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Celebrating the Fourth of July in Siouxland, Storm Lake

7 Jul

This recent July 4 I visited Storm Lake and its July 4 celebration in Siouxland , at least its parade and a few other activities during the holiday. The small community has become a melting pot of diversity and embraced the many heritages that make up its community.

Thousands of visitors watch the parade and celebrate the Fourth of July in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Becoming a melting pot as a community, a number of nationalities now live and celebrate the Fourth of July in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone was showing his/her patriotic enthusiasm, some a little more than others as one former resident was looking to sell his oil paintings during the holiday gathering along the lake front. Others showed their support through the many flags on floats and dressing in red, white and blue.

Charles Bade, Denver, Co and former Storm Lake resident, dresses the part for celebrating the Fourth of July as he sells oil paintings in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mascots for a band performing in the parade were decorated in red, white and blue balloons while celebrating the Fourth of July in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Many floats and vehicles participating in the parade were decked out with flags as they celebrate the Fourth of July in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even gathering storm clouds couldn’t deter people from attending and enjoying the parade and other festivities for the day which also included an artist’s row.

Storms clouds started gathering after a parade celebrating the Fourth of July in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

On a very hot and muggy day with a high heat index some people came prepared as they watched the parade and celebrated the Fourth of July in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A tuba player entertains the crowd with various patriotic tunes as they celebrate the Fourth of July in Storm Lake, Iowa Wednesday July 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But with so much white noise going on in this country these days and rhetoric that people use to make us as a nation more divided than united, it was refreshing to see one community come together and share their respective heritage with each other and visitors showing people what actually makes this country a great nation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Honoring the Birth of a Nation in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

3 Jul

A lot of my driving around the backroads of Siouxland is done in anticipation that I will find something surprising and not previously seen by me. Although many of the places I visit I am certain are frequented by those living nearby.

I came across a small, well kept cemetery recently that I don’t recall visiting in the past. In the country it was quiet. Not even passing traffic disturbed the quiet. Seeing one grave in particular it made me think of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday that America celebrates, as do all countries when it comes to their birth and becoming the nation they are today.

A remembrance of a person who served his country in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fourth of July celebrations for most communities involve parades, backyard cookouts and fireworks. Two out of the three are noisy but fun and delightful. Children these days live for parades and the free candy generally tossed their way by those on participating floats.

So it was this quiet and solitude, a salute to a person who served their country that resonated. No distractions, no noise, just a thoughtful embrace of those who came before.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

A dove finds a quiet spot to rest in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Tuesday June 26, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remnants of History in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

25 Jun

While traversing some of the backroads in Siouxland I am sometimes struck with the thought of what life must have been in an earlier century, or two. Coming across an abandoned house, barn and small shed near a forested area in rural Monona County, the nostalgia part of me thinks life was probably simpler. Raising some stock and crops, maybe hunting in the woods for some food and no worry about the hustle and bustle of the modern world as we now know it.

An unoccupied farmhouse in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But then a more rational part of the brain kicks in with thoughts about living near a hospital in case of a serious emergency. Or hot, muggy nights near a forest without a breeze and surrounded by gnats and mosquitoes. Somehow the thought of need and want became intertwined along the way and people these days, myself included, could live without a number of items I have acquired over the years. The need of food, lodging and other basics are the more important aspects of life.

Unused barns from a former homestead in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The advent of marketing, which began centuries ago (think prostitutes and other necessary evils), helps feed the need of want. And maybe that is why life then may have seemed simpler, being away from the bombardment of all the glorious contraptions of man one never bothered to worry or think about those things, but just what was around you. The peace, solitude and loved ones living life a day at a time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing History in Siouxland, Preparation Cemetery in the Loess Hills

21 Jun

While driving about in the Loess Hills region of Siouxland recently I came upon a cemetery I was not aware of.

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is populated by people who settled in the area in the 1850’s. Part of a movement of Mormon settlers heading west and looking for their promised land. I thought I had driven most of the back roads in this area but apparently not. The cemetery sits on a quiet hill and is a nice resting place to those who were looking for a better life in an earlier century.

The Perrin family added land to the Preparation Cemetery which sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Again, it’s hard to imagine walking some of the same ground that actual pioneering families traversed looking for a new opportunity and the months of travel it took to reach a destination seems daunting. But those eager souls were more willing to take a chance and trust in their faith for a better life and seek out a new place to start life again with all the inherent difficulties presented at that time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Preparation Cemetery sits on a hill in the Loess Hills region of northwest Iowa and is the lasting resting place for some Mormon settlers who homesteaded the area in 1852 creating a small town they named Preparation located in rural Monona County, Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Big Boy near Siouxland, Omaha NE

19 Jun

As I continue exploring areas in and around Siouxland I always feel blessed that I keep finding interesting places to explore. Some I spend a little more time at than others, but it’s enjoyable to learn more history about an area that I know others have already had the opportunity to enjoy. So it was in visiting a piece of Omaha’s history, a Big Boy engine that sits above a freeway and is connected to the Lauritzen Gardens.

The Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A history of the Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine on a plaque at the display in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular engine is one of twenty five that were built to help with the U.S> government’s WWII war effort. It looms large when driving up the freeway and even larger when encountering it in person. It was also fun to find a couple from California who have traveled the U.S. visiting each of these powerhouses.

Dwarfed in size while standing in front of this Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine on display in Omaha, NE where it was built in 1944 is a couple who is traveling the United States and visiting each and everyone of these behemoths, seen Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rail service stills hauls a great deal of freight overland and many communities I have lived in and visited and crisscrossed with railroad tracks. When in a city, it seems forever for a train to pass by, but that’s to be expected when they are traveling slowly through crossings. But seeing them in the country slicing through the landscape it’s almost hard to imagine now the manpower and blood, sweat and tears expended to lay the track that helped propel this country into a business opportunity for some from coast to coast.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The walkway leading to the area for the Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine is decorated with Midwest iconography seen in Omaha, NE Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

This Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine is on display in Omaha, NE where it was built in 1944 as one of 25 of the fastest locomotives in its time seen Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

This Union Pacific Railroad’s Big Boy Engine is on display in Omaha, NE where it was built in 1944 as one of 25 of the fastest locomotives in its time seen Saturday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Honoring Siouxland’s Veterans, Quimby

7 Jun

This past Memorial Day I visited a cemetery outside the small Siouxland community of Quimby, which has a population or around 300 people.

Members of the Quimby American Legion Post 398 stand at attention during the playing of Taps at a Memorial Day service at Grandview Cemetery south of Quimby Iowa. Members include from left Ken Hasellhoff, Tim Preuss, Terry Sargent, Commander Ron Bush and Richard Ravnsborg Monday May 28, 2018. Bush said as members die, there are fewer remaining members in the Post to participate in various ceremonies. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having worked for newspapers a number of years, I have attended many Memorial Day services.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a large service attended by hundreds or a small service, the impact is always the same, the reverence for those who serve.

What struck me though this Memorial Day is the number of veterans who form the Color Guard. In talking with the Quimby American Legion Post Commander Ron Bush, the number of local veterans available for such duty is dwindling. This year’s event members were performing “double duty” since there were only five of them.

Retiring the Colors after a Memorial Day service are Quimby American Legion Post 398 members from left, Ken Hasellhoff, Tim Preuss and Terry Sargent, at Grandview Cemetery south of Quimby Iowa, Monday May 28, 2018. Post Commander Ron Bush said as older post members die, it becomes harder to find locals who served to fulfill the need of ceremonies like Memorial Day and burial details. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of the Quimby American Legion Post 398 fire a gun salute during the Memorial Day service at Grandview Cemetery south of Quimby Iowa. Members include from left Ken Hasellhoff, Tim Preuss, Terry Sargent, Commander Ron Bush and Richard Ravnsborg Monday May 28, 2018. Bush said as members die, there are fewer remaining members in the Post to participate in various ceremonies. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the current members get older and pass away, there seems to be fewer available veterans in small communities to fill their positions to honor their fellow service men and women and attend other activities such as high school football games where most times there is a presentation of the flag before the game starts and during the playing of the National Anthem.

No one I have talked with over the years about this particular situation seems to have an answer. Only concerns. And one wonders who will be present when their time comes and they are laid to rest, to honor them with a Color Guard and pay respect.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Quimby American Legion Post 398 members Terry Sargent left and Post Commander Ron Bush attach another flag dedicated to an area resident who served in the military during the Memorial Day service at Grandview Cemetery south of Quimby Iowa, Monday May 28, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A quiet rural scene commemorates a Memorial Day service conducted by the Quimby American Legion Post 398 at Grandview Cemetery south of Quimby Iowa, Monday May 28, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Tulips and Ancestry in Siouxland, Orange City’s Tulip Festival

1 Jun

I always my visits to the Tulip Festival in Siouxland located in Orange City each year. It’s a nice family event that also has families involved from the community as they work together to welcome visitors and share their love of their Dutch ancestry.

Participants wear a wide variety of costuming representing different areas and cultures of the Netherlands during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Cellphones are out recording their favorite dancers during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Before the street cleaning which takes place and a parade of regional dress specific to the Netherlands, a group of singers, The Fiesten Zangers or bicycle singers ride up and down the main downtown street stopping to share a few songs in Dutch and welcoming those attending the festival.

Some of the Fietsen Zangers, or bicycle singers, “rides” are deocrated as they perform a capella for visitors during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fietsen Zangers, or bicycle singers, wait to perform a capella for visitors during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s a nice way to spend the day, especially if the weather is nice enjoying a community celebration and food and the spirit of a small town.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Young boys “empty” their buckets during the Street Scrubbing at the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Parade participants stroll the streets in costume until the start of the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors recrod and photograph the Fietsen Zangers, or bicycle singers, who perform a capella for visitors during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Fietsen Zangers, or bicycle singers, ride down the street to perform a capella during the 78th annual Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa Thursday May 17, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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