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Small Town Christmas Celebration in Siouxland, Little Sioux

13 Jan
A lit community Christmas Tree in a city park’s gazebo in Little Sioux, Iowa Monday, Dec. 121, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas has passed. Celebrations are done. But it was nice while driving around during the holiday season to find small communities celebrating the holiday. Most have Christmas ornaments hanging from light posts in the downtown area. But for some small communities, a long tree, decorated, in a central park allows all who visit a moment to enjoy the shared experience by themselves or with others. Until next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Wishing a Merry Christmas to all in Siouxland.

24 Dec
Decorated with lights, the Christmas Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2015. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga ©)

An interesting year in Siouxland will come to a close in a few days. A new year will soon offer other opportunities and possibilities that may not yet be known. But anticipation and expectation can make dreams more palpable and exciting when they do come to fruition.

Like the opening of Christmas presents one has seen under a tree that have been there a few hours or days, creating a bit of excitement of what lays inside. And hopefully fulfilling a wish some has had.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

215 in Siouxland, Council Bluffs

12 Dec
A scene in historic downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A friend recently talked about becoming a more minimalist photographer, eschewing the trappings of doing a lot of post processing work he has recently seen where people are replacing skies and moving objects around and creating images with a lot of computer work rather than just photographing.

I think those two schools of thoughts have been around for a long time. Creating something after the fact with various images brings to mind the photographer Jerry Uelesmann as opposed to someone like Henri Cartier-Bresson who shot street scenes or Lee Friedlander and Josef Koudelka.

Everyone has a vision. And sometimes that vision may drift from one genre to another and back again. In the end though, the images made are something of meaning to the photographer who is spending the time seeing and “creating” a world view to share with others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Changing Holiday Celebration in Siouxland, Le Mars

22 Nov
Workers put up Christmas decorations in preparation for a hometown Christmas celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving at the outdoor Olson Cultural Event Center near downtown Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. The City of Le Mars facebook website states: “DonÕt toss your save-the-date just yet! While we were hoping to start a new tradition this year, the COVID-19 pandemic had different plans. We may not be able to gather in person, but weÕre still planning to bring joy this holiday season.” The city still plans a drive-in screening of the movie “Elf” and a video broadcast of originally scheduled main stage events to be viewed online from residents’ homes. Recently Iowa’s governor reversed course about masking and social distancing as coronavirus cases spike in Iowa after attending pre-election Trump campaign rallies while not wearing a mask or encouraging attendees to social distance. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas celebrations in Siouxland communities are changing this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many holiday celebrations are being cancelled. Le Mars was going to start a new tradition in addition to its usual Lighted parade that passed through downtown. The Christmas Village celebration hosted at the county fair gounds has been cancelled.

Workers put up Christmas decorations in preparation for a hometown Christmas celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving at the outdoor Olson Cultural Event Center near downtown Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A recently announced proclamation for voluntary masking and social/physical distancing by the state’s governor who previously dismissed such precautions seems to be more urgent as illness and deaths related to the virus continues to rise endangering the area hospitals with patients and COVID-19 related symptoms.

Decorations are being put up around the community but planned performances at a downtown cultural center stage and other activities scheduled for the end of the month have been postponed or will be live streamed virtually to keep people from congregating and thus perpetuating the virus transmission among different groups of people wanting to see the town’s lighting of its Christmas tree or hear performances by local groups.

Workers put up Christmas decorations in preparation for a hometown Christmas celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving at the outdoor Olson Cultural Event Center near downtown Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This year is certainly been a departure with previous years and decades of what have for many become traditions for many families and communities alike. One only hopes that people realize how much these traditions mean to one another and will help to combat this disease by working together and thinking of their extended family members and friends and other community residents until life regains some sense of a former normalcy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas decorations are seen in preparation for a hometown Christmas celebration the weekend after Thanksgiving in downtown Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 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©)

Stepping Out in Siouxland, Ida Grove

8 Nov
A little used stairwell at a little used building downtown in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking the first step or two for any adventure or any venture requires a forward motion. Looking for same in Siouxland requires effort and an open mind that one never knows what a person may see once something comes into view. Ever hopeful that something wonderful is just over the horizon and willing to take that step to see what it might be.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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©)

Restoring History in Siouxland, Sanborn

10 Aug

A convertible Landau Phaeton car on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it amazing when I come across a museum in Siouxland that is quite unexpected. A local camera club friend had one time mentioned an automotive museum he had visited. I personally am not a car guy, and so looking at muscle guys or rebuilt cars does not pique my interest. But another friend and I stopped by the Yesterday Memories museum on our return trip from visiting the Iowa lakes region recently. And it was surprising to say the least finding hundreds of combustible vehicles and possibly hundreds more of other items celebrating history and all collected by a local couple who wanted to share this with the public.

Various neon signs calling attention to products as well as other advertisements on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1925 12-passenger tourist bus used in Yellowstone National Park on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Different variety and vintage trucks sit inside a display building at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Once inside it seemed the endless rows of vehicles continued on forever, each restored with some informational pieces about them. The Vander Haag family began collecting these items 80 some years ago according to their website, and the elder Vander Haag started business which was formerly known as a junk yard (salvage yard) that eventually morphed into a automotive and trucks part store that ended solely as a truck automotive parts business. The museum also shows a glimpse of life from the ’40’s and ’50’s and another room has cases of items from toys to house hold appliances invented and used over the ensuing years. One could easily spend three hours alone looking at the cases.

A display depicting a family’s kitchen era 1920’s through the 1940’s seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display depicting a former barbershop seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A fire engine red “Chief’s” car on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the true gem of the museum is the collection of trucks and early automobiles. Including an opera car to travel to performances in style.

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1922 Ford Model T opera wagon on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

My friend and I barely scratched the surface exploring this space which remains on a have to return list for a day out in Siouxland. So much to explore, so little time it sometimes seems.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display depicting a former maltshop seen at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of “antique” trucks from wreck touring to grain hauling and other uses on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1914 Reo Model J chain drive vehicle with gas lights on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A 1912 Ford Model T truck with an auto crane in the backend on display at the Yesterday Memories truck museum created by the Vander Haag family and located in Sanborn, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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