Hello and welcome! Dear Detective Friends, today, March 2, 2020, My Omaha Obsession is celebrating a four-year birthday party online. We have grown so much this year and I want to thank each and every one of you for that. You have really spread the word of our secret, chummy gatherings. There are so many more of us and we are grateful to have found this like-minded company. Today we are all going for a brisk stroll around the block with balloons and we will laugh and carry on in an outrageous fashion. We won’t even wear our sneaking shoes! When we return to the office we will be hoarse and giggly and Mr. Cassette and Mr. Cross will pop by later for hot tea. I should like to introduce you all.
I can remember my timid, first day, opening the door of the ol’ detective office and letting everyone peek in on my Omaha-gathering dossiers. I didn’t know what could happen but I hoped others would find great importance in the tiny, useless mysteries beneath the shadows, behind the tool-shed. To meet you and begin to exchange our puzzlers and local clues quickly made life a little more worth living. Most every one of your shared, useless hints were more exciting than headlines in the daily papers. As it turns out, nothing is more useful than the useless.
As with my childhood explorations, I have yet to decide whether the mystery, the search itself or the animated, shared stories are the better part of the journey. While alone and tiptoeing about on-site, there is the faint spice of intrigue…the cobblestones so thick but silent in the morning fog. I continue to dream and let my eyes soak in every detail. I am not afraid to be led by emotions and get waylaid. I often cannot breathe when following up with the library archives or the assessor’s office, where perilous delving leads to palpitations. I let it happen, for there is often unforeseen magic in the buttonhole or the logjam. Later I stagger back to the office with a load of clues that could break a shiftless detective’s back. No pointer is ever too small to the eager amateur in the gathering phase. The organization, construction and weaving chapter is where I burrow into an absolute deep, dark hole. Many obscure complexes lurk coyly in this rooty tangle and often my sympathetic furry, office mates, Five, Six and Seven are the only ones I can bare to share my neuroses with. Their constant, gentle snoring under the light of the fiberglass drum shades calms me. Forget about office clerk, Mr. Cross—he makes me want to take up smoking again! And Mr. Cassette seems to carry on with lumbering about in his garden, pausing in front of invisible foliage and clearing away mounds of soil when I “get like this.” Bless his heart.
Then, finally, a closed book is hopefully cracked open and my mystery casework is shared with the world. Everyone in the house and office is allowed to breathe again and return to their customary weighted footsteps. That is a little joke. This is when great things happen or do not happen on the website. When an article works well—an emotional deluge of comments, emails, family stories, corrections, unexpected clues and photos spring forth. And sometimes a quiet hush. Then again, an old story may gain traction and come to life years later. I never know what will stick. That is a lie. Sometimes, most of the time, I am compelled to do the investigation for myself even if I know it might be a gutter ball. One thing I have learned is The Story Never Ends.
New Perspective in my Fourth Year
Every one of us feels what it is like to be transported by the things we see–the life that comes from a building or perceptions we detect from a winding, tree lined lane…back to a time of tangible memory or the childlike sensation of mystery or a swirling, half dream state. It is all useless meandering and yet, I think this enchantment fulfills a deep emotional need. I know I have it and I would guess you do too. My architectural investigations are really about trying to discover and share meaning but it often begins as a needling, childhood query. Back to the quizzing of the tool-shed mushroom in the shade analogy. We each bring our experience here, to this huddled website and I hope we find what we want within the unraveled photos, story line or comments. We collectively find and share understanding. It is consoling to become familiar with this recognized language and frankly, I get lost in the folds. Sometimes I cry with joy and the perceived losses. Although so many gathered here no longer live in Omaha, we sense the presence of one another and together, we have created a path that leads to home, no matter how far.
I had so much fun in this last year, getting back to what I love–investigating buildings and their people. As I don’t get paid for this casework and have no advertisers to answer to, I am allowed the luxury of following my sleuthing heart. I just do as I please! It always surprises me what my readers enjoy and what resonates with different people. The popularity of certain stories is surely timing …or the whims of the Internet gods. There are many who still enjoy the stow-away, pore over of a long-read investigation and that warms my heart.
As far as trends swing, my gumshoe gang has always loved the Mid-Century Modern architecture. If I continued to obsessively churn out those investigations, I know for a fact the detective office would be inundated with love letters. Consequently the letter opener, Mr. Cross, would hate me. So I compromise. Surprisingly, one of the most widely read articles I have ever written was Not Long For This World: The Pacific Street Ranches. This was one of those timing stories, I am just sure of it–probably because there wasn’t much by way of information found anywhere. Also another whole crowd appears when I speak from the heart about political and architectural misadventures, of what I see happening in city planning or lack thereof. It seems an editorial rant slips out about twice a year, but for my own well-being, and maybe yours, I try to keep the site more buoyant. The second biggest draw of the last twelve months was I Have a Ballroom in My House, (possibly because of the exclusive nature of the expose, it was beautiful and had a happy ending). Also I Want to Live in the Swanson Towers and Mysteries of Omaha: 312 South 70th Avenue were both very well received, happen to be both MCM and have a great cast of characters. The site’s most popular story of all time remains that of Bishop’s Buffet. For the Love of Bishop’s Buffet: Why, Oh Why, Did They Close? most likely because of it regional, whodunit appeal. And many appear to be lured in, in hopes of unearthing that chocolate ambrosia pie recipe! One of my favorite cases in the past year was The Cudahy Mansion Casebook investigation, which, woefully, was Not a Big Hit. I am also personally smitten with Finding Rose Lazio—also not as popular as I would have predicted.
The Big News is Unknown
The My Omaha Obsession book was turned over to the University of Nebraska Press in the summer of 2018 and honestly, I cannot say when it will be out. Who knew these publishing affairs take so long? At last year’s Third Year Birthday post, I regretfully announced my book would be out by the fall of 2019. As we know that did not come to pass. I can scarcely remember what the book was about; for the stories I do remember, I fear most of the buildings will be torn down before the book’s release. This possibly surprises no one who lives in Omaha. I will certainly let you know when I have a solid release date.
The Little Dreams
My big goal this next year is to complete all of the investigations and property files I had started previous to beginning the website. I am still trying to shift all of the Little Stories, originally written only for the Facebook page, over to the My Omaha Obsession website, as most of our friends are not on Facebook. I am hoping to migrate these investigations over without spamming your mailboxes too often. I still daydream of moving into video investigations on Youtube, even if they are just shorts to bolster an article. I think it would give an entertaining visual for those of our group who are no longer living in Omaha and don’t have the option to just toodle over to the latest fixation site. Who knows?
I would like to formally thank Martha Grenzeback and all of the wonderful librarians and staff at the W. Dale Clark Library in Downtown Omaha. They do good work and contribute a wealth of information. Omaha is better because of them!
Scott Barnes, Mary Barnes, Susanna Nunes and all Omaha staff at the Register of Deeds and Assessor’s Office, who have been so generous with their time.
Amy C. Schindler, Director of Archives & Special Collections at University of Nebraska at Omaha for her time and help in the last year.
Of course my forever friend, Bill Gonzalez, at the Omaha Durham Museum archives, for all of his cheer and supportive words and new teammates, the Douglas County Historical Society.
Thanks to all of the Gumshoe Gals and Guys out there for ongoing encouragement and continued supportive words. To those that have shared of themselves and their family’s histories in comments, I treasure your stories. I champion your architectural and family history investigations. Thank you, detective friends, for writing emails, sending gifts and sharing your experience and wisdom.
This has been a great year and I have cherished all that you have shared with me. I shall never forget our collaborative mysteries. A spirit of Nancy Drew curiosity and beginner’s mind seems to reverberate. May we always search and never know.
Thank You, Detectives. Miss Cassette
I welcome your feedback and comments. Let us hear from you. Please share your additional clues to the story in the “Comments,” as we know more together. Everyone would love to read what you have to say and it makes the sharing of Omaha history more fun. You can use an anonymous smokescreen name if need be. We want to hear from you.
You can keep up with my latest investigations by joining my email group. Click on “Contact” then look for “Sign me up for the Newsletter!” Enter your email address. You will get sent email updates every time I have written a new article. Also feel free to join My Omaha Obsession on Facebook. Thank you, Omaha friends. Miss Cassette
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