Tag Archives: rural nebraska

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©)

Passing Through a Small Town in Siouxland, Louisville NE

19 Dec

Main street downtown Louisville, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Although driving about Siouxland and similar places some folk might believe all small towns are the same, but one comes to know they are not. The offerings in such places might not be as extensive as larger communities, but places like Louisville, Nebraska has its own small town charm and a place residents enjoy calling home. Visiting in winter is a little different than when I come across places any other time of year. Depending on the weather and how much the wind is blowing, I might not linger much while walking about.

The remnants of a mural seen on a business wall in Louisville, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Cornhusker Country Music Theatre where musicians get together and jam seen downtown in Louisville, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And different times of the year probably has more activity happening on the weekend than what I saw while passing through recently. One downtown place that stuck out is the Cornhusker Country Music Theatre, a venue where folk get together and play music (guess if you haven’t the style) and entertain themselves, friends and any guests that happen by. A trip back at some point during warmer weather is probably necessary.

There were hourly trains passing through the community so it’s safe to assume it has been and continues to be a railway hub of some description, most with railcars pulling coal and other items in bulk. A grain elevator sits just down from the downtown area, and like so many small communities I visit it becomes apparent that agriculture is a major employer of some sort with farms and other industry related businesses in the area.

Trains pass through hourly in Louisville, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A grain elevator has steam rising from its stacks seen in the distance from downtown Louisville, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was interesting to find a shop espousing medicinal usage of marijuana along a side street and also the ubiquitous barbershop that actually looks like one and not just a more modern version of a stylist salon.

Progressive Nebraskans looking for an alternative medicinal option located in Louisville, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A barbershop closed on the weekend in Louisville, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One never really knows any community unless you spend a little time becoming acquainted and it’s hard depending on one’s travel plans to be able to do so. The road in and out can beckon both ways to visitors and residents alike and time and circumstance dictate which it may be on any given day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A crossroad leading out of town from Louisville, Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visiting a Small Siouxland Community, Bancroft, NE

26 Sep

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I get out and about I like visiting small towns in Siouxland. Getting a chance to stop and walk about and see what is there. Although the times I visit may not be ideal in that if it’s a weekend, there may not be much activity. And generally speaking, in small towns these days activity is limited unless there is a community-wide event occurring.

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

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then there is the matter of taste. I like finding what I consider interesting subjects to photograph which does not reflect the nature or character of some places I visit. But visually it appeals to me whether it’s a doorway with peeling paint, brick structures built in the mid to late 1800’s or some other quirky attribute that is what I gravitate to photograph.

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I have found visiting a number of these smaller communities these days they all generally have grain elevators anchoring one end of the downtown. A tribute to the agricultural industry that is important to so many Siouxland communities in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. And sadly businesses that may have thrived for a period of time but run their course.

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But exploring the area one lives in is an interesting pursuit I believe and knowing and understanding a bit more about one’s community is not a bad thing. Plus so many times one meets people that makes it all worthwhile and helps in appreciating what one finds.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community of Bancroft, NE, NE Sunday, August 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summertime in Siouxland, Nature in rural Nebraska

7 Aug

Summertime can be a cornucopia of critters, both large and mostly small. Insects blossom during this time of warmer temperatures and humid days. But what can a person do? When driving about in Siouxland I do stop my car and get out and take a look around. Sometimes a closer look, which makes it all the better when one is pleasantly surprised in nature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A butterfly lands on a thistle in a field at Winnebago, NE August 3, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A butterfly finds a landing spot in a field at Winnebago, NE August 3, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning Local History in Siouxland, Decatur, NE

22 Jul

One can find a lot of local history at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It never amazes me that little gems can be found in places with a little bit of luck and curiosity. While out driving about in Siouxland one day I ventured over the Missiouri River into Nebraska and the community of Decatur. It prides itself being the second oldest settlement in the state, dating back to 1854, and incorporated in 1856. Information found says a little over 400 people live there. The nice part, besides being located next to the Missouri River is the community’s museum.

Jane Judt, upper right and Norma Williams , center right, greet visitors and tell them about the local history located at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. This month was about local sports history. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One of the museum docents, Jane Judt, explained that theme of presentations is always changing every few months, so the information provided doesn’t get stale and which I would believe encourage locals to stop by and see what historical facts are being shared. When I visited the theme was sports with a variety of memorabilia displayed.

Jane Judt talks about the history of the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An upstairs room decorated as a classroom at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the small museum also contains nuggets of information about the early settlement days and the people who relocated to this area as folk migrated to the west looking for a fresh start and an opportunity to improve their lives. Tales told over and over again in many small communities’ museums that are found throughout the U.S. It’s the story of immigrants and people looking for a better life, a tale that reflects  many who settled in the Siouxland region.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lot of local history can be found at the Decatur Museum in Decatur, NE Saturday, June 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Small Communities in Siouxland, Waterbury, NE

7 Jan

A pathway leads to a former school, now apartments in Waterbury, Nebraska Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visit small communities in Siouxland, I don’t really have any objectives in mind when photographing. Mostly justing taking photographs of what interests me visually. In some cases this “documents” a place and in other cases it does not. It just shows what I personally found interesting. Not having seen a place in more robust times I have nothing to compare the present to the past.

A former church now possibly a residence in Waterbury, Nebraska Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I just enjoy the visual elements and attempt to find something appealing to share with others, and whether it is successful or not is something someone else will have to answer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A former church now possibly a residence in Waterbury, Nebraska Saturday, August 6, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Santa in Siouxland, Rural Nebraska

20 Dec

During the “winter months” which could be from November to April, depending on the temperature,  I find it nice to get out of the house and into the country for a drive especially when the temperature is north of 15 degrees. To me temperature is important if you plan to photograph something and don’t want to lose your fingers or nose from the cold. And some days with wind gusts up to 20 miles and hour on the “prairie”, it’s just bone chilling.

I took a drive into Nebraska, checking out a small town for a possible story idea I want to pursue. On the drive I detoured down a gravel road and found a fun site, Santa in a barn. Maybe he was just scouting for a place to take a power nap during his busy night next week, but it’s not always in the city where one can find fun decorations.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Rural Nebraska

%d bloggers like this: