Tag Archives: historical

Celebrating Art in Siouxland, of Any Kind, Joslyn Museum, Omaha, NE

15 Aug
One of several vintage vehicles on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy viewing art in Siouxland, any kind of art. I might not always agree with what I see or “truly appreciate” it, but not everyone sees the same way, nor should they. The Joslyn Museum in Omaha recently hosted a Model A Frod car club celebrating its exhibit of an art deco show inside. Making a trip with some friends who might be car aficionados or otherwise “car nuts”, I didn’t get to see the inside exhibit, but did enjoy the car show and the beauty of these early American classics.

A man photographs his wife inside one of the vehicles on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People look over some vintage cars on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Family photos at a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the current owners care of these vehicles represent a certain aspect of America’s past both in form and function. Listening to an owner talk about the narrow tire the earlier model vehicles had was because they were driven down the same “paths” that wagon trains and other early modes of transportation used and the tires would fit in those wagon path. Later, as roads were constructed to accommodate motorized wheeled transportation the paths or roadways became wider and the tire width for the next generation of vehicles also became wider.

A woman tries to get her son interested in a selfie at a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
People attend a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A vintage vehicle on display by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Joslyn Museum hosted a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club in honor of an Art Deco exhibit now on display in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the temperature rising once again and the humidity levels with it, maybe this next trip should be an indoor discovery of art deco and how that architectural art form was prevalent through out the American landscape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People attend a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Joslyn Museum hosted a car show of vintage vehicles by the Meadowlark Model A Ford Club in honor of an Art Deco exhibit now on display in Omaha, NE Saturday, July 17, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pondering History in Siouxland, Grant Cemetery, rural Monona County

20 Dec
A number of the buried listed are soldiers who fought during the Civil War both in the infantry and in the cavalry located in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about a bit recently in Siouxland I came across a sign for a Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County. Signage I have previously passed by but never stopped. This time I did.

A gravel road leading to Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like walking around older, remote cemeteries. Maybe not remote to the residents living in the area, but for someone who lives in a town miles away this last resting place is tucked away on a hilltop and a refuge from the hustling and bustling of modern day life.

Located on a hillside the surrounding farmland must have looked much different when settlers first arrived in this part of western Iowa seen from Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The entrance off of a gravel road to the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grant Cemetery is now home to 24 veterans of the Civil War, and one from the Spanish American War. There are also veterans of the WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam war. The listing of the Civil War veterans include infantry and cavalry soldiers. It was quiet, with just a few birds making noise at this cemetery amongst the fields in the area. I can’t really imagine what the area might have looked like to early settlers who arrived when the land was still prairie.

A gravesite of an Iowa volunteer cavalry soldier who most likely fought during the Civil War and is buried at Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A headstone of a soldier who served during WWI buried at the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Early settler buried at the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A peaceful place to pass the time until Revelations reckoning. There were a number of animal prints in the fresh snow and evidence of deer, rabbit and what looked like large cat paw prints, possibly a bobcat. Places like this cemetery make me curious about these settlers’ lives, where they came from to start here again. And maybe after arriving and getting started in a new life being called away to fight a war against fellow Americans.

What appears to be a cluster of possible family members all buried close to one another near the base of a tree in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun sets on an overcast day seen from Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like so many folk who have passed, people’s stories are lost to time, maybe even to descendants as that kind of history seems missing in today’s modern world, compared to other cultures. It’s still a place to bury loved ones but a remote place with forgotten souls who arrived in a new to make a new life that is now centuries old. Until someone stops by, walks about a bit and ponders what life must have been like for someone looking for a new place to live.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Early settlers are buried in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Summer’s Day in Siouxland, Rural Monona County, Iowa

10 Jul

Nature’s display of rolling hills and clouds along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland are that slow and easy living phrase made famous by George Gershwin’s “Summertime“, the sentiment of the lyrics and mood. There are days when a drive in the country allows one to get away from all the noise created by politicians, idiots and other folk one would rather not hear for a while. I mostly listen to jazz when driving about, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck Quartet and Miles Davis. Some more modern artists as well.

A swan drifts in a pond along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I let my mind drift while just looking for images or potential images. There are some back roads I take into the Loess Hills region time and again and run across familiar scenes. Different day, time of year, time of day, all can make a difference with what one sees. And sometimes not.

Two weathered out buildings of a former homestead along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some scenes remain the same, which is nice in that there is no development, no summer homes or subdivision. The land is still farm land and the views are those views seen by folk possibly over a couple of centuries. Which in the early days of life on this continent the land was most likely traversed by Native Americans until the Europeans arrived and then pushed west looking for space and opportunity they didn’t find from whence they came. Philosophizing beyond what transpired is best done by those politicians and others who while maybe sincere, also seem to be looking for points and admirers to add to their stable of support.

So some jazz, maybe some quiet to hear the birds sing their own acapella tunes along with the wind rustling tall grass or corn stalk leaves and trees. Unwind, meditate and enjoy, continued stress does no one much good.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former farm house along a gravel backroad in rural Monona County, Iowa near Castana, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Time Travel in Siouxland, Riverssance Festival, Sioux City

22 Oct

Fairy princesses blessing everyone they see and having fun at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A family outing at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The local Riverssance Festival in Siouxland every year transports people back to an era of a simpler time. Simpler by our standards. But a fun couple of days of fantasy life where most are lords and ladies or landed gentry. Well, almost lords and almost ladies. But all are still having fun living the dream.

Three young lassies enjoying the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Maidens in a fetching pose during the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Dressed for the occasion at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The festival this year fell within a wet period for the area, seven to eight days of near constant rain or drizzle. And many folk found themselves near fires for a little warmth as they walked about the encampment.

A number of fires were going to help people beat the damp and chill at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy most seeing people in costumes they either like or what they believe represents them. And that is always fun.

Staying warm on a damp and grey day at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A costumed fairy at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And of course it’s always fun watching the performers. Each has a skill set their share with their audience and a real joy for bringing this period of time to life for those attending.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A performer plays with fire at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Off with his cabbage head at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

So close yet so far, as a warrior maiden lances a hoop at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A performer plays with fire at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A fair maiden and her bird of prey at the Riverssance Festival in Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 6 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding History in Siouxland in Plain Sight, Onawa

13 May

Driving back from Omaha, Nebraska the other day a friend and I stopped in Onawa, Iowa to get a snack. I have been to Onawa many times but this time the Hotel Monona was standing in bright light and I couldn’t believe I had never paid attention to it previously. It looks like a hotel from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. Stately, and I would guess many people stayed there on their way to another destination, possibly into the Dakota Territory north and west. Such a fine building that looks like it is no longer in use. Another gem from another era that slips slowly, and visibly into the past right before our eyes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Hotel Monona in Onawa, Iowa Thursday, May 12, 2016.  (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Hotel Monona in Onawa, Iowa Thursday, May 12, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Riverssance, a renaissance faire in Siouxland, Sioux City

4 Oct

This weekend saw another renaissance faire in Sioux City, Iowa, Riverssance, the name which reflects the fact that the Missouri River borders this community and the faire is held in a park that is nearby. Like all renaissance faires, you have your characters in dress and a bit of feel of that time period along with some music. This faire for its location and size is pleasant with those participating as characters speaking and acting the period.

What I always find interesting though, are the characters themselves, and whether these people just pick a “type” to portray and have fun for the day, or if the character itself embodies something these people like to portray. Not exactly Halloween, but possibly similar. There are fairies, nobles, knights, knaves, maidens, and others, like Mud Man. But it is fun to watch and parlay with the folk and think that time has transported one somewhere else for a bit before reality once again sets in and the fantasy is over.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

“Historical” sights in Siouxland

19 Apr

Driving on various side roads and backroads in Siouxland in Northwest Iowa one gets to see a slice of history here and there. Recently a couple of different places had old wagons sitting on display, and not in any condition for current use. One might believe these wagons would be what one might see crossing the plains in the late 1800’s or 1900’s when travelers broke down and abandoned their wagon. These “relics” should give viewers pause as to what stories accompanied their use, how hard the life might have been for those farming with these and how far technology has advanced even for farming.

But it’s easy to drive by and see these and not reflect.  However it’s also easy to drive by and see the wagons and nostalgically think about former days and not stop and think how hard those days really were.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland history through murals, Rock Rapids

15 Jun

Every Siouxland community has a history. Rock Rapids, Iowa, is no different, except that its history can be seen as you wander around the streets of this northwest Iowa town,  presented on buildings.

Some murals are smallish and painted on small boards costing around $800.00 while others are large, covering an entire wall with costs close to $18,000.00.

But not even the largest mural compares with the smile seen on Rock Rapids Mural board member Norma Jansma’s face when she talks about them. Jansma said the mural project began in 2002 with a group of towns people wanting something depicting the history of the community. Right now there are 26 murals telling the story of this place located in Lyon County. And all but six of the murals have been privately funded.

A recorded history says the area was surveyed in 1848 by Jefferson Davis and eventually a treaty was signed with the Sioux Indians giving the white man the chance to settle the area. History states the first white man to settle in Rock Rapids was someone only known as “Old Tom”. A Mr. James Gilman surveyed the town itself in 1872, which was platted in 1874 and incorporated in 1885.

The murals depict various personalities and events that affected the town such as a well respected doctor who delivered more babies in his lifetime than the town’s number of residents, the cost of war, the town’s volunteer fire department, a soda fountain and other “pioneering” personages. Jansma said a variety of artists have painted the different murals. Some of which are painted on the buildings themselves while others are painted on boards and attached to the buildings. One was even repainted, “The Ladies of the Night”, which Jansma said turned the heads of visitors from Sioux Center. The original was attached to a building which burned down, and it was decided that even the more salient part of the town’s history should be told, and another location was found to put up the replacement.

Two more murals are planned for the near future, one during the summer of this year, 2013, and another, #28, planned for the spring of 2014. And Jansma said she hopes this history lesson will continue to remind everyone of where they have been and maybe help direct them to where they are going.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Iowa scenics

29 Jul

Growing up on a farm and living in a rural area of Illinois, the scenery is not much different than what you may find in western Iowa, or southeastern South Dakota or northeastern Nebraska. Farm land, and lots of it. Rolling hills in this area currently resplendent with corn and bean fields, at least those areas not seriously affected by the current drought conditions. And sitting among these acres of farm land are those wooden barn structures that have been used for hundreds of years, but are slowly disappearing in some areas as more economical steel structures replace them. I have always liked photographing the country side, and those old, weathered barns and other buildings that give a sense of nostalgia to what the rural agricultural area was once. But there are fewer of them now. As farms grow in size to compete with multi national companies that own large farms themselves, the barns are falling apart, not cared for, not needed in this faster paced, get it done modern world we now live in. From time to time I will be posting images of scenics throughout the Siouxland area that I come across, for those nostalgic reasons and because I personally find them beautiful to look at, and holding remnants of the past from which this country grew. More work can be found here.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Siouxland celebration of 125 years, Quimby

1 Jul

Quimby, Iowa, celebrated its 125th anniversary as a community this weekend. No easy feat for a small Midwest community. It seems such places as Quimby, and others like it are fading into history as rural American looks to find jobs and industry to sustain itself into the future. But this weekend belonged to its residents and guests as people got together to watch a parade, attend a carnival and see friends, old and new, coming together as a community, which is what the Midwest and Siouxland is all about. More photographs of Quimby, Iowa, celebrating its birthday.

Jerry Mennenga, Sioux City, Iowa

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