Tag Archives: small towns

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©)

 

Another River Town outside of Siouxland, Clinton

3 Nov

A scene along the Mississippi River in Clinton, Iowa August 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While on a trip I stopped into another river town across the state from Siouxland which I had not visited in many years. Clinton, Iowa is also a river town. The mighty Mississippi River runs along the eastern border of Iowa and gives many communities a nice scene to view. Many communities these days have done work to improve the quality of life for its residents which includes walks and in this case, a river walk for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.

A man gets his coffee and snacks to sit and enjoy the view of the Mississippi River in Clinton, Iowa August 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community developed a very nice riverscape along the Mississippi with walking and bike paths. While visiting it one morning I saw people come and go with their coffee, meeting friends to walk, or passing friends who were walking in the opposite direction of others. A nice way to start one’s day and enjoy the bonhomie which this redevelopment seems to inspire.

Friends stop to chat and enjoy the day on a river walk with the Mississippi River in the background in Clinton, Iowa August 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A memorial ready for unveiling at a park along the Mississippi River walk in Clinton, Iowa August 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

All citizens should be so lucky that its city leaders keep in mind some quality of life amenities to enjoy, even if it’s simply getting outside for a walk and time to enjoy the surrounding beauty and away from other modern day distractions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

in Clinton, Iowa August 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A scene along the Mississippi River in Clinton, Iowa August 29, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and Shade in Siouxland, Cherokee

28 Oct

Light and shade scene during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During a recent class outing with a class I kept coming upon light and shade scenes in the town of Cherokee. I never tire of this particular motif. The day was warm and sunny. Lately the weather is wonky again with rain and overcast skies, making me think that fall will never arrive and winter will sneak in as much as snow and ice and do such a thing. But walking around in a short block or two these images kept popping up and I kept photographing. Even variations on a theme I never tire of them. Works for me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade scene during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Light and shade scene during a Photo Safari outing in Cherokee, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Small Town away from Siouxland, Mt. Vernon

16 Oct

I enjoy the area of Siouxland in which I live. But it is nice to get out once in a while and visit other places outside of this region. Most places have similarities rather than differences. I enjoy the architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries when many of Iowa’s small communities came into being.

Downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I stopped in at Mt. Vernon because of seeing some architecture along the roadway I was on, historic Rte. 30 or Lincoln Highway. A stretch of roadway that crossed the continental United States giving people with automobiles a chance to see as little or as much of the country without traveling by train. Many of these small communities still have stunning homes and businesses for buildings dating from the mid to late 1800’s. Mt Vernon came into being as a result of the U.S. battle with Chief Black Hawk who fled the area and the tribal lands were confiscated as was the case with many native people’s lands when the expansion west was underway.

A church near downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community is home to a liberal arts college which keeps it infused with younger people who come and go and possibly stay to raise their own families in a place they call home for at least four years. Quaint with a number of eateries downtown and a short walk from the college.

A mural on a downtown building’s wall in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historic homes in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community is extremely walkable and on a nice day it has places to visit and relax and enjoy. I am sure during an academic school year there are many events and other festivities taking place both in town and on the college campus. A nice combination for any community and the possibility to enjoy simple fruits of life in a picture perfect setting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A city park just off of downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A closed Mt. Vernon visitors center in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Small Siouxland Community, Woodbine

27 Aug

The downtown area in Woodbine, Iowa, still retains brick streets seen Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting small communities in Siouxland is a nice way to spend a day, or part of a day. Sometimes it’s a destination itself and other times an event is going on that seems interesting. Woodbine is a community in the southern portion of Siouxland and has brick streets downtown and art work displayed there as well.

Street art still adorns the downtown area in Woodbine, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors waiting to see the Union Pacific Bi Boy Engine explore downtown Woodbine, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visited there this summer I went because of an event, the Union Pacific’s Big Boy train engine was passing through on its way back west and would be making a s45-minute stop in the community.

Onlookers and train enthusiasts get a close up view and take photographs in Woodbine, Iowa of the Union Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 4014, Big Boy, as it heads back west on its rail system Friday, August 2, 2019.(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people turned out. I noticed some downtown having lunch ahead of the train’s arrival and others milling about waiting to see the steel behemoth. I didn’t realize being a train enthusiast was such a large endeavor. I like the small community because it has a bit going on for it. And it seems to work at creating a place for people to come visit. My last visit included attending the Apple Fest, which seemed to have few apples and a lot more cars, muscle and other collectibles. But it’s just a nice small community that keeps up its appearance and seems to work at doing that.

A new art sculpture installation underway in downtown Woodbine, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Art pieces can be found at various places in downtown Woodbine, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

At one time when the Lincoln Highway, U.S. Rte. 30, was THE roadway west it was one those communities where motorists could stop and take a break from the long 2-lane driving that was prevalent as the super highways were just under construction. And so Woodbine became a bit of a destination in and of itself.

A little known fact about tiny Woodbine, Iowa, situated off of Highway Rte. 30 or Lincoln’s Highway is that George Wyman rode a motor-bicycle across America in about 50 days, seen Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A tribute to a little known fact about tiny Woodbine, Iowa, situated off of Highway Rte. 30 or Lincoln’s Highway is that George Wyman rode a motor-bicycle across America in about 50 days, seen Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And so during a week day the community was once again hosting a former celeb, made of steel, and rolling out its welcome and allowing people to hang out, enjoy themselves, as they waited for the train.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People wait for the arrival of Union Pacific’s Big Boy Engine in Woodbine, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Wall art on a store in downtown Woodbine, Iowa, Friday, August 2, 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©)

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