As we shed the old year and its many trials and triumphs, a last look at some of Lincoln Life’s 2018 columns before they head to the archive:
* Pete Dennis still hasn’t changed his shirt. The Cedars employee and all-around good guy is still getting up every morning in a Team Jack T-shirt. Make that more than 2,000 days in a row supporting a cure for pediatric brain cancer.
* A second-grader who sold one of her paintings for $5 to a Hickman volunteer firefighter passing her corner art stand two years ago is now an honorary firefighter. When Keely Rapp found out Bruce Messenger, the man who bought (and kept) her artwork had cancer, the little girl and her family raised $3,000 for him. In December, the Hickman Volunteer Fire Department made her one of them. Congratulations, Firefighter Keely.
* Regina Bos is still missing. It’s been 18 years. Tell the police what you know: 402-441-7204.
* Stacy Cervenka’s dream idea is inching closer to a web browser near you. The Blind Travelers Network is undergoing beta testing and should go live in March, the Lincoln mother of two said. Cervenka received the $25,000 Holman Prize to implement her innovative idea for sight-impaired vacationers. There will be blogs and advice columns, a place to write reviews and a message board. Cervenka and her husband are both blind — and both love travel.
* “Lost Restaurants of Lincoln, Nebraska” has been found by so many people it’s already on its second printing. It’s been a fun ride so far, said Jeff Korbelik, my former podmate and longtime Journal Star dining critic. Old restaurant owners showed up at his book signings, and the daughter of longtime Miller & Paine baker Arne Pederson brought Korbelik cinnamon rolls baked from her dad’s recipe. (The author will be speaking at noon Tuesday at the Nebraska History Museum, 15th and P streets.)
* While we’re on the subject of books, “The True Adventures of Me, Bodie,” had a spike in sales after a column about the adopted dog’s escapades appeared in the paper. Deane Finnegan’s favorite sale was hand delivering a copy to a reader named Nettie, a 93-year-old without internet access. “A pure delight.” A book signing is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Capital Humane Society Pieloch Pet Adoption Center. Both Finnegan and her co-author grandson Cooper will be on hand.
* Those play-on-the-new-Nebraska-slogan T-shirts designed by John Mabry of the Food Bank of Lincoln and his daughter Alex Mabry are in the closets of 600 or so supporters of the idea emblazoned across its front: Hunger, Honestly it’s not for anyone. Nice job.
* Eight-year-old A.C. Flodman and his bus stop-building neighbor Pat Dugan, were featured on the "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt" last month. The little boy with autism watched the segment two or three times, said his grandma Pat. “And then he was done.” (His favorite part: Racing his Big Wheel against Dugan and his John Deere mower while the cameras whirled.)
* A story of a classical composer, Adolf Hitler, the second World War and a Richard Wagner baton that made its way to Lincoln has come to its intended end. Hannah Jo Smith — whose father gave her the baton years ago — shared an email from the director of the Richard Wagner Museum: “Now half a year has passed since you have brought Wagner’s baton back to Wahnfried. We still like to think of the festive handover … the baton has made its way into our permanent collection.” (Head to Bayreuth, Germany to have a look.)
* JoAnn Young did not win an Emmy for her work on the PBS documentary, “Mr. Rogers: It’s You I Like,” but the former Lincoln woman had a great time at the awards gala.
“It was a fabulous event with a wonderful and memorable party afterward,” the Lincoln High grad said in an email. “Non-stop food, drink, music and entertainment, in a lavishly decorated rooftop space overlooking downtown Los Angeles.”
Stay tuned for Young Productions' next project, “Nat King Cole’s Greatest Songs,” airing on public television in March.
* The “Mrs. Burt Reynolds” director’s chair has found a new home. After Reynolds died this summer, Mike Donlan contacted me about the leather chair abandoned by English actress (and former Reynolds spouse) Judy Carne when she left California. He’d inherited it from a relative who’d owned the apartment building where Carne lived and now no longer had a use for it.
A Lincoln movie buff paid $400 and Donlan donated the money to four of his favorite organizations: The Lincoln Community Playhouse Penguin Project, Center for People in Need, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and the Lincoln Pregnancy Center.
* Readers helped deliver the holidays for the paper carrier who took a route to pay for his prosthetic leg. It’s been a paying-it-forward festival. I donated $100 from radio host Jack Mitchell’s Random Acts of Christmas fund and kind folks followed suit. Final tally: $1,120. Thank you, Lincoln.
* Mark and Laurie Baker will likely not return to Paradise. The former Lincoln residents escaped the California fire that all but destroyed the town of 27,000, and are considering starting over in Oregon, Laurie Baker said. (She emailed that they thought I should win the “Pullet Surprise” for my column on their lives post-fire. Autocorrect and I hope so, too.)
* A correction from a reader: A photo showing cleanup from the quintessential Nebraska “Hail Marry Wedding” featured in this column in August pointed out we had called a corn cob fork a pitchfork. (It’s all in the number of prongs, people.)
* A reader who called himself “one of those dunderheads that ... tries to blow up the sky on the Fourth,” had an idea for mitigating some of the suffering that fireworks cause soldiers with PTSD, such as Stuart Mason, featured in my summer column: “A yard ‘banner’ could gently remind people that a real live soldier lives here, and he/she hears those fireworks differently than you do.”
* The Pie Guys are still traveling the state sampling pie. The three buddies have judged pie in 34 counties and counting, Joe Coleman said. “We hit Howard, Sherman, Valley, Garfield, Wheeler, Greeley, Holt, Rock, Brown, Cherry, Keya Paha and Boyd since we talked last.” They also judged the Cass County Fair pies — “where your article was prominently placed” — and hope to put down their pie-eating forks by the end of 2019.
* What else? The Bone Creek Gallery of Agrarian Art in David City has a 10th Anniversary Retrospective up now and a pottery exhibit coming in late February. (Cole Sartore, who curated the widely attended "Worthy Rivals: Dale Nichols and Terence Duren" exhibit last year, is busy with his own gallery, Lincoln Art Company, and a March show featuring work from both artists.)
* Chinese English student Ling He and her team competed in the Lincoln Literacy Center’s Annual Scrabble Tournament, as a November column promised. “We got second-to-last,” she said. “However, we got a lot of fun.” (And, watch out, they’ll be back next year.)
* I made my first visit to Copal Progressive Mexican Restaurant after writing about its owner’s free throw-shooting prowess, and I can recommend Rebeca Lopez’s eatery at 48th Street and Pioneers Boulevard.
* Beto O’Rourke did not win a seat in the Senate, despite the presence of his yard signs in the (402). Nate Raun’s spirit lives on 20 years after he died. Lucas Hedges scored a best actor nomination for “Boy Erased,” which includes a scene from the life of Lincoln’s Aaron Aupperle. Rita Weeks, the doll clothes-sewing grandmother, got a lot of love (and offers of doll clothes) for her work honoring a little girl’s memory and her grandson's life.
* And several readers have already recommended books for my 2019 list. Among them: “Wonderstruck,” by Brian Selznick, “Heartland,” by Sarah Smarsh, and “Barracoon,” by Zora Neale Houston.
Grateful to you all for tagging along another year. Onward and upward, my friends.