Leaving To See What’s Left of My Past
Hi everybody! Morguie and I are busily packing for a quick trip upon which we plan to embark tomorrow. It will be a brief excursion…something which will give me peace of mind…you see, it’s time for the annual pilgrimage for my man and his friends to go pheasant hunting in South Dakota. Because I am a full-time worry-wart, I actually get to go along for the 1700 mile ride, just so he will make to his destination alive. I hope. I just don’t like to think about him making such a drive solo. Who knows what roadside evil lurks, know what I am saying? He used to have a buddy to ride along…but his friend declined to join in the pheasant-fest this time.
Thoughts of this country’s history will be hard to escape…the Wild West, the forging of the Trans-Continental Railroad, the Native Americans and the buffaloes that once inhabited this heartland of America.
It will take us a couple of full days and a half to make it to the destination—a farm town way out on the plains. Naturally, Mousie and I have no thoughts of staying once we get there. We’ll be on our own brief trek, the next morning. We are going to go back to my ‘homeland’ where my daddy was born and raised; where he met and married my mama: Nebraska. We’ll pick up our rental car in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. From there we’ll take the small roads directly south into Nebraska, where just over the boundary of South Dakota the Missouri River flows. A few miles later we’ll reach dad’s birthplace: Verdigre, Nebraska. I happen to still have 2 cousins still living there in an assisted living home for seniors. I plan to surprise them, perhaps getting there in time to take them to an early supper in town, if they are up to it. It will no doubt be my last chance to connect with any of dad’s side of the family who is still living. After that, the mouse and I are going to drop by St Wenceslaus Cemetery, to pay our respects to my great-grandma who is buried there.
After our visit we will go to my birthplace: Norfolk, Nebraska. If there is still some daylight, I hope to visit my dad’s parents’ graves there, as well as take some pictures of the town, to take back to show my sister and mother. Mom worked at the State Hospital there until she gave birth to me…I hope I can find it. I heard the hospital where I was born was turned into some other entity and is no more the Catholic hospital staffed by nuns who were nurses, back when I was born there.
We’ll continue eastward to pass by my great-grandma’s old homestead, or what remains of it in a wide spot in the road called Pilger, Nebraksa…years ago, after her death her house sat vacant on her little farm, and the local fire department decided it should be razed so as not to become a place for squatters or a fire hazard—it sat right beside the state highway there. My sister owns the title to the land still. Perhaps I can take some modern pictures to show her how much (or little) things have changed over the past 30+ years. The tiny town made big news several months ago: a rare set of twin tornadoes struck the hamlet, destroying nearly everything there. It should be interesting to see, and probably a bit sad, too.
By evening, we will have arrived in the big city of Omaha. I think Warren Buffett lives in Omaha. Haha wouldn’t it be a hoot to catch him eating at one of the local Mom-and-Pop diners?! Allegedly, he eats simple hamburgers and french fries at a small cafe regularly. Everyone treats him like a regular local, or so it is said. If I were to see him, I believe I’d want to have a word or two with him about a few things…
We are booked in a hotel west of the airport. If we are still looking for something to do in the evening, we plan to head across that Missouri River into Iowa, specifically Council Bluffs, located on the east bank.They have legalized gambling in Iowa…perhaps we’ll pull a couple of handles while we take in the sights of that Union Railroad town.
It will be nice to see those places I didn’t fully appreciate as a child, when dad and mom would take us back for family reunions, thirty and forty years ago.
The spirit of my father will be with me…and I will miss him even more as I remember those wonderful times spent there.
So we bid you all ‘adieu’ and thank you for coming by to see us off — we shall be back next week to share our trip highlights with you. Take care!
Morguie and CJ