Tuesday, October 26, 2010


From time to time I will include in this space observations and/or details about my adopted state that I hope others will find interesting. Although much-maligned (if mentioned at all), the cornhusker state has a great deal more to offer than most people realize. The normal reaction can be summed up by the quote from Jack Nicholson after he'd finished filming some on-location scenes here for his film, About Schmidt: "Nebraska? Oh, yeah ... five hundred shades of brown."
Worth a chuckle, I suppose. But far from accurate. At least in my opinion.

For your consideration:

  • Time Travel In Nebraska --- The following is obviously true of other places where a time zone boundary is also in play, but this is nevertheless my perspective on it. Where I live in Ogallala, you see, we are about 20 miles west of the Mountain Time Zone boundary. The nearest "big town" where we do much of our shopping, etc., is back east in the Central Time Zone, meaning the time there is always an hour ahead of us. (This makes things particularly interesting when you are planning to see a movie or make a restaurant reservation or beat a store's closing time - always having to remember that if you want to, say, catch a 7 o'clock movie that means 6 your time so you'll have to leave by 5 in order to make the 45- to 50-minute drive.) That's the pain in the butt part. The fun part comes when you travel in reverse. If you leave at 10 PM there, for example, you arrive home by 9:45 PM. If you time it right and leave there at, say, 12:05 AM on Wednesday you can actually travel back in time a whole day and arrive home by about 11:50 PM on Tuesday ... Okay, maybe that's a silly thing to even think about. But to my sometimes quirky mind I still find it an amusing technicality. 
  • Ole's Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge -  In the latest Joe Hannibal novel that I'm currently working on, I have included a scene where Joe and his ladyfriend Abby go out to dinner one evening at a restaurant called Ole's Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge. Ole's is a very real place, located in the town of Paxton, some 25 or so miles east of Lake Mac and Ogallala. It is a truly unique place and has quite a colorful history. It's original owner was a Paxton native named Ole Herstedt, who was well known locally as an avid hunter and star athlete. The story goes that while visiting a friend in nearby Julesburg, Colorado, Ole was offered $50 --- if he won --- to pitch as a "ringer" in a scheduled baseball game between a Julesburg team and a rival from Holyoke, Nebraska. Ole agreed, and his team won. Unfortunately, the friend who promised the $50 turned out to not actually have the money. Instead, some  bartering took place and Ole accepted a beautiful walnut bar that had originally been crafted for a fine hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Prohibition was in effect at the time but rumors were running rampant that it soon would soon be repealed. Given this, Ole saw the timing of winning the bar as something of an inspiration. It happened that his parents owned a large vacant building in Paxton so when Prohibition was indeed repealed only a few months later, he was ready to go into business with a distinct advantage over his competition. The bar was an almost instant success, its customers primarily rough, hard-working, outdoorsy men. Ole's really thrived during hunting season. Ducks, geese, pheasants, and quails were plentiful to the area. After a day out on the hunt, men would gather at Ole's for card-playing, beer-drinking, and storytelling. There were other diversions, too, such as the group of women who also showed up during hunting season. By day they would clean game birds for the hunters in the basement of a house they had rented in town; by night, sheets would be hung up on clothelines to section off the rooms in the house and other "services" would be made available to the men. Ole's continues thriving to this day and has become one of Nebraska's best known landmarks (as witnessed by billboards along the interstate for hundreds of miles in either direction). Mr. Herstedt has long since passed on to his greater reward. (The "game-cleaning" gals have also passed on, by the way). Before he departed, Ole parlayed the success of his bar (by virtue of the hard work he put into it) and his love of hunting into hunting trips to every corner of the world. Much of the big game he bagged on these expeditions (including a polar bear, an elephant, a giraffe, lions, leopards, water buffalo, elk, moose, deer, etc.) he brought back to be mounted in his increasingly popular establishment. They are there still today, along with framed photos of a wide range of sports and entertainment celebrities, to be viewed either before or after you've enjoyed a fine meal at reasonable prices in what remains, at its heart, a simple working class bar with no pretentions yet a rich, colorful history.
These are just two examples of what can be found in Nebraska, the state I have grown so fond of and and am continuing to learn about.

Persevere --- WD

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