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Chuck Hinman, IJMA No. 323 Hi! Where Are You From?

"It struck me that this is a kind of 'Thanksgiving' story," editor Robert Stone wrote when he sent this absolute jewel of a story about the state made famous here by Chuck Hinman, few in Adair County know anything about except from Mrs. Mary Richards geography class at Adair County High School where we learned the delicious word 'unicameral', or from the two people we know who have actually been there, Tim Loy, who has made a solemn vow to return to Nebraska, eat the best steak in Omaha, and send an engineer's analysis back for the Epicurean Kentuckian series; and Dr. Phil Aaron, who reported on communities in Nebraska where, our, Arkansas' and Oklahoma's Janice Holt Giles vies with Nebraska's Willa Cather for favorite writer - almost. This is 'IT'S JUST ME AGAIN', No. 123, "Hi! Where are You From," by Chuck Hinman, fast becoming many Adair Countians favorite writer. And by the way, if you decide to go to Liberty, NE, you might make it in time for supper tonight. It's 781 miles from the Courthouse in Columbia, KY. A trip would be homage to the late Homer Goodin, who took a similar trip to Muskogee,OK, on a whim one morning after being inspired by the song 'Okie from Muskogee.' -EW
The next earlier Chuck Hinman story, accompanied by a Tim Loy travel photo of 'The Sower Atop the Nebraska State Capitol', is at Chuck Hinman IJMA No. 327: The Sower Atop Nebraska's Capitol Building

by Chuck Hinman

Most people like to brag about where they are "from." Nobody claims to be from "here" even though they have lived "here" much longer than the place they're "from."

I have lived in Oklahoma three times as long as I lived in Nebraska. I have lived and raised a family here but no way do I say Oklahoma is where I am "from"! Let me tell you about the place I am "from."
"There is No Place Like Nebraska"

There is no place like Nebraska
Dear old Nebraska U
Where the girls are the fairest
The boys are the squarest
Of any old place that I knew

There is no place like Nebraska
Where they're all true blue
We'll all stick together
In all kinds of weather
For dear old Nebraska U.
If the strains of that old school song of my alma mater, sung to the accompaniment of a massive band with a huge baritone section, don't chill you, you haven't an ounce of Nebraska blood in you! In a word -- "You Aren't Big Red!" Excuse me -- four words!

I am 86 years old, walk feebly with a cane, yet when the strains of that loved tune touch my worn-out ear drums, I get goose-pimples on wrinkled skin, my saliva-soaked mouth turns into a proud smile revealing dentures that have eaten their share of fresh corn-on-the-cob! And I have a strange feeling I could discard my cane and walk erectly to the cadence of that song even as I try to snap my arthritic crippled fingers! But the resulting noise from snapping my fingers is more felt than heard!

My mind is suddenly transformed into a movie projector that fast-plays four score and four years of a full and satisfying life in a brief but nostalgic period of time!

The first twenty-four years of that life -- less forty-one months carved out for military service -- were spent in and around Liberty, Nebraska.

Times were especially tough economically for my parents, but as a youngster growing up on the farm, I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything,
--- going to Barneston on Saturday nights to watch a free -- outdoor still -- movie with a one-cent package of life-savers in my shirt pocket,

--- going to Finks Park west of Wymore to swim on Sunday afternoon,

--- getting together with the gang (neighborhood farm families) for a pot-luck supper on Friday evenings,

--- delivering May baskets in the neighborhood on May 1st and hoping that Allie Dillow didn't catch me and kiss me on the mouth (I'm poisoned!),

--- going to Christian Endeavor on Sunday evenings at Liberty Congregational Church,

--- playing touch-football on Sunday -- afternoons with Brother Bob and Bill and Earl Price,

--- going to Grandma (Hiles) and Grandpa Mouser's house in Blue Springs after church for Sunday dinner and eating some of Grandma's famous roast beef and brown gravy,

--- cutting sunflowers and cockleburs in August,

--- cutting wood or shucking corn in the winter months when school was out on Saturdays,

--- snowball fights in the winter,

--- going to the bluffs to swim ala nude,

--- New Hope elementary school,

--- and riding bikes to High School uphill both ways,

--- forever going out to the pasture to round-up the cows for milking,

--- harnessing the work horses -- Dick and Diamond, Fannie and Major,

--- playing with Sport the dog,

--- watching the cows playing "Doctor" with one of the cows (maybe a bull) riding on the cows back to the "hospital" (wink),

--- having homemade ice cream with the gang,

--- scraps with Brother Bob and teasing sister Joy Ann,

--- Saturday night beans (Bang-Bang),

--- and of course a Saturday night bath, whether you needed it or not,

--- going off to Peru to college,

--- then military service for 41 months,

--- and back to University of Nebraska, Lincoln

--- where did the time go!
As I reflect through dimmed teary eyes, truly -- "There is no place like Nebraska" and I wouldn't trade my memories with anyone! The signs on entering Nebraska "The Good Life" are true.

God has blessed America and Nebraska and particularly me!

Thank you Lord!!

Chuck Hinman, former Nebraska farm boy, spent his working days with Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Houston, Texas. He lives at Tallgrass Estates in Bartlesville where he keeps busy writing his memories.

This story was posted on 2009-11-22 02:37:07
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