‘Salad Days’ are the sweetest

Do Moore Be  Moore

Sandy Moore stands between “Do Moore, Be Moore recipients Alec and Evan Wick.

The phrase “salad days” describes a season when the taste of life, like the spring garden harvest, is fresh and sweet.   My first years of teaching were salad days.  I was young and enjoying the moment, living the life and learning my craft. There was the reality of hard work and some heartache and frustration, but I had few cares or responsibilities other than myself. Life was good – or at least fresh and fun.

Shakespeare coined the phrase “salad days” in the tragedy Cleopatra to mean “green in judgement,” and certainly that could be said of me at that time.  More broadly the term evokes the light heartedness, vitality and optimism of youth.   I think of late spring like that –  an idyllic time of freshness, novelty and fun – and I have tried to capture that spirit in my photos.

Memorial Day is one of those salad days.  From my youth, I associate the holiday with blue skies and sunny days.  My memories are of pleasant walks with family along cemetery lawns filled with colorful displays of flags and fragrant flowers. The cemetery visits were a significant family ritual and history lesson.  This year I attended and photographed ceremonies in Herman, Fort Calhoun and Kennard as well as visited and placed flowers on graves of my own relatives in Omaha.  I still prefer and often use the old term “Decoration Day.”

The last weekend in May now has added significance because my daughter Erin is now Erin McElroy.  She and her husband Declan were married on the Saturday before Memorial Day in a beautiful ceremony in the Fontenelle Park Pavillion in Omaha. While I had absolutely nothing to do with selecting the venue, I grew up on Ames Avenue in Omaha, and the park brings back many childhood memories.

Nothing evokes images of youth and summer more than swimming at outdoor pools.  No matter the temperature, kids dive, splash and play. The weather and the water temp was near perfect the week that the Blair pool opened. Unfortunately, a few days later the pool was shut down while a maintenance crew removed shattered glass particles imbedded in paint at the bottom of the pool.

Gateway to The West events and similar summer festivals bring out the kid in many of us.  Blair Otte Middle School was the new venue for Taste of Blair and the Blair Area Community Band Summer Concert. Holding the concert in the Otte commons area seemed to be an excellent fit and everyone enjoyed the performance.

While June Jam was again held at The Depot in Lions Park, the revamped park layout is a significant improvement. Kids swarmed the new and relocated playground.  Concert goers could see and hear the band while families picnicked and watched their kids swing, slide and climb on the new playground equipment.  The park will be even more family friendly when the modern all-season restrooms are completed.

Despite the toasty weather, families filled the sidewalks along the Gateway to the West parade route.  Fire trucks spraying water, and parade participants throwing frozen treats to parade watchers proved to be particularly popular for the kids.  After the parade, I stopped at the Blair Volunteer Fire Department beer garden for a refreshing beer and bratwurst before watching the kids and fire fighters water fight contests.

I can think of no better example of youthful vitality and celebration than the Kids Triathlon which took place this past Saturday.   I have no interest in stats – I have no idea who won or even how many kids took part.  I do know that for over an hour I watched kids ages 5 to 15 of all ability levels take part in the challenge and have a great time doing it.  I watched a host of volunteers organize, monitor and keep kids safe while family members cheered the kids on.

I also applaud Kids Triathlon organizers for instituting the “Do Moore, Be Moore” award.   which was presented to BHS graduates Alec and Evan Wick.  The two outstanding and record setting  cross country and track athletes have assisted with the triathlon each year since the event was first organized.

“Do Moore, Be Moore” honors recently retired PE teacher and Kids Tri co-founder Sandy Moore.  Physical education teacher Kim Leggott said, “The award is based on all things ‘Sandy’, – hard work, kindness, compassion and dedication!”

Spring is at an end, and summer officially begins this Tuesday at 11: 24 PM.  I am looking forward to the vacations and summer activities ahead, but I will miss the soft green salad days of spring.

 

Something for everyone at the Washington County Fair

 

Here are just some of the many events and activities that kept fairgoers occupied during the last week in July at the Washington County fairgrounds in Arlington.

 

 

 

Washington County Fair Mutton Busters

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This gallery contains 17 photos.

Mutton busting may be the most popular event at the fair.  It can be a wild ride for the pint size buckaroos.  These and more fair photos are available on-line through enteprisepub.com.  

Quilts in the Country show and garden walk

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This gallery contains 13 photos.

Despite a forecast of rain, the sun shone brightly Saturday morning, July 16, for the 5th Annual Quilts in the Country  show and garden walk in rural Bennington.  The show hosted by Doug and Teri Wolfe featured more than 350 … Continue reading

Keep parks family friendly

Boys Scouts hold a troop meeting in the F.W. Thomsen Shelter at Black Elk-Neihardt Park on a summer evening.

Boys Scouts hold a troop meeting in the F.W. Thomsen Shelter at Black Elk-Neihardt Park on a summer evening.

Parks, libraries, and recreation centers help to create an overall impression of the strength and vitality of a community.

Blair takes great pride in the beauty and diversity of its parks and the quality of its sports facilities. That is why it is particularly discouraging when you see these public spaces trashed and residents upset, intimidated and fearful of using them.

In my estimation, Black Elk-Neihardt Park is our town’s most distinctive and beautiful park.  The Tower of the Four Winds at the center of the park can be seen for miles in every direction.  Visitors to the city often visit the park to see the monument which is featured on every city and Chamber of Commerce website.

Disc golfers from Omaha as well as Blair describe the park’s disc golf course one of the best, and certainly the most beautiful course in the Omaha and metropolitan area.

The disc golfers from Omaha that I interviewed last week said they come here two and three times a week to play. Before playing, they say they often pick up trash strewn usually within arms length of the trash receptacle. They say they enjoy the park and want to keep it looking nice. They also shake their heads and say it’s too bad the park has become a hangout for the teenagers congregating in the parking lot.

There are many, many people who love and respect the park. Friends of Black Elk Neihardt Park – formerly the Black Elk-Neihardt Park Board – were instrumental in getting the park built nearly 40 years ago. The Thomsen Shelter is dedicated to Dana College professor Rev. F.W. Thomsen who designed the tower and was the driving force behind the creation of the park.

Several years ago two large bronze relief sculptures of John G. Neihardt and Black Elk were cast.  Construction of a plaza to display sculptures was scheduled to begin this year, but the plan is on hold and a new location sought, due to fear of vandalism if they are installed in the park.

The vast majority of the young people who visit the park do not cause problems, but there are some who feel they should be able to say or do or act in whatever way they please.

The park should be used and is used by people of all ages. There is nothing wrong with meeting friends in the park and enjoying the day or the evening, but park patrons and neighbors should not have to put up with vandalism, vulgar language, blaring music, screeching tires, and reckless driving.

Recently a woman I know was walking in the park in the late afternoon. She watched as a pick up truck raced backwards through the lot spinning its tires. When she attempted to take a picture of the truck and license plate with her cell phone, the young men in the truck yelled at her and told her not to take pictures. They yelled and intimidated her to the point where she left the park.

So what’s to be done?

Blair Police Chief Joe Lager says call the police.  If you see illegal activity or feel threatened, call 911.   If you don’t want to call 911, but see suspicious activity or a situation that may get out of hand, call Washington County dispatch 402-426-6866 any time, day or night.

In Lager’s words, “The tail should not wag the dog.”  A small group of youth should not be able to dictate who should use the park.

A regular or even an irregular police presence that goes beyond a patrol drive-by can also make a difference. During the several weeks following a July City Council meeting and the report by homeowners of reckless behavior, the Chief directed his officers to spend time sitting in the parking lot while doing their reports, and to keep their cameras running.  During those weeks, and for some time after, the inappropriate activity subsided.  Police presence works.

I understand that police often have higher priority matters to attend to, but at least occasional visits by the officers that go beyond driving through the parking lot could go a long way to help mitigate the problem.

Another possibility is to install a surveillance camera.  The camera would not have to be permanent.  The device could be moved to other parks and facilities when the need arises.

The last thing I want to do in this column is to discourage people from spending time in the park. When the Boy Scouts hold meetings, and when there are other events and adult supervised activities, trouble makers go somewhere else. The more the park is used by patrons for appropriate activities, the better for everyone.

The parks should be inviting and welcoming to all.  Measures need to be taken to protect our parks and the city’s reputation as a family friendly community.

Some vehicles park while others cruise in and oput of Black Elk-Neihardt Park on a Friday evening. The park has become a controversial meeting place for area young adults.

Some vehicles park while others cruise in and out  of Black Elk-Neihardt Park on a Friday evening. The park has become a controversial meeting place for area young adults.

The morning after. Drink can litters park within arm's reach of trash receptacle.

The morning after. Drink can litters park within arm’s reach of trash receptacle.

Following a picnic dinner, this Omaha couple played a round of disc golf at Black Elk -Neihardt Park. They say the course is one of the best and most beautiful disc golf courses in the Omaha metro area

Following a picnic dinner, this Omaha couple played a round of disc golf at Black Elk -Neihardt Park. They say the course is one of the best and most beautiful disc golf courses in the Omaha metro area