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Irrigating Nostalgia (A Nebraska Native Remembers Valley Irrigation)

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Written by Andy Oerman |

"Time moves in one direction, memory in another."William Gibson

Editor: This blog post is a little different. The author, John Kojdecki, reached out to us earlier this spring with a bit of a homesick feeling:

“I was raised in Valley, Nebraska, in the early 1950s when your company was Valley Manufacturing. I left for the Marine Corps in the 60s and never made it back to my hometown. But throughout my work career, I traveled the U.S., and in rural locations would see irrigation systems with the sign on the last [span] that proudly stated the Valley® name. Now that I am retired, I have built a workshop to stay out of my wife's hair.”

The finishing touch was to be a Valley sign on the workshop door. We replied and asked him to jot down some of his memories for us to share on this blog. We are proud of Valmont history, too, and pleased to share John Kodjecki’s recollections in his own words:

“I was Vice President of Operations for a company that imported artificial flowers and manufactured memorial decorations for retailers like Walmart, Kmart and other smaller retailers around the country.  I was responsible for warehouses in California, Texas, Georgia, Indiana and Missouri.

After we consolidated our warehouses to one large one in Mississippi, I started driving to the warehouse instead of flying and saw most of the Valley irrigation systems in Arkansas. As one would suspect, the major crop in that part of the country was cotton. 

I was driving east of Jonesboro, Arkansas, when I saw at least eight irrigation systems in fields on both sides of the highway. When I came to the end of one of them, I pulled off to the side of the road. Hanging from the end of the last pivot was the sign that said "Valley." That sign made me feel a sense of pride, and made me remember the good times of growing up in the 50s and 60s in Valley. It was a feeling of pride how a small manufacturing company from a small Nebraska town could make such an impact on our country and the world.

 

sign editedValley native John Kodjecki saw familiar Valley Irrigation signs as he drove throughout the southeast part of the United States. Now he has one on his workshop in Missouri, to remind him of home.

Pivot to the Past

When I first visited Valley before moving there, Main Street was gravel and the sidewalk was about three feet higher than the street. I was told this was so farmers could tie up their horses and wagons outside the grocery store – it made loading supplies easier. The west side of Main Street had a Chevrolet dealership, Valley Bank, a drug store, the phone company building, a hardware store, a grocery store (where I worked during high school) and at the end of the street was the Valley Theater. On the east side was an old-fashioned hardware store (you could find anything and everything in there), a bar and restaurant, an ice cream shop, a barbershop, a bar and Valley Alleys down a side street.

I graduated from the old three-story Valley High School in 1961. After a year at the University of Nebraska, I decided to join the Marines and see the world. I saw a little more than I bargained for. I was stationed on the east coast, in the Midwest, on the west coast and in the southern part of the U.S. Then, as luck, would have it, I got to see exotic places like Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, and my most favorite place (not really), Vietnam in 1965 and 1966.

These days, I’m a novice carpenter and small engine mechanic, mostly to stay active and on the good side of my wife of 53 years. 

As you know, Valley was and still is located just outside of town. They offered jobs to those who decided to stay around after high school. Life in Valley during the 50s was a much slower pace than what our children and grandchildren had and have. Times change, but I feel Valley was a good place to live, and life in the 50s was the best. 

Thanks for the memories, Valley, and keep up the good work.”

John Kodjecki

Springfield, MO

Editor: Thanks for your recollections, John, and thank you for your service to our country. We’ll keep up the good work of making the longest-lasting, most reliable irrigation systems available anywhere.

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