Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias Take a stroll through the not-quite-completed Al Neuharth Media Center on the campus of The University of South Dakota, and you'll find several displays from Newseum.

The Freedom Forum is currently constructing a new, expanded Newseum next to the Washington, DC, mall and its museums and monuments.

The six-level, 215,000-square-foot interactive museum of news will contain three times as much exhibition space as the original facility in Arlington, VA, which closed in March 2002 to permit Newseum staff to focus exclusively on planning and developing the new museum, which is scheduled to open in late 2006.

Contained in the Neuharth Media Center here are reminders of some of the most significant moments in the history of the United States.

The local Newseum display includes facsimiles of some of our nation's most memorable newspaper front pages.

Here's a sampling of what one can read about while browsing through the display:

* The San Francisco Earthquake in April 1906.

* The sinking of the Titanic in April 1912.

* The end of World War I in November 1918.

* Women's suffrage in August, 1920.

* The stock market crash in October, 1929, that marked the beginning of the Great Depression.

* The end of Prohibition in December, 1933.

* The bombing of Pearl Harbor in December, 1941.

* The Salk vaccine conquers polio in April, 1955.

* Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, September, 1963.

* JFK slain, November, 1963.

* U.S. astronauts land on the moon, July, 1969.

* Nixon resigns, August, 1974.

* Communism falls in the Soviet Union, August, 1991.

These tidbits of news tempts one to wish somebody would invent a time machine, so you could set the dial to 1918, for example, and witness the end of World War I, or go forward to 1969 and re-live that euphoric time when man first stepped on the moon.

Mabel Jorgenson didn't need a time machine.

Mabel, who died Tuesday at the age of 107, lived to see all of those events that are of such significance that they are now part of the Newseum display.

At the time of her death, Mabel was South Dakota's oldest resident.

She succeeded the state's previous leader, Anna Peskey of DeSmet, who died May 14, 2003, at the age of 111.

One can't help but believe that Mabel stopped counting her birthdays years ago.

Community, friends and family, one could sense, were much more important to her.

Every April for the past three or four years, I've been invited to an open house to take photos of Mabel's birthday celebration.

Relatives and friends, both from the local community and from towns and cities scattered across the nation, have made a point of not missing this special event.

After all, she was a very special woman.

Mabel's husband died in 1957. She remained active in Vermillion, and demonstrated an enormous streak of independence.

She lived in her own home until last year, when health problems finally forced her to move to the Sioux Valley Vermillion Care Center � when she was only 106.

After taking photos last April at Mabel's 107th birthday celebration and open house, I devoted a column to my curiosity of knowing Mabel's secret to living a long life.

Last month, Mabel's daughter, Evelyn Peterson, told me she read the column to her mother.

"Mother said to tell you it's because I'm Norwegian," Evelyn said, laughing.

I have to believe there's more to it than that.

I think Mabel lived so long because of the type of life she lived � one that allowed her to flourish for well over a century.

She sets an example for all of us to follow.

She may not have been able to offer a profound statement on the meaning of life, but she taught all who knew her how to live a rich, long existence.

To truly learn about Mabel, one needs to talk to one of her friends or relatives.

Her obituary, which appears elsewhere in today's paper, barely scratches the surface of her rich, full life.

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