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Learning about Mythology in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

28 Feb
The face of at large gnome in the Lauritzen Gardens fantasy “fairy land” which recounts various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it worthwhile as I travel about Siouxland to learn. About places, history, and other sundries of life. It was a pleasant surprise to see mythology on display at the Laurtizen Gardens in Omaha, NE, and done in such a creative way.

A walk through a fantastical fairy land at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE.

The Gardens touched on various mythological creatures from different parts of the world and ended with a walk through a magical and inventive use of plants in its display of some of these creatures.

The Lauritzen Gardens creates a fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Information about various mythologies shown at the Lauritzen Gardens fantasy “fairy land” seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For a cold day it was a pleasant way to spend time indoors learning in a fun setting and enjoying someone’s imagination. Since “timed entries” are required it was an uncrowded environment to explore.

Families look over an exhibit at the Lauritzen Gardens which creates a fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A display about world mythologies seen at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the coronavirus limiting various aspects of life, it’s nice to see some places behaving responsibly and giving people a chance to get out and take in a little “art” and enjoy a little time away from home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fairy housing at the Lauritzen Gardens fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.With the umbrellas one could almost imagine Mary Poppins dropping in for a visit. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Fairy housing at the Lauritzen Gardens fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Lauritzen Gardens creates a fantasy “fairy land” recounting various mythologies from around the world seen in Omaha, NE Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History of Women’s Suffrage in South Dakota, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

22 Feb
A history lesson about prohibition and keeping South Dakota dry in the early 20th century seems a repeat of the now push to keep the use of marijuana in any form including medicinal out of the state, seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of historical events are currently on display at the Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. One of the displays talks about women’s suffrage and the fight to obtain the vote, something that continues today although it’s just not women that some individuals in power seem bent on restraining others attempt to be involved in the political process.

A history lesson about women’s suffrage and their right to vote seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems obvious that the more people involved in a democratic process the better the society. But I guess some folk are fearful of their opinions and beliefs being “watered down” by opinions and beliefs that do not coincide with their own. So in some ways the more folk talk about a sacred process of democracy the less sacred it becomes because of paternalistic factors and beliefs that others are not as well equipped to make informed decisions. Education would seem an obvious answer, but then, who decides what that educational information should include for informing a populace?

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Women’s suffrage seemed to occur along with keeping South Dakota dry in the early 20th century, seen in the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking in History’s Footsteps in Siouxland, rural Monona County

14 Feb
An older cemetery, many grave sites at the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneer settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I know I have visited a few different cemeteries in the Siouxland area. Each is unique in its own way. Each has history of early settlers who lived and died nearby, settling a part of then frontier but what is now western Iowa. And as I have speculated previously the landscape around which these souls are buried must be so different than what is seen these days. More land being farmed, no more native prairie grass waving in the wind. And more people populating what must of then been a more desolate and somewhat isolated frontier.

A sign welcomes visitors to the older Belvidere Cemetery, many grave sites here contain the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A country road leads to an older cemetery. Many grave sites at the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneer settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Doing some online looking did not bring any general information about this burial site or the community of Belvidere. Names of the deceased are listed, but no cross references without further genealogical research. While not doing a lot of looking there at the cemetery itself, I have found that not many names are duplicated among the various cemeteries I have visited with earlier dates from the 19th Century. Guessing relatives did not travel far or met and married folk from a very far distance, even miles by today’s standards

This older Belvidere Cemetery, like many, sits top a hill and has grave sites containing the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These are peaceful places, a good resting place in an area that departed souls can look out from and still see the surrounding hillsides that may have graced their views during those earlier years as the area was being populated with people looking for a place west of the Mississippi. Seeking fortune, a new life or solitude, and maybe a new beginning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An older cemetery, many of the grave sites in the Belvidere Cemetery contain the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The entrance to the Belvidere Cemetery, which contains the remains of early pioneering settlers, seen in rural Monona County near Moorhead , Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking Through History in Siouxland, Old Courthouse Museum, Sioux Falls, SD

8 Feb
A former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting and revisiting places of history is always time well spent in my book. Former places that have become museums and other places of historical record are abundant in Siouxland and enjoyable as well as educational.

A witness box in the former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, SD is one such place. And like most museums the exhibits change over time with various bits of history added to its repertoire for local residents and guests to explore. And it takes a little time to explore and read and absorb the information being shared. And on a cold winter’s day, spending a little time indoors is not a bad thing.

A small courtyard with seating is a pleasant outdoor area during nicer weather seen from inside the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Built in the late 1890’s it was said to be the largest courthouse between Chicago and Denver. Of course architects and builders always want to promote their work. The building seems to have stood time well with many features still found from when footsteps first tread its floors.

A grand stairwell leads to the second floor where a courtroom awaited interested parties in the former county courthouse, the Old Courthouse Museum is located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I often wonder about those earlier occupants who lived and worked in an area. What their lives may have been like and what their day to day circumstances included, good and bad. Joys and heartbreak is not a new concept to any particular generation, no matter when they lived.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former courtroom in what is now the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The story of an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for a crime not committed seen on a plaque outside the Old Courthouse Museum downtown Sioux Falls, SD, Friday, January 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pondering History in Siouxland, Grant Cemetery, rural Monona County

20 Dec
A number of the buried listed are soldiers who fought during the Civil War both in the infantry and in the cavalry located in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about a bit recently in Siouxland I came across a sign for a Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County. Signage I have previously passed by but never stopped. This time I did.

A gravel road leading to Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like walking around older, remote cemeteries. Maybe not remote to the residents living in the area, but for someone who lives in a town miles away this last resting place is tucked away on a hilltop and a refuge from the hustling and bustling of modern day life.

Located on a hillside the surrounding farmland must have looked much different when settlers first arrived in this part of western Iowa seen from Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The entrance off of a gravel road to the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grant Cemetery is now home to 24 veterans of the Civil War, and one from the Spanish American War. There are also veterans of the WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam war. The listing of the Civil War veterans include infantry and cavalry soldiers. It was quiet, with just a few birds making noise at this cemetery amongst the fields in the area. I can’t really imagine what the area might have looked like to early settlers who arrived when the land was still prairie.

A gravesite of an Iowa volunteer cavalry soldier who most likely fought during the Civil War and is buried at Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A headstone of a soldier who served during WWI buried at the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Early settler buried at the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A peaceful place to pass the time until Revelations reckoning. There were a number of animal prints in the fresh snow and evidence of deer, rabbit and what looked like large cat paw prints, possibly a bobcat. Places like this cemetery make me curious about these settlers’ lives, where they came from to start here again. And maybe after arriving and getting started in a new life being called away to fight a war against fellow Americans.

What appears to be a cluster of possible family members all buried close to one another near the base of a tree in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun sets on an overcast day seen from Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like so many folk who have passed, people’s stories are lost to time, maybe even to descendants as that kind of history seems missing in today’s modern world, compared to other cultures. It’s still a place to bury loved ones but a remote place with forgotten souls who arrived in a new to make a new life that is now centuries old. Until someone stops by, walks about a bit and ponders what life must have been like for someone looking for a new place to live.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Early settlers are buried in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up with the Muppets in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

2 Dec
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s most likely a generational thing that different people, even in Siouxland, remember becoming aware of different Muppet characters. I was surprised to learn that Jim Henson began his great Muppet caper in 1958. And entertained people of all ages for decades with the antics of these lovable characters.

Many people are aware the Muppets through a decades long appearance on public television, with many people growing up with these characters. And it was fascinating to read and see how Henson and his crew brought these lovable characters to life and pays tribute to his forward thinking and innovation in creating movie spectaculars that seem so real. And currently an exhibit about Jim Henson and Muppets is at the Durham Museumand organized by the Museum of the Moving Image.

Kermit the Frog takes center place in a part of the exhibit currently in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Bert and Ernie still chatting away. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
One can only show a candy wrapper or cookie at their own risk walking by the Cookie Monster’s display. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not to mention the ever ongoing love affair between Kermit and Miss Piggy, even if it was only Miss Piggy who knew this and the hapless suitor, Kermit, who could never quite figure out what was going on. The Muppets have been in 10’s if not hundreds of shows. A stop by Durham Museum is well worth the time, and an early timed arrival during the week beats a crowd.

TV was not the only medium where the Muppets came to fame. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visual feast of Jim Henson’s Muppet activity over the years seen during a current show in progress which traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Henson and his collaborators and crew spent the time to perfect the Muppets movements to make them as lifelike as possible. Behind the scenes footage show this taking place and leaves one marveling at what was involved and the energy and spirit folk put into creating this productions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple watch part of a film created by Jim Henson and his collaborators showing the virtuosity of the films that were made during an exhibit about Jim Henson and the Muppets currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Rowl, left, performed by Henson and Frank Oz, was a sidekick to Jimmy Dean on his show. An early Jim Henson creation. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Forgotten Small Towns in Siouxland, Arcola, rural Monona County

10 Nov
Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History is a funny thing. Some things are never forgotten, and then others are never remembered but for sign posts. In Siouxland apparently as well as other places in Iowa there are a number of early towns of which little is known.

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A hillside near where Arcola was situated, an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The only reference I could find doing a little searching online is that once a post office was in a township where Arcola was located from 1861-1187. The town came in to existence prior to the start of the Civil War and lasted for a short bit after the war between the states.

The countryside around the posted sign is hilly, part of the Loess Hills region in western Iowa and only happenstance while driving by allowed me to even catch sight of the sign. Now the area is wooded, with some surrounding farmland and a winding road that drifts off like a trail may have in those days when the state was in its infancy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Arcola was an early town in rural Monona County, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. A historical reference states there was a post office there in Kenebee Township from 1861- 1887. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Changes in Siouxland, Linn Grove

19 Oct
Water is no longer running over a dam in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes in revisiting places one can find changes that are surprising. ON a recent trip to Linn Grove where a small dam was fairly active a couple years ago, the water has stopped running. Partially due to a drought for the area and also because of spring storms a year ago where the small river the dam was situated on cut itself a new channel because of the intense spring storms and rainfall. Feast and famine.

Spring storms cut a new channel diverting water running over a dam in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Water is no longer running over a dam in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

You can no longer even drive down to an area where people would fish along the dam and the drought has shrunken the small pond where I guess a variety of fish would hang out, unsuspectedly becoming someone’s meal at a later time.

Mother Nature can be awesome in her fury. It must have been a sight seeing the water rushing during the spring storms, but sad where you realized there would be extensive damage done. Talking to a local person while there they mentioned local officials were trying to determine how to finance the damage, which in this day and age the local person said could amount to millions of dollars.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Water is no longer running over a dam in Linn Grove, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Fun House’s History in Siouxland, Arnolds Park Fun House Museum, Arnolds Park

3 Sep

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I come across museums or revisit places in Siouxland I feel a little sad because I will never have the chance to experience what something in the past was like or remember the sounds emanating from a place as people enjoy themselves. I have my own memories of similar places, but it’s never really the same.

Historic photos of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historic photos of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some stories I have read about the long history of Arnolds Park Amusement Park and various aspects of it sound intriguing. From music venues to eateries, former sailing vessels and quaint cabins. A place built to delight locals and other visitors as well.

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum is a not a large place and as I have revisited it more and varied items keep appearing. I can well imagine many families have history and memories of their visits, the changes and joys and delights of vacations spent at the lakes.

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The items on display may seem quaint or a little kitchy but in context relate the history the small museum tries to share. Then one’s imagination takes over and a former visitor can relive memories and a new visitor can only imagine ones.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at a museum with history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rock and Roll in Siouxland, Rock and Roll Museum, Arnolds Park

12 Aug

The museum is a tribute to artists who played at the Roof Garden and other venues around the Arnolds Park Amusement Park area located in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland it’s possible to find a wide variety of museums and places that showcase historical significance, if just to the locals. The Rock and Roll Museum in Arnolds Park is one of those places. Many artists up and coming have passed through the area playing a local venue, the Roof Top Garden to the delight of fans over the years.

The Roof Garden, recently renovated for an updated look, played host to a number of famous musicians and bands who played in the area over the years and located in the Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of musicians passed through playing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reading over a list of who’s who and seeing various guitars collected and signed would make many a would-be musician and fan aficionado stop in their tracks and spend time looking and reading

the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signed guitars by artists hang in a small theatre room with a video about the local music scene over the years seen in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a summer’s day when one wants to get away from the heat and humidity, and a poor excuse it may be, stepping inside and spending some time allows one a snapshot into many a famed artist who actually visited this part of Iowa in Siouxland, rather than “flying over” on the way to a larger venue.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A number of famous musicians and artists passed through the lakes area and are memorialized at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Deep Purple’s Tommy Bolin’s custom stage suit circa 1975 seen at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Bolin, a Sioux City native, also played in the bands Zephyr and James Gang. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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