January Thaw

 Last week we had below freezing temperatures and snow on the ground.  Yesterday, it was 47 degrees here and a lot of the snow has melted. The car washes were very busy this weekend!  It looks like we are in for a few nice days before it becomes cold again.  Saturday is Groundhog’s Day which is also my birthday.  I remember very few birthdays when it wasn’t bitterly cold or snowing on Groundhog’s Day. 

Do you remember our Junior Class Play?  It was called “January Thaw.”  I can’t remember exactly how that title fit the plot.  It was basically a story about two families, one “city folks” and the other, backwoods.  Cathy G. and Tom C. played the city people who moved into an old farm house and were fixing it up, hanging farm implements on the walls and putting flowers in the chamber pot.  I was “Ma” of the backwoods folks with my son David K. Mark D. was the uncle.  It was a fun play with lots of corny jokes and humor. I remember we worked hard on it with practices every day and many evenings.  Does anyone remember anything else about it?  I think Betty A. was my daughter, too.  I don’t recall the rest of the cast, I’m sorry.  If anyone still has the play program, it would be fun to include it in our memoribilia at the reunion.

I don’t know what it says about our class, but remember how our school musical was “L’il Abner?”  I guess we were good at playing hillbillies! 

I have decided that Groundhog’s Day is a good day to have a birthday.  Ever since the movie with Bill Murray came out a few years ago, my attitude to the day has changed.  Since in the movie, the day is repeated over and over, I have decided that my age is also repeated over and over so I don’t grow any older!  (I wish my body would follow suit!)

I hope it is warm wherever you are.  Keep sending pictures and e-mails.  Thank you to Jerry and Mary V. for the pictures of their family.

                Jerry and Mary Vaughan's family


Have you gotten your flu shot yet?  Check your region and see where it is striking now.  Looks like Nebraska is being surrounded, so we will be hit soon, I’m sure.  (Ignore the ad from Seacoast Medical. I was unable to delete it.)


This weekend I sent out a letter to those classmates whose e-mail addresses I don’t have.  I hope to increase our communication by getting more addresses.  As I was doing this, I started thinking about our class and the various individuals in it.  Our class was so interesting, I think.  So many different people with different talents and interests, yet a fairly cohesive group.  We could be naughty to one another, but we also stood up for one another.  It reminds me of growing up with my little brother, Fred.  It was OK for me to pick on him, but if anyone else did, I just might give that person a punch in the nose.

My hope for this coming reunion is that we will recognize the unique beauty of our class, that we won’t indulge in petty gossip or belittle others, but that we will enjoy each others’ company and rejoice in each others’ triumphs.  All of us have had our sorrows and our successes.  We have suffered losses and have experienced achievements.  We all have that in common—the human condition.  None of us is better than the other, just different.  We have had our tough times and made it through.  We have had our blessings as well.  (Hopefully, we have acknowledged those blessings and haven’t taken them for granted.)  I will always remember the story Mrs. Schwengle told us about the world leader who looked out on the crowd and spotted a garbage man.  He paraphrased the quote from John Bradford and said, “But for the grace of God, go I,” meaning he could just as well have been the garbage man as the prime minister.  We would do well to remember that.  We would also do well not to be jealous of one another. If someone seemingly is better off than you are, remember that that person doesn’t have a perfect life either.  We don’t know all the sorrows or hardships another has had.  My point is, I hope we enjoy each other without letting our biases get in the way.  We can joke about being bald, overweight, and forgetful easier now than we could at our 10th or 20th reunion. Aging is the great equalizer!  This may be the easiest reunion (and most fun!) to attend because the superficial shallow things have become less important.  We’re all in the same boat now!  Let’s just have a good time (and hope the boat isn’t sinking!)

I received a silly e-mail today that had a few “gems” you might enjoy.

–  Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
  I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.
–  Don’t take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.
–  I’m not a complete idiot; Some parts are just missing.
–  Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
–  He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless DEAD.
> > Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends! Life is too short and friends are too few!

Classmate Pictures

 I received a couple new pictures from classmates.  Opal e-mailed me back in November with promises of pictures.  I saved her e-mail and it is below. I also received pictures from Deb and Frank. 
It’s always great to hear from you.  I enjoy checking the blog, but get way behind so I have been catching up today.  Last month some girl friends and I hiked the Grand Canyon.  We spent several months training for the trip and it was a great experience.  We hiked down one day, stayed at Phantom Ranch overnight, and then hiked out the next day.  It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  There were 7 of us that were part of a larger group from the Franklin Indiana Parks Department.  All 7 of us are still speaking so I think the trip was a success.  It was probably the most challenging thing I have ever done.  We went in mid September and it was still 117 degrees when we got to the river.  The colors of the Canyon were spectacular.  Phantom Ranch is a small cluster of cabins near the river.  At first we were going to camp, but then we were able to get beds so we didn’t have to carry our camping gear.  We had enough weight in our packs just with water, food, etc. so were glad we could ditch the camping gear.  I will send some pictures one of these days.  Always good to hear from you.
                                    Deb & Frank & the boys

Home Ownership

My son called from Illinois last night and told us that he and his wife are looking to buy a house.  They just celebrated their first wedding anniversary last month.  Kids today sure seem to hurry into things like that.  We were married five years before we looked for a house.  The days of “starter homes” seems to be passe’ as well.  Everyone wants their “dream home” right away. 

A “dream home” is a fallacy.  There is no such thing.  I’ll bet even Bill Gates doesn’t like some things about his house.  No matter how expensive or modern a house is, it never meets every expectation.  That is because our lives are “fluid” and our houses are not.  A house that fits our needs this month, might not next month.  With kids, we have different needs/wants in a house than we did when we were newly married.  The house we have now, with its stairs, will not be as convenient as we age. 

When I think of the house I grew up in in Cozad, it seems like an idyllic place, the perfect house.  But, if I lived there now, it might not have the same appeal.  It has to do with memories, the love and security I felt there.  The house seemed huge when I was a kid.  It was a big two-story house, Victorian style with all the bric-a-brac and curly-cues.  Lots of room for six kids to run around.  It had nooks and crannies that were great for hiding.  I remember playing hide-and-seek and sitting in a cubby area by the bathtub.  There were several little built-in cupboards here and there.  As a kid, the house was a wonderland. Now, I would probably consider the cubbies as a hassle, difficult to clean out or maintain due to their odd placement and shapes. 

A friend of mine in West Chicago has a big, beautiful house with all the “bells and whistles.”  They have a big jacuzzi, remote control everything, a beautifully landscaped yard with a pond and terrace.  Her kitchen is fantastic with all modern appliances which also have amazing electronics.  But she doesn’t use a lot of the stuff.  When I asked her why they rarely used the jacuzzi, she said because it uses up all the hot water.  It takes a long time for the hot water to be restored.  The gizmos and electronics also have drawbacks.  They can’t always find the right remote controls, something malfunctions causing problems with the entire system, or things are just too complicated.  The lawn is high-maintenance and they have to hire people for much of the work.  I love visiting her because I enjoy her company and her house, but I have a feeling that being a guest is much nicer than being the homeowner.   

When we moved back to Omaha after living in the Chicago area for 4 years, we bought a two-story house in our old neighborhood.  Our very first house was a small ranch with three bedrooms and one bath.  We lived there for 17 years.  It was in a great neighborhood.  I think our first home had 1400 sq. feet.  It had a huge backyard which was great for the boys.  The boys were 12, 10 and 5 when we moved to Chicago.  There we bought a much larger house, two-story, four bedroom, three baths, 2400 sq. feet.  Returning to Omaha in 2000, we bought an older, but comparable house.  This house has a finished basement, so more liveable space.  The basement has been a great place for the boys and their friends  to hang out.  But..now we have only one boy at home, so it feels like we have too much space.  I have four bathrooms and four bedrooms to clean now and we have a larger yard to maintain.  (Dennis loves yardwork, though, so that has been his release. I wish I liked housework as much as he likes yardwork!  Our house would be spotless!)  Before we bought the house, it had an above ground pool.  We told the previous owners that we would buy the house if they took out the pool.  We didn’t want to hassle with it.  (I like the saying that “it is better to have a good neighbor with a pool than to have a pool yourself!”) 

Our house reflects our personalities.  We have a lot of sentimental “treasures” around that most decoraters would toss out.  I joke that I need clutter around my desk for inspiration.  We have books in almost every room.  Our furniture is very eclectic and not very well coordinated.  Basically, we have no taste!  But we are happy with it and the kids’ friends are comfortable here.  

I hope Dave and Carlota can find a house that they can turn into a home, and not fall for the “dream house” hype.  A dream house is just an illusion. Like the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny, it doesn’t exist.         


In yesterday’s blog entry, I forgot to mention that I heard from several classmates about the barn. If you recall, I mentioned that I was up at night and fell asleep watching TV.  It was at the same time as the mall shooting. Anyway, I roused out of my sleep just in time to hear the commentator talk about a barn in Broken Bow.  There, on the screen, was a map with a star marking Broken Bow and then a picture of a barn being transported through town.  I had missed the story so was curious why a barn made national news.  Here is what classmates told me:

They moved the O K Luther barn from near the golf course on west highway 2 to the east end of town .The final location is just east of  John Deere  On the south side of the highway, land had been purchased for a Sandhills Scenic Byways Interpretative Center. It has been in the works for approximately 6 years, Fundraising and grant applications etc.  The sight was chosen after another location became unavailable. It will be a museum of sorts, about the Midwest and Sandhills areas. There should be coverage on Sandhills Express. The photo was picked up by Kearney, Grand Island and even the front page of the Omaha World Herald.  Thank God you are all safe. I have been in that VonMaur location when we shopped for dresses for weddings etc.  (Linda R)

HI Suz.  The shooting in Omaha was horrible.  So glad to know that you all are safe and sound.  The old Luther Barn is being moved from one side of town to the other for the scenic byways highway 2 informational center.  BBow won some sort of competition to have this center which will be located east of Custer County Implement.  (Deb G)

Susan,I read about the barn.  It was on the front page of the World Herald yesterday, you probably don’t get the same addition of the World Herald.  It was the OK Luther barn from west of town.  It is being moved to the east side of town and is going to be renovated and used as part of a visitor center for the Sand Hills. (Nick)

Hi Susan,
I was shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting at Westroads.  We’ll keep the victims and their families in our prayers.  This is so tragic especially at this time of the year.
Here’s a link to the Chief and the story on the barn.  http://www.custercountychief.com/content/view/69951/
My mom said that old barn used to be out by the country club and they are moving it out east of town to put a museum in it. I would like to have seen the segment on the news but we missed it. So glad to here you are safe. My daughter and her family are also safe. Take care and have a Happy Holiday season. (Mary Lou)
Thank you to all who enlightened me.  I suppose with all the news of the shooting, our state and national news was lacking that week or so.  Keep those e-mails coming!  I enjoy hearing from you all.

Class birthdays (January)                   Happy Birthday!

  8 Vikki

12 Bill P

12 Charlie H                                                 

16 Linda R

19 Dan J

27 Mike G