Last week, Tonja and I gathered her mom, Joyce, and took a quick trip to attend the funeral of a family friend in Bertrand, Nebraska. When we left the country church after lunch, I realized we were only a couple miles from the Gosper County farmstead of Tonja's grandparents, Doris and Leroy Biesecker--Joyce's childhood home.
I enjoyed many summer vacations at the farm, where Leroy (everyone called him Tooter) taught me to start siphon tubes during irrigation season, one of the more frustrating skills I never quite mastered. The chores were completed after we enjoyed the Largest Breakfast Ever Served. We could then set out for morning of fishing at Johnson Lake. This is Tooter at the farm, in a snapshot I took when we stopped by on the way home from our honeymoon in 1973.
As we left the church last week, I couldn't resist the temptation to head down the gravel to see the old place. It is unoccupied at the moment, and like many Nebraska farmsteads, looking a little rough compared to it's better years. But the house is standing, and the barn is sturdy.
I snapped this photo of a basketball hoop on the west side, and sent it off to Joyce's youngest sibling, Tonja's uncle Gary, a recently-retired physician in High Point, NC.
Gary messaged me back in an instant: "That's been there for 60 years, must be made in America!" He also pointed out that his dad, not being particularly savvy about basketball, had installed the hoop upside down. "No problem," I replied, "just rotate the photo." The bird, however, will then be hanging from the rim at a rather odd angle.
There really is no place like Nebraska, particularly when you get off the Interstate and go back in time a few decades to revel in the simple joy of a late summer day in God's country, surrounded by sun, wind, waves of grass, and currents of memories.