Hidden Gems: Relics from past, sweets from present in St. Paul - Omaha.com
Published Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 1:12 pm
Hidden Gems: Relics from past, sweets from present in St. Paul

Email hidden gems to sue.truax@owh.com, or mail them to Hidden Gems, Omaha World-Herald Building, Suite 700, 1314 Douglas St., Omaha, NE 68102-1811.

Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodle... just think of the cookies needed to fill 1,409 cookie jars!

That's how many jars the Sweet Shoppe in St. Paul, Neb., had as of lunchtime Monday. “People come from everywhere to see the cookie jars. That's what we're famous for,” said Alice Osterman, owner of the bakery and cafe.

“We never started out thinking cookie jars,” she said. Customers, friends and family donated them. She picked up a few at garage sales, and 18 years after the collection started, shelves of the jars line the walls.

The bakery-cafe is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day.

Susan Bristol of Omaha, who was taken with the Sweet Shoppe's cookie jars and “down-home cooking,” suggested central Nebraska's St. Paul as a hidden gem.

Bristol also praised the town's Museum of Nebraska Major League Baseball and the Howard County Historical Village. She said the baseball museum is full of information about Major League players with Nebraska ties, including several in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

One of the museum's stars is Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander. He played from 1911 to 1930, with a year off serving in World War I.

He was born in Elba, Neb., 10 miles from St. Paul. He died in St. Paul in 1950 and is buried in the town's Elmwood Cemetery.

Alexander played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1938.

The St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce operates the museum. Carolyn Scarborough, the chamber's executive secretary and treasurer, is at the museum weekdays.

“I think people are really amazed by all the information and exhibits we have here,” Scarborough said. “My personal favorite is our Hall of Fame room.”

In it, visitors can learn about Hall of Famers Alexander, Richie Ashburn, Wade Boggs, Sam Crawford, Bob Gibson, William Southworth and Arthur “Dazzy” Vance.

Museum hours through Labor Day are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment at other times. Call 308-754-5558 to schedule a time. The museum is free but accepts donations.

Also free but taking donations is the Howard County Historical Village, across the street from the courthouse.

Village buildings include a house, railroad depot, post office, store, school, church and a structure that holds farm machinery, said Jessie Kiser, president of the Howard County Historical Society.

Hours through Labor Day are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment at other times. Call 308-226-2328 to arrange a time.

Grover Cleveland Alexander Days are July 5 through 7 in St. Paul. The annual celebration includes music, games, train rides, performances, a street dance, St. Paul High School class reunions and more.

We want to know: Where are Nebraska's hidden gems?

Contact the writer: Sue Story Truax

sue.truax@owh.com    |   402-444-1165

Sue writes obituaries and covers community news and schools for Omaha.com's Living section, primarily Community Connection.

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