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Former first lady of Hastings turns 100

Virginia Malouf, a former first lady of Hastings and the Tehama Shrine, celebrated her first day as a centenarian in Hastings on Sunday.

Malouf was born as Virginia Eck in Moberly, Missouri, on Nov. 3, 1919. Her father worked as an engineer for the Missouri Pacific railroads, and Malouf found herself doing secretarial work in Los Angeles for one of the railroads there.

While in Los Angeles, Malouf met Monte Malouf, who was working fo Mode O’Day, a women’s clothing company in California. Monte served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II before returning to Mode O’Day.

After returning from the Navy, Monte’s career began to take off and Mode O’Day was looking to expand, said the couple’s son, Monte Malouf Jr. of Hastings.

“When Mode O’Day said they were going to build a manufacturing plant in Hastings, Nebraska, my mother and father packed up everything they owned in a little car,” the younger Malouf said. “They stopped in Las Vegas and got married in one of those little chapels, and then they drove non-stop out to Hastings, Nebraska.”

Virginia and the elder Malouf were married Nov. 9, 1946.

The elder Malouf took the position as plant manager of Mode O’Day, which was west of Duncan Field on South Street. Virginia also worked at the plant. The younger Malouf said once Mode O’Day got a foothold in the area, Virginia helped to open the retail store, which used to be on Second Street.

“Mother was extremely versatile. She could do anything in the office, but she could also go out into the plant and fill in with just about any position, with the exception of sewing,” the younger Malouf said.

One of Virginia’s most valuable skills was knowing shorthand, as she would help draft letters for the elder Malouf during his time as a Fourth Ward City Councilman from 1957-61, as mayor from 1972-76, and on the Adams County Board of Supervisors from 1984-96. (He was elected county board chairman in 1986).

“As Dad was mayor, there was a lot of communication that needed to be done, so Mother’s shorthand came in handy when Dad had to compose a letter,” the younger Malouf said.

In addition to serving as first lady of Hastings, Virginia was first lady of the Tehama Shrine when the elder Malouf was potentate in 1967. The younger Malouf recalled visiting San Francisco and Washington, D.C., with his family during the Shrine Imperial sessions.

“My mother accompanied my father absolutely everywhere,” the younger Malouf said.

The younger Malouf said Virginia is doing well physically for someone who is 100 years old, but has difficulty remembering some things. The younger Malouf helps take care of his mother, along with several other caretakers.

“They took care of me when I could not take care of myself, and now it’s time for me to return the favor, because they raised me right,” he said.

The elder Malouf passed away April 10, 2008.

Tattoo convention showcases body art

A group of women went on a girls’ night out Saturday in Grand Island and found themselves at the Good Life Tattoo Convention at the C3 Hotel and Convention Center in Hastings instead.

As part of their outing, Cristina Johnson of Grand Island said they all planned on getting tattoos, but the tattoo shop was closed for the convention. The group decided to go to Hastings to attend the convention.

Johnson said it was nice to be able to walk around to the various booths and see what different artists had to offer.

“I like the idea you can shop around, especially for pricing,” she said.

Booths lined the convention center as well as much of the hotel’s lobby area. Convention attendees could examine books with various pieces from tattoo artists from across the state and beyond, and then sit down and have the design added to their body.

Shantell Franks of Holdrege had a tattoo in mind for more than a year, but didn’t know of any place in her hometown to have it done. She attended both days of the convention, thrilled by the ability to meet different tattoo artists.

She found three tattoos that she decided to get during the convention. The first was a heart tattoo that caught her eye.

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Rick Perez tattoos a client Saturday during the Good Life Tattoo Convention at C3 Hotel and Convention Center in Hastings.

“I liked it, so I got it,” she said.

Gathering various tattoo artists in one place was the idea for the convention, said Dylan Huffman an artist from Inkzhibit in Grand Island, which sponsored the convention with the Adams County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“It’s crazy how so many different artists are here,” he said. “People can see work from different artists throughout the state and beyond.”

Artists from across Nebraska as well as Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, attended the convention. Vendors offering clothing, tattoo supplies and other merchandise also were available.

But the bulk of the booths were filled by tattoo artists offering their skills in decorating the human body.

Alexandria Barrett, founder of Inked and Spellbound in Plattsmouth, said the convention offered a chance for artists to pass along advice and information to other artists. She said it’s also fun to meet all the different artists. Many artists in the area know each other, but some have only met on social media. The convention gives them an opportunity to meet face to face. It’s also good for people wanting to see tattooing options.

“Come in, be inspired and enjoy the art,” she said.

Barrett said she has attended larger tattoo conventions, but thinks the smaller venue is more relaxing. Due to her regular business booking up quickly months in advance, she said she prefers to only do walk-ups during a convention.

“This is much more laid-back,” she said.

The convention also featured awards at the end of each evening as artists and their subjects displayed tattoos of a variety of styles. Categories judged included color, black and grey, traditional, neo-traditional and more. There were also awards for Best of Day and Best in Show.

Huffman said judges look at line work, saturation, contrast and other details about a piece before comparing with other submitted tattoos.

Mike Pochop, owner of Distinctive Ink Tattoo in Hastings, won Friday’s award for best sacred geometry. As his first award, he said it helped allay some of the self-critique that arises when putting permanent marks onto a person’s body.

“We’re our biggest critics,” he said. “It’s cool when somebody gives you confirmation with an award.”

Pochop said it was great to be able to have the convention close to home and that Hastings is able to host such an event. He said it also helps show the community how much more acceptable tattooing has become in the last several years. Previously associated with criminal activity, he said tattoos have become more mainstream. He sees women who have lost children get a tattoo as a way to memorialize them. There are also more older people seeking tattoos for various reasons.

“It’s cool to be able to do that for people,” he said.

Despite his grandparents’ warning against opening a tattoo shop, Pochop said he has had success since opening his shop in 2016. He has grown the business to be able to support his family as well as employ two others.

“I get to do what I love to do every day,” he said.

Meghan Vesper of Lincoln attended the convention with her husband, Ian Vesper of Scarlet Raven Tattoo in Lincoln. She said her tattoos haven’t created any trouble with her employer or co-workers, showing the stigma of tattoos may be fading.

“I haven’t had an issue being taken professionally,” she said. “I think people do it more for the beauty of it.”

Grand marshal saved others during Vietnam tour

While under enemy fire, Dale Musgrave of Hastings found himself having to put out a fire on a helicopter to prevent the pilot and passengers from being injured during a mission in Vietnam.

Musgrave was a gunner on the attack helicopter when it was struck on his side of the aircraft. He was injured by shrapnel in his side from the blast. The shots also caused the 2.75-inch rockets to catch on fire and the pilot was unable to clear the rockets from the ship.

“I told the pilot to set it down in a rice paddy,” Musgrave said. “I jumped out and threw mud up to put out the fire.”

He also removed the explosive warheads from the rockets to help ensure the safety of the helicopter and its crew. After lifting off again, the helicopter had to return to base, but was able to do so without fear of the damaged rockets exploding thanks to Musgrave’s actions.

Musgrave received the Bronze Star with V device for Valor and Purple Heart for his actions that day.

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Chorus of the Plains perform the national anthem Saturday at the Veterans Parade in downtown Hastings.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1962 and completed basic training at Fort Carson. After training, he took the U.S. Army Weapons Command Helicopter armament subsystem XM6 series course on the new Bell UH-1B Huey helicopters in Illinois.

Following his training, Musgrave was sent to Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam. He was assigned to the Utility, Tactical, Transport Helicopter Company, the first fully armed attack helicopter company in the Army. The company flew fire support for the H-21 troop helicopters of the 571 Transportation Detachment and the troops they carried.

Musgrave was assigned as the weapons systems maintenance personnel, but the unit was short of door gunners due to limited personnel. He volunteered to help out and did on-the-job training, which led him to the mission where he received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

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Hastings High color guard member Taygon Shaw marches with the Tiger band in the Veterans Parade Saturday in downtown Hastings.

During his service, Musgrave was awarded six air medals, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietman Service Medal with bronze star, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Expert Marksmen Rifle/Pistol Medal, and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

He attained the rank of specialist 4th Class and served as door gunner, supply officer and weapons mechanic through the end of his tour in December 1963.

He returned to McCook to continue his employment with Burlington Northern Railroad, where he worked until his retirement. He married Elizabeth Durack and they raised two sons, Dale and Tom, and now have five grandchildren.

Musgrave and his wife moved to Hastings in 2007. He stays active with his hobby of raising Birmingham Roller pigeons, playing pitch and volunteering.

Musgrave was one of the veterans honored Saturday at the Veterans Recognition Parade. He was selected as the grand marshal representing the U.S. Army. Other grand marshals included Hastings residents Willis “Gale” Bullard for the Air Force, Marcus Fitzgerald for the Marines, Darrell Moyer for the Navy and Omaha resident Randy Evans for the Coast Guard.

The parade was hosted by the Masonic Center and Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce.

Veterans participating in the parade were recognized with applause as they were announced.

Misti Jones of Hastings said her family tries to attend the parade each year.

“We always support our veterans,” she said. “They make it so we can sleep safely at night.”

J.J. Williams of Hastings, a Navy reservist, said it’s good to support his fellow soldiers at the parade.

“I have many veterans who are friends,” he said. “I want to recognize all of them. I support all of my brothers and sisters.”

1 Year Out: A divided nation lurches toward 2020 election

WASHINGTON — One year from Sunday, voters will decide whether to grant President Donald Trump a second term in office, an election that will be a referendum on Trump’s vision for America’s culture and role in the world.

Much is unknown about how the United States and its politics will look on Nov. 3, 2020.

Who will Trump’s opponent be? How will Democrats resolve the ideological, generational and demographic questions roiling their primary? Will a strong economy shore up Trump’s support or will recession warning signs turn into a reality? Will Trump face voters as just the third American president to have been impeached by the House of Representatives?

This much seems certain: The nation will plunge into the election as deeply divided as it has been politically in more than half a century, when cities were in flames with protests over war and civil rights.

“It seems like Republicans and Democrats are intractable,” said Mark Updegrove, a presidential historian and chairman of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. “They are both adhering to their own versions of reality, whether they’re based in truth or not.”

The political divisions today reflect societal and economic schisms between more rural, largely white communities where the economy depends on industries being depleted by outsourcing and automation, and more urban, racially diverse areas dominated by a service economy and where technology booms are increasing wealth.

Many of those divisions existed before Trump, but his presidency has exacerbated them. Trump has panned his political opponents as “human scum,” while Democrats view his vision for America’s future as anathema to the nation’s founding values.

Indeed, no president in the history of public opinion polling has faced such deep and consistent partisan polarization.

Polling conducted by Gallup shows that an average of 86% of Republicans have approved of Trump over the course of his time in office, and no less than 79% have approved in any individual poll. That’s compared with just 7% of Democrats who have approved on average, including no more than 12% in any individual poll.

One thing that does unite the parties: voters’ widespread interest in the presidential campaign, even at this early phase. A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows 82% of Democrats and 74% of Republicans are already interested in the election.

To win, Trump’s campaign needs to recreate the enthusiasm among his core supporters, a task that isn’t always easy for an incumbent burdened with a four-year record in office. But Trump is already leaning hard into the strict immigration policies that enlivened his supporters in 2016, while trying to convince more skeptical Republicans that Democrats are moving so far left as to be outside of the mainstream.

Rather than trying to persuade independents and moderate Democrats to switch their allegiances, the Trump campaign also believes it has better prospects in identifying Trump fans who didn’t show up in 2016 and mobilizing them to vote.

Trump’s case for reelection may hinge on the state of the economy, which continues to grow.

The unemployment rate is also near a five-decade low of 3.6% and the stock market keeps reaching new highs.

“At the end of the day, people care about their pocket books and how they’re doing and I think he can clearly point to life being better off,” said Jason Chaffetz, a former Republican congressman from Utah. But he added, “Any precipitous drop would hurt the president.”

A full picture of the economy does hold some warning signs for Trump at the one-year mark to Election Day.

The president delivered a massive tax cut in 2017, yet it lacked the rocket-like thrust to push growth above the 3% that Trump promised. Job growth has been solid, yet parts of the industrial Midwest this year have shed the factory jobs that he promised to create.

Consumers are helped by the slight inflation and low interest rates, but housing costs and student debt have sabotaged some American’s hopes for middle-class prosperity. The China trade war inflamed by Trump has shown to his voters his willingness to fight for them, yet it has led to a decline in the type of business investment that fuels growth.

That is the story of the American economy Democrats want to tell over the next year. But the party is still struggling to figure out its own message to voters beyond contempt for Trump, the one sure thing that unites Democratic voters.

With just three months until primary-season voting begins, the top tier of candidates reflects the party’s uncertainty over its own identity.

Former Vice President Joe Biden promotes his decades of experience and running as an unabashed moderate willing to work across the political aisle. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont are pushing for sweeping liberal change.

With all three of those candidates in their 70s, Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is running a surprisingly successful campaign on a call for generational change.

“I didn’t just come here to end the era of Donald Trump. I am here to launch the era that must come next,” Buttigieg said Friday during a Democratic Party dinner in Iowa.

The biggest known unknown for both parties may be how the ongoing impeachment proceedings will be viewed by Americans one year from now.

Testimony from a litany of administration officials has validated an anonymous whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. A rough transcript that the White House itself released showed Trump asked Ukraine’s president to look into baseless corruption allegations against Biden and his son Hunter.

But like the broader contours of American politics, the impeachment proceedings are so far breaking along partisan lines. A vote last week on the rules for the impeachment process passed with support from all but two Democrats. Every Republican voted no.

Those numbers would still put Democrats in position to impeach Trump in the House, though acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate looks all but certain. Still, it would leave Trump as the first president facing reelection after impeachment.

Updegrove, the presidential historian, said the question a year from now will be whether that matters.

“If not, what will matter to the American people as a whole?” he asked. “Is there anything?”