During Christmas of 1984, I visited North Loup, Nebraska to spend the holiday with my mother and Great Aunt Ellamae along with her son Russ, her daughter Martha and the their families. Christmastime in North Loup was always a postcard: Tables overflowed with smoked turkey and candied ham and chokecherry jam smiled from hot slices of homemade bread. Santa Claus with his dancing reindeer kicked along rooftops while flickering colored lights reflected from rain gutters and downspouts.
North Loup is my mother’s home village (it isn’t big enough to qualify as a “town” in Census records). She and I would visit my Grandpa there often as I grew up. My Grandpa, Bill Vodehnal, was the village pharmacist and he and I would explore the village together in his old, slate-grey, Plymouth Fury II at a blazing two miles per hour. Every street, except for “Main Street” (which was really Highway 11) was paved with gravel. My Grandpa was long dead when I visited North Loup in 1984, but I always felt his spirit rumbling deep within me every time we pulled into town.
In 1984, I wanted to take down a visual diary of the village for a novel I was writing based upon the atmosphere and earthiness I knew only to exist in North Loup, Nebraska. The images you’ll tour in this article are the touchstones I committed to film that day. Even now, these images speak to me without having to listen or comprehend. These thoughts touch me on the dirt level of the soul where things silently grow and blossom into magical, emotional, things one could never comprehend in any intellectual moment.
Continue reading → A 1984 North Loup Photo Memory