Danish Children Growing Up American

Danish Children exhibit
Abbie and son Alaric Krager who live in Missouri Valley viewed the Danish Children Growing up American American photographic exhibit at the Blair Library and Technology Center  during the exhibit opening on Saturday, January 9, 2018.

“Danish Children Growing Up American” is the title of the photographic exhibit now on display at the Blair Library and Technology Center through February 3, 2018.

It was also the title of a presentation by John Mark Nielsen of Blair  which was held in the Conference Center at the Blair Library and Technology Center on Sunday, January 21, 2018.   Nielsen is Executive Director Emeritus of the Museum of Danish America in Elkhorn, Iowa, and Emeritus Professor of English at the former Dana College.

John Mark Nielsen presentation
John Mark Nielsen delivers a “Danish Children Growing Up American” presentation Sunday January 21, 2018 at the Blair Public Library and Technology Center.

In his presentation Nielsen said he wanted to share his observations and put the exhibit in somewhat of a larger context. Nielsen told the audience about his family’s move to Blair in 1962 when his dad joined the faculty at Dana College.

Living in the new family home on Grant Street was when Nielsen first became aware of the cultural diversity of the families in that neighborhood.  He said from this awareness came the understanding that out of many we are one.  He said this exhibit speaks to one group but he hopes that as visitors view the exhibit and reflect on the pictures, they will recognize that many different ethnic groups could share this same story.

John Mark Nielsen presentation
Joe Fryman views the “Danish Children Growing up Aamerican ” photo exhibit at the Blair Library and Technology Center.

Nielsen’s presentation focused on the role of the church, education and cultural traditions that affected the lives of Danish immigrant children. He also talked about why Dana College and its predecessor Trinity Seminary became an important part in what became a national church.

Danish Children exhibit
Library sculpture figures  dressed for winter.


January Scrapbook: Blizzard blows through county

The storm that began last  Sunday, January 27, as rain and sleet morphed into a blizzard on Monday, dumping six inches of snow in areas of Washington County creating whiteout conditions and closing schools for two days.

Blair Show choir workshop

Blair Show Choir Workshop
Caleb Sandall, center, and Ovation Show choir sings “Sit Down your Rockin’ the Boat Saturday during  the Blair Show Choir Workshop.

Ten schools from across the area participated in the Blair Music Department fifth annual show choir workshop.  The performers worked with show choir experts Dan Hays and Jennifer Toney.  Hays, the Midland Vocal Music director, was BHS vocal music director Dan Hutsell’s predecessor.

Blair Show Choir Workshop
The Blair Innovation Show Choir performs Saturday at the Blair Show Choir Workshop. Performers from left are: Addie Wolff, Baelyn Chavez, Emma Harnack, Christina Paxson, Katie Blice, Anna Bassler.

The choirs worked on staging elements, choreography and show pacing to improve their shows.

Blair Show Choir Workshop
The Platteview High School show choir performs at the Blair High School Show Choir Workshop.

“The performance has no competition aspect to it so the students have the opportunity to be everybody’s fan and support each other,” Hutsell said.  ” As audience members they (performers) have the opportunity to see some of the things that make a group good or great, or maybe not quite there yet and hopefully each student can apply that to their own individual and group performance.”



January scrapbook: Scenes from DeSoto


Fred Carritt retirement reception
George Hall of Crescent, Iowa, hauls his gear bak to shore after ice fishing at the DeSoto National wildlife refuge.

“It’s gorgeous out here,”  George Hall told editor Leeanna Ellis when we ventured onto the ice to interview ice fishermen in early January when DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge opened the lake to ice fishing.  You don’t have to be an angler to enjoy the refuge this time of year.  Roads and trails inside the refuge are open to motorists and cyclists and hikers who are looking to view wildlife and some exercise.  Thousands of geese, ducks and some swans may be viewed from the warmth of the visitor center.

DeSoto ice fishing
Larry Landon, foreground, of Long, Iowa, and Paul Ross of Omaha enjoyed the mid-40 temperatures while ice fishing at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge.

On another afternoon I spotted Larry Landon of Logan, Iowa and Paul Ross of Omaha enjoying the comparatively balmy mid-40 temperatures to get out on the ice and do  some fishing.  “The fishing’s great,” Landon said as he sat on his bucket and watched his bobber, “but the catching’s pretty poor.”

DeSoto ice fishing
Mike Smith of Blair and his dog, Zeuss ice fish at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge. Smith cough a couple bluegill.

January scrapbook: Fred Carritt honored for service to community

Fred Carritt retirement reception
Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson, center, honors Deputy Fred Carritt during a reception for the deputy who was retiring  after 45 yers in law enforcement. Also pictured are Chief Deputy Kevin Willis and Carritt’s wife, Marla.

Deputies, police officers, county employees, friends, family and community members gathered at the Courthouse on January 4, 2018 to honor retiring Washington County sheriff’s deputy Fred Carritt. He began his law enforcement career in 1972 with the Village of Mead. Carritt has served with the Wahoo and Blair Police Department and as a K-9 handler, detective, and school resource officer for the sheriffs office.




Meet me at the fair: The Trans-Mississippi Exposition, Omaha, 1898

During a four month period from June 1, to October 31,1898, more than two and a half million visitors flocked to the Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition in Omaha.  Construction began in November, 1897, and my grandfather who would have been 15 years old at the time, was one of the workmen. I assume that he was working at the electrical trade because he later formed the Burns Electrical Construction Company.  Incandescent lighting was a new technology at the time, and a history of the exposition published in 1910 noted, “The radical departure from the use of the arc light to that of the incandescent lamp.”

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Grand Court at Night looking west. U.S. Government Building in center.

My grandfather Joe was also an amateur photographer.  I have his old camera and some  of his glass negatives.  Some of the plates are cracked and all are covered with grime, but looking through the glass darkly adds to the mystery and magic.   I do not know the names of the four or five fair goers in a number of the photos, but I’m reasonably certain they are some of my relatives and their friends.  What I find captivating are these modern looking faces in the clothing and setting from more than a century ago.


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Fair goers pose for a portrait.

A new set of investors bought the grounds, and the following year The Greater America Exposition opened on the same site.  When the GAE closed all of the structures were demolished or removed.  By the turn of the new century the Omaha World’s Fair was only a memory and memorabilia.


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Administrative Arch

Today Kountze Park at 1920 Pinkney  is located at what would have been the center and the heart of the expo site.  A Nebraska State Historical Marker commemorating the Trans-Misssissippi Exposition is located at Florence Boulevard and Pinkney streets.

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Streets of Cairo attraction on the east midway.

I found a number of websites helpful and interesting in learning about the Trans-Mississippi and Greater American Exposition. These include The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition of 1898  http://transmississippi.unl.edu/texts/view/transmiss.book.haynes.1910.html

and  North Omaha History:Stories, People, Places and Events by Adam Fletcher Sasse  https://northomahahistory.com



More 2017 memorable moments: Washington County Fair

Ideal weather and a wide variety of activities and events resulted in a record turnout for the Washington County Fair in August.  Big plans are in the work for the 2018 celebration of the Washington County Fair 100th Anniversary.