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Old Omaha Photos

Vintage photos from the Omaha World-Herald archive. See more photos (old and new) at

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Old Omaha Photos

Old Omaha Photos

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This road resurfacing crew found an oasis on Sept. 8, 1959, when three young girls began giving away coffee and soft drinks. Cynthia, 8, Kathleen Tollander, 7, and Linda Spain, 8, set up shop on the 6100 block of North 24th Street. Among their customers: Russ Fisher, left, laydown foreman, and Paul Craig, city inspector. “This type of thing doesn’t happen often,” Craig said, “but it certainly makes you feel good, and it’s appreciated.” THE WORLD-HERALD

In this November 1989 photo, a workman, using hay bales as a ladder, cuts holes in the loft of the red barn at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. This was to allow the pigeons to come and go as they pleased during the winter months. THE WORLD-HERALD

Barbara (Bobbi) Ohlhoff, a 24-year-old nurse from New York, gets a boost onto a horse from an 8-year-old cowboy, David. Bobbi and her sister, Anita, were venturing across the country to San Francisco in March 1963. While in Nebraska, they stopped at Y Lazy Y Ranch in Box Elder Canyon, where the pair saw their first cows, steers and calves. “This has just been perfect,” Bobbi said. “We just can’t get over how friendly and concerned everybody is in Nebraska to perfect strangers.” THE WORLD-HERALD

Six-year-old Dee Dee Odorisio got a unique view of the March 7, 1970, partial solar eclipse by watching through a neighbor’s welding mask. The eclipse started around 11 a.m. and ended about 1:23 p.m., and its most noticeable meteorological effect was a dip in solar radiation. THE WORLD-HERALD

Elsa Lundgren, a librarian at the Council Bluffs Public Library. An Oct. 19, 1954, story talks about the thousands of questions that pour into the library each year and the pace Lundgren must keep to find the books to answer them. Among the inquiries: How do you cook a raccoon? How do you cut down an upright piano? Where do holes in cheese come from? THE WORLD-HERALD

Bill O’Hearn, a former Omaha swimming instructor, and several of his old students at a 10-year reunion of the Peony Park Swim Club, then known as the Fehrs Swim Club. About a dozen former star pupils on July 3, 1960, met O’Hearn, who had since moved to Houston, where he sold swimming pools and continued coaching swimming. Among those attending was Judy Macy Bendorf, who finished fifth in the 1957 world amateur standings for the 100-yard butterfly. THE WORLD-HERALD

As part of the World’s Fair of Aviation, held in 1946 at Offutt Air Force Base, a 1912 airplane and a 1912 automobile offered a stark contrast with the “sleek, 600-mile-per-hour aircraft” on display at the fair. When the two 1912 models raced, the 60-mile-per-hour plane easily won. It was flown by Billy Parker, head of the Phillips Petroleum aviation department. This photo ran July 20, 1946. THE WORLD-HERALD

Presidential hopeful George McGovern has young supporter in Omaha

This photo, published in the Omaha Bee News, shows the crowded streets of downtown Omaha in the early 1900s. THE WORLD-HERALD

Maxine Stone, orchestra director for Beatrice Public Schools, was in an April 27, 1971, article called a triple threat: musician, psychologist and salesman. And she used all three to grow the Beatrice stringed instrumental music program from 20 students when she first started to 160. At the fifth annual “Orchestra Showcase — ’71,” held at Omaha’s City Auditorium, she was going to present three orchestras. THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Orchestra director kick-started Beatrice schools program

Fred L’arge, maitre d’ in the Red Lion dining room, prepares a flambé, a specialty of the restaurant. This Aug. 17, 1980, photo ran with a World-Herald story about the Red Lion Inn taking over the Hilton Hotel. Red Lion was put to the test early, hosting a national convention of 3,500 people within the first eight days of taking over. THE WORLD-HERALD

No, the “Home Wanted” sign doesn’t apply to 5-year-old Bobby Manzer, but rather to the pup beside him. The young Omaha boy and his brother, Ralph, 8, visited the dog pound to “cheer up the homeless fellows there,” said the original caption. According to the Feb. 8, 1942, newspaper, a citywide canvass had begun a week earlier to sell tags for all the dogs in Omaha in an effort to reduce the number ending up at the pound. THE WORLD-HERALD

Michelle Zuerlein, 7, is the first in line to meet Peony the skunk, the newly unveiled mascot of the park at 78th and Cass Streets. According to The World-Herald story on March 18, 1974, park officials were looking for a symbol “a la Mickey Mouse for the Disneys.” The trademarked skunk costume was purchased for $1,100, and it was air conditioned using a portable unit that was developed for astronauts. Peony the skunk was to roam the park that summer spreading cheer. THE WORLD-HERALD

According to the Omaha Bee News, this photo, taken about 1870, shows “high society” watching a Fourth of July parade from the balcony of the Redick Opera House at 16th and Farnam Streets. THE WORLD-HERALD

Surprisingly, in this photo that ran June 20, 1958, Martin Luther King Jr., just right of center, wasn’t the focus. Dr. O. Clay Maxwell, a 73-year-old New York City pastor, center, had just been elected president of the National Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress in an election at the Civic Auditorium. King, who was 29 at the time, had taken over leadership of the congress when the previous president died a few months earlier. King gave the seconding speech for Maxwell at the election. The newspaper caption referencing the two men read, “Age and youth combine.” THE WORLD-HERALD

This Feb. 1, 1976, photo shows Dr. Joe Spearing and his ice sailing boat. The Harlan, Iowa, man was an accomplished sailor who, along with his crew, placed in many Midlands racing competitions. THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Dr. Joe Spearing shows off his ice sailing boat in 1976

Omaha’s downtown Brandeis department store was packed to the gills on Sept. 11, 1980, one of the first days of the final clearance sale. The location was set to close its doors 60 days later due to declining business. “It’s quite a crowd,” said Brandeis Vice President Ross Fredrichs. “If we had had this all along, we wouldn’t be in this position.” People were lined up 40 deep at cash registers, hundreds of people were waiting outside the store and traffic was backed up on Douglas Street from 16th to 24th. THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Brandeis department store clearance sale draws huge crowd

Shelby County, Iowa, Sheriff Orrell Gearhart returned to Iowa in 1949 with a “heart full of bitterness” instead of the prisoners he had trailed over the state line. After a burglary at a Portsmouth, Iowa, lumberyard, the sheriff followed leads to identify and track down Neal Abram Hart, 24, and Ernest Hawes, 28, in Omaha. Gearhart planned to lure the men into Council Bluffs and arrest them. However, he told the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office everything he knew first, and they arrested the men instead. The men confessed and were sentenced to four-year terms for burglary. “They’d have got 10 years in Shelby County,” Gearhart said. THE WORLD-HERALD

Guide Rock fans during the first-round game of the 1965 Class D Nebraska State Basketball Tournament at Lincoln High. Guide Rock beat Halsey-Dunning 58-55. Although Halsey-Dunning scored first, Guide Rock never trailed after the first quarter. THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Guide Rock tops Halsey-Dunning in 1965 state basketball tournament

On June 9, 1916, Harry H. Gardiner, called the “Human Fly,” thrilled crowds as he climbed up the Omaha World-Herald building at 15th and Farnam Streets. While the 30,000 to 35,000 people gathered in the streets to watch gasped and shivered, the newspaper story said, Gardiner was unfazed. “It seems all a part of a day’s work to me,” he said. “There’s the wall with the little projections, ledges and places to which I must hold. And there’s the top of the building, where I’m going to stop.” According to the June 10, 1916, newspaper story, the enormous crowd was the largest in the history of Omaha to gather for such an exhibition. People in the streets were so numerous, they caused a massive traffic jam. THE WORLD-HERALD

Philippe DeDeckere, a 24-year-old Belgium native who was studying at Creighton University in April 1975, is an Elvis Presley fan, to say the least. One spring day, he got a wild hair and decided to travel to Las Vegas with only $10 cash in hand to see the King himself. Over five days and nights, he traveled 3,400 miles, spending only about 15 hours in Vegas. He ate only two meals. But it was worth it. Seated in the front row at the Elvis concert, DeDeckere noticed that a bodyguard was eyeing him as a potential menace. But, in a split second while the guard was looking away, DeDeckere jumped up on stage to a surprised Elvis. After realizing the fan wasn’t about to attack him, Elvis waved off the guards and took DeDeckere backstage, chatting with him and giving him a scarf. THE WORLD-HERALD

Helen Huntley, the first female pilot to be licensed in Iowa. The Davenport, Iowa, native was 17 when she made her first solo flight on June 22, 1929. One year later she was flying for Rapid Aviation in Omaha and was “barn storming” in air shows. This photo ran June 17, 1930, after she was injured in a plane crash. She suffered a broken arm and bruises on her head and shoulders. THE WORLD-HERALD

From the Archives: Helen Huntley, Iowa's first licensed female pilot, made first solo flight at age 17

Louis Synowicki, 19, left, and Rick Hernandez, 18, were two of five members in the heavy metal band Max Force, which walked away with the top prize at the 1982 Midlands High School Battle of the Bands. Although unlucky in drawing the first slot of the night at City Auditorium, Max Force walked away with $1,000 and four hours of studio time. THE WORLD-HERALD

“Alan Jones swam into Omaha on Monday, handcuffed, cold, tired and carrying what every Missouri River swimmer should have: A credit card.” That was the first line in the May 2, 1978, World-Herald story about a 31-year-old Spirit Lake, Iowa, man who had just finished swimming from Sioux City, Iowa, to Omaha. The 112-mile journey took him a day and a half, and it was meant to get him in shape for a swim down the Ohio River the following week. And the handcuffs? “Those are just to make it tougher. It kind of builds your confidence,” he said. THE WORLD-HERALD

Omaha Central High School students were all smiles on March 14, 1958, as they boarded buses headed for Lincoln to watch the basketball team in the state tournament — Central’s first appearance there since 1941. About 500 students took the 12 special buses chaperoned by the PTA and faculty, while hundreds others traveled by car and train. THE WORLD-HERALD