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Rusted “Pioneers” in Siouxland, Woodbury County

26 Jun

Some days when just cruising about on county and backroads in Siouxland, I don’t drive very fast. There isn’t much traffic and so I don’t see the need to speed to get somewhere I am not particularly attempting to reach. These days are more about meandering and looking for visuals than reaching a destination. What so many authors and others have said, I am more vested in the journey than the destination. And this is good when there isn’t a destination.

And so at times I look for elements that I can isolate and focus my attention on what is before me trying to portray its character if that is possible and make an image that may have meaning to someone, maybe, and if not, just enjoying a day out.

Sitting along a roadside in the small community of Climbing Hill I came across a former farm or industry vehicle that has seen better days and probably served its owner well enough. And now sadly put out to pasture for possible a newer bigger version.

A former pickup truck “parked” along the roadside in Climbing Hill, Iowa Thursday, June 1, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And then there are the older grain elevators in some communities. Standing erect and looking a little worse for wear considering the inclement Iowa weather, the patina on this elevator in Oto just gives it more character.

A grain elevator in Oto, Iowa Thursday, June 1, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A grain elevator in Oto, Iowa Thursday, June 1, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

“Kids’ Day in Siouxland, Woodbine

24 Jun

I recently began exploring parts of southern Siouxland and driving about to get oriented and take time to walk some of these communities’ streets. During a stop in Woodbine one Friday afternoon I heard sirens sounding and thought, sadly, that somebody’s home or business was in danger as the fire department call is not always the best thing to here.

But this particular day the sirens repeated themselves in the proximity of the downtown area so I inquired if there was a special event or parade about to take place. An employee of the local  newspaper informed me that on Friday afternoons during the summer months the fire department gives local children a ride around the downtown in the fire trucks.

And walking a block over to the staging area where the trucks were parked, kids and parents were lining up to take part of a community event that maybe someday will instill  one or some of these youngsters to be involved in their local volunteer fire department. A job for many small communities that still depends on the support of its local citizenry.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Eastern Siouxland, Whittemore

22 Jun

During my recent Memorial Day drive I stopped by the small Siouxland community of Whittemore, Iowa. The town began in the late 1870’s and is named for a railroad engineer named Don Whittemore. It’s a pleasant town that was especially quiet on Memorial Day as people celebrate the holiday attending services in the morning and then enjoying the holiday like many others getting together with family and friends. Like many smaller communities I have visited it is anchored by a grain elevator business, but also has a  nice downtown. One of the stores is a hardware store, and in the window are four names denoting different generations of that family’s ownership.

A business that has been in the family for generations in Whittemore, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The downtown area has a little “park” or seating place to get in out of the sun on especially hot days and many of the homes were of the grander type dating from the late 1800’s of early 1900’s showing off the community’s well being as was much the case in the early settlement days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Nature in Siouxland and the Enviroment, Yankton, SD

20 Jun

Again on a visit to Yankton, SD in Siouxland, I walked about taking in a nice day and searching for visuals that I didn’t previously see and actually recognized. This time it struck me that many communities, larger ones as opposed to smaller ones, really try to infuse the culture of both an urban landscape and nature. The two are actually competing entities it seems to me. And many studies I am sure have delved into the co-existence of them so that the heat given off by all of the cement parking lots and other structures do not detract from living in a town.

I saw the two co-existing together as well as they could while on my walk in Yankton and tried to isolate them with just the two forms competing within my visuals frame. Good, bad or indifferent, man does what he deems necessary. I just hope nature continues to ride along.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting a small town in Siouxland, Gayville, SD

18 Jun

On a return trip from Yankton, SD, I stopped off in a small community called Gayville. Driving into town I saw someone had a sense of humor with a smile painted on the roof of a business. As I admired the smile and took some photos an older gentleman passed by and also smiled. He probably has seen many folk look at this face seen by passing railway trains going to and fro.

Somebody with a sense of humor in Gayville, SD Friday, May 26, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Another attraction to Gayville is the Gayville Hall which has a sign that says it is the Home of the Hay County Jamboree. Online information says it is one of the community’s first businesses built.

The Gayville Hall in the downtown area of Gayville, SD Friday, May 26, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I didn’t stick around for a long period of time but walked around a bit just trying to get a sense of the place. But that may be better done with a return visit to one of the jams at the hall when folk come out to enjoy themselves.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Honoring the Flag in Siouxland, Ute

16 Jun

In most of the smaller communities I explore someone is flying the Star and Stripes somewhere in the community. Flag Day is set aside each year to honor America’s symbol. But in visiting various communities the flag is honored everyday. It is part of the American life. And no matter how vitriolic and mean spirited people can become about issues, most people stop and reflect and appreciate being able to live in a country where freedoms are not lip service. Land of the free, home of the brave. And while every effort is made to honor those who serve our country, there are so many others equally as brave who pursue their purpose in life in helping others and continuing to make America a country people can be proud.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

On a wind brisk day Old Glory snaps to attention in Ute, Iowa Friday June 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Missing Memorial Day Celebration in Siouxland, Sibley

14 Jun

Recently for the Memorial Day Holiday I wanted to visit another place in Siouxland to see how other folk celebrate the holiday. Granted, the routine is pretty much all the same, but there seems to always to nuances. However this Memorial Day my well laid plans fizzled. The time I believed was set for the ceremony I found for the celebration in Sibley was incorrect. As I pulled into the cemetery I saw people gathered about a few vehicles. And after asking them about the ceremony they looked at me, maybe in pity, and told me I was too late.

Well, the 2.5 hour drive it took for me to get there left me a little deflated but then I drove into town to take a peek and decided I needed to return at some point just to see the downtown area alive with people. For the holiday, no one was downtown this Saturday as all were with friends, family and doing what folk do on a weekend, holiday weekends included.

So Sibley is on my “to so” list and hopefully to do yet this summer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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