Thursday, July 31, 2014

Native Grass Seeding

While I have used this picture on the "header" of my blog page since starting to write it, I've never said much about it. Tim, Carolyn are with me on a farm that we owned in NW Seward, Co. NE back in the 50's-'70's time frame. It was 160 acre farm about 2 miles from where I grew up and had  farmed it for a couple years during the '40's. It was put up for Auction in a bankruptcy sale in 1956, and we bought it from the people who held the mortgage. It was at the time the "Soil Bank" program began with payments guaranteed if the land was seeded to native grass. It was a badly eroded place when we farmed it in the '40's and  even worse by the time we bought it. We had a local contractor build terraces on all the cropland, and then seeded it to Native Grass. Seed was not readily available so we even hand stripped some Indian Grass which we planted. Switch grass and Sand Love was bought from the Miller Seed Co. in Lincoln and individual producers in SE Nebraska. We bought a mixture of Bluestems and Grama grass from the local Campbell's Seed House. We surface seeded it in late spring, tredded and harrowed it to get the seed covered in a firm seedbed. The first year we saw more weeds than grass which we sprayed with 2,4-D. The grass came along the 2nd year and again we sprayed and mowed. This picture was taken in about the 3rd or 4th year when the native grass had really taken over. We also planted trees and multiflora rose which was popular for Quail cover in those days. The place required very little maintenance, and we were even able to extend the contract for an additional 5 years. The place was our "pride and joy" for several years but a local farmer sought us out to buy it as the contract expired. We sold it which helped  get kids through college which was what we had hoped for at the time we bought it. It is still in grass today which we still visit occasionally. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A House On 1st Street

Rich announced the solution at coffee yesterday to a question which confronted us since last Thursday morning when we saw this sight of a house going down our street. It was further confirmed with the arrival of the Seward Independent today with this picture and the story. The house came from E. Roberts St. and was moved due to expansion of the Seward Memorial Hospital facility. The house was bought by a couple from Milford and moved to that City. It took about 3 hours as they utilized seldom used gravel roads. We had observed City crews doing some tree trimming earlier and didn't connect that with a house moving. Needles to say, it  was a surprise when Elaine called me out of the bathroom to see a house going by. Then we questioned where it came from and where it was going. It doesn't take much to make old people curious. I remember when Lyle Mason built the house some 20-25 years ago and we drove past it every time we picked up Home Delivered Meals, but just didn't recognize it as it went by. Hopefully, it will make the new owners a Happy Home.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dinesh D'Souza's "America"

We saw Dinesh D'Souza's movie "America"  this evening at the Rivoli Theatre here in Seward. It starts out with the Revolutionary War extolling the virtues of "liberty and justice for all". It then traces our history of injustice to Native people, slavery, Mexico, and our intervention in foreign problems and exploitation of other countries. He then goes on to justify our actions for the benefits they brought to this country as justification for our checkered past. The movie enters a 2nd chapter at this point when Saul Alinsky is brought in with his socialist influence on young people of the 60's which eventually includes Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. He makes a point of the amount of information being recorded on every American and suggest it is being used by the Federal Government against individuals who oppose them. Bob Woodward is shown telling of his being singled out during the Nixon Administration. The movie lacks cohesiveness as it moves from one "story" to another.  There is a bit of hyperbola in dress and killing in the Revolutionary War scenes. My comment to the usher who asked what I thought of it was: "There is a fine line between it being being a documentary or propaganda." In my opinion, it crosses the line. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Double Header Kiwanis Program

Larry Dix, Executive Director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials joined Dennis Kahl in presenting a "double-header" program at Kiwanis today. We had a large group in attendance with members of the Seward Chamber of Commerce and SCED also invited. Mr. Dix is headquartered in Lincoln and follows the action of the Legislature and it's potential effect on Nebraska's 93 units of County Government. He took us through the Budgeting cycle for Counties and the other entities whose budgets are included in the County assessment. Education is the most significant factor in County budgets and all must be within the Constitutional amendment which sets a 50cent/100dollar valuation, levy limit. The recent  increase in the valuation of Ag land was discussed but he saw nothing underway to change what some see as a significant "shift". 
Dennis Kahl is shown here presenting an award to Amanda Kessler for her involvement in an Extension Service program called "UNITE 16 - Building Entrepreneurial Communities." It involves a small group of young people having a series of monthly meetings aimed at building and enhancing skills and networking. The program for the day was introduced by Johathan Jank, our Director of Seward County Economic Development, which stands to profit by better public understanding of both presentations. They were so impressive that I even committed to play golf in the Kiwanis 4-person scramble on Friday.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Jerry & Lyn Hemphill's 50th Wedding Anniversary

We participated in the 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration this afternoon honoring Jerry and Lyn Hemphill. The event was held in the Chamber of Commerce "Olde Glory Theatre here in Seward. There was a good turnout of friends and relatives. There were many from the Utica area that included some old friends we hadn't seen for some time. Jerry has been a frequent morning coffee drinker with our group for a number of years. He serves with the Utica Rescue Squad which is called to accidents on I-80 quite often. He has had considerable experience as an electrician and helped me install a kitchen light in our house .
Jerry brings many interesting stories to the table for discussion. He has even been known to demonstrate some of the "action" with his hand gestures. We also appreciate the frequent treats that he brings in. Lyn was recognized a few years ago for her humanitarian activities. Among other things, she was deeply involved in the management of the Utica Care Center. They both have occasion to spend some time nearly every week at son Cheyene's Husker Headquarters in Lincoln. People like Jerry and Lyn are the kind that can and will help you out with any number of activities or problems. We certainly wish them many more years of carrying out their humanitarian work. 
I never knew Jerry when he looked like he does in this wedding picture. He does appear to look like the young man that would have done some of the things that his friends talk about. But, I must add that he has "matured" into the kind of person that has helped to make this country the great nation that it is. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Son Jon and Childhood Memories of Ice Cream

Son Jon was involved today representing Mr. Lydecker and his store during Civil War time back in Virginia. He wrote the following of his Childhood memories of our making ice cream. "Years ago, I think I must have been about 11 or 12 years old, in 5th grade, I began to deliver the "Washington Daily News." With one of my first checks, I purchased a hand-crank ice cream maker. On any
particular Sunday afternoon, my mom would mix up "the custard" and my dad would freeze milk containers of ice. We'll set up the ice cream maker in the backyard, my dad would get out the burlap bag and get his ax and frozen milk containers. He'd bust up the ice and scatter the ice in the wooden bucket, surrounding the metal container, containing my mom's custard mix.
Then the fun began. We'd take turns in my family of 3 boys (I have two older brothers) and 1 girl and my mom and dad.My dad kept up the layer of ice. Not to forget putting the kosher rock salt on the ice periodically to keep it really cold (below 32 degrees.) We'd crank and crank, as steady and even as possible. Didn't seem like we were making any progress for quite a while. Seems like about 45 minutes or so, it would really get hard to crank the handle. My dad usually took over at the end to put the last really hard turns on the
handle and to make sure it was ready.
Then he would take off the handle, pack the ice cream maker with the rest of the busted up ice with salt carefully spread, being careful not to get any salt into the ice cream. He'd lay the burlap bag over the ice cream maker. It would really set up well. We'd have a picnic
of hamburgers and hot dogs and other great food that my mom would make. My dad would do the burgers and dogs. With the completion of the main course of dinner, we'd get the ice cream.
The unveiling. Off with the burlap. Brushing off of the ice. Opening of the metal container. Wow. Fresh homemade ice cream. Now the bowls and spoons from mom and dad would pull out the dasher (the inner workings of the maker). He's scrap off the ice cream on the dasher back into the metal container. It was a lucky person who got to lick off the remaining ice cream off the dasher."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lindbergh-My Boyhood Hero

Here is a piece of sheet music published by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. Inc. in 1927. The words express the feeling of Lindbergh at the time.

I dug out my old Lindbergh books down in the basement this afternoon. In reading some excerpts from them and reflecting on Benjamin's The Aviator's Wife, I am ready to conclude that there are Heroic feats by exceptional people and Hero's of specific events or activities but that doesn't make them Heroes in General. .

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Visiting Sadie & Listening to Larry

We had an opportunity to get out and visit Sadie this evening. This is Julie and John's 4th Wedding Anniversary and they had gone out for Dinner. Carolyn was babysitting, and we drove out to spend a bit of time with them. Sadie is putting more words together and understands everything we say. Her pronunciation of words is improving to the point of saying some words very accurately. She is already talking about the Birthday Party she hears her folks talking about on the 6th of August. She gets up to the preschool playground frequently, and we understand that she really enjoys reacting with other kids. We really appreciate the pleasure of being a part of our first Great Grand Child's childhood. 
After visiting Carolyn and Sadie, Ben picked us up and took us to the Seward Memorial Library where Dr. Larry Grothaus spoke on "Charles Lindbergh: A Man of Contrasts". The 2014 All Seward Reads Together selection is "The Aviator's Wife" by Melanie Benjamin. Larry did an excellent job of leading the discussion. Many of those in the audience had read the book and were old enough to remember Charles Lindbergh as a Hero. A comment was made that Benjamin was successful in "burying a hero". She will be in the Library in September for what should be another very interesting program. Thanks Library Staff and especially Charlotte for these programs.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rain Bird Sprinkler Head

We have 6 of this type of Rain Bird Lawn Sprinklers in our back yard. They are an excellent product but that doesn't relieve the need for a certain amount of maintenance. They were installed at the time our house was built back in 1968. We are the second owners having bought the house back in '81. This sprinkler head sets in a plastic bowl with a 6 inch diameter lid. The lid and sprinkler pops up a couple inches when the water is turned on which lets the system operate. The sprinkler and lid drops down when the water is turned off and is flush with the ground so it doesn't interfer with mowing. It can be adjusted to cover whatever part of a circle desired and the sprinkler stream can be controlled to shooting out as much as 35' or as little as 10 feet. Farmers  use to think that frost action brought rocks to the surface instead of acknowledging the impact of soil erosion. Likewise, we don't realize how the level of our lawns build up over a period of years. Two of ours were not working properly so I took the lids off and cleaned out the dirt and muck that had accumulated in the container. They were both in a location with little grass so it was more of a case of sediment collection than "soil build-up".  A couple of the others do show the build-up of the soil level. After cleaning, I wanted to make some adjustments; so while I was in the backyard watching the effects of my adjustments, Elaine was in the garage at the control box turning the water on and off. If we would have each had a phone, it would have simplified the project.  It doesn't take much to keep old people busy. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Black Hills Energy & Service Guard

We have never been suckers for extended warranties or "service plans" on new items, but last October we weakened and "bought " the Black Hills Energy Service Guard plan for extended care of our furnace. We had received advertisements indicating the plan would cost 15.50/month and when the BH technicians cleaned our furnace in early October, they indicated that the discount from the billing of their services would nearly cover 3 months of the cost of the plan, so we bought it. Our first disappointment was when we found 27.28 added to our monthly billing. But when the basement wasn't heating properly as we got into colder weather, we called BH and the technicians who came didn't appear to be familiar with Hot Water Boiler systems. They were unable to even diagnose the problem. Meanwhile I went to our local Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning people who quickly recognized the problem and got it repaired. Our contract with BH for their Service Guard plan is for a minimum of 1 year. Today, I wrote to Black Hills asking them to cancel our Service Guard plan as soon as possible. Such service plans and extended warranties may be appropriate for some consumers but for those of us that take reasonably good care of equipment, they are a "Rip-off".

Monday, July 21, 2014

Plane crash during Alaska trip.

News coverage yesterday of the 25th anniversary of the crash of the DC-10 in Sioux City, Iowa, brought back memories. Of the 296 people aboard, on the United flight from Denver to Chicago, 112 died of injuries. As the plane made a shallow right turn over Iowa,  the fan disk in the tail engine disintegrated and ruptured the planes hydraulic systems. The pilots had very little control of the plane but managed to circle until they were able to approach the Sioux City airport. The Omaha World Herald  quoted coverage of the exchange of the pilot and air traffic controllers for nearly an hour before it crashed at the airport. Fortunately 184 survived and the accident provided an example of how to handle such an emergency. Elaine and I had left Seward in our Pickup on June 19, 1989 on a camping trip to Alaska.  By July 19 we were at Fairbanks,  and preparing to travel over gravel roads to Chicken and on to Dawson to pick up the Alaskan Highway. We left the campground early on the morning of the 20th to purchase hail screen to put on the front of the truck. It was at the Hardware store that TV coverage showed the plane cartwheeling across the runways, breaking apart in the process, and finally coming to a stop. It was not known at that time the extent of fatalities but it was frightening. Our next stop was the Santa Claus house at the North Pole, but it was a very solemn visit. Incidentally, the hail screen intercepted a few rocks that would have been damaging. We left it on until we got back to Seward, NE on August 4th. It was a once in a lifetime adventure.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lawn Sprinklers

I put on my old "yard shoes" this afternoon and got our lawn sprinklers going for the first time this summer. It has been a beautiful spring and summer with ample rain but warmed up today to just over 90 degrees and hasn't rained for a few days. As is ofter the case, the sprinkler heads need some adjustment and some trimming is also needed. The back yard has the big Rain Bird heads with a cover that pops up and generally work real well. The front and side yard has the small little brass pop-up heads that are quite vulnerable to damage.
I installed a new 9volt battery in the sprinkler control and plugged it in to get the sprinklers activated. Like most mechanical things, the more they are used, the better they work. It was last September when this was last used. We have a nice yard, but our lawn isn't of the quality that 
Dad was able to maintain after moving to town. His lawn was his pride and joy and nothing less than perfection was acceptable. I believe ours would rate a "B" which is average for the neighborhood. We don't have any dandelions like some on our block so it meets or exceeds the neighborhood standard. Perfect is too difficult. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Seward's Emily Cady

Emily Cady from Seward, was featured today in the Lincoln Journal Star sports section with her First Impressions of the seven Husker newcomers to the Women's basketball team. The 6'2" Cady has started 100 games during her first 3 years resulting in 75 wins and is very favorably impressed with the incoming teammates. She referred to 6'2" Darrien Washington from California as a "true center". Anya Kalenta is a 6'3" wing transfer along with Freshman guard Jasmine Cincore, Guard/forward Kaylee Page,  guard Natalie Romeo, guard Chandler Smith and guard Emily Wood. Cady feels that 6'5" sophomore forward,  Allie Havers is the most improved member of the team. Rachel Theriot, Hailie Sample, Tear's Laudermill, Brandi Jeffery and Cady are all charged with taking over the leadership role vacated by the graduation of All-American Jordan Hooper. Cady is one of 3 players in Nebraska history with at least 1,000 points, 700 rebounds, 200 assists and 100 steals, joining Maurtice Ivy and Anna DeForge. Last season she averaged 12.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists/game and won 2nd team All-American honors. After having seen most of Cady's SHS games where she was a part of an over 100 game winning streak, I continue to enjoy seeing her play. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Sadie Visit to Top-Off the Day

Elaine and I spent part of this afternoon in Dr. Mausolf's Ophthalmologist office in Lincoln. We both came out with good reports but I am having new lenses made from a slightly changed prescription. We had planned to stop by the Sunken Gardens to look at the flowers on our way home but after having our eyes dilated, we just kept going for home. The traffic on #34 is always heavy  during the commuting hours so we were glad to be home for a good spaghetti supper.
After the stress of the eye exams and the tension of driving home with dilated eyes, we were pleased to get out to see Sadie this evening. She was having a good day, had been to the playground and enjoyed the outdoors. She enjoys playing with Legos and driving her little tractor under the Arch that Grandma had made for her. Her highlight of the evening was singing while watching a Cardinal at the bird feeder outside the window. It doesn't take much to get her started. A drinking straw serving as a saxophone is all that's needed. I hope she continues her interest and love of music. With Julie and John's background, it should be pretty natural. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vrana Cousins in 1931

Here are some of the older Vrana cousins as they appeared in 1931 at the Grandparents place in Bee, NE.  Dick and Bob are twins on the left, then Ted the tall boy  and his brother Lindy. I have my arms over little George, and my sister Vivian is the only girl. There went on to be a total of 27 cousins with the youngest born in 1947. There were 4 others, Don, Doloros, Kenneth and Phillip who were around by the time of the picture but not old enough to stand up.  Several of the 27 are deceased but Ted, the oldest has celebrated his 92 birthday.Vivian and I were "town kids" at that time, but we moved to the farm the next year and I started wearing overalls. We have been a close group over the years with our latest "reunion" just a few weeks ago. We also continue to have a "Cousins  Newsletter" sent out every 2 months thanks to the efforts of one of our youngest cousins. Our Grandmother had an impact on all of us and challenged everyone by telling each of us what great things our cousins were doing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tree Trimming on a Busy Day

Nearly 30 years ago, I brought an 18" Concolor Fir tree to town and planted it in the SW corner of our back yard. I had grown it from a seedling in a nursery row at the farm garden. It is now some 35' high and this morning a city crew was here with their "bucket truck" to cut away limbs that were endangering telephone, TV & electrical lines. It is my favorite species of trees and for years it has been a beautiful "corner stone" for our back yard. Too often we think of trees growing very slowly but seldom do we consider how soon they outgrow the space that has been allocated to them. The necessary trimming done today has certainly ruined the appearance of the tree, and I may trim off more of the lower branches.
The City guys were here as we ate breakfast and also did some trimming of our Red Oak. Elaine called me home from coffee when a Time Warner technician was here to do some adjusting to our recently installed TV box. It has required us to learn a whole new schedule of stations but the reception is great. I had a 11:45am Dentist appointment to have a tooth filled which was most uncomfortable. After a late lunch, I worked with Marv  on a Kiwanis Flag project grant application. Following an "eye-treatment" nap, I participated in a Board Meeting. It was a busy day. Charles M. Schulz, founder of "Peanuts", words of wisdom apply: "I think I've discovered the secret to life--you just hang around until you get used to it."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2014 Major League All-Star Baseball Game

We are watching the Major League All-Star baseball game this evening which is being played at Target Field in Minneapolis. Derek Jeter led off for the American League in his final season and doubled to right field and went on to score in the 3 run top of the 1st. He also got a base hit in his 2nd time up in the 3rd inning. He went out to his shortstop position for the 4th inning but was pulled for a replacement and received a tremendous ovation. The National League eventually tied it up at 3-3 but the American League has just scored  2 runs in the top of the 5th to lead 5-3. The game has more meaning now that it determines the home team for the World Series. We regretted that Alex Gordon has a wrist injury and unable to play after being selected. It was good to see Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez as the starting catcher. It will be a late night for old folks to stay up to see the end of the game. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dr. Ronald P Tewes, M.D.

I had occasion to meet Dr. Ronald P. Tewes (pronounced Ta'ves) this morning and was very favorably impressed. Dr. Tewes is a native of Seward, attended Concordia and graduated from the University of Nebraska, Med Center. He has been a part of the Lincoln Orthopedic Center since 1993. My right shoulder has given me some problems for many years. It limited my follow-through during the years I was playing golf. I used exercises to minimize the problem. It included a series of pulling on a rubber hose with various motions. On one occasion, some years ago, I had a shot of Cortisone. About 2 months ago, my shoulder would pain to the extent that it hampered my sleeping if I laid on it.  Ibuprofen and Aleve helped. In discussing the problem with our family Doctor, he gave me a shot of Cortisone and suggested I see Dr. Tewes when he came out to our Speciality Clinic. The X-Rays showed the absence of cartilage between the ball & socket so it's just bone-on-bone. Dr. Tewes recommendation was first to use Tylenol as necessary, then go to the Advil or Ibuprofen or Cortisone and finally to surgery. He indicated that most surgeries of this kind for older people are to alleviate pain. If it can be done with the alternatives, so much the better. That was good news to me.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Playing with Sadie

 We went to early (8:30) Church this morning and were back home to take care of Sadie for a while. She was her usual "inquisitive" self. During the time we had her, we watered the flowers in the back yard, filled the bird baths, read Dr. Seuss stories, played with Carolyn's old cell phone, ate a peanut butter sandwich, danced to Polka music, turned somersaults, played with a doll, a puzzle that made animal noises, ran a little JD tractor through the living room, ate bits of strawberry, sang "Pony Boy" while getting a ride on my foot, looked at Sadie pictures on the laptop, sat on Elaine's lap and made drawings with a ball point pen, practiced counting, rested on our big bed, tried to work my transistor radio but it didn't have buttons nor a screen, read a "Mother Goose Rhyme" book, got the dominoes out, threw a piece of her puzzle behind the couch, and all of that was during the first hour that she was here. She is a real inspiration to us as we continue to marvel at her abilities. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jon's Going Home

We saw Jon, Mary and Anna off before lunch today. They drove their rental vehicle back to Omaha where they flew to Chicago and on to the Dulles Airport near their home in Burke, Virginia. Jon's help on our PC and getting our printer set up for remote use has been most helpful. I printed out several items from my laptop with the printer in the basement today and really appreciate it. They all lead busy lives back in the DC area. Jon has some 37 years of service with NRCS (SCS) in USDA and Mary is with the VA. In addition to his job, Jon is also involved with Virginia and Civil war history. They have now been back in the DC area longer than the 18 years we lived there while Jon was growing up. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sadie, Tony, etc.

Sadie loves to take pictures with "Photo Booth". Tony was having about as much fun watching her as she was doing it. I was just observing from the background. We have just turned on the TV for the Royals/Tigers baseball game in Kansas City. Tim and Tony left after lunch on their way home but have tickets for the game tonight. They are setting in the front row of centerfield seats. Tim has a light colored shirt and Tony the dark blue one that you see in the picture. They were planning to be there to see batting practice and to walk around the concourse since Tony has never seen a game there. They are regretting that Alex Gordon is injured and will miss the All-Star game.
Tim & Tony are driving their red Honda Accord. It is a 2011 model that gives them good gas mileage. They put many miles on it during the course of a year, so that is important. With our amount of driving, the comfort of our La Sabre is more important than the mileage. After seeing them off, I had a dental appointment  this afternoon. It was a continuation of my "deep cleaning" by a Periodontist who does a very professional job. She displayed all my "numbers" on a screen to show the improvement since my last appointment. I believe there were 6  numbers for each tooth. The box score showed in color the couple that were not as good as the previous reading. Technology continues to impress me but it is her professionalism and caring mannerism that keeps me going back-not the technology.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Big Day

We gave Elaine a break from cooking this evening by all going to the Chez Bubba Cafe in Goehner. The food and service was excellent. Sadie enjoyed the adjacent playground after we finished eating. Jon, Mary and Anna drove down to Wilber today. One of the first things that Jon and his family noticed, upon parking and opening the car doors was the wonderful Czech music that is piped throughout the town. It sounded so nice that it seemed at first that perhaps it was the Town Band warming up for the upcoming National Czech Festival, August 1 and 2, 2014. Lunch was enjoyed at the Sit 'N Bull, in downtown Wilber. A trip to Wilber wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Butcher Shop, leaving with kolaches and some summer sausage. Elaine did bake a cherry pie this morning which we may all enjoy later. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sadie and Family

We are having a great week with Jon, Mary and Anna plus Tim and Tony all being here from Virginia and Indiana. Carolyn and Ben as well as Julie, John and Sadie are also spending special time with us. Sadie is the center of attention when she is here, but we get into some pretty heavy discussions in the evenings when we all sit in a circle in the living room. We have covered the differences between private and public sector employment. Last night we talked about Salaried and Hourly Wage employees and tonight we covered initial employment. This prompted personal experience stories of interviews and the pathway to employment. As we moved to the more personal stories, we heard some things that neither Elaine nor I were previously aware of. That is part of the joy of getting family together and  having the kind of relationship that enables sharing such information. Our conversations are usually on the light side when Sadie is around. She is a bundle of energy and goes from one thing to another at our amazement. Here is something Jon put together about her. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Brots on the Deck

We had a family dinner on the deck this evening. The temperature was in the low 80's with  a slight breeze which made it very enjoyable. Sadie was the center of attention and even learned a few new words. I grilled Brots that Jon's had brought home from their day in Lincoln. We also had potato salad from Pac n Sav, baked beans, kraut, chips, etc. It gave Elaine a break from cooking and dish washing with the paper plates going into the garbage. Jon found a couple old hard back "History of Seward County" books by W.W. Cox. The first one is dated 1888. We have had "reprints" of Coxs' early history, but this one is pretty special. He got them at the "Bluestem Book Store" on 9th street. We are doing a lot of family visiting. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Memorial Services

Vicki Newman from the Lincoln Family Funeral Care provided the program at Kiwanis today. She presented useful information and did it in a very professional manner. While it isn't a subject that most people would have requested to follow the big 4th Holiday, it was something we all needed to hear. She provided each of us with an 18-page packet of material with valuable information. Vicki had been a Grief Consular at one time in her career. She spoke of the importance of survivors talking about their relationship with the deceased. Pictures and written incidents that bring back memories are valuable in getting people to talk about the individual. It will help them through the grief process. She told some interesting stories of Memorial Services she helped arrange including one where the luncheon was a Tea Party. We have personally done quite a bit of "preplanning", but her message and packet of material will help us to do more. Thanks Vicki.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vrana Family Reunion

Many of us were involved today in a family reunion down at Syracuse, NE. Brother Don, his wife Gladys (back left) and their 4 daughters were "in charge". They did an outstanding job making it a very enjoyable day. Our son Tim and his son Tony drove in last evening. Jon, Mary and Anna flew in to Omaha and drove out. Carolyn, Julie and Sadie are also shown in the  picture. The girls in the background are Don & Gladys' Granddaughters. Elaine is standing next to Tony in the front. Tony is a bit of a family name. Our Dad was Anton, called Tony, my nickname has been Tony since High School. There were two other Grandsons named Tony there and another Tony who lives in Wisconsin didn't make it. We all had a Great time. Thanks to all the Syracuse People!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Old Favorites

Seward's 4th of July parade yesterday was an outstanding display of old vehicles, tractors, politicians, Czech Queens, Alumni reunion groups, horses, bands, etc. One of my favorites was this Model A Ford. I believe it is a 1930 model. We had a '29 two-door that was very similar but the hub caps were a bit smaller. It was our family car until we got a '37 Chevy when Vivian and I were Juniors in HS. The Model A is what Vivian and I both learned to drive and what we drove to HS the first couple years. I had my first "date" by taking a girl to a movie  but Vivian had to drive because I didn't have a license.
While this rig wasn't in the parade, it was at the old tractor display that I walked past on my way home from singing at the Civic Center. The tractor was a '46 JD "A". We had a '44 A JD and got a 2-row mounted Lister identical to this one in about '46 and I had to put it together. It was only a couple years later when we started putting in terraces and planting on the contour. It wasn't easy with a mounted Lister but would have been impossible without one. The machines I grew-up with were so simple by comparison to what is used today. I believe vehicles and farm machinery have reached a level of maturity but you wonder.

Friday, July 4, 2014

America's 4th of July City

Our Seward Kiwanis Kitones sang at the Civic Center at noon today as one of many concurrent activities going on in this 4th of July City. I believe this is the largest crowd we have ever had in Seward for this celebration.Our Kitone concert concluded with the Battle Hymn of the Republic with a standing ovation. Paul Beck is our leader with Wes Skilton accompanist. There were 17 of us Kitones, Phil said, "We are not all here". Usually our number is 22. I walked home with stops at the antique tractors, City Band concert, the pole vaulting contest and a concert at the Old Glory Theatre. We had a crowd of people in our yard and driveway for the Grand Parade which went past our house. It lasted from 4:00 to 5:30 which was longer than usual. It was a beautiful day and we topped it off with a group of the family that had been here for the Parade,  going to Bee for a Lou Dart Fish Dinner.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Anniversary Reception in Seward

The festivities are well underway for the celebration in "America's Official Fourth of July City" here is Seward. We participated in a "Couples Reception" at St. Johns this afternoon for folks who have celebrated their "50th Anniversary".  Pictured are Lola and Raymond Schildt who have been married for 68 years. They  still live on their farm in the Middle Creek area and lost their barn to the recent Mother's Day Tornado. They have lived on the same farm for many years and we visited about some of the "old timers" that lived in the neighborhood. This is the area where my Walker Grandparents lived for many years and had and I had opportunity to know many of the people.  The reception was a very nice event. People were given an opportunity to tell their "stories" which were most interesting. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Vrana Cousins Reunion

We had the Vrana Cousins Reunion today at Pat Grimes house in Milford, NE. Seated are (L-R)  Don & Gladys; Elaine & I. Second row is Bonnie, Peggy, Janice & Jan. Third row is Dale, Pat, Bob, Larry and Merle. We had a great visit and a good meal put together by Pat and guests with Chicken from Pizza Hut. We all sat around a long table and heard reports of everyone's family. This included not only kids, Grand Kids and Great Grandchildren. All told, the number would be well over 100. We missed having Ted  & Muffy among others, who were unable to be there. Ted is the oldest of the cousins, and I am next in line. Many old stories are retold at such reunions but invariably there will be new ones about some family history that we never knew.

This item is a heirloom that Pat had inherited from our Grandmother Vrana. She used it as a potato masher but with a solid bottom, it must have been more of a "smasher" than masher. A lot of people in the village of Bee were familiar with Grandma's Chicken soup. Whenever anyone was sick, she was at their doorstep  with her spciality. Pat's house is located near the Milford Jr/Sr HS. I was able to tell the fellows the story of the wooden guard strip that was fastened to a guy-wire on a telephone pole near her house. As I have understood the story, Ben Hughes served on a jury in Lincoln involving a lady driving a car into a guy-wire that she hadn't seen and suffered serious injuries. Driving back to Seward, he decided Hughes Brothers could make a wooden product, painted white that would be very visable to passer-bys'. They produced many of these that were installed on guy-wires throughout the country. These products have largely been replaced by yellow plastic tubes but many of the old wooden ones are still in use saving peoples lives. While I was able to pass this story on, I learned much more than I told. It was a good time. Thanks Pattie. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Washington D.C. in 1949

These 4 fellows and I went back to Quantico, VA in January of 1949 to get a Plymouth coupe from Don Armstrong's brother who was an Officer in the Marine Corps. We spent a day in Washington, D.C. where a cab driver took us around. We just pulled in to the Washington Monument when he pulled up behind us and offered to spend most of the day taking us from place to place for a small fee. It worked out great, and he knew about how much time to give us at the various stops and was there to pick us up at the allocated time. I think it cost each of us $5.00. Here is Ed Pollak, brother Don, Lawrence Wilken & Don Armstrong.
The thought never entered my mind that 13 years later we would be living in the DC area and showing visitors around. This picture was near the Jefferson Memorial the day that we headed back to Nebraska with the two cars. My old '41 Chevy worked pretty well on the trip. We had to change a flat tire in West Virginia and had it and the radio fixed after we go to Fredricksburg, VA. The same group of us had gone to Yellowstone in '46, the Ozarks that same fall. Ed, brother Don, and I went to Chicago in the fall of '48 where we saw our first Major League baseball games. We also all went on a couple hunting trips before we all got married and had other traveling experiences.