Remembering the Lincoln Highway

I have been to Yellowstone Park, the Black Hills, and even to Grand Canyon,  but never was so excited about a vacation as we were when we went “Out West” to see our uncle and aunt, Dan and Eva Tessman.  They had three of the cutest little tow-headed kids you ever saw.  They loved to sing  choruses they learned in Sunday School.


They lived in the country out in the middle of nowhere.  It was south of Paxton, Nebraska.  They were about 15 miles from Paxton, Elsie, and Madrid.  It was a Mennonite community, but they had other neighbors, too.  Near them was a little Mennonite Bretheran Church.


The first time we went we were still living in Henderson.  It was war time.  We must have saved up our gas stamps.  Mom was very nervous and the weather had to be just right. We were going for Thanksgiving.  Max and Jerry said they were going to rig up some kind of light  so she would think the sun was shining. We finally decided to go.  We headed out toward Hampton and stopped at Grandma and Grandpa’s on the way.  Grandma had food for us to take along and bricks warming in the oven so we could keep our feet warm.  You can’t imagine how excited we were.  Dad had warned us, no fighting in the car and I really don’t believe we did.


We headed for Grand Island and then had to find the right sign to get on Highway 30.  Mom would tell Dad to ask someone where it was, but he wouldn’t do it.   Same thing happened in North Platte.  The highway went right through town.  The Union Pacific track ran right along with highway 30.  The steam trains were quite long, many of them carrying war supplies.  We would wave at the engineers. We would all read all the signs out loud, the names of the towns and the population.  The most fun was reading the Burma Shave signs.  I wish I could remember one.  It would be a series of signs, with just a few words and then the last one would say Burma Shave.


The first exciting land mark was a covered wagon right west of Kearney.  It was a souvenir shop, but we never got to stop.  There was a row of elm trees on each side of the highway that formed an arch.  We thought it was very beautiful.   Kids were easier to please then.


When we got to Lexington, we were half way there.  I think we stopped for lunch there, but we didn’t go to a café.  We had our lunch from Grandma.


Then we were off again, reading the signs and waving at the people on the train.  I think the speed limit during the war was forty  five miles per hour.


The next place that was interesting was North Platte.  That was the home of Buffalo Bill and then we really thought we had arrived in the West.  The land was a lot more hilly, and we could just imagine what it must have been like with Indians in the wild west.  North Platte was a bustling town and we thought it was quite a big city.  Again, we had to find the highway 30 sign and we were very relieved when we were on the road again and didn’t get lost.


We followed highway 30 until we got to Paxton, and then we were on country, sandhill roads.

Dan had drawn us a map of how to get there.  He drew pictures of some of the land marks so we would find our way.  One of them was a house, and Mom said, “Oh, look, it even has a crooked chimney.”


We did find our way over the rolling hills,  and Dad would ask us if we lost our stomachs going over the hills.


When we got there, everyone was all smiles.  We ate lots of delicious food and visited and visited.


It was one of the best times we ever had.


That was our first trip.  We took a few more in more modern times.  It was the later trips that I remember the kids and their songs.


We went to church with them and everybody was so friendly.  I remember teasing Larry with a girl that he didn’t like.  He got pretty mad.  The little girls were so cute, with their blonde hair.  Sometimes they got into it with each other and we understood,  because we did that all the time.


I don’t know how Dad kept us from fighting in the car.  Four kids in a small car, I don’t know where the luggage was stored and I never remember of stopping to eat anywhere.  We always packed our own food.  We didn’t stop for souvenirs ,ever.  I don’t remember the trips home, either.  I guess we weren’t so excited then.  Maybe that was when we fought in the car.  I don’t think I ever got a window.  Poor me.


Memories sometime play tricks on us and we have a way of remembering the best.  I know this was surely one of the best.


No TV. No computers. Driving 45 miles per hour.  Burma Shave signs.  Steam trains.  I’m glad I was there to see those days.










Published in: on June 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment