Ordinary day, if it’s February - yesterday’s cruel cold abated a bit, but the wind kept the temps 20 degrees below normal. Faces are drawn and moods are short.

Yesterday passed without a Dome destruction update, probably because it’s been destroyed. The loss of a structure always opens up vistas not seen for decades, if ever. This view from the stairwell of the StarTribune hasn’t been seen for thirty years: the towers of Cedar Square West, now known as something else that doesn’t matter because it will always be Cedar Square West, just like the Pan Am Building is that, forever, and the Sears Tower is the Sears Tower.

It’s about as grim and uninspiring an urban vista as you’d want, but all this will change. Grass will grow on the ground where my office now stands. Good thing buildings aren’t sentient, because I would hate to have that conversation.

I’m going down for somethin' wonderful, aren’t I?

Yes. Yes you are. (bites lip)

Tell me about it! It’s gonna be a tall tower with spires and ev’rythng, isn’t it?

Like the Empire State.

Oh boy! Well, I hate to go, but gosh, if they’re gonna knock me down for something I’m glad it’s a real humdinger. Some guys get demolished, they’re just an empty lot. Or maybe some grass.

Grass isn’t bad; cities need grass.

Oh grass is fine by me but this block oughta be something important. Grass can go anywhere. Say, you got a picture of what it’s gonna look like?

(Takes out old Hugh Ferris renderings of New York)

Wow. y’know something, pal? I’m almost glad I’m going down. I’m proud to do my part.

(wipes away a tear)

Aw, don’t cry. They’re saving my medallions, right? You can come and visit them. Bring me flowers or somethin’. Oh cmon, don't.

I don't know why the building talked like an eager simpleton with a good heart, but at least it didn't call me George.


Yesterday’s boring burrito incident occurred at Qdoba, and I mention it because they did indeed contact me today. They were sorry to hear I was not impressed with the chicken and wanted to know if it would be okay to send me a coupon for two free entries, so I could try them again.

Well, of course. So I will go back and if I like it, I will say so. Only fair.

The amusing thing is that I wouldn’t have filled out the online survey if they hadn’t given me the shiny plastic card to register; I’m usually not of those folk who rushes home and completes an online survey about their dining experience. I expect that most of the people who do so, complain. And I was one of them. Now, we balanced it out, karmically, with the positive review of Panda Express, where daughter ate. (She gave everything Fours, since Five seemed a bit much for rice and chicken. It was okay. It wasn’t bad, which would be two, and it wasn’t disappointing but acceptable, which would have been three. I wanted to give them a poor mark for font choice on the cookies, though:

Column night; I'd feel bad at leaving it at this, but heck. So much below, including a Restaurant Interiors update, the penultimate entry. Let's begin.




I'm still unsure how I ended up in Nebraska, let alone in Minden. As it turns out I had some sport with their Pioneer Village back in the Archives of the Institute of Official Cheer. When I zoomed in on the town I saw a square with a civic building in the middle - the classic town layout you associate with Southern towns, perhaps. Well, I dropped into the street view, and . . . .



All pictures from Google Street View, of course.


Shingled windows and a carved-off cornice. It looks like a giant owl exploded inside.

Most of the second stories appear to have been willfully blinded.


All pictures from Google Street View, of course.

Theater? No. There's an opera house, though, and no doubt it was patronized by this upstanding citizen:

As for the fine brick building:

All pictures from Google Street View, of course.


The County Seat building can be seen if you swing around the map above. It is partially obscured by trees. Its origin was the subject of some civic-minded skullduggery, it seems; here's how the town's website puts it.

Some called it foresight, but others considered the establishment of Minden as the county seat to be stealing, pure and simple. The town was only a stretch of open prairie in 1876, without a single inhabitant or building, when settlers voted 165 to 67 to remove the courthouse from Lowell to the more centrally-located "Minden."

Following the election authorizing relocation, a large number of settlers from the divide area went to Lowell to get the county records. When they arrived they found, tied with a red ribbon to the door of the county clerk's office, a note saying that his wife was ill with a very contagious disease so it was dangerous to enter the office. "Besides," the note continued, "there is no suitable place in Minden where the records can be kept."

The warning was ignored. The records were loaded into waiting wagons and carried off to Minden.

There isn't even a town named Lowell any more. Minden may have gotten the landmark courthouse but it's almost as if it was repaid for its sin with desultory downtown decline. But that would be a crude metaphysical assumption based on the pictures a car took when it drove through, and that's not fair.

No bank, no movie theater, no WPA post office. I decided to head west and see if there was something a bit more substantial, and that's when I found Holdredge. Hmm:

All pictures from Google Street View, of course.


It's like a city for people three feet tall.

The Outpost of the Great Civilizations Beyond:

The banks tell an interesting tale. Old, old bank building on a corner in the late 19th century rusticated style:

View Larger Map

And a modern bank, bringing Holdredge squarely into the middle of the 20th century:

View Larger Map

The bank's website dates the exterior renovation at 1967.

There's more - the downtown does sprawl around. But this is what I liked the most. The grand hotel, seemingly larger than a town of this size might need:

View Larger Map

The Hotel Dale. Manager: Dale Luke. Construction started in 1931, and it was named after Dale from the start - his parents built it and apparently bestowed it upon him in later years.

And now it stands with the restaurant closed and nothing on Google but a few dozen pages for its barbershop, tossed up by those meaningless yellow-pages-type sites.

The bank website noted above says that the city had early competition from Phelps Center, a town that no longer exists. Nothing left on the map.

Holdredge won.

Restaurant update, as the pane above demonstrates; Work Blog in small portion around noon-thirty or so; Tumblr, of course, every day. See you around!




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