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Saturday, July 2, 2016
Remembering Uncle Hugo Leisy (06/27/16)
(Note: Recently, the City of Cleveland celebrated their first National Championship in any sport in over half a century, when the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in a thrilling 7-game series. One fellow, who would have dearly loved to see that championship was my wife's Uncle Hugo Leisy. ...
D-Day 1944 and Gen. Eisenhower (06/20/16)
By 1943, World War II was in full swing. The United States was becoming increasingly stronger, and more savvy in wartime procedures. While we were still fighting the war on two far-flung fronts, against the Axis Powers on land, in Europe, and against the Japanese Empire on the waters of the Pacific, plans were made that the bulk of the Allies' resources would go to the war in Europe, to defeat Hitler; and then concentrate on Japan, which the authorities knew would mean a most difficult invasion of the Japanese mainland.. ...
A life dedicated to curing others (06/13/16)
(Note: Recently we have talked in this column about the dedication that civilians of "The Greatest Generation" made during World War II. We looked at the Trumps and their work in keeping the Plainview Schools functioning. Today, we look at the dedication that people brought to the business of saving lives, during the depression years of the 30s and the difficult years of World War II, using the example of Mildred Zink, of McCook. ...
The Tianenmen Square Massacre (06/06/16)
(Note: This week, as a part of the annual Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival, Ben Nelson will join with Gene Morris in recalling Political Stories in McCook's past. It is always great to have Ben return to McCook, his boyhood home. Today, we recall an event in Ben's life, which had a part in shaping his career. ...
Another man named Trump (05/23/16)
Over the years I have rarely encountered anyone named Trump. Today, of course, one cannot turn on the TV set or open a newspaper or magazine without seeing one or many stories about Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for the President of the United States. ...
Great Battles of World War II -- Bob Feller (05/16/16)
The War for the Pacific Ocean, during World War II was the largest naval conflict in history. It was fought all across the huge spaces of the Pacific. The U.S. Navy and the Japanese Navy, the two most powerful navies in the world found themselves locked into a mighty death struggle, for control over the world's largest and most vital waterway. ...
Ex NU Coach Connie Yori (05/09/16)
Recently, the Nebraska sports world was rocked with the news of the resignation of Connie Yori, from her position as Head Coach of the University of Nebraska Lady Husker basketball team. Yori, after 14 years at the helm, has emerged as the winningest coach in the program's history, with some 280 victories against 166 defeats, for a .628 winning percentage, at Nebraska, 475-306 overall, in 26 seasons of coaching. ...
A football practice gone horribly wrong (05/02/16)
Probably the high point of Coach Russ Sautter's illustrious career was the winning of the Nebraska High School All-Class football championship, with his 1946 MHS team. Since McCook was near bottom of the Class A schools in enrollment, Russ Sautter was much acclaimed in coaching circles for his ability to pull off such a feat...
The 1946 Nebraska Class A football champs (04/25/16)
(Note: McCook was saddened recently with the news of the passing of Dick Drake, the hard-charging fullback on Russ Sautter's 1946 Class A Nebraska High School Football team, still the only McCook football team to ever win a Class A Championship. Today, we're going to take a look back at that team and the 1946 season. From the Gazette Archives.)...
The remarkable Teddy Roosevelt, Part 2 (04/18/16)
Note: We are pleased to announce that on Wednesday, April 20th President Theodore Roosevelt, in the person of Joe Wiegand, the full-time impersonator of our 26th President, will appear in McCook at the Biéroc Café for an evening of "Pizza with the President." The event, partially sponsored by McCook College and the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival, will begin with "Happy Hour" at 6 p.m., with a meal of variety pizza, salads, drinks and dessert, followed by the performance of Mr. ...
Teddy Roosevelt Part I: The early years (04/11/16)
In 2015 my wife, Jean and I were privileged to join family and friends to take part in a cruise, marking the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal. The trip was sponsored by the Medora Foundation and called attention to the close relationship that Theodore Roosevelt had with North Dakota, and his part in making the Panama Canal a reality. ...
Doolittle's raid on Tokyo April 18, 1942 (04/04/16)
On April 18, 1942 Lt. Col. James (Jimmy) Doolittle led an intrepid group of aviators, flying 16 B-25 medium bombers on a daring raid to the heart of the Japanese Empire, providing a badly needed boost to the morale of the American people in the early months of the war, following the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941...
Early manufacturing in McCook (03/28/16)
Recently, during a discussion on new businesses in McCook, there were comments about some of the entrepreneurs McCook has been home to over the years. Today we take a look at some of the early businesses in McCook. (In those early years, you might say that everyone who come west to settle this new country was an entrepreneur.) From the McCook Gazette Archives...
Matthew B. Cheney at Gettysburg (03/14/16)
One of the treasures at the Museum of the High Plains in downtown McCook is the desk of Nebraska State Sen. Matthew Cheney, donated to the museum by members of the Cheney family. Matthew's son, Luke was a prominent attorney in McCook for many years. Luke had two sons, Wendell and Newel, and the family is still represented in McCook by Newel's daughter, Carol Lashley...
Home and the Plainview Pool Hall (03/07/16)
Recently, at the urging of a young friend of mine, who seems to be addicted to the Pool Games on ESPN since football season is over, I watched a Championship Match of 9-Ball, at one of the opulent new pool halls in the Catskills. This experience brought back memories of the Plainview (Homer's) Pool Hall of the 1940s, where I spent considerable time as a teenager...
Nebraska through the back door (02/29/16)
(Note: It was a sad day recently at the Rotary Club meeting when we got the news that Duane and Diana Tappe would soon be leaving McCook for the eastern part of the state---to be closer to kids and grandkids. While we understand why they are leaving, we are truly sorry to see them go. ...
Nebraska's Fred Astaire (02/22/16)
(Note: One of the rather painful things, which comes with old age, is an erratic sleeping habit that one develops. Sometimes that results in watching TV in the wee hours. Recently, it was very pleasant for me to be on hand for one of the old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies. This brought back memories of one story I heard while I was "Growing Up in Plain View". )...
The great battles of World War II -- Iowa Jima (02/15/16)
After the Battle of Midway, by February, 1945, General McArthur's and Admiral Nimitz's plan of island hopping, to gain control of the Pacific, in route to an invasion of Japan, was proceeding in a positive manner. The methodical capture of the Philippine Islands, the Solomon Islands, the Caroline Islands, the Marianas was working, though the Japanese Army and Navy, fiercely resisted at every little island. ...
The USO turns 75 (02/08/16)
In 1941, with the United States gearing up for war, there were a great many young men in uniform at bases, old and new, around the country. There was a general feeling that some means of entertainment for these troops be provided. With that thought as the driving force, on Feb. ...
Tom's greatest challenge (02/01/16)
Over a very long and illustrious career, Tom Osborne has touched, and helped a countless number of lives, for the better -- on the football field, to maximize their athletic skills, but also to be better team players, better husbands and family men. In later years he has helped young men and women with his Teammates Program, to achieve life goals in a positive manner...
NU benefactor Johnny Carson (01/25/16)
At the University of Nebraska, in the years right after World War II, one John Carson, who in those days went by the name of Jack Carson, was definitely a BMOC (Big Man On Campus). A Navy veteran, he didn't throw his weight around, and he wasn't involved in campus politics, but never-the-less was a fellow that everyone recognized, and felt as if they knew him...
Brad Duke and the Powerball (01/18/16)
With the Power Ball Lottery reaching above the billion dollar mark for the first time ever, there seems to be a great deal of interest in this form of gambling, by an increasingly large number of players. The odds of an individual winning this grand prize have been calculated to be in the range of 1 in 292 million -- very slim indeed...
The Battle of the Bulge (01/11/16)
After the successful American invasion of France at Normandy in June, 1944, the Allied forces, under General Eisenhower, slowly, but steadily advanced against a retreating German foe. It seemed that the war on the Western Front was in the mopping-up stage, and the Allies (mainly US and British forces) would be able to march right on to Berlin...
The McCook Army Air Base (01/04/16)
Like all communities in Nebraska and throughout the U.S., McCook did its part in helping the United States win World War II, in providing its young men and women for service in the Armed Forces, in tightening its collective belt in conserving scarce commodities, and buying its share (and more) of war bonds...
A bump in the road to Cooperstown (12/21/15)
(Note: The following story took place during my two year stint in the Army, '50-52, during the Korean War. It is presented here as a bit of a preview from one of the chapters of a new book, "Oreo Cookie Man," which will be published in the near future.)...
Early McCook social clubs (12/07/15)
In the early years of McCook's existence, from 1882-1900, almost everyone was an immigrant from someplace back East. Being so far removed from family, friends, and organizations, it was natural to join with others, to get acquainted, and to bring some flavor of their former lives into this new country. ...
Jerry Solomon and the NU Sports Improvement Program (12/01/15)
Jerry Solomon, of Lincoln -- formerly of Culbertson, is a fellow who loves basketball. He has been a regular at the Cornhusker basketball games for many years, thrilling at the victories (all too few), and agonizing at the more frequent defeats. Jerry Solomon grew up on a dairy farm one mile west of Culbertson in the '30s and '40s. ...
The mystery of Blind Sam's violin (11/23/15)
Over the years, when there is discussion of a favorite long-time resident, Blind Sam, there is always the question, "I wonder whatever happened to Blind Sam's violin?" Now, thanks to a nice lady from Cokato, Minnesota, Jean Lanska, we have the answer to that question...
Unsung heroes (11/16/15)
The generation of World War II has been called "The Greatest Generation." This usually refers to the women and men (mostly men) who fought for our country in that war. We said goodbye only a month ago to a man who exemplified that quality of American men (though he would have been the first to refute that claim.) McCook's Willis Jones was a pilot in the Air Force and a Prisoner of War in World War II, and in the years since that conflict served as an inspiration to his family, as well as to countless young men in our area who were fortunate to have known him.. ...
Civilizing early McCook -- libraries (11/02/15)
In those early days of its existence, McCook must have been a very lonely place -- especially for the wives. There were no organizations for fraternization, and even church was something that the very early settlers had to forego. No radio; no TV; even mail service was sporadic, so communication with the outside world (back East) was infrequent, but those letters were something that all of the McCook's new citizens eagerly looked forward to...
Music in the early days of McCook (10/26/15)
McCook has always had an interest in good music. This interest is alive and well today in our fine high school band, the community concert series, fine church choirs, the "Live at the Bieroc" music series, as well as other musical events at the Fox, the auditorium, the lake, and other venues around town. The spring musical, brought to us by the community theater group, is a popular event and well attended...
Mrs. Traphagan's tree (10/19/15)
In the United States some of the most popular tours for Travel Companies are the New England "Fall Foliage" Tours. We have taken a tour of New England in the fall, and to be sure it is a spectacular show. They have so many hard wood trees in the northeast, and that blaze of reds and orange is a sight to behold. ...
Willis Jones' leap of faith (10/12/15)
Civilizing early McCook -- the churches (10/05/15)
The very early settlers to McCook, in 1882, started immediately to make their settlement into a community which would welcome women and families. This meant the formation of churches, the sure sign of social refinement on the frontier. The pioneer church in McCook was the Congregational Church. In 1882, a group of 16 settlers organized the first Congregational Church...
Ray McCarl, Watchdog of the Treasury (09/28/15)
(Note: Recently we brought you a story about Wm. Valentine, one of McCook's early (and great) Superintendents. Today we bring to you the story of one of the early graduates of MHS, during Mr. Valentine's tenure, and a fellow who credited Mr. Valentine for steering him on the path of success.)...
George bags the lame duck (09/21/15)
(This week, on Friday. we will again honor McCook's most famous son, with the George Norris Breakfast at McCook's Senior Center. This breakfast is always a key part of the annual Heritage Days Celebration. This year we are extremely fortunate to have McCook native, Chuck Peek as our featured speaker. ...
Early McCook schools (09/14/15)
McCook's birth as a genuine community occurred in mid-Summer of 1882. One of the first items on the city's agenda was the formation of a school, which opened on September 1, 1882. This first school, a modest beginning, was held in the dining room of the old Commercial Hotel, with Mrs. Alma Churchill as the teacher. Two of the first pupils were the future Mrs. F.M. Kimmel (editor of the McCook Tribune), and the future Mrs. Edna Meserve Magee...
Mildred Zink, McCook nurse (08/31/15)
(Note: In August, 2015, we were pleased to help honor a spunky, special McCook lady, Mildred Zink, on the occasion of her 104th birthday. In these past 100 plus years Mrs. Zink has seen a good many changes, in McCook, our nation, and the practice of medicine, the field in which Mildred devoted her life. ...
Remembering VJ Day after 70 years (08/18/15)
By the Spring of 1945 the American people were tired. For three and a half years, my entire high school career, the War ground on and on. Little hopes from overseas battles were followed by long periods of disappointment. Rationing of food, gas, and tires conserved products, but it also made people edgy. ...
Legal troubles in the 1920's (08/10/15)
Note: In a recent story of McCook's early lawyers it was mentioned that W.S. Morlan had mentored a number of outstanding attorneys who rose to prominence in McCook. One of these fellows was Charles David Ritchie, who in turn mentored another distinguished McCook attorney, Wade Stevens. This story covers a celebrated case in Furnas County, on which those two collaborated...
Mr. George and the baritone horn (08/03/15)
Recently the Optimist Club of McCook announced a drive for folks to turn in their old musical instruments to the McCook High School music department for the use of budding young musicians at St. Pat's School and McCook High school. What a great idea. ...
An early, exacting (and exasperating) McCook attorney (07/27/15)
Webster S. (always referred to as W.S.) Morlan was one of McCook's very early attorneys -- and a very successful one at that. He was born in 1848 in Crawford County, Ohio, and came to Nebraska with his family after the Civil War. As a youth, Morlan worked on building grades for the railroad, which was gradually pushing west across Nebraska. ...
The Kays of McCook and the Red Willow County Fair (07/13/15)
One of McCook's very early physicians was Dr. Zachius L. Kay, from Kentucky, who graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1876. After graduation he practiced medicine for a short time in Illinois. Of interest to McCook is the fact that while in Illinois, the first baby that Dr. Kay delivered (of more than 3000 in his career) was George McClain, who later became a long-time Sheriff of Red Willow County, Neb...
Early days in McCook -- the doctors (06/29/15)
One of the early doctors to McCook, though certainly not the first, was Dr. Bryan Bennett Davis, who came in 1885. Dr. Davis was a rare individual, of exceptional talent as a physician, as well as a gifted organizer, both for McCook and the Medical Community of the area. ...
Early leaders of McCook (06/22/15)
In the 1880s, there were no native sons in McCook. All of the early leaders in McCook were transplants from somewhere else, drawn to McCook by the possibilities and the excitement of being in on the ground floor of the railroad's newest little Boom Town...
McCook's Hollywood connection (06/15/15)
(Note: In a recent column we talked about some of the early money men in McCook and the success that they had in the banks they started. One of the most interesting of these men was Frank Spearman, a fellow who had a great deal of success, but not necessarily in the bank he started.)...
The father of the Higgins Boat (06/08/15)
(Note: In 2015, a replica of one of the famous Higgins boats was manufactured and sent to France, as part of a Higgins Boat Memorial, a gift to the people of France by the people of Columbus, NE in time for the annual D-Day memorial celebration at Utah Beach. ...
Flora and the George W. Norris Foundation (06/01/15)
Note: Over the weekend we received word of the passing of a great friend of McCook, Flora Lundberg. Flora loved McCook, and for many years was McCook's #1 booster, working tirelessly as Mayor, and for a number of McCook organizations. This week it seems appropriate to look back at one of Flora's favorite organizations, and one in which she was instrumental in bringing into existence. ...
A 1935 flood tragedy (05/18/15)
Note: Memorial Day 2015 marks the 80th Anniversary of one of Nebraska's greatest tragedies, the 1935 Flood of the Republican River. In reviewing the stories about the 1935 Republican River Flood in Southwest Nebraska one finds stories of heroism, of ingenuity, of luck, both good and bad, and tragedy -- the loss of property and of human life. ...
Banks and money men of old McCook (05/11/15)
Initially, when McCook got its start in 1882, The Lincoln Land Co., the Real Estate arm of the Burlington Railroad, pretty much handled the financing for its new community. However, it wasn't long before a new source of money was needed by McCook's new citizens---money for building things, like business locations, houses, and city services. ...
Early McCook hotels (05/04/15)
In 1883, barely one year after McCook became a town, the new little city could boast of five hotels, some free standing and some occupying the upper story of downtown business buildings. Five hotels, for a town of its size -- a great number, but all the hotels were busy. ...
... then along came Bob (04/27/15)
Today, when it seems we have days to honor all sorts of individuals, and events in our nation's history, it seems appropriate that here in Nebraska we should take a moment to remember a fellow who was born in this month, just 100 years ago. Although he did not invent the game of football, or even introduce it to the University of Nebraska, a case can be made for him as the man who ushered in this second great era of Cornhusker football...
Early McCook post offices (04/20/15)
One of the first needs of the settlers to our area was the establishment of a post office. In the Republican Valley these post offices were laid out following the route of the railroad. By 1881 Postal authorities reported that there were 59 post offices in Southwest Nebraska! (Fairview, which became McCook, was one of these). Each of these post office locations had the aspiration of becoming the hub town of Southwestern Nebraska. Most of these post office sites no longer exist...
Seventy-five miles from Japan on VJ Day -- Pete Graff, 1923-2013 (04/13/15)
By the end of April, 1945, World War II (in Europe) was coming to an end. Over 1.5 million Nazi German soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Allies on the Western Front and 800,000 Nazi German soldiers had been taken prisoner by the Russians, on the Eastern front. ...
Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal (04/06/15)
(Honoring TR and the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, recently we were privileged to join a Cruise through the Panama Canal, sponsored by the Medora, N.D. Foundation.) For many centuries man looked upon the Isthmus of Panama as an ideal place to create a water-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean...
Theodore Roosevelt in the White House (03/30/15)
Note: Marking the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal, we are taking a look back at Theodore Roosevelt, the man, his times, and his part in making the Panama Canal a reality. Theodore Roosevelt had come to North Dakota determined to spend the rest of his life in seclusion, at least as far as the East and its politics were concerned. ...
Teddy Roosevelt: Part 2, Medora (03/23/15)
(Note: To mark the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, we would like to take another look at Teddy Roosevelt's life, his time in the West, in Cuba, the Presidency, and The Panama Canal.) North Dakota is not exactly the spot that people immediately think of as a tourist destination, either winter or summer. ...
Teddy Roosevelt, Part I: The early years (03/16/15)
(Note: Recently I was privileged to take part in a cruise, marking the 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal. The trip was sponsored by the Medora Foundation, and called attention to the close relationship that Theodore Roosevelt had with North Dakota, and his part in making the Panama Canal a reality. We would like to take another look at Teddy Roosevelt, his life, his time on the West, his experience in Cuba, the Presidency, and The Panama Canal.)...
Frank Buk, Bachelor Father of the Year (03/09/15)
Over many years in the bakery, we got to know a great number of tradesmen, the people who supplied us with the raw ingredients needed to make our product. Seeing these fellows regularly was something we looked forward to, and a number of them became good friends. One such was Frank Buk, from Herndon, Kansas, who supplied us with fresh eggs...
City's first water works, part B: Sewer (03/02/15)
We have looked at how McCook got first water service to its citizens. But producing water is just one half of what it takes to make a Waterworks. It also takes a sewage system to make the system work. In 1882, before backhoes, and other mechanized digging machines, the work of creating ditches for water and sewer lines was all done by hand -- difficult, back breaking, hard work. ...
What it takes to make a town: The waterworks (02/23/15)
In 1881 McCook (Fairview) consisted of a couple of sod structures on the south side of the Republican River. A year later, thanks to the coming of the Railroad, and its Real Estate arm, The Lincoln Land Company, the new town of McCook grew up entirely on the north side of the river. ...
McCook's Mackay Trophy winner (02/16/15)
(Note: This week we were mightily pleased with the news that our friend, and Gazette Colleague, Dick Trail, had been inducted into the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, an honor this intrepid airman richly deserves. In the article, among the honors that Dick has received, there was a mere mention of the Mackay Trophy Award, which Dick had been awarded. ...
More railroad business from 1890s (02/02/15)
By 1892, the labor troubles, which culminated in the major strike of 1888, between the Engineers and Firemen and the Burlington Railroad had been settled and in a spirit of cooperation the business of "Father Burlington" and his "Child, McCook," continued to grow and prosper. ...
Father Burlington -- the early years (01/19/15)
Note: Much of the following story of the McCook/Railroad connection comes from a paper delivered by long-time railroad man, H.E. (Harry) Culbertson, presented before the Southwestern Nebraska Historical Society, along with information from McCook Historian, John Cordeal, and Marion McClelland, in her book, "Early History of McCook."...
McCook, the new Red Willow County seat (01/12/15)
In 1882, McCook came into being, thanks largely to the coming of the Burlington Railroad. This also signaled the beginning of the animosity between Indianola, the Republican Valley Metropolis of the day, and McCook, the upstart community, with aspirations of greatness...
McCook becomes a 'trade center' (01/05/15)
During the first years of McCook's existence as a town, it was primarily a "cow-town." Ranchers far outnumbered farmers, and the cattlemen exerted a great deal of pressure, on the settler-farmer, and on the little city of McCook. Cattlemen seldom saw their cattle. Twice a year, there were roundups -- in the spring, for branding, and in the fall, when cattle were sorted out, by the brands of the various owners, and became available for sale...
A visit to Cuba (12/29/14)
In late 2014 one topic that seems to be very important to our leaders in Washington is the new stance we have taken with the Raul Castro government in Cuba. After some 61 years of very poor relations with the Cuban government there are now real overtures to reach for better, more normal ties between the United States and Cuba. ...
The leper colony (12/15/14)
I was drafted into the Army in 1950, about five months into the Korean War. Eventually I was sent to Korea and was assigned to a bread making company in the Quartermaster Corps. The Chinese had entered the war by the time I got there and we were kept pretty busy making bread for the 8th Army and the Marines who fought above the 38th Parallel. ...
Pearl Harbor (12/08/14)
To anyone who was around in 1941 the name of Pearl Harbor brings forth indelible images in the mind, the same as does the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1962. People remember just where they were when they first heard the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, to jump start World War II. ...
The Salt Line: A Thanksgiving story (11/24/14)
Note: At Thanksgiving, that time when we count our blessings with gratitude and memories, I have chosen to reflect on a couple of events in my life that occurred about this time of year. The first was the fire in our home, which happened six years ago. The second happened more than 60 years ago---in Korea. (From the Gazette archives.)...
Nuts! Gen. McAuliffe and the Battle of the Bulge (11/17/14)
In the months following D-Day, July 6, 1944, the surprise, very successful invasion of Normandy during World War II, Allied troops were able to liberate Western France and allied forces, mostly US troops, began to move east. Advances toward Germany were moving more quickly than had been anticipated. The end of the War in Europe seemed in sight. However, somehow that news had not been conveyed to Mr. Hitler, for he still had one more trick to play...
Nebraska's Fred Astaire (11/10/14)
(Note: Nebraska has a wealth of folks who have become famous on the American scene, in virtually all walks of life, including the silver screen. Today we'd like to take a look at one with ties to Plainview, Neb.) Gazette Archives.) Fred Astaire, that symbol of elegance and grace, with his top hat, white tie and tails, can often be seen dancing with his favorite dancing partner, Ginger Rogers on the Old Movie Channels yet today. ...
The Breeztke shaving mug (11/03/14)
Recently, in the process of cleaning out a corner of the basement, my wife, Jean, came across a beautiful, off-white, antique cup, with the name of her great grandfather, K.F.A Breetzke (Karl Fredrick August Breetzke), carefully hand painted in gold lettering on the side. ...
DeGroff's Super Salesman (10/27/14)
(Note: Recently, the picture in this story was sent to us by one of Joe Urhich's daughters, prompting a look back at one of McCook's long cherished businesses, and one of the fellows who did his part in making McCook such a special place to live.) from Gazette Archives...
Plato Redfern and the Drake Relays (10/20/14)
Walter Camp, Teddy and American Football (10/06/14)
Walter Camp, who was often called the Father of American Football, was born in Connecticut, shortly before the start of the Civil War, in 1859, to a rather well-to-do family. As a youth he attended the prestigious Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven and then moved on to Yale College in 1876. ...
McCook's favorite son, Sen. George W. Norris (09/29/14)
(Note: As Heritage Days approached last week I had occasion to visit with a newcomer to McCook. He asked me about the Heritage Days Norris Breakfast. This led to the question, "Just who was this Norris fellow. I see his name all over town." As a more complete answer to his question I have turned to the Gazette Archives and brought back this column on McCook's George Norris.)...
Mata Hari: World War I beauty, courtesan or spy? (09/22/14)
(Note: In recent weeks we have looked at a number of people and events connected with World War I, which began 100 years ago this summer. One more story seems appropriate -- the still controversial story of Mata Hari, who figured in the highest echelons of diplomatic circles during World War I.)...
Wade Stevens: McCook aviation pioneer (09/15/14)
(Note: Much Aviation history was made during World War I, which began just 100 years ago this summer. But not all of that history was made in France. As a direct result of his experience as a World War I fighter pilot Wade Stevens, long-time McCook Attorney, and his friend Dr. Frank Brewster made a bit of aviation history of their own right here in Southwest Nebraska.)...
Sgt. York (08/11/14)
People don't give much thought to World War I anymore. In a recent survey on the most important events of the 20th century World War I barely made it into the top 10. This is unfortunate. A case can be made that World War I had a profound effect on almost everything that happened for the rest of the last century -- the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, World War II, the Holocaust, the development of the atomic bomb. ...
Black Jack Pershing (08/04/14)
(July 2014 marks the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War I, a war that eventually brought 1.2 million Americans into military service, in France, to aid the Allied Forces in their battle against the Central Powers (mostly Germany). In the coming weeks we will take a look back at that "mostly forgotten" war. Today we take a look at one of the true heroes of World War I, a fellow with ties to Nebraska, General John "Black Jack" Pershing.)...
Veterans of the 'War to End All Wars' (07/28/14)
(Note: 100 years ago, on July 18, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Army fired the first shots of what became World War I, in preparation for the invasion of Serbia. These shots set off a global war, involving almost all of the world's leading nations -- it was called "The War to End All Wars" -- one of the bloodiest wars in world history.)...
The face in the mirror in Berlin (07/21/14)
Through a rare set of circumstances I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of visiting Berlin. It was after World War II had ended, but during the time when there was still a wall between East Germany and West Germany. This was a time of peace and booming prosperity in West Berlin, and a time of peace, but not prosperity in East Berlin. ...
The Starkweather killing spree (06/30/14)
In January 1958, McCook, along with the rest of Nebraska, was caught up in a near panic situation. Word had come out of Lincoln that one Charles Starkweather had killed multiple victims in cold blood (the number eventually reached 11). He had left Lincoln and headed west in a stolen car, and every community, with many unfounded reports of seeing the fleeing car, was convinced that the killer, Starkweather was either in, or headed toward their town...
Ben Nelson and Tiananmen Square (06/16/14)
(Note: June 2014 marks the 25th Anniversary of what is usually referred to as the Tianenmen Massacre, one of the black periods of the Chairman Mao's cultural revolution in China. As fate would have it, McCook's Ben Nelson was an observer of this event. It was a significant moment in Nelson's life, and was one of the factors that spurred his interest in politics, first as Governor of Nebraska, then U.S. Senator. From the archives.)...
Amor Huff and the invasion of France 1944 (06/09/14)
This week, on the 6th of June, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of D Day, the invasion of occupied France, on the beaches of Normandy by the Allies in World War II. This invasion, which Hitler had boasted could never happen, signaled the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. ...
Witnessing history from 800 feet (06/02/14)
(Note: On Memorial Day we rightly honor our men and women who died while serving our country in past wars. At this time it is interesting to think about those men from the McCook Army Air Base who served during World War II. Today, we revisit a story that first appeared in the Gazette in 2003. Al passed away in 2009)...
Boomers and Sooners (05/19/14)
Like most Nebraska sports fans, I have been generally pleased with the Huskers aligning themselves with the Big 10 Athletic Conference. Yet, I'm sure that I am not alone in missing the "Love/Hate" relationships that we enjoyed with the schools of the old Big 8 Conference, especially the University of Oklahoma -- relationships that stemmed back to the old Missouri Valley Conference, which began in 1907 -- then to the Big 6, Big 7 and finally the Big 8. ...
St. Catherine's Hospital (05/12/14)
(Note: After the St. Catherine's Apartments in the 1200 Block off West 5th Street were closed a couple of years ago there has been considerable speculation as to the fate of the old St. Catherine's Hospital. Now, thankfully, there is new interest, and hope for that property again. This is a second look back at the history of St. Catherine's.)...
Let there be light -- McCook's alley lights (05/05/14)
May 5 may be Cinco de Mayo, but for residents of certain areas in east central Nebraska, today's the 50th anniversary of the one of the worst tornadoes Nebraska has ever experienced. The last F5, measured by the old Fujita Scale, tornado reported in the state killed two people on a farm about three miles northwest of Bradshaw, injured 20 near Harvard and hurt others near Hastings and rural areas. More than 40 farmsteads were damaged and over 100 head of livestock were killed...
Ninety years of Rotary in McCook (04/28/14)
This year the McCook Rotary Club s once again hosting a District Conference, at which we will honor yet another District Governor, Duane Tappe. Our club can be justly proud that we have been represented by a fellow like Duane, who lives the Rotary Four Way Test, and practices the Rotary mottoes, "he Profits Most Who Serves Best," and "Service Above Self."...
Father Burlington and his child, McCook (04/21/14)
Note: Harry Culbertson, a long-time railroad man in the early days of the last century wrote extensively about the railroad coming west in the 1880s and '90s and its effect on the development of McCook. Much of the material about the railroad in those early days in Marion McClelland's Master's Thesis book, "Early History of McCook, Nebraska" is taken from Mr. Culbertson's early works...
King for a Day (04/14/14)
Sometime, back in January our son, Matt, sent me some information, with the note, "This looks like something you should take part in." What Matt had sent was information and an application for a One Day Trip to Washington for Veterans of the Korean War, to give some 460 Korean Vets a chance to see the War Memorials, which had been created in recent years in the area around our Nation's Capitol -- the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Wall, the Iwo Jima (Marines) Memorial, and of course the Korean War Memorial, as well as the Lincoln Memorial and some of the other older Washington attractions. ...
Nebraska becomes a state -- 1967 (04/07/14)
On March 1, 1867, 147 years ago, Nebraska became the 37th state in the Union. Becoming of a new state was the culmination of a number of initiatives, most very controversial, stemming back to the Missouri Compromise in 1820. That Compromise, allowing statehood to Missouri, decreed that slavery would be outlawed in all territories north of Parallel 30 degrees 30 minutes North, except the area within the proposed state of Missouri, which had been a slave holding area since the early days of the French explorers. ...
All that glitters ... (03/31/14)
Note: In a recent story about the Lords of Indianola, there was mention of the long-defunct Indianola Mining Company. This story appeared some time ago in the Gazette, but it seemed like a good idea to take another look at that bit of Southwest Nebraska history. -- W.S...
The Lords of Indianola (03/24/14)
One of Southwest Nebraska's oldest and best-known businesses has got to be Lord's Store, of Indianola. Andrew Lord came to the area in 1882 and opened his harness and shoe repair, and retail hardware store on the corner of the highway and Main Street in downtown Indianola. ...
John and Katherine Longnecker, early Red Willow County settlers, 1871 (03/17/14)
Two of the early settlers to Red Willow County were John and Katherine Longnecker, who emigrated to Nebraska from Kentucky, in 1872. John and Katherine had both come from old time, well-to-do Kentucky families. Still, for John, the lure of the new frontier, the stories of the "land of milk and honey" were an attraction that he could not resist. He very much wanted to be a part of the "new empire."...
Nebraska becomes a state in 1867 (03/10/14)
On March 1 1867, 147 years ago, Nebraska became the 37th State in the Union. Becoming of a new State was the culmination of a number of initiatives, most very controversial, stemming back to the Missouri Compromise in 1820. That Compromise, allowing statehood to Missouri, decreed that slavery would be outlawed in all Territories north of Parallel 30 degrees 30 minutes North, except the area within the proposed State of Missouri, which had been a slave holding area since the early days of the French explorers. ...
Bakers, bullets and Bed Check Charlie (03/03/14)
(Note: The current news of continuing squabbles with North Korea, and word of the death of one of my old Korean War buddies, stirred more memories from the Korean War) In 1945, following the end of World War II, Korea, a former colony of Japan, was divided by the victorious allied forces, at the 38th Parallel. ...
Napoleon in Korea (02/24/14)
(Note: I recently got word that Napoleon, a soldier friend of mine in Korea, had passed away. Napoleon, who hailed from Omaha, had returned to Omaha after the war and had become a very successful business man. In retirement he moved to Alabama, not far from another GI buddy. Though it has been many years since our time in Korea, I have good memories of Napoleon.)...
Walt Sehnert
Days Gone By