Showing posts with label railroad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label railroad. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2012

Off the traks in Rail Town USA

You'd think that in a city that bills itself as "Rail Town USA," the daily newspaper would know that it's "Amtrak," not "Amtrack."

You'd think. You'd also be wrong.

Thus goes the sad decline of what used to be a damned good little newspaper in North Platte, Neb. I know. Once upon a time, I was a reporter there.

And I daresay everyone who mattered at the Telegraph then knew how to spell "Amtrak" just as well as "Union Pacific," the railroad that's the reason North Platte can call itself Rail Town USA. (The newspaper, however, calls it "Railtown USA" in a Sunday news story. Whatever.)

Actually, it was construction of the UP that gave North Platte its reason to be at all. And with the world's largest rail-classification yard in town -- yep, Union Pacific -- it doesn't seem unreasonable to ask that Telegraph web editors know something about railroads.

For instance, how to spell "Amtrak."



This is what happens to a good newspaper when it inevitably falls under the dark spell of mediocre people beholden to an out-of-town corporate owner. When "community journalism" is just another job for just another editor and just another publisher, and the bottom line is just another entry on a balance sheet in Omaha.

They don't make editors like Keith Blackledge anymore -- or hold newspaper staffs to standards as high as his, either.

THEN AGAIN, why should Rale Towne USA be any different from anywhere else today.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Should old acquaintance. . . .

This is how the holidays roll in my city, Omaha.

Downtown, we have the Holiday Lights Festival. But at the Durham Museum in the old Union Station, you'll find the Mother of All Christmas Trees (above).

Yes, Omaha is an old railroad and cow town. Then again, that isn't -- and wasn't -- necessarily a bad thing.

THERE WAS grandeur in old cow towns, if only you looked for it. In Omaha, a good place to start was the fabulous art-deco Union Station.

And what's great about old railroad and cow towns all grown up is that, sometimes, we remember the grandeur in our midst and preserve it . . . restore it to its full measure.

Then, especially at Christmastime, we revel in glories past -- glories restored for the present and the future.

To many Americans on the coasts, cities like mine are "flyover country," hardly worth a mention or a thought.

Their loss.

THERE ARE many reasons to visit the Durham Museum all through the year -- in January, it's wrapping up a fantastic Smithsonian exhibit of the poster art of Nashville's Hatch Show Print from the past century.

It's not a poster show; it's the cultural history of the South and the country displayed through hand-set advertisements run off one by one on the printers' old letterpresses.

Ernest Tubb. Minstrel shows. Stock-car races. Johnny Cash. Porter Wagoner. Elvis Presley at the beginning.

But I digress.

THE REAL STAR at the Durham -- at the old Omaha Union Station -- when the cold wind blows and the days grow pitifully short . . . is Christmas. The whole holiday season, where the past is present and its glories point toward the future, too.

It's grand. It's parents introducing their children to the magic, and those children introducing their children to the magic some fine day when the present has faded into the rosy glow of "when I was your age."

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
Happy New Year.