Shirley Smith (center) rears back with laughter as she jokingly talks with her friends, Grace Faw (left) and Iris Upward, about raising money being calendar pin-up gals. The trio got together at the restaurant, Take Five, to celebrate Smith's 80th birthday.
Story and Photo by Bruce Thorson
June 2, 2009, Arapahoe, Neb: I met Grace Faw earlier in the day at Faw's Garage. Faw's is losing it Chrysler Dodge franchise, but it will not be closing. Her husband, Cal, is the owner and the garage will remain open for vehicle repairs and to continue to sell other vehicles. She mentioned that later in the day she was getting together to help her friend, Shirley Smith, celebrate her 80th birthday.
"That's what we do in small towns, take care of each other and look out for each other," she said.
That seems to be a recurring theme I'm finding out about Nebraskans as I journey along on this photo project.
When Grace mentioned the impromptu birthday party, I asked if I could attend. She said, "Of course you can come." All three women are native Nebraskans.
And all three women remember life's harder times from years past than what the nation is experiencing now. "Small towns are not as effected. We don't demand high wages like in the bigger cities," Smith said.
She went on to say, "We didn't have closets filled with clothes and toys like kids have today. It was always after the election, had to be after the election and not before, we'd fold the metal, politicians' signs like a toboggan and ride it on the snow. Those signs were much bigger then and not like the smaller, cardboard ones they use now."
“We used a fence to make into a teeter-totter, put a wooden plank over and we had a teeter-totter,” Faw said.
Nebraskans, the older ones anyway, found ways while growing up during life’s hard times to make do with what they had. They spent their days outside playing, no TV, no iPods and no computer, just their imaginations and whatever "toys" they could find, like a fence and a plank.