» Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011, has written a love letter to Nebraska.
Especially after traveling extensively, she wrote, “I've finally come to appreciate my childhood growing up around open spaces and clean air.”
In a Huffington Post blog, described as an anthology of reflections on American places, Scanlan writes of growing up in Gering, Neb., in the Nebraska Panhandle and “in the shadow of the gorgeous Scotts Bluff National Monument.”
That natural topographic feature rises 800 feet above the North Platte River, and she would often hike to the summit.
“Standing at the edge, gazing across the valley,” she wrote, “was the most exhilarating feeling in the world.”
She also told of selling fresh vegetables to neighbors, never being bored and enjoying great opportunities.
» A New York rabbi whose name is familiar in Nebraska received an award this week from a national Catholic organization.
Rabbi Michael Weisser of the Free Synagogue of Flushing, N.Y., received a Peacemaker Award from Pax Christi, which promotes peace and nonviolence.
As a cantor at a synagogue in Lincoln, he confronted Ku Klux Klan member Larry Trapp and inspired him to change his life and speak out against bigotry. Three months before his death in 1992, Trapp converted to Judaism in the synagogue he once wanted to blow up.
Weisser was honored Sunday for, among other things, his interfaith unity walk, an annual stroll through the borough of Queens with stops at houses of worship of various religions.
The Times Ledger newspaper in Queens said the rabbi, who drove scared Muslim women to work in the wake of 9/11, held a coat drive in his synagogue that mainly helped Muslims.
» The Omaha-based indie-rock group Cursive sure gets around, and on Thursday it played at a humorously named place in Glasgow, Scotland — King Tut's Wah Wah Hut.
» The horse that was forced by injury to bow out of a bid to win the Triple Crown today is a descendant of a familiar name — Triple Crown winner Omaha.
No horse has won the big three races in 34 years, and the wait continues.
I'll Have Another's pedigree extends back nine generations to Omaha, which won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1935. Only 11 Thoroughbreds have won the Triple Crown, starting with the first one in 1919.
In the city of Omaha and the state of Nebraska, with strong ties to the “Sport of Kings,” I'll Have Another's injury is a disappointment.
This is the silver anniversary of longtime Ak-Sar-Ben trainer Jack Van Berg's attempt to win the Triple Crown with Alysheba, which won the first two races. (I got to cover that attempt.) Mike Ford of Omaha owned Kauai King, which won the first two in 1966.
Horseman's Park runs a few days of live racing in Omaha in July, but the Ak-Sar-Ben race course, which opened in 1920 and closed in 1995, was huge. Often a Top 10 U.S. track in attendance, it provided lots of jobs, too, at the track as well as at nearby restaurants, motels and other businesses.
A proliferation of other forms of gambling led to the track's demise. The grandstand and adjacent arena, long the site of top entertainment acts, were razed.
The land is now the site of office buildings, the south campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and of shops, a park and apartments known as Aksarben Village.
In Omaha, there's still nostalgia for the old track. And in New York, it's too bad that a great Thoroughbred stabled at Belmont Park near Secretariat Avenue and Omaha Road won't get to make a run today at horse racing immortality.
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