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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
For last week's issue of this newspaper, I had an opportunity to dig back in the darkroom archives and find a picture taken in September of 1973 of the first footbridge used by Superior High School students to walk directly from the then new high school on West Eighth Street to Brodstone Memorial Field. Perhaps because of its newness, I had opportunity to take several pictures there before flood waters caused its replacement. The replacement bridge was a more substantial structure that was not as suitable as a picture location.
When going to the high school to take pictures of groups of students, I have often asked the students if they had in mind a place where they would like to have their pictures taken. In the first years of the new school, the answer was often either the patio or the footbridge. In those years, Nelson students frequently suggested the swinging bridge over Elk Creek.
In last week's issue of this newspaper, a picture taken in 1973 was reprinted of people standing on the Lost Creek bridge while flood waters surged beneath and carved away at the south bank. Later I would take pictures of the city street department crew hauling in fill material with which to restore the creek banks.
I thought standing on the bridge during the flood to be a bit dangerous but that same day I took a picture of state highway department workers trying to break up a log jam before the pressure of the backed up water took out the Highway 14 bridge.
At least one worker was working atop that log jam floating in the flood water trying to beak it up. I shutter to think what might have happened had that jam decided to move.
Among the pictures taken that week, I have ones of people driving motor vehicles, wading and riding bicycles and horses in the flood water.
It was Labor Day weekend and though the Webber road was underwater on both sides of the river bridge, people were still trying to drive through the water.
One picture shows Denny Meyer driving a tractor though the flood water. Another shows Cindy (Keith) Thornton riding a horse. I suspect Meyer had been using his tractor to pull water stalled vehicles to higher ground. I remember asking Cindy how deep the water was. She pointed to her water soaked jeans and said she had been using her horse to pull stalled vehicles out of the water and had gotten wet while fastening a rope onto the stalled vehicles.
I didn't attempt to cross over to the south side, but I was told about a Superior High School student driving a high clearance vehicle who attempted a turn in the flood water and drove off into a hidden abyss. Flood water pouring out of the Jewell County hills had washed out a road culvert and the road she expected to turn onto was gone.
I remember the flood as a particularly stressful time for my father. He didn't have a personal stake in the flood but because of health problem he wasn't allowed to answer the call for help and had to sit out that flood in the living room of the family home. It was the first time since he was in high school that he wasn't personally involved with flooding at Superior.
I remember having lots of questions to answer when I returned after taking pictures of the flood.
After last week's paper was out, I posted a picture on this newspaper social media site of the flood damaged running track which circled Superior's football field. I suspect it was the first time anyone other than myself got to see that picture. It generated considerable conversation and some viewers even shared it.
Sunday evening a former Superior resident called to talk about the picture. Teresa was only 13 when the flood happened and she questions about what happened. She also shared her own personal story.
The morning after she was out looking over the flood damage with her older brother. When they found cattle that had gotten out, probably because the flood had destroyed pasture fences, they waded into the water in an attempt to contain the animals within a fence on dry ground.
Today health officials warn about the dangers of flood waters. Forty plus years ago people worked and played in the water and I'm not aware of anyone suffering adversely from doing so. However, that doesn't mean several of the people did not risk death by drowning.
I don't have all the details worked out, but I have begun assembling those flood pictures into a show which I plan to make available on this newspaper's web site.
A number of people interested in the history of this area have encouraged me to do so but it won't be completed for awhile.
To me it seems like a flood that happened in 1973 is too recent to justify such a story, I'm more interested in a flood like the 1935 one that happened before I was born. But Teresa and several of her friends are encouraging me to republish the stories and pictures. One said, "I was only 13 years old and I didn't understand what was happening. Now I want to know."


A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

When I go to film festivals, I always try to see the foreign shorts. I enjoy seeing what independent filmmakers are doing in other countries, and most festivals that screen a lot of short films group all the foreign shorts in one or two film blocks, depending on how many they've decided to screen. And as much as we enjoy watching short films made in other countries, we try in earnest to have our short films screen in other countries. Returning the favor, so to speak.
The place we've had the greatest success is Canada. We submitted our short documentary, "Shakespeare With Noodles," to two Canadian festivals ­­ one in Montreal and one in Vancouver, B.C. It not only screened both places, it won awards both places. We also sent it to festivals in England, Scotland and Ireland, but we didn't get in any of those.
We submitted our short drama, "Leaving Kansas," to one Canadian festival ­­ in Ontario ­­ and were notified recently that we've been accepted. The email notification also said the film is a semifinalist in the short drama category. We sent this film to festivals in Mexico, England and Ireland, with no success. All this love from Canada makes me think I should visit some day.
The only other international screening I've had was last fall, when a short I wrote and co-produced screened at the Kashmir International Film and Cultural Festival in Mumbai, India. That film was "Shortly After Nightfall," the black and white horror short we shot at the Oxbow Motel in Nelson.
Because of how gratifying it is to sit among a large crowd watching your own film, and how expensive it can be attending festivals, we've concentrated our efforts on getting into festivals we can actually attend. That's why we've screened heavily across Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri and Colorado. "Shakespeare With Noodles" screened at a festival in Nevada last year, but we were unable to attend.
Compared to Nebraska, both Colorado and Iowa have a lot of film festivals, and we've screened at many of them. Because "Leaving Kansas" takes place largely in Colby, we considered sending it out heavily in Kansas, but we only found one appropriate festival there, the Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita. We sent it to them. They are among the festivals that haven't announced yet, so our fingers are still crossed on that one.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

It's beginning to feel like fall along the country roads. Maybe it's the recent cooler temperatures, or the daylight beginning to shorten, or the beginning of the school year.
It's been wonderful to see on social media the back-to-school photos ­­ students standing at the doorway, backpacks in place, big smiles on their faces, students with their new teachers in their new classrooms. Those photos bring back a lot of memories of when my sons began new school years. As a parent or grandparent, children leaving the protection of their homes and heading into the challenges and prospects of a new school year can bring a tear or two to our eyes. Yet, we realize we are raising our children to allow them to mature, spread their wings and eventually leave home and succeed in their chosen path.
I had one son who was usually ready for the challenges of a new school year, but the younger son was not. It took a lot of adjustments, reasoning and understanding, but eventually he did adjust. Remembering back, some of those hard times for him, me, his teachers and my husband were challenging. One of the hardest times came when he was in the first grade. I received a phone call at my work place from the school telling me he had run away and could not be found. I panicked as I imagined him scared and all alone. I was told he asked to use the rest room across the hall from his classroom and never returned. No one had seen him leave the school and a search party had been sent out. I quickly headed towards town to help find him, but as I walked into the school, there he was hand in hand with the school principal. He had been found walking along the highway and when I questioned him he told me he was going to Granddad and Grandma's house.
Later we learned he was having difficulty with the teacher and his adjustment with school. Thankfully some changes were made and he eventually decided he liked school.
With fall still a few weeks away, there are the first football games being held and farmers looking toward getting wheat planted. With milo, soybeans and corn maturing, thoughts of fall harvest are also being considered.
A visit to stores shows Halloween decorations already ­­ fall wreaths in orange, yellow and brown. There are fall hot dog and marshmallow roasts and hay rides being planned.
The calendar may still say August, but our thoughts are turning toward September and the fall ahead.