Amy Sandeen and I were standing on a glacier in Iceland and I looked her and said do you know where we need to go? Sutton, Nebraska.
She smiled and said, of course we do.
A few weeks later we were walking into Browns' Thrift Store. More than fifty years ago my grandfather Adolph Roemmich would take my hand and walk me three LONG blocks from his house to Sutton’s main street. We’d go to Browns. For chocolate clusters and pickles. And to look at the magazine rack just inside the front door right next to the cash registers.
He’d show me Life, Time, Sports Illustrated. It was my window on the world outside rural Nebraska. Big bold beautiful images crafted by the best photographers working. What a life they must have had. Real life Walter Mitty’s. I saw things I’d never seen before presented by people who knew how to observe. .
I would spend hours looking at those publications—and the man running the store took pity on me, at my age, I couldn’t afford any of those glorious glossies, so he let me treat his store like a library.
So on a lovely late September afternoon this year I went in to pick up a coke. And found my past and my future.
The chocolate and pickles are still there. So is the magazine rack. Looks about the same, a little the worse from decades of use. There was a tow headed kid standing there looking at an SI. And one of my images was on the cover.
I grew up in the Panhandle. The big paper there is the Scottsbluff Star-Herald. As a kid I was a newspaper boy carrying the StarHerald to 100 homes, 6 days a week, for 4 years.
The Star-Herald would drop a bundle of the papers on my front lawn around 4:30 a.m., and by 5 a.m. I had folded them, put rubber bands around them and packed them into a cloth bag that fit on the handle bars of my bike. My route was 3 1/2 miles long. During the spring, summer and fall it was awesome. Up early, out on my bicycle, throwing things. Best exercise, best time of day, and it paid well.
It was a wonderful education.
Yet another nice hug from Nebraska.