Monday, January 20, 2014

Nebraska's Own: Fred Astaire

You all know my love for Ginger Rogers, but I need to throw some extra love towards her most famous dancing partner, Fred Astaire.

Fred was born right here in my home state of Nebraska, Omaha to be exact, in 1899.  His father worked for Storz Brewery, an Omaha legend in beer (and which is currently being revitalized and made again!)  It was rumored that Fred, in the early 1920's, was a salesman for Storz in between tours of the vaudeville circuit with his sister Adele.

Nebraska Life magazine recently had an article listing the 17 most legendary Nebraskans, and our Fred was #17.  Interesting how they included Fred, but totally left out Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett, two other legendary Nebraskans!  Unfortunately, the article is not available online.  But another interesting tidbit it included was the address of Fred's birthplace!  2326 South 10th Street in Omaha.  So of course I went to Google maps and used streetview to look at it, and took a screen shot of it to share here. :)  I rather doubt the current inhabitents know or care that this was the birthplace of a famous Hollywood legend (I can imagine them saying, "Fred who?"), but it would be nice to have a plaque on the house indicating it, like the house in Missouri indicating Ginger's birthplace.  But we can't have everything, can we?  The next time I'm in Omaha, I'm definitely scoping this out.

Fred Astaire's birthplace, Omaha, NE

Now I admit that I've never read his autobiography, Steps In Time, so I don't know if any of his relatives and descendents still have any ties to Omaha.  But wouldn't it be cool if they did?  Well, cool to me, as a lifelong Nebraskan. :)

Enjoy some Fred and Ginger, in Cheek To Cheek from Top Hat:

and a more uptempo gem from Damsel In Distress:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

History Up In Smoke

I am sharing this from another blog, Ken at Passion for the Past, regarding a situation in North Carolina.

In brief, a whole roomful of old historical documents, some dating back to 1840, were found in a North Carolina courthouse and in the process of trying to archive and save the documents, some government agency swept in and destroyed everything.  Legal records, land titles, photographs, personal correspondence, everything was put into the county incinerator and obliterated.

Read more about it here:

As a lover of history, this makes me sick!  Some may argue that everything in that room was useless, had been hidden in the basement for decades without anyone knowing about them, so why care if they're destroyed?  Here's why we should care:  it's a record of our past.  If no records of the past exist, there is no way to learn about it.

It was hinted that the records were destroyed intentionally in order to save present day prominent people embarrassment over how they acquired their family wealth.  Reconstruction and carpetbaggers, anyone?  Even if that is the case, what a stupid, flimsy excuse to destroy history.  Even our less than salubrious past should be preserved, to study and learn from......and hopefully not repeat.  It's why, in the debate in Europe over whether to continue preserving the Nazi concentration camps or tear them down, I'm in favor of keeping them.  It is a painful, stark reminder of how evil humans can be.....and we frequently need to be reminded of that, lest we allow something so evil to occur again.  It unfortunately does still happen, look at what is going on in Sudan and other parts of Africa these days.  All the more reason why we need to look to the past, in order to move toward the future.

And those wealthy, prominent, politically-connected folks who want to pretend that their family wealth didn't come from scam artists and rascals?  Get over it, own up to it, and humbly apologize for your ancestors' actions.  Donate some money to a worthy cause, and keep your nose clean going forward.

Of course none of this will be covered in the news, and the public outrcry is nonexistent, even at the local level.  We're all too concerned about our new smartphones or who will be picked on The Bachelor to care about a bunch of old moldy papers that were burned up.  And that is a shame.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 Goals

I'm late in getting up a "New Years Resolutions" list as it seems everyone did theirs last week.  :)  But that's OK.  I actually hate the term "resolution" because it sounds like something you have to go to court over.

Now....what in the world do I want to work on this year?  Here's some thoughts:

  1. Health.  No fad diets or extreme workouts, thank you very much.  My focus is on health, not weight.  I'm concentrating right now on incorporating more fresh fruit and vegetables into my diet, eating a wide variety of things, and watching portion sizes.  Also, getting more exercise, and better sleep (always elusive).  If I lose weight as a result, yay!  In fact, I already have.....six pounds over the last two months.  But my goal is overall improved health, for the long term.  I'll expound on this on a later post.

  2. Reaching Out.  I'm very introverted by nature.  Not a bad thing per say, but it does cause me to miss out on a lot life has to offer.  I'd like to work on stepping outside my comfort zone and connecting with people more, and try new things.  One thing I did last spring that has helped me start on this path:  a return to singing in a choir.  I was scared stiff, but I'm so glad I did it!

  3. No Fear.  I'm tired of letting fear prevent me from going forward in life.  Whether it's fear of failure, or of being judged, or a fear of investing a lot of myself into something to find out it's not for me (wasted effort), it's time to get over myself.  All of those "Someday, I'll do this (insert activity here)" wishes are lined up and ready to be explored, because Someday is here.  I'm not getting any younger, after all.
Just those three things cover a lot of areas, baby.  Here's to 2014, and what a new year, and a new outlook on life, have to offer. :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Well, Hello 2014!

It's almost been one entire year since I've posted anything.  *hangs head in shame*

No worries though, I feel the need to jump back into blogging.  Really!  I mean it.  Beware.  :)

I'm going to approach things differently this time, however, which will make me more inclined to write on a regular basis.  Instead of trying to copy other people, or feeling pressured to stick with one topic only, I'm going to ignore all of that and write about whatever I want, when I want.

Instead of writing for other people, hoping to attract readers or comments, I'm going to write for myself, and if anyone likes it, great!  If not, oh well.

I've lived my life far too long overly pre-occupied with what other people think of me.....and I want that to change.  2014 is going to be a year that I start to accept myself as who I am, not as who I think other people want me to be.

I hope anyone still following has had a happy new year so far.....what have ya'll been up to?  :)