Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Ted

Guess what we had for supper. We had several little chores to take care of this afternoon which included going to Walmart. While there we  picked up a baked chicken. We have either 3 or 4 meals from one of these that end up with Chicken Noodle soup. Pretty good eating for old folks. We  met Pat down there in the grocery area. She got out the Cousins Bimonthly Newsletter earlier in the day. We all appreciate her collecting information from each of us, assembling it, and passing it on to all of us. One of the highlights of the letter was the mention of today being Cousin Ted's 92 Birthday. We certainly wish him a Happy Birthday and many more. Ted is the oldest of the remaining cousins and has done very well after humble beginnings, like we all shared. He came home from WWII, went to College, and on to get a Law Degree. He has been a successful lawyer for 60 years and still enjoys performing wedding ceremonies. In addition, he shot a hole-in-one when he was 90 years old. He and Muffy are a great pair. Congratulations.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sadie and Being Optimistic.

I didn't get to see Sadie today but did talk to her over the phone. She didn't say a whole lot but knew who she was listening to and said "Granddad" and then told me "Bye". Elaine was able to get out to spend some time with her when her Bible Study was cancelled because of the leader being "under the weather". I picked up some guidance on my IPad at the Bank after coffee.  Our high temperature for the day was during the night with it getting colder as the day went on. We did Home Delivered Meals this morning and it was pretty chilly even by then. Seeing some of the pictures from Atlanta make us feel pretty lucky so far. We may be in line for a 2-3 inch snowfall during the next couple days. I got the bird feeder filled to help our feathered friends get through any bad weather. One of our Collard Dove's was around yesterday but the mate was not along. They usually are together but tragedy may have befallen one of them or they may have had a parting of the ways. I am not aware of their commitments but the one that was here seemed to be checking where they have nested and elsewhere around the back yard. My guess is with the feeder filled it will be back and probably have a mate along. At least I hope so. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Life size Moose

The weekly Seward Independent newspaper out today confirmed what has been rumored for the past  couple weeks. The life-size Moose that has been seen around town was "built" here in town for Canada, and it, along with a mate, is slated to go to Russia for the winter Olympics. The family who are producing these "items" have moved to Seward recently. They have been in business for about 10 years after having worked earlier for a Fiberglass company. I understand there are Deer, Buffalo, and other similar animals in a storage area here in town. One never knows what may come from small "start-up" businesses.  Current communication technology wouldn't be what it is today without the creative young minds pursuing an idea and their dreams. We even have a newly established organization here in town to help fund such business plans before they could qualify for bank loans. Sometimes people can take advantage of opportunities, and other times, they have to make their own opportunity. I applaud the innovators including those that can make a Moose. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State of the Union

The President's State of the Union has been a significant part of my life. Especially since our days in Washington when we in USDA were invited to suggest appropriate things that the President's speechwriter may consider. For years I took notes of the speech and didn't miss a word of the President's message. Tonight was an exception. We had already had a few clues on what President Obama might say but I had  the TV on and my camera ready. My picture was taken at 8:13 just as the President was giving the first sentence of his message. Our telephone rang just as I pushed the shutter, and it was son Tim calling. We hadn't talked for a couple weeks and had many things to discuss. In addition to family matters, we discussed Tim's High School basketball game announcing:  Duke, Creighton, Nebraska and NCAA basketball in general,  Social Security hearings, and even some mundane housekeeping chores. By the time we finished our conversation, I heard the President announce the name of the wounded solider, saw the ovation, and the speech was over. While this was a change, it was the most "enjoyable" State of the Union Message that I have never heard. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Carolyn stopped by this afternoon, Jon called on his way home from the train station, and then Tim's call. Three out of four is pretty good in one day. When you get to be our age, a phone call from one of our "kids" out trumps a Presidents speech every time. (I do think the response was impressive).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Welcome Home in 1980

This was in the summer of 1980. We had just returned to Nebraska after 18 years in Washington, D.C. The Florence & Tony family has grown considerably since then. Elaine and I are the "young couple" seated at the left side of the picture. Jerry, Sondra and family were there from WI; Janice and Larry from California but the rest from the local area. It was great to have this many family members welcome us home. The following picture also helped make us feel like moving back was all worthwhile when Mother and Dad so enjoyed spending time and helping out at the farm. Dad liked using the Ford tractor for a variety of tasks.  Carolyn and Julie also added to the activities. Julie was actually driving the Ford tractor by herself when she was 9 years old. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Some Days are Better than Other

We went to a "Travelogue" of Amsterdam and Germany this afternoon in the Lower Level Conference room of the Seward Memorial Library. The young lady who made the presentation had been on a Concordia University Art study tour. While they visited many Galleries, they also toured other points of interest such as these remains of an old Concentration Camp. Having been to Germany and Amsterdam, we were a bit disappointed in the presentation but it's understandable since our iterary was not focused on Art. We also had an unusual Church service this morning. It seems that moisture has accumulated over the years under the alter as the result of water pipes that provided heating and cooling. This has created mold and a health hazard. Therefore, we had Church in Fellowship hall. Not only that, but the cold front and wind came through during the time we were in the Library and by now the temperatures have dropped some 20 degrees with 35mph winds. Our supper didn't turn out too good either but we did each have a couple good pieces of candy out of our Whitman's Sampler. Tiger Woods didn't have a very good day yesterday either. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Documenting Change

This is a Post Card picture of the Seward, NE County Court House. It was probably taken about 25 years ago. I haven't checked the size of the tree but know that the flag pole on the dome was removed several years ago because of the pressure it was putting on the upper part of the dome. The landscape planting at the base of the building has since been replaced but I helped plant the Yew bushes back in the mid '50's that are shown. Our SCS office was on the 1st floor directly behind the monument. My desk was located so that I was able to look out of the lower-left window. I sang in a Church quartet with the County Judge who's office included the stairway to the dome. In the spring of 1952 he took me along with my 35mm camera up to the very top of the dome. I shot a roll of film from the little windows up there that don't show on this picture. These pictures  did a good job of "documenting" the businesses around the square at that time. In April 2003, my son-in-law and I went back up again and shot "follow-up" pictures. Changes had been made in the access; we had to pull ourselves up because of the bracing that had been installed. Screens had been put on the little windows to keep the pigeons out of the dome but we were able to open the screens and get some good shots. The comparison of the two sets of pictures is interesting. I know there are significant changes that have taken place around "the square"  in the past 11 years that would be interesting to document but that is not the only place where change has occurred, (Some of the 2003 pictures can be seen in my April 4, 2011 blog)

Friday, January 24, 2014


I received an email recently with this picture and a reference to China's industrial and economic growth. The DOW industrial average was down some 300 points today and reference has been made to a situation in China as a factor. While I know very little about it, here is part of the message on China's economic aggressiveness:          "June 8, 2013. Source: Michael Snyder, Guest Post
In future China will employ millions of American workers and dominate thousands of small communities all over the United States . Chinese acquisition of U.S. Businesses set a new all-time record last year, and it is on pace to shatter that record this year.The Smithfield Foods acquisition is an example. Smithfield Foods is the largest pork producer and processor in the world. It has facilities in 26 U.S. States and it employs tens of thousands of Americans. It directly owns 460 farms and has contracts with approximately 2,100 others. But now a Chinese company has bought it for $4.7 billion, and that means that the Chinese will now be the most important employer in dozens of rural communities all over America ."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Soil Conservation Magazine

My "cleaning out" today took me into a box of old Soil Conservation Magazines. This one is from July 1977, Vol. 42, No. 12. The monthly publication was put together in the SCS Information Division and printed by the Gov't Printing Office. The 16 to 24 page documents were widely distributed and told of the Agencies activities. Administrator Mel Davis wrote in this issue on the importance of irrigation efficiency. The Agency's 20 Plant Materials Centers were featured for their role in the development of plants for soil and water conservation. These Centers were located throughout the United States from Big Flats, NY to Molokai, Hawaii. I had the privilege of visiting several of these Centers during my time with the Agency including the one on the island of Maui, Hawaii. This article was written by Robert S. MacLauchlan who's career took him to the top Plant Materials position in the Washington, D.C., headquarters office. I have had a continuing interest in plant materials which was stimulated by a young employee who worked in our Seward Field Office. I helped Arnold collect native grass plants and had a small grass "nursery" as part of our garden. He and his family moved to the Washington, D.C. area at about the same time we  did so we got together frequently. He worked at the Beltsville, MD, center before going to Texas and eventually becoming the South Regional PMC specialist. My "collection" of these Magazines (while not complete) goes back to 1936 and extends to 1980. I'm not aware of when publication ceased.  They contain a tremendous collection of the Agencies activities during those years. While I had read most of these as they were routed through the offices when they were published, the collection I have is from the Nebraska Historical Society when they reduced collections a few years ago. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter in Nebraska

This picture was taken some 30 years ago and the young lady shown here now has a daughter that will be this size in about a year. She already has her Mother's smile and love of cats. Some of the old material that I sorted through today was from about the time this picture was taken. During the early '80's there was considerable concern about the amount of grassland being plowed up and planted to corn. As the "farm Crisis" followed much of that land was planted back to native grasses and put in the Conservation Reserve program. The contracts have run their course on most of the land in that program which cost the federal government millions of dollars. Nebraska produced their largest corn crop in history during 2013 and some of it on "newly developed" cropland. (Again plowed out of grass). One reason people are inclined to be "grouchy" as they get old is because we have seen unsuccessful activities repeated and often at government expense. Maybe I should just trash the old papers instead of reading them. Elaine doesn't like for me to be Grouchy and fixed me a roast pork, baked potato, creamed pea gravy with baked apple and banana bread for supper. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Janice and Jerry

Happy Birthday Janice and "Gods Blessings" to Jerry. We don't know the year nor occasion for this picture but maybe Janice, you could "enlighten us". We are guessing that you were about 9. The matching outfits you had were probably the last matching ones that Mother would have sewn for the two of you. It appears that Jerry may be missing a front tooth and doesn't have his permanent one. I believe you are a bit older  than when you and Jerry went out looking for plums (or was it grapes). Mother realized you were gone and alerted the rest of us. After looking all around the farmstead, we even got the neighbors looking for you. As I remember, Mrs. Wagenknecht saw the two of you with a little bucket between you waling down the field road. We were so pleased that you were safe that I don't believe you were ever punished for "running off". You were probably the one that explained that you were just going out to bring home some fruit for the family. Those were the days. As I think back, it must have been "Divine Providence" that brought you and Jerry along at the time. What a Blessing you were to help the Folks and our whole family get through tough times with the pleasure you brought us. Not only as babies, toddlers, young people and to watch you mature and have families of your own. The pleasure you brought to Mother and Dad was unmeasurable, even if you did wreck the old '48 Chevy they so enjoyed.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kitones at Ridgewood

Our Kiwanis Kitones sang tonight for a Martin Luther King Jr. recognition dinner at the Ridgewood Care Center here in Seward. We had an attentive audience who enjoyed the presentation. Our young tenor sang a solo which gave the rest of us an opportunity to set down for a few minutes. Elaine went along to visit with her 93 year old sister who is a resident at the Center. The two residents included in the picture are old friends. I worked with Roland years ago as I helped survey gradient earth terraces on his farm and he marked out the lines with his Ford tractor. Gerald followed his Dad in a small engine repair shop. He has worked on our snow blower and lawn mowers over the years. We never sing there without thanking God for the health and circumstances that has enabled me and several of our group to be older than many of the residents; even if we do have to set down while Johnathan sings his solo.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Polka Time in Beaver Crossing

We greeted for 10:30 Church this morning and learned that this group was playing Polka music for the Beaver Crossing, NE American Legion Potato Bake. It was a most enjoyable outing on a beautiful 60 degree, sunshiny day. The group played many of the old Czech tunes that my Dad played on his accordion, and they sang on many of them. The young man is the son of the fellow to the right end and it was entertaining just to see how much he seemed to enjoy playing. It's also heartening to see young people continuing to "carry the torch" of their forebearers who brought this style of music with them from Europe many years ago. We drove much of the 22 miles to get to Beaver Crossing on "country gravel roads". It took us past farms where I worked many years ago as I started my Career with the Soil Conservation Service here in Nebraska. The countryside has changed considerably during those years as small operations have given way to much larger farms. There is very little livestock on the farms but concentrated in large feedlots. We saw one Osage Orange row of trees along a property line and the few fences we saw were temporary, one wire electric. We drove the last couple miles on the Highway past the Walmart Store as we came into Seward. There is a close comparison between what has happened to our small town businesses and what has happened to our family farms. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Winner !

Look what Elaine got in the mail today. The notification of a contest by a car dealer in Columbus, NE with a "scratch off" which matches the "winner". No, we are not going to Columbus Monday to claim our prize like Woody Grant did in "Nebraska". But, having just seen the movie the other night makes one sensitive to how these "come on's" mislead people. They plainly say: "If your symbols match, you've won! Go online now to pick the Grand Prize you want...His and Her Vehicles or $100,000 Cash!" They even sent along an ignition key for the vehicle. Woody didn't get the Million Dollars that he thought he won, in fact he didn't even get the Screen Actors Guild Award tonight for which he was nominated. But we were winners!!!. I had the key they sent in my pocket this afternoon when we went out to see Julie and Sadie. Sadie always checks out my pockets and found the key. She sat on my lap playing with the key and had a big time with it. I probably got more enjoyment being with her and hearing her say more new words than I would have in winning a new truck. Most old men don't need a new truck but we all savor the enjoyment that only a Great Granddaughter can provide.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Meeting Notes in Shorthand Notebooks

At the time we were married, Elaine was proficient in taking short hand notes from dictation and transcribing them on her typewriter . So, I became familiar with "short hand notebooks" early on. When my career took us to Washington, D. C. and I was involved in administrative work, I began using such  notebooks in a binder to record my meeting notes. Over the years it became my trademark to carry the maroon binder with the notebook whenever I was in a meeting. I would identify the "event, date and record it on the front cover as shown. During our 18 years in D.C., I filled many notebooks and brought them back with us to Nebraska with the idea that I might have need for the information "someday". I continued to fill them during my years with NRC and during our time in Ankeny. I continued the process on into retirement and my involvement with many organizations. The notebook pictured has notes from a Soil and Water Conservation Society meeting at Biloxi, MS in August of '99 to an Ecoscape Planning meeting in Lincoln in April of 2000. There were several meetings in between. I still carry one but use it infrequently. Meanwhile, we had a couple boxes of notebooks in the basement. To continue with our "cleaning out" commitment, we checked at the Recycle center and found that we should separate the wire binder, cardboard and paper. Elaine and I got started on it yesterday and finished it today. They are in the trunk ready to go to Recycling tomorrow morning. I kept only the one pictured and the one in the binder in my brief case. Though it's been years since I've looked at any on them, within the next week something may come up and I'll wish I had them, but, I'll have my bound Diaries and Journals on which to rely. And, Elaine and I enjoyed working together for about 4 hours getting them ready to go.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Prime Rib & "Nebraska"

We had a prime rib dinner this evening in conjunction with the Installation of Officers for Oliver Lodge #38, AF&AM here is Seward. Ben did a great job serving the meal and in leading the instillation. Several of the fellows involved are also members of a Lincoln, NE Lodge where they wear Tuxedos regularly so they decided to also wear them tonight. Pictures will be taken and put in the Seward Independent. While I wasn't involved with the pictures, I got home early. This was the last night that the movie, "Nebraska" was being shown at the Rivoli theater so we decided to go. We hadn't been to a movie for some time and this was our first time in the new little 2nd movie annex. The movie has been nominated for a number of Academy Awards and was most interesting. It probably doesn't display the image that most Nebraskans would like to project but there is a lot or realism in it. It's fairly easy for a Native Nebraskan my age to relate to and I did enjoy the scenery. I understand that much of it was filmed in Plainview, NE and it was in that town that I lost a cap on a windy day about like today, some years ago.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Old Briefcase

This Hazel briefcase was my "trademark" for a number of years and now it's in the garbage. It was probably over 25 years ago that I bought it at Latsch's in Lincoln. It was during the time that I worked at the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission in the State Office Building and I walked over during noon hour to buy it. It served me well, not only when we later went over to Ankeny, IA to work for SWCS but through our many travels. Since I retired, it has gone wherever we went. It was just the right size to carry through airports as we traveled to Europe and China. It went with us when we drove the pickup truck on our 6-week trip to Alaska and in our Motor Home when we spent time in Texas and elsewhere. It held my Daily Journal among other things, and I kept it next to my big chair in our living room. It was my "lap table" every night as I wrote in my journal.  It had a little "thumb sized" leather tab attached with a small ring to the zipper which I have removed. The ring also held 3 little multicolored woven ribbons that were made by Julie when she was in elementary school. I took them off to "keep". There are some things you just don't "throw away". I have a replacement which was given to me sometime back, but it will take me a while to get used to using. It's larger and just isn't as handy as this old one. If I write much more, I'm liable to go out in the garage and pull it out of the garbage can.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Seward Area Chamber of Commerce

I have been active on the Seward Area Chamber of Commerce, 1st Impressions Committee for a number of years. During my 12 years on the City Council I enjoyed complementary membership but this year I paid my own. I probably averaged attending about 1 monthly meeting per year while I was on the Council. But I attended today having just becoming an "independent" member. Charles Lieske, Chamber Director, is shown here conducting the business meeting. Charles was elected to fill the position on the City Council that I held so we have known each other for a few years. He and his wife have operated an in-home "rubber stamp" business and this past fall took on the additional job of Chamber Director. He had been serving as an active Chamber Board Member. My being involved on the 1st Impressions Committee and now participating in the Monthly Chamber Meetings is a way of helping me keep up with what is going on in town. And, in some small way, possibly influencing the direction things are going. Those participating today were predominately a "younger" group and just maybe, having some additional "mature judgement" represented in the meetings may be a good thing. (Even if it isn't immediately recognized).

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Cell Phone

This is what our new Samsung Gusto 2 cell phone looks like except that ours is silver color. We are on a family plan with Carolyn and Ben and haven't really had a history of very heavy use of our cell over the years. Our greatest use is for long distance calls and whenever we go out of town. I used to carry it when I played golf but otherwise I haven't made it a practice to do so. We might be a bit like my old friend Billy. He seldom answered his phone even at home and said that if he wanted to talk to someone, he would call them.    Carolyn got it for us at the Verizon office here in Seward and they transferred my contacts, pictures, etc. from the old one. This is not a "smart" phone but I believe it will satisfy our needs. Thanks Carolyn, we appreciate efforts to keep us current. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

April 1, 1984

This picture of Elaine, Carolyn and Julie was taken April 1, 1984. The girls were living with us as we maintained our house in Seward as well as the house at the farm. I was working at the Natural Resources Commission in Lincoln as well as farming. The Bee farm machinery auction was held the day before, and this is what I wrote in my Journal the day the picture was taken:
“Elaine and I got up at regular time and went to the farm right after breakfast. We got the JD running though it took a couple extra pulls on the starting engine. We took the log splitter off the JD and went to Bee to get machinery I bought yesterday. We loaded the “Crust Buster” in the pickup (It wasn't easy). Elaine drove the pickup and pulled the plow-she missed a corner on the way to the farm. I pulled the go-dig behind the JD. Elaine hurried to Church for a meeting on “Minutes for Missions”. I went back to Bee with the JD and got the disc. The bridges south of Bee are 18'wide so it was no problem. I hurried back to town where I cleaned up, shaved and we all went down to the Dandelion Inn for Portrait Setting at 12:50. We ate lunch there afterwards-good food-Debbie (Soucek) was our waitress. Called Dave Besse and went to look at Mrs. W's house at 3:00. The want $33,500. and we were surprised at its poor condition. I stopped off at the gun show at the Armory and bought a new 30-30 Winchester for $150.00. Elaine and I went back to the farm. Got pickup unloaded, machinery parked, truck and tractor put away and old pickup started and wood hauled in from west side of the shed. Carolyn got Runzas for supper. We went to Pla-mor for Al Grubneck's last dance there. He's retiring after 50 years-5,000 dances. Bought a tape. It rained all evening.” And to think this all happened on "April Fools Day".

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Seward Chamber Extravaganza

The Seward Area Chamber of Commerce held the annual Extravaganza this evening at the Heritage Hall.  Gary Rolf, Compliance Officer with the Cattle National Bank and Trust was recognized with the Chamber's "Spirit of Seward Award". Gary is Chair of the Chamber 1st Impressions Committee and has done "yeoman's service" in conjunction with the Christmas Holiday Parade Floats. His recognition is "well deserved". Gary spent a career in the US Air Force and moved to Seward a few years ago. Mel Bolte was Recognized with the "First Impressions Award" for his many years of civic activity in helping make Seward the City that we enjoy today. Rick Wallace was the keynote speaker who spoke on "Community Development Resources". Entertainment was provided by "The Great Cake-ini & Cupcake". It was an interesting evening.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Historic Telephone Book

This is an old Telephone Book that dates back to the early 1900's. It lists the names, occupation and the 2 or 3 digit numbers for Nebraska customers. The  Independent Company covered much of SE Nebraska and extended over into Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. My Grandfather William H. Walker is listed in Seward as a "House Mover". I recall my Mother telling of there having 2 phones in the house while a young girl because of two companies operating in Seward. The 387 page book contains a Lincoln section which is "Operated by the Lincoln Telephone Company". There are 65 pages of individual customers and a 13 page listing of "Lincoln Classified Business Directory". I recognize the names of some of the businesses but don't see any of the chain stores listed to which we have become so accustomed.  F. H. Woods is listed in the book as President of this Independent Company, and I believe he or family may have later been connected with Lincoln T & T. I came into possession of it years ago at an Auction. There were still some of the "old guys" in our coffee group at that time who estimated it to have come from the 1907-1910 time period based on the listing of businesses. It is an interesting piece of memorabilia and I may contribute it to Seward's Historic Documents. I wonder if Jim McKee who writes historic stories in the Lincoln Journal Star has access to one.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sadie Elizabeth at 17 Months

We got out to see Sadie as she was finishing her lunch. As is apparent, she was happy to see us and the feeling was mutual. One of her new words today was "tractor". There are 2 new houses being built in their neighborhood by the same contractor who moves machinery between them  past her favorite window.
 We took so much for granted as our kids were learning to talk. They just seemed to pick it up and "run with it". I wonder if having older kids around makes a difference. 
Much of the snow we received yesterday melted today-now it appears we may get freezing rain tomorrow. I had a "first" today by putting pictures and a story on facebook. It deals with a little "Bakelite" can that has been in my shop since coming home in a box from an auction years ago. After some research, I think I know what it was used for but will wait to see what others may think. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Computer help

I checked the mail on my laptop after breakfast this morning and had a message which I took out to the kitchen for Elaine to read. For some reason, the machine just "froze" and I couldn't get the arrow to move or any other response. I couldn't even get any reaction when I pushed the "start" button. I went to coffee, talked to a couple fellows there that are computer savvy and eventually one of my coffee drinking buddies suggested I just call the people where I bought the machine and have  it serviced. I did so when I got home and immediately got the guidance to hold the "start" button down for a few seconds and that would shut it off. I was told to let it set for a few minutes and then bring it back up. This I did, and everything seems to be back to normal. Just another example of being able to solve a problem quite quickly if you just talk to the right people. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sorting Stuff

Cold weather has some pluses. It has kept us close to home and sorting through some of the stuff that we need to "clean out". We have kept many things over the years with the idea that we would enjoy reading and looking at them when we got "old". However, no one wants to admit to  being at that point so they continued to accumulate. Some of the stuff was kept with the idea that "someday" I would write a story about the event or incident and would need the basic information. And, we have done a pretty good job on a few items. But,  I'm to the point now that I am willing to accept the fact that a lot of those stories are not going to get written. An example is files from 12 years on the Seward City Council. I have been off the Council for a year now and still have many files. Yet nothing that isn't already a part of the Official City Records, so after thinking about it for a year, I'm ready to see it go. Now things like this picture will have much longer lasting value. It was taken some 25 years ago and "documents" how we looked at one point in time. I believe Mother had just come from the Beauty Shop and Julie and Heather were just little kids. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Our 1968 Volkswagen Beetle

We bought this 1968 VW in the fall of '67. It was the perfect car for us at the time. Verlon, our oldest had taken driver training but we didn't feel very comfortable with him driving our '65 Chevy station wagon. It was the car that all 4 of our kids learned to drive after having driver training in HS. It was a most convenient vehicle to have back in the Washington, D.C. area. Elaine and I even drove it  to work down in the South Building of Agriculture. Our youngest son, Jon took it with him for his summer job as an SCS Soil Scientist Student Trainee while he was at Virginia Tech and through his Senior year. We had it repainted and gave it to him as a wedding present when he graduated and got married in June of 1977. By 1984, Jon and Mary had other vehicles and no longer needed the VW. We had a Motor Home and felt it would  work well to tow.  We drove our '82 Chevy Pickup back to Franklin, NC, and towed the VW home. We had considerable restoration work done on it including a new paint job to the original red color by Keller Bros. here in Seward. We towed it along on many trips behind the Motor Home but after selling it, we decided in the spring of 1999 to also sell the VW. We placed the following Ad in the Lincoln and Omaha newspapers.  "FOR SALE: 1968 Red Volkswagen Beetle. Restored to near original condition; new tires, battery, carburetor, clutch, brakes, starter, shoulder-seat belts, etc. Speedometer shows154,000 miles, 15,000 of which were registered while towed behind a motor home, engine rebuilt at 108,000. Must be seen to appreciate. Best offer over $3,500."
We sold it within a few days to a couple from Columbus, NE. They were very happy to be able to get it and in sending some things they found in the car, wrote: "Thanks for selling us your 'Baby', we'll take good care of it."

Sunday, January 5, 2014


We watch many nature programs on TV and find them very educational and enjoyable. This Prairie Chicken is an example of how the presence of certain species indicates the condition of the habitat. If they are plentiful in range grasslands it indicates the grass is near a climax condition. During my 32 years with the Soil Conservation Service, I had the opportunity to work with many knowledgeable people under "field" situations. Our son began working for SCS a few years before I retired and continues to work with the Agency even though it went through a name change a few years ago. I can't think of a better career for any young person who has an interest in Nature than working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in USDA. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tastee In-Out

This was it--The last day for Tastee in-out. They had planned for tomorrow being their last day but with the rush of customers, they ran short of food. Tastee has a long history in Lincoln and many happy memories with Lincoln families, including ours. I believe we became customers while we still lived here in Seward. Then when we moved to Lincoln in 1958, it was on the way from where we lived to down town. With 4 kids and a very limited income, it was our favorite place to go and get Tastee Sandwiches. During the years that we lived in the Washington, D. C. area it was always a "must stop" when we came back to visit each summer. While we didn't patronize the place very often after we moved back to Seward, It wasn't unusual for the boy's to want to go there when they were back to visit. I know very little about the ownership and management of the place but it is most unusual that a business of any kind can exist for that length of time without changing. The people involved certainly deserve the community's commendation for the service they provided to family's in Lincoln with many years of Tastee food.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sadie, etc.

Sadie came to visit this morning. She is eating Rice Krispies. We are amazed at how well she handles a spoon. We hadn't seen her for a couple days and she seems to be more "mature" every day. She understands what we say to her and is increasing her ability to say words. Her vocabulary is up to about 8-9 that she says without any question. Then she has her own sounds to express many other things. We think she is pretty special  but aren't all Great Grandchildren. 
Sadie not only brightened our day but the weather also warmed up and melted most of the snow we got a couple days ago. We got out to do some shopping, etc. 
I also started typing up 2013 highlights on our HP PC when the screen went black. After trying several things to bring it back, I finally unplugged it and when plugged back in, it came to life. It was bought back in '07 so I wonder if it's telling me something. The screen has seemed to need to "warm up" for the past few months but I can live with that as long as it brightens up after a few minutes. Maybe it's time to download onto the auxiliary memory that Jon helped me install a few months ago and prepare for what may be inevitable. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Furnace Maintenance

This was not a good day at our house. It has a gas, hot water heating system that was installed when the house was built 44 years ago. We have owned it for 31 of those years and have had a minimum amount of furnace maintenance. However, it had been a few years since the furnace had been cleaned so we contacted the Black Hills Energy people to do the job. We had delayed having it cleaned since BH's office is in York. Prior to their taking over from the Northern Natural Gas Company with an office here in Seward, we had always received excellent service and personally knew the fellows who did the maintenance. The BH fellows cleaned the furnace in late October and while it may just be a coincidence, it hasn't heated the basement properly since. One of the fellows got here early afternoon but was not familiar with a boiler system. The second fellow came about an hour later and the two of them "bled" the radiators to hopefully eliminate any "air lock". While it appears to have helped the situation, they nor we are very confident that the problem has been solved. We did sign a service contract with BH at the time we had the furnace cleaned and they didn't know if this "service" would apply since it was beyond the furnace. While York isn't very far away, I'm convinced that one of our old local guys could have fixed the problem in half the time these two fellows put in. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

It's always a thrill to see the pictures of Times Square on New Year's eve after being back there in the fall of '09 when Carolyn and I went back to visit Julie and see baseball games. We walked down these very sidewalks. As much as we enjoyed it then, I'm equally pleased that we weren't there last night when this picture was taken. During the years we were back in the DC area, New Year's eve parties were very important. Even after coming back to Nebraska we generally "saw the New Year in".  For the past several years we have been content to watch the ball drop in Times Square at 11:00pm our time, and go to bed. We have now reached a new level of celebrating the event. We were up early yesterday morning, had a demanding day, and didn't think we could make it to do our regular ball drop at 11:00. I mixed up a couple Pina Colada's about 9:30 and shortly before 10:00, dropped a rubber ball in our living room and we went to bed. Sometimes, "dropping the ball" is not all bad. Happy New Year!!!