Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Little House- Then and Now

This is a follow-up on my post of 11/27/16 (No sour grapes) where I told of the changes that are being made to our first home. We drove up this evening to check progress. This is partially for the benefit of our oldest son who had seen the recent post back in Virginia. He was old enough while we lived there to remember it very affectionately. We had an interesting telephone conversation about it last night. This metal building in the back yard was added to the property some years ago, long after we left.
While we wondered about the feasibility of the project, we agreed to not be critical without knowing the reason or facts involved. This picture of Verlon, Tim and Carolyn was probably taken during the early spring before we moved to a large house on 5th street here in Seward. We  built the fence with plaster lath salvaged from an old farm house being demolished, to enclose the back yard, . We moved the fence to the back yard of the larger home we moved to and installed it there. We sold this property to Elaine's parents who lived in the neighborhood. They enjoyed it for several years as a rental property. It was eventually sold at Auction, on their Estate Sale. In addition to it also being the first house my parents lived in after getting married; Elaine had an Aunt and Uncle who lived there for some time. The house was built for a family that lost their home in the 1913 tornado. Our interest in the properties changes, is piqued by all this family history.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Seward's Lighted Christmas Parade

Here are some pictures of the Seward Lighted Christmas Parade that began in front ofour house last Saturday evening and proceeded down Seward Street. My pictures didn't turn out very well so I borrowed some. Jerry Meyer always does an excellent job of bringing our new Nebraska National Guard Museum to the forefront. It was a beautiful evening and a large number of people lined Seward Street from 1st to 13th Street to see the many colorfully lighted entries.
Here are our Great Grandchildren with their parents bundled up to watch the parade in the downtown area. I'm sure Sadie enjoyed all the colorful lights and the fire trucks would have been Jacks favorites.The live tree was lighted in front of the Courthouse during the parade and extra lights were added to the little cupola above the dome. It is from the little windows in the cupola that I took pictures of the downtown area in 1952 and went back up in 1993 and took another bunch. There were many changes and yet, much remained the same.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Highly Important "Soft Skills"

Seward High School Principal, Scott Axt and Assistant Principal, Jill Johnson presented the program at Kiwanis this noon on the school's P.R.I.D.E. initiative. It is a new program that recognizes the virtues of: Preparation, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Effort. Students are nominated by Teachers and other School Staff for recognition when commendable behavior is observed in any of the PRIDE categories. The first recognition rally was held recently in the school auditorium to celebrate the number of favorable incidents that had been reported. 
Examples of PRIDE award winners include, a football player who saw a resident of the care facility fall from his wheel chair. It was across the street from the practice field so with the help of a couple teammates, they rushed over and picked him up.  Another student was recognized for "selfless volunteerism as a chess mentor at Seward Memorial Library, noting his reliability, integrity, and positive nature." The program has also provided framed certificates of  "Behavior Expected" in the Library and Bathrooms. They are considering also posting "what is expected" in locker rooms. The program is based on letting students know what is expected of them, and then,  providing  reinforcement for positive behavior as contrasted to punishment for negative. While there has not yet been any study of the relationship between the PRIDE program and academic achievement, the number of students on the Honor Roll are at a historic high. They were quick to point out that it doesn't solve all the problems but certainly helps. The Business Leaders involved have emphasized the importance of employees "soft skills" in a job setting.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

No Sour Grapes, Just Feelings

I came across this picture of Verlon and Tim taken up at our "little house" on East Bradford street here in Seward,  back in 1954. I hadn't seen the picture for some time but it reminded me of how happy we and the boys were, with what we had done to improve our house and yard. As I noted in my recent November 17th blog page, the current owner is constructing 3 off-street parking spaces in this front yard, which changes the complexion of the property considerably. Bradford street was graveled at the time we lived there and now it is paved. I don't recall even mentioning it to the City Hall that we were planning to build a wall to facilitate our horizontal parking along the street; we just did it.  I don't know the present owner, but have read of their going through the processes of getting City approval for their construction. My personal feelings of this are similar to hearing a favorite old song being "butchered" by a new version. We only lived there for some 6 years, but it was during some of our most happy, enduring memories. Verlon was about 6 months old when we moved in; Tim, Carolyn and Jon were all born during those few years.  I can only trust that the current owners, making the changes, will have as much happiness there as we found and enjoyed. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sharon L. Smith, a surprise Visitor

We had a most welcomed visitor this afternoon when Sharon (Petska) Smith stopped by. Her Mother, Lois (Brinkmeyer) and Elaine, are 1st cousins who both grew up here in the Seward community. Elaine's Mother and Sharon's Grandmother were sisters. Lois was a couple years ahead of Elaine in HS and went off to Business College in Chillicothe, MO following graduation. It was there that she med Richard Petska. They were married here in Seward in '48 with Elaine serving as a Bridesmaid. The young couple moved back to Richard's home area at Cedar Rapids, IA where they both had professional employment. They had 2 children, Steve and Sharon. Steve has had a career in the theatre, and Sharon a licensed mortician, now works over a 7 state area on water quality. We both know several of the same people in that field.
Lydia, Sharon's Grandmother, spent several of her final years in a care facility in Cedar Rapids (which was like an elderly women's sorority) and lived to be 102+. Here is a picture of Lydia at the time of her 100th birthday. Also on the picture are Lyle Hans, wife Betty, and Elaine. Lyle was a nephew of Lydia. Elaine pulled out a framed Doily that Aunt Lydia had given her some years ago and Sharon mentioned that she has one just like it. Sharon had visited several of the family graves here at the Seward Cemetery, and we certainly enjoyed her visit. She caught me resting on a chair in the garage while cleaning up the last of the leaves in the front yard in preparation for this evening's Lighted Christmas Parade past our house and on down Seward Street.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Three Tenors

What could have been more entertaining this evening than hearing the 3 Tenors and the Children's Choir present their Christmas program of music on Public Television, Net. After suffering through the Nebraska(10-40)Iowa football game, it was very necessary to lift our spirits. I went down to coffee this morning, but other than that, we didn't get out of the house. I did some financial planning and changed a light bulb in my closet, but that was the extent of my physical activities. It was a good day for the stock market even with an early closing. We have enjoyed the 3 tenors; Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo for a number of years and can still do so through the benefits of technology.
Pavarotti has always been a favorite and didn't realize until this evening the he had died some 9 years ago. I came across and old 45-LP record the other day that included President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressing a joint session of Congress where he stated that, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy...". While we have long accepted the value of being able to read the words of historic documents, we can now not only hear the words being spoken but see the body language, etc. that adds expression to written message.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Great Day of Food and Thanksgiving

What could be more traditional than Ben carving the turkey for our Thanksgiving Dinner out at John and Julie's. Elaine baked a couple Pumpkin Pies, Carolyn made her "pink stuff" as well as a Pumpkin treat and other things. The picture of my filled plate doesn't even show the Pecan Pie nor the slice of Cheese Cake that topped off the meal. One of my most enjoyable activities was reading a story book to Sadie about a Meteorite crashing into a family's backyard. Sadie was most attentive and appreciative. I promised to show her a sliced geode that we have among our stuff in the lower level.
We watched part of the Macy,s  Thanksgiving parade while eating breakfast and saw more of it on another channel later this afternoon, after getting up from our naps. The climax of the parade with the singing of 90- year old Tony Bennett as Santa Claus appeared in the parade. Elaine fixed Chicken Noodle soup for supper and  in addition, had a chicken leg for me. As my Dad might have said, "It was an ample sufficiency". I will add the activities of this Thanksgiving to my lengthy list of Thanksgivings Past.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nostalgiaic Church Service

Elaine and I attended the Thanksgiving Eve Ecumenical Church service this evening at Freidens United Church of Christ here is Seward. It was a very nice service led by Pastor Rob, Faith Lutheran Church, along with leaders from the Seward United Methodist Church and the host Church. The Faith Lutheran choir and their Director performed as an Ecumenical Choir with several representatives from the participating congregations. It was a very impressive service with meaningful messages from each of the 3 leaders, the beautiful Choral rendition and the Communion Service. This is the Church where Elaine was baptized, confirmed and where we were married.
My family and I had a history with the Methodist Church, but Elaine and I agreed that, if and when, we might move from Seward, we would consider going to the Methodist Church. Ironically, when we moved to Lincoln, we visited a couple Methodist Churches but preferred St. Paul United Church of Christ which we joined. When we moved back to Virginia, we again visited Methodist Churches but joined a Presbyterian Church with an active Youth program that was located across the street from where we lived. We continued to be Presbyterians after moving back to Seward but as the Church dwindled and eventually closed, we transferred our membership to the Seward Methodist Church.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

History of Jon's Birthday

Today is son Jon's 62nd birthday. I pulled my old  (1953-57)Daily Diary off the shelf to read about the day he was born and the day preceding his birth with our visiting Don and Gladys to help celebrate Kathy's birthday. It is interesting how many "life changing" events occurred and are recorded during the 5 years of this Diary. This is one of 7 that I filled before switching to the Daily Journal where I have had a full page to record daily activities. Back in these early days, I didn't have time to write more than these 4-lines/day. 
This is a picture of the 3 boys and I, out at the Hughes Cabin in October of 1989 where we had a family gathering honoring Mother and Dad's 69th wedding anniversary as well as celebrating Dad's 93rd birthday. Jon's had just moved back to Seward while he and Mary both worked in Lincoln. So this could have also been a "Welcome Home" and Birthday Celebration for Jon as well. It was probably the first time the 4 of us had played ball together for a number of years, and I don't recall having all played ball together since. It was reminiscent of the many ball games and picnics we had down along the Potomac when we lived back in Virginia and the kids were young. Those were the Good Ole Days. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

An Opportunity

Here is Sonja Workman, Program Director for the Blue Valley Community Action, Inc., Foster Grandparents Program.  She offices in Beatrice to serve an 11 county area in SE Nebraska. The FGP is part of Senior Corps, a network of national service programs that provide older Americans the opportunity to put their life experiences to work for local communities. Foster Grandparents serve as one-on-one tutors and mentors to more than 2,900 young Nebraskans. While considered volunteers, they are paid $2.55/hour and work a minimum of 15 hours/week and a maximum of 40.  Perspective Foster Grandparents are subject to security screening and other requirements. She told of the bonding which takes place and the impact that either male or female Foster Grandparents can have on children. They have some 50 such Grandparents in her 11 county area and are interested in recruiting in Seward County. Their most elderly Foster Grandparent is 94 years old and she says that once people get started serving, they are reluctant to give it up. While the satisfaction of helping to positively shape young lives is the primary motivation,  the money helps too in some cases.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Easy Decisions

We have been members of AAA during all our years of retirement and have utilized their booklets and maps for most all of our travels. I have saved the books over the years and used them in writing stories of our travels. After having been to Church this morning, moving the last of my short sleeve shirts to a spare closet for winter storage, I decided to "get rid of" most of the Tour Books. While we have a lot of "stuff" that we "hang on to" because it helps us define who we are and brings back happy memories, there is little "redeeming value" in the shelf full of these old books. I believe the Recycle Center will accept them  but they are on their way out. On the same bookcase is a couple shelves of VCR tapes that date back to the '90's.. I pulled out one from the fall of '96 that included Julie's school activities in band, chorus, class play and even a shot of she and John, siting next to each other,  playing in the Pep Band. It was that fall that "Jack", Carolyn's little poodle, became a part of the family. We hadn't looked at any of these tapes for years and were pleased at the quality which has been retained. We still have 2 TV's with VCR playing capability but want to see about getting, at least selected ones, converted to DVD disk or Flash Drives. They are much more important to keep than old Tour Books.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Early Days in Seward

It's amazing what a person can find among their "stuff" when the day's high temperature is in the mid-40's and the Nebraska football game isn't available on our TV. I opened a couple drawers this afternoon and found some old cassette tapes. This one is dated 1/22/81 and involves Bob Imig interviewing Jack Graff about the City of Seward during the early days. Jack was born here in  1908 and has been gone for several years. Bob was considerably younger but he too is no longer with us. I hadn't used the cassette player for a number of years but after putting batteries in it, was able to faintly hear the conversation. Jack had a good memory, and it didn't take much encouragement from Bob for him to talk about all the buildings and businesses around the "square". Jack refers to George Thomas frequently as telling him about things that "happened before my time". With Seward planning to celebrate their 150th anniversary next year, this tape may be of interest to those planning the celebration.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Pictures from April 2016

After a beautiful fall, including a record breaking 80 degree high temperature on November 16, we had a cold, windy, 43 degree high today. There was snow in the area a few miles to the north and west, but only a few flurries here. The high wind basically "cleaned off" the leaves of our Red Oak. It seemed like a good afternoon to start the process of choosing the pictures to be included in the collages from among all of the ones saved throughout the year. Here are 4 that I'm using here from the Month of April. This is the Marxhausen home that was demolished soon after the picture was taken. The neighborhood has lots of memories since it is next door to where Elaine and I lived when we were first married. We borrowed a truck and hauled brush to the City Burnpile as part of our spring yard cleanup.
Jack visited us frequently throughout the year and we enjoyed every visit. He even had his Mother and Grandmother with him at our house, once in a while. Jack shows up on a good percentage of our 2016 pictures as a result of his visits. And, we do get a number of Sadie as well. Working with the pictures taken throughout the year provides considerable pleasure in reliving memories and also creates a record that will be available for the future.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Change After 60+ Years

This morning I learned of the owner of this property having some off street parking constructed in the front of the house. It caught my eye since it's the first house that Elaine and I owned. We lived in an apartment for the first year and a half after  getting married and then bought this little house. It also is the first house that my parents lived in for a short time after getting married. Elaine had an Aunt and Uncle who also lived there at one time.  We moved in during the spring of 1951, and lived there till 1956.
The house is one of several in Seward that were built for victims of the 1913 Tornado that destroyed many houses. We built on a bathroom at the back side of the house and got hooked up to the sewer soon after moving in. We also built the limestone wall to provide a horizontal parking place off the graveled street. The stone for the wall came from the remodeled family farm home where I grew up north of Garland. The '52 Chevy was our first new car, and the TV antennae was necessary to receive the Lincoln and Omaha stations on our B & W Admiral set.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bear Facts

Jack and I continue to play with the 27 stuffed animals that came from last Saturday's auction. The number was reduced by one today when this cow found a new home. It went to a very appropriate place, and I had more pleasure in passing it on to a good place, than what either Jack nor I would have ever had from it. I believe Sadie may claim the Teddy Bear that has an internal music box. So far, Jack's favorite is a soft, fuzzy, Dachshund with long brown ears. My favorite is a good sized Dakin Dog that I call "Bowzer". It has a label from the Dakin Co., San Francisco, CA and dated 1984. That would make him 30 years old but looks like he just got out of the box. Once I learned his age, I pictured him with an imported Czech beer. It is called, "Czechvar". B.Original. I suspect it's a fancy "Pevo" to the residents of the Czech Republic. 
It is somewhat unique by being 11.2 oz with a "best before" date of 8/17/17 and contains 5% alch/vol. It was given to me to take home a couple weeks ago and I saved it for a "special occasion". That occured after going over the front yard with the mower chopping up leaves. We then put the catcher on and went over it again picking up most of the residue. It was a beautiful 74 degree day, but it felt good to come inside, open up the beer and thoroughly enjoy it. I wonder what the election has done to the sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages. I suspect there has been quite an upswing by those celebrating as well as those "drowning their sorrows". In visiting with Tim last night, he reminded me of my old adage, that "Nothing is as good nor as bad in reality, as perceived in expectation". As time has gone on, I've considered revising it to: "Few things". Having spent 18 years as a Federal Civil Servant in Washington, D.C., under 5 Presidents,  there is comfort is the stability this cadre and our Nation's Laws provide.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hope Dunbar

It is seldom that we have professional entertainment for the program at Kiwanis but were privileged today to have Hope Dunbar perform a few of her own songs. Her soothing songs were so very appropriate in promoting unity in these stressful times. As the mother of 3 children and wife of a Pastor, she utilizes her talent of writing songs for special occasions and does occasional out of state gigs. She played the Ukulele for a couple songs and told of bringing her Ukulele band to the Ole' Glory Theatre here in Seward on Sunday afternoon. We have already put it on our schedule. She told of entering a song writer's contest a while back, where the contestants were to write a song in each of the 52 weeks of the year, and send in a copy of their performing the song.  She said that more that one of her songs showed her in PJ's with her hair unbrushed, as she rushed to meet the weekly deadline. She was a finalist and invited to Atlanta where a DVD was made of all 52 of her songs. It was a real treat for us in Kiwanis, to have her perform for us at a regular meeting.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Different Toys for Different Kids

Here is an item from yesterday's Bredow Estate Auction  that sold for something like $425. I didn't look at it closely but believe having the original box must have helped. I knew Rhoda to take good care of things at the Bank where she worked most all her adult life, and she obviously also took good care of her toys. Most of us had younger siblings, kids or grandkids to "wear out" our toys, but she didn't have any of those, so they were still in "new" condition. Her parents owned land, were apparently successful, and I'm sure, bought her anything she may have wanted. 
The little 3-wheeler sold for $450. and the horse and cart for $140. It was apparent that several bidders were knowledgeable of how such items were valued; it isn't by the amount of enjoyment a Great Grandchild may get by playing with them. And, that was the criteria for purchases I made. Sadie and Jack got over to see the 27 stuffed animals, which I got for a bargain price , and were quite amazed. I was at a Church meeting when they came but Elaine said they were pretty excited. This little Nebraska Teddy Bear might even be more popular after the Husker's 24-17 victory last night.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

An Exciting Day and It's Not Over

Schweitzer Auction conducted the Rhoda Bredow estate auction to- day at the Seward Harvest Hall. The auction included many unique items since she never married, lived on the farm where she was born, lived well into her 90's, and had no immediate family. There were many items including toys and perhaps this baby basket, were nearly 100 years old and still in good condition. While the old items sold well, there were also some bargains. I felt the stuffed animals, blankets, sheet and pillows that I bought were in that category. We set out the 27 stuffed animals and will be interested in the Great Grand Kids reaction when they see them for the first time.
While we wonder about the Kids reaction, it can't be with any more excitement than what Elaine and I showed while opening the wrapping from this 40oz box of Whitman's Chocolates. It was sent to us from a Niece and family from California and arrived in today's mail. This little kitten clinging to my knee is one of the many stuffed animals I brought home. I'm afraid it got knocked off when Tommy Armstrong went down again late in the 3rd quarter with Nebraska and Minnesota tied at 17-17.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Recording the Past for Future Entertainment

On Holidays like today, when we are not involved in anything special, I always try to do something specific that needs to be done. Today's project was getting all our Christmas Letters in a binder. We now have what we sent to "Family and Friends" every year from 1980 through 2015 with the exception of 1986. While we have written summaries of each years activities, these Christmas letters are an excellent summary of our family and activities during that year. 
The binder contains several other, "Over the Years" items including: Key Dates, My Birthdays, Elaine's Birthdays (since '48), Thanksgivings (since '40), Christmases (since '40), Cameras, Guns, Wedding Anniversaries, Vrana Ancestory, and Texas Trips. We have written a paragraph or two on how we celebrated our birthdays and even more on what we did on Thanksgivings and Christmases. We have pictures of each of the cameras and Guns that we have ever owned.  All of this is really just "props" to help us remember the past. We have normally stressed the positive in any of our writing so it is pleasant reading. After all of the work on this today, we did enjoy a piece of Cherry Pie with Pecan Ice Cream.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Great Grandkids at Work

We were up to Hughes this afternoon where Carolyn and Ben were entertaining Sadie and Jack in their backyard. They not only have an interesting garden in the backyard but also what could be called a "child development center". As a former 2nd grade school teacher, Carolyn has many creative ideas that enable Sadie and Jack to use their own curiosity to do things. Ben is very talented in building some of Carolyn's creations. Their entertaining themselves is reminiscent of my growing up during the drought and depression where there were no boughten "toys". My sister and I used an axle with buggy wheel to build a "Lumby-Jumby" on which we played.
Carolyn picked up a number of 4ft. 2x2's that the kids laid on a couple of 2x4's to build a platform on which to "perform" and which later served as a "platform" for their tent. I hope they will always maintain that close relationship that they enjoy at this stage. Seeing them interact makes one regret "only 1 kid" families. They are learning so much about "human relations" that will be an important part of their "make-up" for the rest of their lives. Their growth and development is a real pleasure for Great Grandparents.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Shaping trees and government

The leaves on this Red Oak are in their final glory for the season. Elaine and I planted this tree, as a young seedling, at our Church nearly 10 years ago. It is a very nicely shaped tree, because of some selective pruning over the years. It suffered some lawnmower damage until a trunk guard was added for protection. Back in my early days of working with Nursery stock, I would tell customers that trees were a lot like people; none of them are perfect but with care and nurturing, they can be improved. That is a bit of the challenge we face in our Democracy each time we have a change in leadership. This transition will be particularly difficult because of the extreme change that we are facing. Previously, there was a certain amount of stability within the framework of the political parties, but that has been diluted in this campaign. I understand that many voters crossed party lines in looking for change. Others voted for the first time looking to Make America Great Again. I liked the expressions of unity that we heard today, but am concerned that the "change" many voters were seeking will not be realized. It may be that something as simple as legislative term limits that could limit the influence  of special interest and make Congress more responsive to their constituents and "the good of the Country". Like pruning and caring for trees, we need to make certain cuts and changes that are well planned, discussed and evaluated, to better shape our institution, called government.