That's also where the Old Settler's Picnic was held. It was a big event on our yearly calendar. There was a parade with floats and fire engines and bands and politicians. But mostly there was food and family fun. Everyone brought picnic baskets and we ate at the park located south of Main St. on the west end of town. My grandmother, mother, and aunts made the best fried chicken I've ever tasted, the best pies and cakes, too. The grown-ups sat at picnic tables or on blankets spread on the grass and talked. Sometimes the men stretched out on the blankets and napped. The children ran and chased each other and played games. The teenagers eyed each other and flirted. Sometimes there were organized games and prizes.
One year when I was five or six years old, I entered a foot race for children. I think it was a hundred-yard dash. I remember running has hard as I could on the course on that wide Main Street, pumping my little arms and legs and glimpsing the other children trying to catch up to me. I won! My daddy was pleased. His laughter rings in my ears. I think my prize was a silver dollar, which I probably spent on candy.
|Free use map of Winside,, Nebraska.|
Winside's literary claim to fame can be attributed to Laura Ingalls Wilder. In her book, On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, she describes the route she and Almonzo and daughter Rose took through Winside: "Crops are poor since noon, country about as dry as Dakota. Went through Winside about 4 o'clock. Roads are awfully hilly. . . . The soil in Wayne County is very fine and close, not exactly clay, but clayey. The people here claim it is the best soil on earth to stand drought."1 In the very next paragraph, she describes going through Stanton. My imagination soars with thoughts of her and Manly bouncing along on the seat of their covered wagon on the very road we traveled from Winside to Stanton.
Main Street, Winside, c. 1949, a winter of heavy snows.
1. Wilder, Laura Ingalls, On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1962), p. 32.