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: 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.

2017 Memorable musical moments

There is nothing more moving than watching performers from toddlers to adults put their heart and soul into the moment during performance for an appreciative audience.

While there were many magical moments, the most moving performance for me was a dance by Chloe Ostrowski and Kelley Meeder during the Spring Pops Concert  to honor cancer victims.

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Denise Luke leads alumni and combined choirs in the traditional performance of th Hallelujah chorus during the Winter Vocal Music concert.

Below are just a small sampling of some of the many outstanding performances by young and old across the county. Thank you for the memories!

2017 favorite photo story of the year: Blair Library and Tech center opening

The opening of the new 24,000-square foot Blair Library and Technology Center is my favorite 2017 good news story of the year.  I could fill a small hard drive with photos documenting the construction of the new building, the move from the old building to the new, the ribbon cutting and grand opening, and the summer reading program and activities that have quadrupled library attendance figures.

Blair Library Grand Opening
Excited library patrons pour though the library entrance following the ribbon cutting ceremony. Blair Library Grand Opening.





Occasional images December 30, 2017

About this time each year I don’t necessarily make resolutions, but I do think about some possible goals and maybe a bucket list for the new year.  One of the first items on my To  Do list for 2018 is make a reservation for a photo blind to view the Sandhill cranes along the Platte river in mid to late March. There is nothing quite like watching wave after wave of birds fly in at sunset and settle on sandbars and listen to them chatter all night.  Before dawn I silently peek out of the  blind’s viewing  slot into the early morning light like child at Christmas attempting to gain a glimpse of Santa.  I literally pray that the birds stay on the river until after sunrise and then wait in anticipation of that deafening beat of maybe a half million wings as the birds rise in mass from the river.

Sandhillk Cranes Rowe Wildlife Sanctuary, Gibbon NE
Sandhill cranes by the thousands head toward the river to roost.

While there may be nothing – anywhere in the world – quite like the Sandhill crane migration along the Platte, there are plenty of natural wonders  in our own backyard as well.  This morning I drove down by the river and then over to Desoto NWR.  As I watched  geese, ducks and swans and wildlife from the comfort of the visitor center, two new thoughts crossed my mind.  One was to go home and fill my own bird feeders before the deep freeze sets in.  Another was to do a better job  of updating my Washington County Journal blog.

DeSoto geese
Swans and geese at DeSoto NWR Dec. 30, 2017

I have kept my blog for over four years now.  Sometimes I get a lot of hits, and sometimes not so much.  For the most part I post my favorite photos from events I have covered for the newspaper and my own personal projects.  I like keeping the blog because it I can showcase some of the photos that I particularly like that may or may not have run in the paper.  In addition, some of my family members and friends ( believe it or not)  are not on social media and would not see my photos on Facebook or Twitter.

My gentleman’s agreement is that I won’t post photos from events that I have photographed for a newspaper assignment until after the publication deadline.  By that time my interest has sometimes cooled, and I neglect or put off publishing them on my blog.

My new “resolution” or at least goal for the new year is to pay more attention to my blog and post fewer photos directly to Facebook.   I also plan to post some  “occasional images” – random images and visual poetry that catch my eye while I am out shooting the next newspaper assignment of personal project.  Happy New Year!