Tag Archives: summer

A Little bit of Sweden in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

20 Aug

Historically populated by immigrants from Sweden who settled the area in and around Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone comes from somewhere, even the people of Siouxland. The region is a bit of a European melting pot. I haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the smaller communities of Nebraska but finding some interesting places and people need to do a little more exploration.

Graduating seniors photos are displayed in the downtown area of Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each community has its own charm and history. But the community itself is quaint and only requires a short walk about to see it the downtown area and some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

A colorfully painted scene on a building in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A colorfully painted scene on a building in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As fall gets closer it will hopefully become a little cooler and more inducement to walk about on a bright sunny day. And maybe other aspects of life will become a little safer as well for those wanting to explore a bit.

A posted sign in a grassy area in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Older buildings are getting some makeovers in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun and nice to “see” what’s around the corner or up the road a bit. I do miss popping into small cafes for lunch or coffee, preferring these days to carry a thermos and snack, which doesn’t replace the sometimes homemade pies and other goodies one might find at a cafe and a chance to chat with the folk there and learn a bit more about their community.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A boarding house in downtown Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rock and Roll in Siouxland, Rock and Roll Museum, Arnolds Park

12 Aug

The museum is a tribute to artists who played at the Roof Garden and other venues around the Arnolds Park Amusement Park area located in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland it’s possible to find a wide variety of museums and places that showcase historical significance, if just to the locals. The Rock and Roll Museum in Arnolds Park is one of those places. Many artists up and coming have passed through the area playing a local venue, the Roof Top Garden to the delight of fans over the years.

The Roof Garden, recently renovated for an updated look, played host to a number of famous musicians and bands who played in the area over the years and located in the Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of musicians passed through playing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reading over a list of who’s who and seeing various guitars collected and signed would make many a would-be musician and fan aficionado stop in their tracks and spend time looking and reading

the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signed guitars by artists hang in a small theatre room with a video about the local music scene over the years seen in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a summer’s day when one wants to get away from the heat and humidity, and a poor excuse it may be, stepping inside and spending some time allows one a snapshot into many a famed artist who actually visited this part of Iowa in Siouxland, rather than “flying over” on the way to a larger venue.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A number of famous musicians and artists passed through the lakes area and are memorialized at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Deep Purple’s Tommy Bolin’s custom stage suit circa 1975 seen at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Bolin, a Sioux City native, also played in the bands Zephyr and James Gang. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Small Town and its Swedish History in Siouxland, Oakland, NE

4 Aug

It’s fun when circumstances and happenstance combine and allows one to take a peek behind the curtain. In Siouxland I am always amazed but yet shouldn’t be surprised while finding little historical gems. Maybe not grand in the scheme of things, but this country contains many more small towns and communities than large ones, and history doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE was built in the latter part of the 1800’s and was the First Covenant Church serving this community as a focal point for many. It closed as a place of worship in 1985, eventually becoming the center with its focus on the Swedish history of the community.

The Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look into downtown and the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The center or museum’s director is Tom Watterstedt who was born and raised in the community and returned in later years and has worked to take an occasional in the community’s history and become a repository of most things Swedish. His ancestors and other local residents ancestors have items on display with some coming from immigrants who made that journey to America to begin a new life.

Museum curator Tom Watterstedt talks about the Swedish Heritage Center and his own family history associated with it seen in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Gowns which belonged to Tom Watterstedt’s ancestors on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Memorabilia fills the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A coat made from a former residents best horse on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watterstedt talked about receiving so many literature items from local residents which belonged to ancestors that he said the center was running out of storage room but was loathe to chuck them in the recycle bin. So he used he training as a florist to create artful flowers for sale to help fundraise for the center.

Artificial flowers made from Swedish books of early immigrants donated to the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Formerly a First Covenant Church, the Swedish Heritage Center is now a museum of local Swedish history of the immigrants that made the journey to America, in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Local historical items on display at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As with most places during the coronavirus pandemic, the center has been closed. But with a phone call and advance notice, Watterstedt and other community members are more than willing to share their town’s history and about a small community of immigrants that helped created this country many of us call home.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Confirmation graduates of the First Convenant Church now the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historical photographs of Oakland, NE seen at the Swedish Heritage Center in Oakland, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Steady Steed in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

28 Jul

A horse chases away flies on a humid summer’s day in a field in rural Plymouth County, Iowa Monday, July 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland, like other places, are better than others. It all depends on the story. A horse standing at the top of a hill pawing the ground, bobbing its head as though it were Pegasus ready to leap skyward and fly to the heavens. But upon closer inspection, the poor beast is standing in a meadow besieged by flies and so it prances about trying to chase the little buggers away so it can have a few moments of peace. Paul Harvey said a lot when he used it now oft quoted tagline, “….the rest of the story.”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Remembering Those Serving from Siouxland, Wakefield, NE

16 Jul

A war memorial park sits just off of the downtown area in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most small communities in the Siouxland region have a small veterans memorial park dedicated to those who served in the U.S. military during one of the many conflicts that the United States has been involved in. That is true of Wakefield, NE, where a small memorial is set up just off of the downtown area.

A War Memorial Park with names on bricks of service members and when they served in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dedicated bricks to service men and women with their names donated by families for remembrance and also in support of the park. A sign post at one end notes the various places that U.S. personnel have served.

A sign post representing many theatres of war of local residents who served at the War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Names on bricks of service members and when they served at a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ideally many believe the world to be a better place if there were no wars or conflicts and if people worked more in getting along. But history reminds us that many individuals don’t share that sentiment. Those persons for whatever reason relish in conflict, or the need of power and dominion over others. And no matter the psychological implications or pathologies ascribed to these people, their intentions and actions still get people killed. Those who serve to protect their country from foreign folk intent on harm, a remembrance is a small, small thank you for serving.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Vietnam-era attack helicopter on display in a War Memorial Park in Wakefield, NE Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History and Religion in Siouxland, German City Church, Holly Springs

12 Jul

Locals have long worshipped at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While not an ardent student of history, I do enjoy it and learning about places nearby where I live regionally in Siouxland. Iowa like many other midwestern states was settled by pioneers beginning in the 1800’s. Some folk settled as early as the 1830’s while others came in the 1850’s and later. The German City Church near a now small community of Holly Springs has been in service since the 1880’s. I have never attended a service or been around the church when it was open. But it is nicely maintained and cared for by its parishioners and is situated on a hilltop with a view of the surrounding valley around it.

A gravel road leads into the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the summer months the trees give the church solitude and allows one silence but for the birds to ponder those who settled the area a century or more ago and wonder about their life and the changes that have taken place since it was first built.

The historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding history and then spending the time to learn about it is important. All too often it seems the human race keeps repeating the same sins over and over, never learning from those who came before or teaching those who will follow that by the grace of God and a little bit of love and understanding, can go a long way in making the world a better place.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A scenic day with clouds at the historic German City Church (St. John’s Evangelical Church) near Holly Springs, Iowa Monday, June 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even the Birdies in Siouxland like a Cool Day, Decatur, NE

28 Jun

After living a few years in the state or Louisiana and eventually returning to the Midwest after a couple more stops during my work career I can say I am not a big fan of hot summer days and the humidity that comes with it.

A robin sits on a fence in a park on a hot day in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting Decatur, NE recently walking in the town’s park along the Missouri River I spied a robin sitting on a fence post as I approached a path and noticed its reluctance in taking flight. I guessed that even birds don’t always enjoy hot, muggy days and so I skirted the path a bit so as not to disturb the bird and then watched as it also seemed to relish a fresh breeze blowing, a short lived reprieve from the hot day. But sometimes any small favors are something to savor.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A robin sits still on a fence and enjoys the breeze on a hot day in a park in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not yet the Garden Party in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

24 Jun

Timed reservations are required to visit the now reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life in Siouxland as elsewhere is beginning to return to some kind of normal. And for those folk I encountered visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE recently, most don’t mind the slow reopening. The gardens now allow patrons and visitors to walk the grounds although indoor exhibits and some other areas are still sequestered and people are advised to wear masks, although it’s not necessary. And one must make reservations ahead of time to enter at a specified date and time.

Signs ask visitors and patrons to respect others space at the newly reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Most visitors are wearing face masks at the reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it was nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of the gardens. Entry begins at 11 am and during the summer months it’s not an ideal time for photographing outdoor subjects due to the harsher light at that time, unless one wants to create light and shadow photographs. Previously the gardens opened around 9 am, when the summer light is a little more directional and not yet so harsh.

Visitors and patrons can once again see the blooming spectacle at the recently opened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shady paths are always a welcome sight on a hot day at the Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So it’s nice to be able to walk a shaded path and take a break from the sun overhead as the day also heats up. Living in the Midwest doesn’t mean one becomes used to heat and humidity, one just learns to mitigate the effects if possible.

Signage informs visitors and patrons about ongoing projects at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors and patrons enjoy a day out at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the timed entries there were not too many folk wandering about the paths, and those who were put masks on when they encountered others along the way. And all remarked how nice it was to be able to enjoy the gardens again, closed since mid March, and spend some time just enjoying the beauty and quiet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People enjoy a day out at the recently reopened Lauritzen Gardens botanical center in Omaha, NE Thursday, June 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Pause in Activities in Siouxland, Grandview Park, Sioux City

17 May

A stormy looking day creates contrast in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The current pandemic, COVID-19 or the coronavirus as some prefer, has caused many people and places to hit the pause button here in Siouxland. For many activities. And like elsewhere, as various political bodies and people decide what time is right for folk to plunge back into “normalcy”, there will be many missing local events. Already high school graduations are being posted online and not held at the various schools with throngs of parents and friends cheering as students cross the finish line, er stage. It seems since May is already here, there will be few Memorial Day celebrations throughout the Siouxland region.

Fans enjoy the performance of The Dirty Heads playing at the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

A couple events I will miss seeing happen in Grandview Park in Sioux City. The Sioux City Municipal Band playing consecutive Sunday evening concerts and the perennial Saturday in the Park music festival. Both are free to those attending. SITP draws people from all over, as big name entertainers perform along with up and comers.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs during the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

 

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs during the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

The park’s bandshell was built during the depression years by the Civilian Conservation Corps and has hosted many events. On a pleasant summer’s eve it is a nice place to sit and relax, even with a few hundred of your rowdy friends, depending on the program.

A family enjoys the Sioux City Municipal band as it plays a medley of songs at the Bandshell in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday July 5, 2015. (Photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

But keeping one’s distance at these events would be impossible, no almost about it.

The Sioux City Municipal band plays a medley of patriotic songs at the Bandshell in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday July 5, 2015. (Photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

And so the park will sit quiet for a few months. No music to enliven its environs or bring smiles and memories to those attending. It’s hard to imagine outdoor or indoor concerts happening any time soon. Outdoor would be safer, but there just isn’t enough space.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A quiet, tempest looking day in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cold January in Siouxland, rural Monona County

24 Jan

The month of January is only halfway though and winter has reminded Siouxland residents that it still has a lot to offer its residents. Cold, below freezing and zero cold. More snow. And the chance to daydream about those coming summer months with heat, humidity and warm summer nights.

Cruising in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always begin thinking about driving the backroads when winter in Siouxland gets its second wind and sends real chills down the back while one is out navigating snowy and slushy roadways and sidewalks. The days may be sunny, but at zero or below temperatures one knows winter is still here. Growing up on a farm I enjoy these days driving about the countryside and “smelling” the freshly tilled soil or crops once they have begun growing. Yes, there is definitely a particular smell emitted by the soil and plants. Much like someone city-born could identify certain aromas from a neighborhood they grew up in whether it is from a restaurant or seaside community. Childhood smells remain with us as we get older and maybe more discriminating in the aromas we want to partake in.

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I try to put out of mind the thought of too much humidity on a hot summer’s day. That thought will come eventually, but for now, looking out a a white landscape, it seems very enticing and comforting. It’s always nice to have something to look forward too.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Planted crops on a summer’s day in rural Monona County, Iowa Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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