A Siouxland Small Community and its famous author, Doon, Iowa

11 Apr

On a nice day I headed in the northern area of Siouxland with a specific destination in mind and to revisit and see what was new. But along the way I got sidetracked. Too many side and back roads, too little time? I came across a sign for Doon, Iowa. A small community with a population of roughly 590 residents. Like most small, rural communities, Doon’s downtown was anchored on side by a grain elevator. It had some nice features and a memorial to those who served there country. It was a pleasant place to hang out for a while as I was making my way further north in Lyon County.

The community of Doon, Iowa Friday March 31, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)


It was a pleasant day to be out and about finding new places. I talked to a young lady as she was returning home after fetching her mail downtown from the post office. I asked her a few questions about the community and she told me there was an author who was born in Doon, now buried in the cemetery outside of town in the country. Frederick Manfred wrote an number of novels and according to his site, coined the term “Siouxland”. The New York Times also wrote an obituary about the author after his passing. Even famous people remembered by a national newspaper came from someplace. And it is fun to explore one’s region and find such nuggets of history. I searched a bit through Hillside Cemetery that day but was not able to find his headstone.

As the days get longer and warmer, I am looking forward to more exploration with the hopes of being surprised by other such gems. One never knows what one might find over the next horizon, but it is always to fun to find out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Learning Tolerance in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

9 Apr

This past week I visited the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD. I wanted to hear a child Holocaust survivor speaking there about her experience in a centration camp and get an impression of what life must have been like in the 1930’s and ’40’s for Jews. It was overwhelming. Inge Auerbacher survived the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia where she and her immediate family were sent. Other members of her family, like her grandparents were not so lucky, or other people the family met at the camp. It’s hard to understand the meanness in people’s hearts that force other people into terrible situations or cause them to suffer. And recent world events bring those horrors into focus in current history.

Auerbacher was involved in a short film of her return to where she lived as a young child from birth to maybe 6 years old before being forced into hiding and then to a concentration camp. This piece is only an introduction to the 25 minute one she showed the university students and others who attended. As she stated, she is 82 this year, and soon those affected by the Nazis who killed them and did such harm will soon be dead, and that immediate telling of history will be lost.

The sad thing is the hate that supports such behavior appears to still be alive and well and will probably continue to exist in the current history and foreseeable history until somehow it and the souls who insist on being haters are both eradicated from the world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring in Siouxland and a walk along a bike trail, Le Mars

7 Apr

As the weather approaches more “normal” (whatever that may be anymore) temperatures and the sky is sunny, it’s hard not to go for a walk. The Le Mars, Iowa walking and biking trail is not very long but a nice experience bordering a creek for most of it and farmland as it lies on the outskirts of the community. The sky was blue and sunny. The clouds mushrooming and filling the expanse. And after driving around a bit it was a good way to end the day. Although, having pizza and a soda afterwards was an even better way to end.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Exploring Siouxland, Sioux County

5 Apr

As the days become warmer, meaning above 32 degrees and not freezing, it is more pleasant to get out and cruise around Siouxland once again. Areas are beginning to green up slowly. And spring is starting to arrive.

I look forward to spending time getting re-acquainted with the countryside and seeing what this spring brings.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Changing Siouxland, Ingemann Danish Church, Moorehead

3 Apr

While visiting the Loess Hills area of Siouxland recently I came across the Ingemann Danish Church which is located near Moorehead, Iowa. I was somewhat saddened to see some additions to the church grounds which was founded in the late 1800’s. The past few years evidently people have been vandalizing the church which holds a service once a year on Memorial Day.

I always enjoyed the serenity while visiting the place. One could even walk into the church, say a prayer, feel the history around you. But some individual’s never seem satisfied with visiting someplace without doing damage. Now one can look, but not enjoy it the same way.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Just Searching in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

2 Apr

Recently on a trip to Vermillion, SD I ate lunch and walked about looking for some different images that maybe I have overlooked in the past. I have been to Vermillion numerous times and walked about the campus of the University of South Dakota there, as well as the downtown area. This day it was heavy overcast and no sunshine to speak of, but at least it was “warmish” and pleasant to walk about and be out of the house as spring begins to settle into the Siouxland area.

The prospect of finding something new I think is always a challenge when photographing a place one knows fairly well. The overcast day also presented a challenge with its flat light. No chance of using lights and shadows to create images. And then I saw it. Shapes. On a bright sunny day I might have overlooked these, but on this particular day these images just stood out. Hiding in plain sight some may say. Or just being observant and looking for images to make the day a little more successful.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Good Karma in Siouxland, Storm Lake

31 Mar

I took a recent trip in Siouxland with a friend to Storm Lake, Iowa as she checked out some items for possible use in a move to a new place. Previously my friend traveled to a location to check out an area she thought she might like to relocate to, and after a few incidents of getting there which were more annoying than harmful, she decided the universe was trying to tell her she needed to look into a more specific direction to find her happiness. My friend was happy with her choice. In Storm Lake while waiting for this friend to run errands, I met a local proprietor and got to chatting about eateries in the town. Somehow we drifted to a conversation about one particular restaurant that is located in Peterson, Iowa and this person told me the story of her unmarried daughter living out of state, the chance meeting of a young man who actually grew up not far from them in their community and how things might work out that her daughter and this young man might eventually make a go of life.

We never really know how life might turn out, but generally I believe it’s true that one gets back what one puts out. If it is all hate and vile, why should a person expect different? While waiting for my friend to finish errands I walked to the lake in Storm Lake and just sat watching what was before me and contemplating the two ventures or journeys these two different people have taken and ended someplace where they could find happiness. Fairy tales? Maybe, but a person must still retain hope for the best while, sadly, sometimes expecting maybe the not so worst, but events that can detour or even slow down one’s path to where you hope to be.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


Two geese paddle about in the lake at Storm Lake, Iowa Monday, March 27, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A short walk to infinity in Storm Lake, Iowa Monday, March 27, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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