Tag Archives: author

Finding Authorial History in Siouxland, Elmwood, NE

20 Jan

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like serendipity when it’s a pleasant, unexpected encounter. During December of last year I rode along with a friend who was visiting some traveling buddies to make plans for more travel this year. After they finished hashing out their future endeavors his friends told us about a small museum in Elmwood, NE. It’s always fascinating to find authors who hailed from small towns and became prolific writers. Even if that happened in another century. The home of Bess Streeter Aldrich, a writer whose career spanned 40 plus years and author of numerous short stories and novels, was decked out in Christmas attire, befitting the time of year and added an extra element to the home.

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Interesting enough, as is true of many of these museum/home tours decorated for the season, each room had a decorated Christmas tree. And each tree was decorated for a particular short story that Street Aldrich had written during her lifetime. With informational cards explaining the short story’s background it made for an interesting endeavor on the part of those decorating the trees.

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Outside the temperature hovered around 10 degrees without wind chill, and there was a wind blowing. So another trip to visit the community itself will be a summer endeavor with warmer temperatures and a chance to walk about. But it was a nice glimpse of this person’s life, how she herself persevered through difficult times, including the country’s depression era and managed to sustain herself and her community, much like the character in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” cinema creation. I find history fascinating and even more so when there is a wonderful back story to a tale that has a happy ending.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Bess Streeter Aldrich House in Elmwood, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Literate History in Siouxland, John G Neihardt and Bancroft, NE

18 Oct

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every year citizens and literary fans of John G Neihardt get together to celebrate his life at a small museum dedicated to him and his writings. Scholars attend and extol his virtue and foresightedness plus his friendship with another culture at the time of his life, Native Americans living in the area.

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The study that Niehardt wrote in is preserved and one can gaze into it and wonder about this person who didn’t dislike his aboriginal neighbors but rather embraced and learned from them. Writing tomes about his friendship and their beliefs. In today’s crazed society to publish every little nuance and inkling at first blush of thought, this man was more introspective and deliberate in putting his thoughts to paper and sharing those insights. Something which seems a little quaint these days.

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can’t really assume that simple times meant simpler thoughts. It’s just that maybe folk took a little longer to ponder and consider before engaging. Life was hard then as it is now. It may just be hard in a different fashion. But taking time to reflect and think is something that never really goes out of fashion but seems often overlooked in today’s society.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People attend the John G Neihardt Day celebration at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt study where he did much of his early writing at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Poetry and Literature in Siouxland of John G. Neihardt, Bancroft, NE

2 Sep

Poetry is one form of literature I never really embraced and have read sporadically. Even in college where I was probably more exposed to poetry through courses there, it was something that never gave me pause and made me take a second look. But that doesn’t mean it’s something that doesn’t resonate with many of folk and I had forgotten about an early 20th century writer who lived in Siouxland that is renowned for his poetry and early ventures at bridging divides with local Native Americans.

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The John G. Neihardt Center is located in Bancroft, NE and celebrates the author’s life and life’s work he did through literature and his friendships with local Native Americans. The Center’s website states:”

But Neihardt himself pointed to a “fever dream” he had at this age, in which he saw himself floating through space and felt the presence of a “spirit brother,” as the event that determined his life work as a poet and inspired the content of that work.

Neihardt graduated from Wayne Normal College at 16 and taught country school for a short time. He’d been writing poetry since age 12 and, upon moving to Bancroft in 1900, turned to that vocation, working also as an owner-editor of the Bancroft Blade, and as a clerk for a trader on the Omaha Reservation.

His acquaintance with the Omaha and Winnebago Indians led him to an interest in the Sioux, their customs and traditions. He traveled the plains and lived the land first hand.”

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Neihardt wrote books and poetry reflecting his knowledge of his Native friends and a kindred spirit they shared and time spent together. Impressing early Nebraskan state officials and legislators that Neihardt became the state’s poet laureate at one point, in 1921. As mentioned at a number of online sites for people interested in exploring his life and writings more thoroughly, Neihardt authored the book “Black Elk Speaks,”  interviews he did with the Lakota chief Black Elk in which the chief shared his knowledge of oral history and the cultures of Native Americans.

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These little gems of places tucked away in Siouxland still amaze me and I keep hoping to find more of them as I continue to wander about. While I may never truly appreciate the genre of poetry, I can appreciate the dedication Neihardt gave to his life’s works in helping foster a better understanding between two cultures.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Inside the John G Neihardt Day welcome center at the Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pathways of understanding and turmoil in a prayer garden site at the John G Neihardt Nebraska state historic site in Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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