NORTH PLATTE, NEBRASKA
NORTH PLATTE (2,821 alt., 12,061 pop.), seat of Lincoln County, is a railroad town and trading center, lying on a long narrow delta at the forks of the North and South Platte Rivers. The city is on the boundary between central standard and mountain time. The former is used. … With its easy, informal atmosphere and way of life, North Platte has more in common with western and mountain towns than with the sedate, conservative county-seat towns of eastern Nebraska. The buildings of the business section, clustered south of the railroad tracks are mostly plain, solidly built, and unimposing. There are no traffic lights people and vehicles bustle about in unrestrained, comfortable, small-town fashion.
—Nebraska, A Guide To the Cornhusker State (WPA, 1939)
Stéphane Goin is our favorite out-of-towner. He sends this postcard from the streets of North Platte.
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Looks like the tradition of the loosening your belt after Thanksgiving Dinner goes all the way back to the Civil War! This comic sketch is from an issue of Harper’s Weekly, published on December 3, 1864 issue.
Newberry Library, folio A 5 .392 (1864), p. 784
"loblolly pine", from report upon forestry investigations of the department of agriculture, 1877-1898, 55th cong., 3d sess., h. doc. 181, no. 3813 (1899)
I read Raven by Tim Reiterman and John Jacobs this October. It’s an impressive piece of journalism. They pack in a lot in just under 600 pages: the biography of Jim Jones, the story of key members of the People’s Temple, the inner workings of the Temple, and the flow of events that took them from Indiana to California to Guyana.
Jim Jones decided to follow the ministry in 1952, and started his own church (which would grow into the People’s Temple) in 1956. The mass murder of People’s Temple members, visiting officials and press happened in late 1978.
One of the strangest thoughts that kept recurring to me as I read this book was that Jim Jones (1931-1978) reminded me of Elvis Presley (1935-1977). Which is to say, they seem to be two widely divergent variations on an American type, which for some reason was very powerful in the years between 1954 and 1978.
A childhood on the wrong side of the tracks, and a lifelong devotion to mother. Abject despair upon mother’s death. Black hair. Charisma. Deeply influenced by African American culture. Compulsive sexual exploits. Hypochondria, paranoia, dependence on drugs. Ability to hold and manipulate a crowd. Shielded from reality by inner circle. Self-sabotaging. Dead before reaching 50 years of age.
Sometimes Jim seemed to be Elvis through a dark, warped glass. Almost exact contemporaries, both influential in strong currents of 20th century American culture, and their respective deaths shocking.
Today let’s learn about the prairie chicken.