Where is the little boy sipping from the sweet spring?

January 2003 Feature Story
“Where is the little boy sipping from the sweet spring?”

…by Kent Knudsen
(Kent is the grandson of Lloyd Heim and son of Charol Heim Pleiss, wife of the president of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Colony of Nebraska Historical Society)
When I was seven years old. I enjoyed one of the most brief and intimate versions of fame; a picture in the Omaha World Herald Sunday Paper. If you haven’t seen the photograph (which would not be a terrible loss, it’s pretty unremarkable), I am shown leaning precariously over “Old Jacob Heim’s Spring, as it is called in the article. I qualify that because I really don’t know if the spring has a name, and “Old Jacob’s sounds rather journalistic. But it could be the actual name, as far as I know. I haven’t been to Dawson in years.

My uncertainty concerning Dawson and its landmarks is a sad fact. But I am not overly despondent about my ancestral ignorance, because Dawson, the Heim’s, and the Pennsylvania Colony represent in my mind a bond to the past, and to my heritage. To my friends, Dawson is merely a sprinkle of interest on the route to Lawrence, but to me it is much more. We drive through, usually long after midnight, and I say, there’s the library, and I think my Mom lived in that house, and there’s the cemetery named after our family. Then I begin to tell stories, about my grandfather, Lloyd Heim, and what little I have heard or read and remembered about the colony. Eventually my friends direct their attention elsewhere, as they are inclined to do, and, oblivious to their interest, I continue to babble.

I do not include a recipe because food and its preparation baffle me, and I think it would be pretty cheap to pinch a recipe from my Mom or one of my sisters and call it my own. Friends and family have let me know that my dislike for most food has become notorious, and I know that I was a source of constant frustration for my Mom. You may find it ironic that I would be included in a book of recipes, and believe me, I do too. I don’t know. Think of me as the guy who wears a catcher’s mitt when he plays basketball.

Anyway, back to the newspaper photo, my footnote in the documentation of the Pennsylvania Colony. I don’t remember the photographer by the spring. I look at the picture now and find it hard to believe it’s me. It is as my childhood was a dream that I can barely remember, or describe. And today my cousin, Buck Heim, called and asked if I would be an usher at his wedding. His wedding! As we grew up, Buck was my confidant, my partner in crime. If that’s not enough to boggle my perception of time, I have also recently seen a picture of my grandfather when he was approximately my age, and I find it hard to believe that the man in the photo is not I! We look surprisingly alike in the picture, and, coincidental, he is holding a newborn baby who happens to be my mother. This is some monstrous mathematical equation that I cannot comprehend. The past, the future, the parents, the children, and the grandchildren … again, I don’t know. For now, I guess we will continue to attempt to piece it all together, and if you will allow me to borrow a line from
Fitzgerald, “we’ll move on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

(Kent wrote this in 1990 for the book “The Sweet Spring Still Flows” which can be purchased on the FOR SALE link on the web site. He is married, living in Omaha and has a nice family. His wife was a featured soloist at the 2002 annual memorial service on picnic Sunday in August.)