If you were to say to someone, “Tell me about yourself,” for one reason or another, they seem to struggle to describe themselves. However, if you ask a person a more detailed question, they’re able to answer it. This is how I got to hear Cindy Kempcke’s story.
She was born at the Oakland Hospital and grew up outside Decatur, Nebraska, on her family farm with seven siblings. They all learned fairly quickly how to share the two bikes they had. Her childhood was spent playing outside and doing chicken chores every evening. While she was still in school, she had a turning point in her life when her house burnt down. In a hurry, she had to grow up because her parents were busy building their new house. She was in charge of cooking the meals every day, cleaning the house, and taking care of her siblings.
At sixteen, she met Arlen. At that time, Arlen drove the local creamy truck. One day he was working and drove by Cindy and her friends and that’s when it all began. After she graduated from school, Cindy moved to Lyons with Arlen. Shortly after, Arlen was drafted to Germany and at the same time Cindy found out that she was pregnant. Cindy made the decision to move to Germany!
Eventually, they came back to Lyons and she worked at the bank. I asked Cindy what makes a happy marriage. “Give and take,” she told me. “You can’t always be right.” Arlen also joked, saying, “A big rolling pin,” but they both agreed that communication is the reason their marriage has lasted so long, fifty-four years to be exact!
Cindy and Arlen have had four kids since they’ve been married. She mentioned church has been an impact growing up and a big part of her marriage. Her mother always said to her, “If you can go out on a Saturday night, then you can get up for church on Sunday morning.”
Towards the end of my interview, I asked Cindy how different our generation and town is from what it used to be. Her main point was about morals and curiosity. “There doesn’t seem to be any morals,” she said. Cindy thinks that this generation isn’t as disciplined and lacks curiosity. She said her explanation is very noticeable in everyday life. She talked about if you walk into a grocery store or a store in general, no one holds doors open for each other. She ended with, “Don’t get me wrong, kids and people are still good, but it’s just the little things.” She also has noticed a lot of businesses are gone now.
Even though there were some bad things, she loves the small town feel of knowing mostly everyone and that they all look out for you. “Basically just a good little town, I don’t know where a better place would be to live,” she said.
Cindy last said to me, “You find out how fast life goes, you know all the way along it’s going faster and faster. You ask yourself ‘Where does the time go?’ so enjoy your life.”