Back to the Fair, to use a line I will use daily until Labor Day, and this time I knew exactly what I wanted to get. Crop Art. What I didn’t expect was a big collection of Seed Bag Art, and it’s wonderful.

Here are some examples because that’s all you’re getting. Really: tomorrow is even worse, what with the radio show (three hours) and a podcast (one hour) and errands AND a column AND another video. Times like these you lament growing up in an era that frowns upon enthusiastic consumption of benzedrine. Not that I would, but these are trying times.

Mind you, it’s not the quantity of work, it’s the starting-from-zero every time on every thing. And there's this: I've been to the Fair twice. And it hasn't even begun.

So: seed bag art. Basic sturdy yeoman brand:

The same company also flat-out admitted it's just damned cold up here:

Asking the devil for help? Can't hurt! Well, in the long run, yes, it will, but the bank's been calling in loans all over the county.

There's a story behind this, and you'll find it in Tuesday's video at


Modern design finally takes over, and adds a fresh clean look to the farm:

Even the Space Age got in on the gig.

They're rare, these bags - not just because farmers reused them until they fell apart, but because the bags themselves had instructions on how to rinse away the colors so they could be used as dishrags. No one figured they'd be regarded some day as works of art, worthy of collecting; they'd have scoffed.

Except for that one farmer who liked the way they looked and set them aside for some reason. Crazy Hank. He actually collects the fool things.

BY THE WAY, if you go and scroll down to the videos, you'll see the answer to yesterday's seed-art teaser.



Back to Nebraska, where they do small towns right. Somehow that fits. Our town today has 30,00 souls.

Oh, what this poor fellow has seen. 1905, with just a few original peices of the facade surviving. Did anyone look at that stone and think "well, this establishment is certainly up with the times; no fears that outmoded, antiquated ideas lurk within, ready to disappoint my up-to-the-minute mindset."

But in the same downtown, something that doesn't look as if it's changed in 110 years.

What's this - second floor windows with glass?

Let's zoom up to the top:

From Kearney's downtown history pamphlet:

The Nash building, while similar in design to its neighbor, is different in ornamentation with its elaborate roof line design and cornice window hoods. The Tripp building is highly decorated at and below the roof line, with curved window hoods and ornamental corner treatment. Both structures are beautiful examples of Victorian era architecture. While little is known about Tripp, W.L. Nash was a stock dealer who had offices on the second floor of his building.

The street level was first the Russell & Jakway Hardware Store. In 1935 The Tripp and Nash buildings combined into the Kearney Hardware which continued into the 1970’s.

Nice job. Then again, there's this glowering example of the modern world:


Looks like the lower mandible could smash down and crush people before they got in the door. Perhaps Stephen King had a sideline as an architect.

The Andrews Block:

Some unfortunate brick-work, but look at the windows on the second floor: decal names of the tenants? Is this 1927?

You might wonder if it was built all at once, or in two phases. Take an educated guess.

Noted only because I like the mid-century facades with names that may or may not have survived. This one looks like wood.

I should also note that I am not in favor of trees downtown. They were a 70s / 80s thing, and while it can be done well - Minneapolis is going to put in trees downtown, but they'll be manicured and "artistically arranged." These always look overgrown.

Another facade of yore:

It was built as the Richardson building, but Mr. Henline bought it and that gave him the right to chisel off the old name and add his own. The third floor's bricked-up windows may have had somthing to do with its tenants, but we'll get to that.


Around the corner, a snazzy - and rare - piece of downtown neon.

More of the Henline. What's with the windows? Did the tenants have secret rituals they didn't want anyone to see? Possibly. That was, for a while, the Masonic Temple.

New sign on an old facade:

And by "new" I mean relatively so. It may be a dentist's office, but it's handsomely maintained. It was a restaurant theater for a while - and red. But that would make people think of inflamed gums.

A piece of perfect Middle-America downtown, right here:

For once I'll endorse the 50s renovation, partly because it's survived intact. I'll bet the window on the left looked into the studios. Or the right, for that matter. You could walk downtown and see the announcer running the swapmeet or Noon-day News or the Farm report or whatever small-town staples of the airwaves they ran.

Finally: the post WWI Masonic Temple, and then some.

More here. It's open, and has a gorgeous website.


Here: take a tour!


Videos up at, in the early afternoon. Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


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