A Tale of Loup City

3 Jul
Communism among the Cornhuskers!

Communism among the Cornhuskers!

Loup City, Nebraska is in the center of the country. Pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It’s so small that the intersections do not have stop signs. Whoever’s on the right goes first.

When my in-laws decided to move here a couple of years ago, we were not sure why. Now it makes more sense.

My husband’s family has always been about big family gatherings, involving large doses of food and opinion. His parents bought their house in Clintonville/Columbus, Ohio before he was born, and he and his four sisters lived there until they moved out. I can appreciate that, having moved more than a dozen times with my parents before moving into my own place—including a few moves right down the street. There’s something to be said for continuity.

But the concept of family togetherness changed after my husband’s oldest sister died at 43. She had lung cancer but never smoked a cigarette in her life. From diagnosis to death, she had 8 months. It was a painful time for everyone in the family, and she is still greatly missed. The old house in Clintonville just had too many memories of growing up. The other three sisters had already moved away, to the coasts, but my in-laws were still in that house full of memories. They had to move on.

That’s what prompted the relocation to Loup City. I’ve got to hand it to my in-laws. They wrote their own solution to their sadness, and they did it in a way that’s true to their values of family and time spent together.

This is sort of a biblical family name rundown, also in the style of Tolstoy, so bear with me: My husband’s Aunt Janie, my mother-in-law Sandy’s sister, started it off. She bought a house in Loup City that belonged to their mother’s family. My husband’s grandmother, Helen Lewandowski Sorenson, was born in Loup City. The town was settled primarily by Polish and Danish immigrants. Her parents were Polish, off the boat. Her husband’s parents were Danish, off the boat.

Then, my in-laws Sandy and Tim bought Grandma Sorenson’s parents’ house. This was a house where Janie and Sandy had fond memories of visiting their grandparents, Valeria and Waldemar Lewandowski.

Now, for the second summer in a row, all of the family members have converged in Loup City. It’s a vacation choice difficult to explain, on the surface. But when everyone is here, overrunning Sandy and Janie’s houses with 11 cousins and four sets of parents, plus the grandparents and great-aunt, there is a sense of family that has historical threads and a path to the future.

There’s not much to do. We ride old bikes and take walks around “town,” visit the Polish Historical Society and the new town pool. My in-laws have renovated the old house true to its original trappings and have resuscitated the old garden in the backyard. This year, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary in their Loup City home, and we have flocked here from afar to commemorate their commitment to each other—and their ability to move forward past their sadness.

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One Response to “A Tale of Loup City”

  1. gmonteith July 3, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    What a great testament to the bonds of family. Thanks for sharing this, Kim.

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