My Omaha Obsession website was launched in early March of 2016 after having written about Omaha photographs on my personal Facebook page for many years. In those early days, my interests were finding obscure local photos and writing brief histories, along with family memories of the particular image. It went from there…but the Obsession had really begun in childhood. I began writing and illustrating books at the age four, although at that time, I was apparently fixated with living on a flying carpet, not a Shingle Style house. I have always loved houses, big and small and the strange awareness of how one’s environment can shape feeling and memory.
Later I began designing houses on paper, of course, usually mansions and graduated to creating cities of cardboard on the linoleum floor of my beloved grandmother’s kitchen and in my family’s basement. At one point my father’s friend, a real architect, had taught me how to draw up “blueprints” or the floor plans of my designs, which kicked my interests into high gear.
All the while, I simply couldn’t get enough of my growing fascination with the movies of the silent era through the 50s, the original Upstairs Downstairs series, scary backless wardrobes, hand painted and neon signs, pocket doors, imagined private ballrooms on the top floors of homes, hidden mansions, ghosts, alleys with spray paint, ornate dollhouses, spiral staircases, flowered tea sets, cigarette holders, elaborate private gardens, Sears homes, reading, third floor hallways that whistle, oil paintings, long red fingernails, fireplaces, buckled brick paths, parquet wood floors, beveled and leaded glass, old handwritten letters in the backs of drawers, antiques, towers, servants’ quarters, back elevators, high privacy fences of brick, uniforms of any kind, secret stairs off of kitchens, music from all eras, vintage clothes especially involving intricate beadwork, ghost signs and forgotten attic windows.
I immediately gravitated to Nancy Drew, my life heroine who my mother introduced me to at a young age. This started me on an early path to finding other like-minded girls for a club and planning our Benson neighborhood stake-outs, spying on almost everyone within a five block area, making a habit of keen observation, note taking, cassette tape recording and learning how to collect fingerprints from spy books we would check out of the old Benson library: baby powder and Scotch tape!
My longreads are about my journey and discovery of Old Omaha. I hope that the sporadic My Omaha Obsession pages fill you with the wonder and enchantment I sense as I research each clue. In spite of sharing my investigations through the internet (I wish it wasn’t this way), I hope to inspire a slowing down, a part of you that used to wander and that my adventures encourage you to look for the little architectural details all around. It was all right in front of us not too very long ago.
With love Omaha friends,