I'm a fairly bright guy, but there have been long-range, visionary concepts I simply struggled to understand. One of those, many years ago, was the late Gov. Bill Janklow's plan to wire the schools as a way to spread access to modern technology across South Dakota. We talked about that vision so long the governor started thinking I was playing stupid. Huh-uh. That was no act. I didn't get it at first. It took years, but I finally understood what he was trying to do and why it was important to do it through the schools.
I mentioned the wedding at Cass Lake, Minnesota, but I don't think I made it clear what an incredible thing it was for me to haul a boat that far. Two things made that an incredible journey. First, I'm not that fond of towing trailers behind my pickup. I don't mind pulling the boat from the garage out to the West Shore boat ramp just above Oahe Dam. The longer the distance, the less I like it. I've come to accept that, most years when the Woster clan has its summer reunion near Chamberlain, I'll drag the boat that far. It's about 85 miles, one way. Cass Lake put that to shame.
HEADLINE Mrs. Woster's baby boy got married last weekend, and we hauled ourselves and a boat nearly 500 miles into the heart of Minnesota for the ceremony. Andy is the youngest of three Woster children. He's in his middle 30s and has been out on his own for years and years, but he's still his mother's little boy. His wedding to Katie, a North Dakota woman turned Denver neurologist, took place on the shore of Cass Lake.
To tell the story of the Airhead water-fun towable tube, I must go back to the beginning of time. Back in 1973 or 1974, Nancy and I went on our first weekend camping trip up the Missouri River to Okobojo Creek. We hung out with two couples who became some of the closest friends we will ever know, learned to water ski (yup, at age 30 and after growing up along the Missouri, I finally learned to ski), decided to buy a boat and changed the course of summers forever. In those days, folks who used the river either camped and fished or camped and skied.
The Chamberlain High School Class of 1963 gathered for a 50-years-after reunion last Saturday, and I had the pleasure of escorting the former Nancy Gust, co-editor of the award-winning (could have been) CHS Hi-Life student newspaper. If she reads that sentence, she'll figure I'm fibbing, because for most of the past year, I told her I didn't want to go to her reunion. I graduated from CHS in 1962.
I read with some surprise the other day a news story that referred to a member of the South Dakota Legislature as a longtime lawmaker and noted that he'd been in office for a dozen years. I'm not thinking of pulling one of those "I knew Jack Kennedy'' things, but I knew the guy from the news story. I'd been covering the South Dakota Legislature for 30 years by the time the person won his first election. In my memory, this person remains kind of a newcomer, but a good chunk of my legislative-reporting memory was created before term limits.
When a storm would fire up in the middle of the night back on the farm, Dad would always be the first one down in the cellar. He didn't stay there. Oh, no.
Leave it to a muggy Saturday morning and a massive, freshly shingled roof to make a guy think life on the farm was romantic. Nancy and I had taken our usual weekend morning walk along the Missouri River shoreline. We'd hoped to get out early enough to avoid the heat and humidity. We didn't, but we completed the walk, anyway. About halfway through the homebound leg, I saw the roof. It covered a building that stretched for what seemed like a city block, and the roof was roughly the size of the flight deck on the USS Enterprise. The roof held acres and acres of new shingles.
We talked about dream vacations the other day during a break at work, and I realized -- not for the first time -- that I'm different from the rest of the staff. When asked casually where I'd go if I could travel anywhere in the world, I usually say I'd like to tour all of the Civil War battlefields. I would, too, to see the lands I've read about for years and years in the histories of that terrible war.
One of my favorite Fourth of July stories was told several years ago by a friend who rocked his entire neighborhood with a particularly wicked product of the fireworks industry. My friend has long held a good job in a central South Dakota community, and even he would agree he should have known better. He was just trying to celebrate Independence Day, he said. Here's his story as I recall it.