "composting" processes. Oh yes, he also pointed out that the finished compost also contained condoms that survived the processes. A Rose is a Rose, is a Rose. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Purple Clematis

The Clematis at our front door are doing much better this year. Elaine's use of Miracle Grow might have had some effect. Her Mother's Day Hanging Geranium Basket also continues to do well. The two Clematis plants were here when we bought the house 30 years ago. While they have been prolific bloomers for many years, we wondered during the past 2-3 years if they had about "run their course". I scattered a bit of 12-12-12 at the base of the plants early last spring in addition to Elaine's treatment which has "paid off". In this climate some people leave the old foliage carry over from one year to the next even though it may freeze back some. We have always cut ours back to just a few inches above the ground and clean off the old foliage after the first frost. It makes it easier to put up our lights at Christmas time. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Seward United Methodist Church

This was taken recently of a Red Oak tree that Elaine and I planted in front of our Seward United Methodist Church. It was between 3 and 4 foot high when we planted it in April of 2008. We carried some water to it the first couple years and have continued to "nurture" it all along. This afternoon we were part of a small group  to "Greet and Meet" our new Pastor. The host couple provided an ideal setting and Rev. Dale had a 5 item questioner for us to fill out. We spent the next hour or so going around the room with each of us indicating what we had written.
We  had coffee, tea and cookies and by that time were ready to talk about some of the more sensitive issues that many churches  and organizations face.  I believe it was an excellent session and think it would have taken Rev. Dale many months to learn as much about us and how we feel about some of the issues as he learned this afternoon. And, we learned a lot about him and each other even though we have known our fellow members for some years. Oh, by the way, I was very favorably impressed when learning that his initial degree was in Forestry and Wildlife Management and didn't go to Seminary until a bit later in life. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

This is part of what helped this to be a very Happy Father's Day. Sadie likes to be on the move at all times and is learning new things every day. One of these days she is going to take off walking. She and her folks were here this afternoon as was Carolyn. We had a nice visit and this evening I heard from all 3 of the boys. It's always good to hear from them. Elaine spoiled me with my favorite Coconut Cake so it was a great day. It was a good day for Justin Rose too who won the US Open golf championship at the Marion Golf Course near Philadelphia. It is a very difficult course with no one able to finish at par. Phil Mickelson lead for the first 3 days but just couldn't hold on which isn't anything new for Phil. I believe that Tiger Woods +13 is the highest score  I remember of his posting. As good as these guys are, I don't know how the average golfer could enjoy playing the course. Willie Nelson has  his own course down in Texas who says par is whatever he wants it to be. One of the difficult holes is a par 29 and he brags about birdieing it occasionally. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Garland HS Alumni Reunion

We are going the the Garland HS Alumni reunion this evening. We will pick up Jack and he and I will be the only remaining members of our class in attendance. Don & Jackie live in Wyoming and will not be here. This will be the first year that my long-time friend Willard will not be there. He and Audrey were very faithful participants over the years and he was recognized as the only one left of the 75th anniversary  Class last year. I hope that Virginia will be there tonight. She graduated with the class of 1936 and has missed very few reunions. Jack, Don, and I are next in line of seniority. GHS consolidated with Seward HS back in the late '60's but us surviving graduates continue to enjoy our reunions. Each year we recognized those who have departed from our diminishing numbers, and Willard will again be recognized. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

1st Impressions Committee

This is the group that participated in the Chamber of Commerce, 1st Impressions Committee meeting this morning. We meet once a month to continue our mission of improving visitors 1st impression of our City. While the committee has encouraged the enforcement of some City Ordinances to correct problems most improvements have been brought about by persuasion and assistance. Our group is loosely organized with people frequently coming in to the Committee with a passion for a particular situation and then taking the leadership and the "clout" of the committee to get the issue resolved. Nothing is changed quickly but over time we continue to be successful in carrying out our Mission. Seward is a better place because of our efforts.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Stages of Man"

The 7 Stages of Man go back to the time of Wm. Shakespeare who wrote a piece describing them which began: "All the world’s a stage,
        And all the men and women merely players;
        They have their exits and their entrances,
        And one man in his time plays many parts,                       
        His acts being seven ages. ...."
 A lot has changed since the day  it was written and will continue to change even in the next couple generations. The eradication of many diseases, improved nutrition, etc. have extended the "working life" of many people. Economics may require their continuing to work and remain active and productive. 
I'm not sure where I fit into the above picture (or at least not willing to accept where I may be) but I like the way the stages are represented on the lower drawing better. I wonder if Walt Disney ever thought of the names of the 7 Dwarfs as representing the 7stages of man. It does take a bit of "Magic Kingdom" imagination to make them fit. In his final sermon before moving on, our Minister related an old Indian adage to the effect that: "Death is blowing out the candle ahead of the Dawn". With that kind of faith, why should an old man even be "Grumpy". 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Just US" at the Senior Center

"Just US" is what this group call themselves who entertained this noon for the Birthday/Anniversary Luncheon at the Seward Senior Center. They are from Lincoln and perform frequently at places where older people enjoy their music. Their music includes Country, Religious, and Popular tunes from years past. There were some 60 people who enjoyed the "Cordon Bleu" meal along with Peach Pie and ice cream. I, like several other friends, have a birthday and wedding anniversary both this month. There were several couples with wedding anniversaries of 60 or more years. We belonged to a Rural Youth Group before we were
married with a couple that were there today who have been married for 65 years. While we have made many good friends over the years (and continue to do so), it is special to "be able to grow old with old friends". While we usually participate in the Senior Center monthly Potato Bake and Birthday Dinners, we don't attend many of their daily activities. To many older people these activities are the highlight of their day. We are really grateful for the dedicated small group that raised the private funds to build the facility a generation ago. 
This fellow is the vocalist and leader of the band. He had an excellent voice and able to sound a lot like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Big Crosby, etc. They would go from one song right into the next and he was very good. He must have logged 30 minutes singing in front of the Mike. I visited with him after ward to express my appreciation, and he said they had another performance in Lincoln later today. I think they also enjoy it. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

All Play and No Work

Elaine continues to  help me adjust to not playing golf this summer. Maybe I should say that she is adjusting to my being around a lot more with my City Council and related meetings no longer on my agenda either. We are shown here enjoying coffee out on the deck (and being amused at the camera taking the picture). While I still consider myself a NY Yankee baseball fan, we see nearly all of the KC Royals games and very few of the Yankees. Alex Gordon with the Royals is an attraction after growing up as a Lincoln Rebel and UN-L player. We only wish he could be more consistent. He began the season looking like he was a bargain at his 4.6 million dollar salary and has now been in a horrible batting slump.
After visiting the girls this afternoon we went past our Black Walnut Tree planting up in the NE part of town along the Walking Trail and Plum Creek. This tree is among the largest of the 22 that we planted a few years ago. The City does a good job of keeping the grass mowed in the area but they don't get the "loving care" they would receive in our back yard. One of the trees looks like it has done well in the past but the only sign of life are a few small leaves on the trunk. The rest show various amounts of growth. We also went up past the Methodist Church where we planted a Red Oak tree in front of the Church. It is doing very well. I took water to it for the first couple years and did some pruning on it last fall. After our enjoyable visit with the girls and trees, we went to the Dairy Queen for a little treat. Becky, the Librarian came in to get Blizzards for the Board that was meeting this evening and reminded me what I was missing out on. She also gave us a progress report on the construction project finishing the basement that includes a dehumidifier project for the whole building.  The facility is a real source of community pride. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Elaine at Arlington Ridge Road

Elaine was working for the Forest Service in Washington D.C. when this picture was taken in our back yard in the early '70's. We lived on Arlington Ridge Road a couple miles south of the Pentagon for 12 years. We were there during the years that all 4 kids went through Gunston Jr. High and Wakefield HS. The tree behind Elaine was a Dogwood with beautiful, big white flowers. Geraniums did very well back there and this one is growing in the base of an old broken bird bath turned upside down. While it doesn't show on the picture, it is strategically placed where the parking area was to the right and we would back up to the area on the left to be able to drive forward up the driveway. Ridge Road was a busy thoroughfare so driving on was necessary. We were here at the time all 4 kids learned to drive so being able to turn around in our back yard was important. We did buy a new VW Beetle for them to learn to drive which was easier than attempting to learn in our Station Wagon. Those were good years. We didn't realize at the time just how good they were but they left us with many happy memories. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wedding Anniversaries Over the Years

This past Wednesday was our 64th wedding anniversary that I blogged about on June 5th. At that time we talked about how we had celebrated past anniversaries. This picture was taken 10 years ago at the Seward Country Club when we were out for our anniversary with the Magazine Club. Utilizing my Diaries or Journals we have listed what we did on each of the Christmas and Thanksgivings Days as well as our birthdays over the years. After coming home from Church this morning, I decided to make a list of how we celebrated anniversaries.  I'm halfway through and find that we didn't really do all those special things that we seem to remember. On one occasion we took the kids to McDonald's for lunch. On another I took Elaine and the kids out for Slurpees. But we also did such things as going to the Dinner Theatre, taking Miss Mohagen, Novak's and Jenkins out to Evans farm for Dinner,etc. As Elaine commented while looking over the list, our memories are probably better than the written facts. And, that's the way it should be. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's For The Birds

We enjoy the birds in our back yard but they are eating us out of "house and home". We were back down to Orscheln's again today and got a $14.00 bag of mixed grain including sunflower seeds. A Common Grackle and Harris sparrow are shown in the picture. These 2 species seem to be the most popular and biggest eaters. There are also many Yellow and House Finches, Cardinals, Doves, Blue Jays, etc. Now that I'm not playing golf, I'm attempting to learn how to identify more species. Both Elaine and I have had an interest in Birds ever since growing up out in the country where both of our Dad's were able to identify several species by their call or song. We have had bird books and even tapes with bird songs in our possession over the years but never really took the time to become very proficient. We are now taking it pretty seriously and hopefully we can at least add a few to our "list." Here is a Mourning Dove that scrounges around the base of the feeder picking up the grain that the Grackles and Sparrows have scattered from the feeder. 
We are pretty sure that the Doves had a next this spring in our big Blue Spruce tree. We thought for a while that a pair of Collard Doves were also nesting in the tree but were not sure. The young birds grow so fast that if you miss seeing them for a few days they are gone. Our highlight of birdwatching this spring was the appearance of a male Baltimore Oriole which was exciting. Almost as exciting as making a 20' putt and it occured with about the same frequency. I miss my golf playing and especially the companionship of Charlie and others but my yard work, reading more, and birdwatching are good alternatives. I don't play baseball nor basketball anymore either. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Night on the Beach

We had the pleasure of attending a party last evening hosted by friends with a house on the sand pits near the Platte River close to Clarks, NE This is an extension of their back yard with the beach area that extends on down to the water. There are 5 "communities" within the Gated Community that contains some 75-80 homes. It is a well established area but still has lots where new houses are being built. There is a number of residents for whom this is their permanent home which affords a certain amount of security for those who enjoy the area as their 2nd home. It is an ideal place for our friends who have young grandchildren that thoroughly enjoy the place.
This is the backside of the house which carries right on down to the above "beach" view.
We not only enjoyed the visit but also the 55 mile ride up to it through Gresham and Shelby. This is a beautiful time of the year with the corn and soy beans showing excellent growth and potential. Our drive was through an area of very productive, high quality, class I land. In some of the rolling areas it was pleasing to see terraces and contour farming. Some of the terraces even had grassed backslopes. The weather was ideal, the hosts were exceptional, and it was a great evening.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Old Seward Presbyterian Church

The Seward Presbyterian Church has a "For Sale" sign out front. The Congregation disbanded about 4 years ago but the building has been utilized since that time by the "Living Word" congregation. They have moved on to a larger facility so the property is back on the market. It is one of the oldest church buildings in Seward. I have a picture of our Kindergarten "Rythem Band" standing on the front steps back in 1931. My Great Grandmother's Funeral was held there in 1933 which is the first funeral for which I have any memory. During our 18 years in Virginia we attended the Presbyterian Church and returning to Seward,  found the United Church of Christ and Presbyterian congregations  meeting together in the "Cooperative Ministry". This made it very easy to fit back into the Congregation where Elaine had grown up and we had been members for 10 years after marriage. It also allowed us to still enjoy the Presbyterian element to which we had become accustomed. However, after a few years the two congregations decided to go their separate ways so we went with the Presbyterians. It was a small congregation and as it became apparent that it's existence was limited, we joined the United Methodist Church where I had been baptised and a member at the time we got married. While we are no longer involved with the old Presbyterian building, some of our earlier efforts still show in the tree and landscaping that you see in the picture. I hope the facility can be preserved and utilized in an appropriate manner.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wedding Anniversary

Elaine and I celebrated our 64th Wedding Anniversary today by going to the Olive Garden in Lincoln for lunch. It is one of our most favorite places to eat. We didn't do any shopping in Lincoln but bought some more Petunias and a few groceries at Super Saver in Fallbrook on the way home. We just walked in the house when Tim called and Carolyn stopped by a short time later. Jon sent an email this morning and we had talked with Verlon over the weekend. I got in my hour and a half of yard work late in the afternoon by trimming hedge, planting the Petunias in a couple baskets and elsewhere, applying some compost, along with some clean up work. After my many years of travel on the date of our anniversary and even having to go to a City Council meeting last year on this date, it was a real pleasure to spend the day without outside commitment. By the time you get up into the big numbers, it's very appropriate to celebrate as we did today. At the time of our 25th Anniversary, Elaine accompanied me and we flew out to Portland, OR from Washington, D.C. We rented a car and drove out to an SCS meeting at Bowman Springs. It was near Timberline Lodge where we drove through 25'snow drifts. Elaine's suitcase finally arrived as we got back to Portland. Before we went home, we had spent a day at the World Expo, the SCS State Office, Forest Service Regional Office, and visited with many old friends. We will never forget the 25th Anniversary Celebration that Jim Tatum "orchestrated" for us. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pleasant Valley by Louis Broomfield

“Pleasant Valley”  by Pulitzer Prize author Louis Broomfield was first published in 1943 and again in 1945. It is one of many books relating to Soil and Water conservation that I have accumulated over the years and never took time to read. I came across it a few days ago while sorting out “stuff” to take to Et-Cetera and began reading. I was hardly able to lay it down. Though Broomfield and his Malabar Farm in Ohio were familiar from early day conservation discussions, I knew very little of the details of his “commitment”.  He was born in Mansfield, Ohio in 1896, went off to Cornell to study agriculture but transferred to Columbia where he studied journalism. He returned from duty in France following WWI and began his writing career in New York City. He took his family back to Paris in 1925 for a family vacation and stayed for 13 years in the community of American writers including Sinclair Lewis, Gertrude Stein, etc. His fiction and non-fiction writing was acclaimed as well as in the emerging film industry in Hollywood. With WWII imminent  the family returned to the United States where they purchased 1,000 acres of land in the area of his boyhood home.  With assistance from local SCS technicians and others, he developed Malabar into a model conservation farm. Broomfield recognized that the productive capability of much agriculture land had been destroyed by soil erosion and abusive farming practices. It was at about the same time that Hugh Hammond Bennett was leading the newly founded Soil Conservation Service in a National effort to combat soil erosion. Broomfield and Bennett had much in common through their love of the land and the importance of maintaining productive soil for our Country’s future. They not only recognized the importance of Soil but all of God’s given Natural Resources. Malabar Farm became an Ohio State Park following Broomfield’s death and today is a “Living history of sustainable land use”. The book was most enjoyable reading and confirmed my career choice of over 40 years devoted to sustainable land use.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Yard Work

Our afternoon yard work included watering the newly planted Petunias in the Flower Bed under the River Burch trees. Hopefully the Red and White Petunias will make a nice showing along with the blue bird bath by the 4th of July. We also planted 2 Red Floribunda Rose Bushes. They are the kind that has become so popular during the past couple years and continue to bloom all summer. Now that I'm not playing golf, I try to put in at least an hour every day working in the yard. That 1 hour of yard work is every bit as demanding as playing 9 holes of golf by riding in a cart. While I miss the companionship of my golfing  buddies, the yard work provides Elaine and I more time to work together on things we both enjoy. After 64 years of marriage, maybe it was time to reconsider priorities.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Seward's Skating Shack

I took this picture on June 2, 1951 when we had floods in Seward on the Big Blue River. A discussion last Saturday at the Dedication of Independence Landing prompted my search for this picture and an attempt to trace the ice skating history in Seward. The building in the foreground (in the water) was an Ice Skating Shack with a Rink to the left of the building. I remember skating there in the late '40's. We were fortunate in having Jane Graff and Harold Davisson here in Seward who wrote and published a considerable amount of material about Seward, it's people and businesses from it's settlement until the early 1990's. Jane had continued to collect information and I understand that a daughter may publish some of it in the future. . We visited with Marian (Jane's older sister) during Social Hour at Church this morning and confirmed the existence of a skating rink on a bayou south of town prior to this location. The 1951 flood was what prompted Hughes Bros. to build a dike to protect their plant from the river. A new pond was dug near the swimming pool to obtain fill material for building the dike and is where the Shack sat for many years.  It is at that location that Independence Landing will be built. The old shack has been moved to a farmstead on the City outskirts. After Hughes Bros. initial efforts back in the '50's, the Corps of Engineers  got involved and completed the protection from floodwater that we enjoy today. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sadie & Women's College World Series

Sadie was thinking, " What are you talking about, Granddad, those are my toes you're tickling, not little pigs going to market". She was in good spirits this morning when we went out to visit. We went on down to the City Park where a youth fishing contest was underway and the Ground Breaking for "Independence Landing" was about to begin. The Landing is an extensive project involving a fishing pier to accommodate wheelchairs, an extensive renovation of the pond in cooperation with the Nebraska Game and Parks, etc.  When completed, it will be a great addition to the City Park system.  We watched the Nebraska-Florida game in the Women's College World Series this evening. It was certainly an emotion filled game. After a heart-breaking loss to Washington in the first game of the Series in extra innings, two trips to storm shelters in yesterday storms in Oklahoma City, they came from behind by scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th to take the game into extra innings. Florida regained the lead with a HR in the top of the 10th and went on to load the bases without further scoring. Nebraska's Taylor Edwards hit a HR over the centerfield fence in the bottom of the inning and though they loaded the bases were unable to put it away. After outstanding plays by both teams the game finally ended when Florida scored 2 runs in the top of the 15
th and though Nebraska scored  a run in the bottom of the 15th, they lost on a close call at 3rd base. 

 I think Sadie is laughing at me for staying up so late to see the end of the game.