Saturday, April 30, 2011

Exeter Public Library New Titles

For Adults:
I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans
The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly
Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman
Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Once Upon a Time There Was You by Elizabeth Berg
Sixth Man by David Baldacci
Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts
44 Charles Street by Danielle Steele
Save Me by Lisa Scottoline
Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
Plains Bound:Fragile Cargo-The Reavealing Orphan Train Reality by Charlotte Endorf

For Teens:
Runaway Twin
The Red Umbrella

Friday, April 29, 2011

Village Spring Clean Up on Saturday

Don't forget that the Village will make a dumpster available on Saturday morning at the Village Shop starting at 8 a.m. until it is full.  Take this opportunity to get rid of junk and trash around your house to make the Village a better place to live!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Orphan Train Presentation at the Exeter Senior Center

Lela Newcombe, left, at 97 years old shares the story of her experiences on the Orphan Train at the Exeter Senior Center along with Charlotte Endorf, who has written multiple books on the Orphan Train riders.

Roma Rhodes, left, visits with Lela Newcombe who rode on the Orphan Train. Roma has preserved the Orphan Train story of her husband Robert's great, great aunt Henrietta Wiens.

It stopped at a town near you, it stopped in almost State.  Over 250,000 children rode on the “Orphan Trains” that traveled all across the United States for 75 years.

It stopped in Exeter, Neb. as well.  Records and family history list at least three members of the Exeter community who became residents after debarking a train from New York.

Charlotte Endorf, a Norfolk resident, has embraced a passion for the stories of the quickly disappearing riders of the Orphan Trains and shared that in Exeter.

She recently gave a presentation at the Exeter Senior Center sponsored in part by the Nebraska Humanities Council. Accompanying her to the event were one of the Orphan Train riders, Lela Newcombe, a 97 year-old who after three different stops ended up in Lincoln, Neb. at the age of 6.

Newcombe shared her experience, which was not a pleasant childhood after debarking the Orphan Train.  Children were often placed on the trains because there were so many homeless and orphans in larger cities, however, the majority of the time they were not adopted by the family because of the $75 cost to adopt. Newcombe was moved several different times because of abuse observed by the agent who monitored her situation.

Audience members at the presentation were able to share the stories of their family’s members who had been on the Orphan Train and were brought to Exeter.  Two came together, Thelma Bernhardt and Victoria Geyger, arrived in Exeter in September of 1901.  They were claimed through New York City Foundling Home’s program through the Catholic churches.

Bernhardt became a member of the Michaely family, became a teacher and married John Leif and eventually raised her six children near Exeter. Her family members still live in the Exeter area.

Geyger was taken in by the Barkmeier family, which included seven boys and one girl.  Despite health setbacks and struggles she eventually found her calling as a sister with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine of Siena in Kentucky. She taught school all over the States.  Geyger, later known as Sister Mary Raphael Geyger, also has a number of relatives still living in the Exeter area.

The third Orphan Train rider, Henrietta Maynard Weins, was adopted by the Maynard family.  They were an older couple and she was just five years old. They had no children of their own but had raised a niece and nephew.  Weins had a wonderful childhood with them and went on to graduate from college and teach for a time.  She eventually found her birth mother discovering that she herself had been born in Germany and come over on a ship with her young widowed mother. Eventually Weins’ mother lost her sister who had been caring for Henrietta and placed her in what she thought was a  “Children’s Nursery for Working Mothers.”  She never did see her little girl again despite an extensive search.

Weins and her husband took a trip to New York City and visited the orphanage and were shown the only records that existed for her stay.  She was able to find her mother’s name and no more.  However, she wrote down all of the names out of the New York City phonebook that matched her own.  When she arrived back in Nebraska she wrote to all of the names eventually finding and being reunited with her mother and stepbrothers in New York.

Newcombe has made it her life’s work to record the stories of the children on the Orphan Train’s in multiple books and media presentations.  She is constantly looking for more riders to interview and try to preserve their experiences on this historical journey. She enjoys sharing her program with school students as this part of the history of the United States is often overlooked.

For more information on Sister Geyger or Thelma Leif click here
you will be directed to the Creighton University website

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Exeter-Milligan Fourth Graders help dress bunnies

So do the bunnies multiply on their own? Mary Ellen Blatchford crochets over 600 bunnies every year for her family to give away.

Everyone loves the bunnies that Mary Ellen Blatchford crochets every evening while watching Wheel of Fortune. Her granddaughters have enjoyed her bunnies for years.  Picture from the left are granddaughter, Rita Smith of Omaha, granddaughter Rhonda Veleva of Grand Island, Blatchford and daughter Beth Vavra of Milligan.

Mary Ellen Blatchford, an 89-year-old York resident keeps her hands busy every day reading, emailing on the computer, but most of all crocheting.

Every year for the last 30 years she has made over 300 crocheted bunnies for her daughter and grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. Her family figures she has made over 12,000 bunnies so far and continues to give them all away. This year and for the past 10 years Exeter-Milligan fourth graders have helped her accomplish this goal.

It all started when “a neighbor gave me one. I made a few and gave them to Beth (her daughter). Beth asked for a few more to take somewhere and I decided I better make 100. Thirty years ago when my granddaughter was born when people came to visit her we gave them a bunny,” explained Blatchford.
Blatchford loves to crochet and every evening during Wheel of Fortune she crotchets five bunnies; “I do quite a few more when I watch Lawrence Welk on Saturday evenings.”

During the winter months Blatchford likes to crochet blankets and her specialty, prayer shawls. These are prayed over and then donated to those in need of extra prayer, usually those suffering with an illness.
Blatchford sends about 35 bunnies to each of her five granddaughters. Her granddaughter Rita Smith, of Omaha, was visiting and asked for “just a few more.” Of course, Blatchford encouraged her to take what she needed. Granddaughter Rhonda Veleva of Grand Island asked Blatchford to send her "naked" bunnies this year.  She and a young lady she mentors got to "dress" the bunnies together.

The decorations on the bunnies have morphed a bit over the years. Originally she tried cotton balls for their tails and felt eyes. It was the bunny ears that troubled her the most, “I ironed them, starched them and just couldn’t get them to stand up. We finally started to put a small magnet on them to keep them from flopping over.”

These days Blatchford gets a little assistance putting on the pom pom tails and squiggly eyes. For the last ten years, her daughter, Beth Vavra, has brought a few of the Exeter-Milligan fourth graders to York to help with the embellishments.

Vavra, works as an aide at the Milligan campus and enjoys bringing the girls to meet and help her mother, “We come after school and glue the magnets on the back and then go eat supper while they dry. When we come back we turn them over and glue on the eyes and the pom poms. They get to pick out two to take home and they usually fight about which color pom pom should go on which color bunny. The fourth grade girls look forward to the outing every year.”

So far the bunnies have ended up all over the world. Through foreign exchange students and those donated to servicemen, the bunnies are world travelers. When her granddaughters were in school they took bunnies for each of their classmates and Sunday school classmates every year. Smith recalled that some of her classmates still have all of the bunnies they received throughout the years.

Blatchford’s favorite color is a light pastel bunny, “I don’t like the camouflage but the boys sure do.”

Although Blatchford makes them for Easter decorations, “People leave them up all year,” said Vavra. Blatchford has crocheted other holiday decorations including ghosts, spiders, pumpkins, and hot dogs as refrigerator magnets but only produces the bunnies in mass quantities. Lately she has been working on Oreos and butterflies for granddaughter Roxanne’s upcoming wedding.

Fortunately Blatchford had this year’s batch of bunnies complete before she fell and broke her arm although Vavra claims, “People have joked that she just makes two bunnies, puts them in a box and they multiply.”