Finding Time for a Nap in Siouxland, Sioux City

10 Dec

Sometimes one just needs to get away from it all in Siouxland, looking for a place to crash and enjoy a little peace and along time. And some times one doesn’t have to travel very far to find that peace and alone time. It just depends on where one looks for it.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Finding an out of the way place for a nap, a kitten decides no one would find him here, Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying History near Siouxland, a Union Railway Station, Omaha, NE

8 Dec

The Durham Museum was formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are so many facets of history that sometimes its easy to overlook particular pieces of it, even when it’s not so easy to overlook once you are aware. On a recent outing to Omaha, NE with some friends, we visited the Durham Museum which used to be a Union Railway Station.

The entry hall or main waiting area of the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station, dwarfs visitors now as then, seen in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

To say the least, the place is magnificent and utterly gorgeous. We traveled to the Museum to see a current showing of a wildlife photographer’s work which was very impressive. But once one walked into the station it was hard to keep moving toward the exhibit housed there. A brochure says for a station to be a union station it required a train depot to serve more than one railroad line. And evidently during its heyday this station served the Union Pacific, Chicago & Northwestern, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Illinois Central System, the Missouri Pacific and the Wabash Railway. And small scenes of recreated history as well as plaques informing a visitor abounded about the place.

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, a hub of action during the Second World War, and now the Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find it hard to imagine the hustle and bustle that must have been happening in this station. I have not been to New York’s Grand Central Station or other still functioning railway stations so I have no sense of the enormity of the number of people gathered in one place just passing through.

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bronze scenes help give a sense of what might have occurred at the time and is a pleasant little scene for families to take photographs around while visiting. I would think it would in the day have been easy to have gotten lost or separated from companions. But not so much today. It’s a grand place to reflect on changing demographics and transportation modes but truly filled with history that anyone can appreciate.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A few replica scenarios show what the Union Station’s original purpose are on display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Pacific Railroad station in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Displays tell the history of the former Union Pacific Railroad station, now Durham Museum, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Nov. 7 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning a little Photographic History in Siouxland, W.H. Over Museum, Vermillion, SD

6 Dec

It’s hard not to appreciate the great strides that has occurred in photography in the last 15 years. And even more so in the last couple of centuries when photography was first invented. I recently spent some time with members of the Sioux City Camera Club as they visited with Lynn Muller, a former instructor at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD, as he gave us a personal tour of his most extensive collection of Kodak cameras and memorabilia.

Members of the Sioux City Camera Club are given a tour by Dr. Lynn Muller of his extensive Kodak camera and memorabilia collection at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Saturday, Nov. 17 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mr. Muller has been collecting cameras for quite some time, and his knowledge of George Eastman and his quest to supply everyone with a camera is impressive and almost overwhelming. I previously visited with Mr. Muller and learned a lot then about his camera collection. This time I paid more attention to what he said about Mr. Eastman building his photographic empire. Inventing roll film to replace glass plates that made photography something many more people could do without worrying about knowing chemistry and accumulating the necessary items for printing as well as developing film. Mr. Muller taught marketing at USD so is in a good area to understand Mr Eastman’s approach to selling his photo memory pitch to the average family, and how it changed through the years.

Members of the Sioux City Camera Club are given a tour by Dr. Lynn Muller of his extensive Kodak camera and memorabilia collection at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Saturday, Nov. 17 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Camera Club easily spent a couple of hours viewing the collection and listening to the history, and then spent more time talking about the craft of photography over coffee and cookies. Even though the craft of photography and its tools has immensely changed in the last few years, it wouldn’t thrive without willing participants who like those that came before them are trying to improve their own photographic skills and use their cameras to explore their world around them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Members of the Sioux City Camera Club are given a tour by Dr. Lynn Muller of his extensive Kodak camera and memorabilia collection at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Saturday, Nov. 17 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of the Sioux City Camera Club are given a tour by Dr. Lynn Muller of his extensive Kodak camera and memorabilia collection at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Saturday, Nov. 17 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a nice evening in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

4 Dec

Sometimes serendipity is a nice thing. While visiting with some friends over the Thanksgiving holiday I was greeted with a glorious site as I headed home. Anymore I don’t carry long lenses with me as I seldom use or need them for the kind of photography I do these days. But this was a time I wish I had one so I could photograph a scene a bit tighter. But still, I was glad I could stop on a backroad, get out, and enjoy what I saw while still making a couple of photographs to remind me that nature is surprising sometimes. Although probably not to those who follow the moon phases. But, I happen not to be one of those folk and just like the surprise as I crested a small hill and saw the scene unfold in front of me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The moonrise in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Small Town in Siouxland, Fonda

2 Dec

A mural celebrating the community in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like visiting the small towns that dot Siouxland. Most are quaint and all give a look into the history of what made this part of the state what it is. There are many time places to learn a little more about a community’s past, although it sometimes depends on the time of year and catching a museum when it is open.

A little history posted on a museum in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fonda Museum based in the McKee Opera House in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like walking the quiet streets and wondering what traffic must have been like during the early pioneer days when the town was just getting underway and full of promise for itself and its residents. A lot of communities though are slice of life and lifestyle that people call home and enjoy. A place to get away from other distractions that might be occurring elsewhere in the country.

A couple local residents enjoy some sunshine in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A community garden anchors one end of the downtown in Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I also enjoy the visual puns which I think are not on the minds of people when what they represent are originally created. A central park, like the one in Fonda, is just that, a central park to a community. But say the name and most times folk will think of New York City.

A Central Park in this not as famous community of Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A central gathering place in downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s still a nice to go and sit at the end of the day and visit with friends and neighbors and soak in the community one knows and appreciates and hope for a continued success as the future keeps coming and life keeps changing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Downtown Fonda, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 17 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

‘Tis the Season in Siouxland, O’Connor House, Homer, NE

30 Nov

With Thanksgiving barely behind us, some local organizations and groups are already in the full swing of celebrating Christmas in Siouxland. But that’s understandable as people are less inclined to attend some celebrations the closer, and sometimes more hectic, it gets to the actual holiday.

The O’Connor House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and each year is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Each individual bedroom in the O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The O’Connor House in Homer, NE hosts two weekends where different groups or organizations each step up and decorate a room in the historical house with a Christmas effect. And the historical home of a first settler is staffed with volunteers to tell visitors about the family and life of the house and on the plains. One volunteer actually grew up in the house as a boy, after the O’Connor’s lived there in the late 1860’s, when his parents rented the place. Duane Harris tells some fascinating tales about the original owner, Cornelius O’Connor and life during the early settler days when the area was shared with the Native Americans who had lived there for generations.

Dakota County Historical County volunteer Duane Harris grew up in the O’Connor House and now tells visitors during a Christmas celebration about some of the home’s history and about the original occupants in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each room of the home is staffed with people relating stories about that particular space, either something about the family, or related to those possibly in one of the many photographs that dot the home.

Visitors are greeted by Dakota County Historical Society volunteers in each room to share a bit of history about the O’Connor House and its first occupants during aChristmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographs of one of the O’Connor children on display at the O’Connor House during a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course one important room is the kitchen where there are people baking cookies in a wood-fired stove with great success. Gingerbread cookies never tasted so good. And each room looks so homey one feels inclined to just sit, have some hot cider or chocolate and enjoy the ambiance.

Dakota County Historical Society volunteers busy in the kitchen baking cookies and gingerbread men cookies in a wood fired stove during the Christmas celebration at the O’Connor House in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Each of the bedrooms in the O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course the one takeaway I enjoyed most was a small sign almost hidden in the pantry near the kitchen. Reassuring people to not feel guilty about the Christmas holiday or enjoying its bounty.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sentiment of many holiday patrons is seen on a shelf near the kitchen at the O’Connor House during a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cultural History in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

28 Nov

Even living in the Siouxland area there is always something new to learn. Recently I did an assignment for a client that showed the continuing tradition of a traditional Indian corn harvest in Winnebago, NE where the Ho-Chunk tribe of Nebraska reside.

HoChunk Farms manager Aaron La Pointe checks an ear to see if it’s ready for harvest during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ag Business Operator for HoChunk Farms Jason Hulit starts a fire to boil harvested corn during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The tribe is intent on keeping alive the traditions of its culture and sharing those traditions with others as well. And I enjoy history and learning about people, especially since many things I run across these days I do not remember seeing in a history book while in school, or a totally different tale told by those who authored the books. Depending on the author sometimes history is skewed in its telling.

hoChunk Farms manager Aaron LaPointe, center left, and harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center right, shuck ears of corn as a fire begins water to boiling for a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms manager Aaron la Pointe, left, and harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center, begin adding corn ears to boiling water as ag business operator Jason Hulit, left, watches the fire so as to keep the heat up during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, left, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, back center, remove ears of corn after they boiled a few minutes during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

There is a particular process which the harvest goes through and the ears of corn are boiled then the kernels removed by hand, dried and stored until later a community soup is made and served among its residents. It’s a tradition that the Winnebago Tribe is hoping to once again instill in younger members and get more community involvement.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spoons and dishes were used to celan corn kernels from the cobs so the kernels could dry in the sun during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, left, volunteer Jeremiah Walker, center, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, right, secure and wrap of dried Indian corn kernels during a traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Indian corn kernels dry on netting as volunteer Jeremiah Walker, left, HoChunk Farms harvest specialist Keithen Kearnes Walker, center, and farm manager Aaron LaPointe, right, take a moment to relax before cleaning up after a day of traditional corn harvest and processing near the HoChunk Village in Winnebago, NE Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

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