Most people, even some Minnesota Vikings fans, probably don't remember Carlester Crumpler. I didn't (in my defense, I've always been a Bears fan), not until our godson Tom sort of named one of his dance bands after the guy. Tom didn't use the actual name, instead choosing to call his group the Carluster Crumplebee Orchestra. He admits the name is a variation on Carlester Crumpler, who played tight end for the Vikings in 1999 and who had played for the Seattle Seahawks for four or five years before joining the Vikings. This isn't a piece about football, however.
In my early days with The Associated Press in Pierre, we had an unwritten standard called "wire worthy'' to measure whether some bit of information deserved to go out over the newsgathering cooperative's cranky but effective old teletype machines. I learned the phrase from Jim Wilson, a Kimball kid and my first boss with AP. He didn't really define wire worthy, but I came to understand what it meant (I think).
The holiday season is a success if the weather allows your family members to travel home for a visit and then travel back to their own homes without too much inconvenience. In that respect, the just-completed holidays were successful at the Woster place. Everyone arrived, everyone left. This past weekend our family members traveled mostly on Friday and Sunday.
This might be a good New Year's resolution for some people: I resolve to wear a seat belt when I travel and to pay attention to the highway. A second, equally intelligent resolution might be: I may do some drinking during the coming year but I won't drive after I've been drinking, and I'll pay attention to the speed limit. Those two resolutions would go quite a ways toward reducing deaths on South Dakota highways. I know I'm sensitive to the issue. For more than five years I worked at the Department of Public Safety. I read each fatal crash report from the Highway Patrol.
My first New Year's Eve ball reminded me a lot of a teen sock hop, but crowded with adults who didn't take off their shoes. Okay, so maybe it wasn't so much like a sock hop. It was a lot like a dance. Band, booze, banter, that kind of stuff. I think Nancy and I went to our first one together in Chamberlain when we both were home from college for the holidays.
I can't tell if more people are more outraged by other people more than ever before, or if social media's incredible ease and reach has created so many more platforms for outrage to be expressed instantly and universally. Every day I see posts by citizens outraged about one thing or another. Many of the posts simply re-post something someone else found outrageous, and the re-poster agrees with the sentiments expressed.
When I was a kid on the farm, we always opened our presents on Christmas Eve and only with the immediate family. Well, how could it be otherwise? We lived 8 miles from town, a couple of miles from our nearest neighbors. People didn't just up and visit the neighbors for Christmas Eve, and family from far away generally stayed far away. I'm not saying that was good or bad. That's just how it was. Our dad sometimes took us kids for a Jeep ride to see if we could see Santa Claus, while our mother stayed home to digest the oyster stew or something.
Six years ago yesterday, I left the newspaper business after more than 40 years. I remember sitting in my office a few blocks from the Capitol finishing a last story while delicate snowflakes fell to the ground in the late-afternoon shadows outside my east window. Just before 5 p.m., I typed an end-of-message note and filed the story. I powered down the company laptop and set the company camera, recorder and cell phone on the desk next to the laptop.
This may surprise some people who think of me as a spacy sort, but I'm a very literal, by-the-book sort in many areas of my life. My brother-in-law from Longmont understands this. He goes to great lengths to make sure there are no unanswered questions when he works with me on any sort of project. Let me explain. Dan is the next youngest in the Gust family after Nancy. For many years, he has owned and managed Ace Hardware stores in the Longmont area. From several conversations over the years, I've come to understand that a good part of Dan's success in business has been customer service.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and a Democrat was governor, Jim Carrier and I sat on my front porch one evening and serenaded the neighborhood, accompanying ourselves on banjo and guitar. As I recall, in a bit of musicians' light-hearted humor, we dedicated one song to Gov. Dick Kneip, my neighbor across the street to the west. I have no idea what song it was, but we were playing and singing mostly bluegrass stuff, "Fox on the Run'' and other such tunes. Carrier, a former AP writer, was a wizard — still is, I'm sure — on bluegrass banjo and had a mellow singing voice.