The following letter was written by Mark Thomas of Michigan State Extension, who attended Nebraska Extension's inaugural Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference in April of 2017.
I am sure you have had great feedback on the conference. My appreciation of McCook continued after the conference. As you know I was waiting for the midnight train to Michigan (apologizes to Gladys & The Pips "Midnight Train To Georgia") and remembering the High Plains Museum where the picture was taken, I made the decision to scope it out.
I was pleasantly greeted and invited to “look around”. Being the only visitor, I signed in, made a small donation and began to wander about. Perhaps an hour later a volunteer showed up, I think his name is John. He asked if I had any question and proceeded to show me around. He had worked for the railroad for 47 years and now at 89 he served on many local organizations.
He asked if I was part of the group that was at the theater earlier, where I was from and who I worked for. I think the red shirt and MSU Extension helped with most of his questions. I explained that I was staying in town to catch the train that night. After another hour of comparing thoughts on UFOs (unidentified farming objects) and nearing the museum’s closing time.
I asked for directions to the new library and how long they were open. It was just a couple of blocks north and open until 8 pm. So with bags in tow I went past the Norris House and settled into the library. I asked the librarian if there were any books by Mari Sandoz http://www.sandozcenter.com/clubs/biography.csc . She knew exactly where they were and showed me to the shelf they had dedicated to her.
I found a comfortable chair and settle in to spend a few hours reading, “Love Song to the Plains”. After an hour or so John came in and informed me that he had just come from the Methodist Church where they were serving a free will supper and asked if I would like to partake. Having eaten a late lunch at the Loop, I declined, but thanked him for the offer. We talked a bit and then he said that his wife had another car and asked if I would like to borrow it to take a look around the area. Having ridden around McCook with Frank and Andy earlier in the week, I thanked him once again for the kind offer.
Just then a friend of his entered the Library with the statement to him that, “I didn’t know you could read, John”. Some friendly banter was exchanged and John introduced me to his friend, as one of the folks at the conference from out of town. She proceeded to inform us that the newspaper, The McCook Gazette had published a front page color picture and caption about the conference. Like Andy says, “you can’t make this up”.
To make a long story shorter, when the library closed I walked down Norris Street to Fuller’s restaurant (I glad it was downhill.) The waitress asked me if I was waiting for the midnight train. She said that I could sit in the back in one of the booths to be more comfortable. I had a fine Denver omelet and was treated like an old friend.
The train was about 20 minutes late, but a text to that effect was received. When the train arrived the conductor asked if I was Mark Thomas, what service. I got aboard the train and my sleeping compartment already was made up. Having brushed my teeth in the waiting station in McCook, I was ready for bed.
There may not be any easy way to get to McCook, but once there you feel right at home.
A big thank you goes out to you and all of the fine folks in McCook.
MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio