Sometimes we hold on to an item because it embraces a special remembrance.
Welcome to Small Town America
1.66 square miles
Not exactly a tourist mecca, Ord is located in the center of the state. In 1985 it was mainly a family farm town, but the economy had been taking its toll. Farmers could no longer afford the tractors, seeders, harvesters, and combines they were encouraged by banks to purchase at 18% interest. Pressured by debt they were forced to auction off the tools of their trade, and sell their cherished land to large corporations. The lucky ones remained on the farm, working for “The Man.”
In February 1985, I flew from Los Angeles to Omaha where I rendezvoused with pioneer documentary producer Robert Drew. We had worked together on prior PBS Frontline programs focused on gangs in South Los Angeles. From Omaha we were to drive to Ord the next morning. Unfortunately American Airlines sent my luggage to Orlando, Florida.
We arrived on Ord’s main street late in the afternoon, met by a dusting of blowing snow flurries and -7F temperature. The local clothing store was still open, so we walked into a friendly “you fellas aren’t from around here, eh?” greeting. “No ma’am, we’re from Los Angeles and New York City.” As the conversation continued I located some thermal underwear and socks, weather-proof (and cow pie proof) boots…and, a Gortex-lined semi-sporty hat.
Drew and I spent the next several weeks filming the farm auctions, following the story of the auctioneer Leo Wolf, and the Kolbo family who were feeling the pain of losing the homestead that was part of their family for generations. Our film went on to win an Emmy nomination, a Cine Golden Eagle, and the prestigious DuPont-Columbia ‘Best Documentary’ award.
The hat warmed my receding hairline noggin for the next 32 years. It even followed me to China where I have been living for nearly a decade. But then, I lost it. Just as the weather had turned brutally cold, my trusty headgear had disappeared. I searched everywhere but finally gave up in dismay. My special hat was gone.
Then, one day while rummaging around for a matching pair of socks, I moved a box and to my amazement, I saw my missing friend!