Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Aunts and Cousins

Very few of you who view this blog page will identify with this picture. I am the little boy with the white socks and Mother holding my hand as well as sister Vivian's. The other boys are cousins and the ladies are all Aunts. Lindy is next to Vivian and then are identical twins, Dick and Bob.  The Aunts are Dad's sisters (l-r), Anna,  Rose, Tillie and Dad's Brother John's wife, Anna. We went on to have several more cousins within 10-15 years of our age. We enjoyed "Family Reunions" while our folks were with us and have continued to have Cousins reunions periodically since. We look forward to getting together this year in early July when my younger sister Janice and her husband will be here with  from California.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tony Vrana on Horseback

We received around an inch of rain during the past 24 hours and today's temperature hardly made it into the 50's. It was a good day for cleaning out our old computer desk. I didn't throw much away but had a most interesting time looking at old correspondence, etc. back to 1994. Among my "findings" were CD's of Pictures that were downloaded from earlier computers. This is one of my Dad taken back in the mid-50's. The horse belonged to a Mr. Colburn who owned a farm where my sister and Eddy lived at the time. Dad enjoyed horseback riding and told of occasionally riding his horse  to visit Mother before they were married in 1920. They lived some 8 miles apart and he said the horse would canter all the way home. Dad would have been about 60 years old at the time this picture was taken and in very good condition. Dad made the transition of farming with horses to tractors without a "hitch" but he always loved his horses. Especially: Prince, Pat, Dick and Dan that he raised from Beauty. Soon after we moved back to his old "home place" in 1932, he would ride Beauty over to his cousin, Frank Moravec's  stallion at the appropriate time once a year and have her "serviced". He went on to teach them to lead and while two year olds, start training them to work by tieing them in between two old horses in a four horse team. Part of the training even involved a ritual of taking them to the water tank after coming in from the field and then holding them outside the barn until they "relieved themselves". Dad always believed that: "You have to always show them who's Boss". 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring Flowers

These Jonquils are in a corner bed of Peonies  between our street and driveway. They are a product of "double cropping" in that they come up and bloom ahead of the Peonies "growth spurt". This picture was taken 3 days ago and by now the Peonies have completely overgrown the Jonquils. But what a delight they have been during their few days of glory. The Bradford Pears, and Redbuds are also having an exceptional spring. Forsythia and Flowering Quince haven't shown much. The Persian Lilac are blooming but they never are as showy as the French ones that come on later.
 We had 3 small tornadoes in the area yesterday but little damage was reported. We certainly feel for those people and communities  to the east of us where lives were lost with extensive property damage. I went through a tornado in Ankeny, IA some years ago and have no desire for such further  experience. We were in a condominium and as I blew out the candle in case it hit, the windows were blown out and the end of our building was blown away. Our hallway was filled with plaster and insulation from the attic but fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Experiences like that increases our appreciation of flowers. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kentucky Derby 1975

With the Kentucky Derby coming up this next weekend, I put these 2 glasses on eBay this evening. I listed them at $17.50 which may be more than anyone is willing to pay but that's about what they are worth to me. Tim was stationed in Louisville, KY in 1975 so we visited him and "clicked off an item on our Bucket List" by not only attending, but participating, in the Running for the Roses. Only "Special" people are able to set in the Grandstand so we were in the "infield".  The first race was run well before noon and the Derby wasn't run till about 4:00pm. A considerable amount of human dignity was altered with Mint Juleps during the course of the day. According to my Diary entry of May 3, 1975, "We were up at 7:00am, collected groceries, drinks, etc. Went to the Derby with Tim, Bill and Paula. Rode bus from the fairgrounds. Tim sized it up by saying, 'Never have so many drunken SOB's ever assembled in one place'. We had a $10 dollar win ticket on Foolish Pleasure (who won) but lost $5 on an Avatar ticket. " We did have a most interesting, once in a lifetime experience. The singing of The Old Kentucky Home before the Derby Race was run was my highlight.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Doc Winter

We went to a reception this afternoon at the Greene House for Dr. Byron Winter. The Greene house is one of 3 care facilities here is Seward. Dr. Winter, a Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine, has been an "institution" in Seward since graduating from Iowa State and receiving his DVM degree back in the early sixsties. He has been President of the school board, Church, Kiwanis and active on numerous other organizations over-the-years. Doc lost his wife a few years ago and has reached the point of closing out his house,  business and receiving some special care. His Red Poke-a-dot cap has been his "trademark" over the years. He has written a very frank "first-hand" record of his service during the Korean War.  We have enjoyed many of Doc's stories at Magazine Club, Kiwanis, Tri-C's and other organizations. He will enjoy himself at the Greene House as will other residents. Seward has been a better place during the past 50 years because of Dr. Winter's presence. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Arbor Day

J. Sterling Morton is recognized as the Founder of Arbor Day. It was first celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872 when the citizens of our young state planted over 1 million trees. It became our annual State Holiday in 1925 and after most states had established a date for such a celebration, President Nixon established the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. While we didn't plant a tree today, we certainly have planted many of them over-the-years. We can drive around Seward and enjoy looking at trees I planted over 50 years ago. We planted many seedlings the first spring after we bought the farm in 1980 and one of the Concolor Firs from that group is over 40' high in our back yard. Seward has continued to be a "Tree City USA" with a wide variety of species within the City. A few years ago our First Impressions Committee planted a grove of Black Walnut and Pecan trees on City Property in a Flood Plain that are doing well. Elaine's experience with the Forest Service helped me to realize that trees are a lot like people, none of them are perfect and they have a limited life cycle. We must continue to plant and care for our trees for sustainability. John Rosenow who is wrapping up a 42-year career with the Arbor Day Foundation, quoted J. Sterling Morton who wrote, "Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed." You Trivia buffs would be interested in knowing that the J. in Morton's first name is for Julius. I won a cap on that question Monday when we had an Arbor Day Foundation speaker at Kiwanis.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Flowers, Birds & Rain

We have enjoyed Daffodils in our front yard for the past couple weeks. These are on the north side and the last to bloom. We should do more to transplant the bulbs in the fall but just don't get it done. We had an inch of rain yesterday and last night, which was very welcomed. I plan to get out the mower tomorrow and cut part of the front yard lawn. I pulled some blue grass out of our Iris bed this evening but it is still very much "infested" with it. (Why is it so persistent where you don't want it and so reticent where you do). Hopefully the Iris will bloom this year. This is the 3rd year for the bed and last year we only had one bloom before it was covered with snow.We saw Starlings in our backyard today for the first time this spring. They join the Yellow and House Finches, Collared Doves, Cardinals, Juncos, Blue Jays, Grackles, Sparrows, etc. The Collared Doves are at the top of the "pecking order", and I saw one of them  even take on a squirrel yesterday and caused it to flee. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Turner, Snodgrass, Walker, Vrana families

The obituary for Doris Jean Bogert in today's Seward Independent prompted some research because of past relationships between her family and mine. Doris was born to Glen and Dorothy (Alley) Snograss in Seward in 1934. Dorothy's family, the Pearl Alley's, were our “next door” neighbors in Seward till we moved to the farm in 1932. Dorothy's younger brothers Dale and Clifford were some of my first friends as shown in this picture of my 5th birthday party. Don and Orville Jones were also neighbor boy buddies. I don't believe Dorothy is pictured but her younger sister Evelyn is shown behind my sister Vivan who is standing behind the kneeling Jones and Alley boys. Dorothy wrote a "story" of the Alley family in a Seward County Historical Society book published in 1982. In it she tells of her folks, the Pearl Alley's living on 13th Street, north of the Hughes Brothers plant. Their house is shown in the trees beyond the plant and an Oil distribution plant.
Our house is at the upper part of the picture  and to the left of the Alley's. The insert is a close up of it. Dorothy also tells of meeting her husband Glen Snodgress who had come to Seward County to husk corn for Tom and Fred Turner, my Great Uncles. Glen then went to help my Uncle Clarence Walker husk corn which is where Dorothy was staying while teaching the Middle Creek country school. Glen was known as an excellent corn husker and my folks had him come up to help them for a short time. She and Glen were married and farmed my Uncle Bert Walker's place for one year during the drought and depression before coming to Seward where he worked for "Red" Rolfsmeier and she at the "Egg" plant.  Glen and Dorothy were blessed with Phyllis, Carole, Marilyn, Doris, and son Ron.   My Uncle Clarence Walker and Glen Snodgrass were good friends and often worked together throughout their lifetimes for the State Highway Department,  Wake, Cattle Co. etc. It is most interesting in a small, stable community how families relate over the years even without any formal connections. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014

Today is Earth Day. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin was the founder of it back in 1970. This picture was taken in 1990 when I was Exec. VP of the International Soil and Water Conservation Society located in Ankeny, IA.  We in the Society always celebrated the event with some special occasion. One year we dedicated the "David E. Hutchinson" native prairie which was part of the Headquarters site. I am pictured here with USDA Soil Conservation Service Chief, Bill Richards and Iowa SCS State Conservationist, Jeff Vonk. We are standing in front of a painting of Hugh Hammond Bennett, Chief and founder of the Soil Conservation Service. Bennett was a Soil Scientist by formal training and recognized early in his career that while protecting soil from erosion and degradation was a central theme, natural resource conservation and sustainability of agriculture involved a much broader focus. Paul Johnson who became Chief of the SCS during the 90's was instrumental in renaming the Agency, The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Gaylord Nelson recognized the "interconnectedness" of natural resources with Earth Day. Today we still hear skeptics question man's influence on "global warming" and "climate change" but to me it is just a matter of continuing to broaden the perspective of "all things being connected" and, Yes, man has influenced change of "natural systems".  The destruction has been well documented, but fortunately, I believe we have "turned the corner". With each passing year, there is more acceptance of the need for environmental protection to provide sustainability. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Seward Cleanup Day

Scott Willett with the Seward 1st Impressions Committee of the Chamber of Commerce led another very successful "Clean-Up" Day this past Saturday. Over 200 vehicles brought a wide variety of items down to the Wastewater Plant parking lot between 8:00-1:00pm where Clark Kolterman and a crew of his students from Seward HS helped Scott handle the traffic. A big thank-you also goes to Felhafer's from Utica that brought in the equipment shown in the picture. The machine is very versatile in that it can pick up items from vehicles, load them in the crusher, and than pick up the crushed "bales" and place them in an adjoining truck. The material is then all recycled. Electronic materials are handled by a separate crew apart from this machinery. We took down an old computer and the young people were right there to unload it out of the trunk. It's a good learning experience for the young people and certainly a plus for the community and the environment in general. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sadie Elizabeth on Easter Day

We were out with Sadie and Seward family for Easter Dinner. For a 20 month old, she is a "big" girl in many ways. She continues to build her vocabulary and added chocolate among other words today. Her strength continues to amaze us. She will pick up and walk away with larger items than we think possible. Her Grandma Carolyn and Ben brought her a little John Deere tractor that would talk if buttons were pushed. It didn't take long for her to figure it out. Great Grandparents took out a little soft, white lamb for her but it didn't have the attraction of a tractor. While Grandpa Ben showed her how to blow bubbles, it didn't take long for her to learn how it was done. She hasn't figured out what the bubbles are but knows how to "pop" those that came her way. Her feminine instincts showed through by being proud of her new shoes. Some years ago, the Jr. High band instructor commented that if Julie and John would get married and have children, they should be excellent musicians. That is still to be seen but some of us think She is pretty special. 
We did have a nice rain shower  this evening. I still don't have a gauge out, but it was very welcomed. We might even get more before the day is over. Now we are waiting to see if the old adage holds that we will have rain for the next 7 Sundays.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tony & Elaine's 50th Anniversary

It will be 15 years this June since Elaine and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary. This afternoon, I pulled out the camcorder account of the event and we watched it on our TV. It has been years since we have seen it. Many of our older friends are no longer with us and 15 years changed  the kids considerably. The Kitones sang and even though Jon and his family had moved to D.C., he was familiar with the songs from his earlier time here in Seward and sang with them. I didn't sing that day since we were being honored.  Cindy was leading us at that time and they sounded very good. Arlo was the MC for the event and did a great job. We have had considerable turnover in the Group since then. Seeing the tape made us realize how much work was done by many people to make the event as memorable as it was (and is). Elaine and I sat out on the deck this evening and watched the Turkey Vultures gliding overhead. Fortunately, we also saw Robins, Cardinals, Finches, Blue Jays, Grackles, Sparrows, etc. We received some Easter Greetings this evening and look forward to Celebrating Christ's Resurrection with Easter Sunday Services tomorrow. It might even rain and the old adage is that, "If it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain on the next 7 Sundays". We could use it. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring is Here

Elaine caught me spreading some 17-17-17 on our backyard lawn yesterday. We have had a lawn care service take care of it for the past 20 years but have had some concern with their care the past couple years. We just decided so see what we can do on our own. I have long since sold the little 2-wheeled spreader when we quit taking care of it ourselves. This old spreader that I'm using has a long history.  I remember of seeing my dad use it to "over-seed" oats  in winter wheat that had freeze damage. He also used it to seed sweet-clover. We used it about 30 years ago to seed some clover when we had our farm and at that time, Elaine sewed a new bag for it. We also used it during those years for seeding grass and spreading fertilizer. I don't know how our lawn will turn out this year and our care of it may be a 1-year experiment. The "Girls" spent some time with us too helping outdoors. We couldn't miss the chance to take a 4-generation picture as they were leaving.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Folks Retirement House

This is the Japanese Magnolia tree at the house where my folks retired in the mid '70's and lived until they died in the early '90's. I planted the Magnolia for Mother in the early '80's soon after we moved back.  When we lived in Arlington, VA we drove past one every day and admired it every spring as it bloomed so beautifully. I planted this one on the NE corner of the house and when the folks bought the house from the Folks' estate, they widened the driveway and moved the tree to its present location. I had also planted the Yew's in front of the house at the time of planting the Magnolia. However, the Pin Oak shown is one that my partner and I planted for Mrs.Mercer, the original owner back in the mid '50's while selling and planting for Nebraska Nurseries as a sideline from our regular SCS jobs. It was probably 30 years ago that the Pin Oak showed signs of iron deficiency. At that time Dad and I measured the circumference of the tree, 5 feet above the ground, and determined that it was 22 inches in diameter. Dad applied treatment according to that size and it has been a beautiful tree since. We drive past the place every Sunday going to Church and when I go to Kitone practice every Monday night and admire it every time. I'm very appreciative of the folks that moved the Magnolia. The place has been sold another couple times since then. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jack Armstrong at 90

I took a Birthday Card this afternoon and went up to visit my old friend Jack Armstrong at the Greene House who will be celebrating his 90th birthday tomorrow. Jack and I are the only ones left of the eleven who were in the Garland HS Class of '42. I had skipped 6th grade so was somewhat younger than others in the class. My first memory of Jack goes back to August 15, 1935. His Dad ran the steam engine for the thrashing machine on Wagenknecht's "run" that was thrashing at our place. Jack and his Mother came out and told everyone at afternoon lunch that Will Rogers and Wiley Post had been killed in an airplane accident in Canada. Jack was in the Army during WWII and in the National Guard for 32 years. We played basketball and baseball with Garland and Seward for many years. Jack "grew up" in his Dad's Auto repair, machine shop, and filling station and spent much of his career as an Auto Mechanic Instructor in the Milford, NE Trade School. We always have a great visit--there are so many stories we can recall. I knew he still played baseball with Garland  during the years we were back in Virginia so I asked him today when he finally "hung it up". He said he didn't remember the year but it was after a game in Staplehurst where he hit 2 Home Runs off Bob Prokop. Jack has a great family, and I'm sure he will have a wonderful birthday celebration tomorrow.  Send him a card at The Greene House, 600 Church Street, Apt. 114, Seward, NE 68434; he will enjoy it. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Inspiration Point

We stopped by "Inspiration Point" Saturday down at the Fairgrounds. Some may recall this spot, just across the dyke from the Swimming Pool, as the old ice skating pond and later as a fish pond. Last fall the Nebraska Game and Parks became involved in the renovation to develop the site into a Large Mouth Bass catch and release fishing pond. A local group has also been involved in developing a Fishing Pier that will accommodate wheel chairs. The whole facility is to be handicapped accessible. Plans are also underway for the extension of the city walker-biker trail to be extended around the south part of town and pass through this area on top of the dyke. The white plastic pipe in the foreground of the picture was moving city water from a nearby hydrant to the pond. The pond was deepened considerably and the piles of rubble in the pond are to improve the fish habitat and encourage reproduction. It will be a great improvement down at the Fair Grounds. It might even encourage me to take up the sport of fishing which we haven't done since selling the farm. Come to think about it, It was 25 years ago today, April 15, 1989 that we had our farm Auction. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dahms for Treasurer

With  at least one of the 6 Republican candidates for Nebraska Governor having already spent over a million dollars on his primary campaign, it is refreshing to see a home made sign supporting a local candidate. We also have 5 Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Johannes. It is unusual for two highly sought after positions to become available at the same time. There is only token competition on the Democratic ticket for the Governor and Senate seat. While the voter registration in Nebraska greatly favors Republicans, the State has a history of Democratic Governors and Senators being elected by "cross-over" voters in the General election. This could certainly be the case this year with the leading Republican Gubernatorial candidates being so critical of their primary opposition. It is also true of the Senatorial candidates but not to the same extent. We in Nebraska pride ourselves on our non-partisan Unicameral Legislature and for its operating procedures that minimizes party influence. Recent Supreme Court action lifting restrictions on financial contributions and their source, has certainly given more "clout" to Dollars and  diminished the importance of individuals. I will enjoy voting for Dahms because I know him, trust him, and know where his campaign funding is coming from. I wish I could say that about the other candidates. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palms and Azaleas

We were up early to participate in 8:30 am Church Services held again this Palm Sunday in the lower level of the Seward Civic Center. Diane is shown here giving a report on progress being made to repairs underway in the Church Sanctuary. Rev. Dale had a good sermon; the children played  a prominent role with their music and waving of Palm Branches. Plans are for Easter Services again at the Civic Center to accommodate the crowd and then we will be back to the Church's Fellowship Hall for services until the Sanctuary reconstruction is completed. This disruption of normal Church services helps us to realize how much we usually take for granted. 
We have enjoyed the blessing of a "rainy day", the first one we have had all spring. It rained off and on all day with the temperature dropping into the 20's and the rain turning to snow this evening. 
The Masters occupied much of our afternoon. While Jordan Spieth is a great story as a 20-year old golfer, Bubba Watson put together a great game to win his 2nd Green Jacket. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

1925 Kenworth ERTL model at Auction

I spent a good part of the day down at the late Les and Helen Nelson Auction. Les was in our Coffee group for some years and died earlier this year after having his 90th birthday last summer. Les farmed, worked at American Stores and served as Seward County Assessor and County Commissioner. He belonged to the Model-A Club and was a collector of many things. I got the bid on 3 ERTL trucks and an old Seward Newspaper clipping.

 Shown here is the 1925 Kenworth Van. It came complete in an unopened box that included a Certificate of Authenticity noting that only 7,500 die cast models of this item have ever been produced. This one is number 0483. I was attracted to it because of an old family picture that Mother had written "Bert 1923" on the back of it. The little boy that Uncle Bert is holding on the fender could have been my Uncle Ralph. He would have been that age in 1923. My other purchase was a Seward County Tax delinquency list from 1875 that had been discovered back in 1958 in the wall  of an old house that was being remodeled. It was also a day of a lot of visiting with old friends and fellow action participants

Friday, April 11, 2014

Flowers, Birds and 78 Degrees

Our 78 degree temperature and daffodils blooming at our front door, prompted Elaine and I to do some yard work this afternoon. We had cleaned up the leaves in the front yard a couple weeks ago so today it was the back yard that got "cleaned up". We also "rebuilt' our old Finch feeder. Our Finch feeders are about like our cars with our "new car" being an '02. Our new Finch feeder isn't quite that old but our old one certainly is. We took it apart and Elaine cleaned out the old Niger seed that was "caked" in the bottom. She scrubbed it and after drying out in the sun, we put it back together with strapping tape. We then filled it with new Niger seed and hung it on the clothes line cross arm. The "new" feeder is at the other end of the cross arm. We have seen several yellow Finch on it already.  I hope our old Black Crow doesn't discourage the Finch from eating. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sadie and The Masters

Our  "Little Buddy" spent much of the morning with us. While this isn't it, she did learn how to take a picture of herself sitting on my lap with the computer. I went to coffee while she was here but got home to put on some polka records which she thoroughly enjoyed. We also played some old DVD tapes where she sat on the coffee table to watch. We have kept a good supply of reading material on the table but after her "rearranging" it, decided to get rid of much of it. Some will go up to Ridgewood and the rest to recycling. We have enjoyed watching the Masters Golf Tournament this afternoon. We miss Tiger Wood being in it this year as he recuperates from back surgery. It is interesting to see how the void is always filled by the young guys coming up as the old fellows fade away. That also is the case with the old Eisenhower tree having succumbed to an ice storm and the forces of nature. I missed the name of the young man that was one under for the day who is only 20 years old. Bill Haas has the lead at four under with Adam Scott one stroke back. It appears that Scott could be a strong contender for that coveted Green Jacket.
This is Sadie's laptop "selfie"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sadie, etc.

Elaine and I had the pleasure of taking care of Sadie for the first time yesterday morning. Both Julie and Carolyn had other activities which provided us the opportunity. She was with Elaine and I for over 3 hours and we had a great time. It included a walk in the backyard and learning the difference between a Friendly Fir and a Sprickly Spruce.  Elaine had a Beauty Shoppe appointment at noon so Carolyn enjoyed even more time with her out doors. We were supposed to have an Accordion Jamboree down at the Senior Center this afternoon which we knew Sadie would enjoy. Elaine and I went down as did Carolyn, Julie and Sadie. While the Jamboree didn't take place, a retired music teacher performed with songs, trumpet, and stories. It took Sadie a while to warm up to his music but before it was over, he had to tell her that he was supposed to be the entertainment. She brought joy to many Senior Citizens.
We had our first 83 degree day of the spring. In fact it was the first time over 80 since October 10 last fall. We like the warm weather but not the south wind that brings it to us. We need rain. I saw a sprinkler running in a neighbor's yard this morning. 
We are watching a Kansas City baseball game tonight for the first time this season and Alex Gordon got a "dinger". We closed out the basketball season last night by watching the U of Conn. Huskies win the Women's NCAA Championship. That follows their Men's win on Monday evening.
We also got our Income Tax mailed in today so all-in-all, it has been a good day in the neighborhood. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Cross Makers

PeeWee and Le Roy are pictured here as they appeared in the Cross Makers booth at the Seward Spring Show this past Saturday at the Ag Pavilion. The "Cross Makers" are a group of senior citizens who have been making the Palm Crosses for about 5 years. They have expanded their "product line" to various sized Palm Crosses as well as larger crosses as shown on the table. This group of people have perfected the process to where their production is outstanding. They have been successful in having trees and logs given to them but it usually involves going out with saws and cutting them up. There are many steps in the process from raw logs to finished crosses and they do them all. I understand they have sent them to every state in the USA as well as many overseas. We recently sent one to a dear friend in Arizona who lost her husband recently. She was most grateful for receiving it. These fellows started out doing much of the work in the basement of one of their homes but about a year ago, space was given to them in what had been an old medical clinic building at one time. You can learn more about them at their web site: 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lew & Edna Kehne

We received word this morning that our old friend Lew Kehne died on March 26 following his 96th birthday last fall. We  maintained a certain level of contact the last few years after having last visited them in Spokane, WA in 2003. Lew was "one of a kind". The type of person that had an impact on everyone he met. He grew up on farm in northeast Nebraska during the drought and depression of the 1930's. He went into the Army a year ahead of WWII, landed with the troops on D Day, participated in the Battle of the Bulge and helped bring the war to an end. He received a BS degree in Civil Engineer in 1950 and his first assignment with the USDA Soil Conservation Service was in Seward where I was working. We carried our lunch and I have a very vivid memory of Lew setting in the back of our pickup truck and saying, "Every Day a Holiday" as he opened his lunch pail. After the years of war that he had been through, working with farmers to help them conserve their soil was truly, a Holiday. One of the fellows that Lew worked with that summer continued to work his entire SCS career in Seward. When we built the new Library 10 years ago, Clarence gifted some $30,000. for the computer room which has "Every Day a Holiday" inscribed on its boarder. Clarence also has that message on his tombstone. Lew had a very successful career in SCS including State Engineer in Hawaii and Washington. When we visited he and Edna in '03, we were amazed at the ingenious things he had developed, some of which were patented. Edna died a few years ago. They leave Jon, Mary, Jay and their families plus many, many friends to cherish their memories.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Signing" a Children's Sermon

We enjoyed an unusual Methodist Church service this morning in the lower level of the Seward Civic Center. The Church sanctuary is being renovated due to water/mold damage. For the past few weeks worship services have been held in the Fellowship Hall which has worked out O.K. We were at the early service this morning but a large crowd was anticipated for the later service where 12 communicants were to be recognized. Normally, we have 6-10 youngsters participating in the Children's sermon. This morning when Rev. Dale invited the Children to come forward, no one responded. He was "taken aback" for a minute and then announce that we would have the Children's sermon anyway. A couple fellows jumped up and wend down to hear the "message" and were quickly joined by the group shown here. There were even a couple children involved as his sermon got underway using sign language. We all were inspired by the message as well as his later sermon.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tony & Sadies "selfie".

While we were out at the Owens house yesterday, Sadie sat on my lap and we took some "selfies". Its not easy doing that with a squirming 20-month old girl setting on your lap. She enjoyed each one we took and would point to her picture and say selfie.  She has a name for me but I don't know how to spell it, its not listed in Webster yet. We hear that when we left she said my name and then said "fun". We certainly enjoy watching the change that takes place every week. We also noticed a couple little girls when we were out shopping this morning that were about a year older than Sadie, and remarked how soon she would get to that stage. The older one becomes, the faster time passes. Maybe it's because it takes us longer to do anything and everything, including writing a blog while watching a Final Four basketball game. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Magazine Club at the LaRuche

Elaine is shown here along with some of the folks that were at the magazine club meeting last night at the "old Cattle house". Next to Elaine (closest to the camera) is Becky. It was her Great Grandfather who built the house in 1904 and where her Dad lived before going into the Army and getting married. Her Grandparents lived there until 1949 when it was sold to Concordia. She has no direct memories of their living in the house but is well aware of many family stories. Elaine also  told stories of here memories of the house having brought cream and dressed chickens to the Cattle's when she was a girl. On one occasion, she and a Cattle girl hid behind a couch when a neighbor lady was coming over. Unfortunately, one of the girls sneezed, they were discovered and escorted out of the room. Elaine also told the story of visiting 

with Becky's Grandmother when we were visiting back in Seward during the late '60's when Elaine was working at the Pentagon. Mrs. Cattle told of her family (the Brown family) having owned  the land in the Washington, D.C. area at one time on which the Pentagon was built. It was a most interesting evening. The house is located near the corner of 2nd & Hillcrest. It was on a quarter of a block at the time the Cattle's owned it. During Concordia's tenure, they built four small houses on the grounds around the big house which altered the setting and view of the facility. Bonnie, the new owner is very optimistic and is giving "new life" to an "old mansion".

Thursday, April 3, 2014


We and another couple are hosting the monthly meeting of the Seward Magazine Clue tonight at the LaRuche Bed & Breakfast. The house was built by the Cattle Family over 100 years ago and served as their home for many years. It has gone through 4 ownerships since and was recently purchased by a lady with Seward connections who is doing some renovations and will open a Bed & Breakfast. As a co-host, my responsibility is to offer a toast to the new venture. This is what I plan to say: " Here's to the success of the LaRuche Bed and Breakfast. May it bring restful pleasure and enjoyable nourishment to the Guests while returning financial success to its owners. And, may the Guests of the LaRuche leave Seward with admiration for Bonnie, appreciation for this stately old house, and heightened memories of the Seward Community. "

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Three Generations

Here is another picture from the CD-R that Phil sent to us back in '04. It contains 193 family pictures. This one was taken in 1938 at the Grandparents home in Bee, NE. Grandmother has Phyllis on her lap and Grandfather is holding Dale. My Dad has on sunglasses; he and Mother are holding Jerry and Janice. Bill Thompson has on a hat; he and Aunt Rose are holding Billie and Bob. Phil, George, Kenny and Jimmy are at the left on the picture. I am standing in front of Dad and Don is in front of me. Richard Olson and Vivian are also included. These were interesting times. Our Cousins were some of our closest friends. The Olson twins, Lindy and I were all within a year of the same age. It was at this stage of life that I became a NY Yankee fan. About the only Major League baseball games we could get on the radio was  the Chicago Cubs so I had been a Cubs fan. While visiting the Olson twins down at Crete one Sunday, Dick and Bob had Yankee posters all over their room. When they learned that I was a Cub fan, one of them suggested that if I rooted for the Yankees, I would be happier  because they won so much more often. I took that advice and have been a Yankee fan ever since. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Phillip W. Vrana

We attended the funeral today for Cousin Phil Vrana in Hastings, NE. Phil was 82 and is pictured here with his parents and siblings in i996 at the time of his parents, Joe & Ruth's 60th Wedding Anniversary. The siblings are Dale, Joanne, Bonnie, Margaret and Phil. Phil's Dad and my Dad were brothers. Phil is survived by his wife Jean, sons Steve (Marilyn), Dan (Mary) and daughters Jan(Matt)Dwyer, Sue (Terry) Colhour; twelve grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and his siblings shown in the picture. Phil graduated from UN-L with a BS in Agriculture, served 2 years in the Army and had a career in Land Management with Farmers National and eventually his own firm "Mid-west Farm Management, Inc." He was active in the Methodist Church, Rotary Club and Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, etc. Phil was highly respected among his associates in business, church, friends and relatives. As cousins we had many mutual friends and everything that I ever heard about Phil was very positive. He was a good Man and Steward of our Natural Resources.
We rode with my brother Don and his wife and were able to enjoy seeing the Sandhills Cranes feeding in the corn and soybean fields near Grand Island and the Platte River.