Anybody who reads these literary wanderings on a regular basis knows that I love history..all kinds of history but especially that of LOCAL people, places and events. When my daughters were little, they thought nothing of dad taking them to visit cemeteries..not for funerals or to decorate graves (Does anybody use that term anymore?) but just to stroll around looking at and reading headstones.
There’s a lot of history to be found there even if you have to fill in some of the blanks yourself., For example, we’d see a child’s grave with the date of death 1888..and you wonder if they were one of those kids who died in the tragic Children’s Blizzard of that year when hundreds perished trying to get home from school. Whenever I see a marker with the DOD from 1918 to 1920, I can’t help but wonder if they perished on the battlefields of France in World War I or were they one of the 700 thousand Americans who succumbed to the world wide flu pandemic.
I’ve also been interested in the history of this town I’ve called home for the last 44 years. I love driving around the historic district to see all the large old houses that date back to the late 19th century..many of them lovingly restored to their former glory. Several of those places as well as some of the most majestic buildings downtown were creations of the noted architect, Wallace Dow.
Which brings me to this: My old pal and former Keloland colleague, Brad Dumke and his wife, Jennifer, have spent the better part of two years writing and filming a documentary about Wallace Dow. It was recently screened before a packed house at the Old Courthouse Museum. (Another structure designed by Dow.) It’s a brilliant production and you still have a chance to see the encore presentation at the museum on Sunday April 7th from 2 to 4. Fellow history buffs and experts will be on hand again to answer questions about this most interesting character whose legacy, thanks to Brad and Jen, is now as solid as the Sioux Quartzite Dow used for his construction material.
Speaking of fascinating characters..Sioux Falls historian, Eric Renshaw, whom I’ve mentioned here before, has recently written and published a wonderful book about his favorite subject; “Forgotten Sioux Falls.” It’s an extension of his web site and his fabulous Facebook page of the same name. For the last ten years or so, Eric has been on a quest to find images..be they photos, postcards, pamphlets, newspapers or magazines..about Sioux Falls throughout its interesting history. He then posts his discoveries so that buffs like me can spend hours and hours drifting through the past at the computer. Unlike some publications where pictures can be hard to see, Eric makes it possible so that with a couple clicks of your mouse, the photos enlarge so you can really examine each photo in incredible detail.
I hope you’ll buy Eric’s book. I know it’s available at several local bookstores including Zanbroz. Plus you can order it online through Amazon or his website.
What I especially enjoy about Eric’s efforts is that he not only shows pictures and details about EARLY Sioux Falls but our more recent history too; stuff even I remember in my five decades here. How about Charlie’s Pizza on Minnesota Avenue, Geovoni’s Steak House on E. 10th, the Macomba Club on N. Main or the Pathfinder atomic power plant east of town?
I hope Eric doesn’t mind but I’ve pulled a few examples to show you. I’ll wager that..like me..seeing them will send a lot of you on the fast track back in time. I especially like split shots like this one showing Phillips Avenue in the 30’s and today. Remember the Nickle Plate? It’s the Touch of Europe now.
Speaking of bright ideas that didn’t pan out:
But when she got there, the Kupboard was bare.
See, isn’t that fun? There are scads more pictures plus interesting background info on the web site or Facebook page.
Thanks Eric for “NOT” forgetting Sioux Falls!