Darrell Kraupie, owner of Kraupie's Real Estate and Auctioneers, talks on his cell phone and wipes away the sweat on his brow as he goes through the inspection of several buildings that are in foreclosure in Sidney, Neb.
Story and photos by Bruce Thorson
July 9, 2009, Bridgeport, Neb: I walked into the office of Kraupie's Real Estate and Auctioneers and introduced myself to the secretary. I gave her the pitch version of the project I'm working on. I could tell by the look on her face she was a little puzzled. That "look" is not uncommon, as I've been getting it ever since we started this journey to document life in Nebraska during the recession. Almost every time I meet people, give them the project description, they just look at me and say, "You want to photograph what?"
The secretary motioned for Alecia Kraupie to join in our conversation. She and her husband, Darrell, own the realty business. It's been around for over thirty years.
I asked Alecia if she had any house showings or any work regarding home sales that wasn't going to take place in the office.
She said, "Well, I do have to run over to a house and put up a sign." I asked if I could go along and take pictures of that. "You want to photograph me putting up a sign," she said somewhat quizzically. And I said yup, I do, and I did.
Before we could get out the door, before I could even get off of the reception-area couch, Darrell strolled out of his office and said, "I have to go to Sidney and look at a building. You wanna go along and photograph that?" he said.
I asked what the situation was in regards to the building and why it was for sale. He said, "It's a bank repo."
I said that's perfect for part of what this project is about.
All throughout this project I still get caught off guard at how friendly and nice people can be, people you meet and 20 seconds later they're saying something like, "I'm going to Sidney, you want to come along?"
I spent most of the day with Darrell and I had a great time watching him "look" at a building.
Afterwards, we wound our way back to Bridgeport the long way. "I gotta look at some ground," he said. That ground was three parcels of farmland he wants to sell. It is interesting how a wheat field can look different from one corner of its 160 acres to the other corner.
I learned, too, how you could look at the field and tell if it's getting ready for harvest. If you still see some ever-so-slightly green tints in it, it's not ready; and whether or not the wheat is ready from a moisture content perspective by biting into a kernel. You go for the crunch.
As we wound our way back to Bridgeport, we traveled on top of and through the bluffs, over the gravel roads, we drove past herds of yaks, llamas, donkeys and longhorn cattle. Yaks, llamas and donkeys on this "tuff cowboy" landscape called Nebraska? Oh, we saw some cattle, too.
My eyes were opened to signage, a building repo and new sights, and my life was filled with a new friend, Darrell Kraupie. Thanks Darrell.
After finding the right farmland location he was looking for, Darrell heads back into his truck and off to another field.
Darrell uses his hat to shield the sun from his camera's lens and the truck's bed to get more height for the picture's perspective.