As visitors exit from West Dodge Road and head south up the main drive of Boys Town they will be greeted by the well -known, “He’s not heavy. He’s my brother”, statue. The first left off the main drive will bring visitors to the gift shop where postcards, rosaries, jewelry, t-shirts, hats and other memorabilia can be found. Boys Town has its own post office. If postcards are mailed from Boys Town they will have the Boys Town postmark.
To the right of the main drive as cars face south is a large field where pick up soccer games, Frisbee, and cross country meets happen throughout the year. It is also the edge of the Boys Town gardens.
Back out on the main drive there will be the Boys Town High School on the left. Yes, they have their own school system. Boys Town has its own police department, also on the left.
As the drive winds around to the west visitors come to the main attractions for non-residents; The Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (Boys Town’s Church), the Gardens, and the Hall of History- a museum all about the history of Boys Town.
The Chapel is stunning as you walk up to the large wooden doors and prepare to enter a place filled with memories of many prayers of today and yesterday. Walking in there is a quiet that comes over visitors. It might be the cool stone of the Church walls, the rows and rows of wooden pews, or the beautifully large stain glass windows. It is soothing as are the votive candles in many enclaves along the edges of the Church. The votive candles are to help with reflection. Visitors are welcome to light one and utilize the votive candle to focus on one of their loved ones, an important facet of their life, or to just take a moment to be still.
On the west side of the Chapel is the Father Flanagan Shrine which contains a vault with Father Flanagan’s remains. As his final resting place it’s a nice place to stop and thank him for his hard work that has flourished through the ages.
The gardens across from the front doors of the Chapel have many winding paths to take you to serene areas with benches where a book can be read or family and friends can stop for a rest. Many stone epitaphs grace the grounds as reminders of what has come before. A stone tablet with The Ten Commandments and Beatitudes is predominantly displayed.
The Hall of History is a museum dedicated to telling non-residents all about Boys Town. The museum is somewhat interactive which is great for keeping little ones entertained. There is a lot of memorabilia about previous students, the grounds, the stabled, and even an old bus that visitors can get on. The bus is a particularly interesting piece of the exhibit as we imagine what it was like when the bus was in use compared to now. As visitors leave the museum there is a sense of purpose. A sense of what good can be done in the world and the meaning of doing the right thing by protecting our children. Boys Town Hall of History leaves us with renewed spirit and ideas about what possibilities exist.
What is your favorite Boys Town memory?