Saturday, December 20, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Well, his recording Song of the Sewer was popular, but it just never quite made it big in northwest Nebraska. It's one of the few songs ever banned from KCSR Radio in Chadron. I do remember hearing the song on the station in the mid-to-late 1950s, but I also vividly recall it's being "banned" some time later.
Not a great piece of music, perhaps, but it was a snappy bit of satire that only Norton could pull off. What was all the fuss? Well, judge for yourself. Quite by accident, while surfing the web, I came across this version of Song of the Sewer.
Carney apparently professed to be nothing like Norton. I remember reading that Carney was wounded at Normandy during World War II and walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Like so many from that war, he came home and got on with his life -- and what a life it was!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Old-timers will also remember Robert “Bob” Armstrong, Armstrong’s son and a standout athlete at Chadron Prep in the 1940s and 1950. He also excelled in sports at CSC and was inducted into the Chadron State College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Bob Armstrong died last week (10/30) in Tucson, Arizona, where he and his wife, Jerry (Hirchert), made their home. He was 75.
After teaching and coaching for 10 years in Carson City, Nevada, Bob taught at the University of Arizona and then founded a computer software company. He and his wife had three daughters, Karen, Kristi, and Kathie, who also survive. They are show (left-to-right) in this 2006 photo below with Jerry and Bob, who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
The Armstrongs have been staunch supporters of Chadron State College for many years, often hosting events in their Arizona home.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
An accomplished trumpet player, it was really Hefti’s composing and arranging that won him the adoration and respect of top-flight musicians ranging from Frank Sinatra to Count Basie. He was also a conductor and worked with the likes of Doris Day, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, and Sinatra.
Without a clue to his roots, I remember playing a lot of Neal Hefti recordings on KCSR in Chadron, Nebraska in the 1950s. I often wondered if Neal was related to Paul Hefti, a Chadron banker – not an altogether wild assumption, since Hefti is a rather unusual name, and they both had Nebraska roots. I never found out. (NOTE: Paul Hefti's son, Marvin, responds that he does not believe Neal Hefti and Paul Hefti were closely related, if at all - 11/1/08)
Neal Hefti’s name graced a bevy of big band, standards, and jazz albums in those years. But probably his most popular works were the theme songs for the hit television series "The Odd Couple" and "Batman."
My favorite Hefti composition was a lumbering jazz ditty entitled Li'l Darlin’.
Neal Hefti was 85 years old.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Students from that era will remember Ron Becker as the band and choir director. Jane Becker taught English and speech at CHS.
I have vivid memories of two performances produced by the Beckers. First was James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones. The second was particularly memorable, because it involved so many students – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel! Like so many things in life, the enormous effort put into these projects paid off with some real fun and great pride in being a part of such challenging productions.
Both Ron and Jane grew up in Lincoln and met at the university. As teachers, they were popular with the students – but they were no pushovers. They expected students to apply themselves, which didn’t mean we couldn’t and didn’t have fun along the way! 1960 at Chadron was Jane's last teaching job, since the Beckers adopted a little boy, Randy, and they moved to Scottsluff.
It was nearly three decades later that I had the good fortune to cross paths again with the Beckers. It was the late 1980s in Sioux Falls, when Ron and I conspired to have members of the Sioux Empire Arts Council, which he headed, man the telephones during an on-air pledge drive for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. I was Deputy Director of the South Dakota Network in those days. With only a little coaxing on my part, Ron also agreed to serve on the Friends of South Dakota Public Broadcasting Board of Directors.
His association with SDPB transcended my eight years with the network. In addition to his many years of service in support of SDPB, Ron also served on the Board of Directors for America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), where he gained the admiration and respect of lay and professional public broadcasting people all across the country. He and I crossed paths at many public television meetings, as shown in the photo below, taken at a Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C., probably in about 1999. That's Ron on the right.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
His father, Phil Gottschalk, was publisher of that small Nebraska weekly in Rushville, which had been founded by John’s maternal grandfather, Bill Barnes. The younger Gottschalk performed a variety of duties at the weekly, including back shop work. After high school in Rushville, he went to the University of Nebraska, majoring in political science and journalism. After graduating from the University of Nebraska, Gottschalk bought the Sidney (Neb) Telegraph in 1966 from his father and later also served as Mayor of Sidney. He sold the paper in 1974 and went to work for the Omaha World-Herald in 1975 as an assistant to the president.
Reading through John Gottschalk’s community involvements and philanthropic activities takes more than a few minutes. His civic accomplishments are many and varied; he and his wife, Carmen, have even served as foster parents, caring for more than 100 infants awaiting adoption.
With declining advertising revenue and circulation figures, most major dailies in this country are struggling for their very survival. The Omaha World-Herald, under John Gottschalk’s leadership, has girded itself from many of the demons knocking at the doors of nearly all newspapers across the country and appears to be doing quite well, thank you very much.
John Gottschalk helped diversify the company, which still has the World-Herald at its core, giving it a robustness not realized by many larger papers. The World-Herald is the 53rd largest newspaper in the United States, even though it’s in the 75th largest metropolitan area.
The paper is the only major newspaper in the country that is owned by its own employees.
It still publishes both morning and afternoon editions – something that used to be routine in most cities – but has become a real rarity in the 21st century.
We’re sure that even the World-Herald is facing some tough times, but they’re faring much better than most of their counterparts, thanks largely to John Gottschalk.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
First, he retired as CEO of the Indian Health Service hospital at Pine Ridge, but that was some 18 years ago. Then he went back to school to get a teaching certificate and has taught school ever since, but he’ll retire this spring – from teaching, that is.
Leonard will likely be devoting his full effort toward fruition of a dream: Lakota Circle Village. At the core of the village will be a language school that will use immersion techniques to teach the Lakota language to children who are losing touch with their culture, largely due to the loss of their ancestral language.
I first knew Leonard as a high school student some 42 years ago in Chadron, Nebraska, where he graduated in 1958. Leonard and I played on the Cardinal football team, and I still remember my amazement at how such a quiet and soft-spoken student could be such an energetic football player. In retrospect, his pervasive high-energy, low-profile demeanor may be key to his success. Leonard and I shared a common gridiron fate: we both lost some permanent teeth in pursuit of the pigskin.
But that was likely one of the few things we had in common. Leonard was Lakota Sioux and came from South Dakota to attend high school in Chadron. Unlike the few other American Indian students I knew in our school – kids who seemed isolated and perhaps intimidated by their surroundings – Leonard Finger, as we knew him – participated in a full range of school activities and excelled academically. After he graduated and headed for college, it would be nearly three decades before out paths would cross again.
By the late 1980s, I was Deputy Director of South Dakota Public Broadcasting, and Leonard was Administrator of the Indian Health Service at Pine Ridge. He had agreed to serve on our Friends of Public Broadcasting Board of Directors. Within just a few years, I left South Dakota and Leonard finished his term on the Friends Board.
Then recently, on Good Friday, I had a good experience. I was shopping at Sam’s in Rapid City – as was Leonard – and we saw each other in the aisle. Despite the years that had gone by, we immediately recognized one another and had a short but delightful conversation. I was able to meet Leonard’s wife and one of his sons. Even during that short visit, Leonard’s vision for the Lakota Circle Village was readily apparent. Read more about it on the Lakota Village Circle web site.
Actually, that vision is becoming reality. One of the benefactors to the project is German rock superstar Peter Maffay, who has earmarked earnings from one of his music CD releases to help build the school, which is now complete. I admire Maffay for recognizing the importance of language in retaining cultural traditions. Ironically, I’ve tried to learn German as a way of connecting with my German-Russian heritage. Alas, despite earning a minor in German at college, I never had the benefit of language immersion. I have little doubt that a better knowledge of my ancestral language would help me better understand and appreciate my heritage.
Of course, the issue is more critical for the Lakota children, whose ancestors have inhabited this region of South Dakota for centuries, and the obstacles in the way of their pursuit of happiness are many.
Leonard Little Finger knows his way around the Rez…..and around the world. He has been a presenter to the United Nations Draft Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous People in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also spoken at the Bundestag (German parliament) in Bonn, Germany. Thankfully, he cherishes his roots and is committed to helping future generations know theirs. I am proud to call him a friend.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Such was the case this week, when I was searching on-line at USGenWeb and decided to take a peek at an unidentified Dawes County Nebraska file. For those of you unfamiliar with GenWeb, it consists of volunteers working together to provide Internet web sites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. The Project is non-commercial and fully committed to free access for everyone. If you've never visited their web site, check it out at http://www.usgenweb.org/
My latest serendipitous discovery was a collection of letters pertaining to one of the pioneer families of Dawes County: the Maika clan. Although I'm not certain of the relationships, I vividly remember a pair of Maika children who resided on east 2nd street in Chadron during the 1950s. I also recall my mom and dad occasionally referring to the Maika name, and I somehow learned that an earlier Maika family member had run a drugstore. Alas, where in Chadron that drugstore might have been situated, I don't know; perhaps one of our readers knows and can share that information with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chadron Centennial History 1885-1985, published by the Chadron Narrative History Project Committee in 1985, offers little information about the Maika family. However, it does refer to an early day (ca. 1906) Chadron druggist named H.F. Maika, whose establishment apparently carried some of the drugs that were the subject of questionable advertising. Cited was the example: "Easy Labor and Painless Childbirth guaranteed by the use of OSAGE PILLS. Purely vegetable and Perfectly Harmless -- Being compounded from numerous herbs and roots which have been in use among the Osage Indians for years."
If you're researching the Maika family or have an interest in early Dawes County Nebraska, you're sure to enjoy poring through the letters and information contained in this bit of research.