Thoughts from the Archives – If they had only known…

October 12, 1920…if only they had known.

At the suggestion of juvenile court authorities, 12 Masons, representing every Masonic organization in Douglas County, met to incorporate a new home for children. Within six months they hired staff, purchased and equipped property at 22nd and Davenport Streets downtown, and opened their doors to their first resident, James King, who lived in Florence at that time.

If only the founding fathers had known that what they were starting 98 years ago would result in our current planning of a 100 year celebration of their efforts!

Youth living at the Megeath House in the dormitory style bedroom.

Thirty-six boys lived on 22nd Street for two years, and then 60 boys took over the James Megeath mansion on South 33rd Street. Another location became necessary, and following a nationwide survey, it was decided to obtain farmland close to Omaha and build residential cottages where boys could live by age grouping. The days of dormitory living in beds a foot apart were over!

Plans went into effect for the building of the first three cottages in 1944, our 24th year, and surely thoughts were on a move to the new campus in 1945, the Home’s quarter century celebration. The move took place in the summer of 1945, with the boys bussed out and assigned their new homes.

Through the years The Omaha Home for Boys, as it came to be known in 1952, grew to expand its services. A new dining hall and central heating plant were dedicated in 1960, and in celebration of the Home’s 40th year, 10,000 history booklets were received from the Wray M. Scott Mechanical Contractors and SCOCO Power Plant and Pipe Line Supplies Company. In 1970, 10,000 copies of a gold covered history book were printed, noting the Home’s 50th anniversary and construction of a new
physical recreation facility.

Both the 1960 and 1970 booklets were made possible with the compliments of Board Member Wray M. Scott. They contain much information on the first five decades of our Home, information appearing no place else. Mr. Scott’s booklets also provided a forerunner for our next three books, a 65th anniversary booklet in 1985, a 70th anniversary booklet covering 1920-1990, and a larger history book for the 75th anniversary.

As 1995 approached several factors worked in favor of a year of events to note the 75th anniversary. A number of successful nationwide reunions of former residents and staff did much to create enthusiasm. A 75th anniversary logo was needed, and through the use of The Twig newsletter, a nationwide competition of entries was held. One entry was a pink birthday cake done in crayon. The winning entry, however, was a graphic display built around a diamond, our boy’s head, the years of operation
and the “As the twig is bent…” motto sent by a donor friend in Texas. The logo went on everything – envelopes, letterhead and trinkets to pass out including golf balls and coffee cups.

Our annual golf outing was held, and we invited donor friends to come and enjoy Sunday dinner with the boys. We held open houses and the 75th anniversary reunion, and we closed the year-round celebration with a final banquet in December 1995.

Now, 2020 approaches. A visiting member of a Kiwanis Club said, “Well, you have your anniversary logo already. 2020 stands for perfect vision doesn’t it?”

Perfect vision, the ability to change with the times.

Oh, if those 1920 Masons had only known.

John E. Carter