Beautiful days, a beautiful life

Monday, June 30, 2003

If there were a rating system for days and nights -- with ideal at the top of the charts and awful at the bottom -- this morning, Monday, June 30, 2003, and last evening, Sunday, June 29, 2003, would be among the best on record.

After a beautifully cloudy and calm morning and afternoon, Sunday reached a glorious peak between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. when temperatures cooled to the mid-to-low 70s. Simultaneously, the winds, which had been mild all day, became even more gentle, nearly undetectable as we sat serenely on our decks and porches.

Glancing around at the darkening night, an early wave of lightning bugs made an appearance, giving us an early preview of the approaching Independence Day holiday. Then, in the distance, we heard and saw the real thing, as firecrackers crackled and popped and sky rockets sizzled in the sky.

A night's sleep didn't destroy the mood. This morning -- out on our porches and patios again -- we sat in 60-degree splendor, watching robins bobbing and joining their feathered friends in singing nature's symphony.

Ah, the beauty of it all ... the absolute beauty. How great it is to be alive ... and to be surrounded by such majesty.

A Nebraska Treasure

As a roving reporter in Nebraska for 43 years, Tom Allan witnessed more of the state's happenings than any other person ... before or since. He loved his work so much that he continued to cover stories throughout the state for the Omaha World-Herald until his 80th birthday.

Sadly, Tom's time on earth has ended. He passed away Friday at Bryan Hospital East in Lincoln at the age of 84. Funeral services will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at First Plymouth Church, located at 20th and D in Lincoln.

Friends in Southwest Nebraska felt a special closeness to Tom. He called Oxford his "Nebraska hometown," having moved there from Scotland at the age of 9 to join his father, who was a Methodist minister. And, through the years, Tom visited Southwest Nebraska dozens of times, attending many meetings of the South Platte United Chambers of Commerce and Republican Valley Conservation Association. In one of his visits here, late in his life, he remembered McCook as "the speechiest city in Nebraska," a chiding reference to the long-winded orations that often accompanied major occasions in the community.

Before he died, Allan penned a book called, "To Bucktail and Back: A Million Miles of Memories." The picture on the cover of the book features fall trees reflected in the mill pond at Champion in Chase County. It's a fitting tribute to the memory of a beloved chronicler of Nebraska. Check with your local bookstore or write to the World-Herald to ask where to get copies.

Giving back as he always did, proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Tom Allan Scholarship Fund for students at the University of Nebraska College of Journalism.

Happy trails, Tom. Your Nebraska friends will miss you.

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