OK, this was Friday night – the opening salvo of a busy weekend. I’m still trying to catch up!
[Arlou Behing and Gary Lund as Nicolina and Knute Nelson.]
“A Night at . . .” began a few years ago as a mid-winter fundraiser for the museum. The thought behind it was it would an opportunity to see and visit with folks you may not have seen since the golf courses closed, i.e., a stop-and-chat with good food and beverages. Initially, it was a great success. I remember when it was just about impossible to amble through the displays with a glass of red wine. But this year . . .
We were very disappointed with the turnout this year. Despite the usual advertising – a large article with photos in the Echo and Julie Blank, the museum’s executive director, was on KXRA’s “Open Line” the week of the event – attendance was way down. Overcome by a competing lutefisk feed that evening? We don’t know, but the museum board is wondering if the event has run its course.
Nevertheless, those who did attend were treated to an evening of “history comes alive” with featured guests Darwin Ohman, grandson to the discoverer of the Runestone; Al Lieffort, Douglas County parks director; Andy Vano, CEO for Bellanca; David Galbraith (Carol Meyer’s grandson) was “bear;” Kristie Neller was Clara Kincaid (the Kincaid brothers founded Alexandria); Bill and Josie Heegaard were medical people of the time; and Tom Obert was Newton J. Trenham. Most were in period costume – Trenham’s period costume was 1960’s collegiate. And Beverage Wholesalers, Garden Center, Bistro To Go, The Depot Express, and Arrowwood Resort and Convention Center provided all the beverages and hors d’oeuvres. Many thanks to them – they were great!
The following is an ambling video tour of the museum:
[We interrupt this reverie to wonder what are all the things that are suppose to happen when Hell freezes over? We’re waiting. After a week’s reprieve, we’re back to real winter. This morning required that an old man drag the garbage cans to the end of the driveway, get the newspaper, slog back up the driveway to begin shoveling snow off the slab, quit shoveling snow off the slab when he realized he was getting too cold to do so in his bathrobe, decide not to go to the gym because there would be plenty of exercise at home, head back out at daylight to discover that the garbage had been picked up but the snowplow had come by to bank in the end of the driveway . . . and the garbage cans. Shovel out the garbage cans and the end of the driveway. With the help of the missus, shovel the entire length of the driveway and all decks. Go inside to remove wet clothing. Deciding an afternoon of watching “On Demand” TV on the lower level sounded like a good idea. Grabbing a warm bottle of “3-buck Chuck” chardonnay and sticking it in a snowdrift on the deck (yes, as daylight ebbed, we could tell more shoveling was ahead). After an hour, enjoyed the “Chuck” and the “On Demand” NBC Thursday night line-up.]
[Newton J. and his camera. One of the joys of growing older is finding out you really like certain things that as a younger person you either despised or were indifferent to. Now I find writing, photography, and history to be really fun. Before being asked to participate in this event, I had never heard of Newton J. So, I researched him. I had seen old photos of Alex but hadn’t thought much about who took them. Well, it was Newton J. Born in New York in 1840, died in Florida in 1924 – lived a long time and became a snowbird! But he was actually quite famous in his era. He owned Trenham Photos in Alex, on Main Street (before it became Broadway), and took photos of the entire town (population 800) in 1876 for the country’s centennial. At this time, it was “wet” plate photo technology – meaning Newton had to develop his photos almost immediately on the spot (“dry” plates came in 1880, allowing more time before developing). I found it interesting that though Alex celebrates its “birth” date as 1858, it did not become incorporated or hold city elections until 1877, the year after the country’s centennial.]
[“Clara Kincaid.” (Subsequent note from Laura McCoy: “You need to learn about Clara Kincaid. Without Clara’s diary we would know very little about Alexandria’s beginning. There is a whole genealogy of the Kincaid family and Clara’s diary is part of it. The brothers William and Alexander Kincaid came here first. Both single. They found land for brother George Kincaid and his wife Clara and the story goes on. We have a video in the gift shop of the whole story. I think it sells for about ten dollars. It was made locally by Barb Grover and Ann Hermes and others. The reason Alexandria was named after Alexander Kincaid was because he was the Postmaster at the time. The post office was located in his house. History makes it sound like our city name was pulled out of a hat. The pictures are good and you did just fine on the information.”)]
[William Hicks was a real mover and shaker at the time – Alexandria could have been named “Hicksville” or “Hickstown”!]