Archive

Archive for the ‘Nebraska Jewish Historical Society’ Category

Life Itself XII: Omaha History Stories


Life Itself XII:

Omaha History Stories

Cathy Hughes proves you can come home again

https://leoadambiga.com/2018/06/28/cathy-hughes-pro…-come-home-again

Coming home is sweet for media giant Cathy Hughes

https://leoadambiga.com/2018/06/05/coming-home-is-s…ant-cathy-hughes

North Omaha rupture at center of PlayFest drama

https://leoadambiga.com/2018/04/30/north-omaha-rupt…f-playfest-drama/

John Knicely: A Broadcast Journalism Career Five Decades Strong

https://leoadambiga.com/2018/02/26/john-knicely-a-l…e-decades-strong/

Dundee Theater: Return engagement for the ages

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/10/28/dundee-theater-r…ent-for-the-ages

 

 

The Urban League movement lives strong in Omaha

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/11/17/the-urban-league…-strong-in-omaha/

Native Omaha Days: A Homecoming Like No Other

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/08/11/native-omaha-day…ng-like-no-other

Brenda Council: A public servant’s life

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/06/26/brenda-council-a…ic-servants-life

South Omaha Museum: A melting pot magic city gets its own museum

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/04/13/a-melting-pot-ma…s-its-own-museum

Mural project celebrates mosaic of South Omaha culture

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/07/19/mural-project-ce…th-omaha-culture/

 

One Hundred Years Strong: Bryant-Fisher Family Reunion

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/06/23/100-years-strong

Baseball and Soul Food at Omaha Rockets Kanteen

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/06/23/baseball-and-soul-food/

In their own words – The Greatest Generation on World War II

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/05/02/in-their-own-wor…-on-world-war-ii/

The tail-gunner’s grandson: Ben Drickey revisits World War II experiences on foot and film

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/05/02/the-tail-gunners…on-foot-and-film

Love affair with Afghanistan and international studies affords Tom Gouttierre world view like few others

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/02/21/love-affair-with…-like-few-others/

Father Ken Vavrina: Crossing Bridges

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/10/29/father-ken-vavri…e-serving-others/

Omaha Children’s Museum all grown up at 40: Celebrating four decades of letting children’s imagination run free

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/05/07/omaha-childrens-…ination-run-free/

Eighty years and counting:

History in the making at the Durham Museum

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/08/31/eighty-years-and…he-durham-museum

Durham Museum to celebrate 40-and-40: Forty years as train station and four decades as museum

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/03/04/durham-museum-to…ecades-as-museum

IMG_3842

 

“Nebraska Methodist College at 125: Scaling New Heights”

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/09/15/nebraska-methodi…ling-new-heights

Omaha history salvager Frank Horejsi:

Dream calls for warehouse to become a museum

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/03/11/omaha-history-sa…-become-a-museum

North’s Star: Gene Haynes builds legacy as education leader with Omaha Public Schools and North High School

https://leoadambiga.com/2014/12/02/norths-star-gene…orth-high-school/

Alone or together, Omaha power couple Vic Gutman and Roberta Wilhelm give back to the community

https://leoadambiga.com/2014/09/29/alone-or-togethe…to-the-community

Creative couple: Bob and Connie Spittler and their shared creative life 60 years in the making

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/12/23/bob-and-connie-s…rs-in-the-making/

David Corbin and Josie Metal-Corbin: Moving Right Along

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/07/03/moving-right-alo…wn-in-retirement/

Ben and Freddie Gray: North Omaha Power Couple

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/07/13/gray-matters-ben…hways-to-success/

Omaha’s old lion of philanthropy Dick Holland slowing down but still roaring and challenging the status quo

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/12/04/omahas-old-lion-…g-the-status-quo

Ed Poindexter and David Rice in 1970, North Omaha, Nebraska

 

Crime and punishment questions still surround 1970 killing that sent Omaha Two to life in prison

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/03/30/crime-and-punish…o-life-in-prison/

North Omaha: Voices and Visions for Change

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/02/29/north-omaha-voic…sions-for-change

Two Part Series:

After Decades of Walking Behind to Freedom, Omaha’s African-American Community Tries Picking Up the Pace Through Self-Empowered Networking

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/02/13/two-part-series-…wered-networking

Mike Green and Dick Davis: Lifetime Friends, Former Backfield Mates, Now Entrepreneurs

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/08/20/lifetime-friends…-black-citizenry/

Two families suffer Omaha’s segregation and waken the conscience of a nation

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/11/09/my-newest-cover-…ence-of-a-nation/

When New Horizons Dawned for African-Americans Seeking Homes in Omaha

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/01/17/when-new-horizon…ericans-in-omaha

South Omaha stories on tap for free PlayFest show; Great Plains Theatre Conference’s Neighborhood Tapestries returns to south side

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/05/06/south-omaha-stor…o-the-south-side/

Image result for omaha community playhouse

 

Celebrating 90 years, the Omaha Community Playhouse takes seriously its community theater mission

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/05/03/omaha-community-…-theater-mission

Playwright turned history detective Max Sparber turns identity search inward

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/02/07/playwright-turne…ty-search-inward

Jim Trebbien: Lifelong love affair with food led to distinguished culinary arts education career at Metropolitan Community College

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/03/02/culinary-artist-…ommunity-college

The Artist in the Mill: Linda Meigs brings agriculture, history and art together at Florence Mill

https://leoadambiga.com/2014/08/01/linda-meigs-brin…at-florence-mill

 

Patrick Drickey: Golf Shots

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/05/golf-shots-pat-d…eat-golf-courses/

Nancy Kirk: Fabric and Faith

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/10/21/nancy-kirk-arts-…erfaith-champion/

Edith Buis: A Life Immersed in Art

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/11/eddith-buis-a-life-immersed-in-art

Life comes full circle for singer Carol Rogers

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/08/28/life-comes-full-…ger-carol-rogers

Goin’ down the Lincoln Highway with Omaha music guru Nils Anders Erickson

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/10/01/goin-down-the-li…-anders-erickson

 

Omaha’s Old Market: 

History, stories, places, personalities, characters

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/06/19/omahas-old-marke…ities-characters/

The X-Men Weigh-In on Designing a New Omaha

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/25/the-x-men-weigh-…ning-a-new-omaha

Designing Woman: Connie Spellman Helps Shape a New Omaha Through Omaha By Design

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/12/13/designing-woman-…-omaha-by-design

Play considers Northside black history through eyes of Omaha Star publisher Mildred Bown

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/04/29/play-considers-n…-of-mildred-bown

Mike Saklar: Whatsoever You Do to the Least of My Brothers

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/01/whatsoever-you-d…t-you-do-unto-me/

Teela Mickles: Nurturing One Lost Soul at a Time

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/29/nurturing-one-lo…-back-to-society/

 

 

Kent Bellows: Soul in Motion

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/09/21/kent-bellows-soul-in-motion/

Kent Bellows legacy lives on

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/10/13/bellows-legacy-lives-on

Young artist steps out of the shadows of towering presence in his life

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/09/03/a-young-artist-s…ence-in-his-life

Exhibit by photographer Jim Krantz and his artist grandfather, the late David Bialac engages in art conversation through the generations

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/10/28/photographer-jim…-the-generations/

Book explores University of Nebraska at Omaha’s rich history

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/08/02/book-explores-un…has-rich-history/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A brief history of Omaha’s civil rights struggle distilled in black and white by photographer Rudy Smith

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/05/02/a-brief-history-…apher-rudy-smit

Rich music history long untold revealed and celebrated by Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/07/02/a-rich-music-his…sic-hall-of-fame/

 

The History Man, Gary Kastrick, and his Project OMAHA lose home base

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/10/03/gary-kastricks-p…es-its-home-base

Omahans recall historic 1963 march on Washington

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/08/12/omahans-recall-h…ch-on-washington

Great Migration Stories: For African Americans who left the South for Omaha, the specter of down home is never far away

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/07/30/great-migration-…s-never-far-away

THE GREAT MIGRATION: WHEREVER PEOPLE MOVE, HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/05/07/the-great-migrat…ere-the-heart-is

CIVIL RIGHTS: STANDING UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/05/07/civil-rights-sta…ake-a-difference/

The Omaha Star | by National Register

 

The Omaha Star celebrates 75 years of black woman legacy

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/04/11/the-omaha-star-c…ack-woman-legacy

Marguerita Washington:

The woman behind the Star that never sets

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/02/marguerita-washi…-that-never-sets

Omaha World-Herald columnist Mike Kelly:

A storyteller for all seasons

https://leoadambiga.com/2014/04/02/omaha-world-hera…-for-all-seasons

Bob Hoig’s unintended entree into journalism leads to career six decades strong

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/01/25/bob-hoigs-uninte…cades-strong-now

Omaha Fashion Past

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/02/04/omaha-fashion-past

Theater-Fashion Maven Elaine Jabenis

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/04/theater-fashion-…n-elaine-jabenis

Timeless Fashion Illustrator Mary Mitchell: Her Work Illustrating Three Decades of Style Now Subject of New Book and Exhibition

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/01/07/timeless-fashion…k-and-exhibition

 

From the Archives: Warren Francke – A passion for journalism, teaching and life

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/11/from-the-archive…eaching-and-life/

Documentary considers Omaha’s changing face since World War II

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/08/15/documentary-cons…nce-world-war-ii/

Omaha Community Foundation project assesses the Omaha landscape with the goal of affecting needed change

https://leoadambiga.com/2017/05/10/omaha-community-…ng-needed-change/

Omaha Community Foundation:

A Giving Connection Serving Those Who Serve

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/09/30/omaha-community-…-those-who-serve

Everything old newly restored again at historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Omaha

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/07/15/everything-old-i…-church-in-omaha

photo

Remembering Omaha Old Market original, fruit and vegetable peddler Joe Vitale

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/19/in-memory-of-a-o…ddler-joe-vitale

From the Archives: Ode to the Omaha Stockyards

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/14/from-the-archive…omaha-stockyards

Last days and halcyon times of the Omaha Stockyards remembered

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/02/the-last-days-an…yards-remembered/

“Memories of the Jewish Midwest: Mom and Pop Grocery Stores, Omaha, Lincoln, Greater Nebraska and Southwest Iowa”

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/12/12/memories-of-the-…southwest-iowa-2/

 

Retired Omaha World-Herald military affairs newsman Howard Silber: War veteran, reporter, raconteur, bon vi vant, globetrotter

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/10/06/retired-omaha-wo…nt-globe-trotter

From the Archives: Former Omaha television photojournalist Don Chapman’s adventures in imagemaking keep him on the move

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/09/29/from-the-archive…-him-on-the-move

Omaha’s KVNO 90.7 FM turns 40: Commercial-free public radio station serves the community all classical music and local news

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/02/11/omahas-kvno-90-7…ent-set-it-apart

Nancy Bounds, Timeless Arbiter of Fashion Beauty, Glamour, Poise

http://leoadambiga.com/2012/02/04/nancy-bounds-a-t…ty-glamour-poise

Charles Jones: Looking Homeward

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/03/looking-homeward/

Back in the Day:

Native Omaha Days is reunion, homecoming, heritage celebration and party all in one

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/06/11/back-in-the-day-…party-all-in-one

Native Omaha Days: A Black is Beautiful celebration, now, and all the days gone by

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/07/04/native-omaha-day…the-days-gone-by

The Ties that Bind:

One family’s celebration of Native Omaha Days

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/06/11/the-ties-that-bi…ative-omaha-days

photo

photo by Cyclops-Optic (Jack David Hubbell)

My Brother’s Keeper, The competitive drive MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson’s older brother, Josh, instilled in him (from my Omaha Black Sports Legends series, Out to Win: The Roots of Greatness)

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/30/my-brothers-keep…instilled-in-him

Luigi’s Legacy, The Late Omaha Jazz Artist Luigi Waites Fondly Remembered

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/07/18/luigis-legacy-th…ondly-remembered/

Carole Woods Harris Makes a Habit of Breaking Barriers for Black Women in Business and Politics

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/04/17/carole-woods-har…ess-and-politics

By land, by sea, by air, Omaha Jewish veterans performed far-flung wartime duties

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/05/22/by-land-by-sea-b…g-wartime-duties

Omaha’s Tuskegee Airmen

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/18/the-tuskegee-airmen

Donovan Ketzler: Last of the Rough Riders

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/18/last-of-the-rough-riders/

AppleMark

Warren Buffett, left, and Stan Lipsey at the Omaha Sun in the 1970s.

 

An Omaha legacy ends, Wesley House Community Center shutters after 139 years — New use for site unknown

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/05/21/an-omaha-legacy-…for-site-unknown

Sun reflection: Revisiting the Omaha Sun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning expose of Boys Town

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/04/28/sun-reflection-r…ose-on-boys-town/

Burden of Dreams:

The trials of Omaha’s Black Museum

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/12/14/burden-of-dreams…a’s-black-museum

Long and winding saga of Great Plains Black History Museum takes new turn

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/12/14/long-and-winding…kes-a-new-turn-2/

Coloring History:

A long, hard road for UNO Black Studies

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/25/coloring-history…no-black-studies

 

Omaha’s Monty Ross talks about making history with Spike Lee

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/09/06/monty-ross-talks…-with-since-1981/

Radio One queen Cathy Hughes rules by keeping it real: Native Omahan created Urban Radio format

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/29/radio-one-queen-…-keeping-it-real/

Show goes on at Omaha Community Playhouse, where Henry Fonda and Dorothy McGuire got their start

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/04/the-show-goes-on

Omaha’s Grand Old Lady, The Orpheum Theater

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/02/omahas-grand-old…-orpheum-theater

Magical mystery tour of Omaha’s Magic Theatre, a Megan Terry and Jo Ann Schmidman production

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/19/the-magical-myst…idman-production

Nancy Duncan: Her final story

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/09/her-final-story

From the Archives: Nancy Duncan’s journey to storytelling took circuitous route

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/04/01/from-the-archive…circutious-route

Bertha’s Battle: Bertha Calloway, the Grand Lady of Lake Street, struggles to keep the Great Plains Black History Museum afloat

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/11/berthas-battle

Requiem for a Heavyweight, the Ron Stander Story

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/31/requiem-for-a-heavyweight

This version of Simon Says positions Omaha Steaks as food service juggernaut

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/15/this-version-of-…rvice-juggernaut

Bedrock values at core of four-generation All Makes Office Furniture Company

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/17/bedrock-values-a…urniture-company/

Customer-first philosophy makes family-owned Kohll’s Pharmacy and Homecare stand out from the crowd

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/18/customer-first-p…t-from-the-crowd

Altman on Altman: A look at the late American auteur Robert Altman through the eyes of his grandson, indie Omaha filmmaker Dana Altman, and other cinephiles

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/18/altman-on-altman

A Contrary Path to Social Justice: The De Porres Club and the fight for equality in Omaha

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/01/a-contrary-path-…quality-in-omaha

University of Nebraska at Omaha Wrestling dynasty built on tide of social change

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/30/uno-wrestling-dy…of-social-change

Academy Award-nominated documentary “A Time for Burning” captured church and community struggle with racism

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/12/15/a-time-for-burni…ggle-with-racism

When Omaha’s North 24th Street brought together Jews and Blacks in a melting pot marketplace

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/30/when-omahas-nort…-that-is-no-more

Filmmaker Alexander Payne and his father George remember the family’s Virginia Cafe

https://leoadambiga.com/2018/04/01/filmmaker-alexan…ys-virginia-cafe/

Cover of

Billy Melton served with Omaha’s “Sweet Sixteen” in the all black 530th Quartermaster Battalion

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/30/omahas-sweet-six…master-battalion

In her 101 years, ex-vaudeville dancer Maude Wangberg has lived a whirl of splendor

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/02/in-her-101-years…hirl-of-splendor/

The Brandeis Story:

Great Plains family-owned department store empire

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/07/the-brandeis-sto…the-great-plains

In Memoriam: George Eisenberg

https://leoadambiga.com/2018/03/27/in-memoriam-george-eisenberg

 

 

Charles Hall’s Fair Deal Cafe

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/05/11/charles-halls-fair-deal-cafe

Deadeye Marcus “Mac” McGee still a straight shooter at 100

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/03/15/deadeye-marcus-m…t-shooter-at-100

The series and the stadium: CWS and Rosenblatt are home to the Boys of Summer

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/06/25/the-series-and-t…e-boys-of-summer/

 

A Rosenblatt Tribute

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/19/a-rosenblatt-tribute

 

El Puente: Attempting to bridge divide between grassroots community and the system

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/07/22/el-puente-attemp…y-and-the-system/

Rabbi Azriel: Legacy as social progressive and interfaith champion secure

https://leoadambiga.com/2014/05/15/rabbi-azriel-leg…-champion-secure

Nebraska’s Changing Face; UNO’s Changing Face

https://leoadambiga.com/2014/03/18/nebraskas-changi…os-changing-face

Good Shepherds of North Omaha:

Ministers and Churches Making a Difference in Area of Great Need

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/07/04/the-shepherds-of…ea-of-great-need

When Rosenblatt was Municipal Stadium. At the first game, from left: Steve Rosenblatt; Rex Barney; Bob Hall, owner of the Omaha Cardinals; Duce Belford, Brooklyn Dodgers scout and Creighton athletic director; Richie Ashburn, a native of Tilden, Neb.; Johnny Rosenblatt; and Johnny Hopp of Hastings, Neb.:

©Omaha World-Herald

When Rosenblatt was Municipal Stadium. At the first game, from left: Steve Rosenblatt; Rex Barney; Bob Hall, owner of the Omaha Cardinals; Duce Belford, Brooklyn Dodgers scout and Creighton athletic director; Richie Ashburn, a native of Tilden, Neb.; Johnny Rosenblatt; and Johnny Hopp of Hastings, Neb.

 

Art imitates life for “Having Our Say” stars, sisters

Camille Metoyer Moten and Lanette Metoyer Moore, and their brother Ray Metoyer

https://leoadambiga.com/2014/02/05/art-imitates-lif…ther-ray-metoyer

Brenda Allen’s real life ccuntry music drama took her from Nebraska to Vietnam to Vegas

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/06/01/brenda-allens-re…vietnam-to-vegas

Ex-reporter Eileen Wirth pens book on Nebraska women in journalism and their leap from society page to front page

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/03/22/ex-reporter-eile…ge-to-front-page

Documentary shines light on civil rights powerbroker Whitney Young: Producer Bonnie Boswell to discuss film and Young

https://leoadambiga.com/2013/03/21/documentary-shin…e-film-and-young/

Free Radical Ernie Chambers subject of new biography by author Tekla Agbala Ali Johnson

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/12/05/free-radical-ern…bala-ali-johnson

Creighton College of Business anchored in pioneering entrepreneurial spirit and Jesuit philosophy

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/08/19/creighton-colleg…esuit-philosophy

Gender equity in sports has come a long way, baby; Title IX activists-advocates who fought for change see much progress and the need for more

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/11/gender-equity-in…he-need-for-more/

One Helluva Broad: Mary Galligan Cornett

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/06/09/one-helluva-broa…galligan-cornett

When a building isn’t just a building:

LaFern Willams South YMCA facelift reinvigorates community

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/08/03/when-a-building-…-just-a-buildin

 

 

Carolina Quezada leading rebound of Latino Center of the Midlands

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/05/03/carolina-quezada…-of-the-midlands

Allan Noddle’s food industry adventures show him the world

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/04/28/allan-noddles-ad…ow-him-the-world

Devotees hold fast to the Latin rite

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/15/devotees-hold-fa…o-the-latin-rite/ 

 

Steve Rosenblatt: A legacy of community service, political ambition and baseball adoration

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/04/27/steve-rosenblatt…seball-adoration

From the Archives:

Peony Park not just an amusement playground, but a multi-use events facility

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/04/08/from-the-archive…-events-facility

Making the case for a Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/03/27/making-the-case-…rts-hall-of-fame

El Museo Latino opened as Midwest’s first Latino art and history museum-cultural center

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/06/14/el-museo-latino-…r-in-the-midwest/

The Garcia Girls

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/08/06/the-garcia-girls

South Omaha’s Jim Ramirez: A Man of the People

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/01/jim-ramirez-a-man-of-the-people

Community-builders Jose and Linda Garcia Devote Themselves to a Life Promoting Latino Art, Culture, History

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/09/30/community-builde…-culture-history/

Jose and Linda Garcia find new outlet for their magnificent obsession in the Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/03/25/jose-and-linda-g…-of-the-midlands/

Parween Arghandaywal pronounces words during English class at the University of Nebraska Omaha for visiting Afghan teachers in 2002. (Omaha World-Herald Photo by Bill Batson, used by permission)

Parween Arghandaywal pronounces words during English class at the University of Nebraska Omaha for visiting Afghan teachers in 2002. (©Omaha World-Herald Photo by Bill Batson)

Afghan women arrived in Omaha under the sponsorship of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Saleemah, a teacher from Kabul and wearing a scarf is hugged by Masuma Basheer, an employee of America West Airlines in Omaha and a formerly from Afghanistan. (Omaha World-Herald photo by Bill Batson, used by permission)

Afghan women arrived in Omaha under the sponsorship of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Saleemah, a teacher from Kabul and wearing a scarf is hugged by Masuma Basheer, an employee of America West Airlines in Omaha and a formerly from Afghanistan. (©Omaha World-Herald photo by Bill Batson)

tom-karzai-at-uno-reduced

Tom Gouttierre conferring UNO honorary status on Hamid Karzai during the then-Afghan president’s visit to Omaha

UNO Center for Afghanistan Studies plays role in multi-national efforts to restore Afghan educational system

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/12/25/uno-center-for-a…ucational-system

UNO Afghanistan Teacher Education Project trains women educators from the embattled nation

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/12/20/uno-afghanistan-…embattled-nation/

The enchanted life of Florence Taminosian Young, daughter of a whirling dervish

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/12/10/the-enchanted-li…whirling-dervish

Louise Abrahamson’s legacy of giving finds perfect fit at The Clothesline, the Boys Town thrift store the octogenarian founded and still runs

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/12/05/louise-abrahamso…uns-at-boys-town

Shirley Goldstein: Cream of the Crop – one woman’s remarkable journey in the Free Soviet Jewry movement

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/09/05/shirley-goldstei…t-jewry-movement

An Open Invitation: Rev. Tom Fangman Engages All Who Seek or Need at Sacred Heart Catholic Church

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/01/09/an-open-invitati…-catholic-church

The Sweet Sounds of Sacred Heart’s Freedom Choir

https://leoadambiga.com/2015/03/10/the-sweet-sounds…ts-freedom-choir

Salem’s Voices of Victory Gospel Choir Gets Justified with the Lord

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/07/salems-voices-of…ed-with-the-lord

Voices of Victory Mass Choir of the Salem Baptist Church CD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After steep decline, the Wesley House rises under Paul Bryant to become youth academy of excellence in the inner city

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/08/27/after-a-steep-de…n-the-inner-city

Song girl Ann Ronell

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/08/19/song-girl-ann-ronell/

A Family Thing: Bryant-Fisher Family Reunion

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/08/04/a-family-thing-b…r-family-reunion

Rev. Everett Reynolds Gave Voice to the Voiceless

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/07/18/rev-everett-reyn…to-the-voiceless

From the Archives: Minister makes no concession to retirement, plans busy travel, filmmaking schedule

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/04/01/from-the-archive…mmaking-schedule

From the Archives: Golden Boy Dick Mueller of Omaha leads Firehouse Theatre revival

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/09/23/from-the-archive…-theatre-revival/

 

Requiem for a Dynasty: UNO Wrestling

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/07/28/requiem-for-a-dy…ville-university/

UNO wrestling dynasty built on tide of social change

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/03/17/uno-wrestling-dy…-social-change-2/

Image result for don benning omaha uno

 

Magazine and mission founded on spirit of giving: Metro Magazine publisher Andy Hoig celebrates philanthropy

https://leoadambiga.com/2011/03/06/a-magazine-and-a…tes-philanthropy/

Lucile’s Old Market, Mother Hubbard magnificent obsession: From one eccentric to another – Mary Thompson on her late mother Lucile Schaaf

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/11/28/luciles-old-market/

Finding Forefathers: Lincoln Motion Picture Company Film Festival gives nod to past and offers glimpse of future

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/11/20/finding-forefath…limpse-of-future

Freedom riders: A get on the bus inauguration diary

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/10/21/get-on-the-bus-a…-ride-to-freedom

Joan Micklin Silver: Maverick filmmaker helped shape American independent film scene and opened doors for women directors

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/10/10/joan-micklin-sil…-women-directors

Joan Micklin Silver: Shattering cinema’s glass ceiling

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/18/shattering-cinemas-glass-ceiling

Sam Cooper’s freedom road

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/09/07/sam-cooper’s-freedom-road/

Man on fire: Activist Ben Gray’s flame burns bright

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/09/02/ben-gray-man-on-fire

Two blended houses of worship desegregate Sunday: Episcopal Church of the Resurrection and New Life Presbyterian are houses undivided

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/30/two-blended-hous…houses-unidvided

Hidden In plain view: Rudy Smith’s camera and memory fix on critical time in struggle for equality

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/29/hidden-in-plain-…gle-for-equality/

Isabella Threlkeld’s lifetime pursuit of art and ideas yields an uncommon life

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/04/isabella-threlke…an-uncommon-life/

Men of Science

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/08/02/men-of-science/

Blacks of Distinction

https://leoadambiga.com/2016/02/18/blacks-of-distinction-2

The Myers Legacy of Caring and Community

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/07/11/the-myers-legacy…ng-and-community

Cool Cat Billy and the Sportin’ Life

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/07/01/sportin-life

Art Missionaries, Bob and Roberta Rogers and their Gallery 72

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/19/art-missionaries

Get your jitney on: August Wilson play “Jitney” at the John Beasley Theater resonates with cast and crew

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/18/get-your-jitney-on

Puttin’ On the Ritz: Billy Melton and the crew Rrcall the Ritz Cab Co.

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/18/puttin-on-the-ritz

A force of nature named Evie:

Still a maverick social justice advocate at 100

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/16/a-force-of-natur…e-advocate-at-99

The Storz Brewery
The building at 1807 N. 16th St., which housed the operation until it closed in 1972. It included a hospitality room patterned after a brew house called “The Frontier Room” and a hunting lodge-style room adorned with the stuffed heads of big game called “The Trophy Room.”
THE WORLD-HERALD

 

 

The Storz Saga: A Family Dynasty – Their Mansion, the Brewery that Built It, the Man Who Loved It, a Legacy of Giving, the Loss of a Dream

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/15/the-storz-saga-a…-loss-of-a-dream

The Magnificent Obsession of Art Storz Jr., the Old Man and the Mansion

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/15/the-magnificent-…-and-the-mansion

Gospel playwright Llana Smith enjoys her Big Mama’s time

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/07/gospel-playwrigh…r-big-mamas-time

Doug Marr, Diner Theater and keeping the faith

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/06/doug-marr-keeping-the-faith

When We Were Kings: A Vintage Pro Wrestling Story

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/04/when-we-were-kin…-wrestling-story

RIP Preston Love Sr., 1921-2004. He Played at Everything

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/03/preston-love-192…ed-at-everything/

Preston Love: His voice will not be stilled

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/03/preston-love-his…l-not-be-stilled

The Smooth Jazz Stylings of Mr. Saturday Night, Preston Love Sr.

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/03/mr-saturday-night/

North Omaha champion Frank Brown fights the good fight

https://leoadambiga.com/2012/01/15/north-omaha-cham…s-the-good-fight

John and Pegge Hlavacek’s globe-trotting adventures as foreign correspondents

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/06/02/john-and-pegge-h…n-correspondents

 

 

When Boys Town became the center of the film world

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/31/when-boys-town-b…f-the-film-world/

Flanagan-Monsky example of social justice and interfaith harmony still shows the way seven decades later

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/31/flanagan-monsky-…y-60-years-later

Rich Boys Town sports legacy recalled

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/31/rich-boys-town-s…-legacy-recalled/

Winners Circle: Couple’s journey of self-discovery ends up helping thousands of at-risk kids through early intervention educational program

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/31/couples-journey-…-of-at-risk-kids

Otis Twelve’s Radio Days

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/31/otis-twelves-radio-days/

Thomas Gouttierre: In Search of a Lost Dream, An American’s Afghan Odyssey

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/05/19/in-search-of-a-l…s-afghan-odyssey

Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barber Shop:

We Cut Heads and Broaden Minds, Too

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/29/goodwins-spencer…roaden-minds-too/

Now Wasn’t That a Time? Helen Jones Woods and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/04/29/17

Black Women in Music

https://leoadambiga.com/2010/07/11/black-women-in-music

Advertisements

Life Itself V: Jewish-themed and related stories from 1998-2018


Life Itself V:
Jewish-themed and related stories from 1998-2018
Holocaust/War
Milton Kleinberg: Omaha resident who survived little-known chapter of Holocaust history releases new edition of memoir
Art trumps hate: 
‘Brundinar’ children’s opera survives as defiant testament from the Holocaust
Leo Adam Biga’s survivor-rescuer stories featured on Institute for Holocaust Education website
A not-so-average Joe tells his Holocaust story of survival
Holocaust rescue mission undertaken by immigrant Nebraskan comes to light: 
How David Kaufmann saved hundreds of family members from Nazi Germany  

Holocaust Survivor's Personal Story

 
Kitty Williams finally tells her Holocaust survivor tale
The Artful Dodger: Lou Leviticus survived the Holocaust as an escape artist
Walter Reed:
Former hidden child survives Holocaust to fight Nazis as American GI
Piecing together a lost past: The Fred Kader story
The Hidden Child revealed: 
Marcel Frydman, Fred Kader, Tom Jaeger share childhood survival stories in gathering like no other
Sisters of the Shoah:
Three survivor tales, three golden fates, three iron wills
Lola’s story: Out of the ashes, destined to live
Holocaust survivor Helena Tichauer: Destiny’s child
Bea Karp: Holocaust survivor feels obligation to share painful memories
Rescuer curriculum gives students new perspective on the Holocaust
Ben Nachman remembered heroes of the Holocaust
Bringing to light hidden heroes of the Holocaust 
Ben Nachman’s mission
Ben Nachman:
At work in the fields of the righteous
By land, by sea, by air, Omaha Jewish veterans  performed far-flung wartime duties

Jewish Life in Omaha and Lincoln: A Photographic History

Social Justice/Community
Abe Sass: A mensch for all seasons
Norman Krivosha’s life in law
Steve Rosenblatt: 
A legacy of community service, political ambition and baseball adoration
Leo Greenbaum is collector of collectors ofJewishArtifacts at YIVO Institute 
Louise Abrahamson’s legacy of giving finds perfect fit at The Clothesline, the Boys Town thrift store the octogenarian founded and still runs
The life and times of scientist, soldier and Zionist Sol Bloom
Shirley Goldstein: Cream of the Crop
One woman’s remarkable journey in the Free Soviet Jewry movement
Sam Cooper’s freedom road
Retired Omaha World-Herald military Affairs newsman Howard Silber: 
War veteran, reporter, raconteur, bon vi vant, globetrotter
Howard Rosenberg’s much-traveled news career
Flanagan-Monsky example of social justice and interfaith harmony still shows the way seven decades later
Winners Circle: 
Couple’s journey of self-discovery ends up helping thousands of at-risk kids through early intervention educational program
Alone or together, Omaha power couple Vic Gutman and Roberta Wilhelm give back to the community
A force of nature named Evie: 
Still a maverick social justice advocate at 100

Faith/Religion
A matter of faith: Beth Katz and Project Interfaith find bridges to religious beliefs
Identity gets a new platform through RavelUnravel
Rabbi Azriel’s neighborhood welcomes all, unlike what he saw on recent Middle East trip; 
Social justice activist and interfaith advocate optimistic about Tri-Faith campus
Rabbi Azriel: Legacy as social progressive and interfaith champion secure
Temple Israel Omaha embraces new home and new era
History in the making: $65M Tri-Faith Initiative bridges religious, social, political gaps
Omaha Tri-Faith pioneers seeing fruits of interfaith collaborative take shape

photo

Business/Development
Master developer Jay Noddle and his Noddle Companies transform Omaha
Urban planner Marty Shukert takes long view of Omaha development
Customer-first philosophy makes family-owned Kohll’s Pharmacy and Homecare stand out from the crowd
Bedrock values at core of four-generation All Makes Office Furniture Company
This version of Simon Says positions Omaha Steaks as food service juggernaut
Allan Noddle’s food industry adventures show him the world
The much anticipated return of the Bagel Bin

 
Omaha History
The Brandeis Story:
Great Plains family-owned department store empire
“Memories of the Jewish Midwest: Mom and Pop Grocery Stores, Omaha, Lincoln, Greater Nebraska and Southwest Iowa”
Once upon a time an urban dead end became Omaha’s lively Old Market
Omaha’s Old Market: 
History, stories, places, personalities, characters
In Memoriam: George Eisenberg
A man intimate with the Old Market’s origins is gone, but his legacy lives on
George Eisenberg’s love for Omaha’s Old Market never grows old
Buffett’s newspaper man, Stanford Lipsey
Sun Reflection: Revisiting the Omaha Sun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning expose of Boys Town
When Omaha’s North 24th Street brought together Jews and Blacks in a melting pot marketplace
Omaha native Steve Marantz looks back at city’s ’68 racial divide through prism of hoops in new book, “The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central”
Rich Boys Town sports legacy recalled
Roaenblatt-College World Series

6141-borsheim-s-fine-jewelry-and-gifts-remodel-7631

Arts/Culture/Entertainment
Potash Twins making waves in jazz:
Teen brothers count jazz greats as mentors
Identical twin horn players set to lead Omaha jazz revival
Author Scott Muskin – What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing writing about all this mishigas? 
Author Rachel Shukert: 
A nice Jewish girl gone wild and other regrettable stories
Rachel Shukert’s anything but a travel agent’s recommended guide to a European grand tour
Omaha Lit Fest: 
In praise of writers and their words: Jami Attenberg and Will Clarke among featured authors 
Being Jack Moskovitz:
Grizzled former civil servant and DJ, now actor and fiction author, still waiting to be discovered
Playwright turned history detective Max Sparber turns identity search inward
The magical mystery tour of Omaha’s Magic Theatre, a Megan Terry and Jo Ann Schmidman production
Theater-Fashion Maven Elaine Jabenis
Old Hollywood hand living in Omaha comes out of the shadows: Screenwriter John Kaye scripted “American Hot Wax” and more
Murder He Wrote: 
Reporter-Author David Krajicek finds niche as true crime storyteller

Living the dream: 
Cinema maven Rachel Jacobson – the woman behind Film Streams
Film Streams at Five: Art cinema contributes to transformed Omaha through community focus on film and discussion
Omaha’s film reckoning arrives in form of Film Streams, the City’s first full-fledged art cinema
Joan Micklin Silver: 
Shattering cinema’s glass ceiling
“The Bagel: An Immigrant’s Story”
Joan Micklin Silver and Matthew Goodman team up for new documentary
Joan Micklin Silver’s Classic “Hester Street” Included in National Film Registry
Women’s and indie feature film pioneer Joan Micklin Silver’s journey in cinema
Carol Kane Interview
Actor Peter Riegert makes fine feature directorial debut with ‘King of the Corner”

Prodigal filmmaker comes home again to screen new picture at Omaha Film Fest
Dan Mirvish strikes again: Indie filmmaker back with new feature “Between Us”
Crazy like a fox indie fimmaker Dan Mirvish makes going his own way work
In Memoriam:
Filmmaker Gail Levin followed her passion
Filmmaker Gail Levin followed her passion
Forever Marilyn:
Gail Levin’s new film frames the “Monroe doctrine”
A filming we will go: Gail Levin follows her passion 
Gail Levin takes on American Master James Dean
Dena Krupinsky makes Hollywood dreams reality as Turner Classic Movies producer
Bill Maher Gets Real
The wonderful world of entertainment talent broker Manya Nogg
Entertainment attorney Ira Epstein: Counsel to the stars
For artist Terry Rosenberg, the moving human body offers canvas like no other
Rebecca Herskovitz forges an art family at Kent Bellows Studio and Center for Visual Arts
Song Girl Ann Ronell
Radio Day: “Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know?” Live from Omaha 
Radio DJ-Actor-Singer Dave Wingert, In the Spotlight
Wild about chocolate

Finding the Essence of Omaha in All the Right Places Leads You to Obvious and Obscure Sites

June 28, 2012 5 comments

Whether you’re a Omaha resident who lives here year-round or part of the year, a native returning home, or a visitor here for the first or tenth time, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of some places to see and things to do in the metro.  I prepared the following list for the Omaha World-Herald a few years ago.  At least one of the attractions is now defunct (Project Omaha) and if I were making a new list today I would include some additional sites (including the House of Loom and TD Ameritrade Park).  The point is, it’s by no means a comprehensive list but more of a sampler of, as the headline says, some of the obvious and not so obvious sites to check out.

 

Mormon Trail Center

 

 

Finding the Essence of Omaha in all the Right Places Leads You to Obvious and Obscure Sites

©by Leo Adam Biga

Originally appeared in the Omaha World-Herald

Loves Jazz & Arts Center

 

 

Loves Jazz & Arts Center
2510 No. 24th St., 502-5291
Steep yourself in Omaha’s rich African-American heritage through photographs, videos and other art/historical materials at this gem of a cultural center in the heart of the black community. See displays on the music and civil rights legacy of black Omaha. Catch lectures, panel discussions, poetry slams, live music jams, film screenings and other educational-entertainment programs.


Project Omaha
South High School
4519 So. 24th St., 557-3640
Reminiscent of a visit to grandma’s attic, this one-of-a-kind museum in a public school setting uses artifacts along with student-made videos, books, games and other resources to explore Omaha history, including the stockyards. The collection’s size and depth will impress. Note the Brandeis department store Xmas window mockup. Call 557-3640 for a visit or a guided tour of historic city sites.

 

 

Jewell Building

 

 

 

 

The Jewell Building
Omaha Economic Development Corp. offices
2221 No. 24th St.
This National Register of Historic Places and Omaha Landmark designee was home to the famed Dreamland Ballroom, hosting scores of jazz/blues performing legends and overflow dance crowds. Now the offices for the Omaha Economic Development Corp., the restored Georgian Revival building features a large photographic display of those halcyon Dreamland nights of Basie, Ellington and more. A North O shrine.

 

 

Nebraska Jewish Historical Society


 

 

The Nebraska Jewish Historical Society
Jewish Community Center
333 So. 132nd St., By appointment at 334-6441
Photographs and archival documents depict Jewish life in Omaha from the turn of the last century through today. Special collections highlight the Jewish American experience of local merchants, war veterans and figures of national prominence, including Henry Monsky and Rose Blumkin. Print/video interviews reveal an Omaha Jewish community that was once much larger but that remains vibrant.


Cathedral Cultural Center and the St. Cecilia Institute
St. Cecilia Cathedral campus
3900 Webster St., 551-4888
The history of Omaha’s Catholic archdiocese and its cornerstone edifice, St. Cecilia Cathedral, is revealed in artifacts, photos and interpretive panels. The life and work of Thomas Kimball, architect of the Spanish Renaissance worship site, is well-chronicled. The center, located just east of the church in midtown, presents temporary art exhibits, lectures, receptions and other programs. Free admission.

 

 

photo
Cathederal Cultural Center


 

 

El Museo Latino
4701 1/2 So. 25th St., 731-1137
National touring art exhibits complement a Latino Presence in Omaha section with photographs-narratives drawn from local community founders and elders. Listen to these pioneers’ oral history interviews in Spanish or English. Learn how the current Latino immigrant wave echoes earlier migrations in transforming Omaha. The El Museo Latino building was the former Polish Home and the original South High.


Durham Museum
801 So. 10th St., 444-5071
The former Union Station is a beautifully appointed, restored Art Deco railroad terminal now home to interactive Omaha history displays and major touring shows. The Smithsonian affiliate and National Register of Historic Places site exhibits train cars and engines and a model layout of downtown’s U.P. yards. Enjoy lectures, discussions and films. The Durham also holds the Bostwick-Frohart collection’s 8 X 10 view camera photos of early 20th century Omaha.

 

 

Durham Museum


 

 

Sokol South Omaha
2021 U St., 731-1065
Omaha’s ethnic enclaves celebrate their own and the Czech community is no different. Aside from the classic gymnastics program that’s part of any Sokol facility, this site maintains a museum featuring photographs and other memorabilia related to the nearby Brown Park neighborhood as well as local Sokol history, Czech traditions and leading Omaha Czechs. Tours by appointment at 731-1065.


Joslyn Castle
3902 Davenport St., 595-2199
Built on a 5.5 acre estate this ornate Gold Coast home of George and Sarah Joslyn reflects the grandeur of early Omaha. The John McDonald-designed 35-room Scottish Baronial castle, now being restored in all its splendor, features exquisite mosaic tiles, in-laid woodwork, a ballroom and a conservatory. A splendid backdrop for teas, receptions and dinners, the mansion’s an Omaha Landmark and National Register of Historic Places site. For tours and rentals, call 595-2199.


Joslyn Art Museum
24th and Dodge, 342-3300
Sarah Joslyn’s magnificent memorial to her entrepreneur husband, George, opened in 1931. Designed by John and Alan McDonald, with a 1994 Norman Foster addition, the stunning Art Deco temple showcases a comprehensive permanent collection. Enjoy exhibits, lectures, concerts, films and tours. The new sculpture garden provides a major new attraction. The pavilion atrium is a popular gathering spot.

 

 

joslyn-castle.jpg

Joslyn Castle

Joslyn Art Museum


 

 

Douglas County Historical Society
Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha campus
30th and Fort
Library/Archives Center
451-1013
Discover a vast repository of history pertaining to the city of Omaha and to Douglas County through archived newspapers, clipping files, maps, plats, atlases, documents, diaries, letters, books, artifacts, photographs and audio visual materials. Located in Building 11A on the historic MCC Fort Omaha campus. Call 451-1013 to schedule research visits.

General Crook House Museum
455-9990
The restored 1879 Italianate quarters for Indian Wars campaigner Gen. George Crook includes Victorian era decorative arts, costumes and furnishings. Classes and a reference collection on the history/appreciation of antiques are available. Tea aficionado Mona Christensen hosts proper teas. Call 455-9990 to arrange tours or private functions. Located in Building 11B on the historic MCC Fort Omaha campus.

Gen. Crook House


 

 

Orsi’s Italian Bakery
621 Pacific St., 345-3438
It’s a bakery/pizzeria not a gallery but walls of family and neighborhood photos depict Omaha’s Little Italy section through the years, including Santa Lucia festivities, Mason School graduation classes and local Italian-American sports icons. Orsi’s is an anchor business in the trendy nouveau residential urban community emerging in this historic district south of the Old Market.


Omaha Central High School
124 North 20th St., 557-3300
Omaha’s oldest all-grades public school dates back to 1859 but the stately National Register of Historic Places building on Capitol Hill was completed in four phases from 1900 to 1912. John Latenser’s Renaissance Revival design included an open courtyard. This school known for academic rigor boasts many distinguished grads. Exterior markers note the school-site’s rich history. Call 557-3300 to arrange viewing interior displays.


The Omaha Star
2216 No. 24th St., 346-4041
Since 1938 the Omaha Star newspaper has carried the collective voice of the local African American community in calling for equal rights and decrying bias. A beacon of hope on North 24th Street, the Star was a mission for its late founder and publisher, Mildred Brown. The apartment she kept in back has been preserved just as she left it. The National Register of Historic Places building is undergoing restoration.


Boys Town Hall of History
132nd and Dodge, 498-1300
The story of this fabled American institution is told in audio, video, artifact displays. Learn how Rev. Edward Flanagan’s original home for boys grew into a childcare leader at satellite campuses across the nation. See how the school’s band, choir and athletic teams helped put Boys Town on the map. View the Oscar Spencer Tracy won portraying Flanagan in the 1938 movie, Boys Town. Marvel at the many notables who’ve visited the Omaha campus.

Orsi’s Italian Bakery
Omaha Central High School
The Omaha Star
Boys Town Hall of History

 

 

W. Dale Clark Library
215 So. 15th St., 444-4800
Omaha history can be found in hundreds of books and videos as well as in decades-worth of local newspapers on microfilm. Inquire about Omaha history talks.

Omaha Community Playhouse
6915 Cass St., 553-0800
The Omaha Community Playhouse represents a significant portion of local live theater history. The original site at 40th and Davenport is where legends Henry Fonda and Dorothy McGuire got their starts on stage. At the height of their stardom they returned for benefit performances of The Country Girl that raised money to construct the current Playhouse, which contains a collage of famed players who’ve trod the boards there.


Livestock Exchange Building
4920 So. 20th St.
For nearly a century the Omaha Stockyards and Big Four meatpacking plants ruled the roost. The hub for the booming livestock market was the 11-story Livestock Exchange Building, an example of Romanesque and Northern Italian Renaissance Revival design. The stockyards are gone but the National Register of Historic Places structure lives on as an apartment-office site. The grand ballroom still in use today. Historical monuments outside the building describe its lively past.


Ford Birthsite and Gardens
32nd And Woolworth Ave.
Markers and descriptive panels commemorate the birthsite of the 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, who was born Leslie King on July 14, 1913 in a Victorian style home at 3202 Woolworth Avenue in Omaha. The surrounding gardens in honor of former First Lady Betty Ford make the spot a popular choice for weddings, receptions and other events.

Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center
1326 So. 32nd St., By appointment at 595-1180
In addition to dedicated laboratories for examining, evaluating and conserving historical and art materials, the facility features a small exhibition on President Gerald R. Ford. The center’s state-of-the-art facilities include a microscopy laboratory and a digital imaging laboratory. There’s also a library of reference works on conservation and collections care.

Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame
Boys & Girls Clubs of Omaha, North Unit
2610 Hamilton St.,  North BGCOO 342-2300, NBSHF 884-1884
Until a permanent structure is built a wall of descriptive plaques honor Hall of Fame inductees, whose ranks rival that of any state athletic hall in the country. We’re talking history-makers in Bob Gibson, Bob Boozer, Gale Sayers, Ron Boone, Marlon Briscoe, Don Benning, Johnny Rodgers and many more. Looking at the names and achievements arrayed before you a story of staggering dimensions emerges.

Malcolm X Memorial Birthsite
3448 Pinkney St., 1-800-645-9287
The struggle to build a brick-and-mortar memorial to the slain activist is symbolized by the stark 10 acres of land the Malcolm X Foundation has been trying to develop for decades at his birthsite. Only a simple sign marks the spot. Paving stones lead to nowhere. A fence encloses an empty lot. Dreams for a visitors center, museum and plaza remain deferred. A most forlorn National Register of Historic Places site.

Prospect Hill Cemetery
3230 Parker St., 556-6057
Omaha’s oldest cemetery was founded in 1858 and is the internment site for many early city leaders, their familiar names still adorning streets and structures today. Some notorious figures also lie there. Often referred to as Omaha’s pioneer burial ground, Prospect Hill remains an active cemetery as well as a historic site open for visitation daily. A state historical marker describes its rich heritage. Free admission.

Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens
Prospect Hill Cemetery
photo
Malcolm X Memorial Foundation

 

 

Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters
3215 State St., 453-9372
A heroic, tragic chapter of the Mormon Migration played out in what’s now north Omaha when thousands of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent the winter of 1846-1847 in an encampment. 325 died there. An audio-visual display details the struggles encountered in reaching this Winter Quarters, the camps’s harsh conditions and the arduous journey to the Salt Lake Valley. View a pioneer cabin, pull a handcart and visit the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery. Free admission.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters and Visitor Center
601 Riverfront Dr., 661-1804
Learn about the historic Corps of Discovery expedition led by famed explorers Lewis and Clark, including information about sites along the trail. A National Parks Service ranger can answer questions and help you plan a site trip. The Riverfront Books store offers an array of educational materials for sale that can enhance your experience on the trail.

Union Pacific Railroad Museum
200 Pearl St., Council Bluffs, (712) 329-8307
Artifacts, photos and interpretive panels chart the development of the transcontinental railroad and its role in helping pioneers settle the West. View displays about the heyday of passenger travel and innovations made by the nation’s largest railroad, Union Pacific, which is headquartered in Omaha. The museum’s housed in the Bluffs’ historic, newly restored Carnegie Library.


Historic General Dodge House
605 3rd St., (712) 322-2406
This restored 1869 Victorian home was the residence of Civil War veteran and railroad builder Gen. Grenville M. Dodge, a military, political, financial wheel whose counsel was sought by presidents. The 14-room, 3-story mansion commands a terrace view of the Missouri Valley. Note the exquisite woodwork and “modern” conveniences unusual for the period. The home is used for a variety of receptions and other events.

Western Historic Trails Center
3434 Richard Downing Ave., Council Bluffs, (712) 366-4900
Discover the history of four historic western trails — Lewis & Clark, Oregon, Mormon and California — through exhibits, sculptures, photographs and films at this State Historical Society of Iowa center designed and built by the National Park Service and local partners.

 

 

Union Pacific Railroad Museum

“Memories of the Jewish Midwest: Mom and Pop Grocery Stores, Omaha, Lincoln, Greater Nebraska and Southwest Iowa”

December 12, 2011 4 comments

“Memories of the Jewish Midwest: Mom and Pop Grocery Stores  Omaha, Lincoln, Greater Nebraska and Southwest Iowa”

I contributed to a new book out by the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society that is an appreciation of the Jewish Mom and Pop grocery stores that once dominated the landscape in Omaha.  From time to time I am posting an excerpt from the book to give provide a sample of the robust story it tells.  For this post I chose a front section essay I wrote about the long defunct wholesale market that operated just southeast of downtown and that today is home to the popular historic cultural district known as the Old Market.  While the market didn’t contain grocery stores, its many wholsalers serviced grocers.  It was a bustling center of commerce abd characters that is no more.

For additional information or to order a copy of the book, contact Renee Ratner-Corcoran by e-mail at rcorcoran@jewishomaha.org or by phone at 402.334.6442.

Excerpt from the book-

The Old Market: Then and Now

©by Leo Adam Biga

Omaha’s Old Market is a National Register of Historic Places district abuzz with activity. Bounded by 10th Street on the east, 13th Street on the west, and extending from Leavenworth Street on the south end to Howard Street on the north end, the character-rich area is an arts and entertainment hub. Restaurants. Speciality shops. Art galleries. Performance spaces. Many venues housed in late 19th and early 20th century warehouse buildings.

Street performers and vendors “set up shop” there. Horse-drawn carriages transport fares over cobblestone streets. Streams of shoppers, diners, bar patrons, art lovers, theatergoers, sightseers, and residents file in and out, back and forth, all day long, through the wee hours of night. Summertime finds folks relaxing at restaurant and bar patios. Fresh flowers adorn planters arranged all about the Market.

Fifty years ago and for a half-century or more before that these same streets and warehouses were equally busy, the commerce transacted there just as brisk. Only instead of trendy eateries, boutiques, galleries, and studios, the urban environs contained Omaha’s wholesale center for fresh fruit and vegetables. Whatever was in season and sellers could lay their mitts on, the market carried it. Now and then, owing to untimely droughts or freezes in prime growing areas, certain items were in short supply. During wartime, rationing made much produce scarce. But most of the time the Market offered a great variety of fresh produce at reasonable prices.

In an earlier era, the Market, along with the Jobbers Canyon complex of wholesale and mercantile warehouses, meat packers, and outfitters a bit further to the east, supplied surveyors, land agents, speculators, railroad workers, steamboat crews, military personnel, trappers, and pioneers with the stores needed for settling the West. Jobbers Canyon, however, went the way of the wrecking ball, a fate that could have easily befallen the Market if not for a few interventionists.

The Way It Was

The Omaha Wholesale Produce Market House Company was an officially incorporated consortium of wholesalers and the Omaha City Market the city designated marketplace where the local produce industry concentrated. This American equivalent of the Middle Eastern bazaar or Old World farmer’s market consisted of two fundamental parts.

Multi-story brick buildings housing warehouses, mercantiles, and offices were where the major produce wholesalers and brokers did high volume, bulk business with major buyers. A single wholesale deal might have moved 40,000 pounds of watermelons, for example. At street level, the warehouses featured a system of docks and bays where trucks carting loads of produce parked, their contents emptied out onto sidewalk pallets for immediate resell to buyers or into storage for later resell.

Perhaps the biggest Jewish wholesaler in terms of volume handled was Gilinsky Fruit Company, whose two-story warehouse and offices became home to the French Cafe. When Sam Gilinsky’s business closed in 1941 several former employees, many of them Jews, opened their own wholesale businesses and wrote their own chapters as successful Market entrepreneurs. One of Omaha’s most recognizable and nationally branded businesses, Omaha Steaks, owned by another Jewish family, the Simons, did business in the Market when still known as Table Supply Meat Company.

An open air market located in a paved lot at 11th and Jackson Street saw vendors and peddlers doing business with neighborhood grocers and retail consumers. The merchants selling there rented stalls, where they displayed their wares in bushel baskets, barrels, crates, boxes, and bags arranged on benches. The hawkers benefited from a sheet metal canopy overhead. Tarps were stretched out for additional protection. Old-timers who worked there will tell you the conditions made for long days during the heat of summer, when the canopy and tarp would get burning hot to the touch and make it like a sauna underneath. Standing on the hard cement was tough on shoes and feet.

Across from these vendors were local truck gardeners and farmers, who turned an alleyway into a market of their own, selling bed loads of produce.

These were small family businesses. Men made up the vast majority of Market workers, but some women and children worked there, too. For most, it was a humble living, but more than a few sons of immigrant vendors and peddlers went on to become doctors, lawyers, educators, and to enter many other professions. In this way, the Market was an avenue to the American Dream for first and second generation families here.

The marketplace attracted a small army of workers and customers. Suppliers included farmers, gardeners, and greenhouse owners. Wholesale produce dealers ranged from giant operators buying and selling in train car lots or truckloads to smaller operators. The middle men included brokers, jobbers, and distributors.

Most of the vendors and peddlers were immigrants, including Jews from Russia, Poland, and Germany, along with Syrians and Italians. Yiddish was among the many languages heard wafting through the Market. The foreign-born merchants’ raised, heavily-accented voices mixed with various American accents to create a music all their own. Then there was the sonorous strain of the district’s very own Italian tenor, “Celery John” (Distefano), who would serenade the marketplace when the mood struck.

Veteran produce marketer Sam Epstein said Celery John “had a voice like you’d hear in an opera house,” adding, “It was absolutely marvelous to hear him.” Epstein said he would stand outside Celery John’s place and kibbitz as the erstwhile Caruso made up “soup bunches” and “plant boxes.” “His personality and his demeanor were just the same as his voice,” said Epstein “Just a wonderful human being.”

Don Greenberg, whose family’s wholesale Greenberg Fruit Company had a decades-long run in the Market, recalled Celery John once leading a group of workers in a rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song. The occasion celebrated the birthday of a veteran, well-liked merchant. The guys even got up enough dough to go in on purchasing a rather extravagant gift then — a television set.

It was a place where men in smocks, aprons, overalls, or dungarees and with nicknames like Dago Pete, Crowbar Mike, Montana, Shoes, Red Wolfson, and Popeye rubbed shoulders with men in suits. Brothers George and Hymie Eisenberg became known as the Potato and Onion Kings for the considerable nationwide market share they held supplying spuds and onions to large food processors.

The Eisenbergs had a much humbler beginning though as a family of produce peddlers. Many immigrants had established routes in neighborhoods around Omaha and on back country roads, where in the early days they traveled by horse and wagon before modernizing to trucks. Peddlers often operated stalls in the Market, too. Some peddlers and vendors, like the Eisenbergs, eventually became wholesalers.

The primary buyers at the Market were grocers, restaurants, hotels, institutions, and major food processors. Just like today’s Omaha Farmers Market, the general public went to get their pick of fresh produce during the summer from the open air market that operated there. Day in, day out, the Market saw a flow of people, trucks, and goods. George Eisenberg can attest to “a lot of hustle and bustle, a lot of competition” that went on.

Changing Times

The Market thrived as a produce center from at least the first decade of the 20th century, when it was incorporated and a city appointed superintendent of markets or market master put in place to collect rent, enforce rules, and settle disputes, through the late 1950s. By the early ‘60s the Market declined as wholesalers either disbanded or moved west, the peddler trade disappeared, and many neighborhood and country grocers went belly up. The emergence of supermarket chains had a ripple effect that drove the small independents out of business, thereby eating into the Market’s trade.

But the real death knell came when large grocers pooled their resources together to form their own wholesale cooperatives. The combined purchasing power of coops let them buy in huge quantities at bargain rates that smaller wholesalers and coops could not match. Grocers or supermarkets naturally bought from their own coop because they owned shares in it and any profits were returned as dividends.

The same few blocks comprising that wild and woolly marketplace then and that make up the more cultivated Old Market today were, by comparison, virtually barren of people by the mid-1960s, the huge warehouse structures largely abandoned and fallen into disrepair. The open air City Market was closed by the City of Omaha in 1964.

The overall Market district was saved from the wreckage heap by the vision and action of a family with longstanding business and property interests in the area, the Mercers, and by other enterprising sorts who despaired losing this vital swath of Omaha history.

During the late ‘60s-early ‘70s what was once the produce center of Omaha began undergoing a transformation, building by building, block by block. The renovations continued to take hold over the better part of a decade. The labor intensive, working man’s market that revolved around fruit and vegetable sales gave way to head shops, galleries, theaters, and restaurants that appealed to the counter culture and sophisticated set. What is known now as the Old Market emerged and the area gained landmark preservation and historic status designations in 1979.

By the late ‘70s, people began moving into loft-style living spaces above storefronts, an update on an old tradition that increasingly gained new traction. So many Old Market buildings have since been converted into mixed uses, with apartments and condos on the upper floors and businesses on the ground floor, that today the district is more than just a commercial center and tourist destination, but a urban residential neighborhood as well.

Not every remnant of the early Market disappeared. At least one old-line vendor, Joe Vitale, hung on through the 1990s.

Character and Characters

Old-time sellers were usually loud, animated, sometimes gruff, and by any measure assertive in trying to reel buyers in for themselves and thus steer sales away from competitors. If a vendor thought a rival was out of line or infringing on his turf or undercutting prices or, God forbid, stealing sales, there might be heated words, even fisticuffs. Customers did not always get off easy either. Some old-time vendors took exception if someone fussily handled the merchandise without purchasing or questioned the quality or price of the goods.

Sam Epstein recalled the time that Independent Fruit Company partners Sam “Red” Wolfson and Louie Siporin had just unloaded a batch of tomatoes when Tony Rotollo walked up to pick over the goods.

“Old Man Rotollo apparently asked Sam the price of tomatoes and he told Sam it was too high. Sam, who was loud and had a temper, started raving. He had a voice you could hear from miles away. Sam yelled, ‘Too high, you SOB I’m treating you right. You get out of here and don’t ever come back.’ And Louie, the refined guy of the business, came running out and said, ‘For God’s sakes, Sam, don’t talk like that out here. You gotta call him an SOB, take him in the back room.’ And Sam said, ‘He’s an SOB out here, he’s an SOB in the back room.’ Well, Old Man Rotollo went on his way and about a half hour later was back buying tomatoes from Sam, the two of them getting along just fine.”

Another hot head Epstein treaded lightly around was a banana house operator known to chase out persons he disliked with a sharp, curved banana knife.

Vendors had to be more brazen then because: (1) for most of them this was their single livelihood and so every sale mattered; and (2) most merchants followed the tradition practiced back in the Old Country, where markets were more expressive, the competition more cut throat, where decorum was put aside and survival meant outshining and outshouting the vendor next to you or across from you. You had to have some chutzpah and some get-and-up-and-go initiative in order to make it.

The give-and-take haggling, bartering, and bickering, good-natured or not, that was part and parcel of the classic marketplace is largely a thing of the past these days. For the most part, people today pay whatever price is set for goods without making a fuss. It’s all very polite, all very pleasant, all very banal.

George Eisenberg and his brother Hymie worked with their father Ben in the Omaha City Market in the years before, during, and after World War II. The brothers’ father went into the wholesale business with Harry Roitstein and the Eisenberg and Roitstein Fruit Company survived into the 1950s and beyond.

One of the few other Jewish wholesalers to last that long was Greenberg Fruit Company. Don Greenberg joined his father Elmer in the family business in 1959. He said when he got involved most of the company’s buyers were small independent grocers, many of them Jewish and Italian. Even as late as ’59, Greenberg recalled, “parking places were at a premium” in the Market. Over time, the traffic trailed off, so much so that Greenberg Fruit left to build a new warehouse, in tandem with another Jewish wholesaler, Nogg Fruit Company, in southwest Omaha.

“When we moved out of the Market,” said Greenberg, “parking spaces were no longer at a premium and there were very few independent grocers left.”

The Eisenberg family’s produce dealings nearly spanned the arc of the Market, as the patriarch, Ben, went from peddler to vendor to wholesaler. Son George then took the business into an entirely new realm by specializing in the wholesale potato and onion field. He found a lucrative niche selling directly to food processors. But it all began with Ben and his horse and wagon, later his truck, and then the stalls on 11th and Jackson Street.

“My dad didn’t speak really sharp English because he came from the Ukraine. He didn’t speak any English when he got here, but he learned to speak survival English. Either you spoke the language or you starved to death. You had to make a living,” said George. “My dad was a really good salesman. He was very polite, businesslike, very fair. His word was his bond. He used to tell us when we were kids, ‘Don’t lie, cheat or steal.’ It pays off — people are happy to do business with you.”

Legacy, Heritage, History, Memories

As the proud son of a successful immigrant, Eisenberg is glad to see his old stomping grounds active again, filled with people jabbering, jostling, buying, and selling. But you cannot blame him for being a little wistful at the loss of the colorful, boisterous characters and antics that populated the Market back in the old days.

With sellers noisily touting their goods like carnival barkers, all packed tightly together in a kind of vendors row, each vying for the same finite customer base, there was an every-man-for-himself urgency to the proceedings. There was no place Eisenberg would have rather been.

“I felt that’s where all the action in Omaha was — in the Market,” he said. “I mean, people were shouting like, ‘Watermelon, watermelon, get your red, ripe and sweet watermelon.’ ‘Strawberries, strawberries, get your strawberries.’ ‘We’ve got Idaho potatoes here, 25 cents a basket.’ It was fun. They were all shouting to people walking in the Market to bring attention to their location. That was our advertisement — our voice.”

Occasionally, things would get a little too rambunctious for some tastes.

“The city had a market inspector, and he’d come down and tell us, ‘You guys are going to have it to hold it down. People are complaining that you’re making too much noise hawking the merchandise.’ Some people used to say that was the charm of the Market, yet some complained.

“So we’d tell him, ‘Well, we can’t sell the stuff unless they hear what we got to sell.’ And he’d say, ‘I know, but just keep it down.’”

Eisenberg said he and his mates would then talk in muted tones, at least while the inspector was still around, but once he went on his way they would go right back to shouting. It was the only way to be heard above the din.

 

 

Table Supply Meat Co. original location in Omaha's Old Market.:
 Table Supply Meat Company

 

 

A typical day on the Market was not your average 9-to-5 proposition. Most vendors arrived by 4 or 5 a.m. to sell to commercial buyers seeking the best, freshest picks of the day. “If we thought we were going to be busy we might open the doors at 3 a.m.,” said Don Greenberg. “It was not unusual to work until 5 or 6 in the evening.” Some wholesalers and vendors stayed even later if business was good or if they had an excess of product they wanted to turn over before the next business day.

Greenberg remembers card and dice games as popular distractions among some Market workers, who had their favorite hangouts in surrounding cafes and other creature comfort joints. Sam Epstein, whose family bought Nogg Fruit Company from Leo Nogg, recalled that the owner of Louie’s Market often sat in on a standing card game, leaving instructions that anyone who called the Market inquiring after him be told he had not been seen. Epstein recounted how a broker known to have dalliances with women at work worked out a system whereby a friend would “pound like hell” on a metal pole downstairs as a signal someone was coming to interrupt his latest conquest.

Epstein’s business dealings in the Market began as a supermarket buyer. He made the rounds down there selecting and buying quantities of produce from truck gardeners or farmers, including a Jewish man named Herman Millman. Epstein worked for Nogg for a time and later became a part owner, eventually buying him out. Epstein said he and his family kept the Nogg Fruit Company name intact because “it had 60 years of name recognition.”

He said in a market the size of Omaha’s word got around fast about who you could and could not trust in business dealings. “There’s no secrets around the Market,” Epstein said.

Everything was done on a handshake and verbal basis then. All the transactions figured in ledger books or in people’s heads.

As the independent grocers were dying off, Nogg Fruit got into the food service and frozen food business and flourished in this new niche.

The Market’s band of brothers hung on as long as they could before the business faded away. As the big operators and small entrepreneurs left, one by one, and then all together, soon only photographs, articles, and memories remained.

The brawny Industrial Era buildings that survive in new guises today are physical testament to what once went on there. But aside from a few signs on building walls, some produce scales, and maybe some hooks for hanging bunches of bananas, tangible evidence is hard to see.

If you just close your eyes, though, perhaps you can imagine it all: the dance and ritual of shipments coming and going out; displays of produce being loaded, unloaded, handled, and haggled over; the jabbering commerce playing out from pre-dawn to past dusk between men in jaunty hats, their cigarettes, cigars or pipes ablaze. It was a colorful, lively place to work in and to shop at.

And maybe, just maybe, if you happen by the Omaha Farmers Market some Saturday, in your mind’s eye you can picture an earlier scene that unfolded there, and know that all of it, past and present, is part of an unbroken line. Just like it has always been, it remains a place where people come together to buy and sell, bargain, and trade. The memory of what once was and what still is brings a smile to George Eisenberg’s face.

 

 

Related articles

Memories of the Jewish Midwest: Mom and Pop Grocery Stores, Omaha, Lincoln, Greater Nebraska and Southwest Iowa

November 14, 2011 6 comments


photo

 

 

Oh, for the days when there was almost literally a grocery store on every corner and a movie theater in every neighborhood.  I only know those days through articles, books, movies, photographs, and reminiscences and I am sure the reality did not match my romanticism about them.  As fate would have it, the Mom and Pop grocery phenomenon I only got a glimmer of during my childhood became the subject of an assignment I was offered and gladly accepted: as co-editor and lead writer for a Nebraska Jewish Historical Society book project that commemmorates and documents the Mom and Pop Jewish grocery stores that operated in and around the Omaha metropolitan area from approximately the beginning of the 20th century through the 1960s-1970s.  But it was Ben Nachman, along with Renee Ratner-Corcoran, who I worked with on the project, that truly realized the book .  Ben’s vision and energy got it started and Renee’s commitment and persistence saw it through.  I just helped pick up the pieces once Ben passed away a year or so into the project.  Ultimately, the book belongs to all the families and individuals who contributed anecdotes, stories, essays, photos, and ads about their grocery stores.

Immediately below is Jewish Press story about the project, followed by an excerpt from the book.

The book is dedicated to the man who inaugurated the project, the late Ben Nachman, who was responsible for starting what is now my long association with both the Jewish Press and the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society.  Ben led me to many Holocaust survivor and rescuer stories I ended up writing, many of which can be found on this blog.  My stories about Ben and his work as an amatuer but highy dedicated historian can also be found here.  I also collaborated with Ben and Renee, as the writer to their producder-roles, on a documentary film about the Brandeis Department Store empire of Nebraska.  A very long two-part story I did for the Jewish Press on the Brandeis family and their empire served as the basis for the script I wrote.  You can find that story on this blog.

Historical Society publishes grocery store history

by Rita Shelley

11.11.11 issue, Jewish Press

Freshly arrived from Europe a century ago, thousands of men and women found work in South Omaha’s packinghouse and stockyards.

South 24th Street grocer Witte Fried, also a first generation American and a widow with children from ages 2 to 7, knew something of her neighbors’ struggles to survive and prosper. She also knew they needed to eat. According to her descendants, Fried took care to mark prices on the merchandise in her store in several languages. She wanted her customers, regardless of their German, Irish, Italian, Russian, Polish, Greek, Czech or other origins, to have an easier transition into their new world.

Fried’s story is one of many featured in Memories of the Jewish Midwest: Mom and Pop Grocery Stores. Scheduled to be published in November by the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society (NJHS), the book includes recollections of Jewish grocers and members of the families who operated stores throughout Omaha, Lincoln, Council Bluffs and surrounding areas from the early 1900s to the present.

 

 

photo

 

 

“A history of Jewish owned stores is also a history of the grocery business,” Renee Ratner-Corcoran, NJHS executive director, said. “Beginning with peddlers who traveled from farm to farm to trade their wares for farm produce to sell in the cities, through one-room Mom and Pop stores with adjoining living quarters, to the first large self-service grocery stores, to today’s discount stores that sell housewares and groceries under the same roof, the Jewish community played a vital role in the grocery industry.The book was a dream of Dr. Ben Nachman, an NJHS volunteer whose father owned a small store on North 27th Street. Dr. Nachman died in 2010; publication of the book is dedicated to his memory.

Children of early Jewish grocers who were interviewed for the book or submitted recollections recall the hustle and bustle of buying produce from open air stalls downtown (today’s Old Market) as early as 4 a.m. to stay ahead of the competition. Before there were automobiles, grocers’ children were responsible for the care of the horses that pulled delivery buggies. Mixing the flour and water paste to use for painting prices of the week’s specials on the front window was also the responsibility of children. So were dividing 100-pound sacks of potatoes into five- and 10-pound packages, grinding and bagging coffee, and feeding the chickens. (A kerosene barrel and a chicken coop were located side-by-side in at least one family’s store.).

 

 

photo

 

 

The book’s publication was underwritten by the Herbert Goldsten Trust, the Special Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation, the Milton S. & Corinne N. Livingston Foundation, Inc., the Murray H. and Sharee C. Newman Supporting Foundation, Doris and Bill Alloy, Sheila and John Anderson, Edith Toby Fellman, Doris Raduziner Marks, In honor of Larry Roffman’s 80th Birthday, and Stanley and Norma Silverman.Increasing prosperity meant housewives had more money to spend. Innovations in transportation and refrigeration also brought changes to the grocery industry, and Jewish grocers were among the first to embrace those changes. More recently, Jewish Nebraskans “invented” some of the country’s first discount chains and wholesale distribution networks, as well as the data processing innovations that made them profitable.

For additional information, contact Renee Ratner-Corcoran by e-mail at rcorcoran@jewishomaha.org or by phone at 402.334.6442.

Excerpts from the book-

©by Leo Adam Biga

Memories of the Jewish Midwest: Mom and Pop Grocery Stores                                                                                Omaha, Lincoln, Greater Nebraska and Southwest Iowa

 

 

photo

 

 

Jews have a proud history as entrepreneurs and merchants. When Jewish immigrants began coming to America in greater and greater numbers during the late 19th century and early 20th century, many gravitated to the food industry, some as peddlers and fresh produce market stall hawkers, others as wholesalers, and still others as grocers.

Most Jews who settled in Nebraska came from Russia and Poland, with smaller segments from Hungary, Germany, and other central and Eastern European nations. They were variously escaping pogroms, revolution, war, and poverty. The prospect of freedom and opportunity motivated Jews, just as it did other peoples, to flock here.

At a time when Jews were restricted from entering certain fields, the food business was relatively wide open and affordable to enter. There was a time when for a few hundred dollars one could put a down payment on a small store. That was still a considerable amount of money before 1960, but it was not out of reach of most working men who scrimped and put away a little every week. And that was a good thing too because obtaining capital to launch a store was difficult. Most banks would not lend credit to Jews and other minorities until after World War II.

The most likely route that Jews took to becoming grocers was first working as a peddler, selling feed, selling produce by horse and wagon or truck, or apprenticing in someone else’s store. Some came to the grocery business from other endeavors or industries. The goal was the same – to save enough to buy or open a store of their own. By whatever means Jews found to enter the grocery business, enough did that during the height of this self-made era, from roughly the 1920s through the 1950s, there may have been a hundred or more Jewish-owned and operated grocery stores in the metro area at any given time.

Jewish grocers almost always started out modestly, owning and operating small Mom and Pop neighborhood stores that catered to residents in the immediate area. By custom and convenience, most Jewish grocer families lived above or behind the store, although the more prosperous were able to buy or build their own free-standing home.

Since most customers in Nebraska and Iowa were non-Jewish, store inventories reflected that fact, thus featuring mostly mainstream food and nonfood items, with only limited Jewish items and even fewer kosher goods. The exception to that rule was during Passover and other Jewish high holidays, when traditional Jewish fare was highlighted.

Business could never be taken for granted. In lean times it could be a real struggle. Because the margin between making it and not making was often quite slim many Jewish grocers stayed open from early morning to early evening, seven days a week, even during the Sabbath, although some stores were closed a half-day on the weekend. Jewish stores that did close for the Sabbath were open on Sunday.

Jewish grocery stores almost always became multi-generation family affairs. The classic story was for a husband and wife to open a store and for their children to “grow up” in it. In some families there was a definite expectation for the children to follow and succeed their parents in the business. But there were as many variations on this story as families themselves. In some cases, the founder, almost always a male, was joined in the business by a brother or brothers or perhaps a brother in law. Therefore, a child born into a grocer family might have one or both parents and some combination of uncles, aunts, siblings, and cousins working there, too.

Of course, not every child followed his folks into the family business. Because most early Jewish grocers did not have much in the way of a formal education, the family business was viewed as a springboard for their children to complete an education, even to go onto college. It was a means by which the next generation could advance farther than their parents had, whether in the family grocery business or in a professional field far removed from stocking shelves and bagging groceries.

Some Jewish grocers went in and out of business in a short time, but many enjoyed long runs, extending over generations. Some proprietors stayed small, with never more than a single store, while others added more stores to form chains (the Tuchman brothers) and others (like the Bakers and the Newmans) graduated from Mom and Pop shops to supermarkets. Some owners made their success as grocers only to leave that segment of the food business behind to become wholesale suppliers and distributors (Floyd Kulkin), even food manufacturers (Louis Albert).

Whatever path Jewish grocers took, the core goal was the same, namely to provide for their families and to stake out a place of their own that offered continued prosperity. For a Jewish family, especially an immigrant Jewish family, owning a store meant self-sufficiency and independence. It was a means to an end in terms of assimilation and acceptance. It was a real, tangible sign that a family had arrived and made it. Most Jewish grocers didn’t get rich, but most managed to purchase their own homes and send their kids to college. It was a legitimate, honorable gateway to achieving the American Dream, and one well within reach of people of modest means.

For much of the last century Jewish grocery stores could be found all over the area, in rural as well as in urban locales, doing business where there were no other Jews and where there was a concentration of Jews. In Nebraska and Western Iowa there have historically been few Jewish enclaves, meaning that Jewish grocers depended upon Gentiles for the bulk of their business. Dealing with a diverse clientele was a necessity.

In some instances, Jewish grocers and their fellow Jewish business owners catered to distinct ethnic groups. For example, from the 1920s through the 1960s the North 24th Street business district in Omaha was the commercial hub for the area’s largely African-American community. During that period the preponderance of business owners along and around that strip were Jewish, including several grocers, some of whom lived in the neighborhood. These circumstances meant that Jews and blacks in Omaha were mutually dependent on each other in a manner that didn’t exist before and hasn’t existed since. When the last in a series of civil disturbances in the district did significant damage there, the last of the Jewish merchants moved out. Only a few Jewish owned grocery stores remained in what was the Near Northside.

Until mechanical refrigeration became standard, customers had to shop daily or at least every other day to buy fresh products to replenish their ice boxes and pantries. Having to shop so frequently at a small, family-run neighborhood store meant that customers and grocers developed closer, more personal relationships than they generally do today. Grocers not only knew their regular customers by name but knew their buying patterns so well that they could fill an order without even looking at a list.

Home delivery was a standard service offered by most grocers back in the day. Some stores were mainly cash and carry operations and others primarily charge and delivery endeavors. Taking grocery orders by phone was commonplace.

Most grocers extended credit to existing customers, even carrying them during rough times. It was simply the way business was conducted then. A person’s word was their bond.

Fridays were generally the busiest day in the grocery business because it’s when most laborers got paid and it’s when families stocked up for the big weekend meal most households prepared.

Jewish grocers were among the founders and directors of cooperatives, such as the United Associated Grocers Co-op or United AG and the Lincoln Grocers Association, that gave grocers increased buying power on the open market.

With only a few exceptions today, the intimate, family neighborhood stores are a thing of the past. As automobiles and highways changed the landscape to accommodate the burgeoning suburbs, newer, larger chain stores and supermarkets emerged whose buying and selling power the Mom and Pops could not compete with on anything like an even basis. Thus, the Mom and Pop stores, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, began fading away.

Because Jewish grocers were such familiar, even ubiquitous fixtures in the community, the majority population gave little thought to the fact that Omaha Jewish merchants like the Bakers (Baker’s Supermarkets) or the Newmans (Hinky Dinky), who began with Mom and Pop stores, led the transition to supermarket chains. For much of the metro’s history then, Jews controlled a large share of the grocery market, helping streamline and modernize the way in which grocers did business and consumers shopped.

It is true the one-to-one bond between grocer and consumer may have all but disappeared with the advent of the supermarket and discount store phenomenon. The days of grocers filling each customer order individually went by the wayside in the new age of self-service.

One thing that’s never changed is the fact that everybody has to eat and Jews have been at the forefront of fulfilling that basic human need for time immemorial. The Jewish grocer was an extension of the friendly neighborhood bubbe or zayde or mensch in making sure his or her customers always had enough to eat.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: