Friday, June 12, 2009

Plattsmouth, Barada and the team...

Story and photo by Bruce Thorson

June 11, 2009, Plattsmouth, Neb: Bill Babbitt, 79, says he saw it all coming, the economic downfall that is. "I saw this happening five years ago, the mortgage situation, the credit card debt going crazy. I sold everything. I sold both houses, one in Arizona and one here in Plattsmouth. I sold this building. I'm glad I got out when I did," he said. He still works out of the building he once owned. "A friend of mine bought it." From this building he runs an antique store. His other business is housed in the building and sold on eBay. "I sell car parts, license plates and toys," he said as he showed a stack of sales receipts from just the last week. Most of his sales are under $100 but he claims he made $93,000 last year from doing business on the web.

Story and photo by Bruce Thorson

June 9, 2009, Barada, Neb: "I'm ornery and cantankerous," Mary Howard, 83, hollered out, but always followed any comment like that with a either a big grin or a loud laugh. She loves drinking cherry Pepsi. She opens the store " when I get up," and she closes the store "when I go to bed," she said. In between those two events she sits in her wheelchair and waits for customers from the Barada citizenry, a village with a population of 28, to show up. An old antique cash register sits off to the side. "Never user it" she popped off. "Didn't work." Mary keeps a notepad near her. When customers buy groceries, she writes it down in the notepad. "I keep a tab right here of everything they buy." About the Great Depression, she says people were most worried about what they would have to eat," she said.

Story and photo by Bruce Thorson

June 9, 2009, Barada, Neb: Mary Howard has owned and operated Howard's Grocery for 43 years. She had a stroke two years ago and lost the use of her left arm and leg. She uses a wheelchair a majority of the time to get around and can still do some walking with the aid of walker. She still does all the work running the store. "Before I had the stroke, I used to have more shelves filled with groceries. The back shelf used to be full of candy," she said. Her determination to keep doing as much for herself as she can is strong. About the Great Recession, she says people are most worried about whether or not they'll have enough money."

Story and photo by Bruce Thorson

June 9, 2009, Barada, Neb: More than 43 years ago, Mary Howard moved away from the farm, took her kids and bought the grocery store in town. She left the farm behind because of a bad memory. Her oldest son, Terry, 16 at the time, was killed when the tractor he was driving tipped over. "All the other kids riding on it jumped clear of it but Terry didn't. It rolled and killed him."

Story and photo by Bruce Thorson/Assisted by Larry Kinkade

June 10, 2009, Barada, Neb: THE UNL PHOTO TEAM and MARY--Kyle Bruggeman (left), Clay Lomneth, Mary Howard, Bruce Thorson and Patrick Breen in front of Mary's store, Howard's Grocery, the store Mary has owned for 43 years.

Our team will be on the road for two months traveling across Nebraska to find out what life here is like in small towns, how people live, work and play and what Nebraskans think about the economic downturn.

1 comment:

  1. you all almost look like movie stars. I can't believe there are still stores that run tabs for customers. That is relieving.