Ong, NE

Lifetime Ong resident finds solace in family business

At its peak in 1910, Ong, Nebraska was a bustling town of 285 people. Once the Great Depression struck, "it was all downhill from there." A first-generation Nebraskan recounts his life spent in Ong and watching the town crumble right before his eyes. In every decade since the Depression, Ong's population has gradually whittled away, leaving behind only those who have roots in the town and the now-dilapidated buildings that house the memories of those select few.

The only business in the town, not counting the grain elevator sitting on Ong's northern fringe, is Gene's Nut House, a confectionery owned and operated by none other than my subject, Gene Andersen. Wheelchair-bound at 81, Andersen aspires to carry on his business through his children with his latest addition: a special prime rib seasoning.