What the Hell Happened to Nebraska?

I grew up in Nebraska. Then I escaped to New York. When I lived in Nebraska, it was a pretty good place. North Loup. Scotia. Lincoln. The University. Bob Kerrey. We had stamina, hard work, and a future, and we were kind to each other because we believed in the Good Life. Then, over the last 30 years since I’ve been away, something broke, and a red-hard Republican named Pete Ricketts, decided to ruin the state in an ego-driven run for the governorship just so he could ultimately become a thug in the Trump Covid-19 Death Cult along with Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott. Thankfully, there are still some sane people in Huskerland who can use their power to do goodness — as in getting the Nebraska Covid-19 Dashboard reinstated:

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The Scotia Register Wormhole

It isn’t often you can take a trip through a wormhole, and survive, tumbling back in time, from whence you began, and then arrive back in the future from which there is no escape; and so I have described my recent journey tripping through the online archives of — The Scotia Register — a village newspaper that was published weekly, on Thursdays, in Scotia, Nebraska (population 291) from 1895 to 2003. Paging back through The Scotia Register archives was like being watched and recorded, from afar, years ago, with the perspective, and perception, of the now.

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From Twit to Tweep: A Groundling in the Twitterverse

Yesterday, I participated in an odd, one hour, “web session” with the Twitter Small Business advertising team where you submitted questions beforehand in anticipation of getting real world answers you could use to promote your small business on Twitter.

Instead getting helpful, direct, answers I was pricked back in time to the beginning of my blogging life and the excellent startup FeedBurner service.

Do you remember this fiery, iconic, logo?

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Keep a Song in Your Heart: Remembering Lawrence Welk

Every time I visited my grandfather in North Loup, Nebraska — there was one unspoken, but wholly enforced rule — on Sunday nights at 7:00pm, you sat down with him and watched the Lawrence Welk Show on ABC television.

It was an hour of a painful persuasion for a young lad to bear — second only to the never-ending reruns of Hee Haw that aired every single weeknight that I was also forced to watch during each visit.

I never learned to like, or even tolerate, the Welk show.  The show was a matter of saccharine moments topped with thick frosting of faux frivolity and façade.  All show and no substance.  Complete spectacle and no plot.

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The North Loup Cheese Factory

by Darlene Psota

I suppose most travelers driving through North Loup, Nebraska would see only a small town, just one of many that dot the roadways of rural America. But for me, driving down Highway 11 and seeing the water tower come into view, the years drop away and the spell that is North Loup is cast once more.

In my mind’s eye, I see more than just a small town. I see people with hopes and dreams. I see homes and businesses that have withstood time. I see a proud past and a bright future. I see love and faith and integrity.

I see these things because, no matter where I am physically, North Loup was, and always will be, my home. No matter how often I return, every time I turn into my Dad’s driveway and see him standing at the kitchen door watching for me, I am filled with a joy and peace that comes from a heart filled with precious childhood memories.

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A 1984 North Loup Photo Memory

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.

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Cathedrals of Chalk: Return to Happy Jack Mountain

There is a special place from my childhood called Happy Jack Mountain that I visit daily from New York City even though that Mountain resides more than 1,500 miles away near Scotia, Nebraska.

Afloat in the Flatlands
I travel to Happy Jack Mountain by closing my eyes and walking the winding trail of 234 railroad tie steps up to the 483 foot Peak that pinnacles 2,000 feet above sea-level.

This is the story of a time and place that will never change for me, for every time I visit Happy Jack Mountain, it is the Fall of 1969 when life was glittering and full of innocence and promise.

My existence was purely good and clean and I was four years old.

Nebraska is notorious for being flat.

In fact, “Nebraska” is the Oglala Plains Indian phrase for “Flatwater.”

The running joke is that Nebraska is 98% sky, 1% land and 1% manure.

Wind, Rain and Sunshine are the Holy Trinity that rule life upon Nebraska’s plains.

Nebraskans are known by some as “fly over folks” where people on either end of the nation only get to know us, our customs, and our dreams en passant as they arc over us in airplanes on their way to someplace bigger.

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