Coming Home for the First Time in Over 65-years

Randy and Debbie Dalton pose with the 1951 archive book that announced his birth.

On Wednesday morning, a cherry red Harley-Davidson Trike pulled into town, parked downtown to look around and walked to The Ledger office. Randy and Debbie Dalton, who were dressed in their leather riding gear, struck up a conversation; they were very curious about the history of Hemingford.

Turns out he was born at the doctor’s office here in Hemingford but his family moved away when he was just a year (or so) old. They noticed our archives and asked to see the year 1951. They opened the book to the first page that was marked with a piece of paper; Thursday, March 1, 1951.

“There it is! I’m in here,” Randy said.

There his name was among the “Hello World!” birth announcements reading, “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Dalton, Hemingford, boy, February 28. Weight at birth was 7 pounds and he has been named Randy LeRoy.”

“You were seven pounds?” Debbie commented.

“I guess I was,” he said. “I never dreamed in a million years that I would ever see my birth announcement.”  

He had not been to Hemingford in 67 years and even though he doesn’t remember living here, Hemingford has always been a part of his life. The question of where you were born comes up more often than people realize. Whether it’s a marriage certificate or a simple application we are often asked “Place of Birth”.

“He had to write it on everything when filling that box that asks,” Debbie said.

“Coming here has always been something that we had on our bucket list; we wanted to come see Hemingford,” Randy said.

While living here his father attended school in Chadron; he delivered newspapers and did other odd jobs to earn a living for his young family.

“He did anything to make a dollar for his family, he was very hard working,” Debbie said.

Randy added, “We moved around a lot as he was trying to get his education and advance once he became a teacher.”

His father taught in the special education field until becoming a principal; making enough of a living in both Nebraska and Illinois that he earned a pension from both states. His parents have both passed on so coming to Hemingford was one of those things that he just “had to do” in his lifetime. 

“They were only here for a short time,” Debbie said. “He doesn’t have a clue what house they lived in.”

“That’s something that my folks would have to tell me,” said Randy. “That’s not possible so we’re going to go drive every street in town.”

The couple lives in Aurora, Illinois and are visiting the area on their vacation.

“We wanted to ride around the western part of the state to see what’s out here,” Randy said. “But Hemingford is the reason we are here; this was the number one destination.”

Photo copies of his birth announcement were made so that he could have one and give one to each of their children. They enjoyed a donut while sitting outside Treasured Grounds before heading out to explore Hemingford, the place where his life began.