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Depicting History in Siouxland, Courage Park in Omaha, NE

7 Apr
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. According to a website by First National Bank, “Installed in 2005 and 2009, Sculptors Blair Buswell of Highland, Utah, and Ed Fraughton of South Jordan, Utah, created Pioneer Courage with four pioneer families and their covered wagons departing westward from Omaha.” (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting in Omaha, NE just south of Siouxland I came across a park I had not seen before. Friends and I were exploring parts of the city we had not previously walked about and so it was a pleasant surprise to find this homage paid to those settlers that set out for the “new frontier” and a life apart from what they had known. Because this sculpture garden was created a few years ago it does not take into account current perceptions of events as “white immigrants” flooded the western plains obtained through the Louisiana Purchase and after the exploratory visit by Lewis and Clark’s expedition to map the newly obtained land.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the westward expansion opened up new territories to current United States residents and immigrants, it also began a long history of a not so good relationship with Native American residents who had inhabited the land for many generations and millennia. Whether or not another downtown park will address that issue for future generations is for current and future residents of the Omaha community to address. The park though is a nice break within all of the cement buildings that surround this island oasis which probably looks more inviting for lunch time breaks during spring, summer and fall lunch times for surrounding employees working in the area.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A passerby checks out statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Still, for a photo expedition exploring a community it was a nice find on a rather pleasant early spring day. I always enjoy history, and realize that most times the history presented comes from a single source with possibly a single point of view. The park shows the fortitude and gumption of those early settlers who went west to find a new life and beginning for themselves, much like today’s modern immigrants and residents who can more easily, at times, travel the many miles to find a new life. Each era has its own obstacles and problems, which sadly never seems to have an easy solution. And it seems that those searching for a better life for themselves and their families, away from starvation (Irish), persecution (Quakers) and other life strifes such as war ( any number of countries) the desires, needs and wants have not changed, only perspective and “characters” of those now in need. Travel today is almost instantaneous when compared to that of a couple centuries ago. And these days there seems to be more NIMBY’s than those willing to offer a hand. I sometimes muse what might have happened and how my own and others futures looked much different had Native Americans then rebuffed the Quakers and other European settlers and conquerors who first set foot on this land. Rather than sharing a first Thanksgiving, there might not have been any history written about those lost souls who traveled the sea to seek a better life. No word ever returning to those distant shores. The strife, famine and others ills of centuries past have never ceased, nor likely seem to, and until as it’s said, the root of those evils or calamities are addressed, people will leave their homeland in search of a better life somewhere else where they think it might be safe. But the chance of those underlying problems being addressed seem of little concern to those making important decisions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Statues in Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021 depict settlers moving westward during the westward expansion in the 1800’s after the Louisiana Purchase. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Friends at the Zoo in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

16 Mar
A child doesn’t see that a curious penguin has come to visit through the glass portal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to watch people interact with the animals at the Henry Doorly Zoo. During this past year with the pandemic I read an article where zoo people said they could see the animals there were missing “time” spent with people who come to visit. I thought that an interesting observation.

A child waves at a penguin at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As spring arrives and temperatures get warmer more people will be getting out, enjoying sunshine and a chance to be outside without freezing temperatures. But it will also be interesting to see if people still heed some caution as the pandemic continues, even with vaccinations ongoing everyday. I would guess the animals would hate to see a pause in folk wanting to visit them because of carelessness and not remaining safe until everyone is safe from the coronavirus.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A child watches a penguin swim inside its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Blue Waters in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

2 Feb
Watching the fish in the shark tank at the Henry Doorly Zoo aquarium in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I get to some destinations around Siouxland, I like to stop and just enjoy the ambiance and the moment. Like a few photographers I know, I sometimes tend to overshoot. But knowing this, I also try to embrace the idea of just enjoying what I see without a viewfinder, mostly.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the shark tank at the Henry Doorly Zoo aquarium in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

25 Jan
Enjoying a day at the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I am out photographing in Siouxland I like to photograph in a B&W mode. It makes me remember those days when I first worked for newspapers and everyone used Kodak’s Tri-X, for everything. Indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light. One just learned to adjust. It also taught one to see beyond the visual color that the eye saw but knew that film didn’t. And one had to learn to shoot in a manner that would help a viewer see the image the photographer was trying to convey.

Not all images are stellar award winners. Some help tell a story and sometimes I just like the throwback and the practice of shooting “clean”.

A building, now a local tv station, seen from the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Folks these days sometimes see black and white work as nostalgia. Maybe it is. All types of genres have their place. Each just require a different approach and some need more thought put into creating an image to work. I like the gradations that are created, from black to white, and all shades of grey in between. And a chance to remember places that I previously documented, in black and white.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A walking tour of the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Feeding Time in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

23 Jan
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everybody loves meal time. Some of us snack a little too much sometimes in between. It was fun during a day trip out of Siouxland to see zoo staff at the Henry Doorly Zoo feeding their flock of penguins. The little guys and gals eagerly greeted the staffers.

Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One poor little guy was hoping for a little special attention but the staffer through the food over his head toward the water leaving him standing there.

One lone penguin was hoping for a little special attention during feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 12, 2012. (video by Jerry L. Mennenga©)

Most got a little attention as the attendants made sure each were fed a fish, or two. And the creatures scurried here and there knowing it was chow time and no excuses, even though a few were reticent about eating their fish, one or two gulps and the birds then took a dip.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A little personal attention during feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Time for a swim after a meal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A swim after a meal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Tufted Puffin at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Tufted Puffin looks out at visitors at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Christmas Memory in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE

21 Jan
Childhood memories for some people in remembering putting together model trains with their fathers seen at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas time is a time of joy and a story of birth or new beginning for people. Families share the season and the one day and make memories to last a lifetime if they are lucky. One memory some folk have told me is “building” model train sets with their fathers and running the tracks around the living room making folk a little cautious so they wouldn’t step wrong and end of run over by a slow going locomotive.

The Lauritzen Gardens is a place that seems to like trains. Another exhibit they have on the grounds is a joy in itself to see. And a small train set up in an indoor garden area was a delight to see how it traveled through the area.

Slow motion emphasizes a train passing by a walkway at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A train passes by a walkway at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like the unexpected little surprises one finds when visiting places. And I’m certain the folk their enjoy giving them as they dream up something different each year to make it special and to keep patrons and guests returning.

Christmas time is special, and these little delights add to that memory of another year in which to remember.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A train passes by a walkway at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A trolley car makes its way in a floral exhibit at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life’s Progression in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

3 Jan
A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes thoughts just come to one when viewing through a viewfinder and trying to create an image. And then sometimes when one sees the results and later understands why something felt right at the time after reviewing images and being patient while photographing. Not always. But sometimes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Day and Night in Siouxland, Decature, NE

30 Dec
A bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska seen from Decatur, Ne, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out photographing in Siouxland sometimes I am pleasantly surprised with results of images made, and other times wished I had done something differently. While out photographing with a friend from the local camera club we spent a little time watching the sun set near a bridge at Decatur, NE that connects with Iowa of which he wanted to do a sunset photograph. His attempts I believe were more productive than mine.

While I was happy with my daytime shot , I felt the night time shot came up a bit short, but it was a nice evening. Fair weather, warm and for a day in October in Siouxland, I am not complaining.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska seen from Decatur, Ne, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Imaginative Christmas Decorations in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha

28 Dec
A Christmas tree made of poinsettias seen at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about it’s easy to find Christmas light decorating on homes that takes one’s imagination to new heights. And with technology it’s easier to sync light strobing and music and it makes for quite the display. But somehow, in my humble mind, that pales in comparison to the tight spent creating a Christmas tree out of different colored poinsettias and placing them to somewhat replicate colored ornaments hanging on a tree. I was simply amazed.

A toy train makes it way around the “Christmas Tree” at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A decorative scene at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Gardens then attended small touches still using plants and adding a toy train one easily associates with the bygone days of such a scene at the base of a tree in a family’s home. The came the “stuffed” animals on the other side of the tree, still surrounded by beds of poinsettias. It was a nice break for this different kind of Christmas season and the effort the people at the Gardens put into creating the display. Affording people a chance to safely get out of the house and enjoy something this holiday season with other various precautions in place. And everyone attending at that time were courteous of others, giving space and wearing masks. A nice day outing amid a chaotic season of sorts.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

“Stuffed” animals guard the “Christmas” tree at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Hundreds or maybe more of poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ahh, Relish the Little Birdies in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

26 Dec
A house sparrow is lost in the fall colors reflected in a small pool of water in Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As winter begins to settle in here in Siouxland I will miss seeing the opportunities for photographing certain possibilities until next year. The reflection of fall colors in a pool of water and how directional light in the morning makes trees come alive with their own “electric” light show.

Sometimes life gets busy and one doesn’t take a moment or two to just enjoy those small things or critters one may see on a daily basis. And especially not stopping to simply watch.

A robin seem to stop and take in the fall colors around Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

If I walk briskly or arrive early to a meeting, how will I be affected if I stop and look and watch for a few seconds, observing nature and finding myself milliseconds behind in my apparent schedule. I would guess I will not be that affected, and probably though, the better for pausing and enjoying what nature provides.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A house sparrow sits in a patch of grass near a small pool of water in Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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