Monthly Archives: July 2013

Stories From Across the Ocean – Bringing Czech Culture to Nebraska

My favorite way to teach about history is to read well-written picture books.  Usually these books are in story form with beautiful illustrations, and they give a glimpse of what used to be.  A snapshot of the moments gone by.

Peter Sis is an author/illustrator that I discovered when we were “traveling” around the world.  His illustrations are full of detail and complexity – they add so much to the tales that he is telling.  He brings his homeland of Czechoslovakia to life by sharing stories of his childhood.  His books are not necessarily happy (after all as a child, he lived through an oppressive time of communism), but they are real.

I do have to be honest and say that I cannot wholeheartedly recommend every title that he has completed as we seem to have different world views.  And even though he is writing for children, his titles do need to be previewed as some of his folklore is a bit intense.  But even if you cannot quite appreciate some of his stories, you will always be delighted with his illustrations.

Note: the book covers were copied directly from Amazon with links provided, so that you can purchase the books if you so choose.  The titles also might be available at your local library.

Here are the two Peter Sis books with a Czechoslovakia theme …


The Three Golden Keys

(This book contains three different Czech folktales)

Product DetailsThe Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

(Based on the true story of how he grew up in Czechoslovakia)

Two other books of his that we enjoyed: The Starry Messenger (about Galileo) and Follow the Dream (about Columbus)

Categories: Recommended Reading | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

My Birthday to Remember in the Town of Wilber, Nebraska

Place at a Glance

Name/Location Walking tour of Wilber – Nebraska’s Czech Capital!  1-888-4-WILBER
Website/Facebook Wilber Chamber of Commerce: Tour info and more
Open hours Weekday walking tours available (lasting from 9:30- until mid-afternoon)
What to Know Light breakfast and lunch is included
Cost Adults: $15; ages 3-8: $5 (cost of 8-12 year olds might be negotiable?)
Parking Free parking available in front of Hotel Wilber; will walk rest of time
Group Tours If your group is too large, more than one guide might be needed
Museum Manners Some of the locations you visit are naturally more kid friendly than others
Recommended Ages To walk around: ages 6 and up; strollers could work for younger ones

Did you know that the 2013 Wilber National Czech Festival begins this Thursday August 1st?  So, all week I will be featuring stories about Czechs and their cultural contributions to Nebraska. 

Wilber welcome

In 2010-2011, our family traveled around the globe to over 40 countries.  If you have gathered from previous entries that we are a homeschool family, you would know that most of our exploring took place in our kitchen and in our living room.  Since I I wanted to immerse my family in the countries we had chosen to study, we learned by  coloring famous places (like Machu Pichu), ate a meal for each country (like lingonberry meatballs and oostakaka), read folklore (like Grimm’s fairy tales) and enjoyed finding out about the world.  As I picked the countries to emphasize on each continent, I knew that I definitely wanted to make a stop in each country that represented our personal cultural heritage.

Dolezal Family Crest

Since some of my husband’s relatives had emigrated from Czechoslovakia, studying the Czech Republic was a way that we could celebrate part of my  heritage.  The town of Wilber, Nebraska celebrates Czech Days every August.  so that summer I called the Chamber of Commerce to inquire about the festival.  When the lady discovered that our kids were 1,3,5 and 7 at the time, she suggested that we come spend a full day in Wilber later in the fall, instead of coming to Czech days when the town is a bit hectic for little kids.  So we decided to venture to Wilber when we would be actually studying the Czech Republic, and that happened to be the week of my birthday.

Wilber mural

My birthday was on a Wednesday that week – my Dad’s day out of the office.  So, I convinced my husband to take that day off as well, and we invited both of our sets of parents to join us for “A Day to Remember in Wilber”.  A beautifully sunny, comfortably cool, fall day awaited us.

Hotel Wilber

Our day began with breakfast at the beautiful 1895 Hotel Wilber.   Starting out your morning with fresh kolaches is always a good thing!  (More on these tasty treats later this week!)  Then we proceeded to take a walking tour of the town – learning more about Wilber than we ever thought that we would know.  The town is really quite lovely with several different businesses (and bakeries!)  Our guide for the day even wore her festive Czech dress.

Czech guide

After walking around town for the morning.we went back to Hotel Wilber for a delicious dinner.  Since they did not happen to have any guests in the middle of the week, we also were able to take a tour of the hotel.

Hotel Wilber room

One of my favorite Hotel Wilber rooms.

After our hotel tour, we went to another place or two, then ended up at the Czech Museum.  For a smaller community, they have amassed a wonderful collection of historical treasures.  Several “rooms” were set up to display the items in historical context.

Wilber Museum room

I could have spent a lot more time in the museum, but when you are traveling with littler ones at a certain point you just know that the experience needs to end.  So, about mid-afternoon, our “day” in Wilber came to a close.  What I enjoyed the most was getting to enjoy a leisurely day with those I loved the most!  (And a later supper that included my sister & brother completed that togetherness!)  Since we had planned on spending the day there, we were not on a tight schedule, so my birthday unfolded in a charming way (and turned out to be one of my favorite birthdays ever!)  I hope we can repeat this Wilber outing when we “go” around the world again a few years.

With grandparents in Wilber

P.S. As you may have noticed in the information in the above box, they do still give tours.  You can visit the Wilber Chamber of Commerce website for more details.  The majority of their tours are for adults, which is why I mentioned that the childrens’ prices for the meals & everything might be slightly negotiable, depending on the size and eating capabilities of your child! 🙂

Categories: Accommodations, Annual Events, Eating Establishments, Pioneer Country | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bringing the Rodeo Home

So, you didn’t make it to Burwell?  Or to the Durham for Wild West Day?  I also didn’t make it to either one.   But I do have some ideas of how you can bring the rodeo to your house.  Okay – not the events, but maybe the feel?

When my oldest turned seven, we had a cowboy party for him.  This was before I had heard of Pintrest, so I simply did old-fashioned searching through books and a bit on the internet to find fun ideas.  I am not the best at decorating or planning parties – I usually concentrate more on the menu because I enjoy the cooking part.  But I have to say that throwing our own rodeo was fairly simple and quite enjoyable. Dollar Tree happened to have cowboy hats and bandanas at the time, so the party favors were easy!  But so were the events that I planned.

Here are some of the activities that we did.  So pick one if you need a distraction or all of them if you are looking to make an afternoon of it!

1) Stick horses races around an obstacle course or circle drive.  (If you don’t own any stick horses, go to Spoonful Homemade Hobby Horse to learn how.  I am not that crafty either, but I think I could tackle this project!)  Or in a pinch – have the kids use broom handles and their imaginations.  (Thankfully my Mom had kept our old one – that was the simplest of all!)

Hobby HorsePicture taken from Spoonful website – NO, this is not my creation! 🙂

2) Jump over the rattler.  We took a long piece of rope and attached film canisters (filled with beans).  When you move the rope along the ground, the beans rattle.  (I would highly recommend using duct tape to attach the canisters!)  This is a fun game for any age.  If older kids are around, have people hold both ends of the rope and have the kids jump over it (kind of like a lower limbo game but going over instead of under!)  Spoonful Rattlesnake Ideas  You could also add a bit of Nebraska flair and use popcorn to fill the canisters instead of beans.  (Not have any film canisters?  Ask a film developer to save some for you.  Not everyone has moved to digital photos 🙂  )

3) Paper Bag Vests.  Thankfully many parents stayed to help with the party – making a vest for every child would have been quite the chore!  These also turned into craft projects as every child had fun decorating their vest before putting them on.  (Not have any paper bags?  Most grocery stores are glad to donate to the cause, especially if you tell them that you are creating crafts with kids!)

Best example that I found was the Crayola Cowboy Vest.

Cowboy VestAgain – this picture was taken directly from the Crayola website – this was not my kids creation.  Our vests were a bit uneven and really did not make it into pictures.  I was a bit busy just trying to keep the party moving!

4) Rubber band shooters: My sweet husband decided to volunteer to make all of the guests rubber band guns to take home.  They were a HUGE hit, (both literally and figuratively 🙂 .)  Of course so far, I cannot find the link with how to make them.  And I wanted to post of a picture of the hidden project, but my 4 year old hid the gun that has been sitting on the dresser for days.  He is sleeping and waking him would not be such a good idea.  So, I will post it later.

Mini Rubber Band Gun

5) Root beer using dry ice.  This part was the coolest for me.  I took our big three gallon jug, added the ingredients and a block of dry ice.   Our kitchen suddenly looked steamy.  The recipe that I used was found in a book, but I found a similar one online.  I am not sure why I have not made this again – it was that cool.  I think it probably helped that my Dad stuck around and helped with the dry ice part – probably safer for me, the accident-prone one, too!

Homemade Root Beer

Overall our party was hit.  Thanks to lots of people helping (the parents of kids and my Mom who also helped me get organized at the beginning!)  The only downfall – snow.  To be expected in Nebraska in winter, but not the 2nd week-end of October.  The kids stuck it out and played outside for quite awhile but did decide to bring the party indoors.

Cold Cowboys group picture

At least we were smart and put aside the rubber band guns inside.  Or else the party might not have had such a happy ending!

Well, I had hoped to include some more great party ideas, but I am tired.  Then I remembered that is what Pinterest is for!  And I also realize that you probably are not into the thought of a cowboy party at 10:30 on a Saturday night.  But … I had written most of this post earlier in the week and wanted to make sure to share it.  On Monday, I plan on “taking” you to the spot where I celebrated my favorite birthday ever.  And since that really has little to do with cowboys, I decided that I had better post this tonight.  So, sweet dreams! I am definitely ready to hit the hay! 🙂

Categories: Activities @ Home | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bloglovin’ and Technorati

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And technorati

We have just assigned the claim token 92ZM2C9A2TJK to this claim.

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Social Media Whirlwind through Nebraska

As a mom, I often feel like I am twirling around.  Keeping up with my responsibilities can be a bit overwhelming, and I can be a bit too good at ignoring the things that are not my favorite.  (Like balancing the checkbook or mopping the floor!)  This new world of social media options causes me to feel even more twisted.  And having been a bit too close to the 2004 tornado that passed near our Hickman home has left me rather leery of whirlwinds!


Picture of the Omaha tornado from 100 years ago that I am perfectly fine with having missed!

I am caught right in between the informational age.  After all, I can still remember our Apple Computer green screen and playing “Little Brick Out” as a child. And I didn’t really begin sending e-mails until I was a senior in college.  Back then, even being on the internet was a big deal.  Cell phones were often in a bag in your car for emergencies – not for connecting you to the world 24/7.

Because I enjoy writing and like staying connected, I can struggle with social media.  I will admit I have checked my Facebook page during my kids’ baseball games.  Not very often, but more than I should have.  Although I like watching, sitting there for 2 hours does seem a bit long at times.  Or I will quickly look up things on the internet on family outings that could have waited until later.  I know that is something that I need to work on because I do want to be fully there for them – not distracted all of the time.

But despite the pull of my smart phone, I know that I am definitely not technologically savvy.  I really do not fully understand all of the options that blogging presents to me.  I thought tumbler described my daughter who does gymnastics.  And “digg it” sounds like a 70’s phrase – not one from today.  And for a long time, I thought “Linked in” was only for people who lived in Lincoln who were a part of some secret club. I still think tweeting is for the birds. Although I have to appreciate one’s ability to abbreviate thoughts, rather than going on and on (like writers can tend to do …)  But, while I love my life, I am really not sure that anyone beyond my family would enjoy subscribing to it.

Took kids swimming Wednesday.  Sunburns abound despite sunscreen.  Too little or too late?

Really?  Not even sure that is worth writing home about, much less having it land in a bunch of people’s accounts.  Now I have to admit that I might like being a Twitter follower during Husker football season.  I would enjoy knowing the inside scoop of what is happening on the field during 1st quarter.  But I think for now, I will just stick with watching television sports coverage after the game.


One of my goals in writing on this site is to talk about what my family has experienced through Nebraska.  Sorry – I already broke that rule this week by writing about Burwell, despite the fact that I have not set foot in that town.  Yet.   I really do not want to be just a tourism site – you can go to Visit Nebraska for that.  But I know that events will be coming up that will be perfect for families.  Events that if I would simply blog about them later would already be missed.  That is like looking through a stack of vacation pictures taken by someone else – definitely not the same thing as being there.

So, while so far I have not joined the world of tumbling or digging or tweeting, I do know Facebook.  So, I have started an Odyssey Through Nebraska Facebook page.  All of my posts go directly there, so if you really do not like getting e-mail updates, you can know about what I am writing by checking that page sometimes.  I also am hoping to post information about upcoming family friendly activities in Nebraska.  Like today, the Durham Museum is having a “Wild West” day, and that fits in perfectly with what I have been posting lately even!  (Visit my Facebook page to learn more!)  (In the future, I will try to give you more notice than just a few hours)


Now this does not mean that I am personally endorsing every publicized event or even attending them all.  In fact, I would love to head up to the Durham today, but for my daughter, attending her friends’ birthday party is a much more significant event.  But maybe some of you have the time today and want to get away on this beautiful almost spring-like July day.

I also did finally join the world of Pinterest too.  So, I hope to gradually begin posting some of my Nebraska pictures on my site.  I want more people to know about our great state!

At some point, I will hopefully have links on my blog where you can connect to either my Facebook or Pinterest pages.  (I will be calling one of my tech savvy friends to help me with that).  While there will be some overlap between those pages, I am hoping to include unique aspects to each site.  Nothing was more annoying in college than to go to class and listen to the professor basically read the assigned textbook pages back to me.  Just as there was no reason to go to class to learn what I had already read, there is no point in having three “Odyssey through Nebraska” sites that are all almost identical.  I am hopeful that the Facebook page especially will be a community site where many of you will also post.  Many of you will know about events that have not crossed my radar, and I want you to share them.

I hope you know that I do appreciate you joining me on this blog adventure.  (And if you decide to join me in the other lands of social media, that is great too.)  I also desire to keep my online world in check.  Since one of my main goals of this blog is to explore Nebraska with my kids, I do not want to be so busy connecting with everyone else that I forget to be a part of my own family and do not manage to engage in the experiences with them.  So, while future social media connections may be eventual possibilities, for now the ones that I have entered are enough of a whirlwind to me.  And don’t worry – if I begin tweeting, you’ll be the first to know.  Apart from those waiting with bated breath on Twitter for me to join of course!


P.S. If you are one who can keep up with all of the social media, this entry was not intended to bash you in any way.  I am guessing that for you “technology” is a ten letter word the way that it was intended, rather than the four letter word that it often is for me!

Categories: Metro, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Flashback Friday: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show


William F. Cody, circa 1880

Spring 1882 Resume  
Name: William F. Cody
Age 36 years old
Location Scout’s Rest (North Platte, Nebraska ranch)
Experience Pony Express Rider, soldier, stage coach driver, Army Scout, guide to the rich & famous; almost legislator; buffalo hunter, Broadway actor

What do you do when have lived a life full of adventure and excitement?  Why of course, you start your own traveling show to tell the world about your experiences.  Born with a restless spirit, William Cody did not seem to be able to stay put for long.  In1882, he was put in charge of North Platte’s 4th of July show.  Bill’s Old Glory Blow-out included the hold-up of a stage coach, buffalo being hunted and wild bronco horses being ridden.  The audience was thrilled, and their response thrilled Buffalo Bill.  He foresaw that would finally be able to combine his many loves of adventure, action, heroism, history & the outdoors into a money making venture.  Less than a year later, his first Wild West Show began.


Oh how my boys would have enjoyed being in the audience on May 17, 1883, when his show opened up in Omaha, Nebraska.  To see Native Americans racing horses riding bareback.  To watch cowboys roping and riding.  These skills might still be portrayed today, but most modern rodeos probably do not have stagecoach robbery re-enactments.  Or Buffalo Bill himself galloping by shattering glass balls with a rifle that were tossed high in the air by another rider.  (He managed to shatter 87 out of 100 balls his 1st time out!)

Five “scenes” of every show:

  1. Painted Native Americans demonstrating war dances
  2. Settlers defending their “log” cabin
  3. Buffalo Bill rescuing the Deadwood Stage
  4. Pony Express riders carrying the mail
  5. Grand Finale: a large buffalo hunt

Despite the fact that this was before the true age of special effects, they managed to include stampedes, cyclones and prairie fires.

While my daughter may not have appreciated all of those antics, she would have loved watching Annie Oakley in action.  She joined the act in 1885 and stunned crowds with her ability to divide a playing card from a distance away.  Simply galloping across shooting glass balls was far too easy for her.  Instead she shot the balls looking over her shoulder, using a mirror as her guide. Her sharp shooting thrilled audiences.


Sitting Bull, a former enemy of Cody, even joined the entourage for awhile.  His promise of being given a front row seat to watch Annie Oakley’s daily shooting expertise persuaded him.  But he soon tired of the less-than-welcoming crowds who were not too certain of this “retired” Indian chief.


For a combined total of almost 30 years, the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show toured the country and even went to Europe.  They performed for Queen Victoria who had not ventured out to a theater production in 26 years, having been more secluded after the death of her husband.  She asked for a repeat performance, and the next time Bill added the kings of Denmark, Greece, Belgium and Saxony to the stagecoach part.  Along with the Prince of Wales to honor England of course.  His show was enjoyed by audiences everywhere!

While I can no longer take my children to his live show, I do hope to take them someday to Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.  They will at least be able to see his former house and part of his land, as well as to learn even more about William Cody, the man usually known only as Buffalo Bill.  But, more about him is a column for another day – he definitely lived a fascinating life.

Here are the books I researched for this topic …

Buffalo Bill Cody: Showman of the Wild West by William R. Sanford and Carl R. Green

Buffalo Bill by Nancy Robison

My favorite non-fiction book was published in 1952 and reads like a storybook.  Buffalo Bill by Ingri & Edgar Parin d-Aulaire is beautifully illustrated as well.

Buffalo Bill cover by Ingri & Edgar Parin d-Aulaire

This cover picture was copied directly from Amazon where you can still purchase the book today.

If you enjoyed learning more about Buffalo Bill, you would enjoy reading the historical fiction book entitled Unbridled Dreams by Stephanie Grace Whitson.  This fictional account of a young woman who joined the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show was what initially compelled me to want to learn more about William Cody.  Your best bet to find the book is probably your local library since it was published several years ago, although you can obtain some copies still from various places online.

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Nebraska History, Prairie Lakes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dreamin’ to be Burwell Bound

Like most little girls, I begged my parents for a horse.  Having land amounting to almost five acres, we even had enough room for an animal to roam with an acre of milo for “free” feed.  My parents repeatedly refused my request – claiming that since I did not help take care of our smaller pets (the dog and cats), I would probably also neglect the horse eventually.  I have to admit now that they were probably right.

But when I was older, my horse dream came to fruition when I excitedly invested in … a pair of cowboy boots.  For a modest amount of money, my friend’s mom gave me horse riding lessons and a few times a month, I was able to gallop across the prairie.  I know just enough now that I could possibly saddle up to get away from an outlaw.  Of course, my saddle would probably fall off less than a mile later – I never could manage to get my cinch tight enough.  After a few months of riding, I decided to hang up my hat.  As a wife and mom who lives in a city, my horse owner dreams have had to fade away.

Maybe my dream of attending an actual rodeo could come true someday though.  (As opposed to one that is indoors!)  But attending Nebraska’s Biggest Rodeo (which starts tonight!) will not be happening for us this year due to many other commitments at home. Although I have sure enjoyed looking at their online event pictures and imagining myself there.  If you are unfamiliar with what all will be taking place this week at Burwell,  you can actually have quite the rodeo education simply by visiting their site.  (Rodeo Event Descriptions.)  And if you want to see last year’s rodeo in action, you can check out this YouTube video featuring one of last year’s events: Burwell Rodeo Wild Horse Race 2012.


Tickets are still available for the Wednesday- Saturday evening events.   They range from $8.50 for kids under 12, $16.50 for adult general admission, $21.50 reserved, $26.50 box seat and only $101.50 for a skybox seat (might be cheaper to just buy a horse? 🙂 )  Other than a 3 year departure (during WWII by the direct request of the President!), this rodeo has been an annual Burwell tradition since 1921. (Burwell Rodeo History).  Here are the planned events for this year’s rodeo.

Team roping Rodeo clown Steer wrestling Mutton Bustin’
Barrel racing Jr. Steer roping Saddle bronc riding Steer wrestling
Mutton Muggin Calf roping Bareback riding Chariot racing
Wild horse racing Trick Riding Chuck wagon races Wild pony race
Bull Riding Dinner bell derby (Quilt Display) Cowboy Church

And if you have the time and the hankering to go this week-end, you may even be able to stay at an actual ranch (if they still have openings).  And you could also visit an actual outpost from the old west while in the Burwell area too!  (Fort Hartsuff)  So grab your boots and “git along little doggies!”

GW Ranch Guest House

Ranch Retreat Guesthouse

Rowse’s 1+1 Ranch

Wagner Bunkhouse and Cabins

P.S. Another Nebraska blogger actually went to the Burwell Rodeo.  Her entry on patriotism at the rodeo is definitely worth reading, so I am updating this post to include a link to her blog!  Chores and Chandeliers: National Anthem (Rodeo Style)

Categories: Accommodations, Annual Events, Sandhills | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For the Girls

Place at a Glance

Name/Location Nebraska History Museum
Website/Facebook; Nebraska History Museum on Facebook
Open hours 9 – 4:30 Monday – Friday; 1 – 4:30 Saturday &Sunday ; closed state holidays;Investigation Station: open from 1-4 daily: excellent hands-on learning room
What to Know Both set & rotating exhibits; must check large bags; no food/drink
Cost Suggested donation of $2; great Museum store – items for kids too
Parking Meters for $1/hour; Area garages: $1/hour; first hour is free
Group Tours Schedule 2 weeks to year in advance; field trip cards available; Tours
Museum Manners While there are certain parts that are interactive, much of the museum is “no touch, no climb”; parental supervision is definitely necessary
Recommended Ages Investigative Room: ages 3 and up; rest of museum: ages 6 & up

After visiting the museum, I determined that there is too much information for just one blog entry.  So to start, I thought I would just tell about two special displays currently at the Nebraska History Museum that are for girls!

Exhibit # 1

Miss America exhibit sign

When I saw this exhibit information on our Lincoln Passport page, I was determined to take my daughter there before the display was done.  Along with many other Nebraskans, I celebrated when I heard that Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan had won the Miss America Pageant in 2011.  And as more information was told about her, I was even more delighted as she seemed to be a young woman of character (and she was even homeschooled for the majority of her education!)

Miss America Display

While I have to admit that the display was smaller than I expected it to be, the information presented was very interesting.  And with the display boards being concentrated, I found that I had time to actually read the information without my kids getting overly restless.  I definitely learned a lot of information about the pageant process, as well as about Teresa’s part in it.  A Gering, Nebraska native, she was the youngest Miss America since 1937.

Miss Nebraska dress and shoe

My 6 year old girl definitely enjoyed seeing the dresses and shoes on display.  I enjoyed reading the behind the scene details.  We all enjoyed listening to her musical recordings (including her rendition of “White Water Chopped Sticks” which won her the preliminary talent award in the competition).  I also found it interesting to see her unusual hobby – you’ll have to go see the small special display.  (If you are not going to make it there before September 3rd, please e-mail me at – I can give you the details 🙂 .)  To learn more, you can visit Teresa’s own site (although from my observation, the site is still very much in progress.  She is a busy college student now!)

Note: My three boys tolerated the display and did enjoy the music.  I think it helped that the World War 2 display was directly adjacent to hers.  Since we were the only ones upstairs at the time, I let them go ahead and start looking at the World War 2 exhibit.  Everyone left happy!

At this point, we left the History Museum and went across the street to the Children’s Museum for awhile.  When we came back, the Investigative Room was open.  My kids (especially my youngest two) really enjoyed playing around in that room.  I told my daughter that I wanted her to look at the 2nd display with me.

Terri Lee dolls

Terri Lee dolls were all the rage in the late 1940’s to 1960’s.  Similar to the current American Girl dolls, she had her own wardrobe and accessories, as well as doll friends.

2 dolls + wardrobe

She began and was made for many years in the Lincoln, Nebraska area, so this was a rather large display.  Unlike Miss Nebraska, Terri Lee does have a hint of scandal.  Two of the Terri Lee factories burned down under suspicious circumstances (one in NE and one in CA).  I found that a bit intriguing, although I obviously chose not to read that part out loud to my children.

Interestingly enough, my daughter, who loves her American Girl doll, was far more interested in the Investigative Room than the dolls.  Maybe because she could play in that room and the dolls were only on display?  If I were to recreate the experience, I would arrive at 12:40 to show her the dolls, then stay and let her play in the next room.  Note: the Terri Lee dolls will be on display through September 1st, 2013.

Categories: Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Nebraska History, Panhandle, Passport Pursuit Programs | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Scoop in Nebraska

Visiting my grandparents meant one thing for meals – somewhat substantial meals for dinner (otherwise known as lunch) like roasts and light suppers (butter cheese sandwiches).  That was usually not a big a deal to me, but when my husband joined our family, that was not enough food for him.  So, after my grandparents went to bed, we were known to sneak down the hill to the Dairy Barn for something a bit more substantial.  (Didn’t want to hurt their feelings – that was plenty of food when you were in your 80’s!)  When my friend, June, also recommended the place :-), I knew that I needed to include it on the best ice cream in Nebraska list.

Well, I have to say that is the only place on the list below that I have actually frequented myself.  While I have already recommended a few places in the Lincoln area, I have not explored enough places personally in Nebraska to be able to give my complete stamp of approval.  (Although that would be a fun quest: anybody want to hire me for an ice cream tour? 🙂 )  But for now I will pass on recommendations from friends and from websites.  Quite a few of the places are actually authentic soda fountains – so not only great ice cream but also a fun environment.  Hopefully we will make it to try each one of these places someday!  (Note: any place that has been personally recommended, as opposed to rated on the internet is noted with an astrick *) If possible, I tried to link to actual restaurant sites, but many of the places are so small town that having a website has probably not occurred to them.  And those are often the best places to visit!

Frontier Trails


Arapahoe Pharmacy and Soda Fountain:* Supposedly the longest running soda fountain in Nebraska.

Lewis and Clark


Dairy Barn *(address/directions from Urban Spoon)



C & L Dairy Sweet (Link is to a Four Square Review where address & phone are included)


Soda Fountain (part of the Durham Museum)*

Ted and Wally’s (Note: on their website, you can click to their Facebook page.  They update their flavors daily – they sound delicious!)


Springfield Drug and Soda Fountain*


Zesto’s *(From Yahoo directory – seems to have seasonal hours – call first please)



Rock-Jan’s Pit BBQ & Dairy Sweet (Review from Trip Advisor) Barbecue AND ice cream?  Yes, please!

Pioneer Country


Jo-Bob’s Drive-in *(Link to Yahoo for address/directions)

Prairie Lakes

North Platte:

Pink Poodle 50’s place with food AND a soda fountain (that was an original drug store one imported from Cozad)



R.F. Goeke Variety Store

They have an old-fashioned soda fountain that was even ranked in U.S.A. Today for Top 50 best ice cream.  The link is only to the Atkinson business directory, but I did confirm that they soda fountain is definitely still there!

Emily's soda fountain

Broken Bow:

Emily’s Soda Fountain (on Facebook)

(They supposedly serve Schwan’s Ice Cream but have many soda fountain desserts available)

If you know of any other great places, please comment below or e-mail

I tried to focus primarily on originals, as opposed to chain restaurants this time!

Categories: Cornhusker Cuisine, Eating Establishments, Frontier Trails, Lewis and Clark, Metro, Panhandle, Pioneer Country, Prairie Lakes, Sandhills | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Flashback Friday: Fairmont Creamery

While I do not necessarily set my DVR to watch the show, when I get a chance, I do enjoy watching PBS’s show, History Detectives.  I love how they take one small item from history then examine its authenticity and the story behind the object or picture.  I had heard of Fairmont Creamery quite awhile ago.  When I was looking into Nebraska made items for an art project, I found that you can still buy quite a bit of advertising paraphernalia on E-bay featuring the creamery.  But, as I started looking into the company for this column, I discovered there was more to the creamery than I originally expected.  I felt almost like a history detective, but without a budget or film crew and only my computer to really use as a resource.  (So maybe not the same thing?)

Fairmont Insignia

Fairmont Insignia Graphic was found at

Anyway, the Fairmont Creamery originally began as a small part-time business in Fairmont, Nebraska.  An implement dealer and attorney started the company to help in the sale and production of poultry, eggs and butter.  The farmers and townspeople owned stock.  Primarily they produced butter.  In fact, by 1891, their daily production of butter was 7,000 pounds.  And that was with only 100 employees!  (While my kids evidently enjoy dipping their fingers in the butter container, that is not on the menu as a solo item for most people.  So probably no butter week on the blog – but it will fit into our ice cream week shortly – I promise.)  Eventually they outgrew their building, and in 1907 it changed into a doctor’s office.

Fairmont Creamery Building

According to the Nebraska State Historical Society, in the 1890s Fairmont Creamery had operations in Crete, Tobias, Friend, DeWitt, Fairbury, Geneva, Milford, and Hebron. When the corporate offices moved to Omaha in 1907, the company began to expand even more.

Ice cream was first manufactured at the Omaha plant in 1907.  Originally it was frozen by the old ice and salt method which was slow.  This gave way to freezing machines with hollow jackets through which refrigerants were mechanically circulated. By 1934, ice cream was made at nearly all plants.


See, I told you there was ice cream!  I took the above information directly from the document linked below from a Nebraska Historical Society pdf document.  This publication is extremely thorough and will tell you anything that you want to know about Fairmont Creamery.  So, please visit there if you want to learn more!

Fairmont Creamery History from Nebraska

There is still a historical marker at the site of creamery in Fairmont.  And the old creamery site is now a museum.  (Fillmore County Museum)  Note: a big thanks to my wonderful Fairmont friend, Kari, for the pictures of the building and the historical marker!

Fairmont Creamery Marker

I thought this was the end of the story.  But as I was searching, I discovered that Fairmont Creamery morphed into Fairmont Foods and expanded far beyond the dairy industry, as well as far beyond Nebraska.  Many of the buildings were of such historical significance that they have survived to one degree or another.   Some are still in use, and some are in the process of being restored.  So, if you would like to see some of the many buildings in Nebraska and across the country, here are the links.  (Disclaimer note: since I am not the author of these websites, I cannot vouch for their material, particularly the comments.  The pictures of the buildings are interesting – some of the text may not be!)

Omaha Fairmont Antiques  (includes more Fairmont History)

And here is where we leave Nebraska …

Fairmont Creamery Building in Buffalo, NY

Buffalo Creamery Redevelopment

(Abandoned) in Lawton, OK

Cleveland, Ohio (Redevelopment planned)

Detroit, Michigan (abandoned but rumored to be purchased for restoration?)

Rapid City, South Dakota

Sioux City, Iowa,  History Report

Jacksonville, Florida (see picture #6 for even more creamery explanation)

Moorhead, Minnesota Gallery  (includes a picture of the Creamery in the middle section of pictures)

The Fairmont Creamery in Moorhead, Minnesota has been changed into a retirement home.  I initially could not find the contact information for the place, so I contacted a city clerk.  She informed me that the facade of the building is still indeed the same, although the interior has obviously been remodeled.  She also mentioned that she remembered as a child having their milk delivered from the Fairmont Creamery directly to her home.  “The Fairmont” is now a part of a bigger retirement community organization, which is why I could not find their contact information as easily.  (Eventide Retirement Communities: The Fairmont)

There might be more information out there, but this what I found on my initial examination!  (And probably more information that anyone has time to investigate anyway! 🙂  )

P.S. Tomorrow we are going to look at some top places to eat ice cream around Nebraska.  If you have any suggestions, please e-mail me TODAY (Friday July 19th) at  Or add a comment at the end of tomorrow’s entry.  Thanks!

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Nebraska History, Pioneer Country | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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