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Weekly Columns!

All your favorite weekly columns and letters to the editor- online!

 Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
The picture published with this column is reproduced from a picture post card looking south down Nelson's main street. The picture is undated but it appears to have been taken in the early 1940s.
And with only two vehicles parked on the street, I suspect it was taken on a Sunday morning. At least that was what I did 50 years ago when commissioned to take pictures for a historical booklet published as part of the Nebraska Centennial observation.
At the time, I was attending journalism school at Kansas State University and returning to Superior on the weekends to take pictures for the book being published by the local committee organized to celebrate the state centennial.
Unlike this year's sesquicentennial which has generated little local interest, the Nebraska centennial was supported by people throughout Nuckolls County. For example, the people of Angus built a sod house in the open area across the street from the post office. Oak residents organized the first Oregon Trail Day, an event which has continued until the present. Nora held a rodeo. Superior planned a multi-day celebration with events uptown during the day and a pageant each evening at the baseball field. A promotion company was hired to coordinate the events.
County residents trained at least two teams of oxen which pulled covered wagons in local parades.
I worked several weekends taking pictures of people and buildings featured in the book.
One of the assignments was to photograph the main street of every Nuckolls County community. After getting in trouble with my college photography instructor for taking a photograph of a new college dormitory with a red Chevrolet car parked in the foreground. My instructor said "Your assignment was to photograph a building, not an automobile." It at all possible, I wanted the main street pictures to be devoid of automobiles.
Professor Macy was probably right about the college picture. I didn't see the vehicle when I took the picture, but when the 3,000 picture post cards the dorm's student council ordered were finished, they looked like an advertisement for Chevrolet automobiles.
Now, looking at the main street photos of 50 years ago, the pictures might be more interesting if they had a few vehicles parked on the streets.
The weekend I was to take the main street photos. Grandfather Blauvelt had died and we were preparing for his funeral on Monday. Not wanting to have to share his sorrow with the other worshippers that Sunday morning, my father suggested it would be a good time to be by ourselves with our sorrow and take pictures nearly devoid of automobiles.
He was right and we took lots of photos that day. Most of every community helped us recall some story about Grandfather but we forgot the community of Sedan. The committee didn't catch our error but at least one reader wanted to know, "Where's Sedan?"
Later I used the photo taken of the Nelson main street for a photography class project demonstrating the quality of enlarger lens. The project demonstrated that not all lens produce pictures of identical quality.
The above picture includes several buildings which are no longer standing and some interesting street lights.
I remember most of the buildings but I don't remember the street lights. I'm guessing they were replaced about 65 years ago.
As a youngster I remember being impressed with Nelson's well lit business district. Superior still had the old incandescent lights on the short poles while Nelson had tall poles with brighter, more modern lights. Soon after the lights were installed, I was with my parents when Dad stopped the car and had Mother and me get out and walk up and down the business district with him while he marveled at how bright the lights were.
After Superior installed taller poles and new mercury vapor lights, I expected people would be similarly impressed. Some may have been but mostly I heard complaints about how green people looked under the new lights.


A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

By the time you read this, it will be three weeks since my wife left for Omaha to begin caring for her aging father. When she left, we didn't know how long she would be there, how much care he would need or the answers to many other questions. We were merely reacting to visiting him a month earlier and discovering he probably should no longer live by himself or drive.
We still don't have a definite plan, but we now know he must have some help at least every day, in addition to someone managing his medication and treatments. Kathy believes she will stay up there for three or four weeks at a time, then come home for a few days while other family members stay with him. During the times she is there, I may go up for weekends occasionally, which will make it possible for me to meet in person with other filmmakers I'm working with.
He lives alone in a five-bedroom brick Tudor house, so there is plenty of room for a live-in caregiver. In fact, Kathy is sleeping in the bedroom she grew up in while she is there. He still has a good car ­­ a Buick (the official vehicle of senior citizens everywhere) ­­ so Kathy can just drive it when he needs to go someplace. However, last time I talked to her, she said he was still not convinced he should no longer drive. That is the very talking point Kathy anticipated would be trouble. Driving is often one of the last freedoms lost by aging individuals, and it is a tough one. No one wants to rely one someone for everything, and the freedom to come and go as you please can't be an easy thing to give up. For safety's sake, I hope she is able to convince him to let her do the driving.
In her absence, my house is quieter than it's been for many years. I have the television on (streaming something or another) nearly every hour I'm home, just for noise. You read about the benefits of pets for company, and I can't express how important our two cocker spaniels, Rudy and Duchess, have been during this time. They are terrific company and make me feel much less "alone." At some point, youngest daughter Molly may come and stay for awhile. She is back living with friends in Omaha and making plans to return to college (I hope). Oldest daughter Kateri may come home from college for a week or two in the summer, but I think the days of her living under my roof full-time, even for a summer, have passed.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Some say a photograph captures a moment that's gone forever and impossible to reproduce. I must be trying to capture a lot of those moments in time. Last evening I found myself going through the latest batch of photographs taken of fun family Christmas times and of a recent trip to Texas. Years ago my husband said he hoped we could keep our photographs identified and placed in albums. I assured him I had been doing so before we met. Some may look at my numerous photo albums and shake their heads, but photography has always been of interest to me. After working at the local newspaper, I learned so much about photography and appreciated it even more. It is so precious to pull out the albums and look back in time to all the family photos of the children and their children growing up and trips taken throughout the years. There are photographs of the seasons of farming, local parades, church picnics and sporting events.
There are photos of years ago, such as the first car purchased; Granddad and Grandma doing chores together; Dad coming home to the farm on military leave, standing beside a tractor in his uniform; the family dog that has since died; three sisters standing together in their teenage years in the styles and hairdos of that time. Those moments in time are captured and now can be seen over and over again. There are photos of the two sons seated in a wagon together, the same wagon in which a photo was taken of the mother and aunt seated there as small children. Class reunion photos taken every five years bring back a lot of memories.
So enjoyed are the old photos taken of ancestors standing in front of their farmhouses; a family farmhouse as it was moved into town from it's farmyard that soon would be flooded with lake water; group family photos of ancestors and their families in their Sunday best clothes; schoolhouses and church buildings that no longer exist; ancestors proudly wearing their Civil War, WWI and WWII uniforms. I love the older black and white photos of the past. It is said that color photos of people feature the background and clothes, but black and white photos capture the people's souls.
Abraham Lincoln even appreciated photographs. He said, "There is no bad picture, that's just how your face looks sometimes." So true as photos are viewed showing someone with their mouth open, or someone with a grim look on their face. There are also photographs of a mountain or a river flowing downstream, but is minus a person being on the scene. To this, Ansel Adams, a famous photographer, said, "Some say there are no people in these photographs and I say there are always two people; the photographer and the viewer." He adds, "Sometimes I arrive just when God's ready to have someone click the shutter."
Photographs of action are also appreciated. There is a treasured photograph of a son running in a 100 meter dash as he approaches the finish line; basketball players as they are running the ball down court; children playing together in the park; a bride and groom as they run through the line as rice is being thrown on them. That one decisive moment is now captured.
I'll keep on filling my photo albums with the photographs taken and hopefully someday these same photographs will be appreciated by the next generations to come. Are you filling your photo albums?