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“Growing Together”
September 19, 2007

Maybe I should tell you a little about myself before I get too far into this job. My husband, Vince, and I came to the skating rink on our first date in 1998. We lived in Auburn at the time and I had never even heard of Elmwood before, let alone the skating rink. Vince brought one of his granddaughters, McKenzie, and I brought my daughter, Millie. We’ve been skating ever since. We decided to move to Elmwood in 2001 after looking at all of the towns in the area. It was hard to choose but Elmwood had the skating rink and a really nice park. The fact that the school system had a good reputation was also a plus. Our family went to the skating rink all the time and became good friends with the owners, Lou and Suzie Allgayer. When it came time for them to retire we couldn’t bear the thought of the rink closing so we bought it. We are going on our second year and are having the time of our lives. The kids are great fun and we love thinking of new ideas to keep them happy.
Our daughter is a freshman at Elmwood-Murdock High School. I’m not allowed to talk about her. Let’s just say, she’s a beautiful, smart, funny girl who is a joy in my life. I’ll probably slip in a story or two about her once in awhile….just don’t tell her…I’m sure she won’t read this newsletter. Our son, Joseph, is a fifth grader at the elementary school. He was born with Spina Bifida but has not let that slow him down. Joe’s favorite past time is fishing, playing with bugs, and teasing our two cats and two dogs.
I will be writing stories with a personal touch to them. I write like I talk, which is a lot, so I hope you enjoy our one sided conversations together. My grammar won’t always be the best and I often can’t figure out how to not end a sentence in a preposition but if you can put up with that we’ll have a fun time. Feel free to email me with your thoughts and ideas for stories, too.

What a difference a day makes! Saturday was a reminder that fall will soon be in the air while Sunday felt like summer was trying to hang on to us. Since it was so nice Sunday afternoon I ventured out with our two dogs for a walk. We headed over to the park to check out the equipment and to think. I'm working on a project to improve the park and wanted to sit in the midst of the park and think about it. As we approached the park I could see that someone was using the picnic shelter and other people were lounging on the play equipment. They were all dressed alike in bicyclist garb. There was a van and a larger truck with stickers all over it. I could see that they were taking a break in their Tour Across the Country. So the dogs and I headed home where I deposited them in the pen and grabbed the only camera available and headed back to the park. The bicyclists were just getting ready to leave when I arrived. I asked if I could get some information about them since this was the biggest news in town over the weekend. They told me I was not the first asking for photos and the story but they were glad to accommodate me. They were the second group in a group of three who were making a trek across part of the United States to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network which sponsors Children's Hospitals across America. The first group left from Chicago and rode to Iowa City. This group of 14 bicyclists picked up their legg of the journey there and was riding to Lincoln. A third group would leave Lincoln and ride to Denver. On Saturday they stopped in Omaha to leave a check for the money they had raised so far. They had been riding for five days and were ready to finish off the trip that day. They usually spent their evenings getting massages and relaxing in a hotel which sounds like a perfect way to unwind after riding a bike all day. Soon they all climbed on their bikes and headed south on Highway 1 toward Highway 34. Shortly after that I saw their van and truck head out, too. The support personnel cleaned up the lunch mess and were bringing up the rear. Someone must have forgotten something though because a lone bicyclist was seen riding north through Elmwood back toward the park long after everyone else had taken off. Could it be that he enjoyed the visit so much he just couldn't leave Elmwood?

I guess it is wrong to say that there wasn't anything interesting happening in Elmwood this weekend. I found it very interesting to watch the traffic heading through Elmwood Saturday going to Lincoln for the game or game day parties. There were many flags flying on the vehicles to show their support for the Huskers! I love it when the Husker game is a home game. I’ve only been to one Husker game in my life and that is probably enough but I can appreciate the feeling of camaraderie that brings Nebraskans together on game days. Whether you are an alumni of UNL or just a resident of Nebraska you belong to “the Club.” I always root for the home team whether it is Elmwood-Murdock or the Huskers. We had the game on at the skating rink Saturday night. I was told that the boys would not come if they couldn't watch the game so I made sure we had it on when they walked in the door. We had a dad from Lincoln bring his six daughters out to skate that night and he was glad to have them occupied with skating while he enjoyed the game. He was right in there cheering with the boys when the Huskers scored. The boys would take a victory lap hootin' and hollerin' around the rink floor whenever the Huskers made a touchdown. Football, the Huskers, pizza, and kids, once again, small town Nebraska is the place to be!

Have you been on Highway 34 going to Lincoln lately? If so, you've probably seen the Punkin’ Patch. It is operated by Walter and Carolyn Oehlerking and their son and his wife, John and Carae. The Punkin’ Patch got started after a vacation one year by John and Carae. The family dairy farm was closing and they needed something new to do with the farm. On their trip they found a pumpkin farm that gave hay rack rides out to the fields to let people pick their own pumpkins for a fee. They came back to Nebraska and decided to try it themselves. They planted pumpkins and sold them at harvest and decided it was worth the trouble. They set up a wagon with pumpkins in Walter and Carolyn’s front yard and have been selling pumpkins every fall for six years. Every year it gets a little bigger. It has gone from a simple pumpkin stand to attractions for kids and adults.
The Punkin’’ Patch has a hayrack full of pumpkins with the Punkin’ Patch sign in the front yard where it can catch the eye of passersby on the road. There are tables and bins of pumpkins and gourds that will also turn heads. We aren't talking about just ordinary orange pumpkins either. They have more than that to choose from. There are white pumpkins, green pumpkins, gray pumpkins, watermelon pumpkins, and calico pumpkins. Big pumpkins, little pumpkins, flat pumpkins, round pumpkins, pumpkins that look like ghosts! In the old milking barn at the back of the display they have cornstalks, bales of straw, Indian corn, and dried sunflowers for sale. We took one of the sunflowers home and hung it in the tree for the squirrels and the birds. I’m sure they will fight over the seeds!

The families believe that people are basically good, trustworthy, and honest so they operate the Punkin’ Patch on the honor system. Everything is priced and the customers stick their payment in a locked box. If you disagree with the pricing you are encouraged to stop at one of their homes and negotiate the price. They even have a guest registry so that they will know where their visitors come from.

The harvesting of the fruits and vegetables takes about two weekends and six to eight people picking, toting, washing, and pricing the pumpkins. Friends and family help out along with the local church youth group. John and Carae’s almost three year old son, Tucker, is also a big help on the farm. He helps to arrange and rearrange the pumpkins.

Each year the Oehlerkings’ add more attractions to their Punkin’ Patch. Last year they added a Corn Maze. They tried that again this year but the corn was ruined in an early wind storm. The cleaned up that field and planted sunflowers which are a beautiful site to the west of the Punkin’ Patch. They decided to use the corn field across the road to the south for the Corn Maze this year. They have an amateur maze and then a more challenging maze on four acres. Again, on the honor system, guests are asked to put a dollar in the box per person to go through the maze. They have more attractions, too. There is a corn pit similar to a sand box but made with kernels of corn. This year there are cut outs of a scarecrow, a spider, a fly, some jack o lanterns, some bats, and a ghost for the kids to play sand bag toss or to stand with for pictures.

Shoppers often are greeted by the friendly farm cats and the big black lab named, Bailey. The down home farm is a pleasure to visit. The Oehlerking’s have made it an inviting place to bring your families and shop for Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins or decorations. It is a much simpler version of the more commercial pumpkin patch attractions but there is something to be said for the personal touch that you get when someone trusts you and welcomes you onto their farm. It’s called friendship. And that’s the feeling you get at the Punkin’’ Patch.

The Punkin' Patch
Two miles south of Elmwood and 1 mile west on Highway 34
Walter and Carolyn Oehlerking
John and Carae Oehlerking
28614 "O" Street
Elmwood, NE 68349
(402)994-4305 or (402)994-2048 - located in the business directory section
Roadside stand open from dawn to dusk - Mid Sept - Oct. 31st.

Did you know that Monday, September 17th, was Constitution Day? I did notice it on the calendar but didn’t give it much thought. I know that Joseph has been talking about a play at school on the 17th but once again, I didn’t give it much thought other than to take off work early so I could be there for it. The fifth grade made a wonderful presentation about what they had learned about the constitution. Mr. Jeff Johnston had taught them about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Houses of government, and then they put it to music! Not only was the presentation informative but it was funny, too. The kids obviously worked hard on their presentation and learned a lot from it. I only wish I had remembered my camera so I could show you a picture of them. Just picture twenty three fifth graders singing “We the People….”

Moving / Garage Sale
Saturday, September 29th (Rain or Shine!)
Starts 8:00 a.m.

204 East C Street, Elmwood
Directions: At CD’s Express, one block East, Grey house with fence on the NE corner. Garage is on the North side off the alley.

Crib with Mattress
Baby Walker
High Chair
Baby linens
Children’s Toys & Games
Chairs: Recliner / Rockers
Day Bed
Lawn Chairs
6 White Stackable Lawn Chairs w/cover
Folding Chairs
Upholstered Bar Stools
TV Trays
Small End Tables
Stereo w/speakers
Boys Bicycle
Car Bicycle Rack
Coiled Hoses
Book Case
Lrg Round Table w/formica top (seats 6-8)
6 Upholstered Stack Chairs
2 Electric Space Heaters
Red Metal Lanterns
Scroll Saw
Weight Machine
Refrigerator w/Beer Tap
Small Upright Freezer
Kitchen, Linens, & Much Misc. Items
Holiday Décor

….and a whole bunch more!!

Julie Anderson


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Village of Elmwood, NE, 2006- 2007