Ever since I learned South Dakota was the first state to give its people the right to initiate and repeal laws, I've been awfully proud of us. I probably learned that in a school government class, but I really became aware of and interested in citizen initiative and referendum as a young reporter covering meetings of the South Dakota Constitutional Revision Commission.
I don't shop often, so I don't know where to find these things today, but back in my youth Valentine's Day was incomplete without little candy hearts with mushy sayings. I remember them being a bit larger than a pea, if peas grew in the shape of hearts. They came in various pastel colors, and a growing boy could probably eat 600 of them and go into sugar shock before he ever started to feel full. That's all they were, little sugar bombs. Some enterprising soul had the notion of writing catchy slogans on them, and a Valentine's Day tradition came to be.
Dean Byrnes, the last original member of the all-Lakota rock and roll band, "The Byrnes Boys,'' died recently at age 76. He and his two big brothers, who formed the band in the mid-1950s, were inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. They were in the Hall's first class of inductees, along with Bobby Vee, Myron Lee and the Caddies and Sherwin Linton. Dean, who had just finished eighth grade when he started playing drums in the band, was the only one of the three brothers still alive to receive the honor nine years ago.
I didn't mind when Walter Cronkite choked up on the air on Nov. 22, 1963, as he announced that President Kennedy had died in Dallas. It surprised me, because Cronkite never showed emotion. News anchors simply didn't. But the Kennedy assassination wasn't just any story. Across America, people were showing raw, honest emotion that day and in the dark days after. The nation's Uncle Walter could be forgiven for letting his emotions show, too, for a few moments.
I didn't hear anyone at the Grammy awards mention Buddy Holly, but I thought about the Texas singer and songwriter during a segment of the show that honored two other pioneers of rock and roll.
As the final buzzer sounded during one regular season basketball game my senior year at Chamberlain High, a teammate lobbed the ball high into the air to celebrate the victory. I'm pretty sure forward Roger Miller was the teammate. We'd just beaten Burke in their gym and he was happy. That celebratory lob of the basketball was remarkable for a couple of reasons.
When the latest winter storm on Monday closed down the university campus in Vermillion, it reminded me that I enjoyed just one snow day during my entire higher-education career in Brookings.
I'm a Chicago Bears fan, and I have to tell you, I feel lonely these days. Newspapers, TV and social media sites are full of stories about the upstart Minnesota Vikings. Seems like everyone I meet is a Vikings fan. I call them upstarts because they weren't in the league when I started rooting for the Bears back in Chamberlain in the 1950s. The Vikings didn't start playing professional football until 1961.
One of the more bizarre images from the weekend's false alarm about a missile attack on Hawaii was the news clip of a guy popping a manhole cover to find shelter in the sewer. After it became clear the alert was a mistake, I was struck by how many island residents flat-out hadn't had a clue what to do. I saw the clip of a guy lowering a kid into a manhole. Other people ran madly down the streets as if the bulls were behind them in the annual running at Pamplona. Well, what do you do for 40 minutes before an all-clear message?
Anyone who knows me at all well will tell you I'm not a picky eater. If it's food, I'll eat. You won't hear me saying things like, "Ooh, that has onions.'' "Oh, no, I don't eat mushrooms.'' "I hate peas.'' "Wait. Is that iceberg lettuce?" That isn't me, especially not if someone else has prepared the food. Go to the trouble of making a meal so I don't go hungry, and I'll eat what's on my plate. That's how I was raised.