It’s rewarding and enjoyable to learn something about lifestyles of the past as presented in old books. The books don’t necessarily need to be recognized great works of literature in order to have value. Often, something as mundane as a thin volume intended for the juvenile reader will bring out some insight as to the evolution of present events and mindset. *Nebraska Is My Home* written by James and Vera Olson with illustrations by Mary Royt, George Buctel and Stanley Sohl. It was published in 1956 by the University Publishing Company of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.
The Allises are a fictional Oklahoma Pawnee family who decide to trace their Nebraska roots by taking a car trip around the state of Nebraska. Grandfather Allis provides background information to his grandsons. He recounts his days as a youth and chief during his past residency in Nebraska.
The first chapters of the book tell the reader about native civilizations before the influence of white culture in the Great Plains. The Allis family is travelling from Oklahoma, through Kansas for this portion of the story.
Finally the family reaches Southeast Nebraska, near Beatrice to begin their counter-clockwise drive through the state. The tie-in with native people and culture is a large part of the story. Many of the nights are spent at state parks. These turn out to be the backdrops for some of the tales. I had been under the impression that I’ve visited all of the Nebraska State Parks at one time or another.
It turns out that I completely missed one of them. There was a chapter about Stolley State Park. That had me scratching my head. I had no idea where it was located, or if it still remained. Sure enough, Stolley State Park is in Grand Island, Nebraska near the Fonner Park horse racing venue. I don’t play the ponies nor gamble, so that part of Grand Island has never been on my “radar”.
The book with its stories and vignettes is filled with educational factoids that unfold and teach in a subtle yet entertaining manner. I did find that the characters in the book were not very realistic nor did the cultural background jibe with actual cultural and race relations between whites and natives during the mid 20th century.
I have not heard of each culture embracing the other to any extent at that time. I cannot imagine native Americans waxing nostalgic with wonderful stories about Buffalo Bill and the wanton slaughter of bison, either.
Aside from that big stretch, the story of the Allis family travels around the state is suitable for elementary age children living in the Great Plains area in and around the State of Nebraska. In as much as a sparkling, laundered version of life in the 1950s was the professed version of living of the day, the book is a reflection of that culture. It’s only superficially similar to the Nebraska I know.
The Blue Jay of Happiness didn’t find mention of his native ancestors mentioned in the book.