The Mighty Dandelion!

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 09•21
Originally published to on 4/9/2021.

Today’s historic look back looks at the most common, invasive weed: the mighty dandelion! We hope you enjoy this humorous, and informational look at eradicating dandelions over the years!

Now, we Nebraskans know a thing or two about getting rid of dandelions. Before herbicides and chemicals, townspeople became very inventive on how to eradicate the “yellow plague,” as it was called. Dandelions are incredibly prolific and during wet springs, the entire town would be covered by the yellow weeds.


The earliest report found was in a cooking column in the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune dated 5-22-1917. “By placing boards over spots where the dandelions were coming in thick would cause the plants to turn white (yes those little buggers still grow with no light). Cooks discovered that when the plants turned white, that they were especially tender. Serving them uncooked with shredded onion and French dressing seemed to be a good way to use the weed.


On May 16, 1919, the newspaper declared that a drive was on, to rid our city of the “yellow peril”. The Twentieth Century Club was asking every patriotic citizen and all clubs to join in the drive. Camp Fire Girls, Boy Scouts, school children and teachers were asked to join in. The drive was to start on a Saturday and continue for one week. Prizes would be given to the school that brought in the most dandelions. They stressed for all to work together for a more beautiful North Platte by removing every trace of the “yellow paint” that nature has covered the city with. A week late it was announced that Washington School had won the battle of the “yellow pest” by collecting 1,357 POUNDS! Jefferson School got second place with 1,266 pounds! Kids showed up with gunny sacks filled, long knifes in hand, and armed to the teeth. Parents complained that children were spending all night out in the dark digging away. Two cash prizes, of two dollars and fifty cents each, were given the boy and the girls bringing in the most dandelions. A picnic was held for all the children. Each school also received a peck of peanuts for their efforts.


On May 7, 1921, the Evening Telegraph reported that five young men who staged a party, during which somebody was assaulted, were all sentenced to jail for thirty days of hard work. Part of their punishment was picking/digging up dandelions off of the court house lawn!


In 1921 you could hire the Boy Scouts to dig dandelions. They charged 25 cents per hour to dig. On April 16, 1932, the Evening Telegraph printed an article stating that a local women who had boasted of digging 15,000 dandelion plants was getting even more phone calls requesting her services. She turned all them down with a stern “no,” because she was digging dandelions every night in her sleep!


In the spring of 1936 the Fox Theater and KGNF radio station offered the youth of the city a free pass to a show at the theater for every 10 pounds of dandelions they dug up and brought to the radio station. According to the Lincoln County Tribune dandelions arrived in toy wagons, gunny sacks, and paper bags. Much to the delight of several homeowners, many yards had dandelions “stolen”. A total of 4 ½ tons (some 9,000 POUNDS) of dandelions were delivered. Due to the “overwhelming proportions of dandelions received, the station and theater found themselves, “on the spot.” They made good on their word and the kids of North Platte were treated to a “dandy party.” The Fox Theatre Corporation held a “dandelion matinee for the children. They came in droves and “whooped and hollered and stamped their feet.” See photograph and article on this.


In 1941 the freshmen of the North Platte Senior High School were assigned to digging dandelions. The boys were divided into two groups. Both groups started at each end of the field digging to the fifty yard line. When they got to the center, Coach Wilson didn’t think they worked hard enough; so he had them move to the sidelines of the field and keep pulling those weeds. If they were caught fooling around they had to rake up all the pulled plants laying on the field.

We hope you enjoyed our tribute to the mighty dandelion weed. May they not show up in your yard!

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