Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jack, Church and a Good Day

Jack spent some time with us this evening while his folks were occupied. We had a good time. He even was able to watch some of the Iowa caucus coverage as well as the 90th anniversary of the Harlem Globe Trotters. He and I rolled a ball back and forth across the coffee table. And, he is getting pretty astute at stopping a moving ball and throwing it. He can throw with either hand. We got to early church this morning and had a visit with the Preacher during social hour. In his sermon he talked about financial giving and said he had never received any formal training on the subject. During our visit, I was able to tell him of my belief that the curriculum for a divinity degree should include at least 6 hours of economics.
I was pleased to have Virginia tell me of having been told about "The Crows Nest" blog page and how she enjoys it. I mentioned to her how to go to the "search block" on the home page and enter "Church Organ" and see what all would come up. I tried it this afternoon and it brings up several of the things I had written on the subject over the past 5 years. Jack's favorite toy at our house is this little truck. He likes to roll it and even makes some noise to make it more real. He also "lights up" and waves "bye" when he sees a car or truck ad on TV. We try to read stories to him but he doesn't have the interest in listening that he has in actually doing something. That may be one of the differences between a boy and a girl. He seems to be all boy but still enjoys resting his head on my chest.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Our Lincoln Years

I pulled out a DVD this evening that included some pictures that had been converted from 35mm slides. This is one of the 4 kids in the backyard at our house on Hartley street in Lincoln, where we lived from 1958-1962. They are seated on a "Wagon Wheel Bench" made from an old Flowerday farm chassis. Those 4 years in Lincoln were a very interesting chapter in our lives.There was only one house between ours and the Pershing Elementary school which they all attended. Carolyn's best friend lived in that house and they spent a lot of time together. Verlon and Tim were both involved in Cub Scouts, played Little League baseball and played Flag Football. Jon started to school and learned to play the Ukulele while we were there.
 My job with the Soil Conservation Service went from Construction Inspector, to Watershed planner, to Administrative Trainee during those 4 years. In addition, I accumulated some 70 hours of college credit from UN-L. Elaine also got some college hours and worked for an Insurance Co. She also taught a Sunday School class. We don't know how we were able to do it all but being young and having good kids is what made it all possible. They were good years. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nebraska County Numbers

Here is a creative drawing of the State of Nebraska with it's 93 counties identified by  the number assigned on Motor Vehicle License Plates.  Motor vehicles in Nebraska were first registered in June 1905. Individuals made their own plates, and registrations were recorded with the Secretary of State. The plates were made of leather with metal numbers. This practice continued until 1915 when the Department of Motor Vehicles began issuing the plates. The Department assigned numbers to the plates, which were then made of metal. In 1922, the State established the practice of using prefix numbers to identify the counties in which vehicles were registered. Each county was assigned a number based on the number of registered vehicles in the county at that time. The county with the most vehicles, Douglas, was assigned the number 1; the county with the second highest number of vehicles, Lancaster, was assigned number 2; and so forth. Recently Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster Counties have switched to using a combination of 3 letters in lieu of their earlier assigned number. My Dad worked for the State maintaining Highway #34 between Seward and the Lancaster Co.. line, at the time I was born and prided himself in knowing most of the county numbers. Information on the availability of the drawing can be found at Our Seward County number is 16 in the SE portion of the State. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

30th Anniversary of Challenger Tragedy

It was 30 years ago this morning that the Challenger space shuttle exploded about a minute after take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida taking the lives of the 7 astronauts aboard, including Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher. The Dec./Jan. AARP Magazine has an excellent article written by Peggy Noonan who as a speech writer for President Reagan, tells of the preparation of his famous 5 minute message following the tragedy. While his comments were of consolation to the families of those lost, and an assurance to the Nation that we would continue in our quest of outer space, it was the conclusion that many of us have remembered. Peggy Noonan had remembered the sonnet, "High Flight", written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. which she studied in 7th grade. She wanted to include parts of it but knew the President wouldn't use it unless he was familiar with the poem. Magee was a young American who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1939, trained in England, flew in a Spitfire Squadron and was killed on a training mission in December of '41 at the age of 19. He had written the poem a few months earlier and sent it home to his parents.  It so happened that President Reagan had read the poem off of a plaque it was written on, when he dropped his daughter off at school. He ended his speech with, " We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them-this morning as they prepared for their journey, and waved goodbye, and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God".

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Task around the House

This is our bird feeder as seen out the kitchen window with a squirrel's tail showing while he eats from the other side of the feeder. It has been said that a study of history reveals that, "It's just one damn thing after another". Elaine reminded me at the breakfast table that I needed to change the light bulb in her closet. (I don't think it had been changed in the past 20+ years) I got out our step ladder, loosed the screws to remove the globe, and as I unscrewed the bulb there was a flash of light and the base of the bulb remained in the light socket. I knew the circuit breaker needed to be flipped before attempting to remove the broken base but flipped several before getting the right one. I then used a needle nosed pliers, removed the base and put in a new bulb. My next task was to do something to keep the squirrels from the bird feeder. I had earlier greased the 1/2" pipe they crawl up but that didn't stop them. Noticing a worn out florescent light bulb in the garage, I took it out by the deck, popped off both ends and slipped in over the pipe as shown in the picture. I didn't think there was any way they could crawl up 3 feet of glass but it did. Then when I went down to use the PC, I got the message that it had been shut down improperly (when I flipped the circuit breaker) and it took considerable time and effort to bring it back to life. Some people worry about what they can do to keep busy in retirement and I can tell them that "It's just one damn thing after another". It was a good thing we had Jack with us for a few hours to brighten our day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Scrapbook of Memories

This newspaper clipping on the announcement of my sister's Wedding came from the scrapbook of an old friend. Jack and I were HS classmates and his sister kept the scrapbook of his athletic prowess but also included Engagements, Weddings, Birthdays, Obituaries, etc. I became aware of the scrapbook some 10 years ago while visiting Jack in one of our local care facilities. We even borrowed it from him a few years later and looked through it. Jack and I were the last survivors of our HS graduating class. At his funeral a couple years ago, I asked his oldest son what might happen to the book. He said, " I don't know many people in it, do you want it??" I said that I would be honored to have it which should someday find a home in the Seward County Museum. A few days later he brought it out to us. It has been on a shelf in our lower level and this afternoon, I went through it again. That is where I came across this picture of Janice and the announcement of her wedding in June 1956 to Larry. They have lived in California for many years and are planning to celebrate their 60th anniversary this summer by taking their family and grandchildren to Alaska. And, Janice doesn't look much different today than the picture.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Retracing Family History

While looking in 2007 pictures for yesterday's blog page, I came across these from October 12th of that year. Elaine and I met Don and Gladys at Garland and took his pickup down Ridge Road and on a tour of "A" Twp. Then toured the farm where Don and I "grew-up". Our Dad was raised on the same farm and passed on many family stories to us. This rock in the native grass pasture was up a steep hill from the lane and pasture gate. Dad had told us of his younger sisters setting on the rock to rest after climbing up the steep hill. And, so did we as kids when we got cows from the pasture. There were no invasive cedar trees in those days. We walked on down the lane to the creek which was near the farmstead and were surprised at how the channel had deepened because of stream streightening. We recogniized some of the old Cottonwood trees where we hunted squirrels as kids. While up in the pasture, we got this picture of Don hanging on to my back pocket.
 We would walk up to get the cows by the time I was 8 or 9 years old and Don would have been about 4 or 5. He would hold on to my back pocket to keep up since I was always quite a bit bigger. Don always had a pony and by the time he was able to open the pasture gate, he would ride his pony up to get the cows. On one occasion, he and I were both on the pony and as we approached a tree on a fast trot, I leaned one way and he and the pony the other, and we both fell off. It was close to this big cottonwood. We were poor but had a rich childhood that we didn't fully appreciate at the time.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Ridge Road in the Bohemian Alps

We were invited to the Episcopal Church this morning where the DVD on the Ridge Road was shown during social hour following the 10:30 service. Pat Coldiron was the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce when it was produced in 2007 under her leadership with a grant from the Nebraska Tourism Office. She was fortunate in obtaining  Doug Johnson from South Sioux City who had been with the Gateway company to do the filming and the development of of the DVD. He and his filming crew were here in Seward on May 9, 2007 and shot about an hour of Willard Kilzer, Bill Hartmann, Jane Graff, Ted Kooser and I talking about our memories associated with the Ridge Road north of Garland, NE . We also provided him with some of our personal photos.
Doug worked with Pat on the project over the summer and on September 22, I accompanied him out to the area for additional filming. On Sept. 26 there was a State Tourism presentation of their assessment and recommendations of Seward at the Rivoli Theater. Doug Johnson was also there for the premier showing of "The Ridge Road" in the Bohemian Alps and received many favorable comments. Pat and the Koosers are members of the Church and invited Hartmanns and us along with others for the showing this morning. Ted, Bill and I all made some comments following the showing. We hadn't seen it for some time so it was most interesting. Pat even had some copies which were made available. It will remain a part of Seward County History which would never have been produced without Pat's Leadership. Thanks for the invitation.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Big Snows in Washington, D.C. Area

In my blog page yesterday, I told of the "big snow" we had back on the Washington, D.C. area on February 19, 1979. The Official amount was listed in the downtown area at 21 inches. We lived out in the Mantua area about 15 miles from downtown. I felt that we had between 24-30 inches. These pictures give some idea of the depth of it. There is nothing like a snow storm to promote getting acquainted with neighbors. We had lived here for over 3 years before the big storm so already knew most of the immediate neighbors.
This was taken in our back yard just off the deck. Our property covered about a half acre with the back yard all in native trees. We had many birds and even had a Pileated Woodpecker occasionally. They are big birds that measure 17" according the Golden Field Guides on Birds of North America. We lived on Arlington Ridge Road about a mile or two south of the Pentegon for 11 years before moving out to Mantua. While at that location, I met a retired Colonel while we were out scooping snow. He invited me in to meet his wife who had close relatives in Dwight, NE. They were people that I had known so we had a good visit. We even got together with them occasionally after that chance meeting. Our 18 years in the Washington area were most interesting, but we made the right decision to come back to Nebraska when we did.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snow in D.C. Good Day in Nebraska

Elaine and I went to Lincoln today and took my laptop to Computer World where a nice young man got me set up on FireFox for my blog pages. We then went to our favorite restaurant, the Olive Garden (summer picture) and had our Soup, Salad and Bread stick special. We even stopped at Super Saver in Fallbrook and got some bulk peanut cluster among other things. I called Jon and Mary this evening and learned they are all set for the snowstorm that is bearing down on the D.C. area. Jon had been out to Indianapolis and their meeting broke up early so they could get home last night. Mary said she got the car filled with gas last night by waiting in line and that the grocery supply in the stores was very low. The predicted high winds are causing considerable concern about electrical power. Back in 1966 while we were in the D.C. area, we had a major snowstorm on January 29-30. According to my Diary, it started snowing about 4:30 and by bedtime on the 29th, we had about a foot of snow. "It snowed until noon the next day. The wind blew up to 50mph. It was the worst blizzard in a number of years. I helped Verlon deliver Sunday papers and we waded through snow up to 3 feet in depth. A state of Emergency was declared."
On February 19, 1979 we had another big snowstorm in the D.C. area. The temperature got down to -16 degrees at Dulles airport. We had much more snow in the Mantua area where we lived than the 21" reported. It was on the Washington Birthday Holiday and Government employees got the next day off as well. One of our neighbors had a snow blower and several of us did a lot scooping to get things opened up. I have a picture of a yardstick stuck in the snow on top of our picnic table on the deck and only about 6" of it shows. So this isn't as exceptional as the news media makes it appear.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jacks Visit on a Family Birthday

Jack had a good visit with us this morning which gave his Mother a bit of time to do some things alone since Sadie was at preschool. He arrived while I was still in the bathroom and was able to watch me shave. He looked rather quisically as I applied my shaving cream. He may have never seen that done before. He enjoyed putting his 22 pounds on the bathroom scale and smiled when the scale made a noise as he jumped a little. Elaine was feeding him when I got home from coffee. After he topped it off with half a banana, he backed his way down the stairway to the lower level where he played with a toy truck and "danced" to polka music. Elaine even helped him get in the swing of it. The picture was taken after Julie came to take him home. We thought his Viking stocking cap was cute. It has little horns but they don't show up very well. He doesn't like to have anything on his head and pulls it off at times. We missed the snow that was forecast for last night. While we may have had a flake or two, their are areas within 50 miles to the south and southwest that got up to seven inches.

I'm doing this blog page on our HP PC in the lower level since I still haven't been able to get my laptop to open to enable me to add pictures nor to write a script. This is an important date in Vrana family history. It was on this date in 1937 that my sister and brother, Janice and Jerry were born. While Mother was supposed to go to the Hospital in Seward for the delivery, we had a blizzard drifting the roads shut making the 15 mile trip to Seward impossible. Old Dr. Strough was brought out part of the 4 miles from Garland and Dad was able to bring him on out with horses and wagon. He and two older neighbor ladies were able to deliver the twins.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sports- Then and Now

Here is the garland baseball team in 1953. I am the 3rd from the left in the front row. While it doesn't, show very clearly, Elaine is setting with other wives on the bleachers. I'm writing this on an iPad since my laptop won't open this page. We may have to take it down to Computer World one of these days.
We saw the last several minutes of the Nebraska basketball game this evening where the Huskera beat Michigan State 72-71. We then turned on the radio and heard the Nebraska girls win at Purdue 62-61. It was a couple good wins in the Big 10.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Family Chevys

This picture was taken out at Flowerday's farm in late 1952 or early '53. The family Chevy's are shown with: (l-r) Elaine with Verlon and Tim, Les, Albert, Bill and Alice. The cars are all late 40 or early 50 models. Alice's husband (Elaine's brother Dale) was in Korea with the Army at the time. We bought our '52 on July 5, 1952 from Louis Sahn in Seward for $1,985. While my salary with the Soil Conservation Service was low for a GS-5, I was also involved with a landscaping activity that helped us save enough to buy the new car and pay for it. We also bought our first Television set on October 21, 1952. I bought a used 18' length of 2" galvanized pipe from Marvin Tobin's salvage yard which I strapped to the Chimney on top of our little house on which we placed our TV. Antenna. We had friends up to our house to watch the election returns a few days later where General Eisenhower defeated Adlie Stevenson to become President of the United States. President Eisenhower  referred to the increasing Communist threat as a "Time of Tempest" in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1953. We were well into the Korean War and ready to bring it to a settlement. ( Dale got home on july 12, 1953.) The newAdministration moved quickly with Government reorganization plans. The Lincoln, NE Regional Office of the SCS was eliminated and personnel assigned elsewhere. It required Richard Cheney, Sr. and his family (including his junior high son, Dick who would later become Vice-President) to move from Lincoln to Casper, Wyoming as the SCS State Administrative Officer.
Hi, I wasn't, able to post anything yesterday since the blog page wouldn't, open. I'm Doing this on an I pad.  T ony

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Oil Painting of Memories

Carolyn brought down an 18 x 24"oil painting of one of my families happiest memories. The date was August 7, 1948, Mother’s 48th birthday. She and Dad had been to Sahn Chevrolet in Seward and drove home a new’48 Chevy Fleetline for $1,909. Don, Janice, Jerry and I looked under the hood and Vivian took our picture. It was the first new car the folks had since the ’29 Model A Ford. A ’37 Chevy filled the gap in  1941. There were few if any automobiles produced for the public during WW II and a limited number available during ’46 & ’47. The folks had been on a “waiting list” in ’48 to get the Fleetline. It was the most appreciated new car that I can remember.
The car has some personal memories to me since I was able to drive it on some of Elaine and my dates leading up to our engagement. The folks also let us drive it on our Wedding Trip to California during June of 1949. Don also had the pleasure of using it as his “dateing” car with Gladys. The folks kept it for several years. It was eventually damaged considerably when Janice was alone and driving here in Seward. Another driver failed to stop at a stop sign and broadsided her on the right side. This was before the days of seat belts but fortunately, she was not hurt. We happened to be out at the farm pond fishing  where Don and Gladys were living, the day the accident happened. The car was wrecked but the memories are well preserved. Thanks for the gift Carolyn, It has been hung in a location where we will see it daily. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Farm Toy Auction

Cornwell Inc. Auctioneers from Aurora, NE began a 2-day auction at the Seward Harvest Hall yesterday afternoon. The auction consisted of Farm Toy Tractors of all Brand names and models as well as Pedal Tractors,etc. I went down for a short while yesterday where they sold over 320 lots, many of which included multiple units. There were probably 50 in attendance in addition to the Internet bidders. The Auction was conducted very professionally with listings and pictures on the web prior to the auction and every item shown on the screen behind the auctioneer. It appeared that the demand had softened from a few years ago.
 I found a much larger crowd when I went back this morning and another 400+ lots of higher quality models. I was only there for about an hour and the higher prices during that time was $190. for a 1/16 AG COSTAR 8425 4WD Tractor and $160. for a 1/16 STEIGER CP-140 Triples. An ERTL Farmall F20 Pedal Tractor went for $375. Several of the items sold on the Internet which certainly adds to the bidding pool. After today, I decided that the price of Farm Toy Models is similar to the sale price of land. The top quality is still bringing the top price, but it has softened that of lesser quality. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Appreciation of Plumbers

Last Sunday our kitchen sink failed to drain. Since other drains in the house appeared to be working O.K., my first thought was the “trap” below the sink. I used a pipe wrench to open the trap and found it clear. At that point, it was determined that we needed a plumber. Elaine called H & S Plumbing, Heating and Air-Conditioning, here in Seward early Monday morning. By the time I got home from coffee about 11:00am, 2 men were already here and working. They used an electric “roto-rooter” type tool down through the sink drain. While it went in several feet, it didn’t reach the blockage. 
Fortunately, we have removable tile blocks for ceiling in our lower level. They were of the opinion that the blockage must be at the point of the junction of the 1 1/2 inch copper pipe from the sink, with the larger tile line that goes to the sewer out in the alley. That junction is at floor level on the west wall of the room. It was necessary for them to cut through the copper pipe at a distance that the probe could reach the blockage. They got it unplugged, the cut pipe fixed and did a good job cleaning up. We were most pleased with their professionalism and today we received their billing. It was actually good news in comparison to the Stock Market action. Thanks Fellows.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hearing Jack’s Words

Jack & Tony
Jack was here when I got home from coffee and stayed through lunch. He sat on my lap for about an hour and was fascinated with my glasses case, pen and note pad. He knew that the pen was used with the note pad and even tried to make notes. He wasn’t too anxious to leave when his Mother and sister came by to pick him up. Elaine and I went down for an appointment with Dr. Hofker, her audiologist. She reported her difficulty with the hearing aids and after putting her through further tests, made new molds and will switch to a different brand of aids. It will be 2 weeks before the new ear buds will be available. So for the next two weeks, she can relax and not worry about what she may not hear.. We are optimistic that this new product will work and will do whatever we can to make it do so. We all want to hear Jacks new words. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

President Truman in Seward

President Barack Obama’s 2nd visit to Nebraska today prompted the Omaha World Herald to do a front page story on presidential visits to the State. George W. Bush holds the record of 9 visits to the State as a sitting President. He is followed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan with each having made 4 visits. George H. W. Bush was here 3 times and the following were here twice: U.S. Grant, Wm Taft, Woodrow Wilson, H.S. Truman, Lyndon Johnson, R.M. Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. They explained that Truman was in Omaha to dedicate Omaha’s Memorial Park on June 5, 1948 and was through the State in May of 1950 as part of a western trip. I remembered going down to the Seward Depot and have a picture in my mind of seeing him standing at the back end of his RR car addressing the crowd for a few minutes as the train headed on west. While I remembered the event, I didn’t remember the date. When the OWH mentioned May of 1950, I was able to go to my #2, 5-year Diary and read on May 8,1950, “Saw President Truman go through Seward on train tonight”.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nebraska National Guard Museum

 Elaine at the Nebraska National Guard Museum here in Seward, after delivering information on her Cousin Robert Herrold to Col. Jerry Meyer. Robert was a member of Company M of the National Guard which was activated at the time of WWII. Robert was killed during the Battle of St. Lo where over 100 Nebraska National Guard men lost their lives. Col. Meyer will use the information Elaine provided in his task of developing the Museum which will have a Grand Opening this 4th of July. It will have many interactive displays which will make it a very educational  and attractive destination for school children and adults throughout the State and beyond. Plans are also underway for a Welcome to Seward sign near the Kiwanis Flag Display at the east entrance into town. The sign would be a “take off” on the display shown here behind Elaine. Seward’s location near Lincoln has long made it an attractive place to live with our industry, educational facilities, library, parks, hiker biker trail, recreational facilities, etc. The addition of the Nebraska National Guard Museum adds to the list of the City’s attractions.

Monday, January 11, 2016

City of Seward, Electrical Power

Larry Ruether, Directer of the City of Seward, Electrical Department, provided the program for our Kiwanis meeting this noon. Larry will complete 40 years with the Dep’t. this coming year. He told of the 2707 residential customers in the City and how their meters are read electronically and transmitted over power lines to where the City can see the daily usage of individual homes. He told of Tenneco being the City’s largest customer for Electrical service among other commercial users. The City’s 1,000 street lights are being converted to LED bulbs which cost $363 each but are to last 10 years and use much less electricity. The City purchases power from NPPD at a cost of around $600,000/month. Nebraska is still one of the few states with Public Power, and it’s provided to customers at comparatively low rates. The City is equipped to trade power with customers who may have solar or wind charging equipment. The usage of the City’s 5 charging stations for electric cars are gaining business. It was a great presentation. Larry had some opening comments and then answered questions for half and hour. We all learned a lot about something we usually just take for granted. We also had a great meal catered by Pac n Sav.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Julie

Today is Julie’s birthday. This is one of my favorite picture of her and her GranDad, as she called me. I believe it tells a lot about the relationship we enjoyed. What she didn’t realize at that time, was how important she was in helping us cope with the transition we were going through. There was never a doubt that we made the right decision in coming back to Nebraska after taking early retirement. However, we were overwhelmed by the pressures of a full-time job with the State and demands of the farm. It would have taken a “Farm Manager” and a crew of about 4 working full time to get the house, the out buildings, farmstead and land in the condition we wanted. We hadn’t learned to accept a lot of things in unacceptable conditions and Julie was the “spark of light” that helped show us through the darkness of our dilema. She seemed to know just what to say and do to make things better. Her enthusiasm was contagious which got us through those difficult days. We continued our close relationship after 
moving to town. She always walked over to our house from grade and middle school which was nearby. We enjoyed her High School days and was most proud of her scholastic and musical abilities. She and John were in competition for “1st Chair” in the Sax section of the Jr. High and HS Bands. We were pleased to see her get a couple degrees from UN-L, and work for Martha Stewart in New York City.But what made us happiest is when she and John decided to get married and live here in Seward. We now have the pleasure of doing a bit of “care giving” to Sadie and Jack. So “Happy Birthday Julie”. I hope you will always be as happy as you look on this picture .

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Good Visit with Family

We were up early and left Seward at 5:30am this morning to take Jon, Mary and Anna to the Lincoln airport. They flew United through Chicago and on to Dulles where  their car was waiting for them. Jon had mailed some of the books and other Soil Conservation material which I had passed on to him. He did a lot of work on H.H.Bennett and the early history of the Soil Conservation Service while he was here. We did a lot of talking and often his research would stimulate my memory of early day experiences. It’s comforting to know that many more of the “stories” from those times will be written up and passed on to younger generations. 
Mary maintained some contact during the week that she was here with the VA Hospital where she works but not to the extent of Jon to his office. Carolyn and Julie brought Sadie and Jack down last night and they played with blocks, etc. on the living room floor. The dynamics between sister and brother remind me of the relationship I had with my sister Vivian who was 18 months older than me. Everybody liked my brother Don who is 4 1/2 years younger than me. And, there was little if any “sibling rivalry” between Janice and Jerry; the twins who were 7 years younger than Don.  Sibling relationships are interesting but it seems there is a lot to be gained by not being on only child.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Grandma Vrana 9/28/1870-6/2/1960

Yesterday I wrote about the Vrana Farm NE of Garland in the Bohemian Alps and of my Grandparents on my Dad’s side having come to this country from Czechoslovakia in the 1870’s. This is a picture of Grandma with her dog at their retirement home in Bee, NE. Some years ago I
wrote a short paper on my memory of my Grandparents and distributed it to my cousins for 
    comments. Attached here is a response from cousin Ken who has since passed on. It is a great tribute         

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Antonia & Joseph at the Vrana Farm.

I pulled up a CD that Cousin Phil had sent us back in ’04 which included these pictures of our Grandparents. It was taken at the “Vrana farm” where we lived and where all family reunions were held. This could have been a 50th Wedding Anniversary. This is the farm where I lived from 1932 -’47. Those 15 years seemed like an eternity in comparison to the last 15. The Grandparents had come over from Czechoslovakia in 1873 and settled in Saunders Co. where my Dad was born. They moved to this Seward Co. farm 4 miles NE of Garland in 1903. One of my regrets is not having learned more about their early lives. Grandfather was never comfortable trying to speak English but Grandma was very bilingual. Grandpa could read and write Czech but Grandma never learned to read or write. She didn’t even spell her name and yet she taught all of us Grandkids a lot about life. 
When the Grandparents retired they moved to Bee and left all the machinery and livestock at the farm. Uncle Joe’s lived there for a couple years before we moved out from Seward. Eventually there was a farm sale and my Dad bought what was necessary for us to keep farming. This picture shows Uncle Joe and a neighbor scooping wheat into a grain bin. This wagon is one of the many things Dad bought at the auction. It is the wagon in which I husked some 130 bushes of corn one day when I was 18 years old. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Jack, our Great Grandson

Great Grandson Jack was here with Elaine when I got home from coffee this morning. I didn’t get my jacket off before he wanted to come to me and play. Elaine was pleased that he came to her when Julie brought him in the house. It takes so little to make him happy. He knows where many things are around the house and what it takes to “turn them on”. He is now walking to wherever he wants to go. It’s surprising how much he can carry while walking. This picture was taken on my laptop with “photo booth”. He likes to hear the sound the computer makes when he touches certain keys. I was a bit surprised to find what all he had done on the computer and have a feeling that he did more than I have found. We did some shopping this afternoon after he had gone home. I bought a little Mickey Mouse doll for him. It has a “button nose” and Jack likes to pull the nose of any of his teddy bears. I think he will like this one.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Public Guardianship in Nebraska

Brad Brake from Nebraska’s recently established Office of Public Guardian spoke to us at Kiwanis this noon. The Office of Public Guardian is designed to serve as the guardian or conservator for an individual when no other alternative is available. In addition to providing the means of last resort as guardians or conservators for those situations where no family member or suitable individual is available, the Office of Public Guardian provides education, training, and support for volunteer and family guardians and conservators, and recruits individuals to serve as guardians and conservators for Nebraska’s vulnerable individuals. The work of the Office of Public Guardian is guided by the Advisory Council on Public Guardianship. Work was begun on January 1, 2015, to develop the processes, guidelines, plans and personnel policies to implement the Public Guardianship Act. Brad was raised on a Minnesota farm, received a degree from Hamline U. at St. Paul. He came to Nebraska and received a law degree from UN-L. He is one of several Assistant Public Guardians with assigned territories across the State.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

SCS Logo

I brought this old briefcase of mine up from storage in continuation of providing Jon with anything which may help his writing on SCS history. I was using this briefcase at the time of a Management meeting in New Orleans back in the mid 70’s. We had some 50 people in the audience and a fellow instructor wanted to show the newly adopted decal, so I ended up with it on my briefcase. The “Raindrop” was the SCS logo for nearly 50 years but during the Obama administration it has been discontinued with only the USDA logo being recognized. Incidentally, the briefcase was personal in that I paid for it and was not a government issue. It did arouse some curiosity as I went through airports. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Great Ideas and Family Visit

The arrival of Kiplinger’s magazine today with all these great ideas, was timely in that I spent some time on an “end of year” balance sheet. 2015 was not a very good year for investments including life insurance policies. Like many “small investors”, I make more mistakes in selling than I do buying. It will be interesting to see what this year brings with the Presidential election, etc. All indications are that it will not be a very good year for the stock market and related investments. 
We are pleased to have Mary with us this evening as she  is reunited with Jon and Anna who have been here for the past week. Mary wasn’t able to get away from the VA Hospital where she works in D.C. when Jon and Anna came out but they were able to meet her at the Lincoln Airport this afternoon. Anna was born while they lived here in Seward from 1990-1996 so it is always interesting for them to get back and renew old friendships. I even took advantage of Mary’s medical knowledge by showing her some of my recent medications and was able to ask about some of the side effects. I have learned some new “computer tricks” already from Jon as well as enjoying our discussion of H. H. Bennett and the early days of the USDA Soil Conservation Service. We plan to take them along to Church with us tomorrow morning where they will see some of the folks they worshiped with back in the ’90’s. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Every Day a Holiday

New Year’s Day in Seward has been a beautiful sunny day with a high temperature of 35 degrees and very little wind. After staying up to see the Ball drop in Times Square, we didn’t get up very early. The floats in the Rose Bowl Parade seem to get more elaborate every year. Carolyn and Ben came down this morning in his Dodge Power Wagon with its new flat bed. He has fabricated attractive sideboards for the neat rig.  We have already talked about how handy it will be for hauling brush to the City Burn Pile. 
John and Sadie came down this afternoon and enjoyed some time with Jon and Anna. She did some coloring on the coffee table with Jon and went to the lower level with Elaine to do some things at my work bench. She is pretty handy with a hammer, screwdriver, etc. She also sat on my lap and took some “selfies” with photo booth on the Mac Book. I continue to pull out my old files that are of interest to Jon as he “researches” Hugh H. Bennett and early days of the USDA Soil Conservation Service. The Agency was established in 1935 with a cadre of young professional, so when I got to Washington, D.C., in 1962, I was able to know many of those who had advanced to the top levels of their discipline before they retired.