As I trundled along, feeling a bliss-filled rush, I grabbed for the camera in my backpack. I had decided that this was the summer of wearing Detective meets Parent Trap inspired costumes and I was feeling very good about my 1960s camp top. But there were one hundred and one essentials clamoring for attention. Did you see them too? 27th Street south of Leavenworth was a buzz with men in folding chair circles, each balancing a plate of food and cold drinks. Other small assemblies on side streets talked under trees out of the sun, no doubt to try to keep their ice cream sandwiches from melting. A spin up north on 25th by Binney found extended families gathered for potlucks and cookout BBQ fare. The music floated from speakers propped in the window. The Kountze Memorial Church on Farnam had blocked off the old brick street that runs east along their property for a congregation fair as children hopped up and down in a blowup bouncy castle. There were stone walls falling down and trumpet vines climbing. As I parked and walked each neighborhood, I could perceive laughter and a faint, wafting “Happy Birthday” song coming from a backyard. Someone was sawing away at an iron-willed piece of wood. I imagined the Omaha basements and cellars still had a peculiar smell of Midwestern Sogginess from last weekend’s downpour. The windows were sticking before a razor blade cut into this spring’s painting project.
Surely in all matters appertaining to wandering and snooping, the most important thing to do is to get out in it. Walk the beat, sneak about and follow the clues. The gambled roofs and striped awnings, the vintage wicker chair sitting lopsided in the shade due to the strong old roots of a huge tree. Searching for sundials encrusted in moss. A gurgling fountain in a garden. A graceful display of ironwork previously unnoticed. A heated huddle behind the Privet hedge. Searching for the scent of Calamondin limes and the bubble gum sniffs of Catmint. My customary exaggerations.
I have taken to falling in deep admiration with the tree swings of Dundee. This realization came over at once, by chance encounter with an agreeable swing, hanging very near a sidewalk as we passed years ago. Flirty? Can I utter flirty with regard to a tree swing and you will understand, reader friends? Some of you might find catch with that word but allow me to explain. If there is one thing I love to do, it is explain. You see, this domestic merriment waved to me from behind a shrub border as it swayed gently in the breeze. Had someone just popped off of that fine seat minutes before? After all Mr. Cassette and I were on a long walk and the sun may have shined just so and I may have looked up and suddenly perceived the lovely shade below this front lawn tree, what with that shrub cloistering the environ to the side yard onlookers. Underneath the well-used swing, the grass was tatty and non-existent in large patches, only confirming that this was an exceptional place. A frequented place, held in high regard by various little feet. Indeed.
The fact that these tasteful and brilliant possessors of the grand home on that corner lot had hung this cheerful swing from what would customarily be considered a Proper Front Yard Tree, so very near to any passersby, spoke volumes. Yes, there was a casual flirt. There was an ease to it all. A simplicity but with the self-assurance of the affluent. A looseness. Altogether unpretentious and yet privileged. Or did it belie a Midwestern Practicality? After all this was a good tree for swinging. Anyone could see that. It was all very romantically American. Yesteryear.
But that first swing did persuade me. I began looking and soon found there were many front lawn tree swings around Dundee. Who knows how many could be found in backyards? I am not about to go nosing in you fine people’s back enclosures although, be sure, the Nancy Drew in me would enjoy that very much. Will you join me on a short tour?
5641 Jones Street
This lovely home and its welcoming front tree swing is surely the talk of the block. I believe this type of swing might be a glider? Mr. Cassette has had to warn me on many occasions that it would not be appropriate for me to get on this kiddie swing. But I want to! Look at it calling you by name as you pass.
Carefree. A magical ride.
Not only does Jones Street have a graceful curve to it which adds to the whimsy of this particular swing, the cool darkness under this giving tree makes it a perfect spot to discuss the important matters of life. Like bombpops and worms.
5641 Jones is a glorious home in its own right. Word has it it was build in 1919. It contains 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. I think we all know how Miss Cassette feels about Jones Street. Please see Mysteries of Omaha: The Log Cabin and the Jones Street Bridge.
5206 Chicago Street
5206 Chicago Street offers a fun ride for a wee, wee tot. One might not even see this folly from the street, which makes it a bit more private than the other swings in the story.
Great big smiles all around.
I do adore this house and truthbetold, had never noticed that precious little swing until very recently. My crush began with those crisp gray and white striped awnings. One does not often come across a home owner who goes to the trouble and expense of putting up awnings on the sides of their home. This grand gal from 1912 appears to get a good amount of western exposure, probably making those cunning coverings a must. This home apparently has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and is situated on a nice big lot for Midtown Omaha. You should see the east side of the property. Glory be.
103 South 51 Street
The beautiful brick home at 103 South 51st Street was built in 1923. Evidently it contains four bedrooms and three bathrooms. This wooden tree swing is quite sturdy and looks to be hand built with love. Again what a nice dark place to sit and day dream.
The absolute best part is, as this photo from July of 2014 reveals, this family loves having a front yard tree swing. Although this single rope glider style was different than their newer, traditional model, it is apparent that they can’t get along without one. The glorious tree appears to agree and I think that is wonderful. Line up for a turn.
5104 Chicago Street
5104 Chicago Street is one of the most heavenly abodes in all of Omaha. Not only does this corner feel like the center of the universe, it is a very calm corner lot in the middle of the day. But that is the way with the center of the universe. The observation that there are a festive string of lights and a gathering circle of chairs and a table at the front of the property, along with this beguiling single rope tree swing, only gives clue that these are warm, social people.
Swishing through the air. Unfancy. This gracious brick home was built in 1920. It has taken every restraint not to give this swing a proper spin.
403 North Happy Hollow Boulevard
The appealing home at 403 North Happy Hollow Boulevard is right on the corner of fantastic and magical, facing the grounds of the gorgeous Brownell Talbot campus. This house and its loving owners have been revealing some splendid updates in recent years to include hanging flowers, colorful window boxes and this cute swing for a little person. Built in 1919, this home has four bedrooms and four baths at 3,312 square feet.
Dundee is occupied by huge, grand, old trees. This is a younger one, but handsome nonetheless. From one of its limbs hangs this precious tree swing.
510 South 53rd Street
The tree swing at 510 South 53 Street represents, to me, the coolest of the cools. This tree, this swing, this house and its people just go together. One cohesive casual coolness. When I visit it, I am caught up in a dream and you might be too if you are lucky. It so clearly reminds me of rushing into the home of large family who lived up the street from us in Benson. The mother would whistle-announce it was time for snacks and her ten children and every other child within earshot would run into the house like wild boars. All I remember is that the Mrs. made a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich, would put Fritos in a huge wooden bowl and she would place two gallons of whole milk on the table–called “jugs” on our block. Now I realize that most families nowadays aren’t having ten children and many, around here anyway, aren’t even having four, but this home seems the type that one could just “get in with” and have a nice peanut butter and jelly with now and again.
Creating a nice breeze during those sticky summer days, the tree of the tree swing is the quintessential Giving Tree from Shel Silverstein’s book. Is that an “X” on the trunk of the best tree? I can’t bear it.
The brick home at 510 South 53rd Street has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and is approximately 2,800 square feet. It has a perfect terracotta tile roof. She was built in 1925. Notice the happily worn roots of the tree beneath the swing.
525 South 55 Street
I have saved the best for last. This charming Dundee home boasts the best tree swing in the whole area. First off this matter of picking the right tree was made easy with this one. Thick, sturdy, live-wood limbs…the only perilous feet was how inaccessibly high off the ground the responsible branch is. The high limb on this one offers a long, impressive pendulum motion. Is there a soft landing in sight? Who cares when you’re nine, right? I can assure you this tree swing gets used. The arc is amazing with a running start up at the house. That is me embellishing again as I am not entirely sure these little people are into running starts…BUT I can tell you I have seen them swinging wide swaths across this property. This is good fun.
Wooden tree swing with a rope of natural fiber. Hand made, sturdy design. Comfortable. Thrill seekers line up for a large, running push followed by a screech of delight.
Built in 1923, this adorable gray stucco at 525 south 55 Street, has three bedrooms and two baths. Its red shutters and steps are some of the most welcoming in the neighborhood. But the best of all utterances is that the children in this home play outside. They swing on this tree swing. They love it and in turn, the tree loves it. Children have, by and large, vanished from the out of doors, the open air. I recognize not every child is privileged to have a safe neighborhood to grow up in, a tree to claim as their own. Still many children will be taught to stay indoors no matter what kind of block they live on.
This all brought to mind an impression of swinging at Benson Park as a young girl. Swinging in slow motion, spinning and spinning, occasionally pinching my fingers on the chain link. Little knees knocking into the knees of my swinging friend as we swayed or the terrible scabs incurred after a particularly bad landing. Also a remembrance of flying on a tire swing out over a green pond at what seemed 20 feet above the water. I believe I was flying on that day. Mother and Father Cassette’s friends owned that wooded property in the 1970s. And who could forget The Thrilling Terror of realizing the adult you asked to push you on a swing had a stealthier shove than you had imagined, pushing you higher and higher still. High as a skyscraper. High as the clouds.
Thank you, thank you everyone for reading my articles and supporting me. It means so much to share this obsession with houses and their people with all of you. I welcome your feedback and comments on the Tree Swings of Dundee. And let’s hear it for the trees. If you have a tree swing in Dundee that I missed, please contact me and send a photo. To comment, please scroll to the end of this page. If you would like to correspond with me privately, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or in “Contact.” But I assure you, everyone would love to read what you have to say and it makes the conversation more fun. You can keep up with my latest investigations by “following” myomahaobsession. You will get sent email updates every time I have written a new article. Also join My Omaha Obsession on Facebook for posts and fun discussion unrelated to this blog. Thank you Omaha friends.
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