A New Look At The Past

Sneak peek of Cuba Heritage Center set for May 1st

by Deb Hadachek – Telescope News

A place where many Cuba area residents got their start in life is now an educational center that documents what it meant to live in Cuba, and the Midwest, in eras past.

A sneak peek of the Cuba Heritage Center is planned for this Saturday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can see information about early day medicine and a first look of Czech Sokol gymnastics equipment that was rescued during renovation of the Cuba Community Hall nearly two decades ago.

A formal dedication of the Center will be held July 17 during the Cuba Harvest Festival.

The Cuba Heritage Center on Main Street is on a lot that once housed the medical office of Dr. C.W. McClaskey. The facade of the all-new 20’x60’ building is reminiscent of the front of “Doc’s office”.

The project is made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Republic County Community Foundation, a $22,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, $15,000 committed by the Cuba Booster Club, and private donations totaling more than $5,000. Hours of volunteer labor brought the Heritage Center to reality.

The building will continue the community’s efforts to preserve and showcase history. The community hopes to continue to collect other pieces of Cuba’s past to display in the Heritage Center, like artifacts from businesses and organizations, and books and articles that spotlight the history of Cuba.

Safeguard equipment

The seed of the Cuba Heritage Center was planted as residents considered how to safeguard and display Sokol gymnastic equipment found tucked away in an attic when the community hall was renovated in 2004.

“A member of the community received a phone call from someone in Texas wanting to buy the Sokol equipment after an article appeared in the Telescope when it was discovered,” said Lynette Beam, a member of the committee spearheading the Heritage Center construction. “The historic value of the Sokol equipment is priceless, and we knew the gymnastic equipment must stay in Cuba.”

At the same time, community members became aware that “Doc” McClaskey’s office, a mini-museum of medical history and Lions Club heritage, was rapidly deteriorating and beyond repair.

The third goal of the community is to provide a permanent, professional exhibit of some of the thousands of photographs that National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson has taken over nearly 50 years to document life and people in the rural community.

The Booster Club says the Heritage Center checks many of the boxes considered for RCCF grants and those from Dane Hansen: it promotes, education, culture, tourism and community beautification in ways that affect the economic and social impact of the community.

Gymnastic clubs

Sokols were Czech gymnastic clubs, an activity that early day immigrants brought with them to America. The original Cuba Community Hall was built as a Sokol gym, where participants honed their skills on parallel bars, pommel horses and other strength-building exercises.

The late Edd Benyshek, one of the last Cuba Sokol members, was able to provide the community a good deal of first-hand information about Sokols when the equipment was found, Beam said.

A descendant of a Sokol participant provided rare photos of both men and women performing gymnastics routines for the Center.

The community also has been able to save several pieces of early-day medical equipment that Doc McClaskey used in his 52-year career in Cuba, including his x-ray machine. Doc delivered more than 600 babies and provided a full spectrum of care before he retired in 1981.

Find information on the Heritage Center Sneak Peek here – https://www.facebook.com/events/1343285026044094