» Andrew Sundberg grew up just outside of Omaha but missed this week’s appearance by his golf friend, President Barack Obama.
“I wish I’d been in Omaha on Wednesday,” said Andrew, 36. “I would have loved to introduce my parents to Obama.”
Educators Mark and Luanne Sundberg live in Arlington, Nebraska, where Andrew grew up. Today he is a teaching golf pro, and he spends five months a year at a course in Martha’s Vineyard.
He first met Obama while caddying there several years ago but now gives lessons. He once was on the practice range when a Secret Service agent told him that the president would arrive in three minutes.
Next thing Andrew knew, he was giving Obama a half-hour lesson.
“It was an unreal experience,” he said. “Here I am, a small-town kid from Nebraska, on the range with the most powerful guy in the world.”
But not the most proficient guy on the course. The lefty-swinging president suffers from a slice to the left — and here you can insert your own quip about the Democrat’s political leanings.
Last summer, Andrew played in a foursome just ahead of the president’s and offered a playing partner a $20 side bet — on whether Obama, teeing off on a par-3 hole behind them, would land his shot on the green.
The partner bet yes, and, sure enough, Obama put his ball right on the putting surface.
“Andrew!” the president teased when he learned of the wager. “How could you bet against me?”
Because Andrew likes to play cards, his nickname is “Spades,” and that’s what is printed on his golf balls. The president loves to play the card game Spades and said he had to have one of those dimpled balls with that word on it.
So they exchanged, and Andrew — who works at a Florida course in the winter — now owns a ball autographed by the president of the United States, next to his acronym POTUS.
» The real estate website Zillow projects Omaha as one of the nation’s top 10 housing markets for 2016.
“This year,” Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell wrote, “the markets that shine brightest will be those that manage to strike a good balance between strong income growth, low unemployment and solid home-value appreciation.”
Omaha ranked No. 8, which Zillow said in large part was due to its “tiny 2.9 percent unemployment rate.”
Denver ranked first, followed by Seattle and Dallas-Fort Worth. Also ahead of Omaha were Richmond, Virginia; Boise, Idaho; and Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah. With lots of cities behind.
» After Obama’s visit this week, Jim Farho of Omaha noted that a president once had stayed at the mansion where Jim and his family now live, at 3722 Dewey Ave.
At least, he said, that’s what the previous owner told him. The president was Calvin Coolidge, who visited Omaha on Oct. 6, 1925, to speak at the national convention of the American Legion.
Indeed, “Silent Cal” did stop at the home but apparently not to spend the night. The World-Herald reported that after the president arrived by train that morning, he headed directly up Harney Street to the home of Walter Head, 3722 Dewey Ave.
As with Obama’s visit, Coolidge’s was in-and-out on the same busy day. He would be at the home of banker Head — an interesting figure — for about an hour before he headed out to speak to the convention.
Only seven years after World War I, Coolidge warned the Legion that “we shall only be entering a period of preparation for another conflict unless we can demobilize the racial antagonisms, fears, hatreds and suspicions, and create an attitude of toleration in the public mind of the peoples of the earth.”
He had lunch at the Omaha Club before joining the American Legion parade at Turner Boulevard and Farnam Street, still the site of a WWI memorial. Coolidge would depart by 6 p.m.
Four years later came the stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression, and a decade later the beginning of World War II in Europe.
Walter Head? He was president of the Omaha National Bank and president of the American Bankers Association, and he served 20 years as president of the Boy Scouts of America.
He left Omaha for Chicago in 1929 and became a founder and president of the Great American Life Co. He died in 1954.
Farho (pronounced pharaoh), 57, sales manager for the Oracle Co., has lived since 2002 at the Dewey Avenue home with his wife, Barbara, and their four children.
“The kids love it, and it’s been fun to see them grow up in it,” Jim said. “They love the creaks in the old wood floors.”
» If you passed the Durham Museum one day last week, you may have seen a big pile out front — 4 feet high and about 30 feet square.
Yes, that was the remains of the 40-foot Christmas tree that had delighted thousands over the holidays in the museum, the former Union Station.
Eight museum workers, spokeswoman Jessica Brummer said, spent four hours un-decorating the tree, sawing off branches and cutting the trunk into smaller pieces — but saving the stump for the family that donated the tree.
Outside, it took less than 30 minutes for city workers to load it all into a grinder. And then it was scooped up to be spread in parks.
For which the Parks Department surely says: Thank you very mulch.
» On a per-capita basis, Nebraska ranks ninth among the states in producing celebrities.
The entertainment website Pretty Famous, using data provided by Gracenote, calculated the rankings based on 12,589 celebrities who have appeared in at least one television show or movie and have had their place of birth recorded in the database.
Nebraska had 4.2 celebrities per 100,000 population. Iowa ranked 12th with 3.6.
New York, not surprisingly, ranked first by producing 15.2 celebs per 100,000 residents, far ahead of second-ranked Massachusetts at 6.8.
The website also identified which celebrity in each state has the most Twitter followers. Lady Gaga is the No. 1 New York celebrity in terms of Twitter fans, and Conan O’Brien is tops in Massachusetts.
Who was Nebraska’s top Twitter celeb? It was Omaha native, noted Husker fan and actress Gabrielle Union, with nearly 3 million followers.
Iowa’s celebrity leader was actor Ashton Kutcher, who was born in Cedar Rapids. He has 17 million Twitter followers.
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