Somewhere in middle America
Get right to the heart of matters
It’s the heart that matters more
– Counting Crows
“Omaha”, by the Counting Crows has always been one of my favorite songs. I have always loved the melody, the lyrics and because every time I hear it, it reminds me of my pops.
Not only was our time in Omaha been one that was filled with exploring and making new friends, it was also for retracing my dad’s childhood, learning more about my family history. Going back to see where he lived and the places of so many of his stories.
On Friday, we did the “Life of Jim Tour.” (the title of the email my dad sent, seems very appropriate)
The tour began at Walnut Hill Park. This was just up the street from my dad’s house and where he and his sister Connie would go daily to play. This was also the location that Connie decided to one day go swimming in the park fountain (in the nude!). I almost walked away with my own story, as this dog wanted to pounce on me mid photo.
The next stop was the Augustana Lutheran Church, my dad would attend every Sunday.
Driving down the big hill of 34th Street where he, his brother and friends would race their box cars (made of cottage cheese lids), we came to the property where he grew up. Unfortunately, his childhood house has since been torn down and in it’s place several row town homes. This house (right across from where my dad lived) was the Spickerman’s, which happened to be where my dads first girlfriend lived (mom, don’t read this part!).
The tour then took us to Saint Joseph’s Hospital, which is now Allegant Creighton Hospital where my dad came into the world.
Our final stop was at the NBC WOWT 6 TV station. Not only a historic station where Johnny Carson, Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric have passed through, but this is where my dad made his TV debut with his ventriloquist performance. Unfortunately, he lost the talent contest that night. But, the good news is that his buddy is still alive and kicking (err, talking).
Listening to “Omaha” as I write this post, I am curious as to the meaning of the song, what was the inspiration. Much like any song, it can have various meanings to different people. But, what was Adam Duritz thinking when he wrote this song? For him this song is about how circular life is, how it turns people over the way seasons turn over. It’s all about coming around full circle in life.
I cannot help but think how similar this is to my experience here in Omaha. This is where it all began for my grandparents, for my dad and his siblings. And now, sixty plus years later, here I am. Seeing the places that shaped his childhood, shaped who he is. Leaving my own mark on this town, but also taking away from it new experiences and memories.
For me this song also represents change. Change from the mundane, change from the ordinary. Moving on from the things that are so familiar to you and experiencing a new season in your life, a new chapter.
I feel like I have gotten right to the heart of the matter, here in Omaha, somewhere in middle America.