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It’s a small town; watch your tongue

July 10, 2009

A short while after we returned from our reconnaissance trip to Scottsbluff, we got a thank-you note (yes, seriously – a hand-written, personal thank-you note) from Suella Hanlon for staying at the Hanlon House. In it, she mentioned that “lots of people in town said they enjoyed meeting you”.

Um . . . really? “Lots of people” were talking about us?

I had to do a little mental backtracking to figure out what this meant.

When we visited the Farm And Ranch Museum, we got to talking with the museum volunteers and explained the purpose of our visit. When it came out that husband was considering taking a job at the extension and research station, they immediately knew who he was. Crazy. He hadn’t even accepted the job yet, and they knew his name and his background?

We were introduced to Charlie Fenster, a legendary agricultural researcher who played a big role in conservation tillage in the post-dustbowl era. He gave us a personal tour of the conservation tillage museum exhibit, which he himself developed. It was pretty interesting to learn the techniques he used to preserve the plant material and to get the color and texture of the soil just so.

Before we departed, we wandered outside to see the museum’s small herd of Texas longhorn cattle, and were met by the driving force behind the Farm And Ranch Museum, Nancy Haney, with whom we talked for awhile .

The museum’s Texas longhorns, lying in the grass, gossiping.

I’m not sure if our conversation with Nancy got around town, but I’m sure our meeting with Charlie did. When we mentioned to Suella that we’d talked with Charlie Fenster, she said that her dad lived in the same retirement community as Charlie. We were probably a topic of conversation at the Northfield Villa that evening.

Key point of the story: when the leaders of the community know about you before your arrival, and your visit is a topic of conversation around town, be very circumspect in what you say – it will get around.

UPDATE: Farm And Ranch Museum joined forces with the former North Platte Valley Museum to become Legacy of the Plains Museum at 2930 Old Oregon Trail in Gering. See the Legacy of the Plains Museum website for the most recent updates.

Copyright 2009 by Katie Bradshaw

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