Connecting the dots. That’s the simple premise behind a concept being launched now by the Aurora Rotary Club to boost volunteerism in our community during an era when giving of one’s time, talent and treasure seems to be on a national decline. Looking back over the history of Aurora and Hamilton County, it’s easy to conclude that volunteerism was and remains a major factor in making our community what it is. You don’t have to look hard to see and feel a sense of pride and first-class facilities that were created, in large part, by the extra effort and commitment of local volunteers. The concern shared by many is that time demands, kids activities and other changes in our society have made it easier to stay focused on our individual lives and pass on the opportunity to get involved as volunteers. (See related story in this week’s edition.) That’s not only unfortunate, over longer periods of time it could threaten our uniqueness as a community.
Not being a newspaper publisher anymore, I try to avoid editorializing in this column and keep controversial subjects at a minimum, leaving serious editorial writing to current Publisher Kurt Johnson. The Betterhalf still finds what she considers some controversial subjects appearing in Around the Square, but most times I can soften her objections. I guess as you get older we all try to avoid controversial issues. Before I put my foot too far in my mouth, I am not implying the Betterhalf is old. She has over the years gained more experience with some of my column subject matter and has found ways to “get even.” Over those years, I too have become smarter by willingly making more concessions on her home front.
These are troubling times in America. Reading and watching the daily news reflects a nation in turmoil, a “powder keg” waiting to blow in too many places some are saying, where an “us versus them” mentality threatens any chance of a peaceful discord. There is, at least at arm’s length in the inner-cities, a growing sense of tension and unrest unlike any I can recall in my lifetime. This week’s shootings were marked by racial overtones, fueling the fire for a polarizing debate, and unfortunately, more violence. It’s impossible to watch the videos of police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota without concluding that both situations could have and should have been handled differently. White officers were overly aggressive in both cases, no doubt about it, shooting black suspects to death at point-blank range.
I came across a newspaper classified advertisement that I am trying to figure out if it was written by “Charles” or his wife. It appears it possibly could have been created by his wife in her effort to get him out of the house and find him a job. The advertisement read: “CHARLES CAN do! Anything from honey-do-to-redo. Quality work at reasonable rates. Phone etc ...” Or from a man’s point of view, the wife was simply bragging about the qualities of her ideal husband *** Ever wonder how sincere our national politicians are? A few weeks ago a group of Democrat congressional representatives staged a “sit-in” on the House floor in protest of inaction on gun legislation. The group implied they would be there for the “long haul.” Apparently they forgot to check their calendar. A short time later they adjourned for the summer break to vacation at home. Another perfect example of Washington’s political dedication. ***
This week’s column is going to be a little tribute to my mom and her love of salad with both recipes coming from her recipe box. My mom is a salad junky. It doesn’t matter what kind of salad. It can be lettuce based, fruit based or coleslaw based and there is a pretty good chance she will like it. My nephew and I were meeting my mom (also known as Grandma Cathy in our family) for lunch one day when I was back home visiting. He guessed what each one of us would order and when he got to Grandma Cathy his answer was simple, “probably salad.” These are two refreshing summer salads have become a staple at every family gathering, whether it’s planned or last minute. It just so happens one is fruit based and one is a coleslaw.
“What’s so great about living in a small town?” It’s a question I’ve been asked consistently from my bigger city friends after I moved back to the area just last year. It’s a tough question sometimes because the answers you want to give don’t always seem like the easiest to explain, but I do my best when asked for my opinion. For me, it’s more than just a general question about small towns and more about the specific area itself, Hamilton County. After coming back to the area and being a part of city council, school board and local foundation meetings, I’ve discovered that the heart of our community comes from the care and compassion our citizens share with each other, something not many other places can claim. I recently found two stories that I think represent the differences people may find in small town communities across Nebraska and other Midwest states.
It’s amazing how quiet the Fourth of July holiday can be when you have no young kids or grandkids around the household. It’s also equally amazing how inexpensive celebrating can be with the absence of those younger generations around -- although I must admit we would gladly reach in our pockets if we could repeat our earlier years of those July Fourth get-togethers. Our first clue, “firecracker time” was not as quiet as we thought when our dog Missy emerged from under our bed about 3 a.m. on July 5th. *** The betterhalf and I still have trouble believing people are concerned with the environment. We walk the streets around our community and are constantly picking up cans (There are just as many pop cans as ale cans) as well as diapers and other castoffs litterbugs have thrown to the wind. Many people fail to understand the basics of overflowing landfills and waste being scattered throughout our community and roadsides.
Time is measured not in years but decades at one of Aurora’s crown jewel facilities, so it seemed only natural that on Sunday the Plainsman Museum marked its own 40th anniversary. Hamilton County is a pretty special place, especially for those who have long-time family ties to the area. The Plainsman Museum is a reflection of our ag-based community in that sense, housing a wonderful, historical archive which preserves local memories through exhibits and printed word. The Plainsman is so much more than a collection of antiques, collectibles, newspapers and old photographs. It’s a living, breathing history lesson, maintained and updated over time by folks who genuinely care about preserving the county’s past. What a tremendous, timeless resource!
As you get older you need a sense of humor. You look back over the years recalling the history of one’s self and mine has been quite humorous -- to the family and in many cases not necessarily to me. Sometimes it has been more than humorous and more times than I wish to admit it’s belly laughable, particularly as I get older. Notice I didn’t say as ‘‘we mature?” I said, “As we get older.” In my case, history repeated itself so many times I am a regular laughing-stock to my family and friends, let alone to myself. I may hold the record to my betterhalf asking her how she could have done such a thing and I follow up repeating her same miscue myself. Just how can you back into a car parked behind you in our driveway? One week later I backed into the repairman’s truck in our drive.